Wednesday, June 26th, 2013 — Good Morning, Stay Safe
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Ronell Wilson witness: Officer James Nemorin pleaded for his life
By JOHN RILEY — Wednesday, June 26th, 2013 'New York Newsday' / Melville, L.I.
An accomplice of convicted cop-killer Ronell Wilson testified at his death penalty retrial on Tuesday that the gang member coldly ignored cries for mercy as he held a gun to the head of undercover detective James Nemorin of Baldwin Harbor after killing his partner.
"He started pleading," accomplice Jessie Jacobus, 27, who was with Wilson as the undercover gun buy in 2003 exploded into violence, testified in Brooklyn federal court. "Don't shoot! I got a family! I got a family! Don't shoot!"
Wilson's response was to pull the trigger, Jacobus said in a reprise of his testimony at Wilson's first trial in 2006. That jury sentenced Wilson, 31, to death for murdering Nemorin and partner Rodney Andrews in Staten Island, but an appeals court ordered a retrial of the penalty phase of the case.
In his only new testimony, Jacobus, who was sentenced to 15 years to life for his role after agreeing to testify for the government, said that Wilson tried to recruit him to help with his death penalty defense in a chance meeting on an elevator in jail in 2011.
"He asked me to tell the prosecutors that we had a rough upbringing," said Jacobus, who like Wilson had a crack-addicted mother, an absent father and grew up in poverty in Staten Island's Stapleton Houses.
Wilson's primary argument to the jury has been that his criminal responsibility is mitigated by the scars of abuse and neglect he suffered as a child. But when defense lawyer David Stern on cross-examination suggested to Jacobus that family circumstances were responsible for his own life of crime, Jacobus rejected the idea.
"It still doesn't cause you to commit murders," he shot back. "I chose to live a certain lifestyle not because of that. I chose to run the streets and do crimes."
Cop killer Ronell Wilson forges a shady plan
Chief witness alleges Wilson told him to tell the jury he had a 'rough upbringing' in hope of escaping the death penalty.
By John Marzulli — Wednesday, June 26th, 2013 'The New York Daily News'
THE CHIEF WITNESS against Ronell Wilson testified Tuesday that the cop killer asked him to tell the jury they had a "rough upbringing" to help him weasel out of the death penalty.
Wilson allegedly dropped the bombshell advice during a chance meeting with ex-cohort Jessie Jacobus on an elevator at Brooklyn's Metropolitan Detention Center in 2011.
"He said for me to tell the prosecutor we had a rough upbringing," Jacobus said. "I said, 'Upbringing?' I've been in jail this whole time, I've had a rough (time serving my sentence)."
Jacobus pleaded guilty to state murder charges and is serving 15 years to life. He testified against Wilson at his 2006 trial, in which a federal jury sentenced Wilson to death for killing undercover NYPD Detectives James Nemorin and Rodney Andrews during a gun buy-and-bust ripoff.
After the U.S. Court of Appeals reversed Wilson's death sentence due to prosecutorial error, both men were transferred to the MDC prison while Wilson awaited his resentencing by a new jury, which began Monday in Brooklyn Federal Court.
The foundation of Wilson's argument for life in prison instead of a lethal injection is the mitigating factor that he endured a horrendous childhood being raised by a neglectful, crack-addicted mother.
Defense lawyer David Stern cross-examined Jacobus about his own dysfunctional childhood and it backfired.
"Did not having a father, and a mother addicted to drugs, affect you?" Stern asked.
"It still doesn't cause you to commit murders," Jacobus, 27, shot back. "I chose to live a lifestyle, not because of that."
Jacobus said he hopes the feds will write a letter to the state parole board when he is eligible for release.
He described for the jury how Wilson recruited him as the muscle on what evolved from the sale of a Tech-9 machine gun, to a robbery and then — to Jacobus' shock — the execution-style shootings of the undercover officers.
Jacobus was sitting chatting with Andrews when Wilson suddenly pulled out a handgun and blasted the detective in the back of his head. Nemorin pleaded for his life as Wilson demanded the cash, according to Jacobus.
"He (Nemorin) said, 'I got a family, don't shoot me!' " Jacobus said. "After that, Ronell just shot him in the back of the head."
The bodies of the detectives were pulled out of the car and dumped in the street as the killers fled in the blood-soaked vehicle.
"I just wanted to find out what was going on his mind," Jacobus continued. "I asked 'Why did you do that?' He told me he didn't give a f--- about nobody."
NYC Showdown Looms as Council Plans Limits on Police
By Henry Goldman (Bloomberg News) — Tuesday, June 25th, 2013; 8:00 p.m. EDT
New York council members plan to approve two bills to protect minorities from overzealous police, setting up a clash with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who says the city would become vulnerable to criminals and terrorists.
One law would create an inspector general empowered to review police policies and practices. The other would allow lawsuits against the city when an officer uses racial profiling as a reason for questioning an individual.
Council Speaker Christine Quinn, one of seven candidates seeking the Democratic mayoral nomination, was blasted by her rivals after pushing to allow the vote and announcing her support for the first measure and not the second. The mayor says he'll veto the bills, which are set for a vote this week. Council members need 35 votes in the 51-member chamber to override him.
Crime has dropped 34 percent since Bloomberg became mayor in 2002, and the city has had 25 percent fewer homicides so far this year than in 2012, when it recorded an all-time low of 417, according to the police department. The numbers show New York to be the safest big city in the U.S., Bloomberg says.
The proposed laws jeopardize those achievements, creating "a police department pointlessly hampered by outside intrusion and recklessly threatened by second-guessing from the courts," Bloomberg said at a June 23 news conference in Lower Manhattan, where he was joined by Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.
That was the day Quinn, 46, the mayor's closest ally on the council, helped steer the bills to a vote by joining with the her colleagues to overrule Peter Vallone Jr., the Democratic chairman of the Public Safety Committee, who had refused to free them for consideration. The council is controlled by Democrats.
"We can both keep New York the safest big city in America and improve police-community relations throughout our city," Quinn said in an e-mail. "We can enhance the effectiveness of the NYPD and at the same time increase the public's faith and confidence in the department."
The debate over police oversight takes place as the city and civil-liberties advocates await a decision by U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin in Manhattan in a 2008 lawsuit accusing police of disproportionately targeting minority youths to stop, question or frisk them on the street.
Of the 4.3 million stop-and-frisk searches in the past nine years, more than 80 percent were of blacks and Latinos, according to court papers filed by the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, which backs the plaintiffs. Less than 1 percent of those stops led to recovery of a gun, the plaintiffs said.
New York has been "deliberately indifferent" to the constitutional violations of its police force, attorneys for the four men suing said in a June 12 post-trial brief.
The U.S. Justice Department, while taking no position on the claims against the city, said in a June 12 memorandum to the judge that it endorsed the use of a court-appointed monitor in the event she rules it necessary.
"The experience of the United States in enforcing police reform injunctions teaches that the appointment of an independent monitor is a critically important asset," the department said.
Bloomberg, 71, denounced the Justice Department statement during a June 13 news conference in Queens, saying "it just makes no sense whatsoever when lives are on the line to change the rules and hamper the police department from doing their job."
The mayor is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP. A political independent, he is barred by law from seeking a fourth term.
The case is Floyd v. City of New York, 08-cv-01034, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
CEA Deputy Insp. Roy Richter Debates Brooklyn City Councilman Jumaane Williams
Debating City Council Public Safety Bills
Wednesday, June 26th, 2013 'NY 1 Video'
NY1 VIDEO: "Road To City Hall" anchor Errol Louis debated the controversial public safety bills that would allow people to sue the NYPD in state court for profiling them based on race, sexual orientation, gender or even their housing status. Brooklyn City Councilman Jumaane Williams is a sponsor of the bills and Roy Richter is the president of the Police Captains Endowment Association.
Picture more crime: Kelly warns Council vote could KO cop cams
By JAMIE SCHRAM — Wednesday, June 26th, 2013 'The New York Post'
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly warned the City Council yesterday that the anti-racial-profiling bill it's set to vote on today could force the removal of security cameras from high-crime neighborhoods.
Kelly told the panel that if cameras placed in high-crime neighborhoods or housing projects recorded members of a racial or ethnic group at a rate higher than their percentage in the city's overall population, they would be able to sue by claiming bias.
"This would permit disparate impact lawsuits not only against the practice of stop, question and frisk, but against any police activity, operation, policy or program, including the use of police cameras in your district as well as in New York City Housing Authority developments," Kelly said in a letter to the council.
"We have counted on you as a supporter of cameras in keeping public-housing developments and neighborhoods safe from crime, and we need your support for police cameras now more than ever," Kelly said.
He said the high-tech Argus cameras are purposely placed in neighborhoods with high crime rates to prevent crime and help crack open cases.
Kelly said the bill would handcuff cops as they try to keep crime rates at record lows, by opening the floodgates to lawsuits.
"The bill would allow virtually everyone in New York City to sue the Police Department and individual police officers over the entire range of law-enforcement functions they perform," Kelly wrote.
He concluded with a plea for council members to vote down the bill, which has widespread support on the panel but may fall short of the votes required to override a veto by Mayor Bloomberg.
"Please help us keep this important crime-fighting tool available to the Police Department. Your action against this bill tomorrow will save lives," he said.
Brooklyn Democrats Jumaane Williams and Brad Lander, co-sponsors of the measure, say it would only expand the city's existing racial-profiling law by adding other demographic classes that should be protected, such as the homeless and gay people.
Williams said the department should be able to deploy cameras without singling out people on the basis of race.
"I have funded cameras in my district and I'm not going to put in a bill that would take away those cameras," Williams said.
"The absurdity of their claims by the day is increasing, and I think they're ruining their own credibility."
Additional reporting by Sally Goldenberg
Wednesday, June 26th, 2013 'The New York Daily News' Editorial:
City Council wages war on the NYPD with misguided legislation
Proposed bills would hamper cops from protecting us
The protection of life, limb and property is squarely on the line with the City Council's move to force the NYPD to apply racial and ethnic yardsticks to arrests.
With Speaker Christine Quinn's misguided approval, a Council majority voted out of committee a measure that would require judges to figure out whether cops are busting too many people of particular backgrounds.
Those would include, in the bill's language, "race, national origin, color, creed, age, alienage or citizenship status, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or housing status." A lopsided count would be evidence of profiling and oblige the NYPD to prove there's a good reason why cops have arrested, for example, blacks or gays in numbers exceeding their population percentage.
Drafted by Brooklyn's Jumaane Williams, the bill arises from mania over the NYPD's program of stopping and questioning individuals suspected of criminality and frisking when cops fear the presence of weapons.
Most of those stopped have been blacks and Hispanics, giving rise to false accusations that police are targeting large numbers of minority-group members solely on the basis of their backgrounds. Actually, the stops align with the race and ethnicity of crime suspects and victims.
Certain that the numbers alone prove bias and bad faith on the part of cops, the sponsors have devised fixes that are dangerous and divisive.
First, they would bar police from relying on any of the listed categories as "the determinative factor in initiating law enforcement action." Here's how that plays out:
A woman reports that a white male teen wearing a Yankees jersey had snatched her pocketbook outside the Stadium after a game. A police officer sees five people wearing jerseys. Three are white and two are black. Two of the whites are men and one is a woman. One of the whites is a teenager; the other is middle-aged.
By process of elimination, the cop zeroes in on the white teen, but that means considering forbidden characteristics: his race, gender and age.
Beyond hobbling officers in the exercise of duties, the law grants citizens and activists the right to sue if they believe the Police Department or units of the department are applying the law more heavily against one group than against another.
The activists can march into state Supreme Court and ask justices to bar the NYPD from continuing allegedly offending practices, thus placing the department under the scrutiny of courts in this, that or the other borough using a convoluted, hard to understand, agenda-driven law.
The bill is one of two damaging measures to be voted on by the Council this week. The other would create an inspector general for the NYPD. Quinn cleared both for a vote over the objection of committee Chairman Peter Vallone of Queens.
Give credit to Councilmen Lew Fidler, Jim Gennaro, Vinny Ignizio, Peter Koo, Mike Nelson, Eric Ulrich and Jimmy Oddo for siding with Vallone against the bills. And pray that more members see that in their fury they are about to jeopardize the long, successful fight against crime.
Wednesday, June 26th, 2013 'The New York Post' Editorial:
Two bad votes
As early as today, the City Council will vote on two bad bills that threaten the ability of our police force to do its job. It says something about where New York City is today politically that both bills will not only pass, they will likely do so handily.
The first bill is supported by Speaker Chris Quinn. It creates an inspector general for New York's Finest. The job of this inspector general will be to micro-manage policies (most notably, stop, question & frisk) and in effect create a rival authority to the actual police commissioner.
The bill comes even after a highly publicized federal trial on stop-and-frisk in which the top witnesses failed to demonstrate that cops are racially profiling.
Which only makes the second bill even more nefarious. This one would allow individuals to sue the city if they suspect a specific stop was racially motivated. In other words, a welcome mat for trial lawyers. The only question is whether this bill will have the veto-proof majority we expect on the legislation for an inspector general.
Whether the handcuffs on police come from a federal court imposing an independent monitor or a City Council imposing an IG — or both — the city is in for big changes in its policing. Something that will make it much harder for the next mayor and police commissioner to be as successful on crime as Bloomberg & Kelly.
Counterterrorism's Surveillance of Muslims
Defender Of Tradition
By Adam Dickter — Wednesday, June 26th, 2013 'The New Jewish Week' / Brooklyn
(Edited for brevity and NYPD pertinence)
If elected mayor, Comptroller John Liu would put an end to stop-and-frisk and the surveillance of mosques, he told The Jewish Week.
Asked how he would ensure the city remains vigilant against the threat of terror attacks, Liu said, "The NYPD has a deep well of skills and accumulated knowledge. I would support and nurture that, albeit with some changes." Of the NYPD's controversial efforts to infiltrate Islamic communities and mosques, even outside the five boroughs, Liu said, "I would discontinue it altogether. I cannot reconcile monitoring certain people for no reason other than their religion with the freedom of religion we have here in America."
He said the surveillance program "in six years has not resulted in one single lead."
The NYPD's spokesman, Paul Browne, did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment in time for publication.
Islamic leader urges NYPD cooperation
By ANTHONY M. DESTEFANO — Wednesday, June 26th, 2013 'New York Newsday' / Melville, L.I.
A Muslim leader from Brentwood gave an impassioned plea Tuesday for the NYPD to rely more on alliances with his community and less on surveillance activity to protect the city from terrorism.
"We will help you more than you will be getting from spying on Muslims," Mustafa Senghor, told police commissioner Ray Kelly and other religious leaders at a pre-Ramadan conference at police headquarters.
Ramadan, which begins this year around July 9, signifies when Muslims believe the Quran was revealed. Kelly listened but didn't react to Senghor's remarks, which garnered some applause from the crowd that included leaders and members of the Islamic community from across the five boroughs.
Senghor, originally from Gambia and now head of the Harlem Islamic Cultural Center, later told Newsday that he believed law enforcement was wasting time and money by conducting undercover terrorism sting operations. Both the FBI and the NYPD have made cases against terror suspects who were ensnared after they were approached by undercover agents or informers. Several cases have led to convictions.
"That tactic is counterproductive . . . in the sense that you have created the atmosphere for that child to become a criminal," said Senghor, explaining that he was referring to the young men arrested as "children."
Surveillance of Muslims has sparked controversy and a lawsuit. Critics say the activity has violated the constitutional rights of Muslims by gathering information and sending undercover operatives into mosques. The NYPD maintains the activity was done in line with a court settlement concerning police surveillance and is guided by legitimate law enforcement leads or material in the public domain.
Senghor said the NYPD should reach out to Islamic leaders for assistance.
"Some of the imams and some of us in the centers, we will identify faster, the potential trouble maker," he said. "We will help the department."NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said the department wants to work with the city's Islamic community.
"We obviously more than welcome, we look for support in that area," Browne said. "But you have to realize terrorists are not confiding their plans among the overwhelming law-abiding Muslim community, so it sometimes requires police to get close to individual terror suspects."
Tahir Kukiqi, an Albanian immigrant from Kosovo, who is active in a Staten Island mosque, said after the conference that the Muslim community has been partnering with the NYPD for years.
He agreed that gathering intelligence is vital.
NYPD's Language Policy Unfair To Latino Officers, Group Claims
By: Jon Weinstein — Tuesday, June 25th, 2013; 4:34 p.m. 'NY 1 News' / New York
A group on Tuesday urged the city's police department to roll back a policy requiring English to be the only language spoken while officers are on duty. NY1's Jon Weinstein filed the following report.
A group representing Latino NYPD officers says it could be something as simple as saying "hola" instead of hello inside one of the city's precincts. They say officers are being reprimanded for violating what they call a discriminatory department policy that requires speaking English only while officers are on duty.
"We are talking about conversations between officers while they are in the precinct, while they are in sector cars, while they are working: A common practice for any other officer to talk to each other in any other language that is comfortable to themselves," said Anthony Miranda of the National Latino Officers Association.
They point to a specific incident involving an officer at the 24th precinct, who received a memo reminding her to speak only in English, after her supervisors cited her for speaking Spanish to a fellow officer while on duty.
"We're talking about casual talking, like you and I are talking, why would you be reprimanded for that?" said Claudius DeFrancesco of the National Latino Officers Association.
According to the federal Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, "A rule requiring that employees speak only English on the job may violate (federal law) unless an employer shows that the requirement is necessary for conducting business."
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly says the NYPD complies with the law and that employees are notified of the policy. He calls it common sense.
"If you walk into a police station and you hear people speaking a language among themselves other than English, it certainly could be at the very least disconcerting, and not necessarily a signal that you're there to assist," Kelly said.
The National Latino Officers Association says it's aware of nine cases in which Latina officers have been cited for violating the policy. They claim English-only reprimands are being used as retaliation for other discrimination complaints.
It's calling on any other officers who feel like they were unfairly reprimanded to come forward.
Kelly says there have been no reprimands and that the NYPD has only sent memos reminding members of the department of the requirement to speak English on the job.
Nine other NYPD officers reprimanded for speaking Spanish on the job
Officer Jessenia Guzman received a mark in her file for violating the NYPD's controversial English-only policy and she's not alone. At least nine other officers have also faced discipline for breaking the department's law, which Anthony Miranda -- chairman of the National Latino Officers Association — said were handed out after the cops filed unrelated discrimination complaints.
By Joe Kemp AND Rich Schapiro — Wednesday, June 26th, 2013 'The New York Daily News'
Officer Jessenia Guzman is not the only Spanish-speaking cop to face consequence under the NYPD's controversial English-only policy.
A total of nine Hispanic officers have been cited for running afoul of the policy, a national Latino police organization said Tuesday.
Many of the officers were hit with the official reprimands after first filing unrelated discrimination complaints, said Anthony Miranda, chairman of the National Latino Officers Association.
"They used this policy of English-only to retaliate against those officers that filed complaints," said Miranda, whose group held a demonstration Tuesday after the Daily News featured Guzman in Monday's paper. The 40-year-old officer was issued a reprimand last month for speaking Spanish to a colleague while on duty at a Manhattan precinct.
NYPD officials could not immediately confirm the number of officers cited for breaking the English-only directive, but Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly reiterated his support for the policy Tuesday, saying that federal law dictates the rule. "It's anti-discrimination laws that say that there is a English-only requirement in the workplace," Kelly said, noting that the department took no disciplinary action against Guzman beyond putting the reprimand in her file.
NYPD detective dies after off-duty motorcycle crash in Staten Island
Paul Lipka, 40, hit a 2009 Nissan that turned suddenly in front of his bike near the lawman's home Friday morning. He died Sunday at Richmond University Medical Center.
By Shane Dixon Kavanaugh — Wednesday, June 26th, 2013 'The New York Daily News'
An off-duty cop involved in a horrific motorcycle accident in Staten Island on Friday has died from his injuries, police sources said.
NYPD Detective Paul Lipka, 40, slammed into a 2009 Nissan that turned suddenly in front of his motorcycle near the lawman's home Friday morning, sources said.
He died Sunday, after fighting for his life for nearly 48 hours at Richmond University Medical Center, a police source said.
Lipka, a 12-year veteran assigned to the NYPD's Brooklyn warrant squad, was the former partner of Officer Dillon Stewart, who was killed by his side during a traffic stop in 2005.
The pair had pulled over a car for running a red light in East Flatbush when the driver, Allan Cameron, squeezed off six rounds at the cops' unmarked car. One of the bullets tore through Stewart's heart.
EMT who 'giggled' as pregnant woman died skates on charges
By JOSHUA SAUL — Wednesday, June 26th, 2013 'The New York Post'
The Brooklyn EMT who, while on a break, refused to directly aid a dying pregnant woman was cleared yesterday when official-misconduct charges were dropped — then callously insisted she wouldn't change a thing about that fateful day.
Melissa Jackson, 27, was in uniform and on-duty when she took a break from her dispatcher shift at FDNY headquarters in Downtown Brooklyn in December 2009 to meet her fellow-EMT boyfriend in a nearby Au Bon Pain.
Inside the eatery, employee Eutisha Rennix, 25, suffered a serious asthma attack. But despite pleas from her co-workers for help, Jackson wouldn't walk into the back room to assess her condition, prosecutors said.
Instead, she called EMS dispatch from her cellphone to report the incident, and was heard laughing repeatedly as she told the dispatcher her name should be left off the report, according to authorities. Rennix and her unborn child died.
Frustrated Brooklyn prosecutors were forced to dismiss the charge after EMS chief Abdo Nahmod last week flip-flopped on his position that she had violated a departmental rule requiring on-duty EMTs to treat a person in distress and notify dispatch if asked for help.
"Based on the reversal of . . . Chief Nahmod, there is absolutely no possible way to sustain a criminal charge against Ms. Jackson," Brooklyn prosecutor Kevin Richardson said in court.
"We're perplexed. We don't know why he changed his mind," a law-enforcement source said of Nahmod.
Outside court, Jackson refused to apologize or accept any responsibility, saying she would do the same thing again.
"If the same thing happened again, and I worked inside a 911 dispatch center, I would call 911 to have an ambulance dispatched to the location so they would be able to render care," Jackson said.
That didn't sit well with Rennix's mother.
"I think she is inhuman. She has no human feeling. Where is her compassion? She doesn't have any," Cynthia Rennix said of Jackson.
The Rennix family has a pending lawsuit against Jackson and the FDNY.
"The justice that [Cynthia Rennix] failed to get in the criminal side of our justice system, she will now get in the civil side," vowed family attorney Sanford Rubenstein.
Sources: FBI probing Suffolk Chief of Police James Burke
By TANIA LOPEZ AND ROBERT E. KESSLER — Wednesday, June 26th, 2013 'New York Newsday' / Melville, L.I.
Suffolk County Police Chief of Department James Burke is being investigated by federal officials to see whether he violated the civil rights of a man arrested on charges of breaking into the officer's unmarked vehicle and stealing his gun belt, ammunition and handcuffs, sources said Tuesday.
The FBI served subpoenas Tuesday on nearly a dozen Suffolk police officers, detectives and headquarters personnel to appear before a federal grand jury, the sources said. More subpoenas will be issued soon, one of the sources said.
Christopher Loeb, 26, was arrested Dec. 14, 2012, at his Smithtown home. He told family members that Burke punched him in the Fourth Precinct squad room hours after his arrest, his mother, Jane Loeb, said last week.
A Suffolk County sheriff's spokesman said Loeb was taken out of the Riverhead jail Tuesday, where he had been held, and is now in federal custody. Loeb was taken into custody as a material witness, the sources said.
The investigation into Burke's actions was launched by the civil rights division of the FBI office in Manhattan and federal prosecutors in Brooklyn at the civil rights division of the United States attorney for the Eastern District, the sources said.
The FBI and the U.S. attorney's office for the Eastern District declined to comment on the investigation.
Suffolk Police Commissioner Ed Webber and Burke declined to comment. Last week, Burke denied any wrongdoing.
The department reissued statement from last week that said: "Chief Burke denies any allegation of wrongdoing. Once a subject has been arraigned, the Suffolk County Police Department does not comment on the case. The Christopher Loeb case is an active, ongoing criminal prosecution. It would be inappropriate for Chief Burke to comment on this case. Chief Burke, along with numerous other victims of Christopher Loeb, are not only victims, but potential witnesses in this case."
The police department also reissued another statement on behalf of County Executive Steve Bellone. "James Burke is an outstanding law enforcement official and has helped lead our efforts to make Suffolk County a safer place to live," the statement said.
A spokeswoman for Bellone also said, "Suffolk County will fully cooperate with any investigation."
Law enforcement sources said that Burke went to the Fourth Precinct, where Loeb was being processed, and that he ordered the detectives' squad room cleared of everyone except for Loeb and himself.
Jane Loeb said her son told her that he was punched by Burke in the squad room.
The subpoenas were served to officers who may have been in the precinct during the alleged incident or may have knowledge of the it, the sources said.
From his Suffolk jail cell, Loeb wrote his mother earlier this year that he was "beat up" both in his home and then "even worse at the precinct." Then, during a conversation in the Suffolk County jail, she said Loeb, who was convicted in April 2012 of grand larceny, told her that Burke was the person who punched him.
Loeb told her that Burke punched him in the stomach and said, "That's what you get for taking somebody's property," Jane Loeb said last week.
Law enforcement records also place Burke at Loeb's home hours after his vehicle was broken into and while Loeb was being apprehended. Suffolk County rules and procedures say police supervisors and top brass should not participate in routine matters and should allow subordinates to carry out those functions.
A law enforcement expert and law enforcement sources said a chief who is the victim of a crime should not show up at the crime scene.
Suspect's prior record: Besides the grand larceny conviction, Loeb has several misdemeanor convictions for drug and vehicle traffic law violations and attempted aggravated harassment.
Jane Loeb said last week that her son has struggled with drug addiction for years and that she feared for his life. She said an investigator with the Suffolk County Internal Affairs Bureau called her last week to interview her, but she has not spoken to the bureau nor has it followed up.
"I don't have to worry about being interviewed by the internal affairs now," she said Tuesday.
Her husband, Christopher Loeb, said, "My concern has always been for his safety and who is helping him getting off drugs. I personally feel he should have been mandated into rehab for his addictions."
Police and prosecutors say Loeb and Gabriel Miguelez, 36, of Lindenhurst, took a duffel bag containing Burke's gun belt, ammunition, handcuffs, cigars and other items from the department-issued GMC Yukon on Dec. 14 around 12:30 a.m. A department spokesman said Burke's gun was not in the gun belt when it was taken.
According to court records, Loeb told Fourth Precinct detectives that Burke's Yukon was unlocked when they took the bag. Police spokesman Deputy Chief Kevin Fallon said earlier this year that Burke said his car was locked.
Loeb is scheduled to appear July 9 before Suffolk County Judge Martin Efman on 29 counts related to breaking into more than a dozen cars in St. James.
A Suffolk County grand jury indicted Loeb in December on counts that include fourth-degree grand larceny, fourth- and fifth-degree possession of stolen property, seventh-degree possession of a controlled substance and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon.
He was held at Suffolk County jail on $500,000 bond.
Miguelez, a first-time offender, was released from jail Jan. 30 and has agreed to a plea deal.
Loeb's court-appointed attorney, Toni Marie Angeli, did not return a call requesting comment.
A special prosecutor, Queens Assistant District Attorney Peter Crusco, has been assigned to investigate the alleged theft. Crusco did not return a call seeking comment.
Burke was assigned to the Suffolk district attorney's office before his appointment as chief of department.
With Paul LaRocco and William Murphy
Under investigation: James Burke
TITLE Chief of Department
EDUCATION Smithtown East High School graduate. Attended Suffolk Community College before entering New York City police academy; 2007 graduate of The Energia Partnership at Molloy College, a regional leadership academy.
CAREER New York City police officer, 1985. Hired as Suffolk police officer in 1986. Promoted to sergeant, 1991; lieutenant, 2000. Assigned in 2002 to lead DA's police detectives squad. Named inspector in 2004. Oversaw police detectives and DA's investigators through December 2011. Appointed in January 2012 as chief of department.
Source: FBI investigating suburban NY police chief
By Tom Hays (The Associated Press) — Wednesday, June 26th, 2013; 4:38 p.m. EDT
MINEOLA, N.Y. — The FBI is investigating allegations that a suburban New York police chief may have abused a man suspected of stealing his gun belt, ammunition and handcuffs from his department issued vehicle, a law enforcement official said Tuesday.
The official, who wasn't authorized to speak about the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity, provided no other details.
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office in Brooklyn, Robert Nardoza, said he could "neither confirm nor deny an investigation." The FBI's New York office declined comment.
Newsday on Tuesday reported the investigation centers on the alleged actions of Suffolk County Chief of Police James Burke, who reportedly confronted one of two suspects arrested in December on theft charges stemming from the break-in of Burke's vehicle.
Christopher Loeb, 26, of Smithtown, and Gabriel Miguelez, 36, of Lindenhurst, were accused of stealing a duffel bag with Burke's gun belt, ammunition, handcuffs, cigars and other items from his SUV last December.
The newspaper says Burke is suspected of confronting Loeb at a nearby police precinct following his arrest.
It is not believed that any formal complaint has been filed against Burke, who was not immediately available for comment.
The department issued a statement last week after Newsday first reported on the allegations, saying Burke denied any wrongdoing.
"The Christopher Loeb case is an active, ongoing criminal prosecution. It would be inappropriate for Chief Burke to comment on this case," the statement said. "Chief Burke, along with numerous other victims of Christopher Loeb, are not only victims, but potential witnesses in this case."
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, who appointed Burke in 2012, also issued a statement through the police department backing his chief.
"James Burke is an outstanding law enforcement official and has helped lead our efforts to make Suffolk County a safer place to live," Bellone said.
Loeb has been in the Suffolk County jail on $500,000 bond awaiting trial since his arrest in December.
Newsday reported that Loeb sent his mother Jane a letter claiming that Burke had punched him in the stomach.
A man at Jane Loeb's house told a reporter Tuesday afternoon that she wasn't home.
Before Burke was named chief, he worked as an investigator in the Suffolk County district attorney's office. To avoid any potential conflict of interest, a special prosecutor from the Queens County district attorney's office has been assigned to the Loeb case, both prosecutors' offices said Tuesday.
Loeb was convicted of grand larceny in April 2012 and was on probation when Burke's vehicle was broken into, according to Newsday.
Jane Loeb told the newspaper her son has struggled with a drug addiction for years and she now fears for his life.
He is due back in Suffolk County Court on July 9.
Miguelez, a first-time offender, was released from jail on Jan. 30 and has agreed to a plea deal, the newspaper reported.
A message left for Loeb's court-appointed attorney, Toni Marie Angeli, was not immediately returned.
Nassau PBA seeks sanctions over release of report on Officer Anthony DiLeonardo
By SANDRA PEDDIE — Wednesday, June 26th, 2013 'New York Newsday' / Melville, L.I.
Nassau PBA president James Carver said Tuesday that the police union's lawyers will seek "the strictest of sanctions" against whoever allowed a confidential Nassau police Internal Affairs report detailing an off-duty cop's shooting of an unarmed cabdriver to remain in a federal court file.
"This is egregious," he said in an interview. "How do you undo something that's already been out there? This is something we take very seriously."
Carver was referring to Newsday's Sunday article on an Internal Affairs report finding that Nassau police Officer Anthony DiLeonardo escalated a roadside verbal dispute on Feb. 27, 2011, when he shot cabdriver Thomas Moroughan five times with a .38 Smith & Wesson, striking him in the chest and arm, as his girlfriend sat beside him.
The report also recommended five departmental charges be brought against DiLeonardo's companion that night, Nassau police Officer Edward Bienz. He also remains on the job.
The report recommended 19 departmental charges for what it found to be 11 unlawful acts and eight departmental rules violations by DiLeonardo. He has not been criminally charged and remains a Nassau police officer.
Nassau Police Commissioner Thomas Dale said in a statement that Moroughan's $30 million federal lawsuit against the department and the fact that an Internal Affairs investigation is still open prevented him from commenting.
Records show that the Internal Affairs report was submitted to Dale on July 31, 2012.
Moroughan's civil attorney, Anthony Grandinette, sent a letter to the court Monday, saying that he had taken pains to comply with the confidentiality order.
Nassau County DA's Johns Sting Challenged
By Michele Bowman — Wednesday, June 26th, 2013 'Lawyers.com' / New Providence, NJ
The Nassau County District Attorney circulated photos of alleged johns caught in a prostitution sting in an effort to shame them – and now at least one is suing her.
Turning the Tables
In Nassau County, which includes the area of Long Island immediately to the east of New York City, a sting operation was launched in May by Kathy Rice, the DA, and the Nassau County Police Department to catch not prostitutes but the men who hire them.
Using the website Backpage.com, female cops posing as prostitutes met the men at hotel rooms rigged with hidden cameras. Over 100 men were arrested in the sting, dubbed "Flush the Johns," according to the results announced June 3 by the DA.
The arrests "mark a dramatic expansion in how Nassau County law enforcement agencies traditionally target prostitution," said the press release. "In the last ten years, fewer than 40 johns have been arrested by police."
"Sex workers are often vulnerable victims of traffickers and pimps, yet they too often remain the prime targets in prostitution investigations while the johns who fuel the exploitation are treated as mere witnesses," said Rice in the press release. "My office and the police department are turning the tables on the illogical and immoral nature of that equation."
Rice announced the results at a press conference featuring a poster with the mug shots of all 104 accused men. The media, including the NY Daily News, published stories on the sting operation, along with the poster.
On the Daily Mail online, all the way across the Atlantic, the poster carried the caption, "District Attorney Kathleen Rice said she hopes that this poster of the 104 men arrested in a prostitution sting will put men on notice that they will be humiliated if they try to buy sex in Nassau County."
Then the lawyers got involved.
One, who happens to be the president of the Nassau Criminal Courts Bar Association, took special umbrage at the methods used by the DA. Revealing their names and photos on the poster "was intended to publicly stigmatize, shame and embarrass," said Steve Raiser, who was quoted in a blog post on his firm's web site. "This is therefore a flagrant circumvention of our justice system, which constitutes punishment without any semblance of due process."
Asked how the posting of mug shots of suspects was any different than the seemingly common practice of law enforcement and some media outlets, Raiser tells Lawyers.com, "This was not a press conference reporting the arrests of individuals."
"She put their photos under the title 'Flushing the Johns' . . . therefore . . . identifying them as 'Johns' and hence as being guilty of what they were charged with," he explains. "When a mug shot is posted, the media always go out of their way to indicate they are accused, not guilty. They are in fact innocent until proven guilty. Her publication indicates otherwise."
Punishment Without Process
While the New York Police Department reportedly ran a similar operation in 2012, netting 186 alleged johns, it didn't release their names or photos.
Raiser says King's actions violate the men's right to due process under the 14th Amendment, which guarantees that an accused will get a fair process before being punished by the state.
"She is punishing them by posting their photos under the assumption that they are guilty because they were arrested," he says. "Therefore, she is attempting to punish them before they are convicted of any wrongdoing."
At least one man has already brought suit against King for the violation, Raiser says, and others may follow. He does not represent any of them.
And others are getting hit with divorce actions: One local divorce lawyer says four women have contacted his firm seeking a divorce after learning their husbands had been arrested in the operation.
New Jersey (New E-Ticket System)
Andover Township to join police e-ticket system
By JESSICA MASULLI REYES — Wednesday, June 26th, 2013 'The New Jersey Herald' / Newton, NJ
Gone are the days of police handwriting driving tickets for a few Sussex County municipalities.
Andover Township on Monday night was the latest municipality to approve a new e-ticket system that allows officers to scan a driver's license, print a ticket and automatically send the ticket to the courts, all from within their police cars. Franklin was the first police department in the county to install this equipment, but Vernon and Andover Township will not be far behind.
GTBM, a New Jersey-based company that developed software products for law enforcement agencies, is known for providing police with products like Info-Cop that gives officers access to crime databases on a local, statewide and federal level. The company later launched Info-Cop E-Ticketing, a program that allows officers to print tickets from laptops or mobile devices.
An officer using the system out in the fields pulls over an individual for speeding or other traffic violations like usual. Then, the officer can scan the offender's license so that the information, like name and date of birth, is automatically added to the system.
The officer also selects on the computer or mobile device the applicable violation from a menu. With all of this information, the ticket is automatically filled out and printed with the fine and court information.
The ticket is automatically uploaded to the state's Administrative Office of Courts so that an individual can pay the ticket online immediately, if desired, rather than waiting the one to five days it can often take for a municipal clerk to manually enter tickets into the system.
"A lot of people just want to pay their ticket and move on with their lives," Lt. Eric Danielson, of Andover police, said about the time lapse.
This also cuts down on some data entry errors that occur when clerks are reading officer's handwriting and inputting the information into a computer. GTBM says on its website that 10 percent of all traffic citations are dismissed in the United States because of incorrect statute numbers, incorrect violations and/or other administrative data errors.
Franklin Detective Nevin Mattessich said the program has been very beneficial to Franklin police. It has enabled officers to return to work faster and to issue tickets more efficiently.
In Andover Township, the new system is going to cost about $13,000 for a five-year lease, according to Mayor Tom Walsh. He said a lease was a better option since the township will receive upgrades and any new software automatically over the next five years without having to make additional purchases. To purchase the system outright would have cost about $7,000.
A GTMB spokesman said on Tuesday that Franklin is the only municipality in the county that currently has Info-Cop E-Ticketing in its vehicles, but a contract was also approved with Vernon and will soon be approved with Andover Township since the committee unanimously accepted it Monday night. Other municipalities may also be considering it.
Justice Department: Police Misconduct in Responding to Domestic and Sexual Violence Can Violate Survivors' Civil Rights
By Sandra S. Park (ACLU Women's Rights Project) — Tuesday, June 25th, 2013; 1:13 p.m. 'American Civil Liberties Union News and Information' / New York, NY
Far too often, survivors of domestic and sexual violence face disbelief, victim-blaming and shaming, hostility, and a refusal to investigate, or even record, their reports from police. In Puerto Rico, the ACLU found that police failure to enforce domestic violence laws contributed to the highest per capita rate in the world of women killed by their intimate partners. The Puerto Rico Police Department also systematically underreported rape crimes and rarely took action when their own officers committed domestic violence, allowing 84 officers who had been arrested two or more times for domestic violence to remain active. In Washington DC, Human Rights Watch described serious problems with police documentation and investigation of sexual assault cases. In Norristown, PA and many other towns across the U.S., police penalize victims of domestic violence who reach out for law enforcement assistance, including by threatening eviction, pursuant to local ordinances.
While police abuses such as racial profiling or police brutality are well understood as civil rights violations, police misconduct in enforcing domestic and sexual violence laws is not. For years, the ACLU has argued that systemic problems in policing and domestic violence can violate survivors' civil and human rights because they are often rooted in discriminatory attitudes about women, as well as about people of color, immigrants, and LGBT people. Victims of these crimes may be denied equal protection under the U.S. Constitution when domestic or sexual violence is treated less seriously than other offenses. Due process violations may also occur when police affirmatively condone the violence, or when a victim is put at greater risk as a result of police action.
Last Thursday, the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, the Office for Victims of Crime, and the Office on Violence Against Women of the Department of Justice issued a crucial joint statement on addressing gender discrimination in policing. Because "gender bias plays a role in undermining the effective response by law enforcement to crimes against women," the statement announced that the prevention of sex-based discrimination by law enforcement is a "top priority" of the Civil Rights Division of DOJ in its oversight of law enforcement agencies. Indeed, in the last two years, DOJ launched groundbreaking investigations into departments in Puerto Rico, New Orleans, Maricopa County, AZ, and Missoula, MT to address grave concerns about their policing of domestic and sexual violence.
The joint statement and these investigations send a critical message about the importance of law enforcement accountability. In the statement, DOJ notes that many law enforcement agencies need to improve their response to all forms of violence against women, encouraging jurisdictions to "review and revise policies, protocols, and, most importantly, practices, to ensure they are free from gender bias." The statement includes a list of resources for law enforcement on how to appropriately address domestic and sexual violence, but does not give further guidance on how the Constitution and federal laws apply to protect victims or the fundamental elements of effective law enforcement responses to domestic or sexual violence. Such guidance would give greater clarity to law enforcement agencies seeking to strengthen their practices, as well as better informing survivors of domestic and sexual violence about their civil rights. We urge DOJ to continue to develop its work in this area.
FBI To Track Latino Arrests For Uniform Crime Report
By Roque Planas— Tuesday, June 25th, 2013 'The Huffington Post' / New York, NY
The FBI will begin collecting nationwide data on ethnicity next year to be published in its annual Uniform Crime Report, making it possible to test the assertion of some advocacy groups that police arrest Latinos -- a multiracial ethnic group -- at higher rates than non-Hispanic whites. The recent move marks the revival of an earlier FBI effort to collect crime data by ethnicity, abandoned in 1987.
Currently, the FBI only tabulates arrest data by race, with categories for white, black, Asian or Pacific Islander, and American Indian or Alaska Native. Latinos, who can belong to any race provided they have Latin American heritage, effectively vanish from the agency's published records.
The FBI's new approach, decided on June 5 and noted in a post to its website, would bring the agency's policy closer in line with the U.S. Census Bureau, even as that agency considers changing its classification of "Hispanic" from ethnicity to race. The FBI's recent measure broadens the ethnicity categories from "Hispanic" to "Hispanic or Latino Origin" and from "Non-Hispanic" to "Not of Hispanic or Latino Origin."
"Starting this year we are actively asking agencies to report ethnicity data once again," Loretta Simons, a supervisory technical information specialist with the FBI, told The Huffington Post.
The Office of Management and Budget first authorized the FBI to collect ethnicity data nationally in 1980, but abandoned the policy seven years later. Law enforcement agencies across the country continued collecting the data over the years, but because of uneven reporting, the ethnicity data doesn't appear in the agency's annual Uniform Crime Report.
The FBI's new policy also adds a fifth racial category by separating Asians from Native Hawaiians or Pacific Islanders.
The change is welcome news for the American Civil Liberties Union, which hammered the FBI's data-gathering methods this month after releasing a report that revealed a stark bias against blacks for arrests related to marijuana.
The study, based on the FBI's Uniform Crime Report, found that blacks were 3.7 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession from 2001 to 2010, though drug usage rates are similar.
Lynda Garcia, a fellow with the ACLU's Criminal Law Reform Project, says excluding Latinos from national arrest statistics likely masks a similar arrest bias against Hispanics.
"Without the data, we don't know if the Hispanic community is also being targeted for marijuana possession more than white communities," Garcia told The Huffington Post. "It's a pretty big number to be just kind of fudging."
Garcia suspects that failing to gather data on Hispanic arrest rates may obscure the true arrest bias against blacks, since law enforcement generally classifies Latinos as "white." She noted that the ACLU's report found a lower incidence of bias toward blacks in areas with large Latino populations.
"If, in fact, Latinos are arrested at a higher rate than whites -- which we presume they might be, then the disparity against blacks would be even greater," Garcia said.
Simmons of the FBI said the agency did not have a timeline to implement the changes, but that she hoped to finish the transition within the next two to three years.
Some, however, remain skeptical that the new policy would quickly overcome decades of bureaucratic inertia.
"I guess my feeling is -- and I don't mean this in a mean way -- but I'll believe it when I see it," Will Bunting, a fiscal policy analyst with the ACLU told HuffPost.
Policymakers at the U.S. Census Bureau have also struggled in recent years with how to classify the growing number of Hispanics.
Latinos currently check a box indicating whether they are Hispanic or non-Hispanic, before moving on to a separate section that designates their race.
But, in part because Latinos often come from racially mixed heritage not recognized by the Census Bureau, the "race" category tends to lead to confusion. Some 37 percent of Latinos marked their race as "other" in the 2010 Census.
Concerned about the possibility of undercounting Latinos, some within the Census Bureau now want to categorize Hispanics as a race -- a move opposed as inaccurate by many Latinos.
Atlanta police union defends using traffic tickets to fund pay increases
By Holly Yan and Victor Blackwell (CNN News) — Wednesday, June 26th, 2013; 4:43 a.m. EDT
(CNN) -- It's a theory many drivers have held since their first speeding ticket, that citations are somehow connected to a special perk for the officer writing it.
Now, a memo among Atlanta police officers has reignited such suspicions.
"The mayor has designated traffic court and ticket revenue for future pay increases," Atlanta Police Union President Ken Allen wrote this month.
Some residents scoffed at the idea.
"I'm probably going to switch from sales and join the police force in that case, if that's the way it's working," one resident, Ken Miller, told CNN affiliate WSB-TV.
But Allen stressed that while revenue from tickets will be earmarked for raises, more tickets will not necessarily lead to higher raises.
"We're not even asking anybody, or no one has made any suggestion, that any officer write any additional tickets than they already have," the union president told CNN.
"The revenues from tickets already go to the general fund. What the mayor has suggested doing is ... earmarking where these revenues are going for the future pay raises."
Allen said revenues have decreased, but it's largely because of the dismissal rates of citations and an inefficient court system. He said many traffic cases get dismissed because officers can't make it to the scheduled court appearance.
"The citizens need to understand ... we're not running a ticket revenue stream just to get a pay increase. All we're trying to do is correct the inefficiencies and hold those accountable for citations we've already written."
But former police officer and TV judge Alex Ferrer said he's concerned about the possible effects of linking ticket revenues directly to pay increases.
"Once you tie something to somebody's financial earnings, they are motivated in a way that they are not motivated before," he said.
But many officers say traffic stops yield a lot more benefits than just improved road safety and revenue.
Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villasenor requires his officers to make an average of at least one traffic stop a day. He said many important arrests stem from traffic stops.
"That's where we get most of our narcotic arrests. We get a lot of warrants we've been able to serve," Villasenor told CNN affiliate KGUN. "There's benefit from traffic (stops) that have been proven in city after city. I'm just saying we can't forget that's part of our job."
Colorado (Ret. NYPD Deputy Chief Danny Oates)
Aurora police destroyed evidence in 48 sexual assault cases
By Jordan Steffen — Wednesday, June 26th, 2013 'The Denver Post' / Denver, CO
Evidence in 48 sexual assault cases was improperly destroyed by Aurora police officers who failed to follow protocols, and officials are continuing to investigate whether any additional cases have been affected by what Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates called "a grievous mistake."
In one case, DNA evidence had identified a suspect and investigators were moving toward an arrest, Oates said.
Prior to a Tuesday news conference, Oates and prosecutors from the 18th Judicial District Attorney's Office met with the woman and told her that the case could no longer be prosecuted.
Oates said the victim was "gracious and understanding. More understanding than I would have been in that situation."
"Obviously this is not a good day for the department," Oates said. "This is a big mistake."
During the news conference, Oates said the evidence, all from 2009 cases, appeared to have been destroyed during a six-month window beginning last January.
No additional evidence has been destroyed since the errors were discovered two weeks ago.
Many of the cases in which evidence was destroyed did not have a current likelihood of prosecution, Oates said. Several victims had selected not to pursue their cases.
The police department collects an average of 50,000 pieces of evidence and property each year. Every year, in order to create space for new evidence, an equivalent amount of evidence must be disposed of.
Under a law passed in 2009, officers in the department's Property and Evidence Unit adopted policies that tightened the requirements for the destruction of evidence.
In 18 of the sexual assault cases, the lead detective recommended the destruction of the evidence, but follow-up reviews, required under the law, never occurred.
Evidence in the other 30 cases was incorrectly destroyed by an officer assigned to light duty in the unit.
None of the errors was intentional, Oates said, adding that he suspects improper training may be an issue.
"We will do all that we should to fix this problem," he said. "No one — including that officer — intended this outcome. It was a mistake."
In addition to the case that cannot be prosecuted, DNA samples in a second case matched those collected in two separate sexual assaults in Denver. If a suspect is ever charged in those cases, it would be difficult "but not impossible" to prosecute the Aurora case, Oates said.
"Obviously, we have a problem we need to fix," he said.
An expert panel will review the matter and make findings and recommendations to the Aurora Police Department. The panel will include representatives from the state Attorney General's office, a DNA expert and prosecutors from the 17th and 18th district attorneys' offices.
"We are participating in an independent task force that will individually review the cases potentially affected by these evidentiary issues," George Brauchler, district attorney for the 18th Judicial District, said in a statement.
Sean McDermott, president of the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, said he was encouraged by Oates' pro-active approach to the errors, as well as the department's selection of panel members for the independent review.
"When evidence is lost, it is not only about the conviction of the guilty but the freedom of the innocent," McDermott said.
Oates said the department immediately focused on the sexual assault cases affected by the errors because of their high importance, and now the department will expand its review to see what additional cases may have had evidence destroyed.
How police track your driving
By Unnamed Author(s) — Wednesday, June 26th, 2013 'The San Francisco Chronicle' / San Francisco, CA
At a rapid pace, and mostly hidden from the public, police agencies throughout California have been accumulating millions of license-plate readings from devices placed atop patrol cars and feeding them into intelligence centers operated by local, state and federal law enforcement, the Center for Investigative Reporting has found.
With heightened concern over secret intelligence operations at the National Security Agency, the localized effort to track drivers highlights the extent to which the government has committed to collecting large amounts of data on people who have done nothing wrong.
A year ago, the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center — one of dozens of law enforcement intelligence-sharing centers set up after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 — signed a $340,000 agreement with the Silicon Valley firm Palantir to construct a database of license plate records flowing in from police using the devices across 14 counties, documents and interviews show. The extent of the center's data collection has never been revealed.
Law enforcement says license-plate reading has been a boon to its efforts to spot people wanted on outstanding warrants, recover stolen cars and even arrest murder suspects. Privacy advocates say the price is unacceptably high — millions of people who have done nothing wrong, having their movements recorded by the government.
The extent to which law enforcement goes to track license-plate data came as a surprise to one San Leandro man, who asked the city for a record of how many times his two cars had been photographed. The answer came as a shock — click here to find out how often and where police were recording his movements.
FBI's bus ads taken down over Muslim/terrorist stereotyping
The ads, featuring 16 photos of wanted terrorists, will be taken down after complaints that the ads promoted stereotypes.
By Paige Cornwell — Wednesday, June 26th, 2013 'The Seattle Times' / Seattle, WA
After a wave of criticism from politicians, advocacy groups and the public, 46 bus ads featuring photos of wanted terrorists will be taken down within the next few weeks, officials said Tuesday.
The "Faces of Global Terrorism" ad was criticized for promoting stereotypes of Muslims and painting a broad brush against one group.
The ad is part of a campaign launched earlier this month by the Puget Sound Joint Terrorism Task Force for the U.S. Department of State's Rewards for Justice program. It features 16 photos of wanted terrorists sandwiched between the taglines "Faces of Global Terrorism" and "Stop a Terrorist. Save Lives. Up to $25 Million Reward."
Titan, the company that handles King County Metro bus advertising, received a request Tuesday afternoon from the task force that the ads be taken down, according to King County Metro spokesman Jeff Switzer. Two different ads without photos will remain on billboards, light rail and at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
The decision to remove the bus ads was "a result of our continued engagement with the community and the feedback we are getting," FBI Special Agent Fred Gutt said.
U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott wrote a letter last week to FBI Director Robert Mueller expressing concern over the ads, saying the ad would "only serve to exacerbate the disturbing trend of hate crimes against Middle Eastern, South Asian and Muslim-Americans."
"When you start saying that this is the face of terrorism, you are really stigmatizing a whole group of people," McDermott, D-Seattle, said Tuesday.
King County Metro received a half-dozen complaints through the customer information line, Switzer said.
Lynnwood resident Jeff Siddiqui, the founder of American Muslims of Puget Sound, said he received phone calls from other Muslims in Seattle who said they were concerned for their safety. He said the ad would be similarly objectionable if the government were to post photos of men from another ethnic group on billboards with the tagline "the face of murders in the United States."
"It is affecting all kinds of people who have no experience with Muslims, who look at it and say, 'Oh, Muslims are the face of global terrorism,' " Siddiqui said.
The 16 men in the ad are affiliated with extremist groups around the world. Seven are from African countries, four are from the Philippines, one each is from Malaysia and Chechnya, and three were born in the United States.
When a bus is whizzing by at 35 mph, McDermott said, it's difficult to look closely at each photo and see the differences.
"The impression you get is that terrorism is caused by brown-skinned men with beards, and occasionally they wear a turban — which isn't true," McDermott said.
Gutt said the State Department solicited input from community members before the ads were placed and has continued that relationship.
Department staff members attended a meeting on Monday night with several community and civil-rights organizations, and staff members were open to establishing a campaign that combats terrorism while being respectful to minority communities, according to McDermott's office.
"I am glad, because now we can start again, we can rebuild a relationship," Siddiqui said. "Please God, let it be a relationship of open communication and trust."
The ads will be taken down in the next seven to 10 days, Switzer said.
Seattle is the first city in the United States targeted for the campaign, according to Gutt. The city has a diverse population that travels and has connections internationally, which makes it an effective area for the pilot program, he said.
The Rewards for Justice Program was created in 1984 and reviews tips for credible information that leads to the arrest or conviction of terrorism or prevents terrorist acts from occurring. The program has paid about $125 million to more than 80 people and played a significant role in the 1995 arrest of Ramzi Yousef, who was convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
Flaws found in security checks by U.S. contractors four years ago
By Diane Bartz and Tabassum Zakaria (Reuters) — Wednesday, June 26th, 2013; 1:15 a.m. EDT
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Government auditors discovered four years ago that a select group of private contractors conducting background checks for high-security jobs were not doing enough to ensure the quality of their investigations.
Some investigators hired by the companies were not adequately trained or closely supervised, and the background reports they turned over to agencies for hundreds of thousands of prospective employees had missing information that could lead to risky hiring, the inspector general for the Office of Personnel Management said in a 2010 report that got little attention.
Now, as Congress focuses on how former Booz Allen Hamilton systems administrator Edward Snowden gained access to National Security Agency secrets while working at a facility in Hawaii, the report's findings are drawing new attention. Some lawmakers are calling for a full review of how security clearances are done.
Snowden is facing espionage charges after leaking details about secret U.S. surveillance programs to the media. He flew to Moscow from Hong Kong on Sunday and, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin, on Tuesday he was in the transit area of a Moscow airport.
At a hearing last week, Senator Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat on a contracting oversight panel of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, cited an ongoing investigation into USIS, the contractor that conducted the most recent security review of Snowden.
"It is a reminder that background investigations can have real consequences for our national security," McCaskill said.
Questions have been raised about whether Snowden misstated his educational credentials. Hiring screeners at Booz Allen Hamilton found possible discrepancies in a resume submitted by Snowden, but the company still employed him, a source with detailed knowledge of the matter said last week.
Snowden also would have had to undergo a polygraph exam administered by the NSA, a senior government official said on condition of anonymity.
USIS is one of three companies now doing background checks under contracts worth up to $2.5 billion with the government's Office of Personnel Management.
USIS declined to comment for this story beyond a statement issued last week in which it said it had cooperated with the OPM inspector general's investigation and had no comment about Snowden's background check.
Screening prospective employees is a challenge because of the large number of jobs now requiring secret or top-secret clearances.
As of October 2012, 4.9 million U.S. workers had some sort of federal security clearance. There were 3.9 million background investigations done in fiscal 2012, some by the OPM's Federal Investigative Services unit and others by the three contractors with oversight by the OPM. It is unclear how many each does.
The OPM's Federal Investigative Services (FIS) defended the quality of background investigations.
"FIS investigative personnel are held to the highest standards of ethical and professional conduct in their positions of public trust and national security," Merton Miller, associate director of FIS, said in a statement. "Misconduct rarely occurs."
The 2010 report found problems with procedures and safeguards used by all three private contractors - USIS, KeyPoint Government Solutions and CACI International Inc.
All three companies have had investigators who were found to have done substandard work in background checks, which involve pulling records and interviewing associates of a job seeker.
"USIS, Kroll (KeyPoint) and CACI have all employed background investigators who have been convicted of fabrication," Susan Ruge, associate counsel at the OPM's inspector general's office said.
The U.S. Attorney in the District of Columbia has prosecuted 18 cases since 2006 - 11 of them federal employees and seven who worked for the private companies, according to OPM Inspector General Patrick McFarland in testimony to Congress last week. The penalties for the crimes have ranged from prison time to house arrest.
CACI and KeyPoint declined to comment.
Some experts said it made no difference whether the background investigations were done by contractors or by government employees.
Companies are "using basically the same kinds of people" as the government, said Daniel Schwartz, a former NSA general counsel. "They're former agents or retired agents."
The Government Accountability Office said the fiscal 2012 base price for a "top-secret" clearance investigation conducted by OPM was $4,005 while the base price of a less sensitive "secret" clearance was $260.
Those conducting the background checks may be inexperienced, and may be pushed to work quickly, said Schwartz.
"The real problem in this process is that it is grossly understaffed," said Schwartz, now with the law firm Bryan Cave. "There are not enough good staffers. On the clearance side, it's a huge problem."
USIS, which has 2,300 investigators, is the oldest and largest of the three companies. It was created in 1996 when the government decided to partially privatize the work to achieve savings estimated at the time to be between $60 million and $120 million per year.
USIS is owned by a larger investigative company called Altegrity, which in turn is principally owned by private equity firm Providence Equity Partners.
KeyPoint started in 2000 as Kroll Government Services, which did consulting and investigations. Veritas Capital bought Kroll in 2009 and changed its name.
It has 2000 investigators and works for more than 120 federal agencies, including OPM, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection and the Transportation Security Administration, according to the company's web site.
Defense contractor CACI, a technology company, began doing federal background checks in 2004. It was criticized for the translators and other personnel that it provided to the U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
(Editing by Marilyn W. Thompson, Martin Howell and Tim Dobbyn)
'Pork' bullets meant to send Muslim terrorists to hell Jihawg
Ammo uses pork-containing paint to coat its bullets — making them 'Haraam,' or unclean.
By Sasha Goldstein — Wednesday, June 26th, 2013 'The New York Daily News'
These bullets don't just kill — they send Muslims to hell.
An Idaho ammunition maker has introduced pork into their bullets, meant, the manufacturer says, as a deterrent against Islamist terrorists who are forbidden by religion to eat pig.
"With Jihawg Ammo, you don't just kill an Islamist terrorist, you also send him to hell," the company wrote in a press release. "That should give would-be martyrs something to think about before they launch an attack. If it ever becomes necessary to defend yourself and those around you, our ammo works on two levels."
The ammo makers call the bullets a deterrent to terrorists.
The ammo has the Internet buzzing — and some consumers buying. The $20-per-box ammunition, tagline "There's Pig in the Paint," is selling quickly, product inventor Brendon Hill told ABC News.
Hill says the ammo, thought up by a group of "patriots" during a conversation about the plans for a mosque near New York's Ground Zero site, could deter a potential terrorist who fears being sullied by pork product. It is, the company's website proclaims, "Peace through Pork!"
Hill told ABC the bullet's paint contains pork, a concoction the former NRA fundraiser made up himself. The modified bullets fire just like any other ammunition.