Sunday, June 30th, 2013 — Good Afternoon, Stay Safe
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Staten Island cop killer fights for life at federal expense
By TOM HAYS (The Associated Press) — Sunday, June 30th, 2013; 1:12 a.m. EDT
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Convicted killer Ronell Wilson, who executed two undercover detectives on Staten Island a decade ago, came from an impoverished background, but the spending for his legal defense has been lavish.
The Justice Department, after an appeals court threw out a death sentence for Wilson of Stapleton in 2011, decided to again seek the ultimate punishment with a new jury rather than let the defendant serve an automatic life term.
Court officials say since then, at least $1.6 million in taxpayer money has gone to his defense -- and the meter is still running.
The escalating costs are one facet of a legal odyssey that began with Wilson's brutal slaying in Tompkinsville of two plainclothes NYPD officers on the night of March 10, 2003.
It picked up again in Brooklyn last week with the start of the repeat of the penalty phase of his case, which so far is playing out in a mostly empty courtroom with grim-faced jurors listening to witnesses recounting the circumstances of the case by rote.
"I asked, 'Why did you do that?'" a cooperating accomplice, Jesse Jacobus, recalled about a conversation with Wilson after the shootings. "He told me he didn't give a (expletive) about nobody."
Wilson -- once a scrawny gang member of "The Stapleton Crew"nicknamed "Rated R" -- appears in court these days wearing glasses and dress shirts appropriate for a college classroom. But the 31-year-old often looks distant and disengaged, and away from court he's demonstrated a cynical streak that defies his life-or-death predicament.
The new set of jurors, though not deciding Wilson's guilt, have once again heard about the fate of two New York Police Department Detectives Rodney Andrews and James Nemorin who were posing as illegal gun buyers. The pair met with Wilson inside a car for what they thought was a deal to buy a Tec-9 submachine gun. But Wilson decided to rob them instead and ended up shooting both in the head from the back seat, even though Nemorin pleaded for his life.
In February, officials revealed that after being transferred from federal death row in Indiana to a Brooklyn lockup to await the proceedings, Wilson fathered a child with a jail guard. There's also evidence that while he and Jacobus were behind bars together, Wilson instructed him to try to win sympathy from the jury by saying they had a "rough upbringing" in the Stapleton Houses.
Jacobus, who pleaded guilty, is serving a 15-year to life term that he is hoping to get reduced by cooperating.
Once again in evidence is a scrap of paper Wilson was carrying when he was arrested. It had the rap lyrics saying that if he was ever crossed, he would put "45 slogs in da back of ya head" and "I ain't goin stop to Im dead."
Wilson, "to impress members of his gang, to raise his status, blasted hollow-point bullets into their brains," prosecutor James McGovern said this week in opening statements. "They deserved a life. Now if justice is to be done, the defendant does not."
The defense will counter with anecdotal evidence of Wilson's troubled background as the son of a crack-addicted mother living with a dozen relatives crammed into an apartment at a crime-infested housing project.
In his opening statement, defense attorney Richard Jasper recounted how during childhood, Wilson also endured time in a psychiatric hospital, where he told a worker that he wanted to die.
Deciding his client's fate would be "the most important decision of your entire life," the lawyer told jurors, saying that letting him die "on God's time and not man's time" was the best option.
The previous jury found that Wilson should die by lethal injection. He became the city's first federal defendant to receive a death sentence since 1954, when it was imposed on a bank robber who killed an FBI agent.
But the appeals court reversed the Wilson sentence, saying that prosecutors violated his constitutional rights by telling the jury his decision to go to trial demonstrated his lack of remorse and refusal to accept responsibility.
After Wilson won his appeal, Judge Nicholas Garaufis cautioned lawyers he had just presided over a capital case for a mobster where the defense bill was $5 million. It ended with the jury choosing to impose a life sentence.
"If I'm going to spend four months of my career and millions of dollars of taxpayers' money trying another one of these death penalty cases, I need to know the attorney general wants to try it," he said.
Questioning whether it was worth pursuing the Wilson case made sense, given the city's track record in federal death penalty case, said Richard Dieter, executive director of the nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center.
"It's hard in New York City to have a jury return a death sentence," Dieter said. "Judges there often look at that and ask, 'Why would you spend all this money?'"
Under similar circumstances, the Justice Department has decided not to retry the penalty phase of capital cases at least four times since the federal death penalty was established in 1988, according to the nonprofit. But, without explanation, Attorney General Eric Holder authorized the U.S. attorney's office in Brooklyn to move ahead.
How much that decision will ultimately cost is unknown. A 2008 study found that the average cost of defending a federal death case is more than $620,000. By the time the appeals process plays out, that total typically tops $1 million, Dieter said.
So far in the new proceedings, Wilson's lawyers -- who, by law, can be paid up to $178 an hour -- have had him examined by several experts in a failed bid to have him declared ineligible for the death penalty because he's mentally disabled. Jury selection lasted five weeks. And the penalty phase is projected to take at least a month.
But under the circumstances, the expense of the proceeding is worth it, said Michael Palladino, president of the Detectives Endowment Association.
"This particular cop killing is one of the most egregious I've ever seen," the union official said. "There were two victims, and (Wilson) knew exactly what he was doing. ... I understand the concern about cost, but sometimes you must move forward with what is right."
NYPD Surprised By Precipitous Drop In Murders So Far This Year
Stop-And-Frisk To Credit In Part, Police Say
By Unnamed Author(s) (CBS News - New York) — Saturday, June 29th, 2013; 1:57 p.m. EDT
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Even the NYPD was surprised upon learning that the murder rate has dropped 25 percent for the first half of 2013 – coming off a record low last year.
“Frankly, probably a year ago — even as optimistically then as our strategies were working — we probably didn’t think they were working this well,” said NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne.
As WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported, Browne said the stop-and-frisk program is part of the success. But he didn’t credit all of the success with the controversial practice.
“It’s in combination with a number of strategies,” he said. “It doesn’t stand alone.”
Putting more emphasis on quickly getting resources to where the crime is, and focusing on gangs, are other strategies that can be credited with the drop, Browne said. Altogether, the murder rate has dropped to 154, compared with 202 for the same period last year.
In fact, for the first 178 days of the year, the city averaged less than a murder a day, according to the New York Times. This was the first time police could recall such a trend for any extended period of time, the newspaper reported.
Community Safety Act
Sunday, June 30th, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’ Editorial:
Holding out for a hero
The future of the NYPD hangs on one changed vote in the City Council
One vote, a veto, is what Mayor Bloomberg will wisely cast when he says no to a dangerous City Council bill aiming to hamstring the NYPD.
And one vote, by a councilmember coming to his or her senses, is all that’s needed to stop the city legislature from overriding that veto.
Someone must think twice.
This debate must not be derailed by the outraged reaction, some of it genuine and much of it manufactured, to Bloomberg's comment Friday that “we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little.”
Bloomberg’s words were inartful. But this is where you wind up when you follow the Council’s flawed methodology of extrapolating discrimination by strictly comparing racial and ethnic proportions of stops to racial and ethnic proportions of the population.
Far more to the point — and where Bloomberg should have focused his critique of the Council bill — is the fact that cops concentrate on high-crime areas because they are high-crime areas.
For those who insist on using statistics to judge alleged racial bias, the better comparison is between the makeup of crime suspects and victims and the breakdowns of those stopped. By these numbers, the NYPD is well in line (some 90% of murder suspects are African-American, as are roughly 87% of those stopped).
Bloomberg should have stuck to those numbers rather than turning the statistical wrongheadedness of outraged stop-and-frisk opponents on its head.
To return to the bill in question:
The measure passed the Council early Thursday by a margin of 34 to 17. Thirty-four is also the magic number the Council needs to hit to make it law over the mayor’s strenuous objection.
As described by its supporters, the legislation sounds all-American: prevent racial profiling by cops. Dig deeper and the risks are harrowing.
The language bars police from relying on any of the listed categories, including “race, national origin, color, creed, age, alienage or citizenship status, gender” and more, as “the determinative factor in initiating law enforcement action.”
In practice: A woman reports that a white, middle-aged man wearing a black cap has just assaulted her. A nearby police officer, responding to the call, sees three men in such a cap.
Two are white, one is black. The first man is a teenager; the second a middle-aged man; the third, a man in his 60s.
The cop zeroes in on the white, middle-aged man fitting the description — and by doing so, violates the statute.
Beyond that, the law would give citizens and activists the right to sue when they think the NYPD as a whole or its individual units disproportionately act against a particular group. This would snarl the practice of sane policing.
It’s not only Bloomberg, Commissioner Ray Kelly and the city’s district attorneys who are sounding the alarm.
Speaker Christine Quinn opposes the bill, saying, “It gives me concern about the number of cases that we’ll end up hearing and that we might have contradictory court rulings which are binding and could create real confusion.”
Anthony Weiner expresses “grave concerns.” Bill Thompson also does not support it.
The three leading Democratic contenders for mayor, not a conservative in the bunch, have their heads screwed on right. Does one more member of the Council?
One likely candidate: Erik Martin Dilan of Brooklyn. He was the only supporter of the legislation who was not a cosponsor and was on the fence until just before the vote.
If Dilan won’t see the light, among the other 33 yes votes were Mark Weprin of Queens and Steve Levin of Brooklyn. Both are ambitious and running for reelection. Do they really want to tie their futures to such flawed lawmaking — and live with the consequences?
Weprin has designs on becoming the next speaker. Is this the kind of leadership he offers?
Rev. Al Sharpton slams Mayor Bloomberg for saying stop-and-frisk stops too many whites
Mayoral candidates William Thompson, Christine Quinn and Bill de Blasio all blasted the mayor for his latest defense of the controversial policy.
By Denis Slattery AND Larry McShane — Sunday, June 30th, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’
A livid Rev. Al Sharpton lashed out Saturday at Mayor Bloomberg, demanding an apology over Hizzoner’s claims that the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy targets too many whites.
“The tone that has been set by that remark not only polarizes the city, it gives a false sense to police that they can step over the line,” Sharpton told a Harlem news conference.
Bloomberg needs to “clarify or apologize” for the Friday statements on the controversial policing policy, the veteran civil rights activist and MSNBC host said.
The mayor, on his weekly radio show, responded to critics who point to the high percentage of blacks and Hispanics stopped by police as proof that minorities are unfairly targeted.
“It’s not a disproportionate percentage of those who witnesses and victims describe as committing the murders,” Bloomberg said.
“In that case, incidentally, I think we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little.”
Sharpton said the mayor’s comments amounted to an endorsement for police to racially profile suspects.
“Even in mostly white areas, the majority of those stopped are young black men,” Sharpton said. “Why are we the ones stopped and frisked in areas that we barely are at? That’s profiling. And it has been documented.”
Mayoral candidates William Thompson, Christine Quinn and Bill de Blasio all blasted the mayor for his remarks.
A federal judge is expected to rule on a class action lawsuit over stop and frisk in July. A ruling against the city could result in the appointment of an independent monitor to oversee the NYPD.
Gregg Abbate, retired NYPD detective, dies
By KEVIN DEUTSCH — Saturday, June 29th, 2013 ‘New York Newsday’ / Melville, L.I.
Gregg Abbate, a retired NYPD bomb squad detective from Massapequa Park who helped with search and rescue efforts after witnessing the collapse of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, died Thursday, his family said.
The cause of death apparently was a heart attack.
Abbate, 45, a married father of three girls, was a highly decorated officer whose honors included the prestigious Combat Cross and Medal of Valor, the department said.
Born and raised in Massapequa, he joined the New York City Police Department in 1991 and was initially assigned to the 69th Precinct in Canarsie, Brooklyn. He then served in the 71st Precinct, in Crown Heights, before moving to the Street Crime Unit. He was eventually promoted to the Emergency Service Unit, and worked in the ESU K-9 unit.
In 2006, Abbate moved to the bomb squad, where he remained until he retired in 2011.
In addition to helping with rescue efforts on 9/11, he responded to the attempted car bombing in Times Square on May 1, 2010, a planned terrorist attack.
"His goal in life was to work and provide for his family," said Jennifer Abbate, 44, his wife of 21 years. "He was very successful at every job he had. He just wanted to be a good father to his daughters. He was devoted."
Sgt. Brian Coughlan, who worked alongside Abbate on the bomb squad, said he was beloved by his colleagues.
"He brightened everybody's day every time he came to work," Coughlan said. "I miss him terribly. He was a cop's cop."
Abbate was also a lifeguard at Tobay Beach on the South Shore for more than 20 years.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by his daughters, Sarah, 19, Justine, 17, and Allison, 14; his mother, Maria Abbate of Massapequa; and a brother, Michael, of Manhattan.
A wake will be held at Massapequa Funeral Home, 1050 Park Blvd., Massapequa Park, Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m.
The funeral will be held at 10 a.m. Monday at St. Rose of Lima Church, 2 Bayview Ave., Massapequa. Burial will be at St. Charles Cemetery in East Farmingdale.
Hero bomb cop, 45, dies
By LARRY CELONA — Sunday, June 30th, 2013 ‘The New York Post’
A hero cop who received the Medal of Valor for his role in disarming the Times Square bomb in 2010 has died at the age of 45.
Gregg Abbate suffered a heart attack Thursday at home after falling ill at Tobay Beach on Long Island, where he was working as a lifeguard, said his former boss, Sgt. John Ryan.
Abbate, of Massapequa, was one of three technicians who rendered safe the bomb Faisal Shahzad left in an SUV parked in Times Square in May 2010.
“He’s the one you wanted next to you when things were getting rough,” said Ryan.
Attorney off Suffolk Police Chief Burke case
By TANIA LOPEZ — Saturday, June 29th, 2013 ‘New York Newsday’ / Melville, L.I.
The attorney representing the Smithtown man accused of breaking into Suffolk Police Chief James Burke's department-issued vehicle asked to be taken off the case Friday.
Judge Martin Efman granted defense lawyer Toni Marie Angeli's application to be relieved from representing Christopher Loeb on the condition that another attorney take over the case.
The Garden City-based attorney told the court she had a conflict and asked to be removed, a court spokesman confirmed.
She was initially replaced by Michael J. Brown, a Central Islip-based attorney who is also a former prosecutor at the Suffolk County district attorney's office. But within an hour, Brown said he had reconsidered and was no longer accepting the assignment, the spokesman said.
Angeli will continue to represent Loeb until a replacement is found, which could be next week, the spokesman said. Angeli refused to comment on the matter.
The application comes days after sources said that federal officials are investigating Burke to see if he violated Loeb's civil rights.
The FBI served nearly a dozen subpoenas to Suffolk police officers, detectives and headquarters personnel who may have direct knowledge or indirect knowledge of what happened the day of Loeb's arrest at his Smithtown home or at the Fourth Precinct where he was processed. More subpoenas will be issued soon, the sources said.
Loeb, 26, was held on a $500,000 bond at a Riverhead jail since his Dec. 14, 2012, arrest until federal authorities took him into custody Tuesday as a material witness.
Loeb faces charges 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 after allegedly implicating himself in a police statement.
Police and prosecutors say Loeb and an accomplice took a bag out of Burke's department-issued vehicle. Records show Burke's bag contained a gun belt, ammunition, cigars and other items.
Loeb told family members that Burke punched him in the Fourth Precinct squad room hours after his arrest, his mother, Jane Loeb, said earlier this month.
Suffolk Police Commissioner Ed Webber and Burke have declined to comment. Burke denied any wrongdoing earlier this month.
-- With Andrew Smith
Feds should probe alleged LI police misconduct
By JOYE BROWN — Sunday, June 30th, 2013 ‘New York Newsday’ / Melville, L.I.
(Op-Ed / Commentary)
The U.S. Justice Department has stepped in to determine whether James Burke, a high-ranking Suffolk County police official, violated the civil rights of a suspect the officer is alleged to have punched.
A man arrested on charges of breaking into an unmarked police vehicle assigned to Burke, chief of department, told his family that Burke hit him in a Fourth Precinct squad room.
The incident that sources told Newsday was under federal investigation was said to have occurred in December when Christopher Loeb was arrested on charges of breaking into Burke's vehicle and stealing the officer's gun belt and other items.
It's good that the feds are looking into the Suffolk allegations, but they ought to expand their investigation west, into Nassau County, where a police internal affairs report uncovered by Newsday last week detailed a horrendous and frightening abuse.
The report by the Internal Affairs division found that after a night of drinking, off-duty Officer Anthony DiLeonardo escalated a traffic dispute in Huntington Station and shot cabdriver Thomas Moroughan twice and broke his nose with blows from DiLeonardo's gun butt.
The report concluded that DiLeonardo committed several unlawful acts, including assault, criminal use of a firearm and driving while ability was impaired. DiLeonardo kept his job. No criminal charges have been filed in Suffolk County, where the incident occurred.
Are there other instances where officers are accused of wrongdoing? And have they, like DiLeonardo, never faced criminal charges?
Even more disturbing than the allegations, however, has been the response from both counties.
In Suffolk, County Executive Steve Bellone -- twice -- issued the same blanket statement supporting Burke.
Shouldn't he, instead, have reassured Suffolk residents that the county will cooperate in getting to the bottom of the disturbing allegations?
In Nassau, County Executive Edward Mangano remained silent on the DiLeonardo Internal Affairs report until reporters brought it up during an unrelated news conference.
Even then, Mangano would say only that he expected the police department to investigate and mete out appropriate "discipline."
Where is the outrage? Where is the sense of urgency? Where is the recognition by the counties' top elected officials that the public's trust in both police departments, justly, is shaken?
The Justice Department already had been looking at Suffolk, where an investigation into allegations of discriminatory policing against Hispanics is ongoing.
Nassau's handling of DiLeonardo's case deserves outside scrutiny, too.
The allegations of beating a suspect in Suffolk and the Internal Affairs report on an unjustified shooting and beating of an unarmed man by a Nassau officer are serious.
Residents deserve to know what happened and how Suffolk and Nassau intend to resolve both cases. If the counties can't -- or won't -- dig in, the federal government should.
Sunday, June 30th, 2013 ‘New York Newsday’ Editorial:
Long Island police cover-up demands justice
Police officials and union representatives often say the bad apples are a tiny percentage of any force, and they're right: The majority of cops are good people trying to do a tough job honorably.
But police supporters also argue that good officers want bad ones off the force, because they tarnish the organization. There is little evidence that such is the case in the Nassau and Suffolk county police departments. An exclusive Newsday story published a week ago about an officer who still has his badge after drunkenly shooting another man, then lying about it, shows just how badly awry policing has gone in both counties.
On Feb. 27, 2011, according to a confidential Nassau County police internal affairs report obtained by Newsday, Officer Anthony DiLeonardo, off duty and drunk, shot at cabdriver Thomas Moroughan five times, hitting him twice, then beat the man with the butt of his gun. DiLeonardo had been barhopping in Huntington with his girlfriend, fellow Officer Edward Bienz and Bienz's wife. Moroughan, who was driving a Prius cab with his girlfriend in the passenger seat, had gotten into a roadside verbal dispute with DiLeonardo.
DiLeonardo's explanation for firing at Moroughan, which his companions backed up, was that he feared for his life because the cabbie revved his engine, then tried to run him down. The report debunks that story. A Prius can't be revved audibly, and a reconstruction concluded the car wasn't bearing down on DiLeonardo.
The Nassau police report, which included fact-finding by top homicide detectives in the Suffolk County district attorney's office, concluded DiLeonardo committed 11 unlawful acts, including assault, criminal use of a firearm and driving while impaired, and violated eight departmental regulations. It said Bienz committed two unlawful acts and violated three regulations.
Yet more than two years later, both are still officers and neither has faced significant discipline, although DiLeonardo cannot currently carry a weapon at work. Nor has any action been taken against the Suffolk County police officers that night who allegedly fabricated a confession and got a hospitalized Moroughan -- drugged with morphine and carrying two bullets in his body -- to sign it. The Nassau cops were on Suffolk's turf, but the distinction that night made no difference in the brotherhood of blue.
None of the facts of the evening would be known had a copy of the secret internal affairs report not been found by Newsday in a court file related to Moroughan's $30-million lawsuit against the two police departments, two counties and 18 cops.
There is plenty of blame to go around for this horrifying state of affairs.
Within 12 hours of the shooting, Nassau County's Deadly Force Response Team cleared DiLeonardo of wrongdoing and said he and Bienz had been "fit for duty," not mentioning that they were intoxicated.
The internal affairs investigation by Nassau was not begun for 99 days. In signing the statement by Suffolk officers, the medicated and injured Moroughan waived his rights. He was denied an attorney and charged with second-degree assault and second-degree reckless endangerment.
Both charges were dropped by Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota, who took over the investigation from the Suffolk police, four months later. Spota concluded the Nassau officers' version of the story was fabricated. But with Moroughan refusing to testify against the Nassau cops, Spota decided against prosecuting.
Moroughan is luckier than most people who've been assaulted by cops. The prominence and presence at the hospital of his highly regarded godmother, Suffolk Police Department Deputy Commissioner Risco Mention-Lewis, who agrees he was denied an attorney and railroaded into a confession of crimes he did not commit, had to have helped spur a response to his allegations.
What should be done
In Nassau: Based on the conclusions of Spota's and Nassau internal affairs' investigations, the Nassau police Deadly Force Response Team appears to have been remiss in its duties. What disciplinary actions do those cops face? Why are DiLeonardo and Bienz still wearing badges? Police Commissioner Thomas Dale should act swiftly to remove them.
In Suffolk: The Suffolk Police Department's investigation was, at the very least, shameful, and possibly criminal. Spota should seek a court order to obtain the Nassau police internal affairs report to determine whether there is evidence in there he can use against any of the officers involved in both counties.
Suffolk Executive Steve Bellone and Police Commissioner Edward Webber should tell the public what disciplinary action is being taken against their officers involved in the cover-up.
Moroughan and his girlfriend must seriously consider testifying before a Suffolk grand jury. Spota says he has not brought charges against the Nassau cops because the case can't be made without the victim's testimony. After Newsday's story broke and outrage mounted, Spota renewed efforts to get their cooperation in the hope of building a case.
In Albany: New York's police unions are protected by a law known as 50-a, which keeps hidden from the public any record used to judge an officer's performance, including misconduct. Had the 350-page internal affairs report not been left where it could be found, the truth might never have come to light. That law must be changed so that the facts become public when officers have committed crimes.
And the culture of the cops must change. Protecting each other from the truth and its consequences is not noble. It's a dereliction of duty.
Most police officers are good, it's true. But no law, custom or culture ought to protect the ones who aren't.
U.S.A. (Assault on the 2nd Amendment)
Sunday, June 30th, 2013 ‘The New York Post’ Editorial:
Apparently even Michael Bloomberg doesn’t have enough money.
Despite his considerable means, the mayor is asking you to subsidize his pet cause — outlawing guns. But he doesn’t want you to know about it.
As The Post recently reported, Chris Kocher, counsel in the mayor’s office, traveled to Nevada this year to lobby for a background-check bill for that state. As a representative of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the tax-exempt organization co-founded by Bloomberg, Kocher escorted Newtown survivors to meet Nevada legislators.
City Hall had Kocher’s official e-mail scrubbed off Nevada’s lobby-registration page after claiming it was “mistakenly” added.
As for the mayors’ organization, Politico has reported that its Web site, registered in 2006 by New York City’s Department of Information and Technology, is hosted on city servers and run by city staffers. MAIG is organized under section 501(c)4 of the tax code — the same section that led to Tea Party groups finding themselves subjected to extra IRS scrutiny.
But unlike Tea Party and other 501(c)4 groups, MAIG has found both federal and city government most cooperative. So at the time it benefits from a federal tax exemption, New York City taxpayers are subsidizing it by paying for its support staff and technological resources.
The city claims this arrangement’s kosher because stopping illegal guns is part of the mayor’s legislative priorities and in the interests of city residents. But it refuses to say whether the Conflicts of Interest Board signed off on this intermingling of private, government and political resources.
In other words, the issue isn’t whether the aims of the mayors’ organization are worthy or not. Brad Lander, head of the City Council’s Progressive Caucus, supports the goals, but wonders about the lack of transparency. “How would we know that NYC tax dollars are being spent on/contributed to MAIG’s Web site? Shouldn’t we?” Lander asks. Good question.
Here’s another: The mayor has a nice personal Web site, mikebloomberg.com, which promotes his various political, personal and philanthropic interests. Why not make that the home for Mayors Against Illegal Guns?
Sunday, June 30th, 2013 ‘The New York Times’ Editorial:
A Gun Maker Moves On
One of Connecticut’s gun manufacturers, PTR Industries, is departing the state in a melodramatic huff for gun-friendly South Carolina, complaining about the tightened gun safety laws enacted in Hartford by conscience-stricken legislators following the Newtown gun massacre of 20 children and 6 educators last December.
“One hundred percent of our product line is illegal in Connecticut,” explained John McNamara, the company’s vice president for sales. “They just want to collect our tax dollars on a product that they don’t think is safe to own.”
The sad truth, of course, is that PTR Industries and the rest of the gun industry have absolutely nothing to fear from Connecticut’s tougher controls on military-style assault rifles and large-scale bullet magazines. That’s because in 2005, Congress and President George W. Bush, in shameless obeisance to the gun lobby, immunized arms manufacturers from damage suits by gunshot victims. The gun lobby had sought this protection after relatives of the eight sniper victims in Washington, D.C., won $2.5 million in damages from a rifle manufacturer.
This outrageous law, called the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, can only be envied by other industries whose products might affect public safety. Not that the estimated $30 billion gun industry can’t afford liability; gun sales actually spiked during and after the national uproar about Newtown.
Gun-friendly states are courting other Connecticut arms makers. “Come on down!” tweeted Gov. Rick Perry of Texas. Josh Fiorini, PTR Industries’ chief executive, described South Carolinians’ hearty welcome and “excitement about our product line” for The Wall Street Journal: “Everybody wants to talk to you. Everybody wants a gun.”
Gov. Dannel Malloy of Connecticut did not quite say to PTR’s executives: Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. But his office succinctly explained: “We decided to prioritize public safety.”
Gun-friendly states court Connecticut gunmakers
By Kevin Johnson — Sunday, June 30th, 2013 ‘USA Today’
More than a year removed from his failed bid for the Republican presidential nomination, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is now a headliner in a new and equally crowded campaign.
Perry and governors representing other gun-friendly states are aggressively
attempting to lure gunmakers, suppliers and other vendors away from Connecticut and the surrounding region, which for generations has drawn much of its identity from the firearms industry.
Last week, Perry made one of the boldest public splashes so far, hosting gunmakers at a posh Hartford restaurant reception.
During his trip, one of the industry's iconic names, Colt, presented the visiting governor — otherwise armed with possible cash grants and low-interest loans — with a M1911 handgun.
South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard, a Republican, showed up the next day for meetings with Colt and Mossberg executives touting his state's proud hunting tradition, low taxes and a political culture aligned with gun rights advocates.
And earlier this week, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, a Republican, personally welcomed PTR Industries to the tiny town of Aynor, where the Connecticut gunmaker has decided to relocate, bringing about 100 jobs.
The recruiting rush comes in the wake of stricter gun laws passed by Connecticut, New York, Colorado and other states following the December school massacre in Newtown, Conn.
"The competition has been extremely brisk,'' said National Shooting Sports Foundation spokesman Mike Bazinet, whose gun-industry association is based in Newtown. "I'm not aware of anything quite like this.''
In April, Connecticut enacted a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines larger than 10 rounds and broadened its prohibition on assault weapons.
The legislation is the reason Mark Malkowski, the chief executive of New Britain, Conn.-based Stag Arms, has received "hundreds'' of inquiries from local government officials and others from 41 states, including South Carolina, where he traveled Thursday to meet with the officials about a possible move there. He is likely to make a similar trip to Texas.
All of the suitors, he said, have sought to make a play for Stag Arms' business — it produces about 6,000 semiautomatic rifles each month — and its 200 jobs.
Under the state law, Malkowski is prohibited from selling any of his products — all semi-automatic rifles — in the state where he has made them for the past decade. He estimated that the lost business in Connecticut cost him about $1 million in the first quarter of this year.
"Before the new laws were passed, our state legislature didn't even take the time to bring us to the table,'' Malkowski said, referring to the firearms industry. "It's that type of insensitivity that shows an inability to work with us.''
Andrew Doba, spokesman for Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, said "every job is important to us.''
"We compete every single day for jobs,'' Doba said. "But we think that the investments we are making in growth areas like bio-science and digital media are very important.''
Yet Malloy, a Democrat, clearly took note of the job-poaching effort being waged by his gubernatorial colleagues last week when he made an unscheduled stop at Max Downtown, where Perry was meeting with local gun-industry executives.
Doba said Malloy was simply on his way to a nearby appointment and sought to welcome the Texas governor to Connecticut.
"We haven't given up on any industry, but they (gunmakers) have a decision to make for their businesses and for their employees,'' Doba said.
Perry, meanwhile, has been formally courting gunmakers since early this year, sending nearly three dozen letters to industry executives highlighting the state's "business-friendly'' atmosphere.
"While I support the efforts of law enforcement to identify, apprehend, prosecute and punish criminals who use firearms in the commission of their crimes, I do not believe that imposing additional requirements or restrictions on businesses is the correct approach,'' Perry told David Lien, president of Barrett Firearms Manufacturing, in a February letter inquiring about the company's possible relocation.
"This is part of a process,'' Perry spokesman Josh Havens said. "We didn't expect to leave Connecticut with a company packed up in our luggage. This is not an easy decision for them to make. But we will continue to court these companies.''
Former police chief Bratton launches a social network for cops
By Chris Francescani (Reuters) — Saturday, June 29th, 2013; 12:02 p.m. EDT
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bill Bratton, the high-profile police commissioner who has run three of America's largest police forces, is preparing to launch the first comprehensive social media network for police officers - a kind of Facebook for cops.
The network, known as BlueLine, will be launched globally at the International Association of Police Chiefs annual conference in Philadelphia in October.
BlueLine is part of a growing trend in high-tech information-sharing among law enforcement agencies that proponents say is producing a force-multiplying effect on crime-fighting in an era of dwindling police budgets and manpower. The collaboration enables better communication between different jurisdictions and helps police identify patterns of criminality.
Combining the most popular user functions of a number of leading social media sites, BlueLine is being billed by Bratton as the first secure network for cops. It's also a safer alternative for a younger generation of officers who Bratton says share a shocking amount of information on public networks.
"If you're a SWAT officer, gives you the ability to find other SWAT officers in departments around the country and engage them, share best practices, talk about innovations," Bratton told Reuters recently.
The for-profit company behind BlueLine, Bratton Technologies, was founded to develop the proprietary product, and aims to generate revenue from a spectrum of cop-related products - everything "from socks to Glocks," said BT Chief Strategy Officer Jack Weiss.
The network is being beta-tested this summer among about 100 officers in the Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles Sheriff's Department and the University of Southern California police force.
Several dozen more police departments will join the beta test later this summer, said Bratton, who is BT's chief executive officer.
Most existing law enforcement information-sharing networks involve sharing intelligence about specific cases, while BlueLine is geared toward collaboration on policing issues like gangs or drugs and product and technology advances.
Bratton has led the New York, Los Angeles and Boston police departments and was responsible in 1995 for introducing Compstat - a groundbreaking software-driven, crime-fighting strategy that mapped crime patterns and enabled real-time deployment of forces. For him, "collaboration is the key to successful policing."
BlueLine includes the key elements and the look of Facebook, with "like" and "share" buttons and the ability to post messages, photos or video clips on a wall visible to other users.
The network also features secure videoconferencing capabilities and an iTunes-like app store open to third-party developers. A commercial component will allow companies that make policing products to market them directly to members of the roughly 18,000 state and local law enforcement agencies in the United States and beyond.
The startup is being funded by G2 Investment Group, said G2 Chief Executive Officer Todd Morley. Bratton declined to say how much capital was involved.
CROWDSOURCING COP COMMUNITIES
Open only to accredited law enforcement officers, BlueLine users can create or join customized groups, with names like Gangs, Narcotics, New Technology or Sex Crimes - and then "crowdsource" colleagues for help with general aspects of investigations.
One group might discuss the benefits and drawbacks of a new type of police radio, or a new drug that has hit the streets of their town.
If a gangs investigator in one department comes across an unfamiliar tattoo on a suspected gang member, the cop can post it to a Gangs network, and someone from another department may help identify it as the sign of a new crew. Members can search for each other by name, geography, expertise and interest.
Data analytics companies are developing BlueLine applications, which will let users create databases - of gang tattoos or graffiti tags, for instance - and analyze them.
BlueLine will operate a secured network requiring multiple verifications to join, with protocols based on the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) guidelines, established to ensure secure transmission of criminal case information online, said David Riker, president of Bratton Technologies.
"This is not intended to replace strategic police communications capabilities," said Bratton. "It is primarily for people to find each other," he said. "We are quite clear about the guardrails we are staying within."
(Reporting by Chris Francescani; Editing by Arlene Getz, Douglas Royalty and Prudence Crowther)
Officer accountability issues holding up border policing project: ambassador
By Jim Bronskill and Mike Blanchfield (The Canadian Press) — Sunday, June 30th, 2013; 10:50 a.m. EDT
OTTAWA - Deeper co-operation between Canada and the United States on cross-border law enforcement is being held up by the thorny question of which country's legal system would deal with a police officer accused of breaking the law, says the U.S. ambassador.
The ongoing efforts to iron out issues of officer accountability explain the one-year delay in launching two pilot projects for the so-called "next generation" policing program.
The initiative would see Canadian and U.S. officials work even more closely than they do now, building on joint border-policing efforts by creating integrated teams in areas such as intelligence and criminal investigations.
But it has proven to be one of the most challenging elements of the perimeter security pact between the two countries, David Jacobson, the U.S. ambassador to Canada, said in an interview.
"If an RCMP officer is in North Dakota, and they're chasing a criminal and they go to shoot somebody, well what are the laws that govern the appropriate use of force? Is it Canadian rules, is it American rules?" Jacobson said.
"What happens if there's a lawsuit in North Dakota? Does the Canadian RCMP officer want to be subject to litigation in the United States? We have slightly different rules," he said. "The question is: which rules are going to apply to which? It is a complicated question. It is not an insurmountable question but it's complicated."
Another issue that must be addressed, said a federal official familiar with the file, is where a citizen of one country might take allegations of ill-treatment at the hands of an officer from the other country.
For instance, if a U.S. officer were to "arrest you, put you in cuffs and dislocate your shoulder," would a Canadian have recourse to the watchdog that oversees the RCMP, asked the official, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the policy deliberations.
"I know that the accountability writ large is an issue."
A December 2012 progress report on the border deal was rather vague about the delay, saying only that officials were evaluating the "operational and legal requirements" involved in the law enforcement initiative.
Jacobson has previously said that legislation in both countries would be required in order to implement the new arrangements.
Public Safety Canada spokeswoman Josee Picard said "discussions are continuing on the legal and governance framework" for the program. "Once there is agreement on these elements, then the pilot can proceed. It would be inappropriate to report on the details of these discussions."
The perimeter security deal — being phased in over several years — aims to ensure the safe, speedy passage of goods and people across the 49th parallel while bolstering defenses along the continental border.
The next-generation policing initiative, though land-based, is to be modeled on the Shiprider project, which involves specially-trained and designated Canadian and U.S. officers working on the water in dedicated teams.
The Canadian legislation paving the way for Shiprider outlines the procedure for making a public complaint against an officer from the U.S., allowing for the possibility of a joint investigation. However, it's unclear whether the procedure can be adopted for teams working on land.
Internal Public Safety briefing notes, prepared for the deputy minister, say increasing law enforcement co-operation at the border is important because police increasingly face criminal activity that extends beyond their respective national boundaries.
"This is especially true with organized crime," say the notes released under the Access to Information Act.
"Criminals, aware that Canadian and U.S. law enforcement personnel working at the shared border do not have authorities outside of their respective domestic jurisdictions, have taken advantage of this fact and have strategically organized criminal activities to avoid apprehension and prosecution."
Hayden: Open spy programs to reassure US public
By LARA JAKES (The Associated Press) — Sunday, June 30th, 2013; 11:15 a.m. EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The former director of the CIA and National Security Agency says the government should release more information about its secretive surveillance programs to reassure Americans that their privacy rights are being protected.
Michael Hayden said Sunday he believes the public will be more comfortable with the programs that gather phone and Internet records from around the world if people know more about how they are carried out and why.
Hayden also defended a secret court that approves government requests to gather the records. Critics say the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has served as a rubber stamp to the requests instead of challenging government attorneys on whether the information is needed or gathered properly.
Hayden is now a security consultant and university professor. His comment came on CBS' "Face The Nation."