Saturday, June 29th, 2013 — Good Morning, Stay Safe
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The Community Safety Act
Stop-And-Frisk Bills' Success Thanks To Bloomberg And Kelly, NYPD Sources Say
By Murray Weiss — Friday, June 28th, 2013 ‘DNAinfo New York.Com News’ / New York, NY
NEW YORK CITY — Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Mayor Michael Bloomberg have to accept the lion's share of the blame for being saddled with expected oversight from a new inspector general and new restrictions from an anti-profiling stop-and-frisk bill.
That’s the opinion of several of the smartest and most knowledgeable former officials in the NYPD.
They believe the way Kelly “arrogantly” reacted to the stop-and-frisk controversy when it boiled to the surface over the past two years literally poured gasoline on the incendiary issue.
“He was absolutely tone deaf on this issue and it has created a f---ing mess for the city, a monumental issue for the future,” said one former top police official who is otherwise a Kelly fan.
“He refused to recognize that this was an issue or that he needed to change the way he was doing things.”
The lack of transparency during the Kelly administration played a pivotal role in keeping the public — and by extension the NYPD — from recognizing years earlier that the number of stop-and-frisks in New York was escalating to troubling levels.
Kelly failed to disclose the stop-and-frisk numbers for seven years despite being required by law to do so. When he was finally forced to release them, the numbers were stunning, and caused critics to ask why stop-and-frisks escalated from 100,000 during Bloomberg’s first year in office to 500,000 seven years later.
But members of the City Council — themselves NYPD cheerleaders over the falling crime rates — brushed aside the massive increase. That allowed Kelly and Bloomberg to thumb their collective noses at the naysayers, and push onward until the stop-and-frisks reached 800,000 in 2011.
“Maybe the lack of transparency prolonged things that could have been stopped sooner,” one source said. “But I think it was the arrogance.”
“I think if [Kelly] had just backed down, instead of saying, ‘F--- you, I know better,’ the result could have been different,” the source continued.
The sources recalled a particularly testy City Council session nearly two years ago when Kelly literally challenged them to come up with a better approach.
“His reaction to the reaction is what caused the problem,” another source agreed. “He was arrogant to the press by lacking transparency. He was arrogant to the community when they reacted. And he was arrogant to the politicians who called him on it.”
And he could be that way because Bloomberg just stood by in lock step with his police commissioner.
“I think the mayor supported him to the extent that was unhealthy and that has nothing to do with the great job Ray Kelly has done,” another source said.
“If the mayor had forced him to rethink the way he was doing things, to get him to back down, it might have changed everything. They don’t see anything wrong in anything they do.”
The sources pointed out that Kelly cut his teeth in the turbulent 1980s under former police commissioner Benjamin Ward, the city's first black top cop, and understands the importance of community relations, which he has worked hard to cultivate.
"Perhaps he and Bloomberg miscalculated the reserves in their community bank," one source said.
It's ironic that the NYPD now has two onerous City Council bills hanging over it, and the very real possibility that the feds will send in a monitor on their own, when crime is at record lows instead of during the bad old days more than 20 years ago when crime was out of control.
Bloomberg's legacy under fire for police tactics in NY City
By Edith Honan (Reuters) — Saturday, June 29th, 2013; 1:07 p.m. EDT
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A growing chorus of critics has challenged Mayor Michael Bloomberg's approach to fighting crime, pushing back against policies that he credits for making New York the safest major city in America.
With a few months left in office, Bloomberg can say crime fell 34 percent over a decade during his tenure. For much of his first two terms, he also was heralded as a healer for the city's tense race relations.
But with Bloomberg's third and final four-year term ending on January 1, Democrats seeking to replace him have joined civil rights leaders and the heavily Democratic city council in hammering at a cornerstone of his legacy: The New York Police Department's crime-fighting tactic known as stop-and-frisk.
Critics say police randomly and unfairly stop young African American and Latino men, most of whom are never charged with crimes after being subjected to searches. But polls show that about half of New Yorkers support stop-and-frisk as a strategy that has helped reduce crime.
This week, the city council defied Bloomberg on the police power issue, approving a pair of measures on Thursday that he vigorously opposed. One creates an independent inspector general to monitor the NYPD, and the other expands the definition of racial profiling and allows people who believe they have been profiled to sue police in state court.
Both measures passed with at least the two-thirds majority needed to override his promised veto.
The defeat was unusual for Bloomberg, 71, a politically independent billionaire who rose to national prominence during more than 11 years in office. Through most of his tenure, Bloomberg has been feared and respected, enhancing his stature with a national coalition Mayors Against Illegal Guns and flirting with a presidential run in 2008.
"For two terms, it didn't percolate so hot, this issue," said Eugene O'Donnell, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He said the public's fatigue with Bloomberg and an overall skepticism about police work helped give an opening to some of the more intense critiques of stop-and-frisk.
"It appears there may have been a shift in opinion about policing," O'Donnell said.
A Bloomberg spokesman noted that polling has showed strong public support for Kelly and the NYPD.
PUBLIC OPINION DIVIDED
In heavily Democratic New York City, the winner of the September 10 Democratic primary will be heavily favored against the Republican in the November 5 general election.
All five of the major Democratic candidates have called the number of stop-and-frisk incidents excessive. Only City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a Bloomberg ally, has said she would keep Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who has described stop-and-frisk as an invaluable crime-fighting tool, though she said she would demand a drop in the number of stop-and-frisk incidents.
One turning point in the perception about Bloomberg may have come last May, when the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) released statistics showing police conducted more stops of black males between the ages of 14 and 24 than the total number of young black males living in New York City.
Police stops surged from 160,851 in 2003 to 685,724 in 2011, when 1.8 percent of searches of minority suspects that year resulted in weapons seizures.
At a news conference this week, Bloomberg invoked the high-crime days of the 1970s in a strong warning to council members not to pass the bill.
Bloomberg and Kelly have also irked advocates and members of the city council by invoking the names of al Qaeda and violent street gangs to make their case.
"What they're doing is preying on people's fears. Everyone wants to live in a safer city," said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the NYCLU.
On Friday, Bloomberg appeared to double down.
"And you know, everybody'll say, 'Oh, you're overstating it.' I don't know if you're overstating it or not, but I'm not willing to find out," Bloomberg told a radio program. "I don't know what you'd say at the eulogy if a cop got killed, and say, 'Well it turned out we weren't overstating it. Sorry."
The public's view of the debate is mixed.
A Marist poll released on Thursday found New Yorkers were happy with Kelly - more than half want him to continue in the next administration - and about half said the practice of stop-and-frisk should continue. But just 6 percent of voters thought crime should top the next mayor's agenda.
"It's been some time since crime has been at the top of minds," said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion.
A Marist poll from the high-crime days of 1992 found that 33 percent of New Yorkers saw crime as the top issue.
(Additional reporting by Francesca Trianni; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Lisa Shumaker)
Conflicting Conclusions Cloud New York City Police Bills
Opponents and Supporters of Two Police Oversight Bills Stake Out Stark Differences Over Impact
By SOPHIA HOLLANDERCONNECT — Saturday, June 29th, 2013 ‘The Wall Street Journal’ / New York, NY
At times this week, it was hard to believe people debating the City Council's new racial profiling bill were arguing over the same piece of legislation.
Critics sketched out a looming hellscape should the law be upheld, where cowed police officers sit in their cars to watch citizens get gunned down, emerging to make arrests only after the bodies hit the pavement.
Supporters described a future where New York remains among the safest cities in America, while minimizing the degradation that comes with stopping and frisking innocent New Yorkers—most of them young, male minorities.
On Thursday, the City Council passed a pair of bills to increase police oversight. One would create an inspector general for the department, while the other would strengthen laws against racial profiling, including enabling people to sue the police in state court if they believe they have been discriminated against.
The bill doesn't allow for monetary damages, but judges could overrule or modify New York Police Department policy if they believe there is a less discriminatory way to achieve the same public-safety aims or if they believe it discriminates without a clear safety benefit.
The stakes are steep: The racial profiling bill passed 34-17, and if a single supportive council member defects, Mayor Michael Bloomberg's promised veto will be successful.
At issue is the extent to which the bill would undermine the NYPD's autonomy and hamper its current—and, department supporters say, highly successful—crime-fighting strategies. Supporters say a balance can be struck that respects the dignity of individuals while preserving the department's policing strategies.
The bill also would broaden possible bias claims to include "actual or perceived" race, creed, color, age, citizenship status, gender, sexual orientation, disability or housing status, including the homeless and public-housing residents.
"This bill says virtually any person subject to any police action has an automatic right into court," said Council Member Peter Vallone, a Queens Democrat who chairs the Public Safety Committee. He said police officers had told him they are "not going to act on their training; they're going to wait in the car until the shooting happens for fear of being hauled into court."
"This bill treats the police as the problem and not the criminals and that's the real crime here," he said. "There doesn't appear to be a middle ground here."
The bill's supporters disagreed.
"The goal of the legislation is a police department that's attentive to the potential consequences of discrimination," said Council Member Brad Lander, a Brooklyn Democrat and one of the bill's sponsors.
"I'd love for their response to be, 'We appreciate that there is deep concern about discrimination and we take it seriously and we have a responsibility to keep everybody safe,'" he continued. Instead, "They've chosen to say, 'You're so wrong, you have it backwards: It's really white people who are being discriminated against.' That's the opposite of showing that you're trying to address the issue."
Legal experts remained divided on the actual impact such a law would have. Dennis Smith, a professor at the New York University's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, has studied the effectiveness of the NYPD's Operation Impact, which dedicates more officers and resources to high-crime areas. He noted that the legislation specifically says that "the mere existence of a statistical imbalance" in the people targeted, relative to the overall population, isn't sufficient for a valid claim. "If that's the case, it will not be a big change," he said.
Still, he cautioned that fear of lawsuits "will give pause to some officers," he said. "It will be a new challenge."
PBA Plans Heavy Push Against Council Members Who Supported Oversight Bills
By Unnamed Author(s) — Friday, June 28th, 2013; 12:29 p.m. ‘NY 1 News’ / New York
The city's largest police union says it will go after the City Council members who voted in favor of two controversial bills this week to provide more oversight of the New York City Police Department.
The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association says it will support challengers to those Council members in re-election bids this fall.
The legislation creates an independent Inspector General, and expands New Yorkers' abilities to sue the department for alleged racial profiling.
PBA president Pat Lynch says the union will reach out to voters saying, "There are many council members who voted in favor of these bills whose votes do not reflect the wishes of their pro-law enforcement constituents who cherish safe streets and all the positive things that safety brings to this city. No council member who puts this city at risk will have a free ride in the next election."
The union has joined Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly in opposition to the bills, saying they will prevent police from fighting crime.
The mayor is promising a veto.
"This is a fight to defend your life and your kids lives, and you can rest assured I will not give up for one minute," Bloomberg said.
The Council vote tallies would make the changes veto-proof, but Bloomberg says he will keep lobbying Council members.
The mayor has never successfully vetoed a bill in the nearly eight years Christine Quinn has been the speaker.
City Homicides Drop Sharply, Again; Police Cite New Antigang Strategy
By JOSEPH GOLDSTEIN — Saturday, June 29th, 2013 ‘The New York Times’
The number of homicides on record in New York City has dropped significantly during the first half of the year — to 154 from 202 in the same period last year — surprising even police officials who have long been accustomed to trumpeting declining crime rates in the city.
In the first 178 days of 2013, the city averaged less than a murder a day, the first time the police can recall that happening for any sustained period. The latest numbers were recorded through Thursday.
Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly attributed much of the drop to a new antigang strategy meant to suppress retaliatory violence among neighborhood gangs. Police officials also credited their efforts at identifying and monitoring abusive husbands whose behavior seemed poised to turn lethal.
The recent decrease in violence is all the more striking because last year the department recorded the fewest homicides since it began a reliable method of compiling crime statistics half a century ago. The police recorded 419 murders in 2012.
“By far, it was the lowest, and guess what?” Commissioner Kelly said Friday morning before going on to announce that the number of murders this year was running about 25 percent below even that record year.
“In my business, in our business, this is miraculous. These are lives that are being saved.”
The relationship between the drop in murders and the department’s controversial policy of stopping, questioning and sometimes frisking people on the street was hard to immediately divine.
On the one hand, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Mr. Kelly have cited the declining murder rate as a vindication of their policing strategies, which rely heavily on the stop-and-frisk tactic.
On the other, stop-and-frisks have dropped off considerably in the last 15 months, suggesting that the drop in murders might have been a result of other factors.
In the first three months of 2012, police records indicate, there were 203,500 stops. But in the first three months of this year, the police recorded fewer than 100,000 stops.
Over the last two decades, the decline in murders in New York has been greater than in other parts of the country. (In the early 1990s, when Mr. Kelly spent a little more than a year as police commissioner, the first of his two stints in the job, the city was coping with about 2,000 murders annually.)
Mr. Kelly has long discounted much of the criticism of stop-and-frisk as coming from a small number of advocacy groups that he says are disconnected from the communities in the Bronx, north Brooklyn and parts of Queens, where his policing strategies have been focused.
But even as the police make further inroads in suppressing violence in East New York, Brooklyn, and South Jamaica, Queens, neighborhoods with an outsize share of violence, there is a sense of frustration among police officials that their results have not quelled such criticism.
Referring to the drop in crime, Mr. Kelly said on Thursday, “Some people apparently are not satisfied with that.”
His remarks came hours after the City Council passed two pieces of legislation, one that would put in place an inspector general to investigate the Police Department and another that would expand New Yorkers’ ability to sue over racial profiling by officers.
Noting how the latest reduction of violence coincided with a diminishing number of street stops, some civil rights lawyers have grown more vocal in questioning not only the legality but also the effectiveness of stop-and-frisk tactics.
But police commanders point to what they say is the long half-life of the deterrent effect of stop-and-frisk, saying that criminals may decide to leave their guns at home because they have been stopped in the past, even if the odds of a stop have decreased in recent months. And the police say the decrease in violence has most likely led to a corresponding decrease in suspicious behavior, which results in fewer stops.
“Stop-and-frisk, believe me, that is one aspect of what we do, we have a whole complex array of tactics and strategies that we use,” Mr. Kelly said on Friday as he cited his year-old antigang initiative.
The program relies heavily on tracking the online activities of neighborhood gangs, in effect, trying to prevent shootings before they happen.
Mr. Kelly said that the initiative had led to a 52 percent decline in shootings in the 75th Precinct, which covers East New York.
New York City Has Fewer Than 1 Murder a Day
As of Thursday, the Murder Rate Is Down 24% From a Year Ago
By TAMER EL-GHOBASHY — Saturday, June 29th, 2013 ‘The Wall Street Journal’ / New York, NY
New York City is on pace to record fewer than one homicide per day in 2013, heralding what authorities and experts said was a sea change in public safety in the city.
Through Thursday, there were 154 homicides in the city—a 24% decline from the same period in 2012. The drop comes after what the New York Police Department and the Bloomberg administration had already hailed as a landmark drop in homicides in 2012, when the city set a record low with just 419.
The number represents an astonishing swing from two decades ago when the city's homicides peaked at more than 2,200 in 1990—about six murders a day.
For years as the city's homicide rate declined, experts and authorities have warned that the numbers probably can't get any lower. But, with some exceptions, they have invariably gone down anyway.
"This is unprecedented in modern urban American history," said Franklin Zimring, a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley who has studied New York crime.
There are similar stories in other large cities this year.
In Chicago, which saw a sharp increase in shootings and murders in 2012, homicides are down 31% so far this year, bringing the city back to a 2011 rate of violence. Los Angeles has recorded 13.5% fewer murders, while Philadelphia has experienced a stunning 42% drop. In Houston, the number of murders in 2013 has remained the same as 2012.
Prof. Zimring said there wasn't an easy answer for why the numbers are going down in New York or elsewhere. He said the murder decline in 2012 and the continuing drop in 2013 were distinct from the period from 1990 through 2009 when a study of his concluded that the NYPD's policing policies "are the only obvious candidate to take credit for the crime drop."
"What we have now is good news without a ready explanation," he said.
NYPD officials gave the most credit to a policy of so-called hot-spot policing implemented in 2002, in which rookie police officers are deployed to the areas of the city identified as the most violent.
That policy, known as Operation Impact, built on advances in law enforcement that included the vaunted "Broken Windows" policing theory in which officers targeted low-level misdemeanor crimes. It was in addition to the implementation under the administration of former Mayor Rudy Giuliani of crime-data analysis, known as CompStat, to identify the highest crime areas to hone deployment and enforcement.
Operation Impact also drove a dramatic spike in the practice of stop-and-frisk. In 2002, officers conducted less than 100,000 such stops, in which they question and sometimes search people based on a reasonable suspicion that they have committed or are about to commit a crime.
The practice peaked in 2011, when there were more than 685,000 stops conducted. That year, 515 homicides occurred.
In 2012, the number of stops decreased to about 533,000. At the same time, the city experienced a record-low number of homicides and shootings.
In the first quarter of this year, the number of stop-and-frisks fell 51% compared with the same period in 2012, a period in which murders also fell 30% and overall crime dipped 3%—feeding skepticism among the tactic's many critics that it is a major driver of crime reduction.
In 2012, NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly initiated Operation Crew Cut, an initiative to battle gang violence that he said is responsible for 30% of shootings in New York City.
"So far, Operation Crew Cut has been very successful, and combined with other proactive strategies like Operation Impact, it has helped us build on the gains we've made in reducing violent crime and getting dangerous weapons off the street," Mr. Kelly said in May, during a budget hearing before the New York City Council.
Paul Browne, the chief spokesman for the NYPD, said the two policies have combined to create an environment in the city where people hesitate to carry a gun. In turn, so-called "hot head" murders—spontaneous killings inspired by a dirty look or an incidental shove—have decreased.
"Those types of shootings become less likely if you're not carrying a gun at all times," he said.
The declining murder rate comes as the NYPD's tactics come under intense scrutiny. The City Council has passed two bills by wide margins to install an inspector general at the department and to allow discrimination lawsuits against the NYPD. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has vowed to veto the bills and Mr. Kelly has said they will make the city a more dangerous place. The bills' supporters have said the bills won't affect good police work.
Scholars, from criminologists to sociologists, have argued that policing has been only one of a number of factors that have contributed to the decline. Those factors include advances in medical technology, demographic shifts driven by immigration and a culture that is less accepting of violence.
Nationwide, homicides have been falling, from 16,929 in 2007 to 14,722, according to the latest available Federal Bureau of Investigation crime data.
Robert Sampson, a professor of sociology at Harvard University, has studied the role of social changes in the decline of violent crime in the U. S. and said the recent numbers are a "remarkable phenomenon."
"It's self-reinforcing," Mr. Sampson said. "The more cities appear safe, the more people go to them and are on the streets and they become vibrant and therefore they regenerate. This has been the decade of the city."
Question and Frisk Search
Bloomberg Says Math Backs Police Stops of Minorities
By DAVID W. CHEN — Saturday, June 29th, 2013 ‘The New York Times’
Ratcheting up the rhetoric over New York City’s stop-and-frisk police practices, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said on Friday that the Police Department stopped white people too frequently, and nonwhites not frequently enough, in investigating murder suspects.
Mr. Bloomberg made the remarks on his weekly radio program on WOR-AM (770) ?? [ It’s 710-AM – Mike] , when he argued that the police should rely on the racial background of murder suspects, not the city’s overall demographic makeup.
“They just keep saying, ‘Oh, it’s a disproportionate percentage of a particular ethnic group,’ ” he said dismissively of the practice’s critics. “That may be, but it’s not a disproportionate percentage of those who witnesses and victims describe as committing the murder. In that case, incidentally, I think we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little.”
He added: “It’s exactly the reverse of what they say. I don’t know where they went to school, but they didn’t take a math course. Or a logic course.”
Mr. Bloomberg has always been fiercely proud of, and sensitive to criticism of, his administration’s record on fighting crime. But he has been apoplectic about two City Council bills, both passed on Thursday, that are intended to further oversight or to curb the powers of the Police Department. He has said he will veto the legislation.
The mayor and Raymond W. Kelly, the police commissioner, have vowed to weaken support to override his vetoes, especially for a bill to expand the ability to sue over profiling of suspects. But the mayor’s latest comments prompted an immediate outcry.
“I think he’s taken a course in how to misuse numbers most effectively,” said Councilman Jumaane D. Williams, who, with a fellow Brooklyn Democrat, Councilman Brad Lander, was a main architect of the bills. “Every day I get more flabbergasted by what the mayor and police commissioner and police unions are saying about the bills.”
Some Democrats vying to succeed Mr. Bloomberg next year also weighed in. In an e-mail, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, the only contender to back both bills, criticized his rivals for being “unwilling to stand up to the mayor’s misuse of this policy,” and he encouraged his supporters to sign a petition to change the stop-and-frisk practice.
“Mayor Bloomberg is wrong, and I am the only person running for mayor who is willing to say so,” Mr. de Blasio said.
Another candidate, William C. Thompson Jr., a former comptroller who lost to Mr. Bloomberg in 2009, said he found the mayor’s comments “insulting.”
And Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker, who is believed to be Mr. Bloomberg’s preferred candidate, told reporters, “I disagree strongly with the mayor” because “too many young men of color are disproportionately stopped.”
The mayor’s office was unbowed. Aides to Mr. Bloomberg furnished police statistics indicating that 87 percent of police stops were of blacks and Latinos, but that more than 90 percent of murder suspects were identified as being either black or Latino. Nine percent of police stops were of whites, and 7 percent of murder suspects were identified as white.
“They are fabricating outrage over an absolutely accurate comment,” said Marc La Vorgna, the mayor’s press secretary, adding that critics should be labeled “professional purveyors of outrage.”
“What they should be outraged by,” he said, “is the number of minorities who are being killed, and that successful police efforts that have saved minority lives are being hampered.”
Michael Bloomberg: Police stop minorities 'too little'
By ANTHONY M. DESTEFANO AND MATTHEW CHAYES — Saturday, June 29th, 2013 ‘New York Newsday’ / Melville, L.I.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg sparked a furor Friday when he said he believed police stop and frisk whites too often and minorities not enough, based on statistics on murder suspects in the city.
Bloomberg's remarks came after the City Council on Thursday passed two measures creating a police inspector general and making it easier for people to sue police over "bias-profiling." He has vowed to veto both pieces of legislation.
While talking on his weekly radio segment on WOR radio about city crime trends, Bloomberg said criticism that police disproportionately stop and frisked some groups was off-base.
"It's not a disproportionate percentage of those who witnesses and victims describe as committing the murders," the mayor said, according to transcript provided by City Hall.
"In that case, incidentally, I think we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little," he said.
Several Democratic mayoral candidates assailed Bloomberg's remarks.
"Outrageous and insulting," said former Comptroller Bill Thompson, who would keep the stop-and-frisk policy with some modifications.
"I honestly didn't believe he said it. I couldn't believe that that thoughtless a comment, that inappropriate a comment, that clearly just-wrong comment, came out of the mouth of the mayor of the City of New York, and yes, I was offended," said Thompson, the only black candidate for mayor.
Council Speaker Christine Quinn said, "We have too many stops that overwhelmingly focus on young men of color, yielding very few weapons."
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio said, "The city's own data show the vast majority of stops are of innocent black and Latino New Yorkers."
Republicans Joe Lhota and John Catsimatidis declined to comment.
A City Hall official who asked not to be identified said NYPD statistics back up Bloomberg's comment.
"If you are looking at the numbers, you could say whites are overstopped," the official said. "That is the math."
Police data on 419 homicides in 2012 show some 90 percent of suspects were black or Latino, and 7 percent white.
According to NYPD stop-and-frisk data in 2012, whites were stopped 9.7 percent of the time and comprised 6.9 percent of all known violent crime suspects. Blacks comprised 55 percent of persons stopped, and 61.3 percent of violent crime suspects. Hispanics were 32 percent of persons stopped, and 29.2 percent of violent crime suspects.
Among suspects for all crimes, blacks comprised 50.7 percent, Hispanics 31.8 percent and whites 13.8 percent.
Bloomberg is vowing to work at swaying some council members to his position on the police bills so that he could sustain a veto. The profile measure passed with the 34-17 majority, the minimum needed to override a veto, while the inspector general bill passed by an even wider margin.
Mayor Bloomberg on stop-and-frisk: It can be argued ‘We disproportionately stop whites too much. And minorities too little’
Bloomberg’s comments touched off a firestorm — some mayoral candidates called the statements ‘outrageous and out of touch’ and ‘unworthy.’
By Jennifer Fermino — Saturday, June 29th, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’
Pushing back against critics of stop-and-frisk policing, Mayor Bloomberg Friday said it could be argued that the Police Department stops white people too many times and non-whites too little.
The comments – made one day after the City Council passed two bills to rein in the controversial police tactic – touched off a firestorm of criticism.
Speaking on his weekly radio show, Bloomberg sought to rebut critics who cite the high percentage of blacks and Hispanics stopped by the police as proof that stop-and-frisk has unfairly singled out minorities.
“One newspaper and one news service, they just keep saying, ‘Oh, it’s a disproportionate percentage of a particular ethnic group.’ That may be. But 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,” the mayor said. “It’s exactly the reverse of what they’re saying. I don’t know where they went to school, but they certainly didn’t take a math course, or a logic course.”
Complaints in the black community about the aggressive use of stop-and-frisk policing have led to a federal lawsuit challenging the practice and fueled a passionate debate in the mayoral race.
Several mayoral hopefuls sharply criticized Bloomberg for his remarks Friday.
“His comments weren't worthy of any elected official, much less the mayor of the city of New York,” said Democrat Bill Thompson, the only black candidate in the race.
Another Democrat, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, urged followers on Twitter to retweet if they agreed that "Bloomberg's statement today that minorities are stopped and frisked ‘too little’ is outrageous and out of touch.”
Complaints in the black community about the aggressive use of stop-and-frisk policing have led to a federal lawsuit challenging the practice and fueled a passionate debate in the mayoral race.
To buttress the mayor’s remarks, his office released a set of statistics. The numbers showed that 87% of the people stopped under stop-and-frisk in 2012 were black or Latino, and that 9% were white. That same year, more than 90% of those identified as murder suspects were blacks or Latino; just 7% were white.
Critics of stop-and-frisk charge that such numbers are irrelevant. They charge that cops indiscriminately go after young black and Hispanic men on bogus grounds, and that nearly nine out of ten people who are stopped are innocent.
Thompson called a mid-afternoon news conference just to denounce Bloomberg’s comments. He claimed the mayor seemed to be suggesting that blacks and Latinos were “automatically” murder suspects.
“I just found it to be an incredibly insulting moment,” Thompson said.
De Blasio said the mayor’s comments ignored the fact that most of those who are stopped and frisked committed no crime.
“Stop-and-frisk is being used with an incredibly broad brush,” he said. “And the best evidence in the world is the vast majority of those stopped are innocent.”
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said that she “strongly” disagreed with Bloomberg’s comments.
“We have too many stops that overwhelmingly focus on young men of color, yielding very few weapons,” she said.
“Stop, question and frisk needs to be reformed significantly, precisely because young men of color are disproportionately stopped in New York.”
NYC mayor says police stop minorities 'too little' vs. suspect descriptions; critics lash out
By JENNIFER PELTZ (The Associated Press) — Friday, June 28th, 2013; 6:20 p.m. EDT
NEW YORK — Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Friday that police "disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little" as compared to murder suspects' descriptions, sparking criticism from activists and some politicians in a city that has been immersed in a debate about law enforcement and discrimination.
Speaking on his weekly WOR-AM radio appearance, Bloomberg echoed an argument he has made before: that the stops' demographics should be assessed against suspect descriptions, not the population as a whole. But coming a day after city lawmakers voted to create a police inspector general and new legal avenues for racial profiling claims, the mayor's remarks drew immediate pushback.
The measures' advocates accused the mayor of using "irresponsible rhetoric," some mayoral hopefuls chastised him and some City Council members said his remarks only emphasized the need for change.
"Our mayor's comments prove he just doesn't get it," said Councilman Robert Jackson, who co-chairs the council's Black, Latino and Asian Caucus.
Bloomberg spokesman Marc LaVorgna said the critics were "fabricating outrage over an absolutely accurate comment."
"What they should be outraged by is the number of minorities who are being killed and that successful police efforts to save minority lives are being hampered," he added.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly noted separately Friday that more than 90 percent of people killed or shot in the city are black or Hispanic.
The police tactic known as stop and frisk has become a high-profile political issue in the city, where stops have soared during Bloomberg's three terms. He and Kelly say the stops are an invaluable policing aid and have helped cut crime rates dramatically, while critics say the street stops humiliate many innocent people and are unfairly focused on minorities.
Those complaints have prompted a federal lawsuit over the stop and frisk practice and were part of the impetus for the City Council's vote Thursday. Bloomberg reiterated Friday that he'll veto the legislation, which he says will impede policing. They passed with enough votes to override a veto, but the mayor has noted that he plans to keep pressing his case with lawmakers.
About 5 million stops have been made during the past decade. Eighty-seven percent of those stopped in the last two years were black or Hispanic. Those groups comprise 54 percent of the city population.
Bloomberg says that comparison isn't appropriate.
The racial breakdown of those stopped is "not a disproportionate percentage of those who witnesses and victims describe as committing the murder. In that case, incidentally, I think we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little," he said Friday on "The John Gambling Show."
More than 90 percent of suspects in killings in the last two years were described as black or Hispanic, according to city officials.
"The cops' job is to stop (people in) the groups fitting the description. It's society's job to make sure that no one group is disproportionately represented as potential perpetrators," Bloomberg said earlier in the show.
The group Communities United for Police Reform called Bloomberg's view misinformation, noting that most stops aren't spurred by suspect descriptions. Police department records of the stops also list such reasons as "furtive movements" or suspicious bulges in clothing.
"Mayor Bloomberg should cease with the irresponsible rhetoric and seek to work with the council on a constructive path forward," said Communities United for Police Reform spokeswoman Joo-Hyun Kang.
Public Advocate and mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio sent supporters an email rapping Bloomberg's remarks, while fellow contender and City Comptroller John Liu issued a statement calling them "insensitive, outrageous, and just plain weird." Rival and former City Comptroller Bill Thompson, who is black, termed Bloomberg's comments insulting and called on him to apologize.
"What he seems to indicate to the hundreds of thousands of people who have been unnecessarily stopped and frisked is, 'We're sorry we didn't stop more people,'" Thompson said.
De Blasio, Liu and Thompson are Democrats.
Saturday, June 29th, 2013 ‘The New York Post’ Editorial:
Color by numbers
Let’s be clear about the mayor: We would not have defended stop-and-frisk the way he did yesterday.
Let’s also be clear about the critics now piling on: Pretending that Bloomberg was calling for racial profiling is a disservice to this city, especially to our citizens who depend most on stop-and-frisk because they live in vulnerable neighborhoods and buildings that do not have the luxury of doormen to keep hoodlums out.
Here’s what Bloomberg actually said. On WOR Radio, the mayor was talking about bills passed by the City Council to limit stop-and-frisk. In particular, he complained about those who focus on one point, that those stopped are disproportionately black or Latino.
“That may be,” said Bloomberg, “but it’s not a disproportionate percentage of those who witnesses and victims describe as committing the murder. In that case, incidentally, I think we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little.”
His critics have seized upon that last line. These include Councilman Brad Lander, who complained that after “powerful testimony from so many African-American and Latino City Council members about the realities and indignities of discriminatory policing, it is the height of arrogance for the mayor to keep arguing that the real problem is that the NYPD is over-stopping white people.”
Bloomberg’s critics know full well the mayor meant that if the police stops for blacks (87 percent) strictly followed the racial breakdown for murder suspects (90 percent black), you would have even more blacks and fewer whites stopped.
The flip side — which these same critics know but ignore — is that the victims of murder in this city are also disproportionately black and Latino. So when you bring murder rates down, as the city has been doing for past two decades with smarter and more aggressive policing, you find that upwards of 90 percent of the lives saved since the 1990s are minorities.
Bloomberg misspoke. But his critics distort. And if the latter have their way, law-abiding black and Latino citizens living in our most vulnerable neighborhoods will pay a high price.
Two Newly Created NYPD Anti-Terror Chief Positions Sworn In
By Unnamed Author(s) — Friday, June 28th, 2013; 6:35 p.m. ‘NY 1 News’ / New York
The New York City Police Department is bolstering its efforts to thwart another terror attack.
The newly created Chief of Counterterrorism and Chief of Intelligence were sworn in Friday at One Police Plaza.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly also announced a new global cooperation with France.
Through an interpreter, French Interior Minister Manuel Valls said authorities in New York and Paris have a lot to learn from each other.
"Big cities of the world face the same problems and the same challenges," Valls said through an interpreter. "We have to fight against drugs, organized crime. We are facing terrorism, and we have to compare our analysis of those risks."
The department also promoted a number of other officers.
Ray Kelly blames bike tickets on 'increased volume' of ridership
A Daily News report found that tickets had increased 7% in Manhattan and 81% in Brooklyn in areas that had the new Citi Bike stations, but Kelly says that's only part of the increase in tickets, putting some of the burden on more city residents in general hopping on two-wheelers.
By Alfred Ng — Saturday, June 29th, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Friday the massive spike in tickets issued to bicyclists in Manhattan and Brooklyn is simply the result of more two-wheelers being on the road.
"I think it's fair to say that complaints have gone up, but we believe it's a result of the increased volume," Kelly said.
The Daily News reported there has been a whopping 81% spike in tickets issued compared to the same period last year in four Brooklyn precincts since the Citi Bike program was launched in May.
There has also been a 7% increase in 12 precincts in Manhattan that have Citi Bike stations.
Kelly insisted the staggering jump was not a conscious effort by the NYPD, but rather the result of more two-wheeled traffic in certain precincts.
"Part of it has to do with the bike share program, but I think in general more people are riding bikes."
Bike Share Fueling Spike In Tickets, Rider Infractions
By: Vivian Lee — Friday, June 28th, 2013; 4:50 p.m. ‘NY 1 News’ / New York
Tickets and fines for bike-related offenses have reportedly spiked since the program launched late last month.
Police say tickets have increased 81 percent from last year in Brooklyn areas with docking stations.
Tickets in Manhattan areas with Citi Bikes are up seven percent.
Infractions include running red lights, and riding the wrong way or on the sidewalk.
Fines can run from $25 up to as much as $190.
Some New Yorkers who spoke with NY1 Friday applauded the crackdown while others said they were suspicious.
"They've been getting away with murder, it's about time somebody gave them a ticket," said one New Yorker.
"This is the city trying to get more money," said another New Yorker.
One official told the Daily News that officers could just be giving more tickets because there are so many more people on bikes.
It's unclear what percentage of the tickets are being given to Citi Bike users, as opposed to people on their own bikes.
"We have seen throughout the city an increase in bike riding and part of it has to do with the bike share program. But in general more people are riding bikes so it's kind of a natural concomitant you might say to increased traffic," said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
Meanwhile, new numbers show New Yorkers are pushing the pedals and trimming their waistlines.
The Department of Transportation estimates 50 million calories have been burned by riders since the bike share program's launch a month ago.
That's over the course of 529,000 trips, encompassing almost 1.3 million miles, enough to circle the globe about 50 times.
More than 113,000 people have taken rides, including about 50,000 now with annual memberships.
Organizers say Citi Bike is the nation's largest bike share program with 6,000 bikes.
NYPD will add more cops for Gay Pride festivities
The addition of the officers is in response to the May murder of Mark Carson, who was shot and killed by Eliot Morales in the West Village. Cops will be uniformed and in plainclothes.
By Joe Kemp — Saturday, June 29th, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’
The NYPD will deploy double the number of cops to patrol Greenwich Village during Gay Pride festivities this weekend to curb a recent spike in bias attacks, police said Friday.
The surge of officers will include twice the usual amount of plainclothes cops assigned to the area, where several gay people have been attacked since the beginning of the year, police said.
“There’s been concern, rightfully so, about some of the violence that’s happened in the gay community,” Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.
In May, Eliot Morales, 33, allegedly fatally shot Mark Carson, 32, after shouting homophobic slurs at him on W. Eighth St. near Sixth Ave.
Ex-prison guard knocked up in jail by cop killer Ronell Wilson to plead guilty
Nancy Gonzalez, 29, is scheduled to plead guilty Monday, and faces up to 15 years in prison; DNA testing proved her young son is the cop-killer's spawn
By John Marzulli — Saturday, June 29th, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’
The ex-prison guard knocked up in the stir by cop killer Ronell Wilson is going to be a convicted felon, just like her baby’s daddy.
Nancy Gonzalez, 29, is scheduled to plead guilty Monday to a federal indictment charging her with having sex with Wilson at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn when she was supposed to be guarding him.
Gonzalez recently submitted to a DNA test which confirmed Wilson is the father of the baby boy, Justus Liam Gonzalez, she delivered in March.
She faces up to 15 years in prison, but Gonzalez could argue for a non-jail sentence by citing a prior history of being abused as a child and molested while serving in the military.
Wilson, too, is using his horrendous childhood as a mitigating factor in a bid for life in prison instead of the death penalty for gunning down NYPD undercover Detectives James Nemorin and Rodney Andrews during a gun buy-and-bust in Staten Island in 2003.
Ex-prison guard linked to cop killer to plead guilty
By JOHN RILEY — Saturday, June 29th, 2013 ‘New York Newsday’ / Melville, L.I.
Nancy Gonzalez, the former prison guard from Huntington Station accused of conceiving a baby in prison with convicted double cop killer Ronell Wilson, is scheduled to plead guilty on Monday, according to records in federal court in Brooklyn.
A plea, which lawyers involved in the case had previously said was likely, would pave the way for Gonzalez to be called as a witness in Wilson's ongoing death penalty retrial, although it isn't clear which side would benefit from testimony about the incident.
The planned plea was disclosed in a docket entry posted on Friday that said a "plea hearing" was scheduled before a federal magistrate at 11:30 a.m. on Monday. Prosecutors had no comment but Gonzalez's lawyer Anthony Ricco confirmed that a plea is scheduled.
The baby was born in March. Court records did not indicate the charges to which she has agreed to plead guilty, but she was charged with unlawfully having relations with a person who was under her control in prison, a crime that carries up to 15 years in prison.
Gonzalez, 29, was accused in February of having sex with Wilson last year in his cell and in a vacant room at the federal jail in Brooklyn where she was working a 4 p.m. to midnight shift. She allegedly told friends she wanted to "give hope" to Wilson.
Wilson was convicted in 2006 of killing NYPD detectives James Nemorin of Baldwin Harbor and Rodney Andrews of Middle Village during an undercover gun buy on Staten Island in 2003. He was sentenced to death, but an appeals court in 2011 ordered a retrial of the penalty portion of the trial.
His retrial began last week in federal court in Brooklyn. Neither side mentioned the case against Gonzalez during opening statements.
NYPD English-Only Policy Creates Hostile Environment, Latino Officers Claim
By Elizabeth Llorente — Friday, June 28th, 2013 ‘Fox News Latino’
The head of a Latino law enforcement group is saying that the New York Police Department is out to retaliate against Latino employees who filed complaints in the past about discrimination.
Specifically, the NYPD has retaliated by enforcing an English-only policy, reprimanding at least nine Latino police officers for speaking Spanish to one another while at work, said Anthony Miranda, chairman of the National Latino Officers Association.
“They were written up for a conversation between one officer and another,” said Miranda, a retired NYPD sergeant. “For purposes of law enforcement and emergency, they spoke English.”
Miranda said the policy, which has existed since 2009, and the recent enforcement of it, “is racist in its premise.”
The policy states that personnel must “speak English while they are conducting business for the department unless speaking a foreign language is a necessary component to performing their duties and responsibilities,” according to a copy of a 2009 NYPD internal newsletter obtained by the New York Daily News.
Miranda said that the officers’ use of Spanish has never interfered with their duties.
"They haven't named one single incident" where language became an issue while responding to a call, he said.
According to Miranda, many of the nine Latino officers cited for violating the English-only policy had made unrelated verbal or written discrimination complaints about the agency, and this suggested the reprimand was vindictive.
“The NYPD is using the language rules for retaliation against officers who filed for discrimination,” said Miranda, who has appeared in press conferences in recent days with some of the officers. “They’re using the rules to create a hostile work environment, targeting Hispanic officers. It's a rule they can use to harass officers who speak different languages."
According to police officials, more than 50 languages are spoken by NYPD personnel, with one-fifth of all officers coming from foreign countries and one-third of Hispanic origin.
Efforts to get a comment from NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly, or another official of the agency, were unsuccessful.
But in other published reports, both Kelly and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended the policy.
“In America, in New York, I think it’s fair to say that a majority of people speak English and so that’s the language that we have to communicate in,” Bloomberg said, according to the Daily News. “This is life and death . . . Everybody has to be able to understand the same commands instantly and go in the direction they’re ordered to go when lives are on the line.”
The policy is not enforced for things such as personal calls, breaks or other “common-sense type situations such as a cursory greeting to a co-worker.”
Officers who attended Police Academy executive training classes last month were instructed to begin paying attention to other languages in the workplace, a law enforcement source told the Daily News.
Every Latino law enforcement officer, Miranda said, at one time or another experiences backlash from fellow officers because of ethnicity.
"But this is an agency rule, a racist rule," he said, that was adopted without public debate or formal city legislative channels.
On May 14, police officer Jessenia Guzman was operating the switchboard at a Manhattan police station when another officer prompted her to speak.
“It was just natural,” Guzman said, according to the Daily News. “She walked by. She was going to get coffee. She said something. I responded (in Spanish). That was it.”
Miranda said that Guzman had complained to the EEOC about a lieutenant who had been treating her harshly.
“She had a sick child, a supervisor told her she could take the child to the emergency room, then this lieutenant wrote her up for taking her child to the hospital,” he said, adding that it was just one example of what Guzman and others have endured.
“For almost two months, every time the lieutenant was [on duty] he would take her out of her [scheduled] assignment and put her somewhere else,” he said.
Miranda said the officer, who has a Master’s degree, had enjoyed strong performance evaluation ratings – such as 4.5 out of possible 5 – and that after the retaliatory practice began, there was an effort to start giving her lower ratings.
“There was a clear and obvious pattern” of punishment, he said.
Meanwhile, amid the controversy over the English-only policy, five Hispanic women have filed a federal lawsuit saying the NYPD refused them interpretation services when they were victimized by their partners.
The women say they requested Spanish-language help but were denied, and also say that police ridiculed them because they could not speak English.
The NYPD and city law department say the suit is without merit. They say the department has more officers who speak foreign languages than any department in the country. And they provide comprehensive interpretation services.
The suit, which seeks an unspecified amount of money, also asks for changes in the system. It was filed on behalf of the women by Legal Services NYC. The Violence Intervention Program, an organization that helps Hispanic victims of domestic violence, is also a plaintiff in the case.
Mangano expects cops to issue 'appropriate' discipline in cabbie shooting
By KEVIN DEUTSCH — Friday, June 28th, 2013 ‘New York Newsday’ / Melville, L.I.
Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano said Thursday that he expects Police Commissioner Thomas Dale to investigate and dole out "appropriate" departmental discipline after an ongoing internal probe of an off-duty cop's shooting of an unarmed cabdriver.
Suffolk County prosecutors said Thursday they have "renewed" their efforts to gain cooperation from the cabdriver in their own criminal investigation.
"We could not proceed further criminally because Mr. [Thomas] Moroughan and his girlfriend refused to cooperate with the district attorney's office . . . despite repeated requests," said Robert Clifford, spokesman for the district attorney's office. "We hope this overture is successful and results in their full cooperation with our office."
Mangano's remarks Thursday were his first public statements on a Nassau Police Internal Affairs Unit report that was the subject of a Newsday story Sunday. That police report found Nassau police Officer Anthony DiLeonardo escalated a roadside verbal dispute in Huntington on Feb. 27, 2011, when he shot at cabdriver Moroughan five times with a .38 Smith & Wesson, striking him in the chest and left arm, as his girlfriend sat beside him.
"We expect . . . [Commissioner Dale] to do a full and thorough investigation and apply the appropriate discipline as he deems fit," Mangano said. "The police commissioner has assured me he is doing his job with diligence and expeditiously."
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.
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 Suffolk district attorney's office eventually dismissed charges against Moroughan and referred the matter to the Nassau Police Internal Affairs Unit.
Thursday, June 27th, 2013 ‘New York Newsday’ Editorial:
Suffolk chief crossed line of good judgment
Top cops can't be cowboys. Suffolk County Police Chief of Department James Burke has clearly crossed this line, and now a federal investigation will determine whether he overshot it by a disgraceful distance.
Last December, Burke's department-issued sport utility vehicle was broken into and a gun belt, ammunition, handcuffs and personal effects were taken. Within hours, suspect Christopher Loeb had been identified and cops were at his house in Smithtown. But according to police records, Burke also showed up. That's against Suffolk County rules, and Burke should have known it was improper. Law enforcement sources say Burke compounded this error in judgment by showing up at the precinct where Loeb was held and ordering the squad room cleared of everyone but Loeb and himself. Then, according to Loeb, Burke punched him in the stomach.
Burke has denied any wrongdoing. Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone's statement of support of Burke, oddly, was issued by the police department, not Bellone's office. Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota referred the prosecution of Loeb to Queens County because Burke was his investigator for 10 years.
Loeb is a drug addict and repeat offender who has admitted taking Burke's belongings. An alleged accomplice was released from jail on Jan. 30 and has agreed to a plea deal. Loeb doesn't deserve sympathy for the fix he's in. He faces multiple charges and was on felony probation when arrested. But Loeb didn't deserve to be abused, if he was.
Now he is the prime complaining witness in a civil rights probe by a Manhattan-based FBI unit. Whether the federal action is just about Burke or the entire department, and where it will all lead, is unclear.
At the very least, however, Suffolk County deserves a police leader with enough self-control not to break with procedure just because the crime, this time, was committed against him.
Christie takes first action on gun legislation
By Matt Friedman — Saturday, June 29th, 2013 ‘The Newark Star-Ledger’ / Newark, NJ
TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie has taken action on the first of 15 gun-related bills sitting on his desk – and it’s a veto.
Christie today killed a bill that would ban the state from investing pension funds in companies that make, import or sell assault weapons for civilian use.
Christie did not give a specific reason for the veto of the Democrat-sponsored measure (A3668)– one of eight bills he rejected today. Instead, he issued a statement referring to all of them, saying that taken together, they would “deplete the state’s fiscal resources, restructure government in a significant manner, and significantly alter the policy and spending priorities set forth in the Appropriations Act.”
In a fiscal analysis of the bill written earlier this month, the nonpartisan Office Of Legislative Services said it “cannot reliably assess the ramifications on State and local government finances” that the bill would have.
As of March 31, the state invested in at least one company that sells assault rifles in some states, according to Treasury Department spokesman Bill Quinn: $142.6 million in Wal-Mart. The state also invests $5.6 million in Dick’s Sporting Goods, which until recently sold the weapons.
The weapons are illegal in New Jersey.
The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Richard Codey (D-Essex), said he had “no clue” why Christie would veto his legislation.
“I mean, (what civilian) needs an assault weapon other than drug dealers, cop killers and terrorists?” Codey said. “On this issue and others, he shows that he’s clearly out of touch with the New Jersey public.”
Christie has not taken action on the other 14 gun-related bills that have reached him, including one that overhauls how the state issues firearms purchase permits and one that bans .50-caliber rifles -- the most powerful guns available to civilians.
NJ Senate Approves Guidelines For Law Enforcement Drone Use
By Unnamed Author(s) — Saturday, June 29th, 2013 ‘NJ TODAY’
TRENTON – On Thursday, the state Senate approved legislation sponsored by Senators Nicholas J. Sacco (D-Hudson/Bergen) and Nicholas P. Scutari (D-Union/Middlesex) that would set forth specific guidelines to be followed by law enforcement agencies when employing unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones, for surveillance purposes.
“Drone technology is out there, and we need to implement certain guidelines before it progresses to widespread commercial use,” said Sacco, Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee. “Although drones offer a solution to overcome cost and manpower shortages, it is crucial that all parties uphold certain standards of privacy. With new technology comes additional responsibility, and this bill will help protect the safety of New Jersey residents for years to come.”
Under provisions of this bill, S2702, law enforcement agencies would be prohibited from using a drone unless there were reasonable grounds to believe that information that may be derived from an unmanned aerial vehicle would be relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation.
The bill would permit the Missing Persons Unit to utilize a drone for search and rescue missions, including but not limited to, locating high risk missing person or child or following a notification that a person is abducted or missing by an Amber Alert or Silver Alert. The bill would also allow forest fire services to use drones to survey a forest fire, and for any fire department to use them to monitor the extent of damage caused by a fire to a building or structure. The final exemption would permit the Office of Emergency Management to use drones in the event of an emergency, including but not limited to: a hurricane, flood, or terrorist act.
“For law enforcement agencies responding to fires and other emergencies, these drones are an effective way to survey large areas in a short amount of time. But these benefits cannot overshadow the need to properly maintain these devices and protect any acquired information,” said Scutari, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. This legislation is about preventing abuses of this technology, while allowing for its useful application when necessary.”
The bill includes documentation requirements that would call upon law enforcement agencies or fire departments to submit proof of annual inspection, maintenance records, and a statement of facts recording the purpose, usage, and surveillance results for each drone.
Privacy measures in the bill ensure that information derived from the use of a drone would be strictly safeguarded from the public or any third party, any records unrelated to the ongoing criminal investigation would be required to be discarded within 14 days, and any evidence obtained illegally through these devices would be forbidden from being used as evidence in a criminal prosecution.
In addition, drones would be prohibited from being equipped with “antipersonnel devices,” which are defined as a firearm or any prohibited weapon, device, or projectile designed to harm, incapacitate, or otherwise negatively impact a human being.
The bill cleared the Senate by a vote of 36-0. It next heads to the General Assembly for consideration.
June 28, 2013 Officer Fatality Update Preliminary 2013 Numbers
By Unnamed Author(s) — Friday, June 28th, 2013 ‘The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial eNewsletter’
2013 2012 %Change
Firearms-related 16 19 - 16%
Traffic-related 19 18 + 6%
Other Causes 15 9 + 67%
Total: 50 46 + 8.7%
Marijuana's march toward mainstream confounds feds
By NANCY BENAC and ALICIA A. CALDWELL (The Associated Press) — Saturday, June 29th, 2013; 9:19 a.m. EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) -- It took 50 years for American attitudes about marijuana to zigzag from the paranoia of "Reefer Madness" to the excesses of Woodstock back to the hard line of "Just Say No."
The next 25 years took the nation from Bill Clinton, who famously "didn't inhale," to Barack Obama, who most emphatically did.
Now, in just a few short years, public opinion has moved so dramatically toward general acceptance that even those who champion legalization are surprised at how quickly attitudes are changing and states are moving to approve the drug - for medical use and just for fun.
It is a moment in America that is rife with contradictions:
-People are looking more kindly on marijuana even as science reveals more about the drug's potential dangers, particularly for young people.
-States are giving the green light to the drug in direct defiance of a federal prohibition on its use.
-Exploration of the potential medical benefit is limited by high federal hurdles to research.
Washington policymakers seem reluctant to deal with any of it.
Richard Bonnie, a University of Virginia law professor who worked for a national commission that recommended decriminalizing marijuana in 1972, sees the public taking a big leap from prohibition to a more laissez-faire approach without full deliberation.
"It's a remarkable story historically," he says. "But as a matter of public policy, it's a little worrisome."
More than a little worrisome to those in the anti-drug movement.
"We're on this hundred-mile-an-hour freight train to legalizing a third addictive substance," says Kevin Sabet, a former drug policy adviser in the Obama administration, lumping marijuana with tobacco and alcohol.
Legalization strategist Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, likes the direction the marijuana smoke is wafting. But knows his side has considerable work yet to do.
"I'm constantly reminding my allies that marijuana is not going to legalize itself," he says.
By the numbers:
Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes since California voters made the first move in 1996. Voters in Colorado and Washington state took the next step last year and approved pot for recreational use. Alaska is likely to vote on the same question in 2014, and a few other states are expected to put recreational use on the ballot in 2016.
Nearly half of adults have tried marijuana, 12 percent of them in the past year, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center.
Fifty-two percent of adults favor legalizing marijuana, up 11 percentage points just since 2010, according to Pew.
Sixty percent think Washington shouldn't enforce federal laws against marijuana in states that have approved its use.
Where California led the charge on medical marijuana, the next chapter in this story is being written in Colorado and Washington state.
Policymakers there are grappling with all sorts of sticky issues revolving around one central question: How do you legally regulate the production, distribution, sale and use of marijuana for recreational purposes when federal law bans all of the above?
The Justice Department began reviewing the matter after last November's election. But seven months later, states still are on their own.
Both sides in the debate paid close attention when Obama said in December that "it does not make sense, from a prioritization point of view, for us to focus on recreational drug users in a state that has already said that under state law that's legal."
Rep. Jared Polis, a Colorado Democrat who favors legalization, predicts Washington will take a hands-off approach, based on Obama's comments. But he's quick to add: "We would like to see that in writing."
The federal government already has taken a similar approach toward users in states that have approved marijuana for medical use.
It doesn't go after pot-smoking cancer patients or grandmas with glaucoma. But it also has made clear that people who are in the business of growing, selling and distributing marijuana on a large scale are subject to potential prosecution for violations of the Controlled Substances Act - even in states that have legalized medical use.
There's a political calculus for the president, or any other politician, in all of this.
Younger people, who tend to vote more Democratic, are more supportive of legalizing marijuana, as are people in the West, where the libertarian streak runs strong.
Despite increasing public acceptance of marijuana overall, politicians know there are complications that could come with commercializing an addictive substance. Opponents of pot are particularly worried that legalization will result in increased use by young people.
Sabet frames the conundrum for Obama: "Do you want to be the president that stops a popular cause, especially a cause that's popular within your own party? Or do you want to be the president that enables youth drug use that will have ramifications down the road?"
Marijuana legalization advocates offer politicians a rosier scenario, in which legitimate pot businesses eager to keep their operating licenses make sure not to sell to minors.
"Having a regulated system is the only way to ensure that we're not ceding control of this popular substance to the criminal market and to black marketeers," says Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, a trade group for legal pot businesses in the U.S.
While the federal government hunkers down, Colorado and Washington state are moving forward on their own with regulations covering everything from how plants will be grown to how many stores will be allowed.
Tim Lynch, director of the libertarian Cato Institute's Project on Criminal Justice, predicts "the next few years are going to be messy" as states work to bring a black-market industry into the sunshine.
California's experience with medical marijuana offers a window into potential pitfalls that can come with wider availability of pot.
Dispensaries for medical marijuana have proliferated in the state, and regulation has been lax, prompting a number of cities around the state to ban dispensaries.
In May, the California Supreme Court ruled that cities and counties can ban medical marijuana dispensaries. A few weeks later, Los Angeles voters approved a ballot measure that limits the number of pot shops in the city to 135, down from an estimated high of about 1,000.
This isn't full-scale buyer's remorse, but more a course correction before the inevitable next push for full-on legalization in the state.
Growing support for legalization doesn't mean everybody wants to light up: Barely one in 10 Americans used pot in the past year.
Those who do want to see marijuana legalized range from libertarians who oppose much government intervention to people who want to see an activist government aggressively regulate marijuana production and sales.
For some, money talks: Why let drug cartels rake in untaxed profits when a cut could go into government coffers?
There are other threads in the growing acceptance of pot.
People think it's not as dangerous as once believed. They worry about high school kids getting an arrest record. They see racial inequity in the way marijuana laws are enforced. They're weary of the "war on drugs."
Opponents counter with a 2012 study finding that regular use of marijuana during teen years can lead to a long-term drop in IQ, and another study indicating marijuana use can induce and exacerbate psychotic illness in susceptible people. They question the notion that regulating pot will bring in big money, saying revenue estimates are grossly exaggerated.
They reject the claim that prisons are bulging with people convicted of simple possession by citing federal statistics showing only a small percentage of federal and state inmates are behind bars for that alone.
They warn that baby boomers who draw on their own innocuous experiences with pot are overlooking the much higher potency of today's marijuana.
In 2009, concentrations of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in pot, averaged close to 10 percent in marijuana, compared with about 4 percent in the 1980s, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
"If marijuana legalization was about my old buddies at Berkeley smoking in People's Park once a week I don't think many of us would care that much," says Sabet, who helped to found Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a group that opposes legalization. "It's really about creating a new industry that's going to target kids and target minorities and our vulnerable populations just like our legal industries do today."
So how bad, or good, is pot?
J. Michael Bostwick, a psychiatrist at the Mayo Clinic, set out to sort through more than 100 sometimes conflicting studies after his teenage son became addicted to pot, and turned his findings into a 22-page article for Mayo Clinic Proceedings in 2012.
For all of the talk that smoking pot is no big deal, Bostwick says, he determined that "it was a very big deal. There were addiction issues. There were psychosis issues.
But there was also this very large body of literature suggesting that it could potentially have very valuable pharmaceutical applications but the research was stymied" by federal barriers.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse says research is ongoing.
Dr. Nora Volkow, the institute's director, worries that legalizing pot will result in increased use of marijuana by young people, and impair their brain development.
"Think about it: Do you want a nation where your young people are stoned?" she asks.
Partisans on both sides think people in other states will keep a close eye on Colorado and Washington as they decide what happens next.
But past predictions on pot have been wildly off-base.
"Reefer Madness," the 1936 propaganda movie that pot fans turned into a cult classic in the 1970s, spins a tale of dire consequences "ending often in incurable insanity."
Associated Press writers Kristen Wyatt in Denver, Gene Johnson in Seattle, Lauran Neergaard in Washington and AP researcher Monika Mathur in Washington contributed to this report.
Saturday, June 29th, 2013 ‘The New York Times’ Editorial:
American Mayors: Let Them Smoke Pot
It has been more than seven months since voters in Colorado and Washington State chose to legalize marijuana for recreational use, in contravention of federal drug laws. It has been more than three months since Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he would announce his department’s response to the new statutes “relatively soon.”
So far: nothing. Mr. Holder has yet to indicate whether he will side with all nine former heads of the Drug Enforcement Administration, who published an open letter urging federal pre-emption.
On Monday, the United States Conference of Mayors passed a resolution suggesting the opposite: that the Obama administration should let the states decide this issue for themselves. “Despite the prohibition of marijuana,” the resolution reads, “and the 22 million marijuana arrests that have occurred in the United States since 1965,” some “42 percent of Americans” have used the drug.
Organized crime, the mayors continue, dominates the illegal marketplace; enforcement is not only costly, but also racially biased, with African-Americans far more likely than Caucasians to be arrested for possession despite similar rates of use across ethnic groups. In light of these facts, they say, states should be able to “set whatever marijuana policies work best to improve the public safety and health of their communities.”
A guy named Barack Obama might have agreed with that when he was running for president. Asked about medical marijuana in 2008, he said, “I’m not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue.” But the Barack Obama who actually became president seems to have no problem with interference. In the past four years, the D.E.A. has conducted at least 270 SWAT-style raids on medical marijuana providers at a cost of roughly $8 million.
What the Conference of Mayors resolved seems appropriate — and sensitive to the reality that public attitudes toward marijuana are liberalizing rapidly. In 1969, the Pew Research Center found that only 12 percent of Americans favored legalizing the drug. By 2010, that figure was 41 percent. In 2013, it was 52 percent, a majority.
At any rate, Mr. Holder’s dithering helps no one. The status quo is chaotic and untenable. If you live in Denver or Seattle and you are thinking of applying for a license to sell marijuana, you have a right to know whether federal prosecutors will move to seize your property and jail you.
F.B.I. Will Fight the Mafia With Fewer Investigators
By WILLIAM K. RASHBAUM — Saturday, June 29th, 2013 ‘The New York Times’
The New York office of the F.B.I. confronts an array of challenges — from cyber and financial crime to global terrorism — that would have been unimaginable half a century ago when it first squared off in earnest against the mob. And so, in recent years, more and more agents have been assigned to those modern threats and fewer to the L.C.N., the bureau’s shorthand for La Cosa Nostra.
Now, for the third time in five years, the office is reducing the number of agents assigned to traditional organized crime cases, bringing the total remaining to roughly three dozen, people with knowledge of the changes said. Those agents are responsible for investigating some 700 so-called made members and 7,000 associates. The number of squads focused exclusively on the city’s five crime families will be reduced to two from three. The cuts will leave about 60 percent fewer agents than in 2008, when there was — as there had been for decades — a squad of 10 to 20 agents devoted to each crime family.
The changes come after two decades of success in the fight against the mob, and they have met with mixed reviews within the Federal Bureau of Investigation and at some of the other agencies that, over the years, worked to wrest the mob’s grip from some industries and loosen it over others.
Some see the changes as a necessary evolution, a reaction to the changing nature of crime and threats to the nation in a time of tight budgets. Others fear the reductions could allow the city’s five weakened crime families — the Gambinos, the Bonannos, the Colombos, the Genoveses and the Lucheses — to grow stronger, regroup and reassert themselves.
The head of the New York F.B.I. office, assistant director George Venizelos, declined to discuss specific staffing numbers but acknowledged the cuts, citing terrorism and other priorities, the F.B.I.’s budget and what he called the mob’s changing footprint. He suggested, however, that the changes were not set in stone. “That doesn’t mean we’re not going to increase it in six months” if circumstances warrant, he said, adding, “we’re just trying to be more flexible.”
“That’s where the challenge is — you want to stay on top of the L.C.N., and you don’t want it to be back where it used to be,” he said. “Would I like another 100 agents or so? Of course we would, but we have to deal with what we have.”
Other F.B.I. offices in cities where traditional organized crime families have long exerted influence have seen similar cutbacks. Ten years ago in the Chicago office, for example, two squads with 12 agents each were devoted exclusively to investigating La Cosa Nostra. Now only one squad with 12 agents focuses on the mob, a person briefed on those changes said.
Prof. James B. Jacobs, the director of the Center for Research in Crime and Justice at New York University School of Law who has written extensively about organized crime, construction and labor unions, said the reductions presented a potential problem, but that a re-examination of the bureau’s priorities was long overdue.
“We just don’t have enough resources,” Mr. Jacobs said, adding that James B. Comey’s nomination to succeed Robert S. Mueller III as F.B.I. director could present an opportunity for just such a review. He also said that state and local governments should play a greater role in investigating organized crime cases.
The hallmark of organized crime has long been the ability of its more imaginative members to find creative ways to penetrate, corrupt and control industries. Coupled with the omnipresent threat of violence and more mundane schemes, it remains an enduring presence in certain sectors of the economy and certain neighborhoods around the city.
Over the years, the mob has found its way into more and more sophisticated schemes, feeding on everything from the stock market to the Internet and the health care and telecommunications industries, all while remaining entrenched in construction and staples like gambling, loan-sharking and extortion.
A resurgent mob, officials fear, could drive up the costs of a range of goods and services in the city, including private carting, construction, health insurance and restaurant linens.
“The problem hasn’t gone away,” said one senior F.B.I. investigator, who like others interviewed for this article, spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to publicly criticize their superiors. “Just because you put a guy away,” he said, “they replace him. They make new guys. Unless you stay on top of it, you won’t know who those guys are.” And if you don’t know who they are, he said, you can’t keep up with what they are doing.
The investigator, along with several other current and former officials, cautioned that the reduced number of agents assigned to handle organized crime cases would not only limit the nature and number of cases that the bureau can pursue, but also slow the flow of the informers — the key to most investigations — to a trickle.
With the cutbacks, one squad, known by the internal designation C5, which previously had handled the Genovese family, will also be responsible for the Bonannos and the Colombos. Another squad, C16, which had long investigated the Gambino family, is now also responsible for the Lucheses.
FBI Boston Office Corruption
Ex-FBI agent faces tough questions in Bulger trial
By DENISE LAVOIE (The Associated Press) — Friday, June 28th, 2013; 3:14 p.m. EDT
BOSTON (AP) -- Lawyers for James "Whitey" Bulger used an admitted corrupt FBI agent Friday to suggest to the jury at Bulger's racketeering trial that he was not an FBI informant, a key contention of prosecutors.
John Morris, an ex-agent who admitted taking $7,000 in cash and two cases of wine from Bulger, was grilled by Bulger's lawyer about a 700-page file the FBI filled with information Bulger allegedly gave them while an informant in the 1970s and `80s.
Morris, who received immunity from prosecution, said he accepted gifts from Bulger while former agent John Connolly - who Morris supervised - was Bulger's FBI handler.
He acknowledged that he panicked when Bulger and his partner, Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi, were indicted in 1995 because he knew his acceptance of bribes from Bulger could be exposed.
"I was worried about whether I could be prosecuted," Morris said. "I certainly did not want my bad behavior known in any manner, shape or form."
Bulger, 83, is accused of participating in 19 murders during the 1970s and `80s while he was allegedly leading the Winter Hill Hang and simultaneously providing information to the FBI on the New England Mafia and other criminals.
Connolly was convicted of tipping off Bulger to the 1995 indictment, prompting him to flee Boston in late 1994 and remain one of the nation's most wanted fugitives until his capture in Santa Monica, Calif., in 2011.
Morris acknowledged that he was concerned that he could potentially be prosecuted in the murder of Edward "Brian" Halloran, who prosecutors say was killed by Bulger after Connolly told Bulger that Halloran was cooperating with authorities against Bulger's gang.
Morris testified Thursday that he told Connolly about Halloran's cooperation. Another man, Michael Donahue, was killed during the same shooting because he happened to give Halloran a ride home that night.
Morris said he felt he had "no direct role" in the killings of Halloran and Donahue.
He said he agreed to cooperate with prosecutors because he "wanted to set things straight."
"I didn't want to carry that burden any more. I wanted to get out from under it," he said.
Morris acknowledged that there was pressure on FBI agents to cultivate informants who could provide information about the Mafia because bringing down the organized crime group was a top priority at the time.
Bulger attorney Hank Brennan repeatedly suggested that Connolly and Morris falsely portrayed Bulger as a top-echelon informant in the FBI's files so both of them could advance their careers. The defense maintains that Bulger bribed Morris, Connolly and others for information on investigations to help avoid prosecution, but say he was not an informant.
"The truth is, Mr. Morris, Mr. Bulger was buying, he wasn't selling, was he?" Brennan asked Morris.
"I didn't interpret it as a quid pro quo," Morris replied.
Brennan showed Morris two sets of reports on meetings with FBI informants, some purporting to be meetings with Bulger and some with other informants. In some of the reports, Connolly described information on gangland activities he attributed to someone other than Bulger. The same day or several days later, a report written by Connolly appeared in Bulger's FBI file, describing similar information.
"It's not real unusual that multiple informants can be reporting the same information," Morris said.
Brennan's cross-examination of Morris is expected to continue Monday.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Kelly told Judge Denise Casper that Bulger's trial, which began earlier this month, is moving faster than anticipated. He said prosecutors could wrap up their case by the end of July, followed by the defense case.
U.S. Park Police
Hundreds of Park Police guns unaccounted for, report says
By Dugald McConnell and Brian Todd (CNN News) — Saturday, June 29th, 2013; 8:36 a.m. EDT
(CNN) -- The U.S. Park Police is failing to adequately keep track of its firearms, creating an environment in which weapons are vulnerable to theft or misuse, according to a government report released Friday.
Due to "a lackadaisical attitude toward firearms management" by commanders, investigators said they found "credible evidence of conditions that would allow for theft and misuse of firearms, and the ability to conceal the fact if weapons were missing."
In a force of approximately 640 officers, the report says, hundreds of weapons were not properly accounted for. The auditors also allege that the agency has more than 1,400 extra weapons, including 477 military-style automatic and semiautomatic rifles.
The head of the Park Police officers' union, Ian Glick, said there are shortcomings in the "antiquated system of weapon tracking," but public safety was never put in jeopardy.
"None of these weapons were ever seized in a crime, or found on someone who shouldn't have one," he said. While the tracking system has its failings, he said, "all the weapons are accounted for. Every weapon, every stick of ammo, everything is accounted for. But it's not accounted for in the National Park Service weapons inventory computer system."
The National Park Service declined to respond to Glick's specific assertion. But it said it has immediately ordered a complete weapons inventory, to address the "significant, systemic firearms management problems" identified in the report.
"I have no tolerance for this management failure," said Jonathan Jarvis, director of the National Park Service. He pledged to implement the report's recommendations on record-keeping, and went on to praise the police officers. "The brave men and women of the U.S. Park Police are professionals who put their life on the line every day," he said, "protecting our parks for millions to enjoy."
The report cited several examples of mishandling of weapons, including two officers it says brought their rifles home with them. But at least one example has come into dispute.
The audit asserts that a former chief of the Park Police never turned in his handgun, and 10 years after his retirement it was taken from him by an instructor at a qualification course for retired law enforcement officers, who happened to notice the former chief still had government property.
But the former chief, Robert Langston, rejects the claim, saying he never kept a handgun, he never had one taken away, and he was never asked by auditors about the allegation. The first he heard of it was when he got a call from CNN on Friday morning.
"Nobody ever confiscated a gun of mine. I would recall that," he said. "Where did they get that?"
He said he turned in his weapon when he left government service, and showed CNN his paperwork.
When asked about the contradiction, the inspector general's office said its report was based on Park Police records, and the discrepancy just shows the extent of the agency's record-keeping problems. The National Park Service did not respond to an inquiry about the former chief's paperwork.
Judge rules against Utah law limiting federal law enforcement authority
By Amy Joi O'Donoghue — Saturday, June 29th, 2013 ‘The Deseret News’ / Salt Lake City, UT
SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge ruled Friday there is a substantial risk of "irreparable harm," with public confusion that could result if a state law limiting federal law enforcement authority is allowed to take effect.
U.S. District Court Judge David Nuffer said a temporary restraining order barring implementation of HB155 will remain in effect until mid-July, when his Friday order granting a preliminary injunction will be put in place.
"There is a real risk that members of the public will misunderstand the proper scope of federal law enforcement authority," he said, adding that harm would come to the critical relationship that exists between local and federal law enforcement agencies.
HB155, sponsored by Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, earlier this year, would have taken effect in May, but the U.S. government sought a ruling preventing its implementation.
The measure, according to Mark Ward, an attorney and senior policy analyst representing the Utah Association of Counties, grew out of the frustration of rural county sheriffs who complained that federal agents were indiscriminately hassling or arresting residents by relying on state law.
HB155 sought to restrain the law enforcement authority of employees of the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management from citing or arresting offenders unless the laws are expressly derived from federal rules, regulations or statutes. Multiple sheriffs from counties including Iron, Sevier and Wayne attended the hearing in support of the measure.
"We want to make sure it is done properly, done correctly, by the right people who have the right training," said Paul Tonks, with the Utah Attorney General's Office.
Tonks argued that the state of Utah is not trying to limit the law enforcement activities of federal agents if they are acting within the scope of authority grounded in their own rules, regulations and federal statutes.
"You need to be able to trace that authority back," he said. "There may be instances where they may be going beyond that federal authority."
But Scott Risner, arguing on behalf of the U.S. Attorney's Office, said any restrictions found in a state law that would limit the federal government's authority turns the U.S. Constitution on its head.
"It is a remarkable proposition that is contradicted by decades of cases, including Supreme Court cases," he said. "It is invalid under the supremacy clause and pre-empted by existing federal laws."
Nuffer agreed and pointed to the lack of any case law that would support the state's strike at the federal government.
"I am not in the business of innovating," the judge said. "I do not depart from precedent."
Afterward, Iron County Sheriff Mark Gower expressed his frustration, citing federal employees' lack of training on state laws and long travel distances for offenders who must travel to the nearest federal magistrate's office — such as Salt Lake City — to contest a citation. Often, even though federal officers are using state law as a basis for criminal violations, the penalty is federally imposed and costlier.
"It is a big process issue for us and our residents," he said.
Despite the temporary defeat, Ward said there is hope in the judge's words.
"We are encouraged that he said state officers are not prohibited from enforcing state laws on federal lands," he said. "And we're also encouraged by his statement that this ad-hoc assimilation of state laws by the federal government is not proper. That is critical, and the reason behind HB155."
Mexico Sees Decline in Drug-Related Killings
By LAURENCE ILIFF — Saturday, June 29th, 2013 ‘The Wall Street Journal’ / New York, NY
MEXICO CITY—Drug-related killings that turned parts of Mexico into the bloodiest spots on the globe appear to have decreased in recent months—a welcome trend in a nation exhausted by years of violence associated with organized crime, even if the reasons behind it are hard to pin down.
President Enrique Peña Nieto entered office Dec. 1 promising to continue the U.S.-supported fight against drug kingpins that he inherited, but to reduce the bloodbath by focusing on solving crimes like kidnapping and extortion that affect ordinary citizens.
The bloodshed is still alarmingly high, as the northern border and even the Acapulco beach resort continue to suffer from cartel turf wars.
In his first six months in office, around 6,300 people died in killings seen as linked to organized crime. But that is a drop of about 18% compared with an estimated 7,700 in the previous six months.
A separate study by a nonprofit group, the Mexican Institute of Competitiveness, used all reported murders, not just those classified as organized crime-related. It then seasonally adjusted the murder rates—since summer months tend to see a spike—and came up with a less-pronounced drop of 6% to around 10,000 murders, compared with about 10,600 in the six months before Mr. Peña Nieto took office.
The study's lead author, Alejandro Hope, a former government intelligence official, said the seasonally adjusted decline seems to have flattened out in recent months, suggesting further gains may be hard to come by.
"The situation is improving at a very slow rate," said Mr. Hope. "My nightmare scenario is that we get used to 20,000 or 25,000 people getting killed every year."
At least 60,000 people were killed in drug-related violence during the six-year term of former President Felipe Calderón, who made the assault on organized crime a key goal of his government.
Mr. Hope said that factors behind the declining murder rate include a national-security budget that has doubled over six years, improving economic conditions and actions by the cartels themselves to reduce violence, given the high cost over time.
"Some of it might be sheer exhaustion," he said.
César Yáñez, an academic and police trainer, said the decline probably had more to do with fewer cartel turf wars than government policy.
For example, the bloodiest fighting used to take place in Ciudad Juárez on the border with Texas, which at one point had the highest murder rate in the world. In recent months, that battle has mostly ended as Mexico's top drug gang, the Sinaloa Cartel, got the upper hand against the Juárez Cartel, Mr. Yáñez said. Homicides have fallen by about 90% in the city.
At the same time, the state of Michoacán in central Mexico has witnessed a rise in violence as various crime gangs compete in drug production and distribution, extortion and kidnapping.
At the end of May, the federal government sent hundreds of soldiers and police to quell violence in a rural area of the state known as Tierra Caliente, where half a dozen towns had been taken over by armed groups, including citizen "self-defense" groups who complained the police were corrupt.
"The new security strategy in our country has a clear purpose to fight organized crime of any kind," Mr. Peña Nieto said during a visit by U.S. President Barack Obama in May. "But, the new strategy that we have defined puts special emphasis to reduce the violence that has so damaged the lives of average Mexicans."
Some analysts say that Mr. Peña Nieto's security policy is creating a better climate in Mexico, which is backed by opinion polls.
"Peña Nieto's goal is not to break up the cartels or put capos in prison, it's to lower the level of bloodshed so people feel safer," said George Grayson, a professor of government at The College of William & Mary. "I'm not saying he is blasé or unconcerned, but he's not going to pick a fight."
Miguel Osorio Chong, Mexico's interior minister, says the government has also improved coordination between agencies such as the federal police and the attorney general's office. Under Mr. Calderón, the two agencies were often at loggerheads.
For instance, during Mr. Calderón's term, some 105,000 people were arrested on organized-crime charges, according to Mr. Osorio Chong. But only about 3,000 have been convicted or are on trial. The rest were let go due to a lack of evidence, he said.
Mr. Calderón, now a fellow at Harvard University, defended his policies in a February academic paper in the Latin American Policy Journal that focused on the sharp decline in crime in Ciudad Juárez.
He attributed the fall to a comprehensive plan by his government to focus on both law enforcement and economic development, and held it up as a model.
The Criminal N.S.A.
By JENNIFER STISA GRANICK and CHRISTOPHER JON SPRIGMAN — Saturday, June 29th, 2013 ‘The New York Times’
(Op-Ed / Commentary)
THE twin revelations that telecom carriers have been secretly giving the National Security Agency information about Americans’ phone calls, and that the N.S.A. has been capturing e-mail and other private communications from Internet companies as part of a secret program called Prism, have not enraged most Americans. Lulled, perhaps, by the Obama administration’s claims that these “modest encroachments on privacy” were approved by Congress and by federal judges, public opinion quickly migrated from shock to “meh.”
It didn’t help that Congressional watchdogs — with a few exceptions, like Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky — have accepted the White House’s claims of legality. The leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, and Saxby Chambliss, Republican of Georgia, have called the surveillance legal. So have liberal-leaning commentators like Hendrik Hertzberg and David Ignatius.
This view is wrong — and not only, or even mainly, because of the privacy issues raised by the American Civil Liberties Union and other critics. The two programs violate both the letter and the spirit of federal law. No statute explicitly authorizes mass surveillance. Through a series of legal contortions, the Obama administration has argued that Congress, since 9/11, intended to implicitly authorize mass surveillance. But this strategy mostly consists of wordplay, fear-mongering and a highly selective reading of the law. Americans deserve better from the White House — and from President Obama, who has seemingly forgotten the constitutional law he once taught.
The administration has defended each of the two secret programs. Let’s examine them in turn.
Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contract employee and whistle-blower, has provided evidence that the government has phone record metadata on all Verizon customers, and probably on every American, going back seven years. This metadata is extremely revealing; investigators mining it might be able to infer whether we have an illness or an addiction, what our religious affiliations and political activities are, and so on.
The law under which the government collected this data, Section 215 of the Patriot Act, allows the F.B.I. to obtain court orders demanding that a person or company produce “tangible things,” upon showing reasonable grounds that the things sought are “relevant” to an authorized foreign intelligence investigation. The F.B.I. does not need to demonstrate probable cause that a crime has been committed, or any connection to terrorism.
Even in the fearful time when the Patriot Act was enacted, in October 2001, lawmakers never contemplated that Section 215 would be used for phone metadata, or for mass surveillance of any sort. Representative F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., a Wisconsin Republican and one of the architects of the Patriot Act, and a man not known as a civil libertarian, has said that “Congress intended to allow the intelligence communities to access targeted information for specific investigations.” The N.S.A.’s demand for information about every American’s phone calls isn’t “targeted” at all — it’s a dragnet. “How can every call that every American makes or receives be relevant to a specific investigation?” Mr. Sensenbrenner has asked. The answer is simple: It’s not.
The government claims that under Section 215 it may seize all of our phone call information now because it might conceivably be relevant to an investigation at some later date, even if there is no particular reason to believe that any but a tiny fraction of the data collected might possibly be suspicious. That is a shockingly flimsy argument — any data might be “relevant” to an investigation eventually, if by “eventually” you mean “sometime before the end of time.” If all data is “relevant,” it makes a mockery of the already shaky concept of relevance.
Let’s turn to Prism: the streamlined, electronic seizure of communications from Internet companies. In combination with what we have already learned about the N.S.A.’s access to telecommunications and Internet infrastructure, Prism is further proof that the agency is collecting vast amounts of e-mails and other messages — including communications to, from and between Americans.
The government justifies Prism under the FISA Amendments Act of 2008. Section 1881a of the act gave the president broad authority to conduct warrantless electronic surveillance. If the attorney general and the director of national intelligence certify that the purpose of the monitoring is to collect foreign intelligence information about any nonAmerican individual or entity not known to be in the United States, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court can require companies to provide access to Americans’ international communications. The court does not approve the target or the facilities to be monitored, nor does it assess whether the government is doing enough to minimize the intrusion, correct for collection mistakes and protect privacy. Once the court issues a surveillance order, the government can issue top-secret directives to Internet companies like Google and Facebook to turn over calls, e-mails, video and voice chats, photos, voiceover IP calls (like Skype) and social networking information.
Like the Patriot Act, the FISA Amendments Act gives the government very broad surveillance authority. And yet the Prism program appears to outstrip that authority. In particular, the government “may not intentionally acquire any communication as to which the sender and all intended recipients are known at the time of the acquisition to be located in the United States.”
The government knows that it regularly obtains Americans’ protected communications. The Washington Post reported that Prism is designed to produce at least 51 percent confidence in a target’s “foreignness” — as John Oliver of “The Daily Show” put it, “a coin flip plus 1 percent.” By turning a blind eye to the fact that 49-plus percent of the communications might be purely among Americans, the N.S.A. has intentionally acquired information it is not allowed to have, even under the terrifyingly broad auspices of the FISA Amendments Act.
How could vacuuming up Americans’ communications conform with this legal limitation? Well, as James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, told Andrea Mitchell of NBC, the N.S.A. uses the word “acquire” only when it pulls information out of its gigantic database of communications and not when it first intercepts and stores the information.
If there’s a law against torturing the English language, James Clapper is in real trouble.
The administration hides the extent of its “incidental” surveillance of Americans behind fuzzy language. When Congress reauthorized the law at the end of 2012, legislators said Americans had nothing to worry about because the surveillance could not “target” American citizens or permanent residents. Mr. Clapper offered the same assurances. Based on these statements, an ordinary citizen might think the N.S.A. cannot read Americans’ e-mails or online chats under the F.A.A. But that is a government fed misunderstanding.
A “target” under the act is a person or entity the government wants information on — not the people the government is trying to listen to. It’s actually O.K. under the act to grab Americans’ messages so long as they are communicating with the target, or anyone who is not in the United States.
Leave aside the Patriot Act and FISA Amendments Act for a moment, and turn to the Constitution.
The Fourth Amendment obliges the government to demonstrate probable cause before conducting invasive surveillance. There is simply no precedent under the Constitution for the government’s seizing such vast amounts of revealing data on innocent Americans’ communications.
The government has made a mockery of that protection by relying on select Supreme Court cases, decided before the era of the public Internet and cellphones, to argue that citizens have no expectation of privacy in either phone metadata or in e-mails or other private electronic messages that it stores with third parties.
This hairsplitting is inimical to privacy and contrary to what at least five justices ruled just last year in a case called United States v. Jones. One of the most conservative justices on the Court, Samuel A. Alito Jr., wrote that where even public information about individuals is monitored over the long term, at some point, government crosses a line and must comply with the protections of the Fourth Amendment. That principle is, if anything, even more true for Americans’ sensitive nonpublic information like phone metadata and social networking activity.
We may never know all the details of the mass surveillance programs, but we know this: The administration has justified them through abuse of language, intentional evasion of statutory protections, secret, unreviewable investigative procedures and constitutional arguments that make a mockery of the government’s professed concern with protecting Americans’ privacy. It’s time to call the N.S.A.’s mass surveillance programs what they are: criminal.
Jennifer Stisa Granick is the director of civil liberties at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society. Christopher Jon Sprigman is a professor at the University of Virginia School of Law.