Monday, July 15th, 2013 — Good Morning, Stay Safe
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Rules Relaxed for NYPD Legal Bureau but…
Discovery Process Is Alleged to be Flawed
Limited Discovery Alleged to Allow Accused Police Officers To Go Unidentified
Court Plan to Handle Police Lawsuits Is Criticized
By COLIN MOYNIHAN — Monday, July 15th, 2013 ‘The New York Times’
Concerned about the number of federal civil rights lawsuits filed against New York City police officers, a subcommittee of judges in the Southern District of New York adopted a temporary set of rules two years ago “designed to promote the just, speedy and inexpensive resolution” of many of those lawsuits.
Among other things, the rules increased the amount of time defendants have to respond to lawsuits in Manhattan and the Bronx that accuse police officers of excessive force, false arrest or malicious prosecution, and provided for what its authors called “limited discovery” while establishing a strict timetable for settlement demands and mediation.
But several lawyers who regularly handle civil rights cases say the plan favors the City of New York, which represents most police officers — so much so that some of the lawyers have tried to avoid filing such suits in the Southern District.
Debate over the rules has intensified recently as judges have pondered the plan’s future. The court invited lawyers to submit letters about the plan and held a forum last month to hear from some of them. Court officials said that the plan, part of a pilot program, could be altered, abandoned or made permanent.
“I find the present plan profoundly disturbing,” wrote Joel B. Rudin, a lawyer. “It makes the Southern District a hostile forum for plaintiffs.”
Mr. Rudin wrote that he had filed lawsuits in state court to avoid the rules, only to see lawyers for the city file papers to have the cases moved to federal court.
Lawyers have suggested that the court might lack the authority to institute parts of the plan. Others have complained that the plan was adopted with insufficient public discussion or review.
“The purpose of the forum and the request for written submissions was to get wide input from the bar, and the court is carefully considering this input before moving forward,” said Stephanie Cirkovich, a spokeswoman for the court.
Under the plan, which was created by a subcommittee overseen by Judge Paul A. Crotty, a former head of the New York City Law Department, the city has been given 80 days to respond to lawsuits, rather than the 21 days allowed by standard federal rules. While the city is required to produce some evidence quickly, most of it is postponed, and all discovery can be halted if a defendant moves to dismiss the suit.
Plaintiffs are required to authorize the release of medical records and sealed arrest records related to the lawsuit. They must also provide a list of all previous arrests, sealed or unsealed, although the city is only obliged to turn over indexes of previous complaints about officers that are similar to those in the lawsuit or that could raise questions about the officer’s credibility.
In addition, the rules provide for the automatic adoption of a protective order that allows any party to designate certain evidence as confidential. Lawyers are permitted under the rules to ask that a case be exempted from the plan, but judges may deny those requests.
If a case is not settled within three months of the city’s initial response, both sides are required to attend a mediation session. And if there has been no resolution at the end of the plan’s process, which lawyers said can take about six months, cases proceed with full discovery.
The plan does not apply to some cases, including those seeking reform or injunctive relief. Judge Jed S. Rakoff is not participating in the plan. Lawyers for the city wrote that a second judge, William H. Pauley III, is also declining to participate.
City officials have called the plan a success, saying that more cases had been settled under the plan than before, and that city lawyers had spent, on average, fewer hours on those cases.
“The city respectfully submits that the plan is an extremely worthwhile case management tool,” Celeste Koeleveld, a senior Law Department official, wrote in June, “and urges that the plan be made permanent.”
Several members of the plaintiffs’ bar opposed that recommendation, saying that the regimen of months under limited discovery pressured plaintiffs to settle cases without seeing all relevant evidence.
And Christopher Dunn and Arthur Eisenberg, of the New York Civil Liberties Union, asked that the court offer statistical information about the plan, then allow further public comment before deciding its future.
“The court’s decision not to release the data it has collected about the plan impairs the ability of the N.Y.C.L.U. and others to engage in a fully informed discussion,” they wrote.
A case handled by Rose Weber, a lawyer in Manhattan, in some ways illustrates how the new rules affected her client.
She filed a lawsuit in January 2012 on behalf of a woman who said that in June 2009, she had been shoved to the ground by a police officer, detained for hours at a precinct in the West Village, and then released without charges.
The statute of limitations on the case was set to expire soon, which Ms. Weber said would prevent her from adding defendants to the lawsuit. By February 2012, Ms. Weber had not yet determined the identity of several officers her client said were involved in the episode, information that she said would generally emerge during the discovery process.
But because of the limited discovery, lawyers for the city were not obliged to quickly identify the unnamed officers.
“If this case remains within the ambit of the plan, it is quite likely that the statute will expire before plaintiff can identify all possible defendants,” Ms. Weber wrote to a judge, calling that possibility “utterly unfair” and asking that her case be exempted from the plan and handled under standard rules.
The judge, Denise L. Cote, refused the request. A month later, the case settled without the names of the unidentified officers being revealed.
‘One Police Plaza’
Homeland Security: From Nanny to Sandbox
By: Leonard Levitt – Monday, July 15th, 2013 ‘NYPD Confidential.Com’
(Op-Ed / Commentary)
If Bernie Kerik had a “nanny problem,’ when he was nominated for Homeland Security Director in 2004, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly may have a sandbox problem.
Kelly — whom U.S. Senator Charles Schumer is now pitching for Homeland Security Director [Schumer pitched him, unsuccessfully, two years ago for FBI Director] — doesn’t play well in the sandbox.
He doesn’t play well with others — especially with those of equal rank or stature.
Most importantly as it pertains to Homeland Security, he doesn’t play well with the feds.
The whole world now knows of Kelly’s long-running feud with the FBI over fighting terrorism, which this column has documented over the past decade. It culminated in the Najibullah Zazi subway plot when the NYPD’s Intelligence Division tried an end run around the FBI and nearly blew the case.
The on-going conflict was officially acknowledged last month in a CIA report that criticized the Agency’s clandestine involvement with the NYPD.
“The OIG [Office of Inspector General] determined that the assignment of ••••• to NYPD … placed the Agency more prominently in the middle of a contentious relationship between the FBI and the NYPD regarding NYPD’s efforts to combat terrorism,” the report stated.
Kelly also doesn’t play so well with the Secret Service and the State Department’s Security Service, as well as with local Port Authority police, who have law enforcement jurisdiction at the city’s airports.
This was evidenced by the Intelligence Division’s demanding a weapons check at Kennedy Airport of an arriving Iranian delegation to the United Nations in September 2007. That action infuriated officers from those three agencies, who were on hand at Kennedy and maintained the NYPD was violating diplomatic protocol. [See NYPD Confidential Oct. 1, 2007.]
[Kelly recently created a three-star chief’s rank for the commander who initiated the weapons check, Thomas Galati.]
Then there are Kelly’s troubled relations with top law enforcement officials, starting with outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller.
Relations between them were apparently so strained that at a 2012 Senate Judiciary hearing Schumer urged Mueller to brief Kelly on a foiled Yemeni bomb plot.
“For the continued good operation, give him a call on this,” Schumer pleaded.
When Mueller responded, “As I told Ray, he is always welcome to call, Schumer put his long Senatorial arm on Mueller, saying, “Let’s not get into who calls whom. I am asking you to call.” [See NYPD Confidential, May 21, 2012.]
Kelly also seems to have a strained relationship with the Obama administration. [Then again, who doesn’t?]
Although Schumer touted Kelly in 2011 as “the pre-eminent law enforcement person in the country” when Schumer pushed him for FBI Director, Obama either didn’t agree or didn’t care. [See NYPD Confidential, Mar. 21, 2011.]
He extended Mueller for two years after his ten-year term ended, and recently nominated James Comey — not Kelly — to succeed him.
More recently, Kelly lit into Attorney General Eric Holder over the Edward Snowden domestic secrecy flap, saying the Obama administration “should come clean on domestic spying.”
Whether Kelly actually meant this is problematic, given his penchant for secrecy over virtually every aspect of NYPD life. Indeed, Kelly’s criticism of Holder probably stemmed less from policy disagreements than from personal pique. It followed Holder’s suggestion at the end of the Stop and Frisk trial that a federal monitor might be just the thing for the NYPD.
These sandbox issues go beyond the feds. They also involve his NYPD predecessors.
Take Howard Safir, police commissioner from 1996-2000 under Rudy Giuliani.
For a time, the two seemed tight as ticks. Kelly attended Safir’s inaugural at City Hall. Safir attended Kelly’s swearing-in as Assistant Treasury Secretary in Washington under President Bill Clinton.
For reasons that remain unclear, the relationship soured. When Kelly returned as police commissioner in 2002, Safir telephoned to make a luncheon appointment with him. Kelly’s staff advised Safir he would have to make his request in writing.
Kelly wasn’t the only NYPD official who blew Safir off. In a hand-written letter postmarked Aug. 25, 2006 to his former CIA buddy, Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence David Cohen, Safir wrote: “David! I have called you four times and you have not returned my calls. There was never a time when I was P.C. that I did not return the calls you made to me, nor did I ever fail to help you. Friends do not treat friends this way.” [See NYPD Confidential Dec. 10, 2007.]
Or take Bill Bratton, whose name has also been floated as Homeland Security Director. Kelly has never forgiven him for taking his job as police commissioner in 1994.
Over the past two decades, Kelly has kept up a drumbeat of criticism, including Bratton’s aggressive tactics in reducing the city’s crime rate — tactics Kelly adopted when he returned as commissioner in 2002.
In Sept, 2006, Kelly quit the Manhattan Institute’s international anti-terrorism conference at the Roosevelt Hotel, commemorating the fifth anniversary of 9/11, after he learned Bratton was participating. He then held a rival conference the same day at Police Plaza.
In 2010, outgoing First Deputy George Grasso invited Bratton to his walk-out at Police Plaza. The walkout — where the retiring NYPD official walks between two rows of white-gloves officers who applaud and salute — is a department ritual.
Kelly is meticulous about attending such events, even appearing at those honoring people he disdains, such as Kerik, who used his failure to pay taxes for his immigrant nanny as a cover to withdraw his Homeland Security Director nomination in 2004.
It turned out Kerik had more serious problems, including lying to federal investigators and all sorts of financial shenanigans, which landed him in federal prison for four years. [He is currently recuperating at his Franklin Lakes, N.J, home.]
But at Grasso’s walkout, Kelly was a no-show.
With Deputy Commissioner for Public Information Paul Browne keeping a watchful eye, many of the top brass were reluctant to sit with Bratton at Grasso’s luncheon in the police auditorium.
For much of the event, he and his wife, Rikki Klieman, sat by themselves.
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CALLING ALL REPORTERS. The only thing more outrageous than barring Village Voice police reporter Graham Rayman from a news conference at Police Plaza two weeks ago is that no one protested.
Rayman, a veteran police reporter, says he was told by a sergeant in the office of the Deputy Commissioner of Public Information he could not attend because he wasn’t “credentialed.”
No matter that the news conference was to announce the findings of Kelly’s so-called blue-ribbon commission that investigated whether the NYPD systemically down-graded crimes; no matter that Rayman has probably written more on the subject than any other reporter in town; and is about to publish a book on Adrian Schoolcraft, the police officer who exposed such downgrading in the 81st precinct, which led Kelly to appoint the commission.
Twenty years ago when Howard Safir barred Daily News police bureau chief John Marzulli from a news conference at Police Plaza, the media was outraged.
Both the NY Times and the Associated Press wrote stories.
Safir and Mayor Giuliani then issued something approaching an apology and offered assurances that it would not happen again.
Today, not even the Village Voice protested. Its interim editor — somebody named Pete Kotz — did not respond to this reporter’s emails. The Voice is in such disarray that its telephone system doesn’t work. Try contacting someone if you don’t know his extension and see how far you get.
Norman Siegel, the former NY Civil Liberties Union head, says he’s spent the past year haggling with the Corporation Counsel to establish guidelines to credential reporters.
He says he was unsuccessful in taking that responsibility out of Deputy Commissioner Browne’s hands and was also unsuccessful in establishing an oversight committee.
But he says it’s easy for reporters, especially bloggers, to get credentialed. All you have to do, he says, is cover six city-related news conferences and then write about them.
Unfortunately it’s not that simple.
“I do not have a press card,” says the former Daily News reporter Jerry Capeci, who writes the influential on-line Gangland column about organized crime. “I was surprised when my application to renew it was rejected. …
“I appealed the initial rejection, then had what in my view was an upbeat, positive discussion about it with two police officials at Police Plaza. At the moment, my follow-up request is still pending.”
Rayman says: “They posted a notice at 1:10 about the presser [news conference] at 3. I emailed Browne, asking to be admitted. He didn’t respond.
“I called DCPI. First, I got the usual runaround and then they transferred me to the [NYPD] legal bureau for whatever reason. Of course, no one at the legal bureau answered.
“I called back and finally got a Sgt. Jones who said he would check and call me back. He did call back and said ‘credentialed’ press only.
“They kept saying I wasn’t ‘credentialed’ press, whatever that means. I’ve been covering the NYPD since was I was 24. I even spent three years as in-house press.
“On maybe two prior occasions I’ve been able to get in just by calling DCPI ahead. All Browne had to do was call the security desk and allow me to enter. It wasn’t a big deal. He chose not to.”
Edited by Donald Forst
Question and Frisk Search
Getting beyond stop-and-frisk
Another tactic has been far more critical to making neighborhoods safer
By David M. Kennedy — Monday, July 15th, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’
As the debate over stop-and-frisk reaches a critical point, something nobody expected is happening on the city streets. Homicide is down another full 25% over last year, and street stops are also down — by half.
This is the result of the NYPD’s embrace of a powerful and innovative tactic — one far less understood than stop-and-frisk. Before our eyes, the nation’s largest city has taken a profound, historic step toward protecting its people for the long term.
Understanding the innovation requires a quick bit of history. Not long ago, it was a truism that there was nothing the police could do about homicide.
No longer. We now know that in any city, violence is persistently concentrated not only in “hot” neighborhoods, but on very particular streets and corners even in particular buildings.
That violence is also overwhelmingly driven by extremely active criminals in groups like gangs and drug crews. In most cities, they’re under half of 1% of the population. Police those places and people and you police the violence.
The biggest success story has always been New York. Beginning in the early 1990s, the NYPD built an extraordinary capacity to track what is going on where. One response — “cops on dots,” or putting the officers where the crime is — is simple, but it works. Even more important has been a parallel cultural shift — a relentless focus on results.
The combination of effective tactics and an obsessive drive to push crime numbers down has worked. It’s a brilliant model, one other cities have properly emulated, but there is more to effective tactics than stop-and-frisk. And the NYPD knows it.
The other success story begins in Boston, which learned how to identify the groups that drove the violence, reach out to them directly and tell them to put their guns down.
Your community needs this to stop, they were told; we’ll help you if you want us to, and we’ll focus law enforcement on whoever remains violent. The resulting “Boston Miracle” became the other marquee national triumph.
For a long time, there was something close to a civil war in law enforcement between the “New York Model” and the “Boston Model.” It was, the caricature went, tough vs. smart; big-city real deal vs. small-town boutique.
But we now know that the approaches ultimately need each other. Direct outreach works, to a point. But it trips up without the managerial seriousness that is at the core of New York’s approach. And vice-versa. Ultimately, smart and tough must be interwoven.
Today, former New York chief Bill Bratton is championing the two-level approach in deeply troubled Oakland. It has been successfully piloted by the LAPD, and ex-NYPD Superintendent Garry McCarthy is making it the heart of his fight against violence in Chicago, where homicide is down nearly 30% this year.
And — though you wouldn’t know it from the narrow, hunkered-down stop-and-frisk debate — the NYPD has also embraced it. Last year, Commissioner Raymond Kelly created “Operation Crew Cut.” The department identified crews and their street rivalries; moved resources into precinct, borough and centralized units, and built a new intelligence and tracking system. It held neighborhood forums on what it was learning and doing.
Prosecutors worked up new conspiracy cases against the most violent crews, including one that indicted three in Manhattan implicated in a string of at least three murders and 30 shootings going back to 2009.
And the NYPD is piloting — with an eye toward expansion — direct-outreach approaches with parolees in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Harlem and with crews in Staten Island.
You can see the dividends in the trends: Violence is down and stops are down.
It could and should get better over time. The increasingly effective focus on a relatively few key players will mean that there is less call for broader measures like stop-and-frisk. Quieter and safer neighborhoods will draw less police attention and be more able to govern themselves. The graphic demonstration that the NYPD can tell the difference between the key street players and everybody else will build its legitimacy with residents. The resulting virtuous cycle could take the city a long way.
Expect national, even international, ripples. Nothing means more in policing circles than what the NYPD does. If the department is pursuing zero tolerance, so will others; if it is tracking crews and telling them to stop shooting each other, so will others.
Whatever one thinks of stop-and-frisk, neither promoting it nor limiting it will further reduce the violence that still plagues some New York neighborhoods. What the NYPD has set in motion can.
Kennedy is co-chair of the National Network for Safer Communities at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and the author of “Don’t Shoot: One Man, A Street Fellowship and the End of Violence in Inner-City America.”
NYPD $$ Lawyer Lotto $$ Bonanza / E.S.U.
Seniors get $300G for cop attack by NYPD in Brooklyn home
Brooklyn seniors were granted $300G after heavily armed NYPD officers burst into their home and used excessive force injuring both elderly and killing their dog.
By John Marzulli — Monday, July 15th, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’
HEAVILY ARMED police commandos battered a senior couple and killed their dog inside their Brooklyn home — and now the city will pay $300,000 to settle the case.
Breast cancer survivor Elaine McCarthy, now 71, was reading a Bible in her Canarsie bedroom, and partially paralyzed stroke victim Egbert Thomas, 73, was watching a John Wayne flick on TV when at least five Emergency Service Unit cops rammed through a basement door on Sept. 6, 2008, and began their rampage.
The cops — led by an officer who would later commit suicide after another allegation of excessive force, court papers show — weren’t in hot pursuit of a perp, which could have explained why they tossed the seniors aside like rag dolls.
In fact, the officers had a warrant only to collect evidence against the couple’s adult grandson, who had been arrested the previous day for having an illicit relationship with a teenage girlfriend.
After hearing the police barge in uninvited, McCarthy sent her 8-year-old granddaughter downstairs to check on the noise. The little girl dutifully reported back, “Grandma, the basement is full of police,” according to court papers.
McCarthy went to investigate, and a shotgun-toting cop promptly wrenched her arm behind her back. She was then handcuffed and thrown to the floor. She has had two surgeries on her shoulder and knee to repair the damage.
Thomas hadn’t heard the ruckus and was hobbling to the bathroom when he heard someone shout, “Hey, boy, where are you going?” court papers state.
Thomas was grabbed by his collar and flung to the floor. But an unidentified cop muttered “Oh, s--t!” when he realized the senior citizen was infirm and could not get up, according to Thomas’ deposition.
He suffered a broken arm.
“They could have just rang the bell, said they had a warrant and come in to take what they were looking for,” McCarthy told the Daily News. “They hurt two people for no reason. It was totally wrong.”
In addition, the couple’s pit bull, Trouble, was whacked by a cop with his heavy ballistic shield and died three days later.
The police raiders were led by Lt. Michael Pigott, who would make headlines three weeks after the Canarsie raid when he gave the order to Taser an emotionally disturbed man perched on the ledge of a Brooklyn building.
That man, Iman Morales, fell to his death, and Pigott committed suicide after police officials questioned his actions.
A city Law Department spokesman said the settlement with McCarthy and Thomas, which came last week in Brooklyn Supreme Court, was “in the parties’ best interest.”
GOPers push Kelly as Homeland chief
By S.A. MILLER — Monday, July 15th, 2013 ‘The New York Post’
WASHINGTON — President Obama could jump-start the immigration-reform effort in Congress by tapping Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to take over the Homeland Security Department, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee said yesterday.
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) lauded Kelly as a replacement for outgoing Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, saying that “in terms of counterterrorism, [he] is one of the most respected guys out there.”
“A lot of people are pushing for him,” McCaul said on “Fox News Sunday.”
House Republicans’ deep distrust of Napolitano, who insists the Mexico border is already secure, threatens to help derail immigration-reform legislation. It fuels doubts that the Obama administration would enact border-security measures before putting America’s 11 million illegal aliens on a path to citizenship.
Napolitano announced Friday that she was stepping down in September to take a post as the head of the University of California systems.
A tough new chief at Homeland Security would “absolutely” improve the chance of pushing the legislation through the GOP-run House, said McCaul.
“There is an opportunity for this administration,” he said.
McCaul also vouched for former NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton and retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen as top candidates for the job.
Kelly issued a statement Friday praising Napolitano — but he did not respond to a request for comment yesterday.
Security ramped up for All-Star Game
By Peter Schrager — Sunday, July 14th, 2013; 5:30 p.m. ‘Fox News’ / New York, NY
Baseball’s best and brightest will all be in action Tuesday night in Queens for the 2013 Major League Baseball All-Star Game.
So will New York City’s finest.
For all the preparation and hard work the American League and National League All-Stars have put into their respective seasons to reach this point, the New York City Police Department’s put in as much, if not more, to ensure the players, the media and fans are protected from a potential terrorist attack.
In what will be arguably the biggest national spotlight sporting event since the Boston Marathon bombings in April, the NYPD, Major League Baseball, the New York Mets and countless other government agencies, taskforces and anti-terrorism experts have been working together tirelessly over the past several years to ensure the safest, most secure, summer evening possible.
“If you’re a terrorist, you’re likely looking to make a big splash. So the likelihood of an attack at this game vs. some regular season-game is presumably higher,” said Dr. David McWhorter, a principal at Catalyst Partners and a former employee of the Department of Homeland Security.
“Risk is the function of impact times probability. So, if your probability is increased a little bit and your risk is increased a little bit — you should put more resources into mitigating that risk.”
Dr. Lou Marciani, the director of the National Center for Spectator Safety and Sports Security at the University of Southern Mississippi, said you can bet the Big Apple is prepared.
“It’s the All Star Game and it’s in New York City. It’s iconic,” Marciani said. “It’s the best of the best. It’s Chevrolet. It’s apple pie. It’s America’s Pastime. Fortunately, there’s no better group prepared for an incident than the one Police commissioner Ray Kelly’s assembled in New York.”
No, this is certainly not some ordinary game. And it’s not being played in just any city, either. Less than three months removed from the tragic events in Boston, there’s an added level of preparedness going into Tuesday night’s exhibition.
“Security is paramount to us,” an MLB spokesperson told FOXSports.com earlier this week. “We have many specific security parameters and protocols that are a part of the bidding process to host an All-Star Game. And those go beyond the host club and extend to the city, in some cases the county, and the relevant agencies.
"We have had planning meetings with the Mets since last August, and our security department has been actively involved every step of the way.”
New York City Police Department deputy commissioner Paul Browne says the NYPD has been preparing for Tuesday night’s game at CitiField for “several years,” and has full confidence in the individuals, technology and agencies employed to keep the stadium safe.
“The police commissioner has a saying: ‘Terrorism is theater. And New York is the world’s biggest stage,'" Browne said. "When we’re having something that’s attracting FOX Sports, for example, and is attracting that kind of attention for good reasons — (the NYPD) always thinks of it as something that can be exploited for terrorist reasons.
We take the position of the Mayor. New Yorkers live their lives normally, even though we continue to see plots against the city. New Yorkers leave the worrying to the experts, meaning the police department and the joint terrorist task force with the FBI, where we have about 120 detectives assigned.
"People can’t live in a constant state of high alert. That’s what the police department is paid to do.”
New York hosted an All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium in 2008. Marciani, one of the preeminent experts in stadium security, expects an even greater level of sophistication and preparedness for Tuesday’s game at Citi Field than what was employed in the Bronx five years ago.
“Expect greater vigilance, even more training of staff, and more technological advancements at this year’s All-Star Game,” Marciani said. “It’s safe to say that there will be more cameras, better quality high-definition ones and enhanced video surveillance.
"Video surveillance has really turned the corner in the past several years. After the (Boston) Marathon, I’d expect even greater vigilance than usual.”
Added Browne, “Our radiation detection technology has advanced since 2008 and our camera technology has really advanced.”
Browne says the city has, indeed, acquired 100 additional portable cameras since the Boston Marathon, and those cameras will be used Tuesday night. The portable cameras, which can be put up with city light bulbs serving as the power source, can be activated and moved before, during, and after a major event.
Following the Boston Marathon, the police department first used these portable cameras for the New York City Five Boro Bike Tour. The cameras are the most notable technological addition, but are merely just one piece to what the police department refers to as a highly detailed “domain awareness system.”
Going into some of the specifics in which he can share, Browne notes the following measures that will all most likely be employed Tuesday night:
• SWAT teams maintaining observation posts.
• Counter-sniper units on the lookout for any potential snipers.
• “Plain-clothes” officers and people sweeping the crowd in the observation office — “They’ll be looking for any individuals abandoning a package, for example,” Browne said.
• Vapor Wake dogs, capable of picking up the scent of explosives on anyone who’s been handling them.
• Added attention to New York’s 7 train subway line, Jamaica Station and various other transportation hubs.
• “Sally ports,” the term used for the metal plates that come out of the ground and prevent vehicles from getting close enough to a venue with a car or truck bomb.
These core elements, in addition to various officers working the event, are all just a small part of the larger security plan. The details being shared with the public, as you'd expect, are merely scratching the surface.
It’s worth noting, however, that the experts we spoke to used caution in comparing Tuesday night’s All-Star Game to something like the Boston Marathon.
“They’re different types of events,” Dr. McWhorter said. “A marathon course has no perimeter. It’s just city streets. You can’t lock down a 26-linear-mile path through Boston, unlike a stadium, where although you’ll have more people watching it live, there’s a perimeter and access control.
"That perimeter could be pushed out with temporary fences. And you need a ticket to get into the stadium. That’s what we mean by ‘access control.’
“A marathon is harder to protect, all things being equal. Yet, with all the national attention to the All-Star Game does come added risk.”
Marciani points out, “The challenge of an open-access event that’s 26 miles brings on so many issues — surveillance, credentialing, more freedom — it’s very difficult to try to manage.
"Hopefully, you do manage the best you can. But All-Star Games, Super Bowls, and Final Fours — big events like that — they all have extra resources that most other events do not have because they’re so high-profile. So, with the greater attention also comes greater resources to prepare and respond.”
New York City, of course, is no stranger to keeping its landmarks and milestone events secure. Browne points out that the 10 years spanning Sept. 11, 2001 through Sept. 11, 2011 marked the city’s first 10-year period since the 1940’s where there wasn’t some sort of terrorist attack against the city. He says 16 different terrorist plots against New York have been identified by the city’s various taskforces since 9/11.
“We do a pretty thorough job,” Browne said. “We do a lot of things that we may never know if they have prevented an attack. So far, so good, but there’s something to pay attention to every day.”
As Mayor Michael Bloomberg likes to remind his city’s residents, it’s the police force’s job to do just that.
On Tuesday night, there will be a lot of work going on behind the scenes that the majority of the nation will never know about.
And if baseball’s the topic of conversation, that means the plan is working.
Bloomberg slams 'shoot first' laws after Zimmerman verdict: 'Inspire dangerous vigilantism and protect those who act recklessly with guns'
By SALLY GOLDENBERG and AMBER SUTHERLAND — Monday, July 15th, 2013 ‘The New York Post’
Mayor Bloomberg yesterday used the national fury over the verdict in the Trayvon Martin shooting to push his anti-gun agenda.
“One fact has long been crystal clear: ‘Shoot first’ laws, like those in Florida, can inspire dangerous vigilantism and protect those who act recklessly with guns,” Hizzoner said in a statement that avoided mention of race in the controversial case.
“Such laws, drafted by gun-lobby extremists in Washington, encourage deadly confrontations by enabling people to shoot first and argue ‘justifiable homicide’ later,” Bloomberg said.
“The tragic death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed child attempting to walk home from the store, will continue to drive our efforts” to change those laws, he said.
City comptroller candidates Eliot Spitzer and Scott Stringer also blasted the Florida verdict that cleared neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman in the unarmed teen’s death.
Stringer, at a Union Square rally denouncing the verdict, called the jury’s decision “madness.”
“It was sickening,” he said. “Being black and walking down the street is not a crime.”
Spitzer, the former governor and attorney general, called the verdict “a failure of justice.”
“An innocent young man was walking down a street, was confronted by a stranger with a gun, and that innocent, young man was shot. The criminal-justice system should be able to deal with situations like that. It didn’t,” Spitzer said on ABC’s “This Week.”
The city’s mayoral candidates also made the rounds at churches to denounce the decision.
Bill Thompson, the only African-American candidate, told reporters: “It’s not just Trayvon as a teenager. That could’ve been anybody who was black, anybody who was Latino.”
Bill de Blasio, the public advocate, whose children are biracial, said the Justice Department should bring a civil case against Zimmerman.
“This is such a slap in the face to justice,” he said during the Union Square protest.
Five States Still Lack Authority To Remove A Misbehaving Cop's License
By Ted Gest — Monday, July 15th, 2013 ‘The John Jay College of Criminal Justice Crime & Justice News’ / Washington, DC
Five states--California, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, and Hawaii—don't have authority to take away a police officer’s certificate or license to continue serving after misconduct, says The American Prospect. In 44 states, a state agency—usually known as a Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission (POST)—trains incoming cops, sets minimum standards that qualify them to serve, and can revoke an officer’s license for serious misbehavior.
All local departments do background checks on new hires, but the quality of those investigations can vary wildly, especially when small or financially strapped departments are involved.
“A background check is only as good as the person doing it and how deep they want to go,” says Eriks Gabliks, director of Oregon’s POST agency. Thorough background checks can be particularly hard when an applicant has resigned quietly from a previous police job in lieu of a termination or investigation.
In those cases, the department they left might not be willing or able to share information about the circumstances. Even if a background check turns up past rogue behavior, a small department may go ahead anyway. Such agencies usually are in poor communities that can’t afford high salaries, notes law Prof. Roger Goldman of St. Louis University, who has worked for 30 years promoting better policing standards and stronger revocation authority.
Desired to read, “How to Keep Bad Cops on the Beat” in its entirety, go to:
Classes teach what to do if a gunman opens fire at work
When faced with a mass shooting, these workshops teach, people should run, hide and, if necessary, fight.
By Tina Susman — Sunday, July 14th, 2013 ‘The Los Angeles Times’ / Los Angeles, CA
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gunfire echoed through the building as office workers pushed a heavy table across the doorway and turned out the lights. They flattened themselves against the wall. One woman hoisted a chair high over her head. Another stood ready to hurl a juice bottle.
All eyes were on the door, the only thing separating them from a man with a gun. When he pushed his way into the room, they pounced. One woman used her hand to force the gun's muzzle downward. A colleague kicked the back of the assailant's knees, knocking him to the ground. Others fell upon the shooter, burying him beneath a mountain of bodies.
"Nice work!" said John L. Fernatt, the "gunman," as he scrambled to his feet and faced the crowd. They had just completed a drill in how to survive a workplace shooting.
A few years ago, office workers trapped in this situation might have been advised to crouch beneath their desks and wait for police. Now, officials faced with the grim facts of workplace violence are recommending a different tack on videos posted on company websites and in training sessions that urge employees to run, hide and, if necessary, fight.
A survivor of last month's Santa Monica College shooting, library assistant Jan Juliani, credited a workshop conducted by the college police with helping her stay calm and bolt for cover. But few places are taking as aggressive an approach to teaching survival techniques as West Virginia, where the state Bureau of Risk and Insurance Management offers training to government agencies and private companies.
"It's not paranoia. It's awareness," said Sgt. Michael D. Lynch of the West Virginia State Police, who has teamed up with Fernatt and Chuck S. Mozingo Jr. to deliver the sessions. "This is for the common person who is going to be at their workplace, who's going to be at school, who's going to be out shopping."
Lynch is the only one of the three in law enforcement, and that is part of what makes this program unusual. So is the price — it's free — and the levity that Lynch, Fernatt and Mozingo work into their well-rehearsed presentations. Each session runs at least two hours, usually longer, and involves play-acting with fake weapons and hard-hitting lectures designed to make people to think of themselves as survivors rather than victims, even if it means using brutal means.
"Be ready to kill," Lynch told those at a recent workshop in the state capital, Charleston.
Statistics explain the need for such courses, say Fernatt, an IT specialist at the state risk and insurance bureau, and Mozingo, an assistant claim manager there. Homicide was the fourth-leading cause of death in the workplace in 2011, the most recent year charted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That year, 458 people were killed at work, and firearms were used in 78% of the slayings. About 14% of office shootings end with someone other than law enforcement stopping the assailant.
"What we're trying to do is increase that number," said Fernatt.
Fernatt and Mozingo developed the idea for the course in 2008 as they sat in an airport waiting for a flight. Terminal televisions were blaring news of a workplace shooting. The pair realized that workers were prepared for a variety of on-the-job emergencies, from fires to drug-abusing colleagues. But nobody told them how to survive a mass shooting.
"It seems like every week or so someone gets a gun into an office and starts blasting away," said Mozingo, describing their thoughts as they sat in the airport that day. "We thought, 'What kind of information can we provide to people? What can we tell them?'"
Two years later, after state police gave a thumbs-up to the course and offered to participate in presentations, they began offering the workshops.
In West Virginia, officials say there has been a steady increase in the sessions' popularity. Although they won't directly attribute that to concerns arising from such massacres as last year's Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., or the attack in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater, demand has risen since those incidents. At least 14 workshops have been presented so far this year. Before this year, there had been five workshop requests. Non-state agencies that have requested classes include the YWCA.
"We see it as a public health issue, not just a law enforcement or security issue," said Rahul Gupta, executive director of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, where a March training session was filled to capacity with 110 people.
On May 30, Fernatt, Mozingo and Lynch conducted back-to-back sessions in Charleston. One took place at the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection at the behest of Tammy Thornton, a department safety manager who for years has created drills for employees. She once sent a man with a fake hatchet into an office building after warning workers of an upcoming drill.
"The naysayers say, 'Oh, it'll never happen here,'" Thornton said. "We're just taking steps to make people think about what they would do if it did happen."
Plenty of videos and Web-based courses offer advice on how to respond if someone bent on violence enters a workplace. They recommend people run, hide or, as a last resort, fight back. The Department of Homeland Security was ridiculed by some critics in January when it posted a video that showed an actor portraying an office worker reaching for scissors to try to fend off a shooter.
But Lynch says anything can be an effective weapon — a high-heeled shoe, a flowerpot.
Caryn Thornburg, who developed and teaches courses that the California Hospital Assn. has offered to workers, agrees.
"It could be a chair. It could be a stapler," said Thornburg, who uses a drill in which potential victims hurl tiny, lightweight balls at a "shooter." Even though the person pretending to be a gunman knows the objects are harmless, he ducks to avoid them and is thrown off guard.
Each of Fernatt, Mozingo and Lynch's sessions begins with a short video, "Shots Fired," which opens with a receptionist greeting a man carrying a duffel bag. "Good morning, Mark," the receptionist says brightly. "Mark?" she says in a concerned voice as he walks past her desk, grim-faced.
In seconds, the sound of pops fills the busy office.
"I can't believe this is happening," a stunned-looking man in a tan blazer says as he stands, frozen, in a conference room. That, Lynch said, is not the way to react.
"He's gonna be a sheep. He's gonna just sit there and not escape," Lynch said as he dissected the behavior of the actors and explained why those who are decisive and act quickly are likely to survive. As he was speaking, Fernatt suddenly appeared and pointed a plastic AR-15 semiautomatic rifle at his chest. Lynch used one hand to point the muzzle toward the floor.
"It doesn't take brute force," he said as he invited volunteers from the largely female class to try it.
Mozingo said the most common feedback he gets is that the course should be required. Some people also say it should run longer.
"That's one of the most gratifying comments I get," said Mozingo. "Who ever asks for longer training?"
How Googling Unmasks Child Abuse
By SETH STEPHENS-DAVIDOWITZ — Sunday, July 14th, 2013 ‘The New York Times’
DURING the Great Recession, child abuse and neglect appeared to decline. Incidents reported to local authorities dropped. “The doom-and-gloom predictions haven’t come true,” Richard Gelles, a child-welfare expert at the University of Pennsylvania, told The Associated Press in 2011.
The real story about child maltreatment during the recession is a grim one. I spent months studying this topic, using a number of different data sources, including Google search queries. I found that the Great Recession caused a significant increase in child abuse and neglect. But far fewer of these cases were reported to authorities, with much of the drop due to slashed budgets for teachers, nurses, doctors and child protective service workers.
Here’s what caused the initial optimism: from 2006 to 2009, the number of cases reported to child protective services decreased by 1 percent nationally. Remarkably, the biggest drops were in the states hardest hit by the recession. Nevada, despite an unemployment rate that rose as high as 13.3 percent, showed a 17.5 percent drop in reports of maltreatment of children.
The first clue that the official statistics were misleading comes from looking at the most extreme forms of abuse and neglect, which are least susceptible to reporting pressures: child-fatality rates. During the downturn, there was a comparative increase in these rates in states that were hardest hit by the recession. From 2006 to 2009, Nevada’s fatality rate from abuse or neglect rose 50 percent.
But child fatalities are, thankfully, rare. I also used a novel technique for studying child maltreatment: an analysis of anonymous, aggregate Google searches. (I am currently an intern at Google, but I finished the doctoral research on which this essay is based before joining the company.) Google queries provide an immensely powerful database, particularly on sensitive topics that people don’t discuss freely with pollsters or authorities or even the friends and family members they know best. Online, often unobserved, we tend to be very honest.
I examined a heart-wrenching category of searches: those likely to have been made by recent victims of abuse who were old enough to use Google. These searches included “My dad hit me” or “Why did my father beat me?” I also examined a more common class of Google queries: those that include the words “child abuse” or “child neglect.” In some sense, this Google data is like a survey of how many people suspected child maltreatment at a given time. If you see something that worries you, you may well ask Google about “child abuse signs” or “child abuse effects.”
Sure, some people search for “child abuse” for other reasons, but these irrelevant searches can often be parsed out. The Google numbers are so large — many orders of magnitude larger than in any survey or poll — that the overall rates are telling. And they are likely to capture suspected incidents that we would never know about otherwise.
After declining for many years in the United States, the searches that seem to have come from abuse victims themselves rose as soon as the Great Recession began. On weeks that unemployment claims rose, these searches rose as well.
Searches that appear to have originated with people who suspect abuse also provide evidence that the increase is caused by the economic downturn. Controlling for pre-recession rates and national trends, states that had comparatively suffered the most had increased search rates for child abuse and neglect. Each percentage point increase in the unemployment rate was associated with a 3 percent increase in the search rate for “child abuse” or “child neglect.”
If the Great Recession increased suspicion of child maltreatment, why were fewer cases reported? Keep in mind first that many, probably most, suspected cases are never reported. Even primary care doctors, who are legally mandated to report suspected child abuse, admit in surveys that they do not report 27 percent of suspicious incidents.
It is certainly plausible that an economic downturn could lower the rate at which suspect cases are reported. Budgets were slashed in hard-hit states, particularly on social programs directed toward children. Overworked teachers, doctors and nurses may be that much less likely to go through with the reporting process. Shorter hours and more thinly stretched staffs at child protective service agencies may make it harder to report cases. There is abundant anecdotal evidence of people attempting to report maltreatment by phone facing long wait times and hanging up.
When you compare places that Google search data suggest have similar levels of abuse or neglect, you find that the less an area spends on social services for children, the lower its reported rates of child maltreatment. My research also shows that when a particular group’s budget is reduced, it reports fewer cases of maltreatment. Cut resources for teachers, for example, and teachers report fewer of their suspicions.
THERE are four take-aways from this research. First, the maltreatment of children is yet another cost of the Great Recession, one that will be felt long after the economy fully recovers. The evidence from medical researchers and psychologists is overwhelming: as adults, victims of child abuse or neglect will face higher probabilities of mental illness and criminal behavior and lower probabilities of employment and stable family lives.
Second, we should be skeptical of statistics based on official reports of crime in general, not just child abuse or neglect. According to government surveys, between 2006 and 2010, throughout the United States, 52 percent of violent crimes, 60 percent of property crimes and 65 percent of rapes and sexual assaults were never reported to the police. When reported crime drops, it is always possible that this is a result not of a decline in crime itself but of factors that make it more difficult to report crime.
Consider, for example, Detroit. Its police department recently reported 20 percent reductions in some major crimes. Might this be because of dwindling police department resources? The average time it takes to get a response to an emergency call to the Detroit police is now 58 minutes, and many precincts have stopped taking crime reports in evening hours.
Third, Google search data can fill holes in our understanding of crime generally. If your iPad was stolen, whom would you be more likely to tell: the police or Google? Indeed, I have found that Google queries for “stolen iPad” and “stolen iPod” yield meaningful information about property crime rates. Searches like “I was just raped” and “rape hot line” might help us measure a city’s true rape rate. (Here’s a disturbing side note: Rape proves the most difficult to measure crime using Google data, but not because of women’s historical reluctance to report rapes. The problem is that the majority of rape-related Google searches are typed in by people looking for pornography.)
Fourth, and most important, the contrast between the search data and the reported data tells a sad story about social services in this country. Just when more children are searching for help, we decimate the budgets of the very people who might actually do something to protect them.
Seth Stephens-Davidowitz is an economist who recently received a Ph.D. from Harvard.
Probable cause needed to track cell phone data
By Ben Present (The Legal Intelligencer) — Monday, July 15th, 2013 ‘The Pittsburgh Post Gazette’ / Pittsburgh, PA
Law enforcement agencies must have probable cause before using real-time data to track a suspect's cell phone, a Pennsylvania judge says.
Superior Court Judge Mary Jane Bowes believes her opinion on the matter is an issue of first impression, meaning there's no binding precedent on the matter.
Judge Bowes' colleagues on the three-judge panel -- President Judge Correale F. Stevens and Senior Judge Eugene B. Strassburger III -- did not join her reasoning on the issue, but did agree in affirming a murder conviction that resulted in three consecutive life sentences.
Lackawanna County District Attorney Andrew J. Jarbola III, whose office prosecuted the murder case and plans on appealing the most recent holding to the state Supreme Court, said Judge Bowes' ruling, if adopted as case law, would add a "half-step" for law enforcement seeking to track a suspect by "pinging" his or her cellphone.
Under the probable-cause standard, police or a local prosecutor must file an affidavit along with a petition for a court order authorizing cellphone tracking, the district attorney said.
Randal Rushing, who was convicted in 2011 of murdering three people by stabbing them and beating them with hammers, had challenged the police's interception of his cellphone signal in order to track him and search his home.
He argued on appeal the tactic violated unlawful search-and-seizure provisions in the state and federal constitutions and the Pennsylvania Wiretap Act. Rushing also argued the state was required to obtain a warrant after establishing probable cause, instead of the court order officers secured based on "specific and articulable" facts under the old Wiretap Act.
While the court disagreed with the state on the standard under which law enforcement must secure a cell phone tracking order, the court ultimately concluded that law enforcement had probable cause and exigent circumstances to track Rushing's phone and, even if they had not, any evidence admitted as a result would have been harmless error.
Judge Bowes, who wrote the lead opinion in the case, analyzed the case through a constitutional lens rather than a statutory one.
She said the "critical inquiry" of the case was whether law enforcement officials had probable cause, setting the standard for a strategy law enforcement will rely more and more upon as cell phones with GPS trackers become increasingly commonplace.
"Thus, law enforcement officials are able to determine, with increasing accuracy, the location of a person via the individual's cellphone," Judge Bowes said. "Tracking a person without any visual contact or physically attaching some type of tracking device to the individual is no longer mere science fiction but modern reality."
That is, if the ruling is left to stand.
Mr. Jarbola said his office plans to appeal the case on the cell phone tracking standard and on the panel's decision to reverse Rushing's kidnapping convictions, which did not disturb his three life sentences for the murders, only the dozens of years of prison time tacked on top of those sentences.
The opinions were handed down June 28, days before Judge Stevens was confirmed to serve on the state Supreme Court.
With Criminal Case Closed, Justice Department Will Restart Hate Crime Inquiry
By ERIC LIPTON — Monday, July 15th, 2013 ‘The New York Times’
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department said Sunday that it was restarting its investigation into the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin to consider possible separate hate crime charges against George Zimmerman.
Mr. Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot Mr. Martin, was acquitted of all charges by a jury late Saturday.
The federal inquiry, which was started shortly after the shooting last year but had been delayed while the state criminal trial in Florida was under way, was being restarted after civil rights leaders called on the Justice Department to re-examine the case. The leaders said Sunday that they remained convinced that the shooting had a racial element. Mr. Martin, 17, was black.
“There is a pattern of George Zimmerman making dozens of calls to 911 over several years, frequently about young men of color,” Benjamin T. Jealous, the president of the N.A.A.C.P., said in an interview on Sunday. Mr. Zimmerman and his family have defended the shooting as an act of self-defense.
In a statement on Sunday, the Justice Department said that now that the state criminal trial was over, it would continue its examination of the circumstances in the shooting. “Experienced federal prosecutors will determine whether the evidence reveals a prosecutable violation of any of the limited federal criminal civil rights statutes within our jurisdiction,” the statement said.
The department sets a high bar for such a prosecution. Three former Justice Department officials who once worked in the department’s Civil Rights Division, which is handling the inquiry, said Sunday that the federal government must clear a series of difficult legal hurdles before it could move to indict Mr. Zimmerman.
“It is not enough if it’s just a fight that escalated,” said Samuel Bagenstos, who until 2011 served as the principal deputy assistant attorney general in the division. “The government has to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant acted willfully with a seriously culpable state of mind” to violate Mr. Martin’s civil rights.
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. hinted at those challenges last year.
“We have to prove the highest standard in the law,” Mr. Holder said at a news conference in April 2012. “Something that was reckless, that was negligent, does not meet that standard. We have to show that there was specific intent to do the crime with the requisite state of mind.”
Criminal charges under federal hate crime law have increased significantly during the Obama administration. Between 2009 and 2012, the Justice Department prosecuted 29 percent more such cases than in the previous three fiscal years. Last month in Seattle, for example, Jamie Larson, 49, pleaded guilty to federal hate crime charges that he beat a cabdriver, who was from India and was wearing a turban.
The increase is in part because of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, enacted in 2009, which removed a requirement that a victim had to be engaged in a federally protected activity, like voting or going to school.
But the Obama administration’s Justice Department has been cautious in its use of the expanded law. In 2010, for example, it turned down calls by civil rights leaders to file charges in New York City in the 2006 death of Sean Bell, a 23-year-old black man who was fatally shot by police officers outside a Queens club just hours before he was to be married.
“There aren’t that many of these cases, and it is not because the government is not being vigilant,” said William R. Yeomans, a former chief of staff in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “It is very difficult to establish a defendant’s state of mind.”
Feds Weigh Charging Zimmerman in Killing
Justice Department to Consider Federal Civil-Rights Charges
By ARIAN CAMPO-FLORES, LYNN WADDELL and ASHBY JONES — Monday, July 15th, 2013 ‘The Wall Street Journal’ / New York, NY
SANFORD, Fla.—The Justice Department said Sunday it would weigh whether to file federal criminal charges against George Zimmerman after his acquittal in a shooting that set off a searing national debate over racial justice and self-defense laws.
Its statement came as groups including the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union urged U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to open a federal civil-rights case against Mr. Zimmerman, the former neighborhood-watch captain who shot and killed Trayvon Martin.
"Experienced federal prosecutors will determine whether the evidence reveals a prosecutable violation" of civil-rights laws, a department spokeswoman said in a statement. The department has had an open investigation into the death of Mr. Martin since last year.
Mr. Holder plans to address the Zimmerman case Tuesday when he speaks to the NAACP in Orlando, according to an official familiar with his plans.
Mr. Zimmerman, a 29-year-old Hispanic, faced second-degree murder and manslaughter charges for shooting Mr. Martin, a 17-year-old African-American, in a gated community here in February 2012. Prosecutors argued that Mr. Zimmerman profiled the teen as a criminal, pursued him and provoked the deadly confrontation. Defense lawyers said Mr. Zimmerman was attacked by Mr. Martin and fired at him in self-defense.
The initial six-week delay in arresting Mr. Zimmerman triggered nationwide protests and accusations of racial injustice.
The NAACP and other groups blasted Saturday's not-guilty verdict as a miscarriage of justice.
"Those of us who are fathers, particularly of African-American boys, find it shockingly frightening," said Hilary Shelton, director of the NAACP's Washington bureau. The message, he said, is, "Not only can we do this, we can get away with it."
In this image from video, George Zimmerman smiles after a not guilty verdict was handed down Sunday in his trial at the Seminole County Courthouse in Sanford, Fla.
Yet legal experts question whether such a case will be filed, given the high burden of proof prosecutors would face. They would likely have to show Mr. Zimmerman was motivated by racial hatred when he shot Mr. Martin, said Paul Callan, an attorney at Callan, Koster, Brady & Brennan LLP in New York.
"I think you could make out the case that unconscious racism caused Mr. Zimmerman to profile" Mr. Martin, said Kenneth Nunn, assistant director of the Criminal Justice Center at the University of Florida's Levin College of Law. "But there doesn't seem to be enough there to justify a claim that racial animus was the predicate behind Trayvon Martin's death."
Attorneys for Mr. Martin's family said they are considering filing a civil lawsuit against Mr. Zimmerman, though they haven't made a decision. "We're still trying to make sense of the verdict in the criminal case," said Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for the family. "We'll be talking about our options going forward in the coming days."
Such a case would face high hurdles, legal observers say. Mr. Zimmerman can seek immunity from civil lawsuits under Florida's so-called Stand Your Ground law—something his attorney said he planned to do. "In effect, there will be no civil suits," said Tamara Lave, a University of Miami law professor. "If there is a civil suit filed, it will be dismissed, and future ones will be barred."
In the verdict's aftermath, protests erupted in cities across the country, from San Francisco to Sanford. Nearly all were peaceful, though a demonstration in Oakland resulted in some vandalism, according to a spokesman for the city's police department.
President Barack Obama on Sunday said "a jury has spoken" and asked the public to respect the Martin family's "call for calm reflection." He added, "I know this case has elicited strong passions. And in the wake of the verdict, I know those passions may be running even higher."
The buildup to Mr. Zimmerman's murder trial featured extensive commentary about the roles that race and Florida's controversial 2005 Stand Your Ground law played in the case. In the end, however, neither figured much in the courtroom battle.
Mr. Zimmerman's attorneys prevailed without relying on the provisions of the "Stand Your Ground" gun-rights law, which eliminates the duty for a person to retreat in the face of danger before using lethal force. Under the measure, they had the option of seeking a court ruling, before any trial, that Mr. Zimmerman acted legally. But instead, his lawyers mounted a traditional self-defense case—one that legal analysts say benefited from missteps by police and the prosecution.
Police investigators made mistakes including failing to preserve the crime scene or to widely canvass the neighborhood to interview witnesses in timely fashion, Ms. Lave said. Prosecutors were left "working with one hand tied behind their back," she said.
A Sanford Police Department spokesman declined to comment. Former Sanford police chief Bill Lee, who was forced out amid the furor over Mr. Martin's case, has previously defended the integrity of the officers' investigation and said the department lacked probable cause to arrest Mr. Zimmerman.
Prosecutors made missteps as well, Ms. Lave said. Among them: introducing Mr. Zimmerman's statements to police into evidence. Their aim was to point out inconsistencies in his accounts. But the move allowed Mr. Zimmerman's lawyers to avoid calling him to the stand and subjecting him to cross-examination.
At a news conference Saturday night, state attorney Angela Corey defended her office's handling of the case. She said the case presented several challenges, including that the fatal encounter occurred in a public space, where both individuals had a right to be, rather than a dwelling.
The issue of race, which infused so much of the public debate over the case, rarely entered the courtroom discussion. Circuit Judge Debra Nelson barred prosecutors from saying Mr. Zimmerman racially profiled Mr. Martin. The topic mostly remained unspoken, such as when jurors heard phone calls Mr. Zimmerman placed to police to report suspicious people, all of whom were black.
Yet race could have been a factor in the jury's verdict, Ms. Lave said. The six female jurors were all white, except one who was Hispanic. "You want to have people of color on your jury because sometimes their experience with police is something that white people don't have," she said.
—Devlin Barrett and Siobhan Gorman contributed to this article.
As Justice pursues civil rights probe against Zimmerman, FBI documents show no evidence of bias
By Unnamed Author(s) — Monday, July 15th, 2013 ‘Fox News’
The Justice Department has responded to appeals to probe whether George Zimmerman committed any civil rights violations in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin -- but previously filed FBI documents are already challenging the narrative that the shooting was racially motivated.
Sanford police detective Chris Serino told FBI agents last year that after examining the case, it appeared Zimmerman was suspicious of Martin because of his "attire, the total circumstances of the encounter and the previous burglary suspects in the community."
According to the document, Serino considered Zimmerman as having "a little hero complex, but not as a racist."
Serino told the FBI that there had been several burglaries in the area, and that gang members in the community "typically dressed in black and wore hoodies."
"When Zimmerman saw Martin in a hoody, Zimmerman took it upon himself to view Martin as acting suspicious," Serino said, while describing Zimmerman as "overzealous." The FBI document was posted on the Smoking Gun website.
McClatchy also has reported on another set of documents that show FBI agents interviewed a dozens of people in the course of probing possible racial bias but nobody would say Zimmerman showed such bias before the shooting.
Still, the Justice Department agreed to requests from NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous and several lawmakers to keep investigating the defendant.
"The Department of Justice's Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division, the United States Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation continue to evaluate the evidence generated during the federal investigation, as well as the evidence and testimony from the state trial," the Justice Department said in a statement Sunday. "Experienced federal prosecutors will [now] determine whether the evidence reveals a prosecutable violation of any of the limited federal criminal civil rights statutes within our jurisdiction, and whether federal prosecution is appropriate in accordance with the Department's policy governing successive federal prosecution following a state trial."
The department may find itself in a vulnerable spot, not only because of prior interviews which found no evidence of bias.
Last week, a conservative watchdog accused an obscure agency within the DOJ of helping support the "pressure campaign" against Zimmerman in the wake of the shooting last year. Judicial Watch claimed documents and public accounts showed "extraordinary intervention" by the department in the campaign that eventually led to Zimmerman's prosecution.
The department, however, claims that it dispatched agency representatives to reduce tensions in the community - not to take sides.
President Obama himself caused a stir last year by remarking in the days after the shooting that if he had a son, he would "look like Trayvon." On Sunday, however, Obama urged calm and declared, "the jury has spoken."
Jealous started the drive to pressure the DOJ to continue its probe by posting a petition Sunday morning on the website MoveOn.org that was addressed to Attorney General Eric Holder.
"The most fundamental of civil rights -- the right to life -- was violated the night George Zimmerman stalked and then took the life of Trayvon Martin," Jealous wrote in the petition.
An all-female six-member jury announced late Saturday that it found Zimmerman 'not guilty' of all counts against him, which included charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter.
Jealous told CNN's "State of the Union on Sunday morning, "There is reason to be concerned that race was a factor in why (Zimmerman) targeted young Trayvon."
He also said he has not spoken directly with Holder but has spoken to his senior people.
"We are glad that what they began months back continues, which is a serious reviewing of everything that came out in this case, everything that was known before this case," Jealous said.
Earlier in the day, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid urged the Justice Department to review federal charges against Zimmerman.
"I think the Justice Department is going to take a look at this," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "This isn't over with and I think that's good."
Meanwhile, Mark O'Mara, who defended Zimmerman at trial, suggested his client's safety was at risk. "There still is a fringe element that wants revenge," O'Mara said. "They won't listen to a verdict of not guilty."
In August 2012, O'Mara said Zimmerman and his wife, Shellie, had been living like hermits and weren't working because they feared for their safety.
After Saturday's verdict, police, officials and civil rights leaders urged peace and told protesters not to resort to violence.
Demonstrators across America rallied against Zimmerman on Sunday. Most of the protests were peaceful, but in cities like Oakland, Calif., there were reports of vandalism.
"I now ask every American to respect the call for calm reflection from two parents who lost their young son," Obama said in a statement Sunday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
As Detroit breaks down, scourge of arson burns out of control
By Steve Neavling (Reuters) — Saturday, July 13th, 2013; 11:05 a.m. EDT
(Reuters) - On the night of July 4, some Detroit residents watched fireworks, and others just watched fires, more than a dozen in a space of two hours.
The Independence Day blazes marked the latest flare up of a longtime scourge in Detroit - arson.
It is a problem that has festered in the city for decades and has persisted even as the population declined. With the city now teetering on the verge of bankruptcy, the futile struggle to contain arson is an insistent reminder of the depths of Detroit's decline.
"It's not safe here. It's a war zone," Terrence Coleman, a 52-year-old resident, said as embers from a blaze on Detroit's east side rained down on him. "This whole neighborhood is going to burn down one day, I'm afraid."
As firefighters attacked flames raging in two adjacent vacant houses, they called for backup equipment that never came. Five blazes had broken out in 25 minutes, all suspected arsons, and the Detroit Fire Department, where budget cuts have led to a crippling shortage of equipment and manpower, could provide no extra help.
In the next two hours, at least 10 more suspicious fires broke out, leaving skeleton crews to battle the blazes.
In Detroit, arsons are so frequent - about 5,000 estimated last year by the Detroit Fire Department - that authorities can only investigate about one of every five suspicious fire cases, Fire Commissioner Don Austin said.
Detroit has a legacy of troubles with arson. Hundreds of blazes were set during riots in late July 1967 that followed a police raid on an unlicensed, after-hours bar. For more than 30 years, "Devils Night" fires on the night before Halloween numbered in the hundreds, peaking at around 800 in the mid-1980s.
In recent years, arsons connected to Halloween have declined, in part due to the city's reduced population. Even so, the total number of arsons each year has changed little since the 5,100 fires set in 2000.
The city is fighting those fires with far fewer resources than in the past. Mayor Dave Bing reduced the fire department's $184 million budget by 20 percent last year. A third of the fire companies were shut, firefighter wages were cut by 10 percent, and rigs quickly went into disrepair.
In a city that averages about 14 arsons a day, there are only 11 arson investigators, down from more than 20 in 2009.
"A fire is not determined to be arson until an arson investigator makes that determination," Austin told Reuters. "Arson investigators are investigating the scene of only 20 percent of all fires."
Arsons are more prevalent in aging Rust Belt cities than in other parts of the country, but Detroit is in a class of its own. Last year, arson fires caused nearly $200 million in property damage in Detroit - more than the losses in the industrial cities of Buffalo, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Cincinnati and Milwaukee combined.
With more than 80,000 abandoned buildings spread across 139 square miles, Detroit is fertile ground for arsonists. Homes that could never sell on the market are burned allegedly for insurance money, and people tired of abandoned buildings torch them, according to fire investigators. Thrill-seekers toss Molotov cocktails at vacant structures in drive-by arsons.
There is no quick fix in sight. But arson vexes the city so deeply that Kevyn Orr, the emergency manager appointed by the Michigan governor to fix Detroit's decrepit finances, has said he needs to act to address the rash of fires, too.
Orr said he plans to use some of the money saved by halting payments to creditors for improvements to fire technology and vehicle upgrades. He also said the city has a 50/50 chance of a bankruptcy filing, a decision he is expected to reach as soon as this month.
Just before taking office in March, Orr told Reuters that fire and other public safety issues would be his top priority. "We can't waste time finding solutions," he said. "Everyone deserves to feel safe in their homes."
Even so, fire union officials have complained that Orr has not held substantive, one-on-one discussions with them yet. And Orr's actions so far have not assuaged their concern that the fire department is understaffed and ill-equipped.
"We're in a crisis and one fire way from a disaster," warned Dan McNamara, president of the Detroit Fire Fighters Association, who represents 917 active members. "The city can't continue to operate like this."
Arson has a serious impact on the city's social fabric. Property values plummet, neighborhood cores burn out, and residents flee at alarming rates, urban affairs experts said. Detroit's population decline in the last decade was steeper than any other major American city.
"It's another reason people are getting out of the neighborhoods as fast as possible," said demographer Kurt Metzger, director of Data Driven Detroit, a data analysis organization. "People are having a difficult time hanging on to some sense of neighborhood. Kids are walking past dangerous, burned-out homes on their way to school."
The high arson rate does more than leave its scars on downtown neighborhoods. It also spells trouble for homeowners and businesses throughout the city and beyond, industry experts said.
"Insurance fraud, including arson, hikes up insurance premiums paid by consumers by 10 percent," said Peter Kuhnmuench, executive director of the Insurance Institute of Michigan. "When nearly 30 percent of all fires are arson or suspected arson in this state, there is a hit to policyholders' wallets."
Reuters studied online insurance quotes on five $100,000 homes in several Detroit neighborhoods and found the premiums were at least three times higher than the quotes for $100,000 homes in suburban neighborhoods.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners on its website states that homeowner insurance rates vary by location and largely are determined by the prevalence of crime, the quality of the fire department and the availability of fire hydrants.
"Arson definitely has a big impact on insurance rates and everyone in the community," said Angie Rinock, spokeswoman for State Farm Fire and Casualty Co in Michigan.
Detroit homeowner Harold Davis lives on a block with four burned-out houses. But homeowner insurance has become so expensive - $3,000 a year in a neighborhood where houses recently have sold for around $5,000-he dropped his coverage.
"It's only a matter of time before someone burns down this whole block," Davis, 65, told Reuters. "I can't blame the insurance companies."
Detroit arsonists are rarely caught. Nationally, about 20 percent of intentionally set fires lead to arrests, according to FBI data. In Detroit, investigators solved only 100 of the 5,000 arson cases in 2011, the last year for which records are available, city records show.
Insurance companies have responded by devoting more resources to the city. State Farm is one of several companies that have assigned its own investigators and arson dogs to Detroit.
A documentary about Detroit's fire epidemic, "Burn," received critical acclaim last year for exploring the crisis through the eyes of firefighters.
"Arson is a form of self-expression in a place where you can't express yourself," Brenna Sanchez, co-producer/director of "Burn," told Reuters.
Sanchez said she sees little hope for solving the arson epidemic until Orr begins making progress on other Detroit problems. "Kevyn Orr cannot improve the situation until people stop feeling desperate," she said. "It's a question of improving the quality of life of residents."
(Editing by David Greising, Mary Milliken, Frank McGurty and Leslie Gevirtz)
Who will replace Janet Napolitano as head of Homeland Security?
By Josh Hicks — Monday, July 15th, 2013 ‘The New York Post’ / Washington, DC
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced Friday that she would resign to head the University of California system, leaving President Obama to fill a Cabinet position that will be central to implementing a potential overhaul of the immigration system.
Napolitano plans to step down in September, giving Obama more than a month to mull over his options for a replacement. White House press secretary Jay Carney offered no timeline for naming a nominee and no indication of who is in the running during his last press briefing last week.
Senate Republicans, who have put up a strong fight over some of the president’s other top Cabinet picks this year, will most likely demand someone who promises to be tough with border security — an issue many GOP lawmakers have named as their priority in the immigration talks.
One can only speculate at this point about whom Obama will tap, but here are some logical options for replacing Napolitano:
WITHIN THE ADMINISTRATION
W. Craig Fugate: He heads the Federal Emergency Management Agency and served in similar capacities for two Republican governors in Florida. The White House thinks highly of Fugate and has credited him with improving FEMA since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
John S. Pistole: Current administrator of the Transportation Security Administration and a former deputy director of the FBI. He has maintained good relations with Congress for the most part, but many lawmakers criticized his recent plan to allow small knives on board airplanes for the first time since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks — a plan he has since abandoned.
Rand Beers: Napolitano’s acting deputy, he is a career civil servant with more than 30 years of experience in Democratic and Republican administrations who is considered to be an expert on counterterrorism. He quit George W. Bush’s National Security Council five days before the start of the Iraq war in 2003, arguing that the conflict would harm the nation’s ability to fight al-Qaeda.
Alejandro Mayorkas: Recently nominated to become deputy secretary at DHS, he ran the department’s Citizenship and Immigration Services division. He was born in Cuba, meaning he would add a Hispanic member to Obama’s Cabinet if nominated and confirmed.
Richard Danzig: Former Navy secretary under President Bill Clinton and a member of Obama’s first-term transition team. He is known as a progressive pragmatist.
Thad W. Allen: A retired Coast Guard admiral who helped lead the federal response to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010. He was appointed to serve as commandant of the Coast Guard during the George W. Bush administration.
Raymond W. Kelly: Served during the past 11 years as New York City police commissioner, earning a national reputation for leading the department since 9/11. He turned down a chance to become FBI director during the Clinton administration. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has already recommended him as a replacement for Napolitano.
Bill Bratton: Served as chief of police for the Boston, New York and Los Angeles police departments. The National Journal described him as an internationally renowned law-enforcement expert in a preview of potential second-term Cabinet picks.
For what it’s worth, the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee has expressed support for all of these outsider candidates to replace Napolitano.
“Any three of those coming in would gain a lot of respect from the House Republicans and could help us at a time when we’re trying to push this border security measure out of the House of Representatives,” said committee chairman Michael McCaul (R-Tex.) during an interview on Fox News Sunday.
The House does not vote on whether to confirm Cabinet picks, but an endorsement from someone like McCaul can be a sign that Senate Republicans would offer little resistance to a nomination.
Susan Collins: A moderate Maine Republican and ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, she knows the issues and would face virtually no opposition from GOP senators. She has a fairly positive relationship with Obama, having met him in person at the White House and voiced support for his first Supreme Court nominee, Justice Sonya Sotomayor.
Joe Lieberman: A Connecticut senator who sided with Republicans on many national security issues, he spent most of his political career as a Democrat but ended it as an independent. He could make for a relatively uncontentious pick for members of both parties.
Janet Napolitano replacement list grows for Homeland Security
Janet Napolitano is stepping down as head of the Department of Homeland Security. Republicans promise a 'spirited debate' over the controversial department and Napolitano's replacement.
By Brad Knickerbocker — Monday, July 15th, 2013 ‘The Christian Science Monitor’ / Boston, MA
The hunt is on for a new head of one of the largest – and most controversial – parts of the federal government, the one that oversees immigration, natural disaster response, and terrorism in a post-9/11 world.
Janet Napolitano is leaving as head of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to assume the presidency of the University of California system of higher education – the top tier of the state’s system of public colleges and universities with 10 campuses (including UC Berkeley and UCLA), more than 220,000 students, more than 170,000 faculty and staff, and a budget of about $24 billion.
In a way, it’s a move to a smaller institution.
DHS is even more massive: It’s the third-largest federal department, with a budget of $48 billion, a staff of 240,000, and 22 agencies under its bureaucratic budget, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), US Customs and Border Protection, US Citizenship and Immigration Services, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the US Coast Guard, the Secret Service, and cybersecurity operations.
Rep. Mike McCaul, (R) of Texas, who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, already has his short list of replacements for Secretary Napolitano:
Retired Coast Guard commandant Thad Allen, New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, and William Bratton, who headed police departments in New York, Los Angeles, and Boston.
"I think any three of those coming in would gain much respect from House Republicans and could help us at a time when we're really trying to push this border security measure out of the House of Representatives," the Republican congressman from Texas said on "Fox News Sunday."
Richard Clarke, a security and terrorism expert who’s worked in Republican and Democratic administrations going back to Ronald Reagan; James Witt, former President Clinton’s head of FEMA tapped by former Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco to lead the state’s reconstruction efforts after Hurricane Katrina; former US Sen. Joe Lieberman, who chaired the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee; and Rep. Mike Rogers, (R) of Michigan, a former FBI agent who chairs the House Intelligence Committee.
“It’s a demanding job,” Mr. Lieberman told Politico. “It requires very good communication skills and political skills related to Congress, but it also requires management skills because it’s a big department.
“Janet brought it a long way in melding it into the motto of ‘one DHS,’” he added.
Some think the most likely choice would be in a similar mold as Napolitano and Tom Ridge, George W. Bush’s first DHS secretary: governors with backgrounds in law enforcement, Politico reports. Napolitano was the attorney general of Arizona before becoming governor of that state.
Speaking Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) of Kentucky previewed what he thinks will happen during confirmation hearings for Napolitano’s replacement, including “a spirited debate.”
"Some of the president's nominees have been quite controversial. I mean, that's what we do in the Senate. We have big debates over big issues, but they've all been confirmed," Sen. McConnell said. "We'll take a look at whoever the new secretary of Homeland Security is. I can't guarantee you there won't be a spirited debate."
To some critics of the DHS – especially the TSA and what are seen as overly-intrusive airport searches – “Secretary Napolitano’s departure comes not a minute too soon,” as Rep. John Mica, (R) of Florida, put it in a statement.
“Now is a good time for Congress to consider dismantling the monstrous Department of Homeland Security and replacing it with a smaller security-focused entity that is realistically capable of connecting the dots of threats posed to our national security,” he said.