Wednesday, July 10th, 2013 ¡ª Good Afternoon, Stay Safe
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88 Precinct's Alleged Cell Phone Yacker P.O. Paula Medrano
NYPD subpoenas phone records of Brooklyn cop who may have been on her cell phone when she fatally struck a pedestrian
Officer Paula Medrano was holding her cell phone when she fatally struck Felix Cross with a police van, a witness said.
By Erik Badia AND Thomas Tracy ¡ª Wednesday, July 10th, 2013 ¡®The New York Daily News¡¯
The NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau has subpoenaed the phone records of a Brooklyn cop who may have been on her cell phone when she fatally struck a Spanish teacher with a police van, police sources said Tuesday.
Investigators are checking to see if they corroborate a witness¡¯ claim that Officer Paula Medrano was holding her cell phone up to her ear when she turned from Hooper St. onto Broadway in Williamsburg on Saturday.
She struck Felix Coss, 61, who was in the crosswalk when Medrano crashed into him.
Felix Coss, of Brooklyn, Third Pedestrian Killed By NYPD in Last 15 Months
By Brad Aaron ¡ª Tuesday, July 9th, 2013 ¡®Streetsblog New York.Com¡¯ / New York, NY
A pedestrian crossing the street in a crosswalk with the signal in broad daylight was struck and killed by an on-duty NYPD officer in Williamsburg this weekend, and the department says no traffic laws were broken.
Felix Coss, 61, was crossing Broadway at Hooper Street at 4:30 p.m. Saturday when he was hit by an officer driving a marked van from the 90th Precinct, according to reports and photos of the scene. From the Post:
¡°It was a tragic, unfortunate accident,¡± a police source told The Post.
The veteran female officer was making a left-hand turn from Hooper Street to Broadway and failed to see the Coss, a teacher at the Beginning with Children Charter School, a source said. Coss was rushed to Bellevue Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
No criminality and no traffic-law violations are suspected, police said.
Contrary to NYPD¡¯s assessment, repeated without question by the Post, It is in fact against the law to strike a pedestrian with a motor vehicle in New York State. At minimum, it seems the officer who struck Coss with sufficient force to end his life would have been in violation of the state¡¯s careless driving law. However, since NYPD routinely fails to cite civilians who injure and kill pedestrians, it stands to reason that the department would choose not to enforce the law following a crash caused by one of their own.
Not counting chases in which a suspect fleeing police struck a bystander ¡ª the latest instance resulting in the death of a 4-year-old child ¡ª Coss is at least the third pedestrian killed by an NYPD driver in the last 15 months. Last February, Ryo Oyamada was hit by an officer on 40th Avenue in Queensbridge. Oyamada¡¯s family, stonewalled by police after his death, has since filed suit against the city and NYPD. In April 2012, officers in a cruiser reportedly ran down Tamon Robinson, who they suspected was stealing paving stones, in Canarsie.
Though NYPD-involved crashes that cause civilian injuries and deaths are not uncommon, the department does not release data on such incidents. A Streetsblog query concerning NYPD crashes, sent to the department¡¯s public information office in March, was not returned. As far as we could find, no other city agency keeps tabs on the number or severity of crashes that involve NYPD vehicles.
This fatal crash occurred in the 90th Precinct. To voice your concerns about neighborhood traffic safety directly to Deputy Inspector Mark DiPaolo, the commanding officer, go to the next precinct community council meeting. The 90th Precinct community council meets on the second Wednesday of each month at 30 Montrose Avenue, Community Room, at 7:30 p.m. Call 718-963-5309 for information.
The intersection where Felix Cross was struck is on the border of City Council districts represented by Diana Reyna and Steve Levin. Contact Reyna and Levin to encourage them to take action to improve street safety in their districts and citywide.
Police union hitting anti-stop-and-frisk council members in mass mailing to voters
By SALLY GOLDENBERG ¡ª Wednesday, July 10th, 2013 ¡®The New York Post¡¯
The city¡¯s largest police union has taken aim at three legislators who voted for legislation to curtail stop-and-frisk, accusing them of being ¡°pro-crime,¡± The Post has learned.
In 90,000 hard-hitting fliers mailed to constituents, the Patrolmen¡¯s Benevolent Association asserts that the targeted City Council members ¡°voted against public safety.¡±
The fliers display pictures of the politicians inside a red circle with a slash.
¡°Is your City Council member pro-crime?¡± the fliers ask.
The missives suggest that voters demand that their elected representatives not tamper with the stop-and-frisk program.
The mailers were directed at Jessica Lappin, who is running for Manhattan borough president, and Mark Weprin of Queens and Dan Garodnick of Manhattan, both of whom are hoping to become the next council speaker.
In a related move, PBA President Pat Lynch in a mass e-mail told rank-and-file cops to be on watch for potential lawsuits.
After instructing cops to ¡°take action¡± during life-threatening situations, Lynch continued, ¡°Otherwise, concerning events not occurring in the officer¡¯s presence, all officers should be careful not to initiate any law-enforcement action that could be construed as violating the new legislation and subject the officer to legal action.¡±
The e-mail was intended as a response to a bill the council passed last month that would enable lawsuits against the NYPD and, in some cases, individual officers for alleged bias-based profiling during stop-and-frisks.
The bill ¡ª which Mayor Bloomberg says is certain to increase crime ¡ª allows suits to be brought by those who believe they were stopped based on race, gender, sexual orientation or other identifying factors.
It passed with 34 council votes, which would be just enough to override a mayoral veto.
Plaintiffs who win their suits could demand policy changes in the NYPD but would not be entitled to monetary damages.
The bill came in response to outrage over the expanding number of stop-and-frisks, which Bloomberg boasts has helped reduce the city¡¯s murder rate to historic lows. A companion measure, which the mayor also plans to veto, creates an inspector general to oversee the police force.
Council members pushed back.
¡°I¡¯m proud to have voted for these two bills, which will put some muscle into Police Department oversight and help rein in constitutionally questionable stop-and-frisks,¡± said Lappin.
¡°If the PBA thinks this kind of bullying works with me, they picked the wrong legislator.¡±
Weprin called Bloomberg ¡°an overzealous mayor who¡¯s created a quota system that has forced cops to stop people who should not have been stopped.¡±
The PBA would not reveal how much the mailer cost.
NYPD Gave More Sidewalk-Cycling Tickets Than Speeding Tickets Last Year
By Adam Martin ¡ª Wednesday, July 10th, 2013 ¡®New York Magazine¡¯ / New York, NY
Based on statistics released in an annual court report, the NYPD is much more likely to issue a ticket to someone riding a bike on a sidewalk than to someone speeding on a surface street.
Streets Blog, which noticed the figures, points out that 51,186 of the 71,305 speeding tickets issued in the city in 2012 came from the highway patrol, while 19,119 came from the NYPD, which patrols surface streets.
They issued some 28,000 bicycle-on-sidewalk tickets, though the precise number is hard to glean from the report's bar graph. Since DOT puts speeding as the leading cause of traffic deaths, that's rather unsettling.
NYPD Communications Div. ICAD Embarrassment: Dept. of Investigations Gets Involved
City watchdog demands answers in Ariel Russo ambulance delay probe
The Department of Investigation has launched a probe into the cause of the four-minute delay in dispatching an ambulance to the site where 4-year-old Ariel Russo was hit by a runaway SUV, following huge criticism of the city's $2 billion modernization of the 911 system.
By Juan Gonzalez ¡ª Wednesday, July 10th, 2013 ¡®The New York Daily News¡¯
The city¡¯s watchdog wants answers.
The Department of Investigation launched a probe ¡ª the same day a Daily News editorial called for clear answers ¡ª into what caused a four-minute delay in dispatching an ambulance to a wreck last month that killed little Ariel Russo.
DOI Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn opened her inquiry on June 22. It was the day after a contentious City Council hearing about problems with the city¡¯s $2 billion modernization of the 911 system.
Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway said Mayor Bloomberg asked the DOI to ¡°review¡± the Fire Department¡¯s ongoing examination of the circumstances surrounding the June 4 emergency response. The mayor also asked Hearn to determine whether there are ¡°sufficient processes in place to ensure that information [in the 911 system] is being acted upon as quickly as it can possibly be acted upon.¡±
Diane Struzzi, a DOI spokeswoman, said there¡¯s real teeth to the agency¡¯s probe, insisting they¡¯re ¡°not merely reviewing.¡±
¡°We are doing an absolutely independent investigation using our own tools, including subpoena power,¡± Struzzi said.
During an interview with editors and reporters from The News on Tuesday, Holloway for the first time revealed more extensive problems with the 911 system than city officials had previously acknowledged.
More than 4,100 phone calls to 911 have registered erroneous or conflicting phone numbers and locations on the computer screens of NYPD operators between June 27 and Sunday, he said.
In addition, a significant spike has occurred since the May 29 launch of the new system in the number of garbled or partial calls for ambulances sent to EMS dispatchers, Holloway said. That was when a new computer-aided dispatch system known as ICAD a key component of the modernization project was launched.
Those calls, referred to as ¡°PD Lost¡± transmissions, first reported by The News on July 2, jumped from just 590 in the 11 months before the May 29 to more than 3,500 during the past five weeks, Holloway acknowledged.
But with both types of problems, 911 operators have been able to determine the correct information within seconds, Holloway said. And besides, he said, the problem calls are a tiny percentage of the 17,000 or so calls dispatched by 911 per day.
¡°There is no indication of an ambulance not getting where it needs to go, a fire truck not getting to where it needs to go,¡± he added.
City officials said they intend to change the ¡°PD Lost¡± designation, possibly as soon as the fall.
The News obtained several dozen incident reports that NYPD call takers filed last week, where the operators reported erroneous or conflicting numbers and locations.
Federal law requires all 911 systems to automatically identify the phone number and location of any emergency call, something known in the industry as ANI/ALI (automatic number identification/automatic location identification).
¡°In a certain number of calls, and for whatever reason, a second location comes through,¡± Holloway said. ¡°Another location populates the [911 computer] screen.¡±
¡°Ideally, you would like this to be right every time,¡± Holloway conceded. ¡°It¡¯s not good. We want to fix it.¡±
He stressed, however, that since 911 call takers ¡°still have to verify a location with the caller,¡± these glitches do not mean any calls were lost.
But a call taker says roadblocks to dispatching help are significant.
¡°Every time you turn around, there¡¯s an ANI/ALI problem,¡± said a veteran 911 operator. ¡°We get a thousand and one different locations popping up, and the Verizon screen and ICAD system don¡¯t agree, and then you¡¯ve got to click all these other dialogue boxes to deal with it. The system is just too slow, and we¡¯re being forced to put a lot of people on hold.¡±
The ¡°anomalies¡± appear to be caused by a separate component of the modernization project that Verizon provided, Holloway said. That project, known as Vesta, was installed in late 2011 after years of delay. It not only provides dedicated phone lines for 911, it also identifies the phone numbers and locations of every caller.
But a separate Verizon contractor apparently used a faulty database to verify caller information, Holloway said, and that is the cause of the continuing erroneous phone locations.
Despite the problems, Holloway said the new system is far superior to the previous systems that were decades old and falling apart.
The FDNY meanwhile, has continued its own internal investigation into the ambulance delay for 4-year-old Ariel Russo, who was struck by an SUV that jumped a curb at W. 97th St. and Amsterdam Ave. Ariel, who had been walking to school with her grandmother, was semiconscious as cops pleaded for an ambulance, records show.
Ariel¡¯s grandmother was also hit by the SUV, driven by an unlicensed 17-year-old boy fleeing police. The grandmother survived and has since been released from a hospital. The family is suing the city for $40 million.
Officials have insisted the delay was caused by human error. A single dispatcher failed to notice the call for an ambulance sent by a 911 operator. But the union for EMS dispatchers has insisted the dispatcher is being made into a scapegoat for problems with the system.
Since then, the FDNY has questioned under oath 20 emergency dispatchers and supervisors, and it plans to interview another 13, to determine why no one else saw the ambulance call on their screens.
¡°They¡¯re conducting more of a witch hunt than an investigation,¡± said Israel Miranda, president of Local 2507 of the EMS paramedics and emergency medical technicians.
City officials also said Tuesday that EMS officials have reduced the time before an unanswered request for an ambulance is highlighted on a dispatcher¡¯s screen. Before the Ariel Russo accident, a white light would highlight on every dispatcher¡¯s screen if an ambulance had not been dispatched within three minutes of a call. Now the white light comes after two minutes, a change that went into effect on June 10.
In the Ariel Russo case, the ambulance request sat for 3 minutes and 57 seconds before an EMS dispatcher spotted it.
Now, Commissioner Hearn is promising the kind of independent investigation sought by Miranda, The News and others.
Execution of Hero Detectives James Nemorin and Rodney Andrews
Cop's widow: Wilson left family 'broken and scarred'
By JOHN RILEY ¡ª Wednesday, July 10th, 2013 ¡®New York Newsday¡¯ / Melville, L.I.
The widow of slain Long Island NYPD cop James Nemorin told jurors in the death penalty retrial of Ronell Wilson that her family had been "broken and scarred by the decision of one man," in testimony punctuated by sobs as prosecutors rested their case Tuesday.
"Part of me is still hoping that I wake up and this only be a dream," said Rose Nemorin John, 41, of Bellmore, appearing in federal court in Brooklyn. "I ask God every day why, why such a great gift, a great human being, was taken away from us. I haven't received any answers yet."
Speaking softly and halting frequently to collect herself, Nemorin John said that for years after the 2003 murder of her husband during an undercover NYPD gun buy on Staten Island, she and her three children visited the cemetery on holidays, bringing candy and presents to his grave.
"We no longer celebrate Father's Day at home," she said. "Instead, we go to the cemetery and I get to watch our children talk and hug a cold wall. It breaks my heart. . . . The children's notes read, 'I love you daddy. I miss you. We wish you were here to celebrate Father's Day with us. We hope you are having a good time in heaven with God.' "
Wilson, 31, was convicted in 2006 of executing Nemorin, who lived in Baldwin Harbor, and partner Rodney Andrews of Middle Village with shots to the back of their heads, and dumping their bodies on a dimly lit Staten Island street in March 2003. An appeals court in 2011 ordered a retrial on the penalty.
In testimony last week, Nemorin's daughter Sarah, 12, testified that she "prays that her father gets the justice that he deserves so that he can rest in peace."
U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis Tuesday unsealed a defense motion for a mistrial, claiming the little girl essentially asked the jury to execute Wilson, which is not allowed.
The judge denied the motion.
Nemorin John described her husband as a large, gentle Haitian-American from a big family whose death had been particularly hard on his two sons and baby daughter Sarah, who were 7, 5 and 18 months when he died.
His oldest son, who just graduated from high school, is "confused" about being a cop, she said, and they recently argued about putting back pictures of his dad when she rearranged his room.
Even when she agreed to put just a single picture on his night table, she testified, he asked her to move it farther from the bed, telling her, "It's hard. It's too hard to look at."
After Nemorin John's testimony was complete, Garaufis told her she could leave. Instead, she froze the courtroom with a high-pitched wail as she sat shaking and sobbing.
When she finally left the courtroom, Wilson's lawyers asked Garaufis to release the jury for the day, to provide a break before the defense case begins. The judge agreed.
Widow of NYPD detective shot dead by cop-killer Ronell Wilson still in agony ten years after murder
'When James died, a part of me died with him,' Rose Nemorin-John, the wife of James Nemorin, testified on Tuesday. Nemorin and his partner Rodney Andrews were working undercover in 2003 when Wilson shot them execution-style during a robbery.
By John Marzulli ¡ª Wednesday, July 10th, 2013 ¡®The New York Daily News¡¯
The agonizing wails of a slain NYPD detective¡¯s widow echoed throughout a Brooklyn courtroom Tuesday as she told jurors about her life since cop-killer Ronell Wilson shot her husband.
Ten years after the murder of James Nemorin, his wife, Rose, and three children are still grieving.
¡°When James died, a part of me died with him,¡± Rose Nemorin-John, 41, testified in Brooklyn Federal Court where a jury is deciding whether Wilson, 31, gets life in prison or the death penalty.
¡°My unforgettable James was one of a kind,¡± she cried. ¡°Unfortunately this loving man was taken away from us. For what?¡±
Nemorin and partner Rodney Andrews were working undercover in 2003 to make an illegal gun buy in Staten Island when Wilson shot them execution-style in the back of the head during a robbery.
A jury handed down a death sentence for Wilson in 2007 but it was overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals because of prosecutorial error.
NYPD $$ Lawyer Lotto $$ Bonanza / 32 Pct. CCRB Complaint
NYPD officers treated Miss Westchester and her mom ¡®like animals,¡¯ they say
The police roughed them up, locked them in a holding cell, laughed at them and permitted a fellow prisoner to taunt them with names and spit on them, reigning Miss Westchester old Kristy Abreu and her mom say. Now, they tell New York City officials, they intend to sue for $210 million over their treatment.
By Matthew J. Perlman AND Daniel Beekman ¡ª Wednesday, July 10th, 2013 ¡®The New York Daily News¡¯
A teenage beauty queen says NYPD cops acted like pigs when they stopped, frisked and handcuffed her.
Male officers yanked 19-year-old Kristy Abreu ¡ª the reigning Miss Westchester ¡ª and her mother from their car in Harlem and tormented them for hours before releasing the pair, say the women, who were never charged with any crime.
Now Abreu and her mom have told the city they intend to sue for $210 million over their treatment.
The police roughed them up, locked them in a holding cell, laughed at them and permitted a fellow prisoner to taunt them with names and spit on them, the women say.
They took away their possessions ¡ª including Abreu¡¯s Miss Westchester sash and crown, according to their claim filed with the city.
¡°We were treated like animals,¡± said Abreu, speaking to the Daily News in the Bronx home she shares with her parents. She is a Yonkers native.
¡°It was the worst night of my life,¡± recounted the brave beauty queen, who was supposed to make a guest appearance at a fashion show that night. ¡°It haunts me every day.¡±
The dark-haired stunner and her 38-year-old mom, Kendy Paredes, say they were subjected to invasive frisks after cops stopped their car for a minor traffic violation near W. 145th St. and Eighth Ave. on May 5 at about 9 p.m.
¡°Where¡¯s the party at?¡± one of the cops rudely asked Abreu, said her lawyer, Jack Yankowitz.
The women say they showed valid registration and insurance papers for the 2006 Honda Civic but were handcuffed and taken to the 32nd Precinct stationhouse anyway ¡ª apparently because cops thought the car was stolen.
City lawyers declined to comment Tuesday, saying they had not received notice of the claim.
But the women say they told cops about being stopped in 2012 because of a computer glitch that made police think their car was stolen. Rather than listen, the cops mocked them, they allege.
¡°When we got to the precinct, they just started laughing at us,¡± Abreu said.
The cops tossed the pair into a cell with other suspected criminals, then threatened, humiliated and intimidated them and denied them access to food, drink, the telephone and the restroom, the women contend.
¡°They didn¡¯t show any respect. They didn¡¯t care,¡± Abreu said. ¡°I just hope the community becomes aware of the ways police harass people and make them feel bad. It was just a nightmare.¡±
Abreu and Paredes were not read their Miranda rights, the pair charge.
The cops also allowed a female prisoner to spit on the women repeatedly and harass them with catcalls, yelling names like ¡°pretty girl¡± and ¡°crying little bitch¡± that made the claimants ¡°cry uncontrollably,¡± they say.
Of the 15 to 20 officers involved, just one was female, and she helped Abreu clean up her hair and dry her tears, according to the women.
They say the cops released Abreu after about two hours so that the Dominican-American knockout could bring back the car¡¯s title documents. When she returned about 5 a.m. with her father, Humberto Taveras, and the paperwork, the police finally let Paredes go.
Taveras is also a claimant in the case.
The 32nd Precinct logged more complaints against cops than any other Manhattan precinct in 2012.
¡°The culture of excessive force and abuse that this precinct engages in is outrageous,¡± Yankowitz said. ¡°They¡¯re sweeping up innocent and sweet people.¡±
NYPD's Subway Gas Tests
NYPD Starts Three-Day Urban Airflow Study
By: Jose Martinez ¡ª Tuesday, July 9th, 2013; 4:43 p.m. ¡®NY 1 News¡¯ / New York
The largest-ever study of urban airflow began on Tuesday morning, as the New York City Police Department and federal government are trying to find out how a gas attack would affect the city.
For three mornings starting Tuesday, scientists are releasing some harmless gases known as perfluorocarbons for 30 minutes at the height of the morning rush at several subway and street-level locations in Manhattan.
The gasses are odorless, tasteless, and scientists say, harmless.
The measurements will be recorded inside special dark boxes on station platforms and other spots located throughout the five boroughs.
Officials hope to learn more about the risks of airborne contaminants including what could happen in a chemical, biological or radiological attack.
"It is an obvious target. We have to be vigilant, we have to be aware of that, and this is one of the many things that we do to protect the system," said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
The subway study is tied to a larger urban airflow research project that is being conducted over three days this month at above-ground locations in the five boroughs.
The NYPD plans to use data collected from the study to shape its response to a potential gas attack on the city and the subway, such as the 1995 sarin gas attack by a doomsday cult against the Tokyo subway system that killed 13 commuters and injured more than 1,000.
Even with a police officer posted nearby, the testing equipment can be a little hard to spot. Some commuters at the test sites told NY1 they were not even aware of the ongoing tests being conducted.
"We can never be too cautious today, especially with biochemical ways to poison people," said one New Yorker.
"If it's harmless I wouldn't have any reason to think they'd be releasing something into the air that could potentially affecting us in a dangerous way," said another New Yorker.
Police officials stressed the gases were dispersed in low doses and that the study's findings could be central to the city's safety. The results of the study could also help the NYPD respond in the event of an industrial chemical spill.
A similar air-flow study was conducted in Manhattan eight years ago. As for the next test, NYPD officials pledged to give the public 24 hours' advance notice.
Plenty to Say About Subway Test Gas That Isn¡¯t Seen
By MATT FLEGENHEIMER ¡ª Wednesday, July 10th, 2013 ¡®The New York Times¡¯
The subway has always been a peculiar hell for the germaphobic ¡ª each station crevice and distressingly warm pole evoking visions of air-filtering masks and hand sanitizer.
But this week, New York City¡¯s riders have begun to face down a more disquieting menace still, following them through the turnstiles, wafting toward the platform, slipping between the sliding car doors to zip through the tunnels.
On Tuesday, the Police Department and the United States Department of Energy began a study aimed at better understanding the airflow of contaminants in the subway system, including possible chemical weapons, by emitting a nontoxic, odorless and invisible gas in scores of subway stations. It has been billed as the country¡¯s largest-ever urban airflow study.
Though interested travelers could find no trace of the gas, questions about the program ranged from the searingly paranoid to the existential.
How could the city be sure it was not dangerous? If an odorless gas consumes what is perhaps the least odorless feature of New York City, was it ever really there? And why had they punted on scent in the first place?
¡°What they need to do is add some fragrance,¡± a police officer said beside a No. 1 train platform at 34th Street, ¡°to cover up the other smells.¡±
Tuesday was the first of three days of testing, though the dates for the next two have not been determined, according to Raymond W. Kelly, the police commissioner. Speaking at an event in Harlem, Mr. Kelly noted that about 40 percent of terrorist plots around the world centered on transportation systems, including five directed at the New York City subways. He assured the public that the gas was harmless.
¡°It¡¯s actually used to inflate babies¡¯ lungs,¡± he said. Similar studies have been conducted in subway systems in Boston and Washington, though on a smaller scale.
Riders remained skeptical. ¡°They said corn syrup was harmless,¡± said Mark Cepeda, 27, rubbing his rotund midsection. ¡°And look at this.¡±
Moments earlier, he had been startled to find a black, rectangular gas-detection box beneath a platform bench at Penn Station. ¡°They say if you see something, say something,¡± he said, his voice rising. ¡°I see a black box underneath a chair.¡±
Some riders planned to opt out of the subway system while the test was conducted, electing to walk, drive or use the city¡¯s new bike-sharing system instead.
One man joked on Twitter that he would ¡°see y¡¯all at the class-action lawsuit 10 years from now.¡±
Several made flatulence jokes about the better-known gas of the subway system.
Especially mystifying to most riders was the specter of a scent-free addition to the subway. Many have come to accept the devils they know: the sweat-stained flannel shirt of a neighboring rider, sticking to his armpits; the soggy paper McDonald¡¯s bag at Times Square station ¡ª crushed but, as any passer-by can attest, not empty; whatever was rising from the two black garbage bags above the L train at Sixth Avenue on Tuesday, beside a workers-only room.
¡°You have rat poop, regular poop, dog poop,¡± said Michael Polanco, 20, waiting for a train at Bryant Park station. ¡°I don¡¯t think an odorless gas will make much of a difference.¡±
But a force without a footprint ¡ª neither seen, nor smelled ¡ª seemed to unsettle New Yorkers.
¡°Let¡¯s turn New York City into a huge dome of lab rats,¡± mused Michelle Hernandez, 22, from Bushwick, Brooklyn.
Julian Naderer, 22, from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, said the test called to mind the case of Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who disclosed information about government surveillance programs.
With a gas undetectable to the public, safety ¡°is a question of trust,¡± he said. ¡°I¡¯m not just going to believe what I hear.¡±
Mr. Polanco was one of the few supporters of the study, arguing that its findings could prove helpful to the Police Department¡¯s counterterrorism work. But even he seemed wary of the subway toxins on Tuesday.
As he bade farewell to board a train at 42nd Street, Mr. Polanco declined a handshake, extending his left fist instead for a cautious bump.
J. David Goodman contributed reporting.
Overcharging for NYPD Pistol Permit's
Court shoots down challenge to city¡¯s gun fee
By RICH CALDER ¡ª Wednesday, July 10th, 2013 ¡®The New York Post¡¯
A federal appeals court yesterday found that the city has every right to charge its pricey $340 handgun licensing fee ¡ª even though similar charges throughout the state range from $3 to $10.
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan found that a state Penal Law provision allowing the city to establish its own fees is ¡°constitutional.¡±
City licenses are renewed every three years.
Susan Paulson, a senior counsel for the city, applauded the court ruling, saying, ¡°We are pleased that the court has upheld¡± the gun fee ¡°as an appropriate measure designated to defray administrative costs.¡±
¡°The court properly recognized that the city¡¯s licensing process is designed to promote public safety and prevent gun violence,¡± Paulson added.
The ruling nullifies a 2011 lawsuit by the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association and Second Amendment Foundation, which challenged the law allowing New York City and Nassau County to charge higher fees.
Nassau charges $200.
The groups are considering an appeal.
Feds: City shoots straight on pricey $340 gun permit
A federal appeals court has ruled that the city's high permit fees for residential handgun licenses is constitutional.
By Daniel Beekman ¡ª Wednesday, July 10th, 2013 ¡®The New York Daily News¡¯
A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that the city¡¯s $340 permit fee for residential handgun licenses is constitutional, even though the same permit costs $3 to $10 in other parts of the state.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan agreed with a 2012 lower court ruling.
It sided with the city against a 2011 lawsuit by the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, the Second Amendment Foundation and individual gun owners.
The appeals court found the $340 fee for a three-year license is legal because the city uses the money to fund its in-depth background checks on gun owners.
¡°Imposing fees on the exercise of constitutional rights is permissible when the fees are designed to defray . . . the administrative costs of regulating the protected activity," the court said.
The city applauded the appeals court decision.
¡°The court properly recognized that the city¡¯s licensing process is designed to promote public safety and prevent gun violence,¡± said city lawyer Susan Paulson.
Westchester cop from Mahopac waved gun at group, NYPD says
By Shawn Cohen and Lee Higgins ¡ª Wednesday, July 10th, 2013 ¡®The Journal News¡¯ / White Plains, NY
An off-duty Westchester County police officer driving through Manhattan was arrested for allegedly waving his gun at a small group of people.
Karl Thimm, Jr. of Mahopac, was arrested by New York City police June 30 and charged with second-degree menacing, a misdemeanor. Westchester police, meanwhile, have initiated an internal investigation into the incident, placed the officer on modified duty and ordered him to surrender his service weapon, county police spokesman Kieran O¡¯Leary said.
Thimm, while driving in Manhattan about 11:50 p.m. June 29, allegedly menaced four individuals with a black .45 caliber handgun on W. 35th St. at 12th Avenue. He then allegedly sped off. The victims gave a description of Thimm¡¯s vehicle to police, who pulled him over about 13 blocks away, in the Hells Kitchen section of Manhattan, an NYPD spokeswoman said.
He was arrested shortly after midnight, June 30, and released on an appearance ticket. He is due in a Manhattan court on Aug. 7.
Thimm has been employed by the department since 2000. He made about $136,000 during 2010, computer records show.
Getting Off Easy: How Prostitutes Became the New Expendables
Lost Girls revisits five who died on Long Island, their killers still at large.
By Nina Burleigh ¡ª Wednesday, July 10th, 2013 ¡®The New York Observer¡¯ / New York, NY
Excerpt; desired to read the article in its entirety, go to:
Two opposing camps are at war over how to help women working in prostitution in America. Those who call prostitutes ¡°sex workers¡± or ¡°providers¡± seek to decriminalize it and unionize the women. On the other end is the Demand Abolition movement, which equates prostitution with slavery, calls prostitutes ¡°trafficked women¡± and aims to criminalize men who pay for sex.
In the New York area, authorities have begun arresting johns more frequently in response to a campaign by groups like Demand Abolition. Last month, Suffolk¡¯s Long Island neighbor, Nassau County, announced that a sting tactic using fake Backpage ads and hidden cameras had hauled in 104 men, whose names and photographs were published. Before that sting, dubbed Operation Flush the Johns, Nassau County police had arrested fewer than 40 johns in the last 10 years, authorities said.
The NYPD arrested 5,834 people for patronizing a prostitute from 2008 to 2012. In January 2012, the city police ran ¡°Operation Losing Proposition¡± and arrested 186 johns in a few weeks. Unlike the Nassau authorities, New York cops didn¡¯t publicize suspects¡¯ names or photos.
Norma Ramos, director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, has been pushing police departments across the country to arrest johns rather than what she calls ¡°trafficked women,¡± and she applauded the Nassau County arrests.
Glen Cove officials, police union agree to contract
By BILL BLEYER ¡ª Wednesday, July 10th, 2013 ¡®New York Newsday¡¯ / Melville, L.I.
Glen Cove officials and the city police union have agreed to a contract that preserves pay and benefits for existing officers but reduces them for future hires.
The five-year agreement approved late last month is retroactive to Jan. 1. It provides for new officers to contribute to their health insurance premiums, stretches out the schedule for them to reach top base pay, and caps their termination payouts.
The changes are expected to save the city about $300,000 per officer over their careers, officials said.
"I think it's a fair contract," said Sgt. David Leon, the Police Benevolent Association president. "Times are tough now for the city, and we understood that. We knew we would have to accede quite a bit to help sustain the police department for the future. So, unfortunately, in doing that, we had to make some concessions for new guys."
Councilman Reginald A. Spinello, a member of the city negotiating team, said "it's a good contract for the city in terms of savings, and it's a good contract for the police because everything is preserved" for the existing staff.
"It was negotiated in good faith by both sides," said Councilman Michael Famiglietti, also on the negotiating team.
Mayor Ralph Suozzi said "both sides wanted to control our destiny" by avoiding an impasse that would be resolved in binding arbitration. "Although binding arbitration in the past has heavily favored the police departments, it's still a wild card for both sides. And in these challenging economic times, neither side wanted to go there."
In the prior contract, officers reached top base pay after five years. Now, that will take eight years.
Termination pay for new hires is now capped at 1.75 times the high base salary, which includes regular pay, differential and holiday pay but not overtime. That is about a 25 percent reduction from the previous contract.
All new police hires will contribute 10 percent of the cost of their medical insurance. There was no contribution under the previous agreement. The latest CSEA contract for other city employees also includes a 10 percent payment of health insurance premiums for the first time.
The contract covers the department's 46 officers, down from 52 a year ago because of retirements, even though there have been three recent hires.
Suozzi said the new pact will further savings from the previous contract, which he estimated saved about $1 million over five years compared with the prior agreement.
New York State
Troopers Announce Upcoming Examination
Albany, NY ¨C June 3, 2013 ¨C New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D¡¯Amico announced that on-line applications are now available for the upcoming statewide Trooper examination. Exams are scheduled for October 5, October 12, October 19 and October 26, 2013, and will be offered at several convenient locations around the state.
¡°The strength of the New York State Police comes from our diversity. We are actively seeking qualified, committed and motivated candidates from all walks of life to take the trooper exam this fall. To this end, I have dispatched recruiters from across the state to find those individuals. Candidates will be competing for the chance to have a rewarding career of service to their communities and to their state,¡± Superintendent D¡¯Amico said.
Several technology improvements have been added to the application process for 2013. Applicants can now use PayPal to pay for the application fee in addition to a Visa or MasterCard. The application has also been optimized for mobile devices such that anyone who wishes to use their phone or other portable device will find the process user friendly. To help reduce paper and mailing costs, applicants with military service can now upload their supporting documents as PDF or scanned images directly into their application. Lastly, applicants that provide an e-mail address will receive confirmation of their application submission. Notifications will also be sent when updates, such as changing a testing location or date, are made to their application on-line.
Opportunities within the State Police include training and membership in specialized units as well as opportunities for advancement through the State Police ranks. Some of the specialized areas of expertise include positions such as: Crime Scene Evidence Technicians; Field Training Officers; K-9 Handlers; Firearms Instructors and Motor Vehicle Collision Reconstructionists. Troopers are also eligible for assignments to specialized details and units including: the Aviation unit; the SCUBA Team; the Special Operations Response Team, the Gun Investigation Unit; the Community Narcotics Enforcement Team; and the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Unit. Troopers may also pursue assignments as investigators in the Bureau of Criminal Investigation or in a variety of other specialized units.
¡°I strongly encourage young people to apply for the exam. Seek out a State Police recruiter. Talk to a trooper. Discover what a challenging and rewarding profession it is to be a New York State Trooper. Our web site has more information and I invite you to apply on-line at www.NYTROOPER.com ,¡± Superintendent D¡¯Amico said.
Currently, a Trooper¡¯s starting salary is $50,374 during Academy training. Upon Academy graduation, the salary increases to $66,905, and after one year to $71,261, with additional salary steps during the first five years of service. After 5 years, a Trooper¡¯s salary increases to $84,739, with additional longevity payments through 25 years of service. Additional location compensation is provided for troopers assigned to NYC, Dutchess, Nassau, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Suffolk, and Westchester counties.
On-line applications must be submitted by Midnight EST September 8, 2013. Results from the examination will establish an eligibility list that may remain in effect for a maximum of four years.
The New York State Police is an Equal Opportunity Employer that values diversity and encourages all individuals interested in public service to apply.
A detailed list of qualifications is attached:
QUALIFICATIONS FOR NEW YORK STATE TROOPER
• Must be a citizen of the United States and be at least 20 years old by the application deadline, September 8, 2013.
• Must not have reached their 30th birthday by the date of the application deadline. Except the maximum age may be extended one year for each year of full-time active Federal military duty ¨C up to a maximum of 6 years.
AT TIME OF APPOINTMENT:
• Must be at least 21 years old to be appointed.
• Must be appointed prior to 36th birthday, except the maximum age may be extended one year for each year of full-time active Federal military duty ¨C up to a maximum of 6 years.
• Must be a New York State resident and have a valid New York State driver¡¯s license at time of appointment.
• Must be able to pass a Physical Ability Test (PAT): sit-ups, push-ups and a one-and-one-half mile run.
• Must be able to work rotating shifts any day of the week, including holidays.
• Vision Requirements: uncorrected ¨C no worse than 20/100 in each eye able to be corrected to 20/20 in each eye. Correction may be achieved using glasses, contact lenses, or surgery. Color blindness is disqualifying.
• Must comply with New York State policy which requires all members to present a neat and professional appearance at all times. Tattoos, brands, body piercings and other body art shall not be visible while a member is in uniform or other business attire. The uniform includes the short sleeve shirt open at the front of the neck. In addition to visibility, some tattoos or brands may have symbolic meanings that are inconsistent with the values of the New York State Police.
• Must possess a :
* Graduate certificate from senior high school, Or,
* New York State High School Equivalency Diploma, Or
* Military GED certificate, Or
* High School Equivalency diploma from another state converted to a NYS High School Equivalency Diploma,
* Must have completed 60 college credit hours at an accredited college or university at time of appointment.
Exceptions: 30 college credits may be waived, if the candidate has either:
Received an Honorable Discharge from the United States military after two years of active military service;
Successfully completed a Certified Police Officer Training Course approved by, or equivalent to a course
approved by, the New York State Municipal Police Training council. A certified Peace Officer Training
course does not qualify.
• Must be of good moral character. A felony conviction or a dishonorable discharge, from any military service, is an automatic disqualifier.
• Must successfully complete a medical examination, vision test, hearing test, background investigation including polygraph examination, and psychological evaluation to be appointed.
CURRENT SALARY INFORMATION:
$50,374 Starting salary;
$66,905 upon graduation from the NYSP Academy;
$71,261 after 1 year;
$84,739 after 5 years.
(Salaries do not include additional location compensation for NYC; Dutchess, Nassau, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Suffolk, and Westchester counties.)
Apply on-line or get additional information on becoming a New York State Trooper at: www.NYTROOPER.com
or by calling 1-866-NYSP-EXAM
Newark Police may be first in country to reveal monthly stop-and-frisk, internal affairs data
By James Queally ¡ª Wednesday, July 10th, 2013 ¡®The Newark Star-Ledger¡¯ / Newark, NJ
NEWARK ¡ª On Aug. 15th, New Jersey¡¯s largest municipal police department might also become its most transparent.
The sex, race and age of every person Newark police officers stop and frisk. The number of internal affairs complaints filed against officers and the types of allegations made. The results of every internal investigation.
All of that data and more, once secret or revealed just once a year, will be published monthly by the Newark Police Department under a policy that is being hailed as one of the most comprehensive and open in the country.
The policy, the first of its kind in New Jersey, will not reveal the names of the officers involved in internal affairs and use-of-force investigations. Still, it marks a significant shift for the agency two years after a scathing ACLU petition charged rampant misconduct and sparked a Department of Justice investigation.
"The totality really makes this the most comprehensive policy of its kind, as far as we know, in the nation," said Udi Ofer, executive director of the state chapter of the ACLU.
Under the new order, the department will disclose the names of officers involved in stops, the reason for all stops, what was found in any search and the language proficency of anyone searched. Detailed information about use-of-force incidents will also be published.
The statistics will be posted to the department¡¯s website on the 15th of each month, Police Director Samuel DeMaio said.
"The scope and frequency of this information sharing policy will set the standard for police departments nationwide," said Wayne Fisher, a professor at the Rutgers Police Institute. "The inclusion of internal affairs and use-of-force data addresses head-on the roots of the crisis in confidence confronted by so many police departments."
Ofer said no other police department in the country currently publishes information this detailed this often.
Newark¡¯s Internal Affairs came under fire in 2011, after an ACLU petition showed the agency sustained only one out of 261 allegations of excessive force, false arrest and other serious misconduct over a two-and-a-half year span. Ofer said the new policy will allow such trends to be easily identified.
"This will allow the public to have a more vigorous conversation in a quicker manner," he said. "The monthly reporting is exactly the way to go."
The federal investigation is pending, and the results are expected to be revealed later this year.
DeMaio said the policy is the result of a collaborative effort between himself, the ACLU and Mayor Cory Booker.
"The best way to quell any suspicions or issues about the department and what we¡¯re doing is to make their actions public," DeMaio said. "We have nothing to hide."
West Ward Councilman Ronald Rice Jr., one of six council members who approved a resolution supporting the policy Tuesday, said while he commended the change it would likely have come as a result of federal reform anyway.
DeMaio scoffed at that argument. "I don¡¯t know how anybody can say what the federal government is going to make us do," DeMaio said.
Most of the data was already being tracked by police, according to DeMaio.
Stop-and-frisk tactics have been a source of controversy for the New York City Police Department in recent years, as advocates have complained the procedure is ineffectual and discriminatory. In 2012, 89 percent of those stopped by the NYPD had done nothing wrong, and 87 percent of those stopped were either black or Latino.
The NYPD only reveals that data four times a year, and only did so after the City Council forced its hand, Ofer said.
Newark Police do not have an official stop-and-frisk policy, according to DeMaio, who said he wants the public to know what is and isn¡¯t happening inside the agency.
"We want what we do here in the Newark Police Department to be known by the public that we serve," he said. "As much as we love to put all the great stuff out that we do, unfortunately, in any agency, there¡¯s going to be negative stuff as well, and that needs to be made public."
F.B.I. Nominee Explains How View Has Changed on Interrogation Tactic
By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT ¡ª Wednesday, July 10th, 2013 ¡®The New York Times¡¯
WASHINGTON ¡ª James B. Comey, President Obama¡¯s nominee for F.B.I. director, said on Tuesday that he no longer believed it was legal to waterboard detainees under United States law. His statements contrasted with the position he took in 2005 when, as President George W. Bush¡¯s deputy attorney general, he oversaw the government¡¯s legal opinions.
At his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Mr. Comey said that the government¡¯s statute on the issue at the time was vague, complicating the ability of government lawyers to determine its legality. He said that despite his authorization of the opinions in 2005, he had urged senior Bush administration officials to end the use of the practice.
¡°Even though I as a person, as a father, as a leader thought, ¡®That¡¯s torture ¡ª we shouldn¡¯t be doing that kind of thing,¡¯ I discovered that it¡¯s actually a much harder question to interpret this 1994 statute, which I found very vague,¡± Mr. Comey, 52, said at the hearing.
Many senators, legal scholars and human rights advocates have long believed that the 1994 statute clearly banned waterboarding.
Mr. Comey said that he urged the attorney general at the time, Alberto R. Gonzales, to make his point directly to the White House.
¡°He took my ¡ª actually literally took my notes with him to a meeting at the White House and told me he made my argument in full and that the principals were fully on board with the policy, and so my argument was rejected,¡± he said.
Mr. Comey did not say at the hearing why his position had changed. But one of his aides said Tuesday afternoon that Mr. Comey believed waterboarding was illegal for several reasons: President Obama had banned its use, the legal opinions supporting it had been withdrawn, and Congress passed an act in late 2005 clearly banning such treatment.
Mr. Comey¡¯s current position on the legality of waterboarding brings him into line with President Obama, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and several senior Democratic senators who had raised concerns about his position in the days leading up to the hearing.
Mr. Comey¡¯s nomination has received strong bipartisan support, but some Democrats and civil liberty groups have raised questions about his role in the Bush administration. Last week, two of the Democratic senators, Richard J. Durbin of Illinois and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, sent a letter to Mr. Comey, expressing their concern about how he approved the use of ¡°enhanced interrogation techniques¡± that included waterboarding.
On Tuesday, many of the senators appeared satisfied with Mr. Comey¡¯s answers about waterboarding, and it does not appear that the Republicans will try to block his confirmation.
Mr. Comey distinguished himself from many members of the Bush administration ¡ª and significantly raised his national profile ¡ª when he testified before the same Senate committee five years ago. His testimony was perceived as repudiating government surveillance programs.
At the hearing, about the Justice Department¡¯s firings of several United States attorneys, Mr. Comey riveted the senators by testifying about a 2004 episode in which he thwarted Bush administration officials from persuading his ailing boss, Attorney General John Ashcroft, to sign off on an illegal data-collection program. Although Mr. Comey¡¯s objections halted the program, it was later resumed under a similar legal framework, and senior Bush administration officials have said he raised few objections to other programs.
Mr. Comey did not provide new details about the incident on Tuesday, but he addressed the issue of government surveillance, which has become a thorny issue given a series of disclosures of classified programs by Edward J. Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor. Mr. Comey also defended the use of surveillance programs to identify terrorists.
¡°I do know as a general matter that the collection of metadata and analysis of metadata is a valuable tool in counterterrorism,¡± he said.
Mr. Comey has served as the United States attorney in Manhattan and most recently as the general counsel at a huge hedge fund in Connecticut and at Lockheed Martin. On Tuesday, he sidestepped several questions about the transparency of legal rulings that govern the surveillance programs and the force-feeding of detainees at Guant¨¢namo Bay, Cuba.
Unlike more contentious nomination hearings, the banter between Mr. Comey and the senators was blithe.
As Mr. Comey introduced his family, he mentioned how his five children, who are in their teens and 20s and were seated behind him, had been in nearly the same seats 10 years ago when he was confirmed as deputy attorney general.
¡°They¡¯re a little bit older,¡± Mr. Comey said.
¡°I was going to say,¡± said Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont and the committee chairman. ¡°They ¡ª they ¡ª I was here at that time and they have been changed.¡±
¡°They have, right,¡± Mr. Comey said. ¡°The only one who hasn¡¯t aged a bit is my wife.¡±
The senators laughed.
Wednesday, July 10th, 2013 ¡®The New York Times¡¯ Editorial:
A New Leader for the F.B.I.
President Obama¡¯s nominee for F.B.I. director, James Comey, faced a mostly friendly Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, and he is almost assured confirmation given strong bipartisan support. But his tenure as deputy attorney general in the George W. Bush administration raises important questions about his commitment to civil liberties and his independence in an office that demands unstinting devotion to both principles. As has been made all too clear in recent weeks, the relationship between American citizens and the government¡¯s law-enforcement and intelligence agencies remains deeply damaged.
A short version of Mr. Comey¡¯s work in the Bush administration might run like this: He did several highly questionable things and one unquestionably good thing ¡ª his effort in 2004 to stop President Bush¡¯s chief of staff and the White House counsel, who had skulked into the hospital room of the ailing attorney general, John Ashcroft, to wrest his signoff on the administration¡¯s warrantless data collection program.
As Mr. Comey sat before the committee, that remarkable incident was never far from mind. Even if the full story was not as heroic as it first seemed (Mr. Comey and Robert Mueller III, the current F.B.I. director, eventually backed down when President Bush ¡°modified¡± the program), it has served a more symbolic purpose: In the face of what many saw as a lawless administration, Mr. Comey¡¯s stand asserted the rule of law.
The White House said that episode was ¡°an important factor¡± in his selection; President Obama himself praised Mr. Comey¡¯s ¡°fierce independence.¡±
Much of Mr. Comey¡¯s testimony before the committee was encouraging ¡ª particularly his unequivocal rejection of waterboarding as a form of torture, his acknowledgment that whistle-blowers are a ¡°critical¡± part of a functioning democracy, and his openness to the idea that summaries of certain rulings by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court should be declassified.
But his apparent support for the indiscriminate phone and Internet sweeps by the National Security Agency that have come to light over the past month is troubling. Mr. Comey referred to the collection and analysis of metadata as a ¡°valuable tool¡± in the fight against terrorism, and he defended the surveillance court, which hears requests for such data collection, against charges that it is a ¡°rubber stamp¡± for the government.
Nor can we forget that while Mr. Comey nearly resigned over the Bush wiretap program, he stayed on until 2005, and he remains implicated in many of the administration¡¯s most repugnant acts, including the indefinite detention of an American citizen, Jose Padilla, who for two years was not allowed to contact even his lawyers.
Mr. Comey has taken pains over the years to distance himself from the Bush White House. But the Obama administration has made its own significant missteps in balancing liberty and security. ¡°I¡¯m sure that things will go wrong, and I will make mistakes,¡± Mr. Comey told the committee. We can only hope that this time around, Mr. Comey will demonstrate more of the independence that Mr. Obama prizes in him and defend the Constitution as forcefully as he did that night in 2004.
F.B.I.: Corruption at the Boston Office
Vulgarities Fly Between Key Witness and Bulger
By RICHARD A. OPPEL Jr. ¡ª Wednesday, July 10th, 2013 ¡®The New York Times¡¯
BOSTON ¡ª Kevin Weeks, once a surrogate son of the notorious South Boston crime boss James (Whitey) Bulger, issued a threat from the witness stand to Mr. Bulger¡¯s lawyer in Federal District Court here on Tuesday.
Then the proceedings turned ugly.
Mr. Weeks, a key government witness, had testified that he watched Mr. Bulger kill four men and one woman. Sometimes, he said, Mr. Bulger would then go lie down, leaving others to clean up the bloody mess.
So when it was time for cross-examination, Mr. Bulger¡¯s lawyer, J. W. Carney Jr., painted Mr. Weeks as a lying, selfish thug who had wheedled a sweetheart plea deal of five years in prison for aiding and abetting the murders of five people, all in return for providing evidence against Mr. Bulger and others.
Temper rising, Mr. Weeks shot back: ¡°What did I win? Five people are dead.¡±
¡°We killed people that were rats,¡± he added, ¡°and I had the two biggest rats right next to me!¡±
This was a reference to Mr. Bulger and another gangster, Stephen Flemmi.
Mr. Bulger does not like being called a rat, a k a an informer. And so the frail-looking 83-year-old defendant in bluejeans, white sneakers and a dark blue shirt spat a vulgarity, his first words in more than 16 years to Mr. Weeks, whom he had long treated as a son and groomed as a successor.
Mr. Weeks, still on the stand, shouted a two-word expletive of his own, and Mr. Bulger replied in kind.
¡°Hey!¡± the judge interjected.
Earlier, Mr. Weeks had described how tough it was to testify against Mr. Bulger, likening him to an older brother. But now, glaring at his former mentor, he added, ¡°What do you want to do!¡±
With Mr. Weeks unhinged, Mr. Carney soon rested his cross-examination.
It was the most dramatic day in the trial of Mr. Bulger, who was arrested in California in 2011 after 16 years on the run. He has pleaded not guilty to a long list of federal charges, including allegations that he played a role in 19 murders.
Trying to show jurors that Mr. Weeks was not to be believed, Mr. Carney had tripped up the witness about who might have been the second gunman in a 1982 assassination. He also prodded Mr. Weeks to admit that anyone who called him a rat would have ¡°a problem,¡± meaning they would be hurt.
Mr. Carney then asked, What if I called you a rat?
Call me that outside and see what happens, Mr. Weeks responded.
Mr. Carney also elicited this statement from Mr. Weeks: ¡°I¡¯ve been lying my whole life. I¡¯m a criminal.¡±
In macabre testimony earlier in the day, the witness tied Mr. Bulger directly to three killings, with details that combined the mundane and the horrific.
He described how Mr. Bulger used a MAC-10 machine pistol to shoot one extortion victim in the head, then ¡°went upstairs and lay down on the couch while we took care of the cleanup.¡±
For that Mr. Flemmi, who was known as the Rifleman, offered tips, Mr. Weeks said: ¡°He explained to me that cold water helps congeal the blood and everything.¡±
Another time, Mr. Weeks said, he watched Mr. Bulger and Mr. Flemmi garrote and strangle Mr. Flemmi¡¯s stepdaughter. Then Mr. Bulger gave Mr. Flemmi a new handle, inspired by his partner¡¯s enthusiasm.
¡°Jim gave him the nickname ¡®Dr. Mengele,¡¯ because he kind of enjoyed it,¡± Mr. Weeks testified.
Sometimes, there were problems finding rope. After the gangsters tried to smuggle weapons to the Irish Republican Army on a boat in 1984, Mr. Bulger¡¯s F.B.I. handler, John Connolly, told him that one of the crew members had informed the authorities about the failed effort, Mr. Weeks said.
Mr. Bulger confronted the crew member, John McIntyre, who confessed to revealing the scheme, Mr. Weeks said.
Mr. Bulger then slipped a rope around Mr. McIntyre¡¯s neck and tried to strangle him, Mr. Weeks said, but the rope was too thick. Mr. McIntyre gagged and started vomiting, so Mr. Bulger shot him in the head and shot him in the face as he lay on the ground, the witness testified.
(A federal judge found the government liable for Mr. McIntyre¡¯s death because Mr. Connolly had leaked enough information to identify Mr. McIntyre as an informer.)
The three victims whose gruesome demise Mr. Weeks described on Tuesday were buried in the basement of a South Boston home. But the corpses had to be moved when the house was sold. Mr. Weeks said he eventually led investigators to where the bodies had been reburied.
Why not just buy the house and leave them there? ¡°We figured it would be easier to move the bodies,¡± Mr. Weeks said. ¡°Cheaper, too.¡±
Are changes coming in what police respond to?
City may curtail action on wrecks, burglar alarms
By Jane Prendergast and Ryan Hoffman ¡ª Wednesday, July 10th, 2013 ¡®The Cincinnati Enquirer¡¯ / Cincinnati, OH
People who live, work and drive in Cincinnati soon might see changes in how police respond, or don¡¯t, to car accidents and burglar alarms.
They also might be notified more quickly that the crime that occurred likely won¡¯t be solved.
The city would join many others that have reduced their response to some police calls after years of budget cuts. It¡¯s called differential response and it will allow officers to spend more time, the department says, on violent crime, neighborhood issues, working with youth, traffic safety and long-term problems.
The changes have been in the works for months, having begun under former Chief James Craig, who started his new job as Detroit police chief last week. They were part of his plan to increase efficiency, which also included moving officers out of jobs that can be done by civilians.
Cincinnati Interim Chief Paul Humphries will explain these new policies today:
• Officers will respond to vehicle crashes but they have the discretion to not write reports on minor ones, although rivers can still report them themselves for insurance purposes, said Meg Olberding, spokeswoman for City Manager Milton Dohoney. Officers will still be required to fill out reports for accidents resulting in significant injury.
• Officers will respond to burglar alarms, but supervisors now have more discretion to call officers off if they¡¯re needed elsewhere. Police also will require alarm companies to try twice at two different numbers to reach someone with a key to the building where an alarm is going off.
• When an officer responds to a report of a crime but finds no evidence or witnesses, he or she still will write a report on the incident in case the information turns out to be pertinent to crime trends in the neighborhood. But the complainant might also get, on the spot, a ¡°closure letter¡± that explains why the case is ripe for ¡°early closure.¡±
A recent spate of crime, most recently last weekend¡¯s shootout that injured a 12-year-old bystander in East Price Hill, has residents demanding police do more to stem the violence, said Pete Witte, a West Side activist, business owner and resident. If police can do that by spending less time on ¡°menial issues,¡± he said, then residents will get behind the changes.
Differential response came about as departments, criticized for not being proactive enough, looked to gain control over officers¡¯ time.
The Chicago Police Department, in February, announced officers no longer will come right away to reports of damage to property, thefts from vehicles, garage burglaries or other crimes where the victim is not in immediate danger. .
Cincinnati¡¯s police force stands at 950 officers, down 175 from January 2010. The city hasn¡¯t held a recruit class since 2008, but also hasn¡¯t laid off any officers; the numbers have dropped through attrition.
Scott Greenwood, the ACLU attorney who helped write the Collaborative Agreement that focused Cincinnati police more on problem-solving, credited Humphries for instituting the plan.
¡°Most significantly, they will take officers out of the business of essentially mediating a no-injury traffic incident scene and get them back on patrol as soon as they determine that the incident was not the result of impaired or otherwise restricted behavior, and is therefore a purely civil matter,¡± he wrote in an email. ¡°All of these changes will actually free up officers to concentrate on urgent calls for service.¡±¡ö
Florida (Overactive Police Perverts)
Fla. police officers entangled in sex scandal
By TAMARA LUSH (The Associated Press) ¡ª Wednesday, July 10th, 2013; 10:59 a.m. EDT
LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) -- Authorities are investigating a widespread sex scandal involving nearly a dozen police officers in one Florida city after a civilian crime analyst detailed trysts with the men in police and fire stations, patrol cars, motels and even in a parking lot after a memorial service for a slain officer.
Sue Eberle, 37, has told officials that she had consensual and sometimes coerced sex with the officers and a firefighter, and that she once was propositioned by a city worker in Lakeland. Eberle's accounts of the liaisons were largely corroborated by her sexual partners and others within the police department, and published in a graphic, 59-page report written in an incredulous tone by the county's top prosecutor. It said the department's problems investigating crimes might be caused by some high-ranking officers being more interested in having sex with Eberle than doing their jobs.
"The investigation revealed an extraordinary amount of sexual conduct that was committed both on-duty and off-duty," wrote Jerry Hill, Polk County's state attorney, in the report dated June 25. "We find the conduct of a number of sworn officers, including some officers of rank, to be at best a waste of taxpayer dollars. At worst their actions indicate a moral bankruptcy that exists amongst some individuals within the ranks at the Lakeland Police Department."
Eberle, who has retained an attorney, recounted for Hill how she had sex in police cars, cemeteries and motels with different officers - and in the parking lot outside a reception that followed the December 2011 funeral of Officer Arnulfo Crispin, who had been fatally shot on duty. She also said officers and some supervisors pressured her for sex, groped her while working and texted her photos of their genitalia.
"She was a target. She was weak. And they knew that they could take advantage of that, so they preyed upon her. They preyed upon her, and that's what's so sick about it," Eberle's attorney, David Linesch, said during a recent news conference.
Linesch's spokeswoman said Eberle is not granting interviews at this time. The Associated Press typically does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault. However, Eberle has gone public with her story, appearing alongside her attorney and husband at a recent news conference about the allegations.
Eberle, a married mother of two, is on paid administrative leave. Three city employees have resigned, and others - such as the former assistant chief of the department - have retired. Five other officers have been placed on either administrative leave or modified duty.
The scandal has stunned folks in Lakeland, a city of almost 100,000 people halfway between Tampa and Orlando.
"It's been devastating for the community," said Ellen Simms, who owns a framing shop in the city's historic downtown. "The actions of a few are tarnishing the reputation of a good department. It's heartbreaking."
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating, while Hill's office spent three months interviewing participants and witnesses. In his report addressed to Lakeland Police Chief Lisa Womack, Hill also drew parallels between the sex scandal and other "shortcomings" within the department, including recent problems with traffic stops, searches and investigations that have been detailed in The Ledger, Lakeland's newspaper.
"Had these members of your department been more focused on the important responsibilities of law enforcement, rather than pursuing sexual encounters with a civilian analyst, LPD might not be in the condition it is today," Hill wrote.
Womack wouldn't comment on the report or the scandal - a Lakeland Police spokeswoman said all comments are being made from City Hall. Womack was an outsider who had worked in Illinois and Texas when she became the department's chief in March 2011.
"Our hearts ache for Mrs. Sue Eberle and her family, the citizens of Lakeland, and all the families and children who have been affected by this tragedy," Lakeland Mayor Gow Fields wrote in a statement.
Legislative leaders are furious and have asked Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd to help get the department on track.
"We find the State Attorney's report on the behavior of the LPD officials to be shocking, revolting and a clear cause for action," wrote Rep. Seth McKeel, R-Lakeland. "A culture which, at best lacks professionalism and at worst encourages the reckless behavior of LDP officials, is apparently pervasive and is an embarrassment to our community. This culture has unfortunately eroded the public's confidence in the Lakeland Police Department."
Eberle, through her attorney and in the state attorney's report, said she was unable to fend off the sexual advances because she has been a victim of sexual assault in the past. Initially, she didn't want to speak with investigators - she balked at turning over her phone with text messages and photos, saying that it would hurt the officers' families - but later decided to cooperate because she felt victimized and abandoned by the department.
Eberle also confided in a female officer friend, who initially doubted the stories until Eberle showed her some of the text messages and photos she had received from other officers. The friend told Hill that she thought Eberle's desire to please, inability to say no and sexual promiscuity made her a target.
While seven officers admitted to having sexual contact with Eberle, three other sergeants denied her claims and refused to take polygraph tests; Hill said he questioned the credibility of those sergeants.
The report also said that other employees knew about the encounters and didn't report it to higher-ups.
The state attorney said he couldn't prosecute the cases because of a lack of physical evidence and because so much time has passed since some of the sexual encounters. However, Fields said the officers and employees involved are under an internal investigation and will be "disciplined to the fullest extent" if found to have acted inappropriately.
Judd, the sheriff, wouldn't discuss the legislators' proposal for him to help the department. But in an email to the AP, he said he was willing to help Lakeland.
"My whole family is from Lakeland. I grew up here," Judd wrote. "I care about Lakeland, its reputation, and the quality of life we enjoy here. We cannot lose sight that there are many fine and hardworking officers at LPD who are outstanding public servants."
Miami Police Department Is Accused of Pattern of Excessive Force
By ERICA GOODE ¡ª Wednesday, July 10th, 2013 ¡®The New York Times¡¯
Federal officials have found that the Miami Police Department engaged in a pattern of excessive force that led to a high number of shootings by officers, among them episodes that resulted in the deaths of seven young black men over an eight-month period in 2011.
The findings, released on Tuesday, came after a two-year investigation by the Justice Department¡¯s civil rights division, and they identified ¡°troubling¡± practices, including delays in completing investigations of officer-involved shootings, questionable police tactics and a lack of adequate supervision. From 2008 to 2011, officers intentionally fired their weapons at people 33 times, the investigation found.
In a summary addressed to Tomas P. Regalado, Miami¡¯s mayor, and Manuel Orosa, the police chief, the Justice Department noted that its own investigation would have been completed sooner if not for the Police Department¡¯s ¡°frequent inability to produce necessary documents in a timely fashion.¡±
Wifredo A. Ferrer, the United States attorney for South Florida, said that discussions would now begin with the department over what corrective measures should be taken.
Miami¡¯s Police Department is one of a number of law enforcement agencies that have been investigated by federal authorities in recent years over abuses like excessive force, racial bias or the handling of sexual assaults. Such investigations usually result in a settlement, known as a consent decree, and the assignment of a monitor to see that changes are made.
Mr. Ferrer noted that this was the second time in a little over a decade that the Justice Department had been called in to investigate the Miami department: the first time was in 2002, when similar problems were found. In a 20-month period after John F. Timoney, formerly of the New York Police Department, became Miami¡¯s chief, no officer discharged a firearm, the report noted. But problems resumed after he left in 2004.
The number of officer-involved shootings in recent years was especially high when compared with that of other big cities like New York and Washington, Mr. Ferrer said. In 2010, he said, there was one fatal shooting for every 4,300 officers in New York, compared with one for every 220 in Miami.
In its report, the Justice Department described ¡°egregious¡± delays in the investigation of officer-involved shootings by the Miami police; in one case, the officers in a shooting had not provided statements about what occurred more than three years later.
In many cases, officers were returned to duty on the streets while investigations into shootings were still in progress. Officers also showed bad marksmanship and poor judgment, the investigation found, firing their weapons at moving vehicles or when pedestrians were nearby. Specialty units, like those devoted to robberies, gangs, special operations or crime suppression, were involved in a high proportion of shootings: 9 out of 17 total in 2010 and 2011.
Mr. Ferrer said that Chief Orosa, who was appointed in 2011, had already begun to make significant changes in the department, but ¡°we are working with him to make sure those reforms become well ingrained into the Police Department and discussing what other reforms are needed.¡±
In response, Chief Orosa said in a statement, ¡°The Miami Police Department welcomes this long-awaited response and looks forward to the opportunity to clarify several components of the letter, as well as to labor intensely to negotiate an agreement with the Department of Justice, as promptly as possible.¡±
Chuck Wexler, the executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, said that while instituting new polices was important in addressing problems, the most critical factor in turning a department around was having a strong leader.
¡°You need to have leadership and consequences when people don¡¯t follow the policies,¡± Mr. Wexler said. ¡°I think police are very sensitive to whether or not you tolerate excessive force, and if the message is that that¡¯s going to be tolerated, it only expands.¡±
Illinois enacts nation's final concealed-gun law
By JOHN O'CONNOR (The Associated Press) ¡ª Tuesday, July 9th, 2013; 10:00 p.m. EDT
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) -- The last holdout on allowing the public possession of concealed guns, Illinois joined the rest of the nation Tuesday as lawmakers raced to beat a federal court deadline in adopting a carry law over Gov. Pat Quinn's objections.
Massive majorities in the House and Senate voted to override changes the Democratic governor made just a week ago in an amendatory veto.
Some lawmakers feared failure to pass something would mean virtually unregulated weapons in Chicago, which has endured severe gun violence in recent months - including more than 70 shootings, at least 12 of them fatal, during the Independence Day weekend.
"This is a historic, significant day for law-abiding gun owners," said Rep. Brandon Phelps, a southern Illinois Democrat who, in 10 years in the House, has continued work on concealed carry begun by his uncle, ex-Rep. David Phelps, who began serving in the mid-1980s. "They finally get to exercise their Second Amendment rights."
The Senate voted 41-17 in favor of the override after a House tally of 77-31, margins that met the three-fifths threshold needed to set aside the amendatory veto. Quinn had used his veto authority to suggest changes, including prohibiting guns in restaurants that serve alcohol and limiting gun-toting citizens to one firearm at a time.
Quinn had predicted a "showdown in Springfield" after a week of Chicago appearances to drum up support for the changes he made in the amendatory veto. The Chicago Democrat faces a tough re-election fight next year and has already drawn a primary challenge from former White House chief of state Bill Daley, who has criticized the governor's handling of the debate over guns and other issues.
Lawmakers had little appetite for fiddling any further with the legislation on the deadline day that the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had set for ending what it said was an unconstitutional ban on carrying concealed weapons. Without action, the previous gun law would be invalidated and none would take its place.
"If we do not vote to override today, at 12:01 a.m. tomorrow, July 10, there are no restrictions upon people who want to carry handguns in the public way," said Sen. Kwame Raoul, a Chicago Democrat who negotiated the legislation with House sponsors.
Despite the setback for Quinn, he remained resolute when he spoke to reporters late in the day.
"It's very, very important that we protect the people," he said. "The legislation today does not do that. It has shortcomings that will lead to tragedies."
The law that took effect Tuesday permits anyone with a Firearm Owner's Identification card who has passed a background check and undergone gun-safety training of 16 hours - longest of any state - to obtain a concealed-carry permit for $150.
The Illinois State Police has six months to set up a system to start accepting applications. Spokeswoman Monique Bond said police expect 300,000 applications in the first year.
For years, powerful Chicago Democrats had tamped down agitation by gun owners to adopt concealed carry. So gun activists took the issue to court.
Gun-control advocates saw the handwriting on the wall after the December ruling. But Mark Walsh, director of the Illinois Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, remained hopeful future legislation could continue to shape the concealed carry law, and he pointed to other gun-restriction victories in the spring legislative session. They include required background checks on gun buyers in private sales and mandatory reporting of lost or stolen guns.
Quinn had urged Democratic Attorney General Lisa Madigan to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. Madigan filed motions to dismiss the lawsuits Tuesday after the override, reporting to a federal judge the issue is moot now that there's a law that answers the original legal action.
The motion said further legal action involving the law would require a new lawsuit.
Opinions varied about what would have happened had a law not taken effect. Gun supporters said it would have meant with no law governing gun possession, any type of firearm could be carried anywhere, at any time. Those supporting stricter gun control said local communities would have been able to set up tough restrictions.
With the negotiated law, gun-rights advocates got the permissive law they wanted, instead of a New York-style plan that gives law enforcement authorities wide discretion over who gets permits. In exchange, Chicago Democrats repulsed by gun violence got a long list of places deemed off limits to guns, including schools, libraries, parks and mass transit buses and trains.
But one part of the compromise had to do with establishments that serve alcohol. The law will allow diners to carry weapons into restaurants and other establishments where liquor comprises no more than 50 percent of gross sales. One of the main provisions of Quinn's amendatory veto was to nix guns where any alcohol is served.
He also wanted to limit citizens to carrying one gun at a time, a gun that is completely concealed, not "mostly concealed" as the initiative decrees. He prefers banning guns from private property unless an owner puts up a sign allowing guns - the reverse of what's in the new law - and would give employers more power to prohibit guns at work.
Sen. Jacqueline Collins, D-Chicago, said Quinn's changed made sense and voted to sustain the veto.
"It's a position that I'm making out of respect for the mothers and the fathers who've lost children to senseless gun violence," Collins said.
As a nod to Quinn, Senate President John Cullerton floated legislation that addressed the governor's worries. But the Senate ultimately approved a follow-up bill that only mentioned two of his suggestions. It failed in the House.
The concealed carry bill is HB183. The Cullerton bill is HB1453.
Colorado sheriffs try to block new ammunition magazine laws adopted after mass shootings
By Ivan Moreno (The Associated Press) ¡ª Wednesday, July 10th, 2013; 6:28 a.m. EDT
DENVER ¡ª Colorado sheriffs trying to stop new state ammunition magazine limits go before a federal judge Wednesday to argue that the law, passed in the wake of mass shootings, is too vague to enforce.
The law bans magazines that hold more than 15 rounds and was a major victory for Colorado Democrats, who used majorities in the House and Senate this spring to pass it without Republican support. Democrats also expanded background checks to include online and private firearm sales.
Sheriffs in 54 of Colorado¡¯s 64 counties filed a lawsuit in May seeking to overturn both laws, arguing that they violate the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. But it¡¯s the magazine limit that will be under scrutiny when U.S. District Judge Marcia Krieger hears arguments on whether to grant a preliminary injunction on the law while the lawsuit advances. A written ruling will be issued later.
Both laws took effect July 1. Most of the sheriffs behind the lawsuit represent rural, gun-friendly parts of the state.
The lawsuit contends the magazine law lacks clarity because it bans magazines that are ¡°designed to be readily converted¡± to hold more than 15 rounds.
¡°Nobody really knows what that means,¡± said David Kopel, the attorney representing the sheriffs. Opponents maintain that many magazines can be easily converted to hold more rounds. Kopel will also argue that the law is vague about what happens to larger magazines that were grandfathered in.
The sheriffs decided not to pursue a preliminary injunction for the expanded background checks, given the complexity of the new law and limited time at Wednesday¡¯s hearing.
¡°In the context of something that size, how much can we show in this stage in this case?¡± Kopel said. He said it¡¯s more appropriate to address issues surrounding background checks at trial.
The Colorado Attorney General¡¯s office, which is defending the state, has previously issued guidance to law enforcement on how the magazine limit should be enforced, saying that magazines that hold 15 rounds or fewer can¡¯t be defined as ¡°large capacity¡± simply because they can be modified to include more.
Democrats argue both laws will improve public safety and are an appropriate response to the massacres at a suburban Denver movie theater last July and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in December.
Fallout from the debate continues. Two Democrats ¡ª Senate President John Morse and Sen. Angela Giron ¡ª face potential recall elections because they supported the laws.
There¡¯s never been a recall election for a Colorado state legislator.
Boston's top cop raps federal terror task force
By Donna Leinwand Leger ¡ª Wednesday, July 10th, 2013 ¡®USA Today¡¯
WASHINGTON -- Advance planning, long-standing relationships with area police departments and an "unprecedented level of coordination" were keys to the capture of suspected terrorist Dzhokhar Tsarnaev within days hours of the Boston Marathon bombing, Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis told a Senate panel Wednesday.
But while Davis praised strong partnerships among local, state and federal law enforcement at the crime scene and command posts, he criticized communication between local officials and the federal Joint Terrorism Task Force led by the FBI. Boston Police have four officers with security clearance assigned to the task force, Davis told the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.
The policies governing communication between the task force and local officials need to be amended "to mandate immediate sharing of terror information that poses a threat to our cities," Davis said.
Boston Police were never told that Dzokhar Tamerlan's brother, Tsarnaev, had traveled to Russia, Davis said.
Local officials need information about any terror threat "so we can properly defend our community," Davis said. "I'm not saying anything was done wrong here. I'm not saying anything would have been done differently. But I am saying there should be a full and equal partnership."
He said information is often compartmentalized as the task force pursues its targets and may not make it to the regional task forces. Local jurisdictions should be told of allegations -- even if a case is closed out, Davis said. The FBI allegedly investigated Tamerlan Tsarnaev at the behest of Russian officials, but did not pursue charges.
"So when my officers stop Tsarnaev, we're blind to that information," Davis said. "That puts my officers at risk."
Still, Davis said, the police department's relationship with local FBI representatives is solid. His first call after the explosions, Davis said, was to the FBI Special Agent in Charge of the Boston office Rick DesLauriers.
Davis also said law enforcement needs a secure radio bandwidth so response is hampered when cellular phone use by the public overwhelms the system.
The Senate hearing focused on lessons learned from the response April 15 bombing. The attack killed three spectators and injured more than 300 people.
"As the events of April 15 unfolded, we wrestled with the fact that we were witnessing the first successful terrorist bombing on U.S. soil since the September 11 terrorist attack," Committee Chairman Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., said. "Just as we did in the aftermath of 9/11, we must learn from the Boston Marathon bombing."
Kurt Schwartz, Massachusetts undersecretary for homeland security, told the panel that Boston's quick response was a result of years of local, state and federal preparation and practice.
The response showcased "the value of our investments of money, time and resources in local, state, and federal homeland security since 2001," Schwartz said.
Schwartz also credited federal grants for funding some of the city and state improvements and exercises for a mass casualty response.
Two of the first-line trauma hospitals reported that the injured were in operating rooms within 15 to 18 minutes after evacuation from the scene, he said.
FEMA Deputy Administrator Richard Serino, a Boston native and former paramedic, was in the city celebrating Patriot's Day when the bombs exploded.
Police, emergency medical technicians and other first responders performed "professionally and heroically," Serino said.
"It was an amazing example of humanity, service and teamwork," he said.
The committee in the future will investigate whether the attack could have been prevented, Carper said.
Suspected bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev appears Wednesday in federal court in Boston to be arraigned on charges stemming from the bombing and its aftermath.
What the government pays to snoop on you
By Anne Flaherty (The Associated Press) ¡ª Wednesday, July 10th, 2013; 8:30 a.m. EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) ¡ª How much are your private conversations worth to the U.S. government? Turns out, it can be a lot, depending on the technology.
In the era of intense government surveillance and secret court orders, a murky multimillion-dollar market has emerged. Paid for by U.S. tax dollars, but with little public scrutiny, surveillance fees charged in secret by technology and phone companies can vary wildly.
AT&T, for example, imposes a $325 "activation fee" for each wiretap and $10 a day to maintain it. Smaller carriers Cricket and U.S. Cellular charge only about $250 per wiretap. But snoop on a Verizon customer? That costs the government $775 for the first month and $500 each month after that, according to industry disclosures made last year to Congressman Edward Markey.
Meanwhile, email records like those amassed by the National Security Agency through a program revealed by former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden probably were collected for free or very cheaply. Facebook says it doesn't charge the government for access. And while Microsoft, Yahoo and Google won't say how much they charge, the American Civil Liberties Union found that email records can be turned over for as little as $25.
Industry says it doesn't profit from the hundreds of thousands of government eavesdropping requests it receives each year, and civil liberties groups want businesses to charge. They worry that government surveillance will become too cheap as companies automate their responses. And if companies gave away customer records for free, wouldn't that encourage uncalled-for surveillance?
But privacy advocates also want companies to be upfront about what they charge and alert customers after an investigation has concluded that their communications were monitored.
"What we don't want is surveillance to become a profit center," said Christopher Soghoian, the ACLU's principal technologist. But "it's always better to charge $1. It creates friction, and it creates transparency" because it generates a paper trail that can be tracked.
Regardless of price, the surveillance business is growing. The U.S. government long has enjoyed access to phone networks and high-speed Internet traffic under the U.S. Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act to catch suspected criminals and terrorists.
More recently, the FBI has pushed technology companies like Google and Skype to guarantee access to real-time communications on their services. And, as shown by recent disclosures about the NSA's surveillance practices, the U.S. intelligence community has an intense interest in analyzing data and content that flow through American technology companies to gather foreign intelligence.
The FBI said it could not say how much it spends on industry reimbursements because payments are made through a variety of programs, field offices and case funds. In an emailed statement, the agency said when charges are questionable, it requests an explanation and tries to work with the carrier to understand its cost structure.
Technology companies have been a focus of law enforcement and the intelligence community since 1994, when Congress allotted $500 million to reimburse phone companies to retrofit their equipment to accommodate wiretaps on the new digital networks.
But as the number of law enforcement requests for data grew and carriers upgraded their technology, the cost of accommodating government surveillance requests increased. AT&T, for example, said it devotes roughly 100 employees to review each request and hand over data. Likewise, Verizon said its team of 70 employees works around the clock, seven days a week to handle the quarter-million requests it gets each year.
To discourage gratuitous requests and to prevent losing money, industry turned to a section of federal law that allows companies to be reimbursed for the cost of "searching for, assembling, reproducing and otherwise providing" communications content or records on behalf of the government. The costs must be "reasonably necessary" and "mutually agreed" upon with the government.
From there, phone companies developed detailed fee schedules and began billing law enforcement much as they do customers. In its letter to Markey, AT&T estimated that it collected $24 million in government reimbursements between 2007 and 2011. Verizon, which had the highest fees but says it doesn't charge in every case, reported a similar amount, collecting between $3 million and $5 million a year during the same period.
Companies also began to automate their systems to make it easier. The ACLU's Soghoian found in 2009 that Sprint had created a website allowing law enforcement to track the location data of its wireless customers for only $30 a month to accommodate the approximately 8 million requests it received in one year.
Most companies agree not to charge in emergency cases like tracking an abducted child. They aren't allowed to charge for phone logs that reveal who called a line and how long they talked ¡ª such as the documents the Justice Department obtained about phones at The Associated Press during a leaks investigation ¡ª because that information is easily generated from automated billing systems.
Still, the fees can add up quickly. The average wiretap is estimated to cost $50,000, a figure that includes reimbursements as well as other operational costs. One narcotics case in New York in 2011 cost the government $2.9 million alone.
The system is not a true market-based solution, said Al Gidari, a partner at the law firm Perkins Coie who represents technology and telecommunications companies on privacy and security issues. If the FBI or NSA needs data, those agencies would pay whatever it takes. But Gidari said it's likely that phone and technology companies undercharge because they don't want to risk being accused of making a false claim against the government, which carries stiff penalties.
Online companies in particular tend to undercharge because they don't have established accounting systems, and hiring staff to track costs is more expensive than not charging the government at all, he said.
"Government doesn't have the manpower to wade through irrelevant material any more than providers have the bandwidth to bury them in records," Gidari said. "In reality, there is a pretty good equilibrium and balance, with the exception of phone records," which are free.
Not everyone agrees.
In 2009, then-New York criminal prosecutor John Prather sued several major telecommunications carriers in federal court in Northern California in 2009, including AT&T, Verizon and Sprint, for overcharging federal and state police agencies. In his complaint, Prather said phone companies have the technical ability to turn on a switch, duplicate call information and pass it along to law enforcement with little effort. Instead, Prather says his staff, while he was working as a city prosecutor, would receive convoluted bills with extraneous fees. The case is pending.
"They were monstrously more than what the telecoms could ever hope to charge for similar services in an open, competitive market, and the costs charged to the governments by telecoms did not represent reasonable prices as defined in the code of federal regulations," the lawsuit said.
The phone companies have asked the judge to dismiss the case. Prather's lawsuit claims whistle-blower status. If he wins, he stands to collect a percentage ¡ª estimated anywhere from 12% to 25% ¡ª of the money recovered from the companies.
Nation Will Gain by Discussing Surveillance, Expert Tells Privacy Board
By CHARLIE SAVAGE ¡ª Wednesday, July 10th, 2013 ¡®The New York Times¡¯
WASHINGTON ¡ª A retired federal judge, who formerly served on the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, on Tuesday praised the growing public discussion about government surveillance fostered by the leaks of classified information by Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor whom the Obama administration has charged with espionage and who remains a fugitive.
¡°The brouhaha after the Snowden leaks and this meeting indeed establishes what I think is true ¡ª that we need to have a more wide-open debate about this in our society, and thankfully we¡¯re beginning to have the debate and this meeting is part of it,¡± said James Robertson, formerly of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia. He made his remarks during an all-day ¡°workshop¡± by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, an independent agency that is trying to scrutinize surveillance in light of Mr. Snowden¡¯s revelations.
The workshop doubled as something of a coming out for the full five-member privacy board, whose creation was recommended by the Sept. 11 commission. Although some of its members held a public organizational meeting last year, the Senate did not confirm its full-time chairman, David Medine, until May, shortly before Mr. Snowden¡¯s revelations began spilling out.
The board has an annual budget of $800,000 and by law has access to classified information. It plans eventually to issue a report and recommendations about whether the surveillance programs properly balance security and privacy, along with recommendations. On Tuesday, its members questioned specialists about the legal, technological and policy implications of government surveillance.
The discussions focused on two areas. The first was the revelation that the N.S.A. is keeping a huge database of domestic communications ¡°metadata¡± ¡ª logs of all phone calls Americans have dialed or received. The other was the new details about how the N.S.A. is carrying out authority Congress granted it in 2008 to collect the contents of phone calls and e-mails without any individualized court orders so long as the target is believed to be a noncitizen abroad.
In one panel, two former Bush administration Justice Department officials who helped develop the current legal basis for the activities ¡ª Steven G. Bradbury, who led the Office of Legal Counsel in President George W. Bush¡¯s second term, and Kenneth L. Wainstein, who led its National Security Division ¡ª defended the programs as both lawful and appropriate.
Their view was largely echoed on a later panel by James A. Baker, a former career Justice Department official who represented the government before the surveillance court. Mr. Baker noted that the programs were approved by elements of all three branches of government, asking, ¡°How much more oversight do you want?¡±
Still, Mr. Baker also appeared to question the need for the 2008 law, saying that in his view the previous version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act ¡ª which required individual court orders for all surveillance conducted on American soil, even if the target was overseas ¡ª was adequate for wartime.
Other panelists, including Jameel Jaffer of the American Civil Liberties Union and Greg Nojeim of the Center for Democracy and Technology, criticized the programs. Mr. Nojeim said the domestic call log program in particular was ¡°unlawful¡± and should be discontinued.
The surveillance court has ruled that the domestic call log program is legally authorized by a provision of the Patriot Act that allows the government to obtain business records deemed ¡°relevant¡± to an investigation. Several panelists portrayed the court¡¯s theory as dubious, citing comments by lawmakers who said they did not intend to authorize such bulk collection in the Patriot Act.
But Mr. Wainstein said it was not uncommon for statutes enacted for one purpose to later be applied in different ways to other circumstances.
The tone of the conversation was largely sober, although there were occasional moments of muted tension.
At one point, Mr. Bradbury, who in the Bush administration signed secret legal memorandums declaring that the suffocation procedure known as waterboarding was a lawful interrogation technique, criticized as ¡°not accurate¡± Mr. Jaffer¡¯s description of the call log program as ¡°surveillance,¡± saying that term means content collection, not metadata collection.
But Mr. Jaffer, seated next to Mr. Bradbury, replied, ¡°I think people can decide for themselves whether it¡¯s surveillance or not, in the same way they can describe for themselves whether it¡¯s torture or not.¡±
Several panelists argued that the government should be more open about the legal interpretations it is developing about surveillance law so that there could be greater democratic accountability ¡ª and public trust ¡ª in the process. Mr. Baker, for example, suggested that Congress could change the rules so that in the future, when the national security court issues a lengthy ruling interpreting surveillance law, it would be required to produce an unclassified summary of the legal issues for public release.
Judge Robertson, who served on the national security court that oversees government surveillance from 2002 until resigning in December 2005, also criticized the surveillance court system because only the government generally submits filings to it, so judges do not benefit from adversarial debate. He suggested creating an advocate with security clearance who would argue against government filings.
And Michael Davidson, a former counsel to the Senate Intelligence Committee, noted that the call log program must be reapproved by the surveillance court every 90 days and the overseas targeting program once a year. Now that their existence is known, he argued, the board should push to allow outside groups to submit briefs to the surveillance court the next time they come up for renewal.