Thursday, July 18, 2013

Top NYPD spokesman Paul Browne stepping down for Notre Dame post (New York Daily News) and Other Thursday, July 18th, 2013 NYC Police Related News Articles

Thursday, July 18th, 2013 — Good Afternoon, Stay Safe


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'Fatty McFibber' Leaving August 19th   /  Kelly Soon to Follow ?


Top NYPD spokesman Paul Browne stepping down for Notre Dame post
John McCarthy, a spokesman and senior adviser for Mayor Bloomberg, will replace him.

By Rocco Parascandola   AND Joe Kemp  — Thursday, July 18th, 2013 'The New York Daily News'



The top spokesman for the NYPD is stepping down from his post, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly announced Wednesday.


Paul Browne, 64, the longtime deputy commissioner for public information, will be leaving the NYPD in August to serve as vice president for public affairs and communications at the University of Notre Dame, police said.


"Deputy Commissioner Browne served with distinction as DCPI longer than any of his predecessors and at a crucial, transformative time in the Police Department's history," Kelly said. "He served the nation too under demanding circumstances with me in Haiti and in other police department and federal posts. I wish Paul and his family all the best in this new opportunity and challenge. Go Irish."


Replacing Browne will be John McCarthy, a spokesman and senior adviser for Mayor Bloomberg.


McCarthy, who went to City Hall last year after a stint as assistant commissioner to Browne, will begin his new gig on Aug. 19.


"John McCarthy brings experience, judgment and legal training to this important position," Kelly said. "John is a consummate, thoughtful professional, and I welcome him back to the NYPD."


Browne told the Daily News that his new post came "out of the blue" after a consulting firm approached him about making him a candidate.


"It was a fantastic offer," Browne said. "They bent over backwards in every way to make this easy. I had one of the greatest jobs there is as DCPI, but that was going to end by the end of the year."


He said his new job will include "a lot of travel to important cities, where Notre Dame wants to show the flag. It's a big job."


He spoke at length about the importance and symbolism of the college in the eyes of the Irish.


"Notre Dame looms large in a lot of people's minds, including my own," Browne said.


The new appointment comes after Kelly hired Valerie Salembier — a former top newspaper and publishing executive and chair of the New York City Police Foundationas assistant commissioner to the NYPD's commissioner of public information.


"Valerie Salembier brings a tremendous depth of media experience to DCPI and broad knowledge of public safety issues as a result of her outstanding leadership as chair of the New York city Police Foundation," Kelly said. "Her willingness to serve in this role is but the latest expression of her passionate devotion to New York City and the men and women who protect it on a daily basis."




DCPI Appointments

By Unnamed Author(s) — Thursday, July 18th, 2013; 9:57 a.m. 'DCPI Press Release' / 1 Police Plaza



Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly announced the appointment today of John J. McCarthy, who currently serves as a senior advisor and spokesman in the Mayor's Office, as the New York City Police Department's Deputy Commissioner for Public Information, effective August 19.  He succeeds Paul J. Browne who has accepted the post of Vice President for Public Affairs and Communications at the University of Notre Dame, beginning the same day.


"John McCarthy brings experience, judgment and legal training to this important position, having served previously as Assistant Commissioner in DCPI and more recently the Mayor's Office, with responsibility for police, fire and other first responder issues," Commissioner Kelly said.  "John is a consummate, thoughtful professional and I welcome him back to the NYPD."


Prior to working for the Mayor's Office and the NYPD, Mr. McCarthy served as Director of Public Affairs at the Port Authority, and handled communications and legal affairs at the MTA and New York State Office of Homeland Security. He began his career in public service as an attorney on the Moreland Commission on New York City Schools, which investigated the old Board of Education. John is a graduate of Fordham College and Fordham University School of Law, where he earned his Juris Doctor.  He is a native of Queens where he currently resides with his family.


"Deputy Commissioner Browne served with distinction as DCPI longer than any of his predecessors and at a crucial, transformative time in the Police Department's history."  Commissioner Kelly said. "He served the nation too under demanding circumstances with me in Haiti and in other Police Department and federal posts.  I wish Paul and his family all the best in this new opportunity and challenge. Go Irish." 


Commissioner Kelly also announced the appointment today of Valerie Salembier, a former top newspaper and publishing executive and Chair of the New York City Police Foundation, as Assistant Commissioner for Public Information.  Ms. Salembier will support the Deputy Commissioner, Public Information in all aspects of media relations. 


Police Commissioner Kelly said, "Valerie Salembier brings a tremendous depth of media experience to DCPI and broad knowledge of public safety issues as a result of her outstanding leadership as Chair of the New York City Police Foundation.  Her willingness to serve in this role is but the latest expression of her passionate devotion to New York City and the men and women who protect it on a daily basis."


Ms. Salembier is currently President & CEO of The Authentics Foundation, a 501(C)3 organization that specializes in educating consumers about the counterfeiting industry.  She is also President & CEO of The Salembier Group, a fashion strategy, marketing and communications company.  During her 16-year tenure at the Hearst Corporation she served as Senior Vice President, Publisher and Chief Revenue Officer of Town & Country; Senior Vice President, Publisher and Chief Revenue Officer of Harper's Bazaar; and Vice President and Publisher of Esquire.  Before joining Hearst in 1996, Ms. Salembier was President of the New York Post, Senior Vice President of the New York Times, Publisher of TV Guide Magazine and Senior Vice President of USA Today.  She has been a member of the New York City Police Foundation's Board of Trustees since 1989, on the Executive Committee since 1990 and has served as Chair since 2003.  She will take a leave from that post while serving in her current role at the NYPD.  Ms. Salembier holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from the College of New Rochelle.  She resides in Manhattan with her husband Paul J. Block.




Notre Dame appoints Paul Browne VP for public affairs and communications

By Unnamed Author(s) — Thursday, July 18th, 2013 'The University of Notre Dame Press Release' / South Bend, Indiana



Paul J. Browne, currently the deputy commissioner of public information for the New York City Police Department, has been appointed by Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., president of the University of Notre Dame, to the newly elevated post of vice president for public affairs and communications, effective Aug. 19 (Monday).


Working closely with the president, Browne will be responsible for developing and implementing a comprehensive communications strategy to enhance both nationally and internationally Notre Dame's growing reputation for preeminent research, superb graduate education and unsurpassed undergraduate education — all informed by a distinctive Catholic mission. Browne will provide leadership in advancing the University's interests and contributions in the public arena and direct Notre Dame's communications toward its multiple internal and external audiences.


The University's public affairs and communications division encompasses the following departments and units: internal communications, marketing communications, multimedia services, print services, Web services, Notre Dame Magazine, public information, public relations, strategic communications planning, public affairs, community relations, community engagement and the Robinson Community Learning Center.


"Paul Browne is highly qualified for the task at hand," Father Jenkins said, "with broad and deep experience in communications, government, higher education and journalism. He understands the distinctive mission of Notre Dame, and will help us tell the world about our outstanding faculty, advances in research and educational excellence. We wanted the best candidate possible for this important post, and we're confident we've found him."


Father Jenkins expressed his appreciation to Louis M. Nanni, vice president for University Relations, who assumed oversight of communications and public affairs in addition to his other areas of responsibility during a two-year transitional stage, and Matthew V. Storin, who returned to his alma mater after a long and distinguished career in journalism to direct communications for the past year.


"I am thankful to Lou and Matt for their exemplary service to Notre Dame," Father Jenkins said. "While we have searched for a permanent candidate to oversee public affairs and communications, they have directed new initiatives in marketing, led our collective response to a wide array of issues and assisted with establishing our federal relations office in Washington. They have my deepest gratitude."


Before becoming chief communications strategist and spokesman for the 50,000-member NYPD, Browne served as press secretary and chief of staff for the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan — the University's 1992 Laetare Medalist — and in similar posts at the U.S. Treasury Department, the New York State Court of Appeals, the New York State Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities, and also as vice president for advancement at his alma mater, Marist College.


Browne also served as deputy director of the International Police Monitors in Haiti, with a United Nations mandate to end human rights abuses there and to establish an interim police force during the U.S.-led "Operation Restore Democracy" in 1994-95. For his Haiti service, Browne was awarded the Commander's Medal for Public Service by then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Army Gen. John Shalikashvili.


Before entering government service, Browne was a newspaper reporter, first for the Watertown Daily Times in upstate New York and later as Albany bureau chief for the New York Daily News and the New York Law Journal. He also served for many years in New York's state capital as a stringer for the New York Times. His freelance reporting has been published in the Washington Post and other publications. He is a former member of the board of the American Irish Historical Society and has been published in its journal, The Recorder.


A native of the Bronx and a graduate of Mount Saint Michael Academy there, Browne received a bachelor's degree in American studies from Marist College and master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. As an undergraduate, he studied for a year in Bogota, Colombia, and upon graduation served as a lay volunteer teacher at the Marist Brothers High School in Pago Pago, American Samoa.


He was married to the former Sarah Purcell at The Abbey in Galway City, Ireland. The Brownes, who will celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary next month, have an adult daughter, Lacey.




Ray Kelly 'definitely' interested in Homeland Security chief post, source says
By S.A. MILLER in Washington, DC, and BOB FREDERICKS in New York — Thursday, July 18th, 2013 'The New York Post'



Ray Kelly is ready to return to Washington.


The NYPD commissioner is "definitely" interested in heading up the US Department of Homeland Security, a law-enforcement source told The Post.


"He definitely would like it and would seriously consider the job if it's offered to him," the source said.


President Obama on Tuesday called Kelly, 71, "very well-qualified" to run the department as the administration searches for a replacement for the departing Janet Napolitano.


But the president stopped short of offering the job to Kelly, saying he expected to have "a bunch" of qualified candidates for the high-profile anti-terrorism post.


Support for Kelly is building among New York's congressional delegation and within the law-enforcement community.


"I think he'd be terrific, I really do. He's got all the relevant experience," former federal judge and Attorney General Michael Mukasey told The Post.


"The mandate of the Department of Homeland Security is to deal with terrorism, with the border, with natural disasters. He's had experience dealing with all of it. He has a complete understanding of the issues, and he's got his head screwed on straight," said the Bronx-born Mukasey, who has known Kelly since serving as AG under President George W. Bush from 2007 to 2009.


"He has also run perhaps the best intelligence-gathering operation outside the federal government," he added. "He'd be superb."


New York lawmakers from both sides of the aisle were also on board.


"Commissioner Kelly would be the perfect choice because he is the epitome of leadership, a consummate professional and his vast experience puts him on anyone's short list," said Rep. Mike Grimm (R-SI), a Marine vet and former FBI agent.


Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand joined fellow Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer in boosting Kelly's candidacy.


"The federal government would benefit from Kelly's hands-on experience in successfully thwarting over a dozen terrorist attacks," Gillibrand said.


It wouldn't be the first federal gig for the 43-year NYPD veteran, a Democrat.


He served under then-President Bill Clinton as undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence at the Treasury from 1996 to 1998, and then as commissioner of Customs from 1998 to 2001.





NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly receptive to Homeland Security job, says U.S. Rep. Peter King
Long Island Congressman King is a top booster of Kelly and Obama says he is 'well-qualified for the job.'

By Joseph Straw  — Thursday, July 18th, 2013 'The New York Daily News'



WASHINGTON — NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly seems open to considering the top job at the Department of Homeland Security, one of his top boosters in Congress says.


Rep. Pete King (R-L.I.) said Wednesday that he has gotten word from people close to Kelly that the city's top cop is "not saying no" to the prospect of serving in President Obama's cabinet.


King's comments come a day after Obama lauded Kelly in a TV interview as "one of the best there is" when it comes to fighting terrorism in the nation's cities.


The President added, "Mr. Kelly might be very happy where he is. But if he's not, I'd want to know about it. . . . Obviously, he'd be very well-qualified for the job."


Kelly may well be out of work at the end of the year as most of the Democrats running for mayor say they don't plan to keep him as head of the NYPD but Kelly has refused to say whether he would move to Washington to help police the nation. His spokesman had no comment Wednesday.


Kelly's name has been floated as a candidate to replace departing Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano since she announced her resignation Friday.


Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) immediately called the White House to push Kelly's name, he said, while King publicly urged his consideration.


"I expected him to call me and tell me to knock it off, and he hasn't yet," King said. "I think he'd consider it."


Schumer's office said that the White House was "noncommittal" toward the senior senator's pitch.


Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee — which would vote on Obama's pick — said Wednesday that he has recommended Jane Holl Lute, who served as Deputy Homeland Security secretary from 2009 until this year.


Another Carper recommendation is retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen.


Committee member Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) declined to discuss Kelly's prospects, while top panel Republican Tom Coburn of Oklahoma said he agrees with Obama on Kelly's qualifications but declined to comment on whether he would be a good fit for the job.


Coburn said he would "have to sit down and visit" with Kelly if he were to be nominated.


The senator, a fiscal hawk, tangled publicly with Kelly in April when the top cop wrote to Coburn opposing legislation that barred the use of homeland security grants for personnel costs. Coburn responded that the police boss needed to "grow up."


Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) Wednesday called Kelly "uniquely qualified' for the Homeland Security job, citing his experience in the NYPD as well as his work in Washington during the Clinton administration heading the nation's border patrol operations and overseeing enforcement agents at the Treasury Department.


Napolitano's resignation to head the University of California system is expected to take effect in September.


King said Kelly had called him since Napolitano's announcement, but "only to thank him for his kind words," he said.


With Dan Friedman




Does Obama Really Want Ray Kelly For Homeland Security Or Is He Just Messing With Us?

By Christopher Robbins — Wednesday, July 17th, 2013; 1:15 p.m.  'The Gothamist'



Yesterday President Obama praised NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly's record when asked about the notion that Kelly might lead the Department of Homeland Security. "Ray Kelly's obviously done an extraordinary job in New York," Obama said. "And the federal government partners a lot with New York, because obviously, our concerns about terrorism often times are focused on big-city targets, and I think Ray Kelly's one of the best there is." This is strange for several reasons.


For one, Obama's Justice Department just threatened Kelly with its full-throated support for a federal monitor to oversee the NYPD. This angered Kelly enough that he felt the need to retaliate by publicly expressing his support (at a boat dedication) for whistleblower Edward Snowden's motives. Kelly, who has overseen a period of unparalleled secrecy and who punished a department whistleblower with involuntary commitment, praised a federal whistleblower that Obama is actively attempting to prosecute!


Also, while the president is correct in saying that "the federal government partners a lot with New York," it's not exactly a harmonious partnership. FBI agents have gone on record criticizing the NYPD's propensity to meddle in ongoing investigations, as well as pursue terrorism suspects that aren't worth pursuing. Part of the CIA's mission in New York was to "improve [the NYPD's] volatile relationship with the local FBI and specifically the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force."


Even the CIA's relationship with the NYPD was on murky legal footing. A recently declassified report from the CIA's Inspector General showed that the four (that we know of) CIA agents who were sent up to work with the NYPD weren't entirely clear about the scope of their authority—one agent "believed he had 'no limitations' as far as what he could or could not do." The IG wrote that there was "inadequate direction and control by the Agency managers responsible for the relationship."


Leonard Levitt has more on Kelly's "sandbox problem" with the Secret Service, the Port Authority, and even the State Department.


Perhaps the president was just trying to offer some banal praise to smooth things over? Or maybe he really is considering Kelly for the post. If Kelly lets us take our contact solution onto planes, will we even care about any of this?





Prominent Democrats Are Now Comfortable With Racial and Ethnic Profiling
President Obama and Senator Schumer both say the NYPD's Ray Kelly would make a good Department of Homeland Security chief.

By Conor Friedersdorf — Thursday, July 18th, 2013 'The Atlantic' / Washington, DC



On Wednesday, President Obama assured a reporter that Ray Kelly, New York City's police commissioner, would make a fine leader for the Department of Homeland Security. "Well, Ray Kelly has obviously done an extraordinary job in New York and the federal government partners a lot with New York, because obviously our concerns about terrorism oftentimes are focused on big city targets," he said. "And I think Ray Kelly is one of the best there is. So he's been an outstanding leader in New York. We've had an outstanding leader in Janet Napolitano at the Department of Homeland Security. It's a tough job. It's one of the toughest jobs in Washington. She's done an extraordinary job. We're sorry to see her go. But you know, we're going to have a bunch of strong candidates. Mr. Kelly might be very happy where he is. But if he's not I'd want to know about it. 'Cause you know, obviously he'd be very well qualified for the job."


Senator Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, has been lobbying on the NYPD commissioner's behalf. "Ray Kelly has extensive experience with anti-terrorism, with homeland security and he's run a very large organization, the NYPD, extremely well for over a decade," he said in a video release. "And so Ray Kelly would be a great choice for Secretary of Homeland Security." And John Avlon, the centrist political director for Newsweek and The Daily Beast, argued that Kelly should be appointed, and ought to have gotten this DHS job last time around.


This is extremely worrisome -- especially if you're a Muslim American.


Under Ray Kelly, the NYPD infiltrated Muslim communities and spied on hundreds or perhaps thousands of totally innocent Americans at mosques, colleges, and elsewhere. Officers "put American citizens under surveillance and scrutinized where they ate, prayed and worked, not because of charges of wrongdoing but because of their ethnicity," AP reported, citing NYPD documents. Informants were paid to bait Muslims into making inflammatory statements. The NYPD even conducted surveillance on Muslim Americans outside its jurisdiction, drawing a rebuke from an FBI field office, where a top official charged that "the department's surveillance of Muslims in the state has hindered investigations and created 'additional risks' in counterterrorism."


Moreover, "In more than six years of spying on Muslim neighborhoods, eavesdropping on conversations and cataloguing mosques," the Associated Press reported, "the New York Police Department's secret Demographics Unit never generated a lead or triggered a terrorism investigation." The horrifying effects on innocent Americans are documented here. But despite the high costs and lack of counterterrorism benefits, Kelly stands behind the surveillance on Muslims.


To their discredit, many conservatives have suggested, going back to the September 11 attacks, that the government ought to ethnically profile Muslim Americans in the name of counterterrorism. Some even believe race-based profiling should be used in regular police work. A judge found that Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a right-wing populist, actively profiled Latinos in Arizona, but his actions in Maricopa County haven't come close to destroying his core of Republican support.


Democrats have historically vilified not just Joe Arpaio, but all proponents of racial and ethnic profiling. Then-Senator Barack Obama advocated on behalf of Russ Feingold's End Racial Profiling Act of 2007. On being elected president, he promised, "Obama and Biden will ban racial profiling by federal law enforcement agencies and provide federal incentives to state and local police departments to prohibit the practice."* Attorney General Eric Holder, another longtime critic of racial profiling, has worked to put the Department of Justice in a position to monitor Stop and Frisk, the controversial policing tactic that has a disparate impact on blacks and Latinos.


Yet here we are in 2013 watching the first black president and a prominent Senator, both Democrats, along with centrist and center-left journalists, enthusiastically avow that a man who needlessly ethnically profiled and harassed the most vulnerable minority group in the United States would be an excellent choice to lead a sprawling national security bureaucracy that has as big a capacity for violations of civil rights and civil liberties as any part of the government. If you were a Muslim American, would you want Kelly heading up homeland security?


Too bad for you, I guess.


Racial and ethnic profiling isn't a dealbreaker for Democratic elites anymore. A few Democratic congressmen are speaking up. But the Democratic establishment is largely fine with Commissioner Kelly, just like they're mostly willing to extol the leadership of his boss, Mayor Bloomberg.


Of course, Democrats aren't about to praise, let alone elevate, someone like Arpaio, or to stop deeming his supporters racially unenlightened bigots. But don't let them tell you it's because Arpaio is guilty of racial profiling. So long as you have the right persona, come from the northeast, and refrain from attacking prominent Democrats, racial and ethnic profiling is tolerated.


Even rewarded.


On its own, Kelly's treatment of Muslims ought to disqualify him from the position, and even from being praised by the president of the United States. On its own, his treatment of blacks and Hispanics ought to disqualify him from being promoted too. But his tenure has also been characterized by a dearth of transparency that has exacerbated his abuses. As Murray Weiss explains, "The lack of transparency during the Kelly administration played a pivotal role in keeping the public -- and by extension the NYPD -- from recognizing years earlier that the number of stop-and-frisks in New York was escalating to troubling levels. Kelly failed to disclose the stop-and-frisk numbers for seven years despite being required by law to do so. When he was finally forced to release them, the numbers were stunning, and caused critics to ask why stop-and-frisks escalated from 100,000 during Bloomberg's first year in office to 500,000 seven years later."


Although there's no reason to think Obama would be bothered by the quality, contempt for transparency obligations would be problematic in a DHS director -- as would Kelly's alarming treatment of an NYPD whistleblower. This American Life and The Village Voice both have exceptional accounts of the documented police misconduct that occurred during Kelly's tenure, and the intimidation tactics used on the whistleblower, including an attempt at involuntary commitment. If Kelly presides at DHS, can whistleblowers beneath him expect the same treatment?


The last couple of days, the press has been filled with denunciations of George Zimmerman for allegedly profiling Trayvon Martin; and denunciations of Washington Post columnists Richard Cohen and Kathleen Parker for their qualified defenses of that alleged profiling. I happen to agree that Zimmerman acted indefensibly, regardless of whether he was guilty of murder or profiling. I also disagree with both the Cohen and Parker columns, and I have no objection to seeing them criticized. But I grow increasingly frustrated by the media's approach to this issue. As my colleague, Ta-Nehisi Coates, observes, "You should not be deluded into thinking Richard Cohen an outlier. The most prominent advocate of profiling our current pariah classes -- black people and Muslim Americans -- is now being mentioned in conversations to lead the Department of Homeland Security. Those mentions received an endorsement from our president."


But the prevailing coverage in the "mainstream media" suggests extreme comfort with ridiculing and shaming America's Zimmermans, Arpaios, and Cohens, as if racial profiling, or defending someone who does it, discredits a person -- but then deference when American's Bloombergs, Kellys, Schumers and Obamas enable, implement, or act as apologists for profiling, though the NYPD and DHS affect vulnerable minorities on a far bigger scale. Joseph Stalin supposedly said that one man's death is a tragedy, while a million deaths are a statistic, and so it goes here: profiling one black man is treated as a travesty -- as it ought to be -- while profiling many thousands of Muslims, blacks and Latinos is a statistic that in no way disqualifies a man from being put up for promotion and praised by the President of the United States.


Unless that changes, until Kelly is as much an object of shaming as Zimmerman, and Obama as much an object as Cohen, racial and ethnic profiling are going to continue in America on an industrial scale. Stopping it requires criticizing the actual people who wield power in this country, not a media class that treads most lightly around the racial injustices that are the most serious.




NYPD chief Kelly for homeland security job?  Civil rights groups displeased

By Ned Resnikoff — Wednesday, July 17th, 2013; 5:10 p.m. 'MSNBC News' / New York, NY



Just hours after Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced her resignation, Sen. Chuck Schumer said who he'd like to see replace her: NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly.


"There is no doubt Ray Kelly would be a great DHS Secretary, and I have urged the White House to very seriously consider his candidacy," said New York Democrat Schumer in a July 12 statement. "While it would be New York's loss, Commissioner Kelly's appointment as the head of DHS would be a great boon for the entire country."


The following week, President Obama gave some juice to the rumor that Kelly was being considered, saying he was "well-qualified" to run the Department of Homeland Security. However, some of Kelly's policing methods have earned him the ire of progressive groups.


"I think it's a horrible idea," Color of Change executive director Rashad Robinson told MSNBC. "His history in New York City, particularly with stop-and-frisk, will send a very clear message about the tools that Homeland Security will see as most important."


Kelly is perhaps best-known nationally for presiding over a sharp increase in the number of stop-and-frisks conducted by New York police officers each year. During Kelly's most recent tenure as police commissioner, which began in 2002, there have been over five million stop-and-frisks, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU). Over 86% of those stopped were black or Latino.


He also played an instrumental role in preventing the prosecution of an alleged 9/11 conspirator within the civilian court system. Shortly after Attorney General Eric Holder announced that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed would be put on trial in New York City, Kelly told the press that he had not been consulted, and that holding a civilian trial would "raise the threat level of this city." Additionally, he outlined a $415 million plan to institute "security zones" around lower Manhattan over the course of the trial. Kelly, along with Sen. Schumer and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, requested that the federal government cover the cost of implementing the plan. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was ultimately tried by a Guantanamo Bay military commission, setting a precedent for terror cases to come.


While Kelly is a "serious, professional, dedicated law enforcement leader," said NYCLU executive director Donna Lieberman, he also "plays fast and loose with the Constitution, which is evident in the failure of the police department to respect the Constitutional constraints on stop-and-frisk, and the extraordinary expansion of suspicionless stop-and-frisk that impacts innocent people of color, mainly, under his watch."


The NYCLU does not take positions on candidates for government positions, but "[t]he NYPD's failure under Commissioner Kelly to give the Constitution its due would be a serious problem in any government position," said Lieberman.


The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) is representing the plaintiffs in a federal class-action lawsuit alleging that the NYPD's stop-and-frisk policy is discriminatory and unconstitutional. Kelly has defended the police department against accusations of racial profiling by saying that, if anything, black New Yorkers are being "under-stopped."


Robinson argued that African-Americans were disproportionately harmed by the policy.


"We have a real problem with any type of profiling, and the use of racial profiling as a means for law enforcement," he said. "It has not proven to be effective, and the process dehumanizes whole blocks of communities and violates our civil rights."


Stop-and-frisk is not the only reason that Kelly  is distrusted by civil liberties groups. Kelly was police commissioner when the NYPD was found to be spying on Muslim communities in New York in collaboration with the CIA. As more details about the program came to light, it became clear that the NYPD had actually been spying on Muslims throughout the northeastern United States. The ACLU, which declined to comment about Kelly's possible ascension to DHS head, is representing several Muslim New Yorkers in a lawsuit against the NYPD over the spying program.


Kelly's heavy-handed tactics were evident during the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York, when the NYPD arrested 1,800 protesters–more than had been arrested at any other political convention in U.S. history. Eight years later, a federal judge ruled that hundreds of those arrests had been made without probable cause.


Before being rumored as the next head of DHS, Kelly was also seen to be a possible contender in the 2013 New York mayoral race, despite his insistence that he would not run. The same speculation about a possible Mayor Ray Kelly bubbled up in 2009, until Bloomberg ran for a third term and decisively ruined Kelly's chances.


If Kelly is chosen as the head of Homeland Security, it will not be the first time he has taken the leading role within a federal agency. Previously, Kelly has served as Commissioner of the U.S. Customs Service and Under Secretary for Enforcement at the Treasury Department, both under President Bill Clinton.


Additionally, it would not be the first time a sitting president has heeded Sen. Schumer's recommendation to head DHS. In 2004, Schumer recommended that President George W. Bush select then-NYPD commissioner Bernard Kerik to head the agency.


"If there were ever a state that deserved to have one of its citizens appointed head of homeland security, it's New York," Schumer said at the time. "Bernie Kerik is a tried-and-true New Yorker who understands our city, our state, our problems, and our needs. We look forward to working with him to bring greater help in terms of dollars and security for New York."


Though Kerik was nominated by Bush, he later withdrew his nomination for "personal reasons." He was later indicted for misleading the White House during the nomination vetting process, and for receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in free perks from contractors applying to work for New York City, among other charges.




Ray Kelly 'a poor choice' for Homeland Security secretary, says Rep. Jeffries

By Collier Meyerson — Thursday, July 18th, 2013 'MSNBC News' / New York, NY



On Tuesday, President Obama said in a Univision affiliate interview that he finds New York's police commissioner Ray Kelly to be "well qualified" for the soon-to-be vacated position of Homeland Security chief currently held by Janet Napolitano.


"Ray Kelly's obviously done an extraordinary job in New York," said the president, praising Kelly for his competence in dealing with terrorism. But under Kelly's most recent tenure as police commissioner there have been 5 million stop-and-frisks. Kelly also presided over the Police Department when it spied on Muslim communities.


New York Congressman Hakeem Jeffries blasted Kelly for overseeing these practices on Wednesday's All In with Chris Hayes:


"Ray Kelly is an experienced law enforcement professional and has been a good administrator. And perhaps I could even support his potential appointment to this position in the absence of the massive stop-and-frisk program that he's run and the unconstitutional Muslim surveillance program. But that's kind of like saying 'I had a good year if you don't count the winter, the spring and the fall.'"


In considering Kelly to head up the Department of Homeland Security, is it okay to ignore parts of his record? Jeffries thinks not: "We can't divorce his tenure as police commissioner, without looking at the fact that he has presided over the most significant organized form of racial profiling that exists in the country."


While Jeffries credited the commissioner with reducing crime in the city, he remained incensed by Kelly's defense of the controversial stop-and-frisk program: "Stop-and-frisk of course has nothing to do with the fact that crime is down in New York City." He said, "There is a 90% error rate in the stop-and-frisk program. No corporation in America would tolerate such an error rate!"


But the prevailing coverage in the "mainstream media" suggests extreme comfort with ridiculing and shaming America's Zimmermans, Arpaios, and Cohens, as if racial profiling, or defending someone who does it, discredits a person -- but then deference when American's Bloombergs, Kellys, Schumers and Obamas enable, implement, or act as apologists for profiling, though the NYPD and DHS affect vulnerable minorities on a far bigger scale. Joseph Stalin supposedly said that one man's death is a tragedy, while a million deaths are a statistic, and so it goes here: profiling one black man is treated as a travesty -- as it ought to be -- while profiling many thousands of Muslims, blacks and Latinos is a statistic that in no way disqualifies a man from being put up for promotion and praised by the President of the United States.


Unless that changes, until Kelly is as much an object of shaming as Zimmerman, and Obama as much an object as Cohen, racial and ethnic profiling are going to continue in America on an industrial scale. Stopping it requires criticizing the actual people who wield power in this country, not a media class that treads most lightly around the racial injustices that are the most serious.




Kelly pal 'flack' on the job

By KIRSTAN CONLEY — Thursday, July 18th, 2013 'The New York Post'



A wealthy former publishing executive has taken a surprise part-time gig with the NYPD's public- relations team, sources said yesterday.


Valerie Salembier was publisher of Town & Country magazine before stepping down on Dec. 31 to start a marketing firm.


Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, a longtime friend of Salembier, 68, hired her for the NYPD's public-information office with the title of assistant commissioner, the sources said.


"My goal is to put out good news, because there's always good news, such as the murder rate being down," she told, which first reported the hiring.


Salembier, president of The Post under then-owner Peter Kalikow between 1989 and 1991, was spotted at Police Headquarters yesterday meeting and greeting staffers. She had served for 25 years with the charitable New York City Police Foundation.




Dinkins' Revisionist History    (NYPD Related)


Thursday, July 18th, 2013 'The New York Daily News' Editorial:


Dinkins loses race, again
In a new book, the former mayor makes an insulting and inaccurate claim about the city's electorate



Former Mayor David Dinkins now expresses his view about the heart of New York: He says that racism cut his margin of victory when he was elected the city's first black mayor in 1989 and caused his defeat to Rudy Giuliani in 1993.


"When asked why I lost, I used to say, 'Why do you think?' " Dinkins states in a memoir due for fall release. "I did not want to say it out loud, but it's time. Now I say, 'Racism, plain and simple.' "


His are the sourest of grapes.


Dinkins lost to Giuliani by 53,000 votes out of 1.9 million cast. He chooses to ascribe at least that number, and implies many more, to anti-black intolerance. Given his tumultuous, problem-plagued term, he might thank his lucky stars that almost half the electorate stuck with him.


He led a city in which crime had run out of control. Although Dinkins boosted the NYPD's size and began the long, winning fight against felonies, more than half the voters told pollsters that New York had become less safe under Dinkins. Overwhelmingly, that group went for Giuliani.


Still more, Dinkins' own prose recalls his lack of command in moments of crisis and division.


When, in 1990, Sonny Carson, who proudly proclaimed himself "anti-white," and others boycotted a Korean-owned grocery in Brooklyn — shouting, among other things, "yellow monkeys" — Dinkins was slow to engage.


Of his failure to stop the boycott from festering before shopping at the grocery, Dinkins writes: "It may well be that I waited an overly long time to take this step, but I had faith in the court system and in the rational ability of people to come to satisfactory conclusions among themselves."


Regarding the 1991 Crown Heights riots, in which blacks set upon the community's Orthodox Jewish residents for three days, Dinkins writes: "There was no order given, there was no unstated code, there was no tacit understanding, there was nothing anytime or anywhere that authorized the police not to do their jobs, to stand down, to allow the black community to attack Jews and create mayhem."


But he also blames then-Police Commissioner Lee Brown for failing to deploy cops as peacekeepers, critically acknowledging "in many ways, the Police Department failed and the buck stopped with me, the mayor."


Right, as it did with persistent budget gaps.


Then, too, Dinkins was beset by forces beyond his control. There was the national economy, which drove the unemployment rate from 6.7% to 11.1%; and there was the first Gov. Cuomo, who allowed onto the ballot a wholly symbolic measure about Staten Island secession, pumping up voter turnout in that Giuliani-friendly borough.


All of these forces, and many others, including racial pride among black voters, came into play as New Yorkers installed and removed Dinkins. Racism by some voters was no doubt a factor as well. The former mayor engages in insulting self-justification by singling it out as decisive.





PBA, DEA and the Captains Endowment Association Go to War Over Profiling Bill


Council Members Feeling Heat from NYPD Over Racial Profiling Bill

By Kristen Meriwether — Wednesday, July 17th, 2013; 10:58 p.m. 'The Epoch Times' / New York, NY



NEW YORK—City Council members who voted for legislation to curb stop and frisk continue to be pressured to change their votes.


The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association (PBA) endorsed Council Member Mark Weprin during his first term. Following Weprin's vote in favor of Intro 1080, he not only lost the endorsement, but is also having to fight bad PR in his district.


Weprin has been the target of fliers and emails from the PBA, who say Intro 1080, which prohibits biased-based profiling and allows lawsuits to be brought against the city if someone feels profiled, will make policing tougher and neighborhoods more dangerous.


Weprin, who has been a council member in Queens District 23 since 2010, has spent the weeks since the late night council session on the vote defending his decision.


"I feel very strongly this in the best interest of the long-term future of the City of New York and the best interest of my district. That is why I support the bill," said Weprin. "It is hurtful to me to personally attack me on this issue when I am really just trying to do my job."


Weprin said he has spoken with the PBA multiple times in recent weeks, and describes the meetings as cordial. He said he addressed the issue of lawsuits with the PBA, which they fear will increase if the bill goes into law.


Weprin is not alone.


Many of the 34 council members who voted for 1080 have been the targets of fliers, advertisements, emails, and letters from the police officers' unions. Council member Sara Gonzalez lost her endorsement from the Detectives Endowment Association.


The NYPD's Captains Endowment Association was spotted handing out fliers at the Staten Island Ferry terminal earlier this month. The flier listed Council member Deborah Rose's number and email and asked citizens to call her and tell her to vote against overriding the Mayor's veto, which is expected to be delivered by the end of July.


"If they are right and a lot of lawsuits come with this, which is not the intent of this bill, there is nothing to stop us from making changes in the future to address that issue," Weprin said. "That (lawsuits) is not what we want to have happen or expect to have happen and not something we will allow to have happen."


Council members have been banding together in support of each other. Lead bill sponsor Jumaane Williams held a press conference on Staten Island July 17 with Rose condemning the attacks.


On Thursday, Council member Leroy Comrie will be joined by six Queens council members, including Weprin, to sign a pledge to override the mayor's veto.


"It would be an injustice to switch my vote because it is my job to do what I believe is in the best interest in my community and that is why I am voting yes on the override," said Weprin.




Quinn rips Weiner over frisk fuhrer

By BETH DEFALCO and CARL CAMPANILE — Thursday, July 18th, 2013 'The New York Post'



Mayoral candidate Christine Quinn yesterday called on rival Anthony Weiner to apologize for likening the NYPD's stop-and- frisk policy to Germany just before World War II.


"No one should be comparing New York City in 2013 to 1938 Germany. It's an absurd statement, it's an offensive statement, and he should apologize for suggesting it," Quinn told The Post.


Quinn's broadside comes as polls show she's running right behind the former congressman in the multi-candidate Democratic race for mayor.


Other candidates also took Weiner to task.


"If Anthony Weiner can't tell the difference between 1938 Germany and 2013 New York City, how on earth can we trust him to keep the city safe?" said Sal Albanese, who also rapped John Liu for likening the NYPD to Florida vigilantism.


"It's an outrage that anyone who wants to lead this city and its Police Department would fan the flames and stoop to such appalling lows to gain a few votes."


Public Advocate Bill de Blasio ripped Weiner's "offensive rhetoric."


Weiner triggered the firestorm after referencing wartime Germany during a speech to the predominately black congregation in Staten Island's First Central Baptist Church on Sunday — a day after the controversial acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting of black teen Trayvon Martin in Florida.


"And the mayor stood up and said, 'Wait a minute, statistically this' and 'statistically that.' Well, you can have 100 percent statistical reductions in crime if you stop everybody," Weiner said.


"You could have 1938 Germany, because everyone has to show their papers," Weiner said.


The Weiner campaign insisted his statements were being taken out of context.


"As Anthony has said, the context of the reference was the argument made by some that stopping innocent citizens was an acceptable cost for public safety. He was absolutely not equating 1938 Nazi Germany to New York City," said Weiner spokeswoman Barbara Morgan.


Weiner declined further comment when directly asked about the criticism at a campaign event outside Bellevue Hospital.


The latest Quinnipiac Poll shows Weiner on top with 25 percent, followed by Quinn with 22.


The Democratic candidates are trying to appeal to liberal primary voters who are critical of stop-and-frisk.


As council speaker, Quinn championed a bill passed last month that creates an NYPD inspector general to monitor the practice.




Eric Holder's Experience with the NYPD


What Holder's Father Told Him About Cops

By ANDREW ROSENTHAL — Thursday, July 18th, 2013 'The New York Times'


COMMENT:  Eric Holder grew up in New York City.  A friend of mine, who is a retired lieutenant, went to Stuyvesant High School with him.  So Holder is talking about the NYPD.  The below is a quote!  - Mike



Attorney General Eric Holder reaffirmed yesterday that federal prosecutors were investigating whether George Zimmerman acted out of racial hostility when he killed Trayvon Martin in February 2012. It seems worth a try, although the Justice Department will get attacked for even looking into it.


Calling the shooting "tragic and unnecessary," Mr. Holder said in a speech to the N.A.A.C.P. in Florida that it is time for "our nation to speak honestly — honestly — and openly about the complicated and emotionally charged issues that this case has raised."


Those issues, he said, include laws like the one in Florida that "senselessly expand the concept of self-defense and sow dangerous conflict in our neighborhoods."


Mr. Holder said that Stand Your Ground laws try to fix something that was never broken. He said: "There has always been a legal defense for using deadly force if — and the 'if' is important — if no safe retreat is available," in confrontations outside a person's home. Removing that requirement undermines public safety "by allowing and perhaps encouraging violent situations to escalate in public."


Mr. Holder could have added to his list of senseless laws the proliferation of concealed-carry statutes around the country. Florida's deadly combination of Stand-Your-Ground and concealed carry laid the foundation for an untrained man like Mr. Zimmerman to go out into the night with a gun on his hip looking for people he judged to be criminals.


Would he have gotten out of his truck and followed Mr. Martin if he had not been armed? It's hard to believe he would have.


While Mr. Holder did not say he believed Mr. Zimmerman was motivated by race, he said there are "disparities that are too commonly swept under the rug" in the way African Americans, particularly young African-American men, are treated by the law.


"Years ago," he said, "some of these same issues drove my father to sit down with me to have a conversation — which is no doubt familiar to many of you — about how, as a young black man, I should interact with the police, what to say and how to conduct myself if I was ever stopped or confronted in a way that I thought was unwarranted."


There is no question that the police unjustly stop, question and arrest African Americans at a greater rate than white Americans — just look at New York's outrageous stop-and-frisk policy. That dynamic is fraught, but perhaps less dangerous than the one between a young black man and an armed civilian looking for "suspicious characters."




Ret. Brooklyn North Homi Det. Louis Scarcella


Cop under DA's probe has daughter in his office

By SELIM ALGAR and REUVEN FENTON — Thursday, July 18th, 2013 'The New York Post'



Embattled former NYPD Detective Louis Scarcella can count on the support of at least one prosecutor in the Brooklyn DA's Office as it probes his shady casework — his daughter.


Jacqueline Scarcella, 38, has been an assistant district attorney in Charles Hynes' beleaguered office since 2001, The Post has learned. She is not part of the investigation into her dad.


The Brooklyn Law School grad was hired while her father was still riding high as one of the borough's most decorated gumshoes — known for coaxing out confessions where other cops failed.


But Louis Scarcella's body of work has since devolved into a scandal for Hynes as the DA faces the most daunting electoral challenge of his 24-year reign as Brooklyn's top lawman.


The Scarcella controversy exploded with the March release of David Ranta, a printer who wrongfully spent 23 years in prison for murdering a rabbi based on Scarcella's police work. Critics charge that Scarcella manipulated strung-out witnesses and coerced scripted confessions to ensure convictions.


Under mounting pressure, Hynes created a 12-person "independent" panel to vet 50 convictions linked to Scarcella's detective work. The Post reported yesterday that three members of the panel have donated to Hynes' re-election campaign.


Asked about the uncomfortable position she's in with the probe into her father, Jacqueline Scarcella wouldn't comment.


"Working for the DA's Office, I can't make a comment about that," she said. "I can't. I really can't." Reached at his home, the detective declined to comment on his daughter's position.




NYPD Communications Div. ICAD System


City, Firefighters Union Dispute Whether Bronx Fire Response Was Delayed By 911 System

By: Dean Meminger — Wednesday, July 17th, 2013; 10:41 p.m. 'NY 1 News' / New York



There's a heated battle between the city and the firefighters union over the response time to a fire in the Bronx that took place early Wednesday morning.


The firefighters' union says there was a 12-minute gap in relaying crucial information for a fire in the Parkchester section of the Bronx early Wednesday morning through the city's 911 system, which has come under heavy scrutiny for being prone to technical glitches.


The city disputes that, however, saying crews were on the scene less than five minutes after the call came in.


The flames broke out shortly before 3 a.m. inside a home located at 1507-1509 Commonwealth Avenue in Parkchester.


Fire marshals say the fire was an accidental electrical fire.


It affected three buildings and displaced five families before it was brought under control after about two and a half hours.


Two children suffered smoke inhalation, and four firefighters suffered minor injuries.


The Red Cross says it is helping about 25 people affected by the fire.


The firefighters' union says it got a picture of a 911 computer screen that shows that the first call for help came in at around 2:40 a.m. but firefighters were not dispatched until 2:48 a.m.


The union says it took firefighters another three minutes and 35 seconds to get to the fire, for a total response time of 11 minutes and 57 seconds.


"The reason that this fire got out of control is, when we got there, it was already out of control," said Stephen Cassidy, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association. "It was an eight minute and 22 second delay."


Deputy Mayor for Operations Cas Holloway and Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that the firefighters' union is way off base.


The city says the call came in at 2:47 a.m., and they say crews were on the scene less than five minutes after that.


"That's why it is so important not to just rely on a sheet of paper with a bunch of numbers on it," Holloway said. "This is highly sophisticated. Every one of these calls has a history to it, and professionals interpret it, and I am telling you, it was four minutes and 43 seconds. It is the worst example, and it's just totally not true."


"And I might point out, Steve Cassidy, I know him very well. He's a smart guy, and he should be ashamed of himself for trying to create something that isn't true," Bloomberg said. "He really does understand the system. He's a very smart guy, and he should know better. I'm just not going to negotiate new firehouses and more fire trucks and more members from him by doing this. It's just not productive at all."


The city says the 2:40 a.m. time stamp shown on the screen was actually left over from a previous 911 call.


The union says that's a problem.


"So now they turn around, saying 'Maybe there is a mistake, and we want you to trust us and not the document that says it took eight minutes and 22 seconds?' That's hard for me to understand, and it's even harder for me to believe," Cassidy said.


The police department did allow NY1 to listen to what it says is a 911 call from residents.

On it, the operator, the dispatcher and caller are all on the line in about a minute, and in about two minutes, the caller is told that a fire truck is on the way.




Thursday, July 18th, 2013 'The New York Post' Editorial:

The Call on 911



Christine Quinn gave this city a lesson about our emergency services, even if it was not the one she intended.


At an outdoor event in Brooklyn where Quinn was speaking on Tuesday, a City Council intern fainted. 911 was called, and when an ambulance did not appear, Quinn called both the fire and police commissioners to get them to speed it up. She later denounced the 31-minute response time as "inexcusable" and "outrageous."


But a closer look suggests the responders understood something this would-be mayor does not: priorities.


Keep in mind that 911 calls citywide were up nearly 25 percent in Tuesday's oppressive heat — and there were 15 other incidents in the immediate vicinity competing for emergency attention. The 911 dispatchers called when intern Yvette Toro fainted were told she was both awake and breathing. Meaning the situation was not life-threatening, a medium-priority call.


When a later 911 caller said Toro appeared to be losing consciousness, the call gained a higher priority. In the meantime she was being treated by someone on the spot with emergency medical training. A private ambulance arrived first, followed by no less than three FDNY ones.


Why is all this important? Look at yesterday's fire in The Bronx. As The Post reports elsewhere, this has resulted in a fierce dispute between the police and fire departments about whether 911 worked — a dispute likely to land in court.


The point is that New Yorkers deserve two things: to know that the 911 services their lives depend on are working the way they ought — and to have those judgments made when the facts are established, not in the heat of the moment.




Ronell Wilson's mother testifies in cop-killer trial

By  JOHN RILEY — Thursday, July 18th, 2013  'New York Newsday' / Melville, L.I.



The mother of convicted double cop-killer Ronell Wilson took the stand Wednesday as a defense witness in federal court in Brooklyn as her son's death penalty retrial defense neared an end.


Cheryl Wilson Hadden, 54, described her own life as a wine-drinking teen mother who became pregnant at 13 and couldn't even remember what schools she attended in brief testimony before the jury left for the day.


Her testimony is expected to continue Thursday. Wilson contends that his rough upbringing in Staten Island mitigates his responsibility for the 2003 murder of two NYPD detectives, and other relatives have testified that his mother was a dysfunctional crack user who neglected him until the city intervened.


Wilson, 31, was convicted in 2006 of killing cops James Nemorin of Baldwin Harbor and Rodney Andrews of Middle Village during an undercover gun buy. He was sentenced to death, but an appeals court ordered a retrial of the penalty because of errors by the prosecutor and judge.


Wilson's case is expected to end on Thursday, after testimony from Wilson Hadden and a few more witnesses.


Lawyers said the defense is not scheduled to call Nancy Gonzalez, the federal prison guard from Long Island who conceived a child with Wilson in jail last year.


Closing arguments and the start of deliberations by an anonymous jury are likely next week, lawyers said.




NYPD's First Mass Amber Alert Use

Wake-Up Call for New Yorkers as Police Seek Abducted Boy

By WINNIE HU and J. DAVID GOODMAN — Thursday, July 18th, 2013 'The New York Times'



In cases of child abduction, law enforcement officers often rush to alert as many people as they can since the grim reality is that the odds of finding a child worsen with each passing moment.


So countless bleary-eyed New Yorkers were jolted upright just before 4 a.m. on Wednesday when their cellphones suddenly started blaring with a message about a 7-month-old boy who had been abducted hours earlier by his mother, who had a history of mental illness, from a foster care agency in Harlem.


It was a watershed moment in the intersection of law enforcement and technology: the first mass Amber Alert sent to cellphones in the city since a national wireless emergency alert system was established. And, the police later said, it directly led to the child's being located.


While many people saw the value in getting the alert, many others were not as embracing, recounting their panic, confusion and irritation on Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites. Dozens of readers vented their frustration over the unexpected early wake-up on The New York Times's Web site, with one man suggesting it might have annoyed people to the point that they would turn off future alerts, and others questioning whether an alert would really help find the child.


But it also illustrated the growing reach of a vast public communications network that connects more people than ever before, using the ubiquitous cellphones that many people keep with them at all times and even sleep beside at night.


While cellphone users can adjust their settings or ask their carriers to turn off Amber and other emergency alerts, they do not have the option of tuning out completely. The highest level of alert intended for catastrophic events — known as the presidential alert — cannot be disabled, though not a single one has yet been issued.


Lee Tien, a staff lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation who focuses on privacy and government surveillance issues, said the cellphone alerts could potentially undermine the relationship people have with their electronic devices. "We've always insisted that these emergency alerts be opt-in and that there be very careful controls on them because fundamentally the big issue here is who controls your device," he said.


In the case of the mass alert on Wednesday, the events started unfolding after the authorities said that Marina Lopez, 25, of Queens, had abducted her son, Mario Danner Jr., on Tuesday afternoon.


The baby had been placed in foster care within the last three months. Ms. Lopez was reported to be bipolar and had shown recent outbreaks of violence, the authorities said.


The New York Police Department asked the State Police on Tuesday night to issue an Amber Alert, which was initially broadcast on television, radio and the Internet. It was transmitted, through the wireless emergency network, to cellphone users in New York City and surrounding counties in the early hours on Wednesday after investigators discovered that the child might be riding in a car. The cellphone alert, which must be 90 characters or fewer, included the car's license plate.


"You have a lot of people on the road at that hour," said Robert Hoever, director of special programs at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which tracks Amber Alerts across the country. "You're looking for those eyes and ears to try to find that child."


By Wednesday afternoon, the police said that they had found Ms. Lopez and her son in "good condition." Ms. Lopez was arrested and charged with custodial interference. The police said she was found after the Amber Alert led to a tip to the department's Crime Stoppers hot line.


The child was abducted from New York Foundling, a foster care agency. "While stringent protocols are in place, we are thoroughly investigating the circumstances surrounding this unfortunate event," the agency said in a statement. "Our agency monitors over 50 supervised visits a week with the children in our care and only two such incidents have occurred in the last 20 years."


The Amber Alert was transmitted via a national cellular network, known as the Wireless Emergency Alerts system, which was mandated by Congress in 2006 as a way to supplement radio and television broadcasts. It was built through a partnership of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Communications Commission and the wireless industry. FEMA, which administers the network, has authorized designated federal, state and local agencies, including the New York State Police, to use it. After receiving an alert from an agency, FEMA transmits it to cellular carriers, which then relay it to cellphone users.


The first alerts went out in 2011, and most of them have been weather-related warnings, FEMA officials said. The alerts are automatically received by many newer cellphones, which are linked to the network, as well as by some prepaid phones and even older phones that have updated software installed.


The cellular phone industry estimates that more than 300 million people use cellphones in the United States, said Amy Storey, a spokeswoman for CTIA, a wireless trade association that represents over 200 companies. Phone carriers are not required to transmit alerts through the Wireless Emergency Alerts system, but all of the largest companies do so, as well as some smaller ones, she said.


Ms. Storey said the alerts were sent through a separate technology from the one used for text-messaging, and were not subject to delays in service or heavy traffic. In addition, alerts are issued for specific locations and automatically download to cellphones in an area even if the owners do not live there. So on Wednesday, some commuters who live in New Jersey did not get the alert until they arrived in Manhattan.


Amber Alerts were first issued in the 1990s in the Dallas-Fort Worth area after a local girl was abducted and murdered. The alerts, which initially were broadcast on TV and radio, later spread to road signs and social media sites. In 2005, the alerts were transmitted to cellphone users who opted to receive the messages through their carriers. By 2012, there were about 700,000 cellphone numbers receiving the alerts.


The Wireless Emergency Alerts system, however, can reach millions of people. More than 50 alerts for abducted children have been carried on cellphones around the country since December, Mr. Hoever said, including an alert in Suffolk County on Long Island in February that was the first in New York State.


One former state law enforcement official, Michael Balboni, said the alert system should be used prudently.


"It is crucial that emergency notification systems take every precaution to never 'cry wolf' or alert needlessly," said Mr. Balboni, former deputy secretary of public safety for the state. "The risk is evident: If the public loses faith in the system, they may stop participating and the purpose of the system will be lost."


Nick Seeley, 23, who recently moved to New York from Oklahoma, said he was not bothered by the message, or by the precision with which it found him.


"I just kind of assume with cellphones these days they can pinpoint where you are," he said.


Joseph Goldstein and Andy Newman contributed reporting.




Long Island


Thursday, July 18th, 2013  'New York Newsday' Editorial:

Suffolk's ShotSpotter might still hit the mark



Suffolk County's ShotSpotter doesn't appear to be spotting gunshots as effectively as county leaders and police officials had hoped when they touted the high-tech system. That's disappointing, but only 18 months into using ShotSpotter, it's also far too early to give up on this valuable way of pinpointing the sources and directions of gunfire.


According to the most recent report from Suffolk police, which covered eight months through March, about two-thirds of the 212 gunshots ShotSpotter picked up were unsubstantiated one way or the other. Another 30 percent were found to be false, possibly triggered by other sharp noises. In only 14 instances were gunshots confirmed.


The technology, which has cost the county about $800,000, was placed in North Amityville, Huntington Station, Wyandanch, Brentwood and North Bellport in 2011 to help police get information on shots fired in neighborhoods where gangs are active and residents have been afraid or unwilling to report gunfire. It's disappointing, but not unprecedented, that the system is not yet working as promised.


And there have been a few instances in which ShotSpotter has helped fight crime in Suffolk, albeit not as many as cops would like. Police officials say they will intensify oversight and issue monthly reports about the program in the hope of improving results. They should also seek help and advice from Nassau and other communities that have had success with the technology. Nassau County police officials are very happy now with their system, first installed in Uniondale and Roosevelt in 2009. They say it has reduced gun violence and made it easier to investigate incidents in which shots are fired. But they also say it took some time to learn how to best use the system.


It's too early to pull the plug on ShotSpotter in Suffolk, as one legislator is trying to do, but it's high time to make it work better.




New York State

Violent crime up 2.3% in N.Y.

By Michael Virtanen (The Associated Press)  —  Wednesday, July 17th, 2013; 10:39 p.m. EDT



ALBANY — New York's violent crimes increased 2.3 percent statewide to more than 79,000 last year despite a steep drop in New York City murders.


State data on serious property and violent crimes still show an overall 13 percent decade-long decline to about 450,000 last year. That reflects fewer crimes in all categories, led by a 62 percent drop in stolen vehicles, according to state Division of Criminal Justice Services' figures.


"There's all kinds of things you could point to and say maybe they make a difference, but I think it's hard with any certainty to say," Michael Green, ex-prosecutor and DCJS executive deputy commissioner, said of the plummeting homicide rate. They include police anti-gang strategies, the city database for tracking guns and programs providing alternatives to jail, he said.


While the city's murders declined almost 19 percent to 419 in 2012, the fewest recorded in decades, aggravated assaults, robberies and forcible rapes all rose slightly to nearly 53,000 violent crimes, up 3.5 percent from 2011, and about two-thirds of the statewide total. For the rest of the state, violent crimes were nearly flat, around 26,000 last year, with declines in forcible rapes and robberies, an uptick in aggravated assaults and 265 murders, a 4 percent increase.


New York City police reports this year show a drop in murders to 166 through the first week of July, down 27 percent from last year.




New Jersey


By Mark Lagerkvist — Monday, July 15th, 2013  'New Jersey Watchdog.Org'



Joe Derrico – the disabled New Jersey cop turned roughhousing repo man on reality TV – took a hard punch today from the state Police and Firemen's Retirement System.


The PFRS board of trustees stripped Derrico of his $69,703 a year tax-free disability pension and declared him fit to return to work for the Hamilton Township police.  The action was sparked by an investigative report by New Jersey Watchdog and NBC 4 New York two months ago.


"We had to stop his pension," said board member John Sierchio. "Otherwise, this would go on in limbo forever. And he would be collecting a pension, not being disabled and pretty much laughing at everybody."


Whether Hamilton wants Derrico back is another matter. At the time he retired in 2010, Derrico was under indictment on a felony charge of theft by receiving stolen property.


In a secretive deal, Mercer County Prosecutor Joseph Bocchini dropped the case after Derrico agreed to leave the Hamilton police and not seek re-employment there. As part of the bargain, the township also agreed to drop misconduct charges against Derrico.  If he had been convicted or fired, Derrico could have lost his pension under state rules.


"In my opinion, if the prosecutor would have done his job, there wouldn't be an issue here," said Sierchio. "Your report caught them and now everybody has egg on their faces."


Derrico, who did not attend the board meeting, could not be reached for comment. Bocchini has refused to be interviewed about the case.


The disability pension was based on Derrico's claim he could no longer work as a patrolman because he had twice injured his leg while making arrests. 


One year after retiring, Derrico was brawling on television as a cast member of "Bear Swamp Recovery" – a truTV cable network reality show on vehicle repossessions by the "baddest towing team in Jersey."


During the "Monster Truck Showdown" episode, Derrico runs after a truck, pulls a man down from the driver's seat, throws him to the ground and climbs into the cab. In another scene, Derrico is wrestling with opponents.


"Everything that you saw was all fake," Derrico's close friend and fellow cast member, P.J. Vinch, told NBC 4′s Chris Glorioso. "It was all staged. Nobody was exerting any physical activity. Nobody was actually fighting; it was mocked for TV."


Yet it was real enough for the PFRS board and the state's medical experts to determine Derrico is no longer disabled.



What will happen next in the Derrico saga is unclear:


* Derrico may appeal the decision to the Office of Administrative Law, a process that could take months or even years. 

* Depending on the outcome, Hamilton Township could be forced to rehire a cop with a troubled history.

* Or PFRS could get stuck paying $5,808 a month in disability checks to someone it deemed not disabled.


"As far as we're concerned, he's no longer a Hamilton police officer and has no rights to be re-employed," said John Ricci, township administrator.


"I'm sure this is going to wind up in court," said Sierchio.



The Controversy Begins


The Derrico controversy began April 13, 2010 with a burglary at a residence in Hamilton Township, a suburb of Trenton.


Three youths stole jewelry valued at several thousand dollars. Their next stop was Hiram's Gold & Coin Exchange LLC, a Ewing Township enterprise dealing in precious metals and gems. The business was similar to a pawn shop, but dids not offer collateralized loans.


Derrico moonlighted as a manager and co-owner at Hiram's. According to state records, he was a principal in Hiram's when the business formed in 2009. And the off-duty officer was behind the counter when the youths brought their loot to the store on North Olden Avenue.


Few questions asked, Derrico paid them roughly $1,000 for the whole bag of jewelry, one of the youths later told police.


The day after the burglary, police investigators went to Hiram's to inquire about the stolen property. Derrico denied the youths had been at his store or that he bought anything from them.


Unknown to Derrico, the store had been under surveillance by Ewing police who suspected burglars were using Hiram's to fence stolen property, according to documents obtained by New Jersey Watchdog.


Confronted by photos of the youths entering the store, Derrico changed his story. Some of the jewelry was subsequently recovered – but not a platinum ring with a one-karat diamond valued at $5,500, according to the burglary victims.


The Mercer County prosecutor's office and Hamilton Township began an internal investigation. The following month, Derrico was indefinitely suspended from his police job. The administrative charges against him included misconduct and untruthfulness.


A grand jury subsequently indicted Derrico July 14, 2010 on a charge of third-degree theft by receiving stolen property – an offense punishable by up to five years in prison.



The Disability Claim


Joe Derrico had already been planning to leave the Hamilton police, but under a completely different circumstance.


One month before the burglary, Derrico applied for accidental disability retirement – an especially generous type of pension that would pay him two-thirds of his $104,555 annual salary, tax-free, for the rest of his life. 


Derrico told authorities his leg was injured while apprehending suspects on July 31, 2009 and again on January 16, 2010. The incidents were detailed in his state pension file, obtained by New Jersey Watchdog under the Open Public Records Act.


Following the first scuffle, Derrico stated "my left leg felt like rubber and felt like it was asleep." Six months later, the officer reported "my left leg gave out on me" when he tried to arrest a suspect at a house party.


"I feel my injury will prohibit me from doing my job safely and at the level needed, it will put me or other officers in danger," concluded Derrico.


Details about Derrico's diagnosis, treatment and disability evaluation were omitted from the records released by the state Treasury's Division of Pensions and Benefits. The agency determined those documents are exempt from public disclosure.


Disability retirements are epidemic in New Jersey, where 5,447 former police and fire officials collected $196 million from state pension coffers last year, according to state Treasury data. Nearly one in five PFRS retirees receive disability pay.


"It's astronomical – that's crazy," said Sierchio, a Bloomfield police detective. "Almost 20 percent of our membership retires on disability. The other 80 percent are still working, paying the bills for these guys."


There is a strong economic incentive for police officials to make suspicious and possibly fraudulent claims – but the state does little or nothing to stop the abuses, said Sierchio.


"The State of New Jersey has an $80 billion pension system, and we have zero investigators," he said. "We have nobody watching our money."



The Secret Deal


Disabled or not, Derrico's grand jury indictment threatened his plans to start collecting a pension at age 43.


"The receipt of retirement benefits is expressly conditioned upon the rendering of honorable service by a public officer or employee," states the PFRS handbook. "Your benefits may be reduced or forfeited if you are convicted of a crime in any way related to your employment, or if you are suspended or dismissed from your employment."


Fortunately for Derrico, PFRS did not find out about the indictment until after his pension was approved.


The Mercer County prosecutor's office ignored a state law that requires it to report indictments of public employees to the Division of Criminal Justice.  "We did not receive any notification of an indictment on Derrico," DCJ spokesman Peter Aseltine told New Jersey Watchdog.


As a result, DCJ was unable to pass along the information to pension authorities.


"We had no idea he was under indictment," said Sierchio, chair of the pension board when Derrico's retirement was granted on Sept. 9, 2010. He said it would not have been approved if the trustees had known.


Derrico used his status as a retiree to convince the Mercer County prosecutor to dismiss the indictment and Hamilton to end its disciplinary procedures. All charges against Derrico were dropped on Sept. 23, 2010.


By the time pension officials finally learned about the case against Derrico, it was too late.


"If the indictment is dropped and there are no charges, we can't hold the gentleman responsible for anything," said Sierchio. "The prosecutor cut a deal for whatever reason, and now the taxpayers and pension system are paying the bill. The township cut a deal to get the officer off the job, so taxpayers and the pension system are paying the bill."



"Bear Swamp Recovery"


Derrico's disability did not stop him from becoming a rough-and-tumble character on reality television.


Vinch, his associate at Hiram's, had another business venture – a repo service called Bear Swamp Recovery. In 2011, it became the focus of a reality show bearing the same name.


The program featured Vinch and Derrico as members of a repo crew, seizing vehicles from debtors in confrontational situations. It lasted for a season of 13 episodes on truTV, a cable network of Turner Broadcasting, a subsidiary of Time Warner.


The show debuted the year after Derrico received his first monthly disability pension check from New Jersey.


"He's a model citizen; he really and truly is," said Vinch in Derrico's defense. "To even think he would do something that's not above board is disgraceful."


Meanwhile, a bill that would create a unit to investigate pension fraud has languished in the State Legislature for the past year.


The proposed reform – S-1913 in the Senate and A-3074 in the Assembly – would also tighten up the qualifications for disability retirements. In both chambers, the reform has been stuck in committees.




U.S.A.                        (COPS Program Grants Take Hit)


House panel approves cuts to police hiring grants

By ANDREW TAYLOR (The Associated Press)  —  Wednesday, July 17th, 2013; 5:46 p.m. EDT



WASHINGTON (AP) -- Republicans controlling a House committee moved Wednesday to eliminate funding for a Clinton-era program that helps local governments hire police officers, a step driven by deepening automatic spending cuts that official Washington appears unable to head off.


The Community Oriented Policing Services program, known as COPS, has been a resilient survivor of GOP attacks dating back to the party's takeover of Congress in 1995. The program, slated to get $440 million in President Barack Obama's budget, would instead get "zeroed out" in a spending bill to fund the Justice Department for the upcoming 2014 budget year.


The Appropriations Committee approved the cut as part of a $47 billion measure funding the operating budget for the departments of Justice and State by voice vote. The measure reflects an almost $3 billion cut from levels approved in March. The panel also approved a $17 billion measure that slashes the Internal Revenue Service budget 30 percent below Obama's request.


"Put simply, this budget proposal means fewer critical resources to detect and prevent tax fraud," said Nani Coloretti, assistant secretary for management at Treasury. "And with fewer IRS staff to complete audits, conservative estimates put the resulting revenue loss from the proposed reduction in enforcement capacity at $12 billion per year."


Democrats, meanwhile, failed in a bid to restore funding to the COPS program, which awards grants to local law enforcement agencies to hire police officers. They said the proposed GOP cuts to the program would mean 1,400 fewer cops on the beat nationwide.


But Republicans say the measure simply reflects the reality imposed by automatic budget cuts that took effects earlier this year as a result of Washington's inability to reach a budget accord. Cuts to programs such as police hiring grants enabled the bill's chief author, Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., to avoid cuts to the FBI.


At issue are the annual spending bills funding the day-to-day operations of federal agencies. The GOP-controlled House and Democratic-led Senate have sharply different priorities, with the Senate ignoring deep automatic spending cuts and the House promising even more punishing cuts to domestic programs while restoring cuts to the Pentagon.


The House is drafting spending bills in line with a $967 billion "cap" required by automatic cuts that took effect in March after Washington failed to agree on an alternative mix of tax increases and cuts elsewhere in the $3.5 trillion federal budget. The Senate is writing bills to a $1.058 trillion cap, almost a full 10 percent higher. But the House GOP cuts to domestic programs are greatly magnified by a $41 billion shift from nondefense programs like NASA, education and research on renewable energy to the Pentagon.


The House measures approved by the Appropriations panel on Wednesday are laced with painful cuts. While the FBI is exempted, NASA would absorb an almost $1 billion cut below 2013 levels. Spending on federal buildings would be cut $2.4 billion below Obama's request and the U.S. Marshals Service, the federal prison system and the Drug Enforcement Administration would also have to absorb cuts.


On Thursday, the counterpart Senate Appropriations Committee is slated to debate a $52 billion version of the Commerce and Justice department spending bill that contains $5 billion above the House version, which allows the panel to provide $394 million for COPS grants.




ACLU: Police record license plates by the millions

By ANNE FLAHERTY and CALVIN WOODWARD (The Associated Press)  —  Wednesday, July 17th, 2013; 8:06 p.m. EDT



WASHINGTON (AP) -- You can drive, but you can't hide.


A rapidly growing network of police cameras is capturing, storing and sharing data on license plates, making it possible to stitch together people's movements whether they are stuck in a commute, making tracks to the beach or up to no good.


For the first time, the number of license tag captures has reached the millions, according to a study published Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union based on information from hundreds of law enforcement agencies. Departments keep the records for weeks or years, sometimes indefinitely, saying they can be crucial in tracking suspicious cars, aiding drug busts, finding abducted children and more.


Attached to police cars, bridges or buildings - and sometimes merely as an app on a police officer's smartphone - scanners capture images of passing or parked vehicles and pinpoint their locations, uploading that information into police databases.


Over time, it's unlikely many vehicles in a covered area escape notice. And with some of the information going into regional databases encompassing multiple jurisdictions, it's becoming easier to build a record of where someone has been and when, over a large area.


While the Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that a judge's approval is needed to use GPS to track a car, networks of plate scanners allow police effectively to track a driver's location, sometimes several times every day, with few legal restrictions. The ACLU says the scanners are assembling a "single, high-resolution image of our lives."


"There's just a fundamental question of whether we're going to live in a society where these dragnet surveillance systems become routine," said Catherine Crump, a staff attorney with the organization. The group is proposing that police departments immediately delete any records of cars not linked to any crime.


Although less thorough than GPS tracking, plate readers can produce some of the same information, the group says, revealing whether someone is frequenting a bar, joining a protest, getting medical or mental help, being unfaithful to a spouse and much more.


In Minneapolis, for example, eight mobile and two fixed cameras captured data on 4.9 million license plates from January to August 2012, the Star Tribune reported. Among those whose movements were recorded: Mayor R.T. Rybak, whose city-owned cars were tracked at 41 locations in a year.


A Star Tribune reporter's vehicle was tracked seven times in a year, placing him at a friend's house three times late at night, other times going to and from work - forming a picture of the dates, times and coordinates of his daily routine. Until the city temporarily classified such data late last year, anyone could ask police for a list of when and where a car had been spotted.


As the technology becomes cheaper and more widespread, even small police agencies are able to deploy more sophisticated surveillance systems. The federal government has been a willing partner, offering grants to help equip departments, in part as a tool against terrorism.


Law enforcement officials say the scanners are strikingly efficient. The state of Maryland told the ACLU that troopers could "maintain a normal patrol stance" while capturing up to 7,000 license plate images in a single eight-hour shift.


"At a time of fiscal and budget constraints, we need better assistance for law enforcement," said Harvey Eisenberg, assistant U.S. attorney in Maryland.


Law enforcement officials say the technology automates a practice that's been around for years. The ACLU found that only five states have laws governing license plate readers. New Hampshire, for example, bans the technology except in narrow circumstances, while Maine and Arkansas limit how long plate information can be stored.


"There's no expectation of privacy" for a vehicle driving on a public road or parked in a public place, said Lt. Bill Hedgpeth, a spokesman for the Mesquite Police Department in Texas. The department has records stretching back to 2008, although the city plans next month to begin deleting files older than two years.


In Yonkers, N.Y., just north of New York City's Bronx, police said retaining the information indefinitely helps detectives solve future crimes. In a statement, the department said it uses license plate readers as a "reactive investigative tool" that is only accessed if detectives are looking for a particular vehicle in connection with a crime.


"These plate readers are not intended nor used to follow the movements of members of the public," the department said.


Even so, the records add up quickly. In Jersey City, N.J., for example, the population is 250,000, but the city collected more than 2 million plate images in a year. Because the city keeps records for five years, the ACLU estimates that it has some 10 million on file, making it possible for police to plot the movements of most residents, depending upon the number and location of the scanners.


The ACLU study, based on 26,000 pages of responses from 293 police departments and state agencies across the country, found that license plate scanners produced a small fraction of "hits," or alerts to police that a suspicious vehicle had been found.


In Maryland, for example, the state reported reading about 29 million plates between January and May of last year. Of that number, about 60,000 - or roughly 1 in every 500 license plates - were suspicious. The main offenses: a suspended or revoked registration, or a violation of the state's emissions inspection program, altogether accounting for 97 percent of alerts.


Even so, Eisenberg, the assistant U.S. attorney, said the program has helped authorities track 132 wanted suspects and can make a critical difference in keeping an area safe.


Also, he said, Maryland has rules in place restricting access. Most records are retained for one year, and the state's privacy policies are reviewed by an independent board, Eisenberg noted.


At least in Maryland, "there are checks, and there are balances," he said.





You can't hide from cops with license-plate scanners
"This is a way to track all Americans all the time, regardless of whether they're accused of any wrongdoing" -- ACLU.

By James R. Healey, Greg Toppo and Fred Meier — Thursday, July 18th, 2013 'USA Today'



Police across the USA are using automatic cameras to read and snap digital photos of millions of car license plates to help solve crimes, but in the process stores information on millions of innocent people, the American Civil Liberties Union says in a report out Wednesday.


The digital dragnet mostly collects data that are unrelated to any suspected lawbreaking or known activity of interest to law enforcement. It is a fast-growing trend ripe for misuse and abuse, the ACLU says.


License plate scanners are "in effect, government location tracking systems recording the movements of many millions of innocent Americans in huge databases," said ACLU staff attorney Catherine Crump, the report's lead author. The ACLU says there is little supervision or control over the data that were recorded, usually without motorists realizing their locations have been recorded.


"This is a way to track all Americans all the time, regardless of whether they're accused of any wrongdoing," said Crump, calling the readers "the most widespread location tracking technology you've probably never heard of."


The ACLU report is based on information compiled from Freedom of Information requests a year ago in 38 states and the District of Columbia.


One striking finding is the lack of standardized procedures for dealing with license plate information.


In Minnesota, pop. 5.3 million, the State Patrol purges scanned data after 48 hours and has fewer than 20,000 license-plate readings on file, the ACLU found.


Milpitas, Calif., pop. 68,000, has 4.7 million license-plate scans on file and no policy for erasing them. Police Sgt. Frank Morales says Milpitas, "is a small community, but we attract very many visitors. We have a large mall here, the Great Mall," and that could account for the outsize number of license plate records. "A person who gets his (stolen) car back probably would see (scanners) as a success," he says.


The plate scanners generally are mounted on the rear fender, trunk or roof of police cars and parking enforcement vehicles. Some also are mounted on road signs, toll gates or bridges. They're rarely part of the larger debate on government surveillance, but a 2012 survey by the not-for-profit Police Executive Research Forum found that 71% of police agencies now use them.


Thursday's ACLU findings come just over a month after Americans first learned of a massive National Security Agency electronic surveillance program that, since 2007, has tracked millions of phone records and e-mails. The program was secret until early last month, when disclosed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. He has left the U.S. and faces espionage charges.


And unlike the mountain of mostly anonymous calling data gathered by the NSA, the plate data include a specific location and can be, via a separate police inquiry, correlated to personal data in the state motor vehicle registration records.


Police say the devices are effective at finding stolen vehicles and cutting auto theft rates.


Police also say they've used readers to solve cold cases, including homicides.


The ACLU report says the plate scanning casts a wide net for little gain -- that only "a tiny fraction of the license plate scans are flagged as 'hits.' For example, in Maryland, for every million plates read, only 47 (0.005%) were potentially associated with a stolen car or a person wanted for a crime." In one Sacramento shopping mall, private security officers snapped pictures of about 3 million plates in 27 months, identifying 51 stolen vehicles -- but that's a success rate of just 0.0017%.


"Yet the documents show that many police departments are storing – for long periods of time – huge numbers of records on scanned plates that do not return 'hits.' For example, police in Jersey City, N.J., recorded 2.1 million plate reads last year. As of August 2012, Grapevine, Texas, had 2 million plate reads stored and Milpitas, Calif., had 4.7 million," the report says.


Police Sgt. Frank Morales said Milpitas, pop. 68,000, "is a small community, but we attract very many visitors. We have a large mall here, the Great Mall," and that could account for the outsize number of license plate records. It's a discount mall situated between two interstate highways and two freeways.


Civil liberties activists say the data could be used to track innocent drivers' whereabouts and private lives, including where they worship. Even the International Association of Chiefs of Police has said there's a potential for invasion of privacy, as plate readers can snap pictures of a car at a political gathering, psychologist's office, abortion clinic or church and have recommended tight control over use of the data.


In perhaps the most high-profile case, police in New York City used the readers to record license plates of congregants as they arrived to pray at a mosque in Queens.


Part of their appeal for police is that they are efficient and relatively cheap. They can scan plates about eight times more quickly than a cop with a laptop driving down the road, a recent study found.


As the device costs drop, said Crump, "Even small-town police departments have it within their budget to buy one." The cost of storing data has also dropped she said, so police can store images "not just for days but for weeks or months or even years." Eventually, she said, agencies could share the data to build a detailed travel profile "of all Americans simply because they chose to drive a car."


Over the past few years, federal anti-terrorism funding also has helped more police agencies get them. Police in New Castle County, Del., used a $200,000 federal grant to purchase 10 cameras that they've mounted on vehicles, said police spokesman Cpl. John Weglarz. "For us it's an effective tool. It's one of those things that we've obviously researched and we feel (that) as long as our officers are using it within proper guidelines and within the policy, it acts as an effective tool."


He said his agency keeps the license data for one year and said any officer misusing the data "would be subjected to a disciplinary action."


He said drivers shouldn't be concerned about privacy breaches. "We use (the data) within the proper channels and ... it gets stored for a year and that's it," he said.


That's the policy there, but the ACLU says that in 45 states there are no laws on how long police can keep the records.


"More and more cameras, longer retention periods, and widespread sharing allow law enforcement agents to assemble the individual puzzle pieces of where we have been over time into a single, high-resolution image of our lives," the report says.


The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that police need a court order to attach a GPS tracker to a suspect's car, but ACLU says the USA's growing network of license readers could someday allow police to do the same thing without a warrant as they tie together individual snapshots of innocent drivers' cars.


Police say that drivers have no expectation of privacy on a public streets.


Privacy activists see it less clear-cut.


"There's a difference between walking down a public sidewalk and being observed, vs. walking down the next sidewalk and being observed, and walking down the next sidewalk and being observed, and walking down another sidewalk and being observed, and walking down the sidewalk next week and being observed," says Amie Stepanovich, lawyer at the Electronic Privacy Information Center and director of the group's domestic surveillance project.


"The prevalent use of automatic plate readers is a threat to privacy. They can be used to track the location of individuals. And there are no laws governing the retention of the information," she says. "This is an issue we've been following for quite some time. We've had quite a few inquiries," she says.


Mobile readers don't discriminate between public and private settings. In one case, a San Leandro, Calif., man got police to hand over all the photos of his Toyota Tercel for the past two years and found that they were photographing him almost weekly, according to The Wall Street Journal. One snapshot captured him and his two daughters getting out of a car in their driveway.


In another case, the Minneapolis Star Tribune found last August that Mayor R.T. Rybak's city-owned cars were photographed 41 times by license readers over the course of a year.


Last summer, the ACLU filed nearly 600 Freedom of Information Act requests in 38 states and Washington, asking federal, state and local agencies how they use the readers. The 26,000 pages of documents produced by the agencies that responded – about half – include training materials, internal memos and policy statements.



The civil liberty organization has more than a dozen recommendations for government use of license plate scanner systems and the data collected, including:


•Police must have reasonable suspicion that a crime has occurred before examining the data.


•Unless there are legitimate reasons to retain records, they should be deleted within days or weeks at most.


•People should be able to find out if their cars' location history is in a law enforcement database.





Policies on License Plate Readers Vary Widely, Says A.C.L.U.

By SOMINI SENGUPTA — Thursday, July 18th, 2013 'The New York Times'



License plate readers have proliferated across the country, from the Hudson River Valley to San Francisco Bay. But cities and states are all over the map on how long they hold information they collect and with whom they share it. That is according to a new report from the American Civil Liberties Union, which collated license plate reader policies from nearly 300 law enforcement agencies around the country.


Minnesota State Patrol deletes the data after 48 hours. New Jersey requires its police departments to hold the data for five years. Grapevine, Tex., doesn't specify, which means the city could keep the data for as long as it wants. Some police agencies are allowed to use the information picked up by license plate readers for any criminal investigation. Other agencies also share the information with so-called fusion centers, where data from various government sources are kept.


The A.C.L.U. says you should care because the license readers are another form of location tracking. It warns that "enormous databases of motorists' location information are being created" that could lead law enforcement authorities "to assemble the individual puzzle pieces of where we have been over time into a single, high-resolution image of our lives."


License plate readers are often attached to bridges, street lights, and police patrol cars. They snap pictures of the license plate, record the date and time, and corresponding software turns it into readable data that can be stored and analyzed.


The readers present a classic case of how new technology bewilders the law. There is nothing that prohibits cameras in public places from collecting images. But the collection and analysis of location data has stumped judges, with some noting what a powerful window it can be into a person's private life.


The mayor of Minneapolis learned from a public records request filed by The Star Tribune last year that license plate readers in his city had picked up his car 41 times in the previous year.


Only a handful of states have enacted laws on how the data can be kept and used, the A.C.L.U. report said.





Why Zimmerman verdict might not roll back 'stand your ground' laws
The US attorney general, Juror B37, and even Stevie Wonder express reservations about self-defense laws like Florida's 'stand your ground' statute, a factor in the George Zimmerman trial. What's the likelihood such laws will be reconsidered?

By Patrik Jonsson — Thursday, July 18th, 2013 'The Christian Science Monitor' / Boston, MA



One legacy of the George Zimmerman not-guilty verdict in the death of Trayvon Martin may be to buttress the use of firearms in self-defense – a reinforcement that has US officials and others worried that expansive new self-defense laws in the states could become vehicles for people to express their personal prejudices with gun violence.


Protesters upset with the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial are remaining at the Capitol even though Gov. Rick Scott has said no to their demands.


Attorney General Eric Holder raised the concern Tuesday during a speech to the NAACP, describing as "senseless" the self-defense doctrines that expand beyond defense of one's own home to self-protection in public places. Such laws allow "violent situations to escalate," he charged.


Even Juror B37, whose descriptions of the jury's race-blind deliberations in the Zimmerman trial provoked a backlash among those who believe racial profiling was the heart of the matter, ultimately cited Florida's expansive self-defense law as the reason for the acquittal. Her prayers, she said, are with those "who have the influence and power to modify the laws that left me with no verdict option other than 'not guilty'…."


Indeed, the Florida judge in the case instructed the jury that under state law Zimmerman had "no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force" if he reasonably feared for his life or great bodily harm.


As attention zeroes in on so-called "stand your ground" laws (musician Stevie Wonder said Tuesday he won't perform in Florida until the law there is repealed), the obvious next question is, what's the likelihood of changing them? Poor to nonexistent, say some who track the gun culture in America.


"Non-gun owners are questioning Stand Your Ground laws … [b]ut the gun lobby is too strong to allow such laws to be repealed," writes Adam Winkler, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the author of "Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America," in an e-mail. "For better or worse, stand your ground laws are here to stay."


First passed in Florida in 2005 and now law in more than half the states, "stand your ground" statutes are designed to clip the wings of prosecutors who seek to bring charges against gun owners who shoot someone and claim self-defense. Usually, these defendants are allowed to ask a judge for immunity from prosecution, and the judge then weighs whether the "preponderance of evidence" – a relatively low threshold of proof – indicates that the shooter did or didn't act in self-defense under the law. The bottom line is that it's harder for prosecutors to place responsibility on someone who claims self-defense.


On Feb. 26, 2012, Trayvon Martin, a black teenager, had shopped at a convenience store and was returning to a house where his father was staying in a gated neighborhood in Sanford, Fla., when Zimmerman spotted him, followed him, and then fatally shot him after Trayvon punched him. Originally released by Sanford police, Zimmerman was arrested by a special prosecutor 44 days later. The subsequent trial, which began June 10, was widely watched, culminating late Saturday in a not-guilty verdict.


The fact that an unarmed teenager walking back from the store is dead in large part because an adult with a gun thought he looked suspicious – and that no one is going to jail over it – has fueled not only street protests, but also fears of greater bias-fueled vigilantism. More than 100 rallies have been planned to demand "Justice for Trayvon."


After the jury's judgment, supporters of Trayvon's family vowed to lobby legislators to change laws so as to make it harder to claim self-defense in public places. While the US Department of Justice helped Zimmerman prosecutors with their case and is conducting an investigation into whether Trayvon's civil rights were violated because he was black, Mr. Holder, in his comments at the NAACP gathering, suggested the laws are fundamentally flawed because they threaten to change how people relate to one another by giving a legal way out for people who escalate fights.


"These laws try to fix something that was never broken," he said. "The list of resulting tragedies is long and, unfortunately, has victimized too many who are innocent. We must confront the underlying attitudes, mistaken beliefs, and unfortunate stereotypes that serve too often as the basis for police action and private judgments."


Other legal analysts offer a different takeaway, saying the case may actually serve as a cautionary tale that helps to tamp down any inclinations to whip out guns at times of provocation.


"This was not a victory for gun rights," argues Jeffrey Swartz, a former Miami-Dade judge who's now a law professor at Cooley Law School in Tampa, Fla. "I think the opposite is true: After seeing what happened to George Zimmerman … and how his family has been completely uprooted by this, and how the Sanford community has been uprooted by all of this, if I'm an average citizen I'm going to keep the gun in the holster. I'm going to make the call [to 911], but I'm not getting out of my car."


According to a Brookings Institution paper, 100 million Americans now live in homes with guns, meaning there are about 88 guns in circulation in the US for every 100 Americans – totaling about half of the world's privately owned firearms.


Public acceptance of the concept that people who are being threatened have "no duty to retreat," even in public places, might be a natural outgrowth from those numbers, suggests Mr. Swartz, the former judge.


"What it comes down to is that as more people have guns, now they're saying, 'I want to be able to use it. And right now it's difficult to use it, so give me a better law so I can use it,' " he says.


A plurality of US adults – 48 percent – agree with the verdict, compared with 34 percent who disagree, according to pollster Scott Rasmussen.


Many gun owners and proponents of broad self-defense laws say Holder's recent comments show that the Obama administration has tried to use the Trayvon Martin case to advance its political goal of greater restrictions on gun access and use. They point to revelations that an office within the Justice Department lent "technical assistance" and security to protest organizers and city officials in Sanford during rallies where civil rights leaders pushed for Zimmerman's arrest. Stand your ground laws have been enacted to prevent the unfair prosecution of people such as Zimmerman, they say.


Self-defense laws like Florida's "represent our rejection of a state where the government has a monopoly on instruments of violence [and where only the government] gets to decide who is authorized to take life, and under what circumstance," says Brannon Denning, a law professor at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala., and co-author of "Gun Control and Gun Rights: A Reader and Guide." In that way, he adds, guns and self-defense ideals "are in our DNA – this is part of who we are, for better or worse."




Your U.S. Constitutional Right to be Armed                 (The N.Y. Times Doesn't Like It)


Thursday, July 18th, 2013 'The New York Times' Editorial:

The Arms Race at Home



Amid all the furious debate generated by gun tragedies like the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida, citizens in too many states have been quietly, legally arming themselves at alarming rates that offer scant optimism for reining in the nation's runaway gun culture.


Florida granted more than 173,000 new concealed-carry gun permits in the past year, even as the Trayvon Martin case proceeded — a 17 percent increase that is double the rate of five years ago and brought the total of gun-ready citizens in Florida to more than one million.


The trend was no less pronounced in a dozen other states that together issued more than a half-million permits in 2012 in a civilian armaments boom that shows little sign of abating, according to a survey in The Wall Street Journal. And while six states enacted tighter gun safety laws after the massacre of schoolchildren in Newtown, Conn., politicians in 20 other states were successfully prodded by the gun lobby into loosening their concealed-carry laws, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.


Illinois, the last of the 50 states to ban concealed carry, ended its holdout this month after a Second Amendment court challenge. In an alarming turnabout, the Legislature enacted a law that sets no limit on the number of guns or ammunition anyone with a permit can carry. It also allows patrons to tote their weapons to restaurants where liquor sales make up no more than 50 percent of the establishment's gross revenue (such are the nuances of supposedly safety-minded lawmakers).


The number of Americans with concealed-carry permits is now around eight million, according to a conservative estimate by the Government Accountability Office. Florida, a leader in the legislative mayhem, enacted the first Stand Your Ground law in 2005, setting a lethal precedent that figured in the Trayvon Martin case and tripled the rate of justifiable homicides in the state. More than 30 other states have followed suit, extending traditional self-defense doctrine into the streets, far beyond a gun owner's home. On Tuesday, Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. properly denounced these laws as senseless invitations to "sow dangerous conflict in our neighborhoods."


Mississippi went even further in this year's laissez-faire gun derby by enacting a law allowing adults to flaunt their weapons unconcealed in public without the need for a permit. The district attorney in Jackson and other law enforcement professionals are currently battling the law's Wild West implications in court, asking what might happen when police officers responded to a nightclub disturbance involving cocky drinkers armed and ready to draw.


Congressional politicians display no concern for such questions as they cravenly uphold the gun lobby's dogma and duck the public's calls for nationwide gun safety. In a chilling commentary, the White House recently felt obliged to issue a guide advising houses of worship on how to prepare for such disasters as a mass shooting of congregants.


If the situation comes down to "run, hide or fight," the guide suggests, "fire extinguishers or chairs" may have to be wielded against a gunman. The booklet is a pitiful reminder of how little political leaders have done to protect citizens from the nation's raging gun culture.




NRA blasts Holder for attacking 'stand-your-ground' laws after Zimmerman verdict

By Unnamed Author(s) — Wednesday, July 17th, 2013  'Fox News'



The National Rifle Association blasted Eric Holder for using the George Zimmerman case to attack "stand-your-ground" laws, accusing the attorney general of exploiting Trayvon Martin's shooting death for political gain.


Holder weighed in on the controversial self-defense laws for the first time on Tuesday during a speech to the annual NAACP convention, calling for a national review of the statutes.


"Separate and apart from the case that has drawn the nation's attention, it's time to question laws that senselessly expand the concept of self-defense and sow dangerous conflict in our neighborhoods," Holder said.


Holder has already confirmed that his Justice Department continues to investigate Zimmerman, in the wake of his acquittal, for possible federal civil rights crimes. But Chris W. Cox, executive director NRA's Institute for Legislative Action, claimed Holder went too far in extending the debate to "stand-your-ground" laws.


"The attorney general fails to understand that self-defense is not a concept, it's a fundamental human right," he said in a statement. "To send a message that legitimate self-defense is to blame is unconscionable, and demonstrates once again that this administration will exploit tragedies to push their political agenda."


The laws are in place in more than two dozen states, including Florida. They allow people to use deadly force if they think their life is being threatened. The role that law played in the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin is a matter of dispute -- Zimmerman's defense team technically did not use the law as the basis for their arguments.


But Holder, in his speech to the NAACP, suggested that the laws encourage gun owners to seek confrontation rather than avoid it.


"But we must examine laws that take this further by eliminating the common sense and age-old requirement that people who feel threatened have a duty to retreat, outside their home, if they can do so safely," Holder said. "By allowing -- and perhaps encouraging -- violent situations to escalate in public, such laws undermine public safety."


He called for a "hard look" at the laws. The crowd applauded as he said "we must stand our ground."


The "stand-your-ground" laws have been a popular target ever since the Martin shooting, and the pressure has intensified after Zimmerman was acquitted on Saturday.


Florida Gov. Rick Scott, though, told Fox News that officials should not politicize the case.


"We shouldn't turn this into politics. This was a tragedy," he told Fox News on Monday.


Scott noted that he already put together a bipartisan commission to examine Florida's "stand-your-ground" law.


"Their recommendation is we not make any changes, that it is working the way it was intended," Scott said.




F.B.I.             (Incompetence & Stupidity)


U.S. reviewing 27 death penalty convictions for FBI forensic testimony errors

By Spencer S. Hsu — Thursday, July 18th, 2013 'The Washington Post' / Washington, DC



An unprecedented federal review of old criminal cases has uncovered as many as 27 death penalty convictions in which FBI forensic experts may have mistakenly linked defendants to crimes with exaggerated scientific testimony, U.S. officials said.


The review led to an 11th-hour stay of execution in Mississippi in May.


It is not known how many of the cases involve errors, how many led to wrongful convictions or how many mistakes may now jeopardize valid convictions. Those questions will be explored as the review continues.


The discovery of the more than two dozen capital cases promises that the examination could become a factor in the debate over the death penalty. Some opponents have long held that the execution of a person confirmed to be innocent would crystallize doubts about capital punishment. But if DNA or other testing confirms all convictions, it would strengthen proponents' arguments that the system works.


FBI officials discussed the review's scope as they prepare to disclose its first results later this summer. The death row cases are among the first 120 convictions identified as potentially problematic among more than 21,700 FBI Laboratory files being examined. The review was announced last July by the FBI and the Justice Department, in consultation with the Innocence Project and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL).


The unusual collaboration came after The Washington Post reported last year that authorities had known for years that flawed forensic work by FBI hair examiners may have led to convictions of potentially innocent people, but officials had not aggressively investigated problems or notified defendants.


At issue is a once-widespread practice by which some FBI experts exaggerated the significance of "matches" drawn from microscopic analysis of hair found at crime scenes.


Since at least the 1970s, written FBI Laboratory reports typically stated that a hair association could not be used as positive identification. However, on the witness stand, several agents for years went beyond the science and testified that their hair analysis was a near-certain match.


The new review listed examples of scientifically invalid testimony, including claiming to associate a hair with a single person "to the exclusion of all others," or to state or suggest a probability for such a match from past casework.


Whatever the findings of the review, the initiative is pushing state and local labs to take similar measures.


For instance, the Texas Forensic Science Commission on Friday directed all labs under its jurisdiction to take the first step to scrutinize hair cases, in a state that has executed more defendants than any other since 1982.


Separately, FBI officials said their intention is to review and disclose problems in capital cases even after a defendant has been executed.


"We didn't do this to be a model for anyone — other than when there's a problem, you have to face it, and you have to figure how to fix it, move forward and make sure it doesn't happen again," FBI general counsel Andrew Weissmann said. "That tone and approach is set from the very top of this building," he said, referring to FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III.


David Christian "Chris" Hassell, director of the FBI Laboratory, said the review will be used to improve lab training, testimony, audit systems and research, as it has done when previous breakdowns were uncovered. The lab overhauled scientific practices when whistleblowers revealed problems in 1996 and again after an FBI fingerprint misidentification in a high-profile 2003 terrorism case, he said.


"One of the things good scientists do is question their assumptions. No matter what the field, what the discipline, those questions should be up for debate," Hassell said. "That's as true in forensics as anything else."


Advocates for defendants and the wrongly convicted called the undertaking a watershed moment in police and prosecutorial agencies' willingness to re-open old cases because of scientific errors uncovered by DNA testing.


Peter J. Neufeld, co-founder of the Innocence Project, which supports inmates who seek exoneration through DNA testing, applauded the FBI, calling the review historic and a "major step forward to improve the criminal justice system and the rigor of forensic science in the United States."


Norman L. Reimer, executive director of the NACDL, also praised the effort, predicting that it would have "an enormous impact on the states" and calling on the defense bar to represent indigent convicts.


"That's going to be a very big job as this unfolds," said Reimer, whose group has spent 1,500 hours identifying cases for the second round of review.


Under terms finalized with the groups last month, the Justice Department will notify prosecutors and convicted defendants or defense attorneys if an internal review panel or the two external groups find that FBI examiners "exceeded the limits of science" when they claimed to link crime scene hair to defendants in reports or testimony.


If so, the department will assist the class of prisoners in unprecedented ways, including waiving statutes of limitations and other federal rules that since 1996 have restricted post-conviction appeals. The FBI also will test DNA evidence if sought by a judge or prosecutor.


The review will prioritize capital cases, then cases in which defendants are imprisoned.


Unlike DNA analysis, there is no accepted research on how often hair from different people may appear the same.


The federal inquiry came after the Public Defender Service helped exonerate three D.C. men through DNA testing that showed that three FBI hair examiners contributed to their wrongful convictions for rape or murder in the early 1980s.


The response has been notable for the department and the FBI, which in the past has been accused of overprotecting its agents. Twice since 1996, authorities conducted case reviews largely in secret after the scientific integrity of the FBI Lab was faulted.


Weissmann said that although earlier reviews lawfully gave prosecutors discretion to decide when to turn over potentially exculpatory material to the defense, greater transparency will "lessen skepticism" about the government's motives. It also will be cheaper, faster and more effective because private parties can help track down decades-old cases.


Scientific errors "are not owned by one side," he said. "This gives the same information to both sides, and they can litigate it."


The review terms could have wide repercussions. The FBI is examining more than 21,000 federal and state cases referred to the FBI Lab's hair unit from 1982 through 1999 — by which time DNA testing of hair was routine — and the bureau has asked for help in finding cases before lab files were computerized in 1985.


Of 15,000 files reviewed to date, the FBI said a hair association was declared in about 2,100 cases. Investigators have contacted police and prosecutors in more than 1,200 of those cases to find out whether hair evidence was used in a conviction, in which case trial transcripts will be sought. However, 400 of those cases have been closed because prosecutors did not respond.


On May 7, Mississippi's Supreme Court stayed the execution of Willie Jerome Manning for a 1992 double homicide hours before he was set to die by lethal injection.


FBI cases may represent only the tip of the problem.


While the FBI employed 27 hair examiners during the period under review, FBI officials confirmed for the first time this week that records indicate that about 500 people attended one-week hair comparison classes given by FBI examiners between 1979 and 2009. Nearly all of them came from state and local labs. 


State and local prosecutors handle more than 95 percent of violent crimes.


In April, the accreditation arm of the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors declined to order state and local labs to conduct reviews, but issued a public notice recommending that each laboratory evaluate the impact of improper statements on past convictions, reminding them of their ethical obligation to act in case of a potential miscarriage of justice.


FBI Lab officials say they have not been contacted by other labs about their review or who completed the FBI classes.




Defenders Say FBI Will Review 2,000 Cases For Possibly Faulty Hair Analysis

By Ted Gest — Thursday, July 18th, 2013 'The John Jay College of Criminal Justice Crime & Justice News' / Washington, DC



The Innocence Project and the National Association for Criminal Defense Lawyers said today that the FBI has agreed to review more than 2,000 criminal cases in which the FBI conducted microscopic hair analysis of crime scene evidence. The agreement was reached after three men who served long prison terms were exonerated by DNA testing in cases in which FBI hair examiners provided testimony which exceeded the limits of science.


The two organizations said the U.S. Justice Department agreed for the first time not to raise procedural objections like statute of limitations and procedural default claims in the cases of defendants seeking to have their convictions overturned because of faulty FBI microscopic hair comparison laboratory reports and/or testimony.  "The government's willingness to admit error and accept its duty to correct those errors in an extraordinarily large number of cases is truly unprecedented. It signals a new era in this country that values science and recognizes that truth and justice should triumph over procedural obstacles," said Peter Neufeld, Co-Director of the Innocence Project, which is affiliated with Cardozo School of Law.





                                                          Mike Bosak









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