Wednesday, July 17th, 2013 — Good Afternoon, Stay Safe
- - - - -
CORRECTION: I was wrong on Kevin Tracy in yesterday's newsletter. He was a detective and retired from Bronx Homicide. And he worked in the 47 Squad when he took a collar on the N.Y. Thruway. - Mike
- - - - -
Waste of Tax Dollars: Kelly Hires Wealthy Fashion Guru as DCPI Assistant Deputy Commissioner
Valerie Salembier Tapped by NYPD
By Erik Maza — Wednesday, July 17th, 2013 ‘Women's Wear Daily’ / New York, NY
COMMENT: One has to wonder: Can she teach ‘Fatty McFibber’ how to dress without looking like he slept all night in the clothes he is wearing? - Mike
POLICE WOMAN: Police commissioner Ray Kelly enlisted the help of a veteran of the fashion world, the former publisher of Town & Country and Harper’s Bazaar, to do public relations work for the New York City Police Department. Valerie Salembier, who left Hearst Corp. in December, is the department’s new assistant deputy commissioner, and she has been assigned to the public information office with a part-time position facilitating press relations.
In what areas will she be involved? “Everything and anything that makes news that has to do with the NYPD. My goal is to put out good news because there’s always good news, such as the murder rate being down,” Salembier said. Does that mean she’ll also be on call if there’s, say, a city emergency? And will she be doing communications work for the commissioner himself? In those cases, Salembier said she’ll be working as part of the larger press relations team at the department, “when necessary or when called for.”
It’s not the first time a fashion veteran from the Hearst family has been recruited for public service in New York — Cathie Black, the former Hearst Magazines president, was drafted by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to serve as Chancellor of New York City schools before she retired her name amid widespread criticism. Salembier and Black are longtime friends who worked together on the launch of USA Today in the early Eighties. Salembier later went on to become the president of the New York Post until 1990 and did a tour of duty running several magazines at Hearst, including Esquire and Bazaar. Her swan song at the Tower was Town & Country, which lasted for a little more than a year.
Salembier, who also has two independent consulting businesses, said the police gig came about through a personal relationship. “The police commissioner asked me. I’ve been working with him for 25 years,” she said. Salembier has worked with Kelly in her capacity as a board member of the New York City Police Foundation. “I’ve always had an interest in law enforcement.” And what of her old friends in fashion, what do they think? “I think they are very pleased about it. It gives me, frankly, more visibility,” she said.
Ray Kelly taps ex-magazine exec for NYPD's P.R. team
By LARRY CELONA and DAVID K. LI — Wednesday, July 17th, 2013 ‘The New York Post’
Police commissioner Ray Kelly has hired former magazine executive Valerie Salembier to work on the NYPD’s public relations team, according to a published report this morning.
Salembier was publisher and chief revenue officer of Town & Country magazine before she stepped down on Dec. 31 to start her own boutique P.R. and marketing firm.
She’ll now have a part-time gig in the NYPD’s public information office with the title of assistant deputy commissioner, according to Women’s Wear Daily.
Salembier — one-time president of The Post under Peter Kalikow between 1989 and 1991 — was spotted at NYPD headquarters yesterday meeting and greeting staff.
She’s far from a stranger to NYPD brass, having served as the unpaid chairwoman of the New York City Police Foundation.
“Everything and anything that makes news that has to do with the NYPD,” Salembier told WWD, summing up her new job.
“My goal is to put out good news because there’s always good news, such as the murder rate being down.”
Anthony Weiner in ‘heil’ storm after invoking Nazi Germany while criticizing NYPD's stop-and-frisk program
By CARL CAMPANILE — Wednesday, July 17th, 2013 ‘The New York Post’
Anthony Weiner has come under intense fire from Jewish leaders for invoking Nazi Germany while criticizing the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program.
“Last year, more than 700,000 in New York were stopped — the overwhelming majority of them were young men of color. Ninety-seven percent of them did nothing wrong,” Weiner told largely black congregants in Staten Island’s First Central Baptist Church Sunday.
“And the mayor stood up and said, ‘Wait a minute, statistically this’ and ‘statistically that.’ Well, you can have 100 percent statistical reduction in crime if you stop everybody.
“You could have 1938 Germany, because everyone has to show their papers.”
State Sen. Simcha Felder, who represents largely Orthodox communities in South Brooklyn, slammed Weiner’s remarks.
“His comments were shocking and disgraceful . . . [and] he should apologize,” Felder declared. “Anyone who uses the Holocaust frivolously diminishes the tragedy that occurred. Weiner clearly stepped over the line.”
Weiner made the comments a day after the controversial acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting of black teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida.
The Weiner campaign yesterday sought to clarify the explosive comments.
“The context of the reference was the argument made by some that stopping innocent citizens was an acceptable cost for public safety,” said Weiner spokeswoman Barbara Morgan. “He clearly was not equating 1938 Nazi Germany to New York City.”
The latest Quinnipiac University Democratic mayoral poll shows Weiner on top with 25 percent, followed by Christine Quinn with 22 percent. But Weiner pulls 20 percent of the Jewish vote, more than any other candidate.
The controversial Nazi comment comes as the Democratic candidates jockey to appeal to voters critical of stop-and-frisk.
As City Council speaker, Quinn championed a bill that creates an NYPD inspector general to monitor stop-and-frisk.
Dinkins on the NYPD, PBA and the Crown Heights Riots
Dinkins, in Book, Blames Racism for Re-election Loss
By SAM ROBERTS — Wednesday, July 17th, 2013 ‘The New York Times’
(Edited for brevity and NYPD pertinence)
Delivering his most explicit and candid appraisal yet, David N. Dinkins says in a forthcoming memoir that he barely won the New York City mayoral election in 1989 and lost four years later for one reason: because he is black.
“I think it was just racism, pure and simple,” Mr. Dinkins writes.
In the memoir, “A Mayor’s Life: Governing New York’s Gorgeous Mosaic,” which is to be published in September by PublicAffairs, Mr. Dinkins tiptoes out of his courtly public persona to berate Rudolph W. Giuliani, the Republican who defeated him in 1993, and to take a swipe at a fellow Democrat, former Gov. Mario M. Cuomo.
According to an advance copy of the book, Mr. Dinkins even admits some missteps, including a failure to contain race riots in Crown Heights, for which he largely blamed his police commissioner, and the prolonged boycott by blacks of a Korean-owned grocery in Brooklyn.
On his refusal to break the boycott by shopping at the grocery, he 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.
“I may have been wrong on both counts.”
He also accuses Mr. Giuliani of “all but inciting the police to riot” during a raucous demonstration against Mr. Dinkins in 1992 over his support for a civilian review board for the Police Department. “Would the cops have acted in this manner toward a white mayor?” he asks. “No way in hell. If they’d done it to Ed Koch, he would have had them all locked up.”
Efforts to reach Mr. Giuliani for comment on Tuesday were unsuccessful.
Having come up with a plan to hire more police officers and to raise the revenues to finance it, he argues, “I drove down crime faster than any mayor in New York City history.” But he says that during the Crown Heights riots in 1991, set off when a black child was killed by a car driven by a Hasidic Jew, “in many ways, the Police Department failed and the buck stopped with me, the mayor.”
He 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.”
At one point, he writes, he told Lee P. Brown, the police commissioner at the time: “How dare you let it get this way! I want every officer that can be sent to Crown Heights to be there tomorrow. If you have to use horses, add the horses.”
Mr. Dinkins said he was angered when the commissioner said he was exploring what charges could be brought against rioters: “ ‘Well what about freaking riot? Why don’t we start with that!’ ”
Mr. Brown declined to comment.
A report on the riot commissioned by Mr. Cuomo found a failure in the chain of the city’s leadership. It was a politically damning assessment, even after the governor had said, according to Mr. Dinkins, that he had “watered it down” and that it would have been much worse if he had not.
To which Mr. Dinkins replied, “If you, me and a bear are in a fight, Governor, help the bear.”
Ex-Mayor David Dinkins says racism to blame for losing 1993 reelection against Rudy Giuliani
In a new memoir by the city's first black mayor, Dinkins claims NYPD rank and file called him the N-word as Giuliani all but incited a riot.
By Daniel Beekman — Wednesday, July 17th, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’
(Edited for brevity and NYPD pertinence)
In 1992, a demonstration by NYPD rank and file included beer-swilling white cops calling Dinkins the N-word, he recalls. “Rudy Giuliani was out there all but inciting the police to riot,” Dinkins writes.
A spokesman for Giuliani declined comment.
In the book, Dinkins addresses the Crown Heights race riots, admitting that “in many ways, the Police Department failed and the buck stopped with me.”
Queens North Narcotics Lt. Daniel Sbarra to 1 Police Plaza
Brooklyn NYPD lieutenant sued over lurid tactics moved to Queens desk duty
Daniel Sbarra, who has been sued more than 15 times over allegations of illegal searches, excessive force and racial slurs, was moved off the street and behind a desk in northern Queens since The News exposed the harsh cop.
By Rocco Parascandola , Erik Badia AND Dareh Gregorian — Wednesday, July 17th, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’
He's off the streets.
A brutish NYPD lieutenant sued at least 15 times over allegations he performed illegal searches, used excessive force and hurled racial slurs is now on desk duty, the Daily News has learned.
Daniel Sbarra’s transfer came less than a month after The News’ shocking exposé of his time as sergeant of a hard-driving Brooklyn North Narcotics team.
“He’s off the streets — no more search warrants, no more lawsuits,” a police source said of Sbarra, who has also been the subject of 30 civilian complaints — among the highest number on the entire force — and numerous Internal Affairs Bureau investigations.
Yet despite his rough-and-tumble record, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly promoted Sbarra to lieutenant in August 2011.
Sbarra, 37, was reassigned from Queens North Narcotics to a desk job in the Organized Crime Control Bureau at 1 Police Plaza on June 20, the source said.
He’ll still get his full $102,000-a-year salary, but is expected to make less overtime, which totaled $40,000 in fiscal 2011. Sources said the move was in response to The News’ investigation, which found members of Sbarra’s team were named in 58 suits between 2006 and 2012, the bulk of which the city settled at a cost of $1.5 million.
Sbarra’s settlements totaled close to $500,000.
The first lawsuit was filed in 2006 by Lamel Roberson, a black motorist who claimed Sbarra and his partner repeatedly called him a “n----r” and illegally searched him during a traffic stop in Brooklyn, while hiding their own identities by putting tape over their badge numbers. The suit was settled for $19,500, including $1,000 out of Sbarra’s pocket. But Kelly dismissed departmental charges that substantiated Roberson’s claim.
In another suit, settled for $50,000, Rafael Cruz said Sbarra and his men smashed his face against a glass window in a stationhouse and ripped out a handful of dreadlocks.
“He should have been fired,” Cruz said Tuesday.
Cruz’s lawyer Cynthia Conti-Cook said the transfer shows the NYPD is trying to hide the problem instead of addressing it.
“It’s not the solution we’re looking for,” she said.
Louis Turco, the head of the Lieutenants Benevolent Association, called Sbarra “a highly effective” cop “who excels in any position the department puts him in.”
Approached by a reporter at his Long Island home Tuesday morning, Sbarra said, “I don’t know anybody by that name.”
(At the Time) 75 Pct. P.O. Ricardo Ramirez
“Oh my god, I'm going to die here”: NYPD cop recalls moment he was shot during Brooklyn gun battle
"There's tremendous pain going down my leg, incredible pain," Det. Ricardo Ramirez recalled in Brooklyn Supreme Court.
By Oren Yaniv — Wednesday, July 17th, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’
An NYPD cop described how he nearly lost his life when a bullet punctured his femoral artery as the attempted murder trial of the alleged assailant got underway Tuesday.
"There's tremendous pain going down my leg, incredible pain," Det. Ricardo Ramirez recalled in Brooklyn Supreme Court.
"I started panicking: 'Oh my god, I'm going to die here'…I just tumbled down the staircase."
The officer said he had just been shot by Elijah Foster-Bey following a short pursuit up the stairs of an East New York brownstone on October 2010 that started after he spotted the defendant riding a bike against traffic.
He would have died, Ramirez said, if not for his partner, Officer Brian McIvor, who quickly applied a belt as tourniquet and stopped the massive bleeding.
Defense attorney James Koenig argued that there's no evidence that Foster-Bey, 20, who got shot twice in the back during the gun battle, ever possessed a gun or fired at cops.
P.S.A. # 4
NYPD officers act like boobs, posing for a photo with a mostly nude woman
Cheyenne Lutek slipped off her dress Friday night posed with two cops on Avenue C near their Housing Bureau station. Police sources say the Internal Affairs Bureau is now investigating the matter.
By Barry Paddock AND Rocco Parascandola — Wednesday, July 17th, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’
Two NYPD cops are facing an internal investigation after posing for a racy picture with a topless woman, the Daily News has learned.
Cheyenne Lutek, 19, slipped off her dress Friday night and was clad in only black panties. She posed with two cops on Avenue C near their Housing Bureau station.
“One of them just couldn’t stop grinning,” photographer Allen Henson said. “The other one was kind of awkward.”
Police sources say the Internal Affairs Bureau is now investigating the matter, though it appears likely the probe will be handed to the cops’ integrity control officer.
The officers, one source said, are allowed to pose for photos, but a second source said the nature of the picture, however legal, might lead to a verbal reprimand.
Lutek posed nude at three East Village restaurants last week.
NYPD Communications Div. New ICAD System
Wednesday, July 17th, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’ Editorial:
Forget 911, call Kelly
EMS's slow response to a high-profile emergency raises troubling questions
There’s something very wrong when you need political juice and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly’s private number and help from the fire commissioner in order to get an ambulance to the scene of a medical emergency in, oh, less than half an hour.
After a young intern passed out on the sidewalk at a mayoral campaign event for Speaker Christine Quinn, two attendees placed calls to the 911 emergency response line. Start the clock there, at 11:51 a.m.
The operators record that the callers described the woman as sick. The Emergency Medical System classified the call in its lowest rung of priority, meaning the incident appeared not to entail a life-threatening event like a heart attack.
Ten minutes later, at 12:01, a police officer on Quinn’s security detail, who was tending to the intern, radioed that she seemed likely to faint again.
After an additional 10 minutes or so, Quinn phoned Kelly, who got in touch with Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano, who oversees EMS. On Cassano’s order, the call was upgraded in severity at 12:13 p.m. Twenty-two minutes had passed.
Seven minutes later, a fire truck arrived, followed three minutes later, at 12:23 p.m., by three EMS ambulances. Which had been beaten to the scene by a private ambulance corps.
Start to finish: 32 minutes, including a full 10 from Cassano’s intervention to EMS’s arrival.
What chance do ordinary New Yorkers have of getting an ambulance for a low priority call at even those long stretches of time?
To be sure — and this must be emphasized — no caller suggested that anyone’s life was in danger. In that type of case, the EMS’s average response time from the moment a call has been dispatched to the arrival of an ambulance is an excellent six minutes, 35 seconds.
Many a life has been saved by the agency’s fast reflexes and professional dedication.
The Daily News has reported intensively on glitches in the new 911 computerized dispatching system, one of which delayed getting an ambulance to Ariel Russo, a 4-year-old girl fatally injured by a runaway SUV. The News’ stories have prompted a Department of Investigation probe.
Here, there is no sign of a computer malfunction. In fact, the Fire Department states that the system worked properly in that the call was appropriately triaged on a day when heat caused heavy ambulance demand.
If so, Cassano responded to a political emergency, not to a medical one, when ordering stepped-up action. What’s not known is how often New Yorkers wait more than 20 minutes or half an hour after they been deemed a low priority based on a caller’s sketchy information.
The FDNY says that what the public saw due to Quinn’s presence was standard procedure and a standard result. That’s a very worrying position to take, and one that demands examination by Investigation Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn.
Quinn makes 911 call to NYPD Commish Kelly after delay in response to treat intern who fainted
By JAMIE SCHRAM and BETH DEFALCO — Wednesday, July 17th, 2013 ‘The New York Post’
Who ya gonna call when you’re a mayor wannabe in trouble? Commissioner Ray Kelly, of course.
The 911 system was so overloaded during yesterday’s oppressive heat that the FDNY ran out of ambulances, forcing Council Speaker Christine Quinn — who has sparred with Kelly over her bid to install an inspector general to oversee the NYPD — called the commish when an intern passed out in Brooklyn.
Yvette Toro, 18, who works for Councilwoman Diana Reyna, collapsed at 11:50 a.m. during a Williamsburg press conference about a waste-transfer station as temperatures hit the mid-90s under a blazing sun.
Quinn’s staff immediately called 911, and the job was relayed to the FDNY’s EMS in less than a minute with no glitches, a source said.
“No problems, clean call,” an FDNY source said.
But the caller described Toro as awake and breathing, according to a transcript, making her condition non-life-threatening and a “segment 5” on the EMS’s 1-to-8 scale. The lower numbers are highest priority.
“We don’t send paramedic units to incidents described as someone who fainted,” the source said. Also, there were 15 other incidents in that area of northern Brooklyn at the time competing for attention.
Citywide, the system usually gets 3,200 calls, but because of the heat, it was on pace for 4,000.
Quinn said her staff made several calls, including one to the Mayor’s Office at noon, but there was still no sign of an ambulance. “My staff was calling everyone,” she said.
At 12:13 p.m., another call to 911 said the stricken teen was unconscious. “So it got upgraded. That’s a segment 3 or 2,” said an FDNY. A fire engine and an ambulance were dispatched.
Quinn, meanwhile, called Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano but got his voicemail.
She then broke out the big guns and called top cop Kelly at 12:15 p.m., saying: “I said I need an ambulance. He said ‘Where are you?’ ”
Almost simultaneously, her staff called the Hatzolah volunteer ambulance service, Quinn said.
At 12:21 p.m. — 31 minutes after the first call — the cavalry arrived, including two cops on foot, a firetruck and the Hatzolah ambulance.
By the time an FDNY ambulance arrived, Hatzolah had already taken Toro to Woodhull Medical Center, where she was released after a few hours.
Toro was with Quinn and Reyna outside PS 132, which the mayoral hopeful said is subjected to constant garbage-truck traffic that would be alleviated by a waste-transfer facility on the Upper East Side that she supports.
Quinn said she was outraged by the “inexcusable” and “outrageous” delay.
“I don’t know what in God’s name could have taken so long to get an ambulance to help this young woman,” she fumed.
She said while she and Reyna tended to Toro on the ground, she repeated, “They’ll be here in a minute. They’ll be here in a minute.”
“Because I can’t really say, ‘They’ll be here in half an hour,’ because that is going to panic her.”
The FDNY said it did nothing wrong considering the information it had gotten.
“Every call for medical assistance is important and ambulance dispatching is prioritized so life-threatening calls — for a choking child, cardiac arrest or chest pains — take precedence over non-life-threatening injuries — when the patient is breathing, alert or communication,” it said in a statement. “That was the case here.
“In addition, the patient was being treated by a police officer, who is an EMT, so care was being administered from the moment the incident occurred.”
That officer was the head of Quinn’s NYPD security detail, who was trained as an emergency medical technician and who gave Toro oxygen and found ice to cool her down.
A Delayed Ambulance Response Prompts Quinn to Act
By J. DAVID GOODMAN — Wednesday, July 17th, 2013 ‘The New York Times’
When a young woman fainted in the sweltering heat in Brooklyn on Tuesday, it did not immediately draw much attention, even though the woman, a City Council intern, tumbled to the ground during an outdoor news conference with Christine C. Quinn, the Council speaker.
Nor did it draw an ambulance for 31 minutes — and only after Ms. Quinn, surrounded by reporters and cameras, phoned the police commissioner directly for assistance.
By then, what had begun as a routine call on a hot summer day, according to fire officials, became a chaotic and politically tinged scene.
Ms. Quinn sat by the 18-year-old intern on the scalding pavement; made calls to the cellphones of the fire and police commissioners; and made her outrage known at the scene and later at City Hall.
“I don’t know what in God’s name could have taken so long to get this ambulance to help this young girl,” Ms. Quinn, a Democratic candidate for mayor, told the reporters, who had gathered for the news conference, about solid waste management. “But you can rest assured that I am going to find out. It’s just not acceptable.”
Hours later at City Hall, she said she had met with fire officials, including Commissioner Salvatore J. Cassano, and pressed for more ambulances to be added during the summer heat, when the volume of calls to 911 spikes drastically. “This cannot be the standard in New York City,” Ms. Quinn said.
The episode came amid criticism of New York City’s emergency response network, which has experienced technical problems and allegations of dropped calls and delayed response times since switching to a new system this spring.
But the Fire Department said the long wait had nothing to do with its new system. It was instead, officials said, the result of normal triage meant to give priority to life-threatening emergencies, and the fact that all 15 ambulances that could have responded in the area were on other calls.
“Murphy’s Law was occurring in northern Brooklyn; we were getting slammed,” said Francis X. Gribbon, a Fire Department spokesman. “There were real emergencies.” He added that of the 71 basic life-support ambulances on the road in all sectors of Brooklyn, 45 were busy at the time of the fainting.
The intern, who recently began working with Councilwoman Diana Reyna, fainted just before noon, toward the end of the news conference, which had been held on a Williamsburg sidewalk under the shade of a tree.
Almost immediately, several people called 911, Ms. Quinn said, and the police officers assigned to her security detail radioed in as well. One of those officers, a detective and trained emergency medical worker, administered oxygen, she said, and put cold packs on her.
Fire officials said that based on details given by the initial caller, the 911 operator categorized the call as “Segment 5” — a medium priority call. (Calls given a 1 to 3 — cardiac arrest, gun shots — are responded to by paramedics.)
“She fainted, may have hit her head on the sidewalk,” the female caller told the operator, according to a copy of the transcript read by Mr. Gribbon.
“Is she awake now?” the operator asked. “She is,” the caller replied.
“You said that when she fell, she may have hit her head,” the operator asked again, seeking to determine the severity of the call.
“She may have, I couldn’t tell,” the caller said. (She did not hit her head, Ms. Quinn later said.)
Ms. Quinn said she kept telling the woman that an ambulance would arrive in a minute. “That’s all you can tell someone who’s lying on the ground in need of medical attention,” she said. “Because I can’t really say to her, they’re going to be here in a half an hour.”
But as the minutes stretched nearly that long, and Ms. Quinn failed in trying to reach the commissioner of the Fire Department, she got the police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, on the phone.
“I just said, I need an ambulance and he said where are you and I told him where I was,” she said. After that, she added, things moved “quickly.”
Around the same time, someone from Ms. Quinn’s office called 911 again, saying the woman appeared to be losing consciousness. That, Ms. Quinn and fire officials said, elevated the priority of the call.
At around 12:21 p.m., a squad car from the local precinct arrived. Then a fire engine. Then volunteers from Hatzolah, the Jewish ambulance service, got there and took the woman to Woodhull Medical Center; she was released in the afternoon. Ms. Quinn said a Fire Department ambulance arrived a few minutes after the woman had been taken away.
City Council intern passes out at press conference — and it takes EMS 30 minutes to respond
When an intern for City Councilwoman Diana Reyna collapses, officials call 911 only to wait. Council Speaker Christine Quinn then phones NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly and calls the whole thing 'inexcusable.'
By Juan Gonzalez , Jennifer Fermino AND Joe Kemp — Wednesday, July 17th, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’
An 18-year-old intern, who collapsed in the blistering heat on Tuesday, lay on the sidewalk for more than 30 minutes and didn’t get an ambulance until an outraged Council Speaker Christine Quinn started making phone calls.
Even after Quinn’s calls to Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, a Hatzolah ambulance still arrived at the Brooklyn scene before EMS.
Yvette Toro, who began working as an intern for Councilwoman Diana Reyna (D-Brooklyn) just this week, dropped to the ground in front of reporters and television cameras just as a Quinn press conference in Greenpoint was set to begin.
Quinn ran over to Toro, crouched to a knee and began rubbing the young woman’s arms. And NYPD Detective John Madden, a member of Quinn’s security detail and a trained EMT — provided first aid.
“It’s going to be okay,” Quinn told the intern, adding that help would be there “in a minute.”
The teen collapsed at 11:49 a.m. Two 911 calls came in at 11:51 a.m. Records obtained by the Daily News show the first of three EMS ambulances didn’t arrive until 12:23 p.m.
“I told them she had fainted, but was awake and we needed an ambulance there as soon as possible,” said Antonio Reynoso, who made one of the first calls to 911. “I called again a few minutes later to ask where was the ambulance, and they said it was on the way.”
A few minutes turned into 10, 20 and finally 34.
“It’s pretty ridiculous how long it took for them to get there,” said Reynoso, who is eyeing Reyna’s seat in the City Council when she leaves office next year.
Emergency communications logs show EMS classified the call as a low “level five” priority, after it was logged into the system twice — once as a sick woman and once as an injured woman. Fire officials and sources said there was an extremely high volume of emergency calls in the area — many of them heat-related — and there wasn’t an ambulance immediately available.
“No one should have to wait that long for an ambulance, even if it’s a low priority call,” a veteran 911 supervisor told The News.
Quinn, who was outraged at the delay, called Cassano at 12:12 p.m. She left a message. Two minutes later, records show Cassano called the FDNY operations command center and ordered the job upgraded to a priority “level 2.”
Toro was still on the ground, as the mercury hovered in the mid-90s. Quinn, who was quickly losing patience, then called Kelly five minutes after she wasn’t able to reach Cassano. A member of Quinn’s staff called the volunteer Hatzolah ambulance service at 12:17.
Hatzolah arrived within three minutes and took Toro to Woodhull Hospital where she was treated for heat exhaustion and released. Toro, who recently graduated from high school, is expected to enroll in LaGuardia Community College in the fall.
“If Speaker Quinn had not been at that site, that young lady would have waited an hour or two for an ambulance,” said Israel Miranda, president of the union of paramedics and emergency medical technicians. “We’ve been saying the city needs more paramedics and ambulances to serve the public.”
Even after Cassano intervened, it still took nine minutes for EMS to arrive at the scene at Manhattan and Metropolitan Aves. Still, the FDNY issued a statement Tuesday defending its response.
“Every call for medical assistance is important and ambulance dispatching is prioritized so life-threatening calls — for a choking child, cardiac arrest or chest pains — take precedence over non-life-threatening injuries,” the FDNY the statement read. “That was the case here.”
Officials said the uptick in calls on Tuesday was consistent with the day before, when the FDNY logged 3,994 calls for emergencies — almost 20% more than the usual 3,200 calls during the day.
Officials said there were no available units for a low-priority job as EMS crews were working on about 15 other emergency calls nearby.
The 34-minute wait was not tied to the trouble-plagued 911 call system, officials said. A Daily News investigation last month first revealed problems with the city’s new $88 million computer-aided dispatch system, known as ICAD, after it found glitches and repeated crashes had delayed several responses to life-and-death situations.
“This whole situation is outrageous and I don’t know what happened, and I’m going to get to the bottom of it,” said Quinn, who had scheduled the news conference to discuss the opening of the controversial E. 91st St. marine transfer station. “It’s inexcusable.”
She later met with Cassano, Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway and the FDNY’s chief of EMS, Abdo Nahmod.
“With that meeting, I believe I made it abundantly clear that the Fire Department’s response today was nowhere near satisfactory and was completely unacceptable,” Quinn said.
“Based on what I was just briefed on, it is also crystal clear to me that we were not prepared for today’s heat wave. We should have had more ambulances and more EMTs assigned to work today.”
But another mayoral candidate blasted Quinn for her ballyhooing.
“She’s currently shaking her fists at a City Hall press conference, saying that we were not prepared for today’s heat wave,” said Democratic hopeful Sal Albanese. “Well, whose responsibility is that, Madame Speaker? Has the City Council done anything to ensure that agencies are prepared for a summer of heat waves? Or were you shocked to find out that it gets hot in July?”
With Nathan Place
Obama: 'I'd want to know' if NYPD's Kelly is interested in DHS post
By Justin Sink — Tuesday, July 16th, 2013; 6:06 p.m. ‘The Hill’ / Washington, DC
President Obama said Tuesday that he'd "want to know" if New York Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly was interested in a job as Homeland Security Secretary.
"Mr. Kelly might be very happy where he is, but if he's not I'd want to know about it, because obviously he'd be very well qualified for the job," Obama said in an interview with Univision's New York City affiliate.
Obama went on to describe Kelly as "one of the best there is" and an "outstanding leader in New York."
"Ray Kelly's obviously done an extraordinary job in New York and the federal government partners a lot with New York," Obama said.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said last Friday that he had called White House chief of staff Denis McDonough to recommend Kelly for the post after Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced she would step down later this week to lead the University of California system.
“The Department of Homeland Security is one of the most important agencies in the federal government," Schumer said in a statement. "Its leader needs to be someone who knows law enforcement, understands anti-terrorism efforts, and is a top-notch administrator, and at the NYPD, Ray Kelly has proven that he excels in all three."
The New York lawmaker also touted Kelly's experience as the commissioner of the U.S. Customs Service from 1998 to 2001, arguing it could soothe Republican concerns about the next White House nominee's record on border issues.
A Schumer aide told the New York Daily News that McDonough was noncommittal during the call.
Obama went on to say that the White House would "have a bunch of strong candidates" to choose from, and noted that DHS Secretary was "one of the toughest jobs in Washington."
White House press secretary Jay Carney said last week it was "far too premature… to speculate about successors."
"The President will be very deliberate in examining his options," Carney said.
Were Obama to nominate Kelly, it would immediately invoke comparisons to President George W. Bush's selection of former NYPD commissioner Bernard Kerik to lead the department in 2004. Kerik was forced to withdraw his nomination after admitting to having employed an illegal immigrant as nanny.
Obama Says Ray Kelly ‘Well-Qualified’ For Homeland Security Post
Schumer, King Also Want To See NYPD Commissioner To Run DHS
By Unnamed Author(s) (CBS News / The Associated Press) — Wednesday, July 17th, 2013; 9:44 a.m. EDT
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — President Barack Obama says New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly would be “well-qualified” to run the Department of Homeland Security.
“I think Ray Kelly is one of the best there is, so he’s been an outstanding leader in New York,” Obama said in an interview Tuesday with New York’s Univision affiliate.
Kelly has been floated as a possible replacement for outgoing Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano who is leaving to take over the University of California’s 10-campus system.
Obama didn’t confirm whether he is actively considering nominating Kelly, saying the commissioner “might be very happy where he is.” But Obama said if Kelly isn’t, he’d want to know about it because Kelly would be well-qualified for the Homeland Security post.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer has said he wants Obama to nominate Kelly.
“Ray Kelly is the man for the job – New York’s loss would be [the] nation’s gain,” said Schumer in a statement.
“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. 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. Janet Napolitano has done an outstanding job, and if I had to give her a grade on her tenure, it would be ‘A+’. We need someone just as good who can fill her shoes,” Schumer added.
Long Island Congressman Peter King echoed those sentiments.
“The NYPD has more than 50,000 officers and civilians, he has the largest counter terrorism force in the country, he previously worked in Washington as the head of customs which is an integral part of Homeland Security,” King said.
Kelly is not the first NYPD commissioner to be considered for Homeland Security secretary.
In 2004, former NYPD Commissioner Bernard Kerik was nominated by President George W. Bush to replace Tom Ridge – the first Homeland Security secretary. But Kerik was forced to withdraw his name amid allegations including conspiracy and fraud – charges that landed him a prison sentence.
Michael Chertoff ended up getting the job, and he was followed by Napolitano.
Sikh Coalition invited back to NYPD for new officer training
By Unnamed Author(s) — Wednesday, July 17th, 2013 ‘The Punjab Newsline’ / India
NEW YORK: The Sikh Coalition was invited back to the New York City Police Academy on June 24 to train its newest graduating class of police officers. This was the third time the Sikh Coalition has been invited to participate in the officer training. The Sikh Coalition had previously visited the Academy to present information about Sikhs in 2011 and 2012.
Over 800 New York Police Department (NYPD) recruits were given information about Sikh beliefs, the significance of the turban and tips on how to interact with Sikh Americans. Much of the presentation focused on how to respectfully interact with a Sikh who wears a turban or kirpan. Each of the four officer presentations included a question and answers session and concluded with a turban tying demonstration.
The Sikh Coalition thanked Jaspreet Kaur Bansal and Kiratbir Singh, two graduates of the Sikh Presenter’s Course, for leading these sessions. The Sikh Coalition also thanked New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly and the leadership of the New York City Police Academy for inviting the Sikh Coalition to conduct the training.
The Sikh Coalition would especially like to thank Lt. Christine Seppa, Commanding Officer for the Curriculum and Evaluation Unit, for organizing these training sessions with the Sikh Coalition.
The Sikh Coalition also thanked Police Officer Harinder Singh Khela of the Community Affairs Bureau for participating in and supporting the training sessions.
ACLU finds license plate scanners on the rise, creating de facto government tracking system
By ANNE FLAHERTY (The Associated Press) — Wednesday, July 17th, 2013; 10:22 a.m. EST
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Chances are, your local or state police departments have photographs of your car in their files, noting where you were driving on a particular day, even if you never did anything wrong.
Using automated scanners, law enforcement agencies across the country have amassed millions of digital records on the location and movement of every vehicle with a license plate, according to a study published Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union. Affixed to police cars, bridges or buildings, the scanners capture images of passing or parked vehicles and note their location, uploading that information into police databases. Departments keep the records for weeks or years, sometimes indefinitely.
As the technology becomes cheaper and more ubiquitous, and federal grants focus on aiding local terrorist detection, even small police agencies are able to deploy more sophisticated surveillance systems. While the Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that a judge's approval is needed to track a car with GPS, 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 assemble what it calls 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 ACLU. The civil rights group is proposing that police departments immediately delete any records of cars not linked to a crime.
Law enforcement officials said the scanners can be crucial to tracking suspicious cars, aiding drug busts and finding abducted children. License plate scanners also can be 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, chief of the national security section and assistant U.S. attorney in Maryland.
Law enforcement officials also point out that the technology is legal in most cases, automating a practice that's been done 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, which has records stretching back to 2008, although the city plans next month to begin deleting files older than two years. "It's just a vehicle. It's just a license plate."
In Yonkers, N.Y., just north of the 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 to a crime.
"These plate readers are not intended nor used to follow the movements of members of the public," the department's statement said.
But even if law enforcement officials say they don't want a public location tracking system, the records add up quickly. In Jersey City, N.J., for example, the population is only 250,000 but the city collected more than 2 million plate images on file. 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, according to the ACLU.
The ACLU study, based on 26,000 pages of responses from 293 police departments and state agencies across the country, also found that license plate scanners produced a small fraction of "hits," or alerts to police that a suspicious vehicle has been found. In Maryland, for example, the state reported reading about 29 million plates between January and May of last year. Of that amount, about 60,000 - or roughly 1 in every 500 license plates - were suspicious. The No. 1 crime? A suspended or revoked registration, or a violation of the state's emissions inspection program accounted for 97 percent of all alerts.
Eisenberg, the assistant U.S. attorney, said the numbers "fail to show the real qualitative assistance to public safety and law enforcement." He points to the 132 wanted suspects the program helped track. They were a small fraction of the 29 million plates read, but he said tracking those suspects can be critical to keeping an area safe.
Also, he said, Maryland has rules in place restricting access for criminal investigations only. Most records are retained for one year in Maryland, 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.
Police Executive Research Forum Outlines Key Lessons Learned In 20 Years of Police-DOJ Consent Decrees
By Ted Gest — Wednesday, July 17th, 2013 ‘The John Jay College of Criminal Justice Crime & Justice News’ / Washington, DC
The Police Executive Research Forum has published a report on lessons learned from consent decrees signed by police departments with the U.S. Department of Justice over the last two decades. The report quotes Jonathan Smith of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division as saying that the question departments should ask is not "How do you keep the Civil Rights Division from investigating?" but rather "How do we deliver police services in an effective manner that complies with the Constitution and builds public confidence?”
Criminologist Sam Walker of the University of Nebraska Omaha noted that there is a two-decade record of documents that spell out reforms taken as a result of consent decrees. "No police department should be in a position where it can be sued by the Justice Department, because the past cases make clear what is expected of them." Some key reforms that have been adopted in many cases: Adopting strong policies on issues such as use of force; ensuring that officers are trained and managed so the policies will be followed; and developing management and supervision measures, such as an Early Intervention System, to help managers detect and respond to problems as they develop.
Read the report:
Chicago May Pass Tougher Anti-Gun Laws, Faces NRA Legal Challenge
By Ted Gest — Wednesday, July 17th, 2013 ‘The John Jay College of Criminal Justice Crime & Justice News’ / Washington, DC
Chicago officials acknowledge that Mayor Rahm Emanuel's plans to update the city's assault weapons ban and toughen penalties for some firearms violations near schools will have only limited impact on the gun violence plaguing parts of Chicago, the Chicago Tribune reports. Both measures will go before the City Council for a vote today. Emanuel is pushing through the changes after the General Assembly's passage of a statewide concealed carry law and amid criticism from parents of children who will have to walk through violent neighborhoods because he closed dozens of public schools.
The mayor's "school safety zone" ordinance would raise penalties for certain gun crimes near schools and along designated Safe Passage routes through neighborhoods to $1,000 to $5,000 and at least 30 days in jail for a first offense, $5,000 to $15,000 and 90 days to six months in jail for a second offense, and $10,000 to $20,000 and at least six months in jail for a third offense. City attorney Rose Kelly said there is only so much the city can do, given the state constitution and state gun laws that in many cases supersede municipal rules. Todd Vandermyde of the National Rifle Association contended it's likely parts of the mayor's narrow municipal gun package won't withstand a lawsuit because they overstep the city's authority.
Desired to read the Chicago Tribune article in its entirety, go to:
Murder tally steadily rising in Dallas this year
By SCOTT GOLDSTEIN — Wednesday, July 17th, 2013 ‘The Dallas Morning News’ / Dallas, TX
A steady rise in slayings through mid-July has Dallas on track to surpass last year’s total, with murder up about 15 percent so far.
Through Monday, Dallas police had reported 84 murders, 11 more than were reported through the same period in 2012. The statistics also show slight increases in rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults.
There were 151 murders in all of 2012. That was a 14 percent increase over the prior year, but it still ranked among the lowest totals in decades. The 2011 total of 133 killings was a low not seen since 1967.
Police Chief David Brown said most of the slayings involve criminals attacking other criminals.
“The drug-related, criminal-on-criminal murder is the most significant thing happening with murders in Dallas,” Brown said.
The chief also noted that the murder rate per capita remains on pace to be among the lowest in the city’s history.
“The murder rate in Dallas is equivalent to the murder rate in 1958,” Brown said in an interview at Jack Evans Police Headquarters. “It’s equivalent to when Dallas’ population was about 700,000 people, about half of what it is now.”
Of the year-over-year increase more than seven months into 2013, the chief said, “You’re taking a snapshot of the midsummer crime numbers at the highest point — July, which is our most challenging month as it relates to crime fighting, particularly violent crime fighting.”
Brown acknowledged the spree of slayings in recent weeks but reiterated that most of those killings were not strangers attacking strangers.
“It’s the criminal person that knows this person … an argument over drugs, argument over some beef that doesn’t amount to a hill of beans,” he said. “The person decides to kill the person over little or nothing.”
But that does not appear to be the case in the slaying last week of 53-year-old Juan Zelada, an employee of Oak Farms Dairy. He was found shot to death in his car in the Buckner Terrace area. His wallet was missing, and police think robbery may have been the motive.
The March slaying of 79-year-old Avanell Cowgill in her White Rock-area home was one of several deadly attacks on older residents this year. The chief said those types of attacks are not happening more often than in past years.
The murder in January of Karen Cox Smith, whose estranged husband was charged in her death, was the impetus for Mayor Mike Rawlings’ campaign against domestic violence. It was one of several slayings believed to be related to domestic violence. Brown said Tuesday that domestic violence slayings are down slightly this year.
While Brown insisted that crime statistics be viewed in context, he acknowledged that modern policing involves studying the numbers daily and reacting. The chief has long been a fan of specialized task forces, which he has devoted recently to combating violent crime and drug dealers and to executing arrest warrants.
As murders began to march upward last year, Brown ordered the creation of a 100-plus-member task force that spends the bulk of its efforts capturing violent felony offenders.
Since the inception of the METRO task force in December, its officers have made nearly 1,400 felony warrant arrests, almost 600 misdemeanor warrant arrests and more than 860 felony and misdemeanor arrests of suspects caught in the act.
Last week, for example, the task force made about 100 arrests, including capturing 60 felony warrant suspects. Three of them were capital murder suspects.
In some cases, Brown said, going after drug dealers has an unintended consequence.
“As we arrest street dealers, the competition for that area or for that drug house creates a violent outcome,” Brown said.
Experts and city leaders echoed Brown’s sentiments that while any increase is worth noting, it should be examined in the context of about two decades of declines. Major cities across the country have experienced similar declines.
“I’ve always been very leery about looking at the simple year-to-year changes,” said Alex Piquero, a criminology professor at the University of Texas at Dallas. “There’s going to be these erratic blips, but a one-year number doesn’t make a huge change just yet.”
Dallas City Council member Scott Griggs, whose district covers north Oak Cliff, said he’s been tracking the numbers closely. But he’s also aware of the murder tallies of the early 1990s.
“We broke 500 in the early ’90s, and this year we’re in the 80s,” Griggs said. “We’re entering these critical summer months, July, August, September, where you typically see some increases in homicide.”
Griggs said he has been in touch with police, particularly in his southwest patrol division, about patterns and strategies to fight back.
Council member Dwaine Caraway’s district covers the heart of the south central patrol division, which is historically one of the most violent patrol divisions in the city.
“I am — I don’t know if I want to say that I’m shocked — but I’m concerned,” Caraway said.
The killings reinforce his belief in stronger gun control laws, he said. He also wants more surveillance cameras in his district and would like to revisit the possibility of installing gunfire detection systems, Caraway said.
As he has in the past, Brown said he is confident the year will end with an overall reduction in crime.
“We’re fighting against an awfully high bar, and we wouldn’t have it any other way,” Brown said. “Every category is a 40- or 50-year low historically, as far as crime rates are concerned.”
Staff writer Tanya Eiserer contributed to this report.
Oakland, California (The Zimmerman Acquittal Riots)
Oakland cops stretched too thin, chief says
By Justin Berton — Wednesday, July 17th, 2013 ‘The San Francisco Chronicle’ / San Francisco, CA
(Edited for brevity and generic law enforcement pertinence)
After three nights of protests in Oakland that left many downtown businesses vandalized and a waiter recovering from a hammer attack, the police chief said Tuesday that an understaffed force and an effort to find a missing 21-month-old girl hampered officers' ability to control agitators.
Interim Chief Sean Whent said he would have liked to have had more officers on the streets Saturday night, when windows along Broadway and Telegraph Avenue were first smashed after a jury acquitted George Zimmerman in Florida. However, he said, the city did not have access to enough officers and did not realize the jury was deliberating that day.
Police increased staffing levels for a planned protest on Sunday night, Whent said, which allowed officers to walk alongside protesters and contain rogue individuals from splintering off into side streets, he said.
But staffing dropped on Monday, he said, in part because police did not expect several hundred demonstrators to show up again. After a mostly peaceful march, a small group of vandals smashed windows, lit small fires, and threw rocks and bottles at officers.
With fewer police on the street patrolling only the front and back of the march Monday, Whent said his officers faced greater risks heading into the crowd to make quick arrests. He also described the tenor of Monday's late-night marchers as "a crowd element intent on more lawlessness."
A growing force
"It's very difficult to march into a large crowd and arrest a few people breaking windows," Whent said. "Both for the safety of the citizens and police officers ... it all really comes down to resources."
Police ultimately arrested nine people on suspicion of crimes that included assault with a deadly weapon, resisting arrest and vandalism. But during the hammer attack on a waiter at Flora restaurant, police were blocks away.
Whent said the protests occurred at the end of a long week for the department, when intense resources and overtime hours were directed toward finding missing 21-month-old Daphne Viola Webb, who was last seen July 10.
The department has 629 sworn officers, officials said, down from 837 in December 2008, but up from a low of 612 this spring before an academy class was graduated.
The agency is set to increase its ranks by 30 after another class graduates this fall. With four police academies funded over two years, the department is expected to raise the force to nearly 700 officers.
It's the same story
As the city faced questions over its response to the vandals, the scars of the three nights were visible downtown in a series of boarded-up businesses. Merchants and residents - many of whom believe Zimmerman should have been convicted of murdering unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin - tried to make sense of what's become a familiar narrative of Oakland protests: peaceful by day, destructive by night.
Some of the masked vandals seemed to care little about whom they targeted. One of Oakland's most beloved nonprofit groups, Youth Radio, which for 20 years has trained poor and at-risk young people to become journalists, had three front windows destroyed.
"It hurts," Executive Director Richard Raya said Tuesday. "We moved down here five years ago to be part of Oakland's rejuvenation and to have our students be a part of this energy."
Raya said no one was in the studio when the windows were smashed. His students were out covering the impact of the Zimmerman verdict in Oakland's neighborhoods. He said the vandalism would not impact summer courses or the students' outlook on their location.
"The folks breaking the windows are not representative of who we are or people we know in this community," Raya said. "It's almost a shame we have to take time to talk about what they're trying to do. It detracts from the larger issue that we're all working on."
Along key stretch of US-Mexico border, more kids running drugs
The Tucson sector of the US-Mexico border has seen an alarming rise in the number of juveniles facing drug-smuggling charges. Teens are also carrying harder drugs into the US.
By Lourdes Medrano — Wednesday, July 17th, 2013 ‘The Christian Science Monitor’ / Boston, MA
TUCSON, ARIZ. -- On a balmy Monday afternoon, authorities at a highway checkpoint a few miles north of the US-Mexico border pull over a commercial shuttle for inspection. A teenage girl sitting inside appears rattled and, as it turns out, with good reason. Several bundles of heroin are weighing down her bag.
By the time border patrol agents finish checking all passengers, the teen and three other female minors are in custody. All had heroin packets tucked in their waistbands.
This incident from April was the latest in a string of recent cases in Arizona where juveniles have been arrested trying to smuggle drugs into the United States. While luring teens to act as drug mules for a few hundred bucks is not a new practice, the Tucson sector of the US-Mexico border – the nation's busiest – has seen an alarming jump in the past two years.
In 2012, 244 minors faced drug-smuggling charges in the Tucson sector, compared with 122 in 2011. By the end of this May, the number was already 154.
Moreover, all along the border, officials say minors are increasingly being used to traffic hard drugs such as methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine, not just marijuana, as was mostly the case in the past.
"That's kind of new and alarming," says Lauren Mack, a spokeswoman in San Diego for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Drug trafficking organizations lure minors to smuggle drugs with promises of money and assurances that there will be few consequences if they are caught, says Manuel Padilla, chief of the border patrol's Tucson sector.
"The reason they do that is because it's very difficult to prosecute children or juveniles through the federal system," he adds.
At the ports of entry and interior checkpoints, border authorities are encountering teens who strap drugs to their abdomen, inner thighs, and other body parts.
Although traffickers long have used the drug-smuggling method, the uptick in minors as body carriers is a fairly recent phenomenon, says Ms. Mack of ICE.
Investigators have seen children as young as 12 act as drug mules, although most usually are between the ages of 15 and 18, says Jose Garcia, deputy special agent for ICE Homeland Security Investigations in the San Diego area.
Youngsters are known to be recruited at arcades and other teen hangouts, by word-of-mouth, and through social media, Agent Garcia says.
The appeal of easy money is strong for vulnerable youths, he adds. "We're in a very materialistic society ... and these organizations capitalize on the sense kids have that nothing's ever going to happen to them."
On average, young smugglers make $200 to $300 each time they smuggle drugs, the agent adds. "It's not a lot, but for a teen, it can be."
Traffickers often tell young people that if they're arrested, they will get a slap on the wrist and then be released to their parents.
"All of these things are lies," Garcia says.
In California, for example, young suspects can end up with two felonies on their records, which for many can mean a year in juvenile detention, Garcia adds.
Depending on the seriousness of the offense, teens in some cases are being prosecuted as adults.
"Through this new system, now the main charge for kids carrying hard narcotics is possession with intent to distribute," Chief Padilla of the border patrol says.
In Arizona, the four teenage girls carrying heroin underneath their clothing found out the hard way. They were 15 to 17 years old, two from the US and two from Mexico. Combined, the nearly 8 pounds they carried had an estimated street value of $90,000.
The border patrol turned the teens over to the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office, which increasingly works with state and federal authorities to prosecute young drug-smuggling suspects with felony charges rather than juvenile delinquency. Each of the teens was charged with two felonies related to unlawful possession and transportation of drugs.
After pleading guilty to a lesser felony offense, the younger girls were sentenced to 90 days in juvenile detention and unsupervised probation until they turn 18, says George Silva, the Santa Cruz County Attorney in Nogales, Ariz. The older girls are being tried as adults and are waiting for an initial court appearance, Mr. Silva adds.
Borderwide statistics on juvenile trafficking are not available, but data from California suggest the trend is not as apparent there. In 2011, 77 minors charged with drug smuggling were prosecuted in San Diego County, up from 65 in 2010. But the number dropped to 72 in 2012, and so far this year, prosecutions total 36, says Michele Linley, chief of the juvenile division for the District Attorney's Office in San Diego.
For teens, the experience of being arrested and prosecuted for smuggling drugs is "awful, but it could be a turning point for them in their life," she says.
Authorities also are working to keep youngsters from getting involved in drug smuggling in the first place through programs in local communities. In 2009, authorities in the Del Rio sector in Texas launched Operation Detour in schools, which educates youngsters about risks and consequences, and the program has been expanded to Arizona and other areas.
Capture of Mexican Crime Boss Appears to End a Brutal Chapter
By RANDAL C. ARCHIBOLD and GINGER THOMPSON — Wednesday, July 17th, 2013 ‘The New York Times’
MEXICO CITY — Body parts strewn on highways, etched with the letter Z. Videotaped torture sessions uploaded onto YouTube. Victims placed in barrels and dissolved into a “stew” of violent death.
Since the Zetas emerged less than a decade ago as the brutal new figures in the storied history of organized crime here, Mexico has experienced some of its most shocking episodes of violence, and the bloodshed has seeped into other countries throughout the region.
Founded by heavily armed former soldiers trained for war, the Zetas did not pioneer sensational acts of violence in Mexico, but they perfected the practice of carnage as message, as they expanded beyond drug trafficking into extortion, migrant smuggling, kidnapping and other crimes.
With the arrest on Monday of Miguel Ángel Treviño Morales, the Zeta crime boss so greatly feared that many would not dare utter his name in public, Mexico’s long and bloody drug war may have reached a crossroads. Nobody believes that drug trafficking will let up now that the Zetas have been weakened. And an array of ruthless gunmen in and out of the Zetas have no qualms about continuing to kill.
But Mr. Treviño’s arrest, the killing of the previous Zeta commander in October and the recent capture of several other lieutenants have rocked the trafficking organizations that did the most to damage Mexico’s image and instill the most fear among the people.
Mr. Treviño, who was better known as Z-40, after his radio call sign given by the militaristic group, was captured before dawn on Monday, with $2 million in his pickup truck, after spending time with his newborn child in a rural area near the Texas border. American authorities played a key behind-the-scenes role in his apprehension and, after his arrest, confirmed his identity through biometric and DNA tests, according to officials on both sides of the border, who were not authorized to speak publicly on the case.
The relatively quiet denouement of Mr. Treviño’s career belies the mayhem that made his organization stand out. In some ways, analysts said, the Zetas became a victim of perverse success.
The organization grew so fast, drew in so much money and hired so many gunmen quick to pull the trigger that it lost the loyalty that other Mexican crime syndicates engendered toward their leaders, while older, more established cartels sought to take down the Young Turks making business tough for everybody.
“They broke the rules of the game,” said George W. Grayson, a professor at the College of William and Mary and author of “The Executioner’s Men,” a history of the Zetas. “They wanted to brand themselves, and the brand they chose was the meanest, leanest, most sadistic organization in the Americas. Just mentioning Zetas sparks fear in the hearts of those who hear them.”
Where family and community ties bind larger cartels, the Zetas, increasingly run by young recruits trained in remote camps to kill in spectacular fashion, depended on a culture of military discipline and a hierarchy that began to fracture under the pressure exerted by Mexican and American law enforcement.
The danger remains that the splintering of the Zetas will leave smaller, dangerous gangs copying their name and tactics as they continue to extort, kidnap and deal drugs. State and local police forces are generally too corrupted, ill prepared or not committed to take them on.
But several analysts said the arrest of Mr. Treviño, led by Mexican marines but supported with intelligence from the United States — where he is wanted on drug and gun charges — could be the beginning of the end of the group as a large cartel and, possibly, the large-scale violence it carried out with such bravado.
“As a cohesive group there is probably not much left of them,” said Alejandro Hope, a former Mexican intelligence officer and now security consultant at a Mexico City research group. “But there will continue to be people who call themselves Zetas, act like Zetas and belong to gangs that use their letter.”
International pressure will be a key factor, as arresting a capo is one thing, but taking apart an organization with offshoots in several countries is another, said Alberto Islas, a security expert in Mexico City.
In this case, President Enrique Peña Nieto, who took office in December promising to reduce the violence, had made clear that Mr. Treviño, who faces organized crime, murder, drug trafficking and torture charges, was a prime target. But, after years of what it saw as too much American involvement in its security agencies, the Mexican government wanted its forces to lead the way.
A senior American law enforcement official posted along the border, who was not authorized to speak on the record, described a recent meeting with his counterparts in Mexico City. “What I got from that meeting is that Mexico wants to prove it can handle this fight on its own — or at least on its own terms,” the official said.
Still, the Mexicans recognized the need for American help, and the two governments began sharing information on Mr. Treviño several months ago, with the Americans passing along word of the birth of Mr. Treviño’s child a little more than a month ago, the official said. The Americans also shared the information that he appeared to be making trips to visit the baby in the Nuevo Laredo area, near where he was captured, the official said.
The authorities traded intelligence gleaned from conversations caught on wiretaps and informants’ tips that led Mexican authorities to Mr. Treviño’s truck, moving before dawn on a highway near the border, the official said. Mexican marines in a helicopter intercepted Mr. Treviño and arrested him and two aides without a shot. Eight guns and $2 million in cash were confiscated.
“The reason they caught him without layers of security and without firing a shot,” said Art Fontes, a former F.B.I. official who spent years tracking Mr. Treviño, “is because he had $2 million in the vehicle and he thought he could buy his way out.”
While rumors about Mr. Treviño’s capture — including a photograph of him in custody — began appearing on Twitter late Monday morning, American officials said they were not formally notified about the arrest until hours later.
Mexican officials have not acknowledged any American role in the operation. Mr. Peña Nieto, the president, congratulated the navy on Tuesday and celebrated the capture as efficient coordination among agencies — Mexican ones. “I send my recognition and congratulation to the Mexican Navy and all the institutions in charge of our nation’s public security for the efficient work they have done,” he said at an event in central Mexico.
The Zetas took in substantial sums by running the migrant smuggling business through Mexico but were also known for preying upon those seeking to reach the United States. Mr. Treviño played a role in the death or disappearance of at least 265 of them, including 72 immigrants, mostly from Central America, who were found dead in northeastern Mexico in 2010, Mexican authorities said after his arrest.
The Rev. Pedro Pantoja, a Catholic priest in Saltillo, Mexico, who has been working with migrants for 20 years, said he had just returned from Guatemala, where he saw gang members working with the Zetas collecting thousands of dollars from people looking to reach the United States. No matter who is in charge, he said, the system will remain in place as poverty and criminal logistics combine, often with violence used as a way to maintain control.
“Organized crime still has all the power, with migrants, with kidnappings and with violence,” he said. “It will continue.”
Damien Cave contributed reporting from New York.
More questions from Congress on surveillance
By PETE YOST (The Associated Press) — Wednesday, July 17th, 2013; 8:45 a.m. EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Six weeks after a leaked document exposed the scope of the government's surveillance of Americans' phone records, many Democrats and some Republicans are still angry about it.
On Wednesday, key administration figures from the intelligence world will appear before the House Judiciary Committee to answer another round of questions.
The questioners include Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, the Republican who sponsored the USA Patriot Act, which governs the collection of phone records. Sensenbrenner has said he was "extremely troubled" by the administration's legal interpretation that permitted the government to gather hundreds of millions of Americans' phone records.
Shortly after the surveillance was revealed, Rep. John Conyers, the panel's ranking Democrat, said he feared "that we are on the verge of becoming a surveillance state."
"Over the past decade - under the leadership of four chairman with diverse political views - the members of this committee have vigorously debated the proper balance between our safety and our constitutional right to privacy," Conyers said in remarks prepared for Wednesday's hearing. "We never - at any point during this debate - approved the type of unchecked, sweeping surveillance of United States citizens employed by our government in the name of fighting the war on terrorism."
Those facing the committee will include Deputy Attorney General James Cole and National Security Agency deputy director John C. Inglis. The others testifying on behalf of the administration are Robert S. Litt, general counsel in the Office of Director of National Intelligence, and Stephanie Douglas, executive assistant director of the FBI's National Security Branch.
Members on both sides of the aisle are likely to look for clear answers on why, in the Obama administration's view, the gathering of all phone records is lawful.
The committee also will hear from administration critics, among them Jameel Jaffer of the American Civil Liberties Union. Jaffer, the group's deputy legal director, said in testimony prepared for Wednesday's hearing that excessive secrecy on surveillance issues "has made congressional oversight difficult and public oversight impossible."
Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies, said in testimony prepared for the hearing that the "massive" collection of information on Americans is unprecedented and that the surveillance of Americans "poses a significant and perhaps unprecedented challenge to our system of constitutional checks and balances."
Microsoft Pushes Harder to Talk About Surveillance Orders
By NICK WINGFIELD — Wednesday, July 17th, 2013 ‘The New York Times’
Microsoft on Tuesday called on the United State attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr., to give the company permission to talk about how it handles government surveillance requests.
The move represents an escalation of Microsoft’s campaign to speak more freely about the national security orders it receives for e-mails, Internet phone calls and other communications by users of Microsoft services. Secrecy laws severely limit what Microsoft and others can say about those orders, particularly the surveillance requests issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
Microsoft and other companies have been frustrated by government limits on how they can respond to news stories about government surveillance orders, many of which were prompted by the leak of documents about electronic spying programs by Edward J. Snowden, a former contractor for the National Security Agency. Technology companies have maintained that many reports have misinterpreted the leaked documents.
In a letter that Bradford Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, sent to Mr. Holder on Tuesday, Mr. Smith said the company had not made “adequate progress” in its discussions with the Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation and other members of intelligence agencies about sharing more details about its compliance with surveillance orders. Microsoft petitioned the government on June 19 to let it publish how many national security requests it has received. The company says the government has not yet responded to the request.
“In my opinion, these issues are languishing amidst discussions among multiple parts of the government, the Constitution itself is suffering, and it will take the personal involvement of you or the president to set things right,” Mr. Smith said in the letter.
“It’s time to face some obvious facts,” Mr. Smith continued. “Numerous documents are now in the public domain. As a result, there is no longer a compelling government interest in stopping those of us with knowledge from sharing more information, especially when this information is likely to help allay public concerns.”