The War on Cops, How It Makes Everyone Less Safe

September 13, 2016

From The New American by Bob Adelmann, September 13, 2016

There were so many shootings over the weekend in Chicago that the city’s CBS affiliate didn’t have all the particulars until after 8:00 a.m. on Monday morning. The station then added another shooting to the list just before going online with the depressing news: Eight people were killed and at least 33 others were wounded in Chicago between Friday evening and Monday morning.

The first homicide occurred at about 11:30 p.m. Friday night with the shooting death of 18-year-old Louis Rodriguez; the last shooting occurred at 4:30 a.m. Monday morning when a man standing on a sidewalk in Chicago’s West Side was shot by someone cruising by in a vehicle. At press time the victim was listed in serious condition.

One of the many weekend shootings involved the death of a man attending a vigil for another who was shot the day before. He was killed by two men in a grey minivan who then sped away. The case is under investigation.

Heather Mac Donald, author of The War on Cops: How the New Attack on Law and Order Makes Everyone Less Safe, explained the reason why: the “Ferguson Effect.” First coined by Sam Dotson, chief of the St. Louis Police Department in 2014, the term describes the increasing reluctance of officers on the beat to confront criminals owing to fears that they might be charged themselves with criminal activity. As a result, wrote Dotson, “The criminal element is feeling empowered.”

In an article in the Wall Street Journal in May of 2015, Mac Donald claimed that, thanks to the “Ferguson Effect” — named for the 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri — “cops are disengaging from discretionary enforcement activity,” leading inevitably to that criminal “empowerment.”

In the Journal on Sunday, Mac Donald expanded on her theme, claiming that “Chicago officers have cut back drastically on proactive policing under the onslaught of criticism from the Black Lives Matter movement and its political and media enablers.” As a result, she wrote, “criminals are back in control and black lives are being lost at a rate not seen for decades.”

By September 8 nearly 3,000 people had been shot in Chicago since the first of the year — an average of one shooting victim every two hours. A total of 516 people have been murdered while gun homicides and non-fatal shootings jumped by half from the same period a year earlier.

Mac Donald claims that the media blames poverty, racism, and lack of government services as the cause behind the Chicago horror, while Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson blames lenient prison sentences that release violent criminals back on the street. Any attempt by the state’s legislature to impose stricter sentencing is successfully blocked by the legislature’s Black Caucus.

In April Mac Donald spoke at Hillsdale College, blaming the Movement for Black Lives (50 organizations including Black Lives Matter) as the primary driver behind the anti-police movement. The group, according to Mac Donald, promotes the lie that racist police officers represent the greatest threat to young black men today. This has led to riots, murder, and attempted murder of police officers and a campaign to eliminate traditional grand jury proceedings when police use lethal force.

This lie has led to the spreading of the Ferguson Effect, where “police officers are backing off of proactive policing in the face of the relentless venom directed at them on the street and in the media.”

What Mac Donald failed to tell her Hillsdale audience about is far more sinister: the agenda and the forces behind the BLM. Founded by Marxist revolutionaries in 2013, BLM is closely affiliated with a vicious hard-left communist revolutionary outfit called the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO). This is a Marxist-Leninist organization that calls for the overthrow of capitalism, to be replaced by a communist dictatorship. The BLM is informed by the FRSO’s view of America as an inherently and irredeemably racist nation where “white privilege” is ubiquitous and “national oppression [of blacks] is at the heart of [the nation’s] economic, political and ideological traditions, and the oppression of the African American people in particular have been central to the U.S. class struggle.”

The FRSO calls for “a social system where … wealth is not in the hands of a few billionaires, but is controlled by the people.” Of course, the FRSO intends that, following the destruction of capitalism, it will represent “the people” in setting up the new dictatorship.

To get there, however, local police must be replaced by federal police, and the best way to do that is to create distrust among the citizenry over local police, leaving the way open for a federal “gestapo” in charge of keeping the peace and removing recalcitrants and other anti-communists in the process.

Making the point, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin announced last week that the Chicago Police Department will be receiving more than $2.3 million in taxpayer funds that will, he said, “help equip those officers with the best, most up-to-date tools to do their jobs effectively and keep residents safe.” It will also come with the inevitable strings which, over time, become ropes and then hawsers, turning the CPD into a mere substation of the national police force in the making.

Mac Donald expressed dismay and frustration at the success of the BLM to create the vacuum to be filled by federal intrusions and eventually the takeovers of local police. She closed her speech at Hillsdale with this observation: “I don’t know what will end the current frenzy against the police. What I do know is that we are playing with fire, and if it keeps spreading, it will be hard to put out.”

“We” are not playing with fire, Ms. Mac Donald. “We” are the target of the revolutionaries, as are our local police. “We” will keep our freedoms only to the extent that we truly understand the war against those freedoms, who its enemies are, what their intentions are, and then take action. For 50 years The John Birch Society has been in the forefront of that battle, forming its first “Support Your Local Police” committees in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Unless and until awareness and understanding is sufficient to expose, neuter, and then eliminate that threat, it will indeed “keep spreading.”

Local , State, Federal Law Enforcement Agencies Searching for Suspect in Murder of Shelby, NC Police Officer

September 12, 2016

From The Shelby Star by Joyce Orlando, September 12, 2016

Shelby Police are still searching for 23-year-old Irving Lucien Fenner Jr., who is suspected of fatally shooting Officer Tim Brackeen.

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23-year-old Irving Lucien Fenner Jr

Brackeen, who was shot in the chest while searching for Fenner early Saturday morning, died around 11:40 a.m. Monday.

Police Officer Tim Brackeen | Shelby Police Department, North Carolina

Shelby Police Officer Tim Bracken

Law enforcement from Shelby; the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office; the State Bureau of Investigation; U.S. Marshals Service; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; and multiple other agencies have been chasing leads since Brackeen was shot, Chief Jeff Ledford said.

“We have teams out 24/7, checking on tips,” he said.

Fenner still faced charges of attempted murder related to the shooting as of 4:45 p.m. Monday.

Gov. Pat McCrory spoke with Ledford on Sunday about Brackeen.

“The governor has been extremely supportive and has offered us every state resource that we need,” Ledford said.

At 4:45 p.m. Monday, Ledford addressed the media and said the search for Fenner continues as it had through the weekend.

Brackeen was looking for Fenner at 12:21 a.m. Saturday to serve a warrant on a charge of robbery with a dangerous weapon. He reportedly found Fenner at 212 Gidney St., near Bethel Baptist Church, in Shelby, police said. The two struggled outside the home, and Brackeen was shot in the chest, Ledford said Saturday.

Other officers arriving on the scene heard the sound of gunfire, and when they went to Brackeen’s location, they found him outside the home and injured, Ledford said Saturday. Brackeen was wearing his bulletproof vest at the time of the shooting.

Brackeen and Fenner had met before Saturday night. In June 2012, Brackeen performed a traffic stop and wrote Fenner citations for no operator’s license, and for failing to stop at a sign or red light. Those charges were disposed of by a judge in 2013.

Fenner was also convicted of assault of a Shelby Police Department law enforcement animal in July 2009, which was disposed of in August 2009. He was also awaiting a hearing on two citations issued by the Sheriff’s Office for misdemeanor charges of possession of marijuana up to a half ounce and carrying a concealed gun.

McCrory announced Monday the state is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for the shooting of Brackeen.

Cleveland County Crime Stoppers is also offering a continuously increasing reward in the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for the shooting. Donations can be made to Crime Stoppers at www.CityOfShelby.com by searching for Crime Stoppers, or through checks mailed to Crime Stoppers, P.O. Box 3262, Shelby, NC 28151.

“We will continue to get the reward money up,” Ledford said.

Call Shelby Police Department at 704-484-6845 with any tips regarding Fenner’s whereabouts.

Support Your Local Police

August 21, 2016

From The New American by Steve Byas, May 11, 2016

Heather Mac Donald wrote in her book The War on Cops: How the New Attack on Law and Order Makes Everyone Less Safe, “On March 11, 2015, as protesters were once again converging on the Ferguson police headquarters demanding the resignation of the entire department, a six-year-old boy named Marcus Johnson was killed a few miles away in a St. Louis park, the victim of a drive-by shooting.”

Mac Donald noted that no one protested the boy’s killing. “Al Sharpton did not demand a federal investigation. Few people outside of his immediate community know his name.”

Yet, all Americans can recall how the focus of the nation was upon lone white police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, accused of shooting down an unarmed young black man, Michael Brown, who was allegedly trying to surrender.

In his nationwide “Support Your Local Police — and Keep Them Independent” speaking tour, sponsored by The John Birch Society and its local chapters, James Fitzgerald, a former police detective from Newark, New Jersey, explains to his audiences what really happened in Ferguson. Despite initial media reports that Officer Darren Wilson had simply gunned down Brown, whose hands were allegedly raised in surrender, the grand jury investigating the incident concluded that the officer’s story was the correct one: that Brown was charging at Wilson.

Why did they come to this conclusion? Fitzgerald, speaking in Oklahoma City, told his audience that 40 witnesses — 38 of them black — testified that officer Darren Wilson was indeed telling the truth.

Fitzgerald has speeches scheduled in the next few weeks in Billings, Montana; Colorado Springs, Colorado; and Keyport, New Jersey. He is the national director of field activities for The John Birch Society, the parent organization of The New American magazine. In the early 1960s, the Daily Worker, an official Communist Party publication, blamed Fitzgerald for getting rid of a civilian review board in New York City.

As The New American’s Joe Wolverton has written,

The campaign for establishing “civilian review boards” has been underway since the 1930s — when it was launched by the Communist Party. The term “civilian review” is deceptively appealing, and we already have it in the form of civilian officials elected by the people and other civilian appointees and institutions established under state constitutions and county/city charters: state and county grand juries, county commissions, city councils, mayors, county sheriffs, etc. The Communist Party and its fellow travelers intended to undermine this constitutional civilian process by inserting over the police and sheriffs an unelected board of activists (whom they intended to control). Unfortunately, this subversive program has now been instituted in more than 100 U.S. cities.

Fitzgerald began his speech in Oklahoma City by citing a report by the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. Senate in 1960 entitled “Communist Plot Against Free World Police.” The report concluded that Communists were working to sully the reputation of the nation’s police forces. A few year after this report was published, Sargent Shriver, a brother-in-law of President John Kennedy, was director of the Peace Corps for President Lyndon Johnson. From that position, Shriver was funneling money to “community organizers” in Newark, New Jersey, who were working to radicalize young black Americans. Shriver was cautioned that these groups were led by ideological Communists, who had posters of Communists such as Mao, Lenin, and Che Guevera gracing the walls of their headquarters. He dismissed the concerns, but the agitation against the police continued until the infamous Newark race riots occurred.

Similar tactics as those described in the 1960 Senate report are still used today, Fitzgerald said. He explained that demonstrators were actually bussed into Ferguson, and such activities were funded by George Soros via millions of dollars. Among the groups were “Black Lives Matter” and the “Organization for Black Struggle.” Clearly, Fitzgerald said, the people in Ferguson had no interest in burning down and looting their own communities — it was mostly these outside agitators who did so.

But, when President Barack Obama’s Justice Department investigated the situation in Ferguson, it concluded that the problem was the police! Others who arrived in the St. Louis suburb to agitate against the local police included Al Sharpton. Fitzgerald recalled that in 1988, Sharpton had encouraged black female teenager Tawana Brawley to insist that a county prosecutor had raped her. A grand jury investigated and discovered that Brawley had simply made up the story because she was scared that her stepfather would punish her for staying out too late. Sharpton and Brawley eventuallly lost a libel suit, and Johnny Cochran, the lawyer made famous by securing O.J. Simpson’s acquital, paid Sharpton’s judgment. Brawley, now a nurse, has had her wages garnished to pay off her part of the judgment.

Fitzgerald also discussed the Freddie Gray incident in Baltimore, where the death of Gray in police custody led to riots. Incredibly, the mayor of Baltimore told the police not to interfere with those destroying property. Mac Donald noted that the three most consequential officers in Gray’s arrest and transport were black. “There is no evidence,” she said, “that a white drug dealer in Gray’s circumstances, with a similar history of faking injuries, would have been treated any differently.”

Black Lives Matter is a radical organization founded by Marxists, Fitzgerald said. He used photographs of demonstrations around the country, with signs all including the words, “RevCom.US.” He explained RevCom.US is for “Revolutionary Communist Party of the United States.” Black Lives Matter, a group that President Obama defends, teaches chants that glamorize the killing of police. This illustrates that these riots are the result of a combination of “pressure from below” by street thugs, and “pressure from above” by powerful political figures such as President Obama. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio worked with the Communist Sandinistas in Nicaragua, Fitzgerald said, in offering a second illustration of “pressure from above,” as the New York mayor has been extremely hostile to his own local police force.

Today, there are no government agencies investigating the organized violence in the streets, Fitzgerald lamented. We no longer have groups such as the House Committee on Internal Security, the Subversive Activities Review Board, or the attorney general’s list of subversives.

Perhaps it is because the attorney generals of our present presidential administration are the subversives! Obama’s first attorney general, Eric Holder, actually funneled $1.5 million
to the Bronx Defenders, a group that created a rap song about how to kill policemen!

His replacement — Loretta Lynch — is no better. She wrote a nine-page letter to 6,500 municipal and state courts threatening to withhold federal funds if they don’t incarcerate fewer people!

Fitzgerald charged that the Justice Department was using something called the Police Data Initiative to achieve “federalization of the local police.” The way this is to be accomplished is through “standards” for local police both created and enforced by the Justice Department.

Referring once again to the 1960 Senate Judiciary Committee report, Fitzgerald cited the conclusion that Communists would create trouble by starting fights in public places, and when the police arrived, they would link arms, in an apparent attempt to create an incident of “police brutality.” He then compared this to a recent photograph of Occupy Wall Street activists also linking arms.

The media also repeats tactics over the years to promote such causes, Fitzgerald noted. He showed a photograph from a December 6, 1968 edition of Life magazine of the riots outside the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, with the caption, “The Police Rioted.” Several months later, Life repeated the charge with a riot in New Jersey, again blaming the police. Amazingly, the photo used was the same as one used earlier to illustrate alleged police misbehavior in Chicago!

What is the purpose of this leftist attack upon the police? Fitzgerald asserted that a principal goal of the Left is to nationalize the police function. Citing the 1960 Senate Judiciary Committee report again, Fitzgerald quoted, “There is a natural antipathy between the police and the Communists.” Fitzgerald offered some examples of nationalized police forces, including the Cheka in the Soviet Union and the Gestapo in Nazi Germany, and finally, the powers given to the executive branch of our own federal government by some provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), in which the president is given statutory authority to have Americans detained, without any actual charges and without any constitutional due process.

An increase in lawlessness, largely owing to the reluctance of police to confront some criminal activity in minority neighborhoods in such places as Chicago, where the murder rate has spiraled upward, will lead some Americans to believe the local police are not capable of controlling violent crime, Fitzgerald predicted. A nationalized police force will then be presented as the solution, he warned. He cited J. Edgar Hoover, the late long-time director of the FBI who said in 1968 that America does not need “a national police force” because “effective law enforcement is basically a local responsibility.”

Al Sharpton, however, has argued for an “end” to local policing, with that function taken over by a nationalized police force.

But, one can argue that Sharpton holds no public office (although he has been warmly welcomed at the White House by President Obama). What can one left-wing agitator actually do to bring this about?

Obama, shortly after being elected president in 2008, called for a “civilian national security force.” Speaking in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Obama said, “We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we’ve set. We’ve got to have civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-financed.”

While some of Obama’s defenders have protested that he is only talking about such groups as AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps, it is hard to imagine either of those two groups constituting a “civilian national security force,” just as powerful as the U.S. military. Unless their mission is somehow expanded.

It is also hard to imagine why someone who believed in limited government would want such a force. This is why it is not just a “support your local police” campaign, as important as that is, but the second part of the campaign effort that is also critically important to the survival of a limited constitutional government in the United States: keeping them independent. We must keep the police independent, and not allow them to be controlled by the federal government.

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More people were murdered last year than in 2014, and no one’s sure why

April 17, 2016

From The Washington Post by Max Ehrenfreund & Denise Lu, January 27, 2016

The number of homicides in the country’s 50 largest cities rose nearly 17 percent last year, the greatest increase in lethal violence in a quarter Century.

A Wonkblog analysis of preliminary crime data found that about 770 more people were killed in major cities last year than the year before, the worst annual change since 1990.

The killings increased as some law enforcement officials and conservative commentators were warning that violent crime was on the rise amid a climate of hostility toward police. They said protests and intense scrutiny of officers who used lethal force had caused officers to become disengaged from their jobs, making streets more dangerous. Some have called it the “Ferguson effect,” after the St. Louis suburb in which Michael Brown Jr. was shot and killed by a police officer.

A closer look at the figures, however, suggests no single explanation for the increases and reveals no clear pattern among those cities that experienced the most horrific violence.

Several cities that recorded the largest increases in homicides — Nashville and Washington, D.C., for instance — had no widely publicized, racially charged killings by police. Many other big cities recorded modest increases or even declines in the number of homicides, with no deviation from the pattern of recent years.

Also, undermining the theory that police have become generally disengaged, a preliminary FBI report released last week showed that the overall number of violent offenses increased just 1.7 percent nationally during the first half of the year while the number of property crimes declined 4.2 percent.

(The FBI’s official count for the full year will be published in the fall. Because a crime’s classification may change as authorities gather more information, the official figures on homicide might differ from Wonkblog’s current tally.)

Public safety has been improving for two decades, and lethal violence in large cities is still rare by historical standards. Twice as many people were killed in those 50 cities in 1991 as in 2015. “You certainly wouldn’t want to say the sky is falling,” said Darrel Stephens, executive director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association.

Nonetheless, last year’s interruption in the decline in homicides has experts concerned. They say it’s too early to know what caused the change, or whether it will endure. It’s not clear if there is a Ferguson effect, or if the homicides are a result of the heroin epidemic, reduced police department budgets, a decline in the number of convicts behind bars or other factors entirely.

“There’s no national pattern,” said Franklin Zimring, a criminologist at the University of California at Berkeley.

The Ferguson Effect

When law enforcement officials from around the country met in Washington in October to discuss the increase in murders, many suggested that deteriorating relations between police and civilians could be the cause.

With civilians recording their every move with cellphone cameras, police may be hesitating to engage with criminals, several officials said. Perhaps criticism from civic leaders has damaged officers’ morale, or maybe monitoring protests and marches draws crucial manpower away from solving cases.

“Has policing changed in the YouTube era?” asked FBI Director James B. Comey. “Cities with nothing in common are seeing – in the same degree and in the same time – dramatic increases in violence, especially homicides.”

The data does not provide clear evidence for this theory on a national level, but in some cities, intensified mistrust of the police appears related to spates of violence last year.

In Baltimore, where riots followed the death of Freddie Gray in police custody in April, the number of homicides increased 59 percent last year, from 217 to 344. That is more homicides than have been committed in the city in any year since 1993, when the city’s population was 715,000, according to the census. Only 623,000 people live there today.

Several officers have been charged in connection with Gray’s death. The case against one of them, William G. Porter, ended with a hung jury and a mistrial last month. Prosecutors said Porter was culpable in Gray’s death because he failed to properly buckle him into the back of a police van, in which Gray suffered a fatal injury to his neck, and because Porter should have sought medical help before it was too late.

Peter Moskos, a former Baltimore police officer who teaches at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, disagrees. “These cops are on trial, arguably, for doing nothing wrong,” he said, adding that such cases could discourage police from making arrests.

“That idea, that ‘if I do my job, I could get in trouble’ — that has a chilling effect,” Moskos said.

In Cleveland, anguish and protests followed the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice at the hands of a police officer in November 2014. The number of homicides nearly doubled in that city the next year, from 63 in 2014 to 120. Last month, a grand jury declined to charge the officer who shot Rice.

No Correlation

At the same time, some of the most drastic increases in homicides occurred in cities where there have not been major controversies over law enforcement practices.

The number of homicides increased 83 percent in Nashville last year, to 75. The figure increased 62 percent in Oklahoma City, to 73. There were 162 homicides in Washington, D.C., last year, an increase of 54 percent.

These are all substantial changes, even though relations between police and civilians in these cities don’t appear to have worsened last year.

“There doesn’t seem to be, to me at least, a correlation between where there were protests against the police, and where murder seems to be increasing,” said Inimai Chettiar, director of the justice program at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice.

While protesters have marched against police violence in nearly every U.S. city, the acrimony has been greater in some cities than in others. Indeed, in Nashville, officers offered protesters hot chocolate and coffee.

“I personally don’t really believe that police officers across America have pulled back from doing their job,” said Stephens of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, who also served as police chief in Charlotte for nine years.

In other cities, homicides didn’t escalate significantly last year, despite intensifying conflicts with civilian leaders.

UC Berkeley’s Zimring points to New York, where relations between police and the city as a whole have largely collapsed.

Mayor Bill de Blasio won election on a promise to overhaul the police department after a federal judge ruled the widely controversial practice known as “stop and frisk” unconstitutional. Then, a grand jury didn’t indict an officer for the death of Eric Garner, who died during an arrest in 2014. And at a funeral for a slain officer later that year, ranks of police turned their backs when the mayor began to speak. Officers effectively stopped working for two weeks that winter, and arrest rates plummeted.

Despite the tension, the number of homicides in New York City increased just 5 percent last year, well below the average change across the 50 largest cities in the country. The cumulative result of all the controversy over the past several years has been a 35 percent decrease in the number of homicides since 2010.

Then there’s Chicago, a city where Mayor Rahm Emanuel has blamed crime rates on closer scrutiny of the police.

“We have allowed our police department to get fetal, and it is having a direct consequence,” the mayor said at the meeting in October. “They don’t want to be a news story themselves. They don’t want their career ended early, and it’s having an impact.”

Mistrust of Chicago’s police has been elevated since an officer fatally shot Laquan McDonald 16 times in October 2014. A grand jury indicted the officer, Jason Van Dyke, on charges including murder in the first degree in November, more than a year after the shooting. Emanuel dismissed his superintendent of police, and protesters paraded along the city’s ritziest avenues, calling on the mayor to resign.

The number of homicides increased by 15 percent last year in Chicago. That change is less than the average change across the country’s 50 largest cities. The tally last year, 468, was nothing out of the ordinary for Chicago, where no fewer than 500 homicides were committed in 2012.

Heroin

Another theory that Comey cited for the increase in homicides is the expanding popularity of heroin. Possibly, as more people become addicted to the drug, dealers are moving their operations into new territory, leading to disputes and violence.

Richard Rosenfeld, a criminologist at the University of Missouri at St. Louis, points out a problem with this explanation.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that more people are dying from using too much heroin, an indicator of Americans’ newfound taste for the drug. Yet that increase began in 2010, when the number of homicides was declining in many major cities.

Heroin might account for the greater number of homicides in a city such as Indianapolis, where the count increased by 33 percent between 2011 and 2012 and has worsened since then. Police there have said a dispute over drugs was the motivation in many of those cases.

It isn’t clear whether heroin is part of the explanation for the increase in homicides this past year in other cities.

“You’d have to account for at least three years, maybe even a longer gap,” Rosenfeld said.

Stephens, of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, ticked off a list of other theories for the increase in violence. Perhaps relaxed gun laws in some states are making firearms more widely available, and more arguments are being settled with lethal weapons as a result.

Stephens also noted that authorities are locking up fewer people in prison, and perhaps more dangerous criminals were on the street last year.

Federal data, however, suggest that the reduction in the incarcerated population over the past several years is mainly a consequence of decreasing admissions, rather than a change in the number of prisoners released annually, which has also declined. In 2014, just 582,000 prisoners were let go from state and federal prisons, compared with 683,000 in 2008.

Additionally, both those explanations are complicated by the absence of any regional pattern in the data. There were more killings in Nashville, but the total in Memphis declined by 1 percent. The number of homicides increased 25 percent in Houston, but decreased 9 percent in San Antonio. There were seven fewer homicides last year than in 2014 in Fresno, Calif., a decline of 15 percent. Meanwhile, up Highway 99 in Sacramento, there were 43 killings last year, an increase of 54 percent.

“Everything is basically anecdotal,” Stephens said. “There’s not a clear national picture that I’ve been able to discern of what might be contributing to the changes that we’ve seen in so many cities.”

‘Data Points’

Wonkblog collected the 2015 homicide data from individual police departments or from news sources that cited those departments. Homicide data for earlier years came from the FBI.

The FBI excludes certain homicides in which authorities determine that the killer did not break the law. Those rare “justifiable homicides” might include acts of self-defense or some killings by police officers. While some police departments do include those incidents in their homicide counts, Wonkblog excluded them from the figures presented in this article.

Justifiable homicides couldn’t be removed from the data for seven cities: Colorado Springs; Columbus; Ohio; Los Angeles; Miami; Minneapolis; Seattle; and Wichita. As a result, the counts for those cities might be biased upward relative to previous years.

On the other hand, it sometimes requires coroners and detectives several weeks to determine whether a death is a homicide. Homicides committed near the end of last year might not be included in these totals if investigators haven’t yet identified them as suspicious.

While the FBI’s official crime data for 2015 won’t be reported for several months, the agency recently released preliminary counts for the first half of the year. That data revealed a divergence between large cities and smaller towns. In jurisdictions with at least 1 million people, the number of homicides increased 10.8 percent during the first six months of 2015, and by 12.4 percent in cities with between 500,000 and 1 million residents. Nationally, though, the figure was only 6.2 percent.

Data on other crimes can provide a more complete picture of public safety. In a preliminary analysis based on figures from 19 cities, Chettiar’s colleagues at New York University projected that the overall rate of crime declined 5.5 percent last year.

The fact that there has been little change in the number of violent crimes other than homicide suggests that the officers haven’t stopped doing their jobs.

At the same time, if heroin addicts are committing more crimes to pay for their drugs, criminologists would expect an increase in property crime, not continuing declines.

The data on homicides does not conclusively rule out a Ferguson effect or heroin consumption as factors in the overall increase in the number of homicides. Both may have contributed to the violence, along with other factors that researchers haven’t yet identified.

Experts on crime understand little about what causes fluctuations in violence and lawbreaking over time. That this past year’s increase remains mostly a mystery shouldn’t be a surprise, since as Wonkblog has previously reported, the much larger decline since 1991 is still largely unexplained.

“We need to figure out what’s happening and deal with it now. I refuse to wait,” Comey, the FBI director, said in October. “These aren’t data points. These are lives.”

 

Civil Judgments for Criminal Monetary Obligations

April 17, 2016

From North Carolina Criminal Law, a UNC School of Government Blog by Jamie Markham, April 14, 2016

When can money owed as the result of criminal case be docketed as a civil judgment?

You’ve probably seen the recent report from the Administrative Office of the Courts on criminal cost waivers. That report, required annually under G.S. 7A-350, aggregates court cost waivers “by the district in which the waiver or waivers were granted and by the name of each judge granting a waiver or waivers.” I wrote about tracking court cost waivers here.

The report is interesting. It sorts judicial officials’ decisions on monetary obligations into several different “money statuses.” The status of primary interest—or at least the one statutorily required to be tracked—is costs that are “Waived/Remitted.” But other statuses are also included. For example, there is a column showing the total number of costs “Ordered,” to “provide a sense of the volume of the dispositions in each county . . . or by each judge.” Report at 2.

One of the statuses is “Civil Judgment.” The report defines that status as the one to be used “when the judge orders the monetary obligations due through civil rather than criminal enforcement.” Id. at 3.

The general concept of treating certain criminal monetary obligations as civil exists in our statutes. I know of three such authorizations.

Costs and fines. Under G.S. 15A-1365, “[w]hen a defendant has defaulted in payment of a fine or costs, the judge may order that the judgment be docketed. Upon being docketed, the judgment becomes a lien on the real estate the defendant in the same manner as do judgments in civil actions.”

Attorney fees. Under G.S. 7A-455(b), the court shall enter a judgment for attorney fees that “shall constitute a lien as prescribed by the general law of the State applicable to judgments.” The judgment kicks in on the later of (a) the date on which the conviction becomes final if the person is not ordered to pay attorney fees as a condition of probation, or (b) the date on which probation is terminated, revoked, or expires. G.S. 7A-455(c).

Restitution. Under G.S. 15A-1340.38(a), restitution in excess of $250 ordered under G.S. 15A-1340.34(b) “may be enforced in the same manner as a civil judgment.” Such restitution orders “shall be docketed and indexed in the county of the original conviction in the same manner as a civil judgment.” G.S. 15A-1340.38(b). What is “restitution ordered under G.S. 15A-1340.34(b)”? That is restitution ordered for a defendant sentenced under the Crime Victims’ Rights Act (Article 46 of Chapter 15A). In two unpublished cases the court of appeals has noted that there is no authority to docket non-CVRA restitution as a civil judgment. State v. Scott, 219 N.C. App. 652 (2012) (unpublished); State v. Hudgins, 215 N.C. App. 599 (2011) (unpublished). In probationary cases, civil judgments for CVRA restitution may not be executed upon the property of the defendant until probation has been terminated or revoked and the judge presiding at a probation violation hearing makes a finding that restitution in a sum certain remains due and payable. G.S. 15A-1340.38(c).

So, for all the major categories of criminal monetary obligations—costs, fines, attorney fees, and restitution (CVRA restitution, at least)—there is authority to treat the obligation as a civil judgment.

Something I noticed about the “Civil Judgment” column in the AOC report, however, is that it includes only those monetary obligations ordered as civil judgments exclusively. If the judicial official ordered the obligation as both criminal and civil, it gets categorized as “Ordered.”

I had heard of the practice of ordering an obligation as exclusively civil, but I didn’t realize it was quite so common. With respect to court costs and fines in particular, I read the docketing authority in G.S. 15A-1365 to kick in only in the event of a properly-found default—something I discussed in this prior post. If default is a precursor to docketing, then it seems like ordering a civil judgment for costs from the outset may put the civil cart before the criminal horse. In probationary cases, G.S. 15A-1343(e) requires court costs and attorney fees to be made a condition of supervision, absent extenuating circumstances.

I’d love to learn more about the process and thinking behind civil judgments for criminal obligations—particularly those that are civil only. Please post a comment or drop me a line if you have thoughts. I know this is a particular challenge for clerks.

A related question, of course, is how much money is actually collected as a result of these civil judgments. I’ll come back to that in a future post.

Longtime Buffalo Twp, PA Officer Dies

April 17, 2016

From http://www.triblive.com by Jodie Weigand, April 13, 2016

Buffalo Township Police Lt. Alan Behanna died Wednesday morning, April 13, 2016.

He has led the department as officer in charge for more than 15 years.

Township Supervisor Gary Risch Sr. said Behanna had been with the department for at least 30 years. He was among the township’s first police officers, said Risch, the police department supervisor.

Risch said Behanna died of a heart attack in his home. He said Behanna, 59, was planning to retire in three years.

Police Sgt. Rick Healey will lead the department, Risch said, until supervisors appoint a permanent officer in charge.

Cop Misses Slain Comrade’s Funeral. Then Little Girl Hands Him THIS Note And Runs

April 17, 2016

From http://www.liftable.com by Daniel Tofil

It was a sad day in Des Moines, Iowa. The police forced had just lost a beloved officer, Susan Farrell. Thousands showed up to Farrell’s funeral to pay their respects after she gave the ultimate sacrifice of her life in the line of duty. While other officers were at the service, Officer Don Franck was out on patrol.

As he was in his squad car by a local school, a girl ran up to him and handed him a note. She said “I’m sorry for your loss, blue lives matter.” Before Officer Franck could say a word, the girl had already run off. The note was exactly what Officer Franck needed that day. The note read:
“Dear Officer,

“I really want to thank you for your service and everything that you do for us. Your life matter to me. Thank you for waking up every morning to serve and protect Iowa. I really appreciate that. We will always have your back no matter what. #BackTheBlue #StandUnited #ThinBlueLine #CopLivesMatter

It was a sad day in Des Moines, Iowa. The police forced had just lost a beloved officer, Susan Farrell. Thousands showed up to Farrell’s funeral to pay their respects after she gave the ultimate sacrifice of her life in the line of duty. While other officers were at the service, Officer Don Franck was out on patrol.

As he was in his squad car by a local school, a girl ran up to him and handed him a note. She said “I’m sorry for your loss, blue lives matter.” Before Officer Franck could say a word, the girl had already run off. The note was exactly what Officer Franck needed that day. The note read:
“Dear Officer,

“I really want to thank you for your service and everything that you do for us. Your life matter to me. Thank you for waking up every morning to serve and protect Iowa. I really appreciate that. We will always have your back no matter what. #BackTheBlue #StandUnited #ThinBlueLine #CopLivesMatter

‘Blue Lives Matter Act of 2016’ Would Make Targeting Cops a Hate Crime

April 9, 2016

Blue Lives Matter

From breitbart.com by Lana Shadwick, March 29, 2016

A Republican representative from Colorado has introduced a bill in Congress that would make it a hate crime to target a cop just because he or she is a police officer.

The bill which has been named the “Blue Lives Matter Act of 2016,” was filed by U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), reported The Greeley Tribune.

The measure would enlarge federal hate crime laws to include law enforcement officers who are victims of violence and are targeted simply because they are peace officers.

“I’ve been in law enforcement for 25 years before I started in this job,” Buck told The Greeley Tribune. “I’ve seen over and over both police officers on the street and federal agents, jail deputies and bureau of prison officials being threatened by very dangerous people. I have a passion for trying to protect those who protect us. That’s what this bill is about.”

Buck told the publication that if the bill is passed, it would give federal prosecutors more ammunition against those who target a police officer just for what they do for a living. He used the December 2014 ambush and execution of two New York police officers as an example.

Buck served as the Weld County District Attorney and prosecuted Allen Andrade in 2009 for the murder of a transgender woman, Angie Zapata.

The bill comes after ambush style attacks on peace officers have made headlines all over the nation. The Tribune reported that the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund said there were at least six such killings in 2015, and fifteen in 2014.

Breitbart Texas reported extensively about the execution-style murder of Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Darren Goforth in August 2015. The Texas deputy was at a gas station with his marked vehicle and in uniform when a man walked up behind him and unloaded fifteen rounds into his head and back. Officials say that he was targeted simply because he was a peace officer, as reported by Breitbart Texas. Shannon Miles has been charged with capital murder but is not presently facing trial because he has been found lacking the capacity to aid his lawyer in his defense.

The political director of a liberal organization called Progress Now Colorado, Alan Franklin, was reported by the local paper to question whether peace officers should be the subject of hate-crime statutes. “The question is whether or not a police officer is really appropriately covered by such a statute, especially when there are many laws that severely penalize violence against police officers already.”

The Colorado newspaper reported that several other Republicans asked to be added as co-sponsors of the bill. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), and Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) were named.

Illegal Alien Smuggler Finally Goes to Jail After His 24th Arrest

April 9, 2016

From breitbart.com by Warner Houston, March 31, 2016

A man arrested twenty-four times for smuggling illegal immigrants into the U.S. was finally sentenced to a jail term, court records reveal.

Efrain Delgado-Rosales, 35, has a record of arrests for people smuggling going back to at least 1999 and has been arrested 23 previous times for the crime. Now, after his 24th arrest, the Mexican national has been handed a five-year prison sentence.

According to Fox News, Delgado-Rosales was arrested last November when he was caught leading four men across the border in California’s Otay Mountains.

The illegal immigrants testified that Delgado-Rosales met them in Tijuana and arranged the passage. During their trip, though, the men say they were robbed by a crew of men who came upon them when their guide had left the group alone for a period of time. The four illegal immigrants say they were robbed of their money and cell phones.

When Delgado-Rosales returned to be told the group had been robbed, he seemed so unconcerned that the illegal immigrants became suspicious he was in on the robbery.

One of the immigrants also testified that Delgado-Rosales allowed several of the men to lag behind and only halted long enough for them to catch up when he pleaded with the guide to wait for the men.

Delgado-Rosales was last apprehended bringing illegal immigrants across the border in August of 2014.

But despite the fact Delgado-Rosales had 23 previous arrests for smuggling illegals across the border, he was never served with any charges and never held for trial. Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexandra Foster noted Delgado-Rosales was merely deported each of the 23 previous times.

This is the second time in as many days that news of a human smuggler being arrested dozens of times made the news. The day before Delgado-Rosales was sentenced to his five-year sentence, immigration officials announced the arrest of Jiovani Hernandez.

Like Delgado-Rosales, Hernandez had many arrests for human smuggling but was still free to ply his trade. In fact, Hernandrz had been arrested a whopping 42 times for smuggling illegal aliens across the border.

5 worst Gun Controls

April 9, 2016

From breitbart.com, March 31, 2016 by AWR Hawkins

A major tenet for Democrats at the state and federal level is gun control, and one would not be wrong for observing that the kind of gun control pushed is often similar — if not identical — to past or existing gun controls that have failed to deliver the reduction in death and violence promised.

In other words, the gun controls pushed in one state are often simply a recycled version of gun controls that are failing in another. The same thing can be said of federal gun control efforts, where the gun control specifics pushed by Representatives, Senators, and President Obama are often demonstrable failures before they are fully introduced.

Here are five of the worst gun control proposals regularly recycled and put forward at the state and/or federal level:

Hollow-Point Ammunition Ban — Democrats in San Francisco have banned hollow-point ammunition in the city. The argument is that hollow-point ammunition is more dangerous — due to its expansion on impact — and therefore using full metal jacket bullets is safer. But reality teaches a completely different lesson. The NYPD used to mandate full metal jacket bullets for their officers, but reversed course when they realized the lack of expansion in a full metal jacket bullet tends to allow the bullet to pass through the perpetrator’s body and strike innocents behind him or her. In other words, the absence of hollow-point ammunition actually contributes to a higher rate of collateral damage.

In July 1998, when the New York Times reported the NYPD’s switch from full metal jacket bullets to hollow points, they quoted NYPD police commissioner Howard Safir, saying: “We are, in fact, going to switch to hollow-point ammunition as soon as we receive it. They are much safer than fully jacketed bullets, which will go through a person or tumble through a person’s organs and then continue on and hit innocent victims.”

“Assault Weapons” Ban — Democrats pushed through a federal assaults weapons ban under Bill Clinton that lasted from 1994 to 2004. The impact of the ban was negligible at best, and some studies — like that contained in Applied Economic Letters — show an significant increase in gun-related murder rates while the “assault weapons” ban was in place. For example, the study in the November 2013 issue of Applied Economic Letters showed the gun-related “murder rates were 19.3 percent higher when the Federal [‘assault weapons’] ban (AWB) was in effect.” We currently see this same truism playing out at the city level — in places like Chicago — where an “assault weapons” ban is simply correlating with a higher rate of shootings and murder, rather than a reduced rate of either.

“High-Capacity” Magazine Ban — Like the “assault weapons” ban, a ban on “high capacity” magazines is a favorite gun control push for Democrats following nearly every high-profile shooting or mass public attack. Yet “high-capacity” magazine bans are demonstrable failures and, as with all gun controls, give the criminal who continues to use “high-cap” mags an advantage over the law-abiding citizen who turns his or hers into the police or governing authority.

For example, during the May 2014 Santa Barbara attack in which Elliot Rodger shot and killed three innocents, all his magazines had a capacity of 10 rounds or less. Rodger made up for the smaller magazine capacity by simple carrying more magazines with him. And following the heinous April 16, 2007, attack on innocents at Virginia Tech — where Seung-Hui Cho used 15-round magazines in carrying out a murder spree that killed 32 — a Virginia Tech review board found that limiting him to 10-round magazines “would have not made that much difference in the incident.”

Why would smaller magazines have made little difference? Because the overarching problem was a gun-free zone that dictated all law-abiding citizens be disarmed. Therefore, the gunman had all the time in the world to shoot, reload, shoot, reload, shoot, ad nauseam.

Universal Background Checks — Universal background checks have been the preferred control option for Democrats and Republican

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA)

62%

(PA) ever since the heinous December 14, 2012, attack on Sandy Hook Elementary. Such checks would require all gun sales — retail and private — to be conducted under the purview of a Federal Firearm License (FFL) holder, who would run the buyer’s personal information through an FBI database to check for criminal background, etc.

Problem #1: Such a check would not have stopped or even hindered the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting because the gunman, Adam Lanza, did not buy his guns. Rather, he stole them.

Problem #2: The criminals on the streets of Baltimore, Chicago, Milwaukee, NYC, Philadelphia, St. Louis, etc., are not of a mind to stand in line and let an FFL run their black market gun sales through a FBI database.

Problem #3: Such a check already exists in retail stores — Dick’s Sporting Goods, Walmart, Academy, Gander Mountain, mom & pop gun stores, etc. — and it has offered no impediment to determined attackers who wish to acquire a gun for criminal use. For example, one of the strongest proponents of background checks is former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who was shot by Jared Loughner on January 8, 2011, yet Loughner acquired his gun by passing a background check.

And it is not just Loughner. In October 2015, the New York Times did a story on mass shooters and revealed that the vast majority of them acquire their guns by passing background checks. The exceptions to this pattern are those who steal their guns — think Adam Lanza — and the small fraction of high-profile gunman who get someone to purchase the gun for them.

Gun-Free Zones — The common thread running through high-profile shootings and mass public attacks in America is not the type of gun used or the color of the attacker’s skin. Rather, it is the unnatural condition law-abiding citizens endure when they find themselves disarmed in a “gun-free zone” by a local, state, or federal government mandate.

To be fair, in some cases the “gun-free zone” is the result of a business owner’s decision. We saw this with the Aurora movie theater in July 2012 and the Lafayette movie theater in July 2015.

Breitbart News previously reported that in an 8-year time period ending August 2, 2015, “gun-free zones” cost 105 innocent lives taken by gun fire and more than 150 others injured. Think about it — 105 persons unable to defend their lives because their Second Amendment rights were curtailed.

Does this mean all 105 of those persons would have carried a gun for self-defense if the “gun-free zones” had been abolished? No. But it does mean that they could have. And it means removing the impediment to their doing so would have at least given them a fighting chance instead of leaving them trapped in a defenseless posture when yet another criminal ignored the signs that said “no guns allowed.”