Archive for January, 2012

Jail for Man Who Attacked Police with Toy Light Sabers

January 31, 2012

From The Associated Press, January 31, 2012

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An Oregon judge is using his force to order a 45-day jail sentence and mental health evaluation for a would-be Jedi who attacked toy store customers with light sabers last December.

David Allen Canterbury told Judge Kenneth Walker that he is already seeking mental health treatment. Canterbury also apologized to his victims.

The Oregonian reports that the 33-year-old Canterbury pleaded no contest Monday to assault and resisting arrest.

Portland police say Canterbury had a Star Wars light saber in each hand as he swung at three customers last Dec. 14 at a Toys R Us store. He carried the light sabers outside the store and swung at police.

Officers eventually wrestled him to the ground.

Canterbury has been banned from the toy store.

Why Does a Policeman Touch a Tail Light?

January 31, 2012

By Wes Simons, eHow Contributor, November 11, 2011

Identification of Vehicle

Officers often press their hand against a car, typically the taillight or trunk, in order to leave fingerprints and that indicate the officer came in contact with the vehicle, according to the Santa Monica Police Department’s information office. Officers employ this practice as a safety precaution. Should the officer be attacked or “go missing” the fingerprint will provide evidence that can confirm the perpetrator’s vehicle.

Although video cameras are installed in most police cars, many officers still practice this physical safety precaution.

Surprise

Older police teaching methods advocated tapping the trunk or taillight in order to surprise the driver in the car. This was thought to prevent those in the car from hiding illegal substances and to help the officer in identifying anything suspicious.

Common Practice

Police officers are no longer advised to tap on the taillights of cars, as this gives the officer’s position away, making them more susceptible to attack.

 

What Are the Best Places to Live With No Gangs in California?

January 31, 2012

By Daniel Thomas, eHow Contributor,

According to 2008 data, gang membership in the United States hovers at roughly 1 million members. California remains synonymous with gangs, as the groups tend to thrive in urban and suburban areas of Pacific and Southwestern states. As gang membership proliferates criminal activity, violence and drug distribution, looking at a city’s crime rates and safety rankings often provides insight into the its gang population. Fortunately for potential residents, California offers numerous cities that offer safe living.

Mission Viejo

  • Situated in Southern California at the midpoint between Los Angeles and San Diego, Mission Viejo’s rich history spans back to its development by Gaspar de Portola’s expedition in 1769. The city survived wars, and its missions became secularized, but it remains a safe and economically prosperous location. Morgan Quinto Press–a publication that ranks state characteristics such as crime, education and health care–names Mission Viejo the fourth-safest city in the United States. In this aspect, the city outranks all others in California. As of 2009, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department protected Mission Viejo’s 100,242 residents, with crime rates typically two-thirds below state crime rates and about half countrywide crime rates. Mission Viejo’s official website boasts of the town’s cultural interests (such as jazz festivals, a folk music series and an active Cultural Arts Committee) coexisting with its economic strengths, which are bolstered by an ongoing Community Development Program.

Lake Forest

  • Lake Forest lies roughly six miles north of Mission Viejo in Southern California. On the same overall safe ranking list reported by Morgan Quinto Press, Lake Forest falls in the position of sixth-safest city in the United States and second-safest in California. According to the town’s official website, Lake Forest hosts crime prevention programs specific to both neighborhoods and businesses–an anonymous hotline to report gang activity (800-NO-GANGS) serves as part of these programs. Similar hotlines exist for graffiti and drugs. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department answers these calls and serves Lake Forest’s 78,344 residents (as of 2009). The city’s industries include research and development, technology, manufacturing and retail. These businesses add an economic edge to the safety of a small, green community filled with 20 public areas.

Sunnyvale

  • The 135,721 residents of central California’s Sunnyvale enjoy a low crime rate, 18 parks, cultural attractions, nearby higher education facilities and thriving Silicon Valley industries (according to the city’s 2009 official website data). Sunnyvale rests within an hour of the Pacific Ocean and within a few hours of national forests and Lake Tahoe.
    According to CityRating.com, Sunnyvale’s violent and property crime rates per capita fall between 0.17 and 0.62 times the national average (most rates fall in the 0.20 to 0.30 range). On Morgan Quinto’s list, Sunnyvale ranks as the 18th-safest city in the country. In addition to crime control under the Sunnyvale Police Department, the city of Sunnyvale incorporates an environmental sustainability program and an ongoing anti-crime downtown redevelopment initiative.

Read more: What Are the Best Places to Live With No Gangs in California? | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/list_6549209_places-live-gangs-california_.html#ixzz1l2umS3nQ

NYPD, Feds Testing Gun-Scanning Technology, But Civil Liberties Groups Up In Arms

January 31, 2012

Terahertz Imaging Detection Out To Detect Illegal Concealed Weapons

January 17, 2012

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The NYPD is stepping up their war against illegal guns, with a new tool that could detect weapons on someone as they walk down the street.

But is it violating your right to privacy?

Police, along with the U.S. Department of Defense, are researching new technology in a scanner placed on police vehicles that can detect concealed weapons.

“You could use it at a specific event. You could use it at a shooting-prone location,” NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly told CBS 2′s Hazel Sanchez on Tuesday.

It’s called Terahertz Imaging Detection. It measures the energy radiating from a body up to 16 feet away, and can detect anything blocking it, like a gun.

And the idea is causing quite the uproar on both sides of the privacy issue.

WCBS 880′s Rich Lamb On The Story

“I think it’s good. People will be safer and it will be a safer environment,” Jessica Ramos said.

“If it’s going to make us safer as citizens I’m okay with that,” said Lori Sampson of Lake Ronkonkoma.

“I think it’s all about invading people’s lives more and more and more,” Antonio Gabriel said.

“It’s definitely a privacy issue, but it’s for our safety. So it’s just one of those things, a double-edged sword,” added Clarence Moore of Union, N.J.

Police Commissioner Kelly said the scanner would only be used in reasonably suspicious circumstances and could cut down on the number of stop-and-frisks on the street.

But the New York Civil Liberties Union is raising a red flag.

“It’s worrisome. It implicates privacy, the right to walk down the street without being subjected to a virtual pat-down by the Police Department when you’re doing nothing wrong,” the NYCLU’s Donna Lieberman said.

“We have involved our attorneys as we go forward with this issue. We think it’s a very positive development,” Kelly said.

People on the street have differing opinions on the price they’d be willing to pay for safety.

“There are a lot of cameras already here, so as people walk they’re being filmed. And most of the time they don’t know it,” said Jennifer Bailly of Jersey City.

“If they search you, you’re not giving consent, so they can do what they want, meaning they can use that as an excuse to search you for other means. I don’t think that’s constitutional at all,” Devan Thomas said.

“I don’t agree with it. I have the belief that if you forgoe some of your freedom then it’s not freedom at all,” added Erwin Morales of Hoboken.

“I think it’s good. I think if someone has something to hide and they’re going to worry about it, who cares?” Robert McDougall added.

The Department of Defense is also researching the Terahertz technology to detect suicide bombers wearing explosives.

Wrongfully Imprisoned Man Awarded $25 Million in Damages

January 25, 2012

By Eric Pfeiffer | The Sideshow, a Yahoo! News Blog, January25, 2012

A Chicago man who spent 16 years in prison after being convicted of murder as a teenagerhas been awarded $25 million in damages after it was determined that he was wrongfully convicted.

 Thaddeus Jimenez, 32, had spent nearly half his life in prison before being exonerated and released in May 2009. After being released, Jimenez then sued the city, accusing the police of ignoring evidence in his case, including a confession from another suspect, Juan Carlos Torres.

Thaddeus Jimenez after his release from prison in 2009

Nonetheless, Jimenez was tried and convicted twice and sentenced to 45 years in prison. More from the Chicago Tribune:

Years later, lawyers and students from the Northwestern University Bluhm Center on Wrongful Convictions and other attorneys reinvestigated Jimenez’s conviction and found that two key witnesses recanted their original claims that he was the gunman. The state’s attorney’s office then agreed to reopen the case.

If the verdict stands, it will be one of the largest levied against Chicago in the city’s history.

“The state’s attorney’s office … recognized an injustice had occurred and they corrected it,” said Jimenez’s attorney Jon Loevy. “They deserve a ton of credit for reopening the case … taking an honest look at it and correcting an injustice.”

Jimenez is reportedly now working at a restaurant. “He’s trying to figure out what to do for the rest of his life,” Loevy said. However, last December, Jimenez was convicted on drug possession charges and could be headed back to prison for up to three years. He sentencing is scheduled for February 1, according to CBS News.

In ‘U.S. v. Jones,’ U.S. Supreme Court Rules No Warrantless GPS Tracking

January 24, 2012

From http://www.law.com by Joshua A. Engel, Law Technology News, January 23, 2012

The U. S. Supreme Court held that the Fourth Amendment prohibited law enforcement from using GPS devices to conduct surveillance on suspects without a warrant in the case, United States v. Jones.

The Jones case began in 2004. At that time, a federal and local law enforcement task force began investigating the defendant, a nightclub owner and operator, for alleged cocaine trafficking. As part of the investigation, the law enforcement officers attempted to locate co-conspirators’ drug stash locations by conducting traditional visual surveillance and installing a camera near the defendant’s nightclub.

The task force also covertly installed a GPS tracking device on a Jeep Grand Cherokee used by the defendant. Originally, the task force obtained a warrant to install the device, but installed the device one day after the expiration of the warrant. Using information obtained from the GPS device, the task force was able to locate the defendant, and obtain surveillance photographs and videos, at a suspected stash house in Maryland.

Later, based on intercepted phone calls, the task force determined that the defendant was going to receive a shipment of cocaine in October, 2005. The task force executed search warrants at various locations and recovered nearly $70,000 from the defendant’s Jeep, as well as a significant quantity of cocaine, thousands of dollars in cash, firearms, digital scales, and other drug paraphernalia. The defendant was charged respondent with conspiring to distribute cocaine and other charges. He was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.

LEGAL BACKGROUND

In order to understand Jones, it is necessary to start with two significant Supreme Court precedents based on very old technology: Katz v. United States and United States v. Knotts.

In Katz, the Supreme Court held that the warrantless wiretapping of conversations in a phone booth violates the Fourth Amendment. In reaching this conclusion, the Court shifted from the old property-based analysis of the Fourth Amendment to a privacy-based analysis. The Court explained that the Fourth Amendment would be implicated, and a warrant would be required, when the government violates an individual’s reasonable expectation of privacy. Justice Harlan, concurring, famously explained that the relevant inquiry under the Fourth Amendment has two parts: first, whether the person has “an actual (subjective) expectation of privacy,” and second, whether the individual’s subjective expectation of privacy is “one that society is prepared to recognize as ‘reasonable.'”

Knotts concerned the surveillance of a defendant who was suspected of manufacturing methamphetamine. Law enforcement installed a tracking device inside a five-gallon drum of chemicals used in the manufacture of methamphetamine. When the defendant purchased the drum of chemicals, the officers were able to follow his car with the help of a monitor that received the signals sent from the beeper.

Relying in part upon the information obtained through the use of the beeper, officers obtained a search warrant for the defendant’s cabin and discovered a drug laboratory and chemicals necessary for the manufacture of methamphetamine. The Supreme Court held that the Fourth Amendment was not applicable to the use of a tracking device in this situation.

The Court reasoned that the defendant did not have a reasonable privacy interest in the movement of his vehicle on a public roadway. This is, the Court reasoned, because drivers voluntarily convey to any observer their location and direction of travel by traveling on public roads. In other words, people have no legitimate expectation of privacy in their location if they could lawfully be viewed by law enforcement, and the police are permitted to use technology, whether flashlights or tracking devices, to augment “the sensory faculties bestowed upon them at birth.”

Knotts explicitly left open a question addressed by Jones, whether the use of electronic tracking devices to conduct 24-hour surveillance without a warrant was permissible, suggesting that “different constitutional principles may be applicable” to “dragnet type law enforcement practices.” The Jones case came before the Supreme Court on a split in opinions by lower courts.

Many courts, relying on Knotts, had held that the warrantless use of GPS tracking devices was permissible because the GPS tracking devices merely recorded what law enforcement officers could observe through traditional visual surveillance.

However, other courts, including notably the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in Jones (under the name United States v. Maynard), had declined to apply Knotts to GPS tracking devices. Instead, these court limited Knotts to holding that a person had no reasonable expectation of privacy where police use a tracking device to augment visual surveillance over a discrete and limited period of time, and that people have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the totality of their movements over the course of a period of time.

THE SUPREME COURT DECISION

In its decision, the Court held that the attachment and use of a GPS device to a vehicle constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment and, therefore, requires a warrant.

The opinion by Justice Antonin Scalia — joined by four other Justices — began by noting that the U.S. government had to occupy private property for the purpose of obtaining information. Scalia, thus, would apply traditional notions of trespass to determine whether a Fourth Amendment violation occurred. Scalia, thus, rejected the government’s argument that no search occurred under the Katz formulation because the defendant had no reasonable expectation of privacy in the underbody of the Jeep where the device was attached and in the locations of the Jeep on the public roads, which were visible to all.

In doing so, the Court held that traditional notions of trespass could continue to govern Fourth Amendment cases on focused on the act of installing the tracking device: “Where, as here, the Government obtains information by physically intruding on a constitutionally protected area, such a search undoubtedly occurred.” Scalia distinguished Knotts on the grounds that the “beeper had been placed in the container before it came into Knotts possession, with the consent of the then-owner.”

The opinion by Scalia declined to address the question of whether conducting the type of long-term surveillance enabled by GPS devices — if it could be achieved without a trespass — violated the Fourth Amendment. The concurrence by Justice Samuel Alito — joined by three other Justices — considered the question. Alito suggested that the short-term use of GPS devices may not violate a reasonable expectation of privacy, but “the use of longer term GPS monitoring in investigations of most offenses impinges on expectations of privacy.” Alito’s view was based on the view that “law enforcement agents and others would not — and indeed, in the main, simply could not — secretly monitor and catalogue every single movement of an individual’s car for a very long period.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor joined in the majority opinion, but appeared to be very sympathetic to the view that a violation of the Fourth Amendment could be found using the Katz approach.

IMPLICATIONS

The Jones decision could be one of the more significant decisions of recent years because of its recognition of the role of changing technology. If future courts rely on Scalia’s trespass-based approach, the implications of Jones could be limited. However, there appears to be at least five votes in support of the view that the Fourth Amendment does not permit law enforcement to conduct surveillance beyond a targeted investigation into a certain crime without a warrant.

In this view, Jones may be considered the first of a series of cases where courts refuse to permit law enforcement to undertake surveillance of particular individuals over extended periods of time in the hope of piecing together evidence of illegal conduct, including evidence of illegal conduct that was not even suspected prior to the surveillance.

Joshua Engel is vice president and general counsel of the Lycurgus Group, based in Columbus, Ohio. He writes the Stockycat blog about technology and the Fourth Amendment.

FBI Charges Connecticut Officers in Racial Profiling Investigation

January 24, 2012

The East Haven Police Department has been under scrutiny for months amid allegations some officers mistreat Latinos.

 

From http://www.nbcnewyork.com By Jonathan Dienst, Joe Valiquette and Shimon Prokupecz, January 24, 2012

The FBI arrested three Connecticut police officers and one sergeant for allegedly mistreating Latino suspects and residents while on patrol, law-enforcement officials say.

Three East Haven police officers and the sergeant were taken into custody early Tuesday and are expected to be arraigned in federal court in Bridgeport on the civil rights-related charges later today, law enforcement officials said.

CT Cops Accused of Racial Profiling
NBC Connecticut

The East Haven Police Department is under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department.

An indictment charges Dennis Spaulding, David Cari, Jason Zullo and Sgt. John Miller with conspiracy against rights, deprivation of rights and obstruction for allegedly executing unreasonable searches and seizures, using unreasonable force and concealing their actions.

Prosecutors say the group of officers was known as “Miller’s boys” after the name of the sergeant charged in the indictment.

The group often worked the midnight shift.

Investigators say the officers are charged because they worked “to injure, oppress and intimidate various members of the East Haven community.”

Prosecutors say the officers denied Latino residents and their advocates the right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures, the right to not be arrested and detained without probable cause and to not be arrested on false and misleading evidence.

The officers also are accused of harassing and intimidating individuals, including advocates, witnesses and other officers who tried to investigate or report misconduct or abuse committed by the four officers.

Connecticut U.S. Attorney spokesman Tom Carson said a news conference would be held later Tuesday morning.

Donald Cretella, the lawyer for John Miller, said his client has been honored with awards and risked his life in shootouts.

“John Miller is a hero in East Haven,” he said. “He’s decorated. He’s a wonderful family man. Hopefully, we’ll clear his name.”

Frank Riccio Jr., Spaulding’s attorney, said his client is an exemplary police officer.

“At this early stage it’s our position Mr. Spaulding is not guilty of the charges. He’s been nothing but an exemplary police officer. That’s why this is shocking.”

The East Haven Police Department has been under scrutiny for months amid allegations some officers mistreat Latinos. Allegations of false arrests and bogus traffic stops are widespread.

The arrests of the law-enforcement officials come weeks after the Justice Department issued a report saying some members of the department intentionally targeted Latinos for enforcement and traffic stops, and that there may have been efforts to cover up the alleged misconduct.

The Justice Department also found “serious deficiencies” in how the department is managed, officials told NBC New York.

Rev. James Manship is among those who worked to document what he said was harassment of Latino businesses by police for no apparent reason. Manship was arrested and locked up while videotaping one arrest. He was later released.

The former chief of the East Haven Police has denied his department systematically engaged in any wrongdoing. But he acknowledged certain members of the department were being investigated.

The New York FBI joined in the investigation to avoid any appearance of a conflict by the FBI Connecticut, which works closely with local police departments. An FBI New York spokesman declined to comment.

There was no immediate comment from an East Haven police department spokesperson either.

East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo said he backs the police.

“I stand behind the police department,” he said. “We have a great police department.”

Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy commented on the allegations of racial profiling last week saying, “As governor, I will continue to insist that every effort is taken to protect individual rights in every community, and that racial profiling is eliminated.”

Some residents and civil rights groups have held vigils and rallies to protest the alleged police misconduct. Previous news reports suggested as many as 15 officers were under scrutiny for alleged misconduct.

Video Game Sting Takes Down East St. Louis Police Chief

January 21, 2012

By Chris Morris | Plugged In (Yahoo! News), January 21, 2012

While most cops protect and serve, former East St. Louis Police Chief Michael Baxton apparently likes to play.

Michael Baxton

Baxton pleaded guilty Thursday to stealing four Xbox 360 consoles from the FBI, reports St. Louis news station KSDK.

 To be clear, the 360 is not standard issue equipment for the Feds these days. Officials had them in the car as part of a sting operation after suspicions arose about the chief’s conduct.

Baxton, who faces up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000, came under suspicion of offering preferential treatment to some suspects and stealing/selling items from the evidence locker. That’s when the FBI decided to test him.

 

Agents bought five Xbox 360s, put them in the trunk of a car, then reported the car as being stolen. Baxton and another officer responded to the call — and sure enough, when they saw the Xboxes, the chief ordered the officer to put four in his car and keep one for himself.

“Unbeknownst to Baxton, the unnamed officer voluntarily came forward to report other acts of misconduct occurring in Alorton and had been assisting the federal investigation from its inception. The unnamed officer was equipped with covert surveillance devices at the time of the theft — and he audio and video recorded the entire incident,” reads the court record.

Officials tracked one of the Xboxes and found it being used in Baxton’s basement. But the U.S. Attorney overseeing the case said Baxton lied and tried to frame another officer when confronted.

Baxton’s attorney calls the incident a “monumental lapse of judgment.”

Ironically, this isn’t the former chief’s first brush with the other side of the law. It turns out Baxton had two felony convictions from 1982 before he was appointed: one for theft and another for burglary. Those convictions were expunged in 1989.

The town really can’t catch a break when it comes to law enforcement officials. Baxton, after all, got the job of chief when the former chief was convicted of federal tax crimes.

23 Year-Old Mother Shot, Killed When Children Were in Home

January 20, 2012

Information from www.wcnc.com, January 20, 2012

Lancaster Co. Sheriff’s investigators say a 23-year-old woman was shot to death while her three children were at the family’s mobile home Thursday night in Lancaster.

When detectives arrived at a home on Roseanne Lane they found Jenika Jones dead on the couch.

 
 Police say the front door of the home was open when they arrived on scene.

One witness told police three people were seen running from the home where Jones had moved in just less than a month ago.

“We are actively pursuing leads in the case and the full extent of the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office investigative capability will be activated to help identify and bring to justice the violent person/persons responsible,” said Lancaster Sheriff Barry Faile.

Jones had three small children between the ages of one and five, and Jones’ aunt told NewsChannel 36 she does not know what will happen to the kids moving forward.

The neighbor told NewsChannel 36 Jones’ kids were playing outside just hours before the murder, and the child who came to the neighbor’s house was shaking, crying and saying, “help me, help me, take my mom to the hospital, take my mom to the hospital.”

Detectives are working to determine if the oldest kid may know the suspects.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office at 704-283-4136.

South Carolina Trooper Arrested After 3-Hour Standoff

January 17, 2012

From www.wsoctv.com, January 17, 2012

SIMPSONVILLE, S.C. — Authorities say a South Carolina Highway Patrol trooper has been arrested after a standoff at his Simpsonville home.

 Greenville County sheriff’s deputies say they were called to a home at 5:30 p.m. Saturday because of a domestic disturbance.

A woman said she had been involved in a fight with her husband. Authorities said Robert Keith Owens had a gun and made threats to harm a family pet.

 The woman was able to escape safely. Authorities made contact with Owens, who came out of the home around three hours later and was arrested and charged with domestic violence.

 Department of Public Safety spokesman Sid Gaulden says Owens had been on medical leave for several months after he was injured while on duty. It wasn’t known if Owens has an attorney.