Dumbass Arkansas Corrections Department Has Inmates Making Guard’s Uniforms – Two Murderers Walk Out Dressed Like Guards

May 31, 2009

GRADY, ARKANSAS – Arkansas authorities are searching for two convicted murderers who walked out of a prison after dressing up like corrections officers.

Corrections department spokeswoman Dina Tyler says Jeffrey Grinder and Calvin Adams escaped Friday evening from a prison in Grady. Both men were serving life sentences without the possibility of parole.

Tyler says the guard uniforms the inmates put on are made in the prison. She says the men put them on in the prison library and walked out of the prison during a shift change.

Tyler says 32-year-old Grinder and 39-year-old Adams drove away in a maroon or burgundy colored, 4-door sedan that had been left for them.

Grinder was convicted of murder in 2004, and Adams was convicted in 1995. Both men have family in Arkansas and out of state.

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Obese Wheelchair Bound Quadriplegic "Drug Lord" Sentenced To 10 Years In Prison For Conspiracy – No Prison Found That Can Imprison Him – Cost To Taxpayers To Be At Least $160,000 Per Year

May 31, 2009

AUSTRALIA – A quadriplegic whose disability was compared to the late Superman actor Christopher Reeve, has been jailed for up to 10 years for conspiring to manufacture ecstasy.

Paul Baker, 36, of Colyton in Sydney’s west, is the first quadriplegic in NSW history to receive a full-time custodial sentence.

District Court Judge Robert Toner’s decision last Wednesday will force jail authorities to spend thousands of dollars modifying a cell for Baker – once they find a prison that can accommodate his considerable needs.

The NSW Department of Corrective Services has admitted it is yet to find a permanent jail cell for Baker, who is morbidly obese and needs 98 hours of care per fortnight, which will be provided by an independent care agency.

He cannot eat, drink, go to the toilet or wash by himself and requires a hoist to transfer him to bed from his motorised wheelchair – which he controls with a slight movement in one hand.

In court, Baker’s lawyer compared his condition to that of Christopher Reeve, who became a quadriplegic after a horse-riding accident and died in 2004.

“We set up a committee to deal with (Baker) because we knew he would probably be getting a custodial sentence,” a Corrective Services spokesman said.

“At the moment he is in Long Bay (jail) hospital in the aged-care and frailty unit. He’ll be in there for an assessment and planning period while we look at various jails to figure out which would be most suitable to cope with his level of disability.”

The department said it would cost about $200,000 per year to look after Baker, double the cost of an average “secure” prisoner.

Some $4000 was spent on modifying a truck to convey him from court to jail last week. It will be used again when, and if, authorities decide to relocate him.

His cell will have to be fitted with a hoist, special furniture and air-conditioning because Baker can no longer control his own body temperature, authorities said.

A former director of import companies, Baker pleaded guilty in 2007 to one count of conspiring with three other men to manufacture one tonne of ecstasy.

The court heard that Baker ordered importation of glassware used in the manufacture of the drug and a pill press found in his home. These were also used in a clandestine lab at Badgerys Creek.

The drug was to be manufactured with other chemicals and combined with 11 200-litre containers of methylamine, imported from China in 2005.

Police moved in before any drugs were made, the court heard. Judge Toner sentenced Baker to a maximum of 10 years six months, with a non-parole period of three years and six months.

Baker became a quadriplegic in 1995, after a car accident.

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Vancouver Canada Police, Having Solved All Other Problems, Now Targeting Bicyclists

May 30, 2009

VANCOUVER, CANADA – There is good news and bad news for Vancouver cyclists.

The bad news is that during June, Bike Month in the city, traffic cops will be ticketing cyclists who violate the rules of the road.

The good news is that they’ll mostly be handing out “information tickets” aimed at educating bikers.

The fake tickets list all the possible violations bikers can commit — and just how much they’d be on the hook for if they get caught when the police are more focussed on enforcement than education.

Cyclists can be dinged for $109 for riding without a bell, another $109 for not having a red reflector on the rear of the bike or a light on the front. Talking on a cellphone while wheeling down the road is also worth $109.

Forget doubling your kid on the back; that’s another $109. And no, you can’t grab on to the back of a car for a free tow. Nor can you stand up on your pedals to get up that hill — if you don’t have your butt in the seat, that’s another $109.

If you bump into a pedestrian and cycle away without turning over your particulars, that’s considered a hit-and-run — and it’s a criminal offence.

“A lot of cyclists, and usually it’s the casual cyclist, may not realize they are subject to specific requirements under the Motor Vehicles Act legislation,” said Lindsey Houghton of the Vancouver police department.

Houghton added, “By conducting this information campaign we want to educate cyclists rather than punish them. We want to see people on bikes obeying the rules of the road.”

Houghton said that 3,730 violation tickets at $29 a pop were issued to cyclists without helmets between Jan. 1, 2008, and May 1, 2008.

Arno Schortinghuis, president of the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition, said many cyclists are infuriated by the campaign.

“It’s discriminatory. You would never see a police officer pulling over a car to hand out the rules of the road to a driver.”

Schortinghuis said he believes the campaign is misguided, and would prefer a campaign that addresses both drivers of vehicles and cyclists.

“Yes, cyclists are breaking the law if they don’t follow the rules of the road, but it’s not the cyclists that are going to kill or injure the driver of the car,” he said. “We want cyclists, drivers and pedestrians to be very well-educated and get where they are going as safely as possible.”

He said the money might have been better spent by policing bike routes for drivers who speed or cut around diverters meant to keep the routes car-free.

Schortinghuis complies with all VPD and city cycling bylaws, he said, including a few he considers ridiculous.

“The bell rule is totally absurd,” he said. “A bell is going to do nothing to alert a car that you’re coming. The biggest focus should be on changing behaviour of drivers.”

He said Vancouver could use improvements, such as vulnerable road user legislation, to protect cyclists, but “it’s probably safer than a lot of people think.”

He recommends bikers educate themselves through safety courses such as the one the cycling coalition offers called Streetwise.

Houghton said that during Bike Month while the information campaign is under way, real violation tickets will be issued “with a very high degree of discretion.”

While he agrees that drivers also need to be educated, he said the focus of the campaign is on cyclists. “If we save one life, it’s worth it.”

SOME CYCLING OFFENCES

Offence Ticket amount

Cycle without helmet: $29

Ride cycle on sidewalk: $109

Ride two abreast on roadway: $109

Ride while not astride seat: $109

Carry passengers on cycle: $109

Ride while attached to vehicle: $109

Ride without hands on handlebar: $109

Cycle without due care and attention: $109

Cycle without reasonable consideration: $109

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Connecticut Runs Out Of Money, Plans To Close Courthouses, State Parks, And Legalize Keno

May 30, 2009

HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT – Gov. M. Jodi Rell offered a supplemental budget Thursday that would cut $1.3 billion in spending over two years, close some courthouses and state parks, consolidate agencies and legalize Keno gambling to balance the state’s two-year budget.

The new budget would require no new taxes or cuts in education aid for municipalities and would reduce spending by 1.4 percent below the level for the current fiscal year.

The Keno games, which would be run by the state’s lottery corporation, would generate an estimated $60 million per year in new state revenue if Connecticut joins neighboring New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island in legalizing the electronic gambling game.

Rell’s budget proposes closing courthouses in Manchester, Norwalk, Putnam and Derby. Those would be in addition to her earlier call to close courthouses in Meriden and Bristol.

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The supplemental budget represents additional cuts beyond the ones that Rell offered in February, and is designed to combat a plan by Democratic legislators to raise taxes by more than $3 billion over two years.

In contrast, Rell says her budget requires no new taxes or tax increases, particularly in the state income tax. If the state can avoid tax increases, it will have a competitive advantage when the recession ends, she said.

“The top income tax in New York and New Jersey is nearly 9 percent, and Rhode Island’s is just under 10 percent, while Connecticut’s top rate is still 5 percent,” Rell said. “If we hold the line on taxes and make the tough decisions now, we will make our state infinitely more affordable for business and infinitely more appealing for investment.”

Democrats expressed immediate skepticism, saying they believe that the state would still have a budget deficit even with the additional cuts.

Rep. John Geragosian, a New Britain Democrat who co-chairs the legislature’s budget-writing committee, said he felt blind-sided by the cuts because he had been negotiating with the governor’s office. The negotiations ended unexpectedly Wednesday after Rell objected to a Democratic amendment on how the state’s budget deficit is projected.

“We’re not going to make irresponsible cuts on the backs of the poorest in Connecticut” without also asking for tax increases on the wealthiest, Geragosian said.

Rell intends to save $1 million per year by eliminating 200 summer jobs in state parks. However, the state’s biggest shoreline parks — like Hammonasset in Madison and Sherwood Island in Westport — will remain open. Even without staffing, some state parks will remain open if lifeguards are not necessary. Putnam Park in Redding, for example, will remain open even without staffing, and any closings would be on a case-by-case basis.

“Many inland state parks will be closed and gated with minimum maintenance performed,” the budget summary said. “Park naturalist and environmental education programs for inland parks will be suspended. Six inland freshwater, state-operated boat launches will be closed with the closure of associated state parks.”

Among the cuts, Rell is reducing Medicaid rates for nursing homes by 1 percent. She will also reduce payments to other Medicaid providers by the same 1 percent as of the new fiscal year on July 1.

After scrutinizing the budget for months, Geragosian said many of the cuts are simply not acceptable.

“Respectfully, I’ve spent about 100 times more on the governor’s budget than she has,” Geragosian said. “It’s almost June 1, and now we’re hearing about Keno. It doesn’t sound like a real solution.”

House Speaker Christopher Donovan said his “first blush” reaction was that Rell’s proposals “really tend to hurt those who are hurt most in our recession. If you’re looking at those who are affected by the recession — those who are looking for jobs, those who are looking to get new skills, those who are losing health care — you are affected adversely by her proposals. … We’re disappointed in that, and we certainly see our role as fighting to protect the citizens of our state from some of these devastating cuts.”

“We’re going to keep working,” Donovan said. “We would like to have a budget done by next week,” when the legislative session is scheduled to end. “But, given the fact that we just got these today, it’s going to make it hard.”

Donovan said Rell’s proposals highlight “the difference between the Democrats and Republicans. … The Democratic proposal largely looked at those with higher incomes in order to reach some of the gaps in the budget, plus we had some cuts that were out there, as well. The governor has left those upper-income people in the state unscathed. … Those on the lower end are taking a big hit.”

Geragosian said Rell “can’t get off saying she has a no-tax budget” with her proposal, because she wants “hundreds of millions of dollars in [increased] fees. … If you ride a bus in this state … if you ride a train in this state, she’s raising your taxes.”

Nonprofit agencies were not pleased with the cuts.

“The latest budget proposal from Gov. Rell would do severe damage to community providers and constituents who require provider services,” said Terry Edelstein, CEO of an association of nonprofits. “It starts by cutting annual funding by 1 percent in each of the next two years. These cuts will have a direct impact on the ability of providers to deliver services to people with mental illness, developmental disabilities and substance-use disorders.”

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US National Archives Can’t Find 2 Terrabyte Hard Drive Containing Sensitive White House Information – Offers $50K Reward

May 30, 2009

WASHINGTON, DC – The US National Archives offered a cash reward of up to 50,000 dollars Friday for the recovery of a missing computer hard drive containing sensitive personnel data from the Clinton administration.

Described by the archives as a “Western Digital MY BOOK external hard drive” with a 2-terabyte storage capacity, it contained copies of backup tapes from the White House dating back to president Bill Clinton’s tenure in the 1990s.

The drive was discovered missing on March 24 from an archives processing room in College Park, Maryland.

The disappearance of the drive, which included social security numbers and other personal information of White House employees, is being investigated by the US Secret Service.

The archives said it had not yet determined whether the drive had been lost or stolen.

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Maine State Police Raid Charity Event, Seize Money They Raised To Feed The Poor

May 30, 2009

BUXTON, MAINE – Buxton police raided a building where people were trying to raise money to give free food to the needy.

It happened at the Narragansett Pythian Sisters Temple on Route 22 where people were playing the card game Texas Hold’em to benefit the Buxton Community Food Co-op.

But state police said the game was illegal.

That’s because whenever a gambling tournament is held to raise money for a group and takes place at its headquarters, a permit is needed and the co-op didn’t have one.

So, state police seized cards, poker chips and $500 in cash — money the food co-op desperately needed.

A member of the co-op, Joann Groder, said she is very, very sad about what happened.

“We’ve had a lot of people who come here — people who are out of work, people who have cancer. We have a lot of people,” said Groder.

But state police are standing by what was done.

“In this particular case they weren’t licensed, and they knew they weren’t and they knew they needed one,” said Lt. David Bowler of the Maine State Police.

The money from the co-op’s card game is currently being held as evidence while the investigation continues.

Groder now plans to hold a pot roast dinner to raise money for the co-op.

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Teen Slashes Tires On 4 Mission Kansas Patrol Cars, Then Calls 911 And Tells On Himself – Duh…

May 30, 2009

MISSION, KANSAS – It turns out that calling police to brag about slashing the tires on four patrol cars isn’t such a good idea.

Police in the Kansas City suburb of Mission announced Friday afternoon that they had arrested Jesse L. Sellers Jr. The 19-year-old Overland Park man is accused of slashing the tires Wednesday while the cars were parked in a department lot.

He faces one municipal count of criminal damage to property.

Police said they stopped Sellers for a traffic violation earlier on the same morning that he is accused of slashing the tires.

Police said the voice on the dash cam video in the police cruiser matched the voice on the 911 call that bragged about slashing the tires.

Mission police Maj. Mark Sullivan said it cost $1,000 to fix the tires.

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In An Effort To Piss Away Taxpayer Dollars, Crazed Sandusky Ohio Police Charge Man With Mowing Grass In A Public Park

May 30, 2009

SANDUSKY, OHIO – John Hamilton plans to fight the charges against him.

Authorities arrested Hamilton at 8:30 a.m. Thursday as the 48-year-old mowed the foot-high grass at Central Park. Police charged the Sunset Drive resident with obstructing official business and persistent disorderly conduct.

He pleaded not guilty at his Sandusky Municipal Court arraignment this morning. His next hearing is scheduled for August.

“I am a citizen,” he said.

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Veteran Mississippi State Police Trooper Steve Hood Drives Off Road, Crashes, Dies

May 30, 2009

MISSISSIPPI – A Mississippi state trooper is dead following a pursuit in the northeastern part of the state.

Authorities say Master Sgt. Steve Hood’s car left the highway late Friday and hit a tree near the Crossroads Military Park.

The Highway Safety Patrol says it doesn’t know why Hood was involved in the chase, but the other vehicle has been located.

The crash occurred near the border of Lee County and Prentiss County.

Hood had been a trooper since 1982.

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Dumbass Broward County Florida Prosecutor David Braun Arrested, Suspended, Charged After Assaulting A Deputy Sheriff In Weston Barroom Brawl

May 29, 2009

WESTON, FLORIDA – A Broward County prosecutor found himself on the wrong side of the criminal justice system Friday after he was accused of punching a Broward Sheriff’s deputy during a early-morning barroom fracas and carted off to jail.

David Braun, 29, faces a felony count of battery on a law enforcement officer after authorities say he attacked a deputy who was attempting to handcuff his younger brother at the Carolina Ale House in Weston.

The incident happened at about 1:45 a.m., shortly before closing time, according to a Broward Sheriff’s Office arrest report.

Braun was scheduled to work Friday, but spent part of the morning in the Broward County Jail before posting a $1,000 bond and leaving. He did not return a phone message left at his office.

The prosecutor’s 26-year-old brother, who also was arrested, faces three criminal charges– battery on a law enforcement officer, disorderly intoxication and resisting arrest with violence.

According to Michael Diciascio, general manager at the Carolina Ale House, the fight started after Derek Braun, the younger brother, became upset when a bartender refused to serve him multiple alcoholic drinks without seeing identification for everybody getting one.

A sheriff’s deputy on a special detail attempted to escort the irate patron outside, but Derek Braun pushed him, according to the arrest report. That’s when the deputy forced Derek Braun to the ground and attempted to handcuff him, the report states.

Derek Braun fought the deputy, cursing at him and yanking off the deputy’s necklace, according to the arrest report. As the men struggled, a third man began punching the deputy in his back, according to the report.

Witnesses later identified that man as David Braun, an assistant state attorney.

Both brothers were then arrested.

David Braun has been with the Broward State Attorney’s Office since March 2006 and handles felony cases. As of Friday, he was put on leave, said Ron Ishoy, the office’s spokesman.

State Attorney Michael Satz will be requesting that Gov. Charlie Crist assign another prosecutor’s office to handle the case.

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Obama Administration Wants To Continue Hiding Torture And Rape Pictures From George Bush’s Gitmo Torture Prison

May 28, 2009

LONDON, UK – A former U.S. general said graphic images of rape and torture are among the photos of Iraqi prisoner abuse that President Barack Obama’s administration does not want released.

Retired Major Gen. Antonio Taguba, who oversaw the U.S. investigation into the abuses at Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison, was quoted as telling Britain’s Daily Telegraph in an article Wednesday that he agreed with Obama’s decision not to release the pictures.

“I am not sure what purpose their release would serve other than a legal one and the consequence would be to imperil our troops, the only protectors of our foreign policy, when we most need them,” Taguba was quoted by the Daily Telegraph. “The mere description of these pictures is horrendous enough, take my word for it.”
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It was not exactly clear what photos Taguba was referring to.

A U.S. military official in Baghdad, however, said “the photos referred to are ones that Taguba is not aware of.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity Thursday because he was not authorized to release the information.

On Thursday, the Obama administration asked a federal appeals court in New York on Thursday to cancel its decision ordering the images’ release. The court papers cite two partially secret statements from top U.S. generals David Petraeus and Ray Odierno.

The administration had planned to release the photos until Obama reversed the decision this month, saying their release would endanger U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Releasing the photos poses “a clear and grave risk of inciting violence and riots against American and coalition forces, as well as civilian personnel, serving in Iraq and Afghanistan,” according to the motion filed with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court.

The photos were ordered released as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union. The Bush administration had fought their release, and lost. The court ruled in September 2008 that general concerns about public safety were not specific enough to merit blocking the release of the photos.

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Obama’s reversal
May 14: Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md., and Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., talk about the president’s decision to block military abuse photos from the public.

Hardball
The motion filed Thursday also notes the government plans to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court. Congress is also considering stepping in to block the photos’ release.

The military referred all questions on Taguba’s comments to Washington. The Obama administration did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Iraqis called for an investigation into the Daily Telegraph report.

“The Iraqi government must demand the reopening of the Abu Ghraib scandal case again,” said Ali Kadom, 45, who works at the Ministry of Transportation.

Khalid Bashi, 35, a trade office owner in Baghdad, said Obama should release the photos to put a stop to a possible scandal.

“Sooner or later, more scandals will appear that show crimes against humanity carried out by American troops in Iraq,” Bashi said.

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The prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib exploded after photos taken by soldiers appeared in 2004.

According to the Telegraph, the new photos depicted much more serious abuses than previously documented. One photo reportedly showed an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner and another was said to show a male translator raping a male detainee, the paper reported.

The Telegraph said the photos related to 400 cases of alleged abuse between 2001 and 2005 at Abu Ghraib and six other prisons. It was not immediately clear from the newspaper report who had seen the photos or how they might have been obtained.

The newspaper said the images in the photos were backed up by statements from Taguba’s report into prisoner abuses at Abu Ghraib obtained under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.

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Empty Jails: Detroit Michigan Crime Rate Remains High, But The Number Of Criminals Arrested By Police Drops – Some Crimes Never Reported Due To Slow Cops

May 28, 2009

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – Empty jail cells are normally something to celebrate, but Wayne County’s top law enforcement officials say the hundreds of vacant jail beds are not because of a drop in crime or more reasonable sentencing. Floors of the downtown Detroit jail are empty because police are arresting fewer people accused of those crimes.

Altogether, three county jails that held about 2,500 prisoners a year ago now house 400 fewer inmates.

Sheriff Warren Evans said police are so slow to respond to some calls that the crimes never get reported. Prosecutor Kym Worthy was more blunt:

“We don’t tell the truth about crime,” she said.

Detroit has lost hundreds of sworn officers in recent years. The Police Department didn’t respond to repeated requests for interviews with its top leaders, but it released preliminary statistics showing an overall decline in criminal activity this year, despite a 24% increase in homicides.

East-sider Joyce Betty, 56, isn’t buying it.

Last February, a young assailant snatched Betty’s purse, which contained $300 in cash, while she pumped gas at a Mack Avenue filling station. Surveillance cameras captured the crime on videotape, but police never responded.

Said Betty: “I have little faith in the Detroit Police Department.”
Empty cells point to police breakdown

It’s an incredible sight: In a city riddled with crime, entire floors of the Wayne County Jail in downtown Detroit are empty.

The seventh floor of the Baird Detention Facility, normally home to 128 newly arrested prisoners, is vacant. So are the ninth floor and half of the 12th floor. Another 128 beds at the Dickerson Detention Facility in Hamtramck are also closed. That adds up to more than 400 empty beds in Wayne County jails that, up to about a year ago, were filled with roughly 2,500 prisoners.

The main explanation is simple, according to the county’s top two law enforcement officials: Detroit police are making fewer arrests, a dereliction so obvious it has led some Detroiters to conclude there’s no point in even calling the cops.
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“I’ve talked to dozens, probably hundreds, of people in the community who are telling me they never made a report because the police never came,” Wayne County Sheriff Warren Evans said Tuesday. “The delay in response time is such that many, many, many crimes don’t get reported.”

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy agrees, echoing Evan’s assertion that decreases in reported crimes are misleading.

“We tell the press that crime is going down,” Worthy said. “It’s not going down; it’s going up, exponentially, and we have many fewer officers on the street. We need to acknowledge the problem.”

The Detroit Police Department did not respond to several requests for comment last week. Instead, a department spokeswoman, citing preliminary police statistics, said overall crime in the city so far this year is down 9.1%, excluding a 24% increase in homicides — a trend that, if true, would partly explain the jail’s decreasing census, especially for those awaiting trial.

In 2007, the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department recorded 20,423 felony bookings. Last year, there were just 18,261 — a drop of more than 10% in a single year. So far this year, bookings have continued to drop roughly 10%, said Undersheriff Daniel Pfannes.

But few city residents think a drop in crime is the reason. Ask east-sider Joyce Betty, 56. A young man snatched her purse, with $300 in it, out of her car while she pumped gas at Mack and Gratiot in February. Betty called 911 on her cell. Police never responded. “They made no attempt to contact me,” Betty said, even though the gas station has surveillance tapes of the incident. “It’s water over the dam, but I have little faith in the Detroit Police Department.”

Neither Oakland nor Macomb Counties report comparable declines in their own jail populations. Both counties’ cells remain full, despite innovative efforts to manage the population, Macomb County Sheriff Mark Hackel and Oakland County Undersheriff Michael McCabe say.

Pontiac, however, is experiencing a trend similar to Detroit’s: Arrests have declined as the number of sworn officers has dropped from 170 to 65 in the last three years.
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The Detroit Police Department deploys about half the number of sworn officers it did in the 1990s, and has lost roughly 1,000 officers over the last five years.

Even serious crimes aren’t getting solved. Arrests are made in only 37% of Detroit homicides, compared to more than 60% nationwide. Officers have too little time to investigate, and they work with a community that often does not trust them. Detroit’s shuttered police crime lab has raised more troubling questions about homicide investigations.

Another reason arrests are down is the closing — for good cause — of many decrepit, pre-arraignment holding cells under a federal consent decree that is mandating reforms. Six years ago, police held 350 in such lockups, compared to about 130 today. Shift supervisors, and probably officers, know when the lockups are full.

Evans said he offered to lease county jail cells for police lockups five years ago. Negotiations continue, but a deal should have been struck long before this.

Privately, some law enforcement officials also say Detroit police are frustrated by the added paperwork required for arrests under the federal consent decree. But that’s no excuse for failing to perform. The consent decree, signed in 2003, might be a headache, but it’s one the department earned by abusing the citizens it was supposed to protect, including mistreatment of prisoners in lockups and dragnet arrests of homicide witnesses. The department also had the highest rate of fatal shootings by officers among America’s big cities.

Fundamental breakdowns in other basic services also decrease public safety. Copper thieves have made land-line phone service in parts of the city, especially on the east side, unreliable and sporadic. It’s not unusual for phone lines to be dead when crime victims try to call 911.

No one is questioning the integrity or competence of underpaid Detroit police officers. They work hard and, in many cases, risk their lives daily. But the department continues to do 1970s-style policing, reacting to crime rather than using data-driven policing efforts. The Michigan Department of Corrections and other criminal justice agencies have information that would enable the department to focus its resources on people most likely to commit crimes.

“In dealing with crime, particularly violent crime, a data-driven surgical approach is the direction we need to go,” said former U.S. Attorney Saul Green, group executive for public safety under new Mayor Dave Bing. “I do believe we have some improvements to make in that area.”

Until then, floors of empty Wayne County jail cells — normally a reason to celebrate — should comfort no one.

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Calaveras County California Deputy Shot By Deputy Detective Wade Whitney While Arresting Car Thief

May 28, 2009

CALAVERAS COUNTY, CALIFORNIA – A Calaveras County detective who was hurt while he tried to arrest a man suspected of car theft was actually hit by bullet fragments from another deputy’s gun.

The Calaveras County sheriff’s department says their investigation shows that Detective Rick DiBasilo was hit by ricocheting metal fragments from shots fired by his partner Detective Wade Whitney.

The shooting happened yesterday when the two detectives tried to stop a white Camaro they believed was driven by John Pahner who was wanted for two outstanding arrest warrants involving felony probation violation.

When Detective DiBasilo, a six-year-veteran of the force, approached the car, the driver allegedly hit the gas, dragging the detective.

That’s when Detective Whitney, fearing for his partner’s life, fired at the driver hitting the suspect multiple times. The sheriff’s department says it was one of those bullets that hit Detective DiBasilo in the shoulder.

He was transported to Mark Twain Hospital in San Andreas, and was released Wednesday evening.

It turns out, the man in the white Camaro was not Pahner, but 29-year-old Michael Thompson of Mokelemne Hill. He was transported to Modesto Memorial Hospital and is listed in serious condition. During their investigation of the shooting, deputies discovered the white Camara was stolen and Thompson has a long criminal record.

The District Attorney is reviewing the case to see if Thompson will be charged.

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Elk Grove California Police Officer Arrested By Feds, Suspended, And Charged With Mortgage Fraud

May 28, 2009

ELK GROVE, CALIFORNIA – The FBI has arrested an Elk Grove Police officer for alleged mortgage fraud.

Officer Ali Khalil was arrested this morning and served with a complaint alleging several felonies associated with mortgage-related financial transactions.

The Elk Grove Police department says none of the charges are related to Officer Khalil’s work as a police officer.

Khalil, 29, has been an Elk Grove Police officer since 2006. He’s been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

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Crazed San Diego County California Official Targeting, Interrogating, And Threatening Pastor And Wife Who Hold Bible Studies In Their Home

May 28, 2009

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – A local pastor and his wife claim they were interrogated by a San Diego County official, who then threatened them with escalating fines if they continued to hold bible studies in their home, 10News reported.

Attorney Dean Broyles of The Western Center For Law & Policy was shocked with what happened to the pastor and his wife.

Broyles said, “The county asked, ‘Do you have a regular meeting in your home?’ She said, ‘Yes.’ ‘Do you say amen?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Do you pray?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Do you say praise the Lord?’ ‘Yes.'”
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The county employee notified the couple that the small bible study, with an average of 15 people attending, was in violation of county regulations, according to Broyles.

Broyles said a few days later the couple received a written warning that listed “unlawful use of land” and told them to “stop religious assembly or apply for a major use permit” — a process that could cost tens of thousands of dollars.

“For churches and religious assemblies there’s big parking concerns, there’s environmental impact concerns when you have hundreds or thousands of people gathering. But this is a different situation, and we believe that the application of the religious assembly principles to this bible study is certainly misplaced,” said Broyles.

News of the case has rapidly spread across Internet blogs and has spurred various reactions.

Broyles said his clients have asked to stay anonymous until they give the county a demand letter that states by enforcing this regulation the county is violating their First Amendment right to freely exercise their religion.

Broyles also said this case has broader implications.

“If the county thinks they can shut down groups of 10 or 15 Christians meeting in a home, what about people who meet regularly at home for poker night? What about people who meet for Tupperware parties? What about people who are meeting to watch baseball games on a regular basis and support the Chargers?” said Broyles.

Broyles and his clients plant to give the county their demand letter this week.

If the county refuses to release the pastor and his wife from obtaining the permit, they will consider a lawsuit in federal court.

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Nutcase Former Bolingbrook Police Officer Drew Peterson, Charged WIth Murdering His Third Wife, Calls Radio Talk Show Collect From Jail And Makes Jokes

May 28, 2009

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – Drew Peterson cracked jokes live from jail on Wednesday on a Chicago radio show that he called collect.

The former Bolingbrook police officer, charged in his third wife’s death, offered snippets of a comedy routine on WLS Radio’s Mancow & Cassidy show.

“$20 million bond. Legal fees: tens of thousands. Being falsely accused of a homicide that didn’t happen: priceless,” Peterson said in a spoof of a MasterCard commercial.

Peterson once proposed a “Win a Date With Drew” contest and offered a jail version called “Win a Conjugal Visit with Drew.” He also joked about prison showers, his legal fees and his “bling” handcuffs, saying humor is how he deals with stress.

“I didn’t understand why they had seat belts on the toilet until after I had a couple of meals here,” he said while the hosts played a drum sound effect.

He also said he misses his children and has prayed and read the Bible during his imprisonment.

Peterson is charged with first-degree murder in the 2004 death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. He is also a suspect in the 2007 disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson.

He denies wrongdoing.

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Bernalillo County New Mexico Jail Guard Reyna Lujan To Be Charged With Felony Rape Of An Inmate Is Pregnant With His Baby

May 28, 2009

BERNALILLO COUNTY, NEW MEXICO – A former jail guard could be charged with rape after deputies say she became pregnant by an inmate while she was working at MDC.

Bernalillo County investigators think the inmate impregnated the guard, Reyna Lujan, in his own cell while the guard was on duty.

Lujan, who denies the charges, quit the jail after her bosses started investigating her.

A tip from inmates spurred the investigation. Now investigators have hundreds of phone calls between the two.

“The sheriff’s office is recommending that she be charged with criminal sexual penetration in this case,” said DA spokesman Pat Davis. “It’s a second degree felony because it involves a person of authority — in this case, a correctional officer.”

Lujan could be hit with a rape charge for each time she had sex with the inmate, Eric Brayman, even if she didn’t force the inmate.

“Although we can’t speculate whether it was consensual or not, the law doesn’t make an exception for that,” Davis said.

The report on Lujan contains transcripts of some of the 300 calls between her and the inmate. In one she tells Brayman she is pregnant with his child. In another, the pair laugh about an incident where they were in the middle of a sex act inside Brayman’s cell when Lujan’s radio goes off and she is called away.

Davis says they are handling the accusations seriously.

“We want to move this as quickly as possible because we want to maintain the integrity of the MDC,” Davis said.

There is no word on whether Lujan is pregnant with the baby. Based on timelines in the police report, she could be in her third trimester.

When Brayman was released from the MDC, he moved in with Lujan.

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Tiny Minds Collide: Acting Tarpon Springs Florida Police Chief Robert Kochen Admits To 2 Years Of Mistakes – 233 Completely Bogus Parking Tickets Written Based On 22 Totally Bogus No Parking Signs Installed By Local Private Developer

May 28, 2009

TARPON SPRINGS, FLORIDA ­— Police blame a local developer for installing “no parking” signs around a popular city restaurant that resulted in 233 tickets being written in a two-year span.

At the same time, acting Tarpon Springs police Chief Robert Kochen acknowledged his department’s failure to properly handle the matter in 2007.

“We messed up,” Kochen said. “We did not look at this thing like we should have.”

In a 23-page report released this week, Kochen said developer Mike Bronson admitted recently to installing the signs along the city’s right of way after initially denying it.

“Mike Bronson advised that back around April of 2006 he installed all of the 22 signs due to the parking problems caused by customers of the Tarpon Turtle,” Kochen wrote in the report.

Bronson could not be reached for comment.

The investigation was prompted by Commissioner Peter Dalacos, who recently had concerns about how the situation was handled in 2007 during an ongoing dispute over noise and parking at Jack Willie’s Tarpon Turtle.

“I’m glad Mr. Bronson admitted to the act and the Police Department has been very proactive in this matter,” Dalacos said. “I still have concerns about what action we can take to, at a minimum, have Mr. Bronson reimburse those tickets that were paid.”

The report says criminal charges against Bronson would not be feasible at this time, but makes no mention of other possible penalties.

The signs installed by Bronson were mounted on round poles and had no city sticker on the back of them. The city’s authorized signs are mounted on galvanized U-shaped poles with holes.

“The Police Department’s patrol officers were doing their job and they had no reason (at the time) to believe any of these signs may have been unauthorized by the city,” Kochen said.

Tarpon Springs is now working with the Pinellas County Clerk of the Circuit Courts to identify any outstanding parking ticket warrants that may have been issued for nonpayment. The city wants those tickets purged from the system. The city also wants to see if it can “remedy (or reimburse) the fine amounts that have been charged for the tickets.”

The parking tickets were $20, with $15 going to the city and $5 going a fund that supports school crossing guards.

During a City Commission meeting earlier this month, Don Alvino, the owner of the Tarpon Turtle, alleged that Bronson was using the “no parking” signs to harass his customers.

Alvino and Bronson were business partners with Alvino initially leasing the Tarpon Turtle from Bronson with a five-month option to buy. In September 2006, Alvino exercised the option and purchased the restaurant for $3.4 million.

Since that time, Alvino says, Bronson has been out to destroy his business.

The investigation of the parking signs led Kochen to conclude that the city made several missteps.

In May 2007, Alvino had a meeting with the head of the city’s code enforcement, Ed Hayden, about complaints being lodged against the restaurant. In that meeting, it was learned that the signs were fake.

During the investigation, Bronson told police he received permission from Sgt. Allen Mackenzie, who at the time handled all traffic-related matters involving signs and traffic studies.

Mackenzie, who retired from the department on Feb. 14, 2007, said he had no such conversation with Bronson, the report said.

Bronson was ordered to remove the signs in May 2007, but code enforcement officials never documented the incident and they never followed up.

“Apparently some signs were removed back in May of 2007 at the request of code enforcement, but the issue was not fully resolved because the signs remain there today,” Kochen wrote in his report.

“Although I believe Officer Hayden was acting with good intentions, he did make some mistakes in this matter.”

Kochen said a traffic study is currently being conducted to see where signs will actually be placed in the area.

For safety reasons, Kochen asked Bronson to leave his illegal signs up until a determination is made for the placement of city signs.

Officers were told not to write tickets in the area until the study is complete. Kochen said the matter will be completed quickly.

But the decision to keep the illegal signs up incensed Alvino, whose business was limited to 177 seats and weekend-only outdoor entertainment at a recent City Commission meeting.

“The city is not pro-small business,” he said. “They already have taken away the number of seats I can have, they took away my ability to have outdoor entertainment during the week and now they are depriving me of on-street parking, even though they know the signs are illegal. It just doesn’t make sense.”

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Oklahoma County Oklahoma District Attorney David Prater Charges Pharmacist Who Shot And Killed Robber While Protecting Store And Employees

May 28, 2009

OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA – An Oklahoma City pharmacist who shot and killed a 16-year-old would-be robber has been charged with first-degree murder.

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said Wednesday that 57-year-old Jerome Ersland was justified in shooting Antwun Parker once in the head on May 19. But Prater says Ersland went too far when he shot Parker five more times in the abdomen while Parker lay unconscious on the floor.

Ersland’s attorney — Irven Box — says Ersland was protecting himself and two women inside the pharmacy.

Prater showed a security video in which two men burst into the pharmacy and one being shot. Ersland is seen chasing the second man outside before returning, walking past Parker to get a second gun then going back to Parker and opening fire.

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Dumbass Veteran Goodyear Arizona Police Officer Richard Beck Loses Job After Using Law Enforcement Databases To Research Wife’s Friend, Lying About It Afterwards

May 27, 2009

GOODYEAR, ARIZONA – A crumbling marriage ultimately cost a Goodyear police veteran his badge.

Richard Beck has relinquished his badge in the wake of accusations that he illegally accessed law-enforcement databases to look up information about a man he believed was having an affair with his estranged wife, and later lied about it.

The agreement reached between Beck, 35, and the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board last week permanently strips him of his ability to work as a police officer in Arizona.

According to a board compliance specialist report and a Goodyear police internal investigation, Beck visited the home of his estranged wife, an Avondale police dispatcher, in the middle of the night in January 2008. He knocked on the door to confront his wife and a man, an Avondale police officer, but neither answered the door. Beck suspected they were having an affair.

The Avondale officer said Beck contacted his soon-to-be ex-wife the next morning through the social networking Web site MySpace and that Beck could have only discovered her name through a police database, the reports show. Using the database for non-police purposes is a Class 6 felony, unauthorized access to criminal history.

Beck told Goodyear investigators he used the database toward the end of December 2007 to run the license plate of a vehicle parked outside of the house and discovered it belonged to the Avondale officer, according to the reports. Investigators reviewed database access records and found that Beck ran that officer’s license plate the day before the attempted confrontation in January.

Beck, who was off-duty at the time, told Goodyear police he received a call that night from an acquaintance telling him about a suspicious car at the house, the reports said. Police reviewed phone records and found no support for the claim.

Beck maintains he was truthful about the incident but said he was going through a “difficult and bitter divorce at the time” that affected him emotionally and left his mind in a fog.

“I was in a pretty bad place around that time,” he said in an interview Tuesday.

Beck claims he never denied running the officer’s license plate, but said he felt cornered and that investigators were unwilling to believe that he didn’t have malicious intentions.

“I didn’t run that plate . . . to try to find out information about him. . . . I knew who he was, (my wife) had told me about him, she had admitted to the affair and everything, so I knew there was very little I’d be able to gain by doing something like that,” he said. “I didn’t care about him. At the time, I was more concerned with trying to keep my family together.”

“I was just amazed because I had an outstanding record and everybody knew me, everybody trusted me. I kind of felt like I got a raw deal,” he added.

He said his wife’s infidelity with another police officer and the handling of the investigation led him to resign from the Goodyear force and give up his certification.

“I’d been a police officer for going on about 13 years and I really believed in what I did,” he said. “I just felt like everything that I’d believed in as far as law enforcement and the unity was just taken away from me, and it was the first time in 13 years where I just didn’t like coming to work anymore.”

Beck said he has found a new job in law enforcement but declined to say where.

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Dumbass Veteran Elkhart City Indiana Police Officer Benjamin Kruszynski Charged After Drunken Wreck In Patrol Car

May 27, 2009

ELKHART COUNTY, INDIANA — A late night accident on the Elkhart County-St. Joseph County line ended with a police car in pieces, and an Elkhart City police officer behind bars. Police arrested Cpl. Benjamin Kruszynski, 38, on a misdemeanor charge of Operating While Intoxicated.

Cpl. Kruszynski is a 9-year veteran officer of the Elkhart Police Department.

Elkhart Police say Kruszynski was behind the wheel of a marked Elkhart Police squad car when the vehicle left the road and hit two fences and a tree. It happened around 11:15 p.m. Sunday at Brummitt Road and Ash Road, right outside Discovery Middle School.

Police also say Kruszynski wasn’t alone in the squad car. A 43-year-old man and three 18-year-old females were also inside. Police have not released any of their names.

All walked away from the accident unhurt, according to a news release by Elkhart Police Lt. Ed Windbigler.

Witnesses say the vehicle had been driving at a high rate of speed on Brummitt toward Ash, when it hit the first fence, crossed Ash Road, and slammed into the tree.

It took out Allen Green’s wooden fence in the process.

After 15 years living on Ash Road, Green says he’s seen hundreds of speeding cars. But, until Sunday night, he’d never seen anything quite like what ended up just 15 feet from his front door.

“It sounded like something blew up,” Green said, walking toward the crash site, still littered with debris and fallen tree limbs. “I seen the smoke, and I came running out and it was an Elkhart Police car backwards into this tree.”

His first thought?

“I was surprised when I seen a police car sitting there. I didn’t know what to think. I thought, maybe they were chasing somebody or something,” Green said.

Robert Bobak thought the same thing when he heard the crash.

“I heard this screeching halt, like a car sliding with its brakes on, and then, the impact. I thought it had hit the house, because it shook our house. That’s how hard it hit. It shook the house, and we’re two houses down,” Bobak said.

He ran out to the scene too, and couldn’t believe what he saw.

“When it hit the tree, it pushed the trunk all the way to the back window. There was no trunk left. I thought they must have been in a chase, chasing somebody down. Then I realized it was a one car crash,” Bobak said.

Both men asked Kruszynski the same thing.

“I yelled at him, and said, ‘Hey, do you guys need me to call 911?’ He said, ‘No, I think everybody’s alright,'” recalled Green. “One of the teenagers was already out of the car, and two more were getting out when I came out.”

“I said, ‘Well, who was driving this police car?’ Because I figured the police officer was out walking around. [Kruszynski] said, ‘I was.’ Well, he was off duty in shorts,” recalled Bobak.

“I asked him if he was OK, and he said ‘I’m having problems in my neighborhood.’ And he walked away and put his hands down and kind of shook his head,” Bobak continued.

According to Elkhart County Police Department Public Information Officer Trevor Wendzonka, Cpl. Kruszynski was arrested at the scene for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. He was booked into the county jail shortly after 1 a.m. and administered a breathalyzer test that registered 0.12.

That’s 1.5 times the legal limit of 0.08.

Wendzonka says all of the teens in the squad car passed field sobriety tests and were determined not to have been drinking.

Still, questions remained from witnesses over why the teens were in the squad car in the first place.

“One of the parents of one of the kids stopped by here and said the 43-year-old was a parent of one of the teenagers,” said Green. “But, even if that’s the case, I don’t know why they were there.”

Lt. Windbigler wouldn’t comment on the answer, or speak with WSBT on camera, referring all questions to the news release.

He also added that “the entire incident is still under investigation,” and that the department hopes to issue an updated news release Tuesday.

No one answered the door at Kruszynski’s Elkhart home near Simonton Lake Monday, but neighbors described him as a “quiet” man who keeps mostly to himself.

Neighbors living near the scene of the crash have a different feeling, however.

“Our children are supposed to be looking up to these guys,” said Bobak. “I don’t think I’d want my kids to look up to that. I just thank God nobody was injured.”

Kruszynski remained in the Elkhart County Jail Monday evening without bond, but is scheduled to appear before a magistrate judge Tuesday, Wendzonka said.

WSBT’s calls to police administrators about Kruszynski’s current status as an Elkhart police officer were not returned.

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Dumbass Palm Beach County Florida Deputy Sheriff Robert Kijanka Arrested, Charged After Showing Jailed Teens Porn Movie And Photos Of His Wife

May 27, 2009

WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA – A Palm Beach County deputy has been arrested after allegedly showing a pornographic movie to several juvenile prisoners.

Robert Kijanka, 39, was charged with introducing contraband into a penal facility and showing obscenity to minors after his arrest Thursday.

Authorities said Kijanka brought in the movie and showed it to several inmates aged 13 to 17. He also allegedly showed them risque photos of his wife.

The deputy is free on $3,000 bail. He’s on paid administrative leave pending an investigation.

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Teen Recorded Leading Narre Warren Australia Senior Police Officer Matthew Lake’s Threats To Anally Assault Him With A Baton

May 27, 2009

A 14-YEAR-OLD boy says he used his mobile phone to secretly record a police officer’s threat to assault him with a baton.

The boy said he was intimidated by Leading Senior Constable Matthew Lake, who he said threatened to shove a baton up his backside.

The officer has been put on alternative duties while the Ethical Standards Department investigates.

The 20-minute one-on-one interview – over an accusation the boy pushed a younger child off his bike and punched him repeatedly – was at Narre Warren station last Thursday.

According to a tape heard by the Herald Sun, Sen-Constable Lake warned he’d circulate the boy’s photo to other police so they could harass him.

The boy said the officer also waved a baton at him during repeated threats. He said that when Sen-Constable Lake left the interview room at one point, he turned on his mobile phone recorder.

On his return, Sen-Constable Lake advised the boy anything he said could be used as evidence in court. He then asked if the boy wanted the matter to end in court.

Recorded was this comment: “If I hear one more complaint . . . about your behaviour, I’ll shove this thing so far up your a— . . . you won’t know what day it is.”

The boy was eventually given a warning; on leaving, he told his mother he had been threatened. She phoned Sen-Constable Lake, told him the interview had been recorded, then taped several heated conversations with the officer.

The registered nurse said he tried to calm her, apologising and explaining he was trying to teach her son a lesson and handled it the “wrong way”.

She said she was not permitted to sit with her son during the interview, which is against police regulations when dealing with a child.

“The more I listen to it, the more angry I get. I feel terrible I didn’t go into that room,” she said. “I said ‘Don’t be rough with him’. When my son got out of there he was pale. He couldn’t breathe.”

She said her son suffered an asthma attack soon afterward and had to be put on a ventilator pump. The next day he was prescribed sedatives because he could not sleep.

She said she would seek legal advice over the unprofessional and damaging conduct.

“I feel abused,” the boy said. “He’s a big guy. He stood over me . . . he had a baton and I thought he was going to hit me. He was waving it in my face.”

But he said he did not want the officer to lose his job.

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Destin Florida DUI Attorney Robert Scott Whitehead Arrested, Charged After Drunken Wrecks

May 27, 2009

DESTIN, FLORIDA – Local defense attorney Robert Scott Whitehead was arrested and faces multiple charges in connection with two motor vehicle accidents in Destin on Saturday night.

Whitehead, who is 38, was charged with DUI with property damage and personal injury, refusing to submit to a blood alcohol test and leaving the scene of a traffic crash. This was the second time he has been charged with refusing to submit to a blood alcohol test, according to an Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office press release.

Investigators say Whitehead, of Furling Lane in Destin, hit a car at the intersection of U.S. Highway 98 and Scenic Highway 98 and then hit another vehicle near The Track. The accidents caused major traffic back-ups.

One of the accidents was a head-on collision, according to the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office incident report. No one was injured in that vehicle, the report said.

Whitehead told the deputy he was not injured, but the deputy noted he appeared to be heavily intoxicated. His face was “slightly red,” his eyes were “glassy” and “watery” and his speech was slurred and difficult to understand.

“I don’t want to go to jail,” Whitehead said, during the traffic investigation.

When the fire department arrived on scene and tried to check on Whitehead, he attempted to put the vehicle into gear to drive away, according to the report. The deputies and one of the firefighters managed to turn the vehicle off and take away the keys.

Whitehead told the deputy he was unable to find his driver’s license, registration or proof of insurance, the report states. After repeated attempts to locate the documents, he found his registration and proof of insurance.

He refused to submit to field sobriety tests and had trouble finding his shoes and putting them on, according to the report. The deputy finally put one of his sandals on for him, but they were unable to locate the other one, it states.

He said he could walk on his own but had trouble getting to the patrol car, according to the report. Once there, he struggled to get into the vehicle, lying down on his left side and kicking his feet “as if to push off an object that was not there,” the report noted.

On the way to jail, Whitehead asked the deputy if he was OK. Getting out of the car, he stumbled and fell against the deputy, pushing him against the wall, the offense report states. He refused to submit to a breath test and later asked the deputy to call him a cab, it states.

He was booked into the county jail.

According to his law firm’s Web site, Whitehead’s firm specializes in civil litigation and criminal and family law including drug cases and DUIs.

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Update: Hundreds Of Columbus Ohio Police Officers, Jobs Saved By So-Called Stimulus, May Still Lose Jobs

May 27, 2009

COLUMBUS, OHIO – It was a success story the White House was eager to highlight: Earlier this year, President Obama attended the graduation of 25 police recruits in Columbus, Ohio, touting it as a victory for the federal stimulus package.

On March 6 in Columbus, Ohio, President Obama touted the jobs the stimulus plan would save.

Without the money, the officers never would have hit the streets. They were to be laid off before their first day of patrol, victims of city budget cuts, until the stimulus money saved the class.

But the White House said the $1.2 million grant only guaranteed their jobs until the end of the year. And facing a growing deficit and a fight to pass an income tax hike, Columbus Police on Tuesday announced massive budget cuts that could mean hundreds of layoffs.

Among those who could lose their jobs if voters reject the increase: the 25 new officers who shook the president’s hand.

Despite optimistic national headlines on March 6, the day of the president’s trip, city officials warned the influx of federal stimulus money wasn’t going to be enough to end their financial crisis.

Obama acknowledged in his remarks the money was no silver bullet. “By itself, this recovery plan won’t turn our economy around or solve every problem,” he said then, and “this police force still faces budget challenges down the road.”

The challenges, including a city deficit that could reach $120 million, would mean the loss of 324 officers, more than 15 percent of the force, under a budget unveiled by Chief Walter Distelzweig.
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“This is devastating,” he told reporters Tuesday. “None of us signed up for this kind of task.”

Distelzweig said under the 2010 budget plan, the department will focus on priority calls and maintaining public safety. “Policing in this city will change as we know it today,” he said. ” … [We’re] going to do less with less.”

He stressed the cuts are not final, and city voters are being asked to approve an income tax hike in August. The half-percent increase, if passed, could avoid the firings and furloughs. Distelzweig said the announced cuts are not meant to be a threat to voters. “It’s math — whatever money is available,” he said.

Columbus is not alone, of course, in its budget crisis. To its south, Cincinnati is looking at job cuts and reduction in services because of a higher-than-expected deficit. Smaller cities such as Mansfield, 60 miles to its north, have been forced to lay off up to a third of its officers. CNNMoney.com this week reported 16 states around the nation have raised taxes this year, with proposed increases in 17 others.

Looking at the graduates receiving their diplomas that day, Obama said, “This economy needs your employment to keep it running.”

“I look into their eyes and I see their badges today, and I know that we did the right thing,” he told the crowd on March 6. “These jobs and the jobs of so many other police officers and teachers and firefighters all across Ohio will now be saved because of this recovery plan.”

The grant did its job and funded the class for a year. But local budget problems took over. And the 25 officers, a hopeful symbol that day for the White House, may turn into a grimmer example of financial realities still facing communities around the country.

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If Columbus Ohio Voters Nix City Income Tax Increase, Police To Lay Off 300 Officers

May 27, 2009

COLUMBUS, OHIO – Columbus police will be pulled from highways, high schools and other duties if voters reject a proposed city income-tax increase on Aug. 4, Chief Walter Distelzweig said yesterday.

Nearly 300 officers would lose their jobs in layoffs. When added to the number of retirees who wouldn’t be replaced, Columbus would have 324 fewer police than it has today.

“This is devastating for our division,” the first-year chief said. “You’ve heard the old adage, ‘doing more with less?’ We’re going to do less with less.”

The 1,568-member force Distelzweig proposed would be the city’s smallest since 1993, when there were 91,000 fewer people living here. Already, Distelzweig said, there will be fewer police on duty for Red, White & Boom, scheduled for July 3, because the division is trying to reduce overtime costs. For 2010, the city would cut 75 detectives from its narcotics, burglary, vice and economic-crimes units. It would shut down motorcycle and freeway units, end an arrangement that stations officers in 17 Columbus high schools, and reassign officers who watch over city reservoirs and work as liaisons with neighborhood groups.

Tax-increase opponents have called predictions of police layoffs a tactic designed to scare up support for the tax increase.

City leaders want to raise the income tax from 2 percent to 2.5 percent. It would cost people who work in Columbus an extra $50 for every $10,000 in annual income. They already pay $200 for every $10,000 earned.

Republican council candidate Roseann Hicks, who’s against the increase, said Columbus first should fund police and fire and other basic services at their required levels, then decide what it can afford with what’s left.

Councilman Andrew J. Ginther, who chairs the council’s safety committee, said officials are just being honest with voters about the stakes on Aug. 4.

On the spending side, police and fire account for 72 percent of general-fund spending. Personnel accounts for nearly 93 percent of police-division costs.

“You just can’t come up with the kinds of numbers we’re describing and take (72 percent), 93 percent off the table,” Ginther said. “You have to balance the budget. There are no IOUs.”

Finance Director Joel S. Taylor asked all city departments to submit 2010 budget proposals that cut discretionary spending based on their share of the general fund.

But Taylor said the mayor and council members have yet to apply their priorities to the budget. They could choose to protect some areas at the expense of others. Distelzweig’s plan was sent to Public Safety Director Mitchell J. Brown, who will write a budget proposal once the Fire Division submits its plan. Brown’s budget for Public Safety is due by the end of the week.

Mayor Michael B. Coleman will submit a 2010 citywide budget in mid-November. The City Council has final say.

The proposed income-tax increase would raise $90 million to $100 million a year. But city officials have pegged next year’s deficit at $105 million and growing.

Jim Gilbert, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Capital City Lodge No. 9, said his fellow Columbus officers take the layoff threat seriously. Members of the union, which is in the middle of contract negotiations, voted last week to endorse the tax-increase proposal.

“I think the citizens really need to know that policing in this city will change,” Gilbert said. “Those cuts would be devastating and they’d have a long-term effect.”

Emergency response would remain the highest priority, Distelzweig said, but “you’re probably not going to get much service on a minor crime.”

Based on seniority, he said, officers hired over the last four years would face layoffs. That includes 25 whose jobs were spared in March when Columbus received $1.25 million in federal economic-stimulus money.

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Gun Sales Soar As Toledo Ohio Police Lay Off Officers To Save Money

May 27, 2009

TOLEDO, OHIO – The first round of Toledo police layoffs, in which 75 officers were let go, may already be having an affect on gun ownership.

“I just don’t feel safe with the amount they’re laying off,” says Jonna Ewing. “I think it’s going to be a longer respond time.”

She is spending the day at a conceal carry class. She’s been thinking of getting a gun for awhile, but feels now’s the time due to the recent layoffs.

She’s not alone. Case in point, someone in Jonna’s class wears one those infamous police t-shirts: “I called 911 and all I got was this lousy garbage can” that showed up soon after the TPD cuts.

Tom Urbanski runs Ski’s Firearms Training & Consulting. He also teaches the conceal carry classes.

For him, the layoffs mean big business as people are taking safety into their own hands.

“People are panicking, they’re figuring the only way they can protect themselves is for them to protect themselves,” says Urbanski. “So yeah, my business is booming.”

Urbanski says since the presidential election and the collapse of the economy, people have become more interested in owning guns.

He says locally the police layoffs and recent attacks on the elderly are only fueling the fire, especially for senior citizens.

“They don’t have much support out there. Their family is not visiting as often so they’re having to be their own protectors. I’m seeing an increase in the elderly.”

For Toledoans like Jonna, having a gun and knowing how to use it means she’ll sleep just a little better.

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Man Arrested By Washington County Oregon Deputies After Reporting Incident At McDonalds

May 27, 2009

HILLSBORO, OREGON – A man who called 911 to complain that McDonald’s left a juice box out of his drive-through order was arrested on Monday, Portland television station KPTV reported.

Raibin Osman appeared before a Washington County judge Tuesday on a charge of misusing emergency services. He said he called emergency dispatchers after the drive-through employee wouldn’t come back to the window to give him a juice box.

“We ordered some food and we went home and our order wasn’t in there,” Osman said in the 911 call. “And my little brother is crying for his orange juice.”

Osman’s father, Raof, said the emergency call was an innocent mistake and that it escalated when the McDonald’s employee laughed at the poor English of his son-in-law.

“We came back with our receipt and said, ‘Hey, can we have our order? We paid for it,'” Osman told the emergency dispatcher. “And she was like, ‘Oh, no, I can’t do anything about it.’ And she was laughing at my brother-in-law because he ordered the food and couldn’t speak English right.”

Meanwhile, the McDonald’s employee also called 911 after feeling threatened by the men.

“I showed them that everything was correct and they got mad and told me to give them more food,” the employee said in the 911 call. “And I told them, I can’t give any free food away.”

When deputies arrived, Raibin Osman admitted it was not an emergency call but said he didn’t know what number to use, according to the sheriff’s office.

“You need help from the police, you have to call the 911,” Osman’s father said. “I don’t have any other number.”

Deputies said Osman had been using a Blackberry and could have tracked down a non-emergency line using the phone, but Osman’s father said the officer simply should have provided his son with the non-emergency number.

Surprisingly, the incident hasn’t stopped the Osman family from eating at the restaurant. They said they’ve already returned since the arrest.

“The employee made the mistake, not McDonald’s,” Osman’s father said.

Osman posted bail and was released from the Washington County Jail on Tuesday night.

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Former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik Indicted By Federal Grand Grand Jury After Lying To White House In Attempt To Gain Homeland Security Secretary Position

May 26, 2009

WASHINGTON, DC – CBS 2 HD has learned that former NYPD Commissioner Bernard Kerik has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Washington on charges of making false statements to White House officials during his vetting for the position of Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The new indictment was handed up Tuesday by a federal grand jury in Washington, and means Kerik will face trials in New York and Washington, D.C.

Similar false statement charges were brought as part of the larger case in New York but were dismissed and transferred to Washington, where the crimes allegedly occurred.

According to the new indictment, Kerik, in 1999 and 2000 when he was NYPD commissioner, spoke to city regulators on behalf of contractors who were seeking one or more permits to do business in and with the city.

The contractors then spent more than $255,000 renovating Kerik’s apartment in Riverdale. In 2004, when Kerik was under consideration by the White House for the Homeland Security position, he gave false and misleading answers to questions by White House officials about his relationship with the contractors.

The indictment alleges that Kerik falsely denied that there was any possible concern the president should have about his relationship with the contractors, and that as a public official he had had any financial dealings with individuals seeking to do business with the City.

It also alleges Kerik sent an e-mail to a White House official containing false and misleading statements concerning the renovations to the apartment in Riverdale.

Kerik’s attorney, Barry H. Berke, released a statement to CBS 2 HD which reads:

“Today’s indictment of Mr. Kerik — the third separate prosecution against him arising out of the same purported corruption allegations from 10 years ago — is the latest example of the Department of Justice’s overzealous pursuit of high-profile public figures.

“Mr. Kerik looks forward to finally clearing his name of these corruption charges at his federal trial in New York set for October. The Justice Department’s own rules mandate that ‘the government bring as few charges as are necessary to ensure that justice is done.’ The government has instead decided to take a third bite at the apple in Washington, apparently not confident in its ability to win the case in New York, which includes virtually identical charges.

“However many trials it takes, Mr. Kerik will vigorously defend himself against these unfounded accusations and is confident that he will be completely vindicated.”

If convicted Kerik could face up to five years in prison.

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U.S. Coast Guard Uses Helicopter To Turn Annual Morris Plains New Jersey Memorial Day Parade Into A Horror Story

May 25, 2009

MORRIS PLAINS, NEW JERSEY — Branches flew off trees and a horse ran amok causing an unusual opening and finale to the 23rd annual Morris Plains Memorial Day Parade Saturday morning.

Three spectators were injured after a Coast Guard helicopter’s rotor wash, or downward wind produced from revolving helicopter blades, caused two 8-foot-long branches to snap from a tree at the corner of Hillview and Speedwell avenues near the Presbyterian Church parking lot, police said.

They included a 38-year-old Morris Township mother who threw her body over her 8-year-old son to protect him from a falling branch and ended up with a cut along her left cheek, police said. The boy suffered a scrape on his neck, Patrolman Steve Rush said.

Another person, a 4-year-old borough girl, suffered a head injury and was taken to Morristown Memorial Hospital. She was in the back of a Minuteman ambulance with an ice pack on her head.

Joe Allegro, of the Gillette section of Long Hill, said there was an excessive amount of dirt, some ending up in his eyes.

“The wind produced was very strong,” he said.

His wife, Ann, saw the woman who scraped her cheek.

She said the incident was bizarre.

Toward the end of the parade, a Clydesdale horse pulling a cart was spooked after the cart began to tip over when turning unsuccessfully in the Veterans of Foreign Wars post parking lot, police said. The driver, William Barbato, 62, of Chester, fell on the ground and the horse got loose from its harness and kicked Barbato in the chest and head, Rush said. Barbato suffered a head injury and a cut on his chest, according to Rush.

He was taken by the Morris Minutemen to a nearby hospital, said witness Vincent Marchese of Morris Township.

Marchese said the horse ran amok and got caught between two cars in the VFW parking lot on Route 53, just north of the train station.

Rush confirmed that taillights of some cars were broken as a result.

The Minutemen, Marchese said, had completed the parade after treating victims in the flyover incident. They were parked at the VFW when the horse mayhem ensued.

According to a police report from Patrolman Thomas Keane, the cart’s wheelbase was not wide enough to make the turn, and the cart buckled as a result, causing its passengers to also fall. None of the passengers was injured.

Mayor Frank Druetzler said he had heard about the incidents, and that some of those injured were taken to the hospital.

“This the 23rd year the parade has taken place, and nothing like this has happened,” he said. “It’s very upsetting. Hopefully nobody is seriously injured.”

There were other mishaps. Two antique Cadillacs in the procession stalled near Simons Park.

Lulu Giscoigne, who was in the pink 1958 Cadillac “Juke Mobile,” which contains a jukebox in the trunk, said the stall was probably caused by a fuel delivery problem.

An antique red Cadillac 500 stalled with passenger Assemblyman Minority Leader Alex DeCroce. This isn’t the first year for mishap at the Morris Plains’ parade. Last year, a bear wandered toward the crowd but retreated before causing too much alarm.

Barring the downed limbs and spooking horse, parade officials said the event went smoothly, attended by a couple thousand people who lined the streets.

Col. Russell J. Hrdy, an Iraq War veteran from Picatinny Arsenal in Rockaway Township, who gave the keynote speech at the event, said it’s important for individuals to have some “quiet time to reflect on the sacrifices of fallen military service members.”

“The price of freedom is very steep,” he said. “Please take some time (to remember them).”

He suggested residents Google “Medal of Honor” to read and reflect on some of the sacrifices made by some military service members.

The Rev. Steve Cobb asked residents to “let us not love in word and tongue, but by our actions.”

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Threats Against Federal Judges And Prosecutors Soar

May 25, 2009

US – Threats against the nation’s judges and prosecutors have sharply increased, prompting hundreds to get 24-hour protection from armed U.S. marshals. Many federal judges are altering their routes to work, installing security systems at home, shielding their addresses by paying bills at the courthouse or refraining from registering to vote. Some even pack weapons on the bench.

The problem has become so pronounced that a high-tech “threat management” center recently opened in Crystal City, where a staff of about 25 marshals and analysts monitor a 24-hour number for reporting threats, use sophisticated mapping software to track those being threatened and tap into a classified database linked to the FBI and CIA.

“I live with a constant heightened sense of awareness,” said John R. Adams, a federal judge in Ohio who began taking firearms classes after a federal judge’s family was slain in Chicago and takes a pistol to the courthouse on weekends. “If I’m going to carry a firearm, I’d better know how to use it.”

The threats and other harassing communications against federal court personnel have more than doubled in the past six years, from 592 to 1,278, according to the U.S. Marshals Service. Worried federal officials blame disgruntled defendants whose anger is fueled by the Internet; terrorism and gang cases that bring more violent offenders into federal court; frustration at the economic crisis; and the rise of the “sovereign citizen” movement — a loose collection of tax protesters, white supremacists and others who don’t respect federal authority.

Much of the concern was fueled by the slaying of U.S. District Judge Joan H. Lefkow’s husband and mother in their Chicago home in 2005 and a rampage 11 days later by an Atlanta rape suspect, who killed a judge, the court stenographer and a deputy. Last year, several pipe bombs exploded outside the federal courthouse in San Diego, and a drug defendant wielding a razor blade briefly choked a federal prosecutor during sentencing in Brooklyn, N.Y. In March, a homicide suspect attacked a judge in a California courtroom and was shot to death by police.

“Judges today have dangerous jobs, and that danger has many dimensions,” said David Sellers, a spokesman for the administrative office of the U.S. Courts. “They are worried about security and safety 24 hours a day.”

Although attacks on federal court personnel have not increased, the explosion of vitriolic threats has prompted a growing law enforcement crackdown aimed at preventing them. The U.S. Marshals Service, which protects judges and prosecutors, says several hundred require 24-hour guard for days, weeks or months at a time each year, depending on the case.

“We have to make sure that every judge and prosecutor can go to work every day and carry out the rule of law,” said Michael Prout, assistant director of judicial security for the marshals, who have trained hundreds of police and deputies to better protect local court officials, an effort that began last year with Northern Virginia and Maryland officers.

“It’s the core of our civil liberties,” Prout said.

State court officials are seeing the same trend, although no numbers are available. “There’s a higher level of anger, whether it’s defendants or their families,” said Timothy Fautsko, who coordinates security education for the National Center for State Courts in Williamsburg and said threats are coming from violent offenders along with divorce, probate and other civil litigants.

The threats are emerging in cases large and small, on the Internet, by telephone, in letters and in person. In the District, two men have pleaded not guilty to charges of vowing to kill a federal prosecutor and kidnap her adult son if she didn’t drop a homicide investigation. The judge in the CIA leak case got threatening letters when he ordered Vice President Richard B. Cheney’s former chief of staff to prison. A man near Richmond was charged with mailing threats to a prosecutor over three traffic offenses. The face of a federal judge in the District was put in a rifle’s cross hairs on the Internet after he issued a controversial environmental ruling, judicial sources said.

Hundreds of threats cascaded into the chambers of John M. Roll, the chief U.S. district judge in Arizona, in February after he allowed a lawsuit filed by illegal immigrants against a rancher to go forward. “They cursed him out, threatened to kill his family, said they’d come and take care of him. They really wanted him dead,” said a law enforcement official who heard the calls — which came from as far as Richmond and Baltimore — but spoke on condition of anonymity because no one has been charged.

David Gonzales, the U.S. marshal in Arizona, said deputies went online and found Roll’s home address posted on a Web site containing threatening comments. They put the judge under 24-hour protection for about a month, guarding his home in a secluded area just outside Tucson, screening his mail and escorting him to court, to the gym and to Mass. “Some deputies went to church more in a week than they had in their lives,” Gonzales said.

Roll said that “any judge who goes through this knows it’s a stressful situation” and that he and his family were grateful for the protection.

The stress nearly overcame Michael Cicconetti, a municipal court judge in Painesville, Ohio, after police played a tape for him of a defendant in a minor tax case plotting to blow up the judge’s house. “I hear a man’s voice talk about putting a bomb in the house, and another voice says, ‘What if there are kids involved?’ and the first man says, ‘They’re just collateral damage,’ ” the father of five recalled.

Cicconetti evacuated his family for a terrifying week in which they were under guard and stayed at friends’ houses. “I couldn’t go to work for two weeks. I was too shaken up. I couldn’t think,” he said. For months, the judge was nervous every time a car drove by his home. His children were afraid to go to bed; their grades dropped.

The judge now has a security system in his home — and a stun gun within reach in court.

Sibley Reynolds, a state court judge in Alabama who prosecutors said was threatened last year by the son of a defendant convicted of stealing about $3,000 from a humane shelter, packs the real thing — a Colt automatic pistol. He keeps it under his robe, in his waistband.

“I don’t go anywhere without my security with me,” Reynolds said.

Court officials could not say how often judges arm themselves. But the marshals have installed home security systems for most federal judges since the Lefkow incident, and many are removing their photos from court Web sites and shielding their home addresses. Senior U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan in the District said judges who have handled terrorism matters are hesitant to travel to the Middle East, or to South America if they’ve had drug-trafficking cases.

U.S. District Judge Wayne Andersen in Chicago said he has “stopped even mentioning publicly that I have children. Normally, parents want to be visibly associated with their kids. Judges now think everything is on the Internet.”

The Judicial Conference of the United States, the policymaking arm headed by the Supreme Court chief justice, will soon distribute a DVD with security tips. It will be called Project 365, for security 365 days a year.

“Judges today are far more security-conscious than they ever have been,” said Henry E. Hudson, a federal judge in Richmond who is working on the DVD. “I don’t think it’s at the point where it’s interfering with their judgment and dedication to their jobs.”

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New York City Police Metermaid Ends Up Under A Wheel While Writing Parking Ticket

May 24, 2009

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – A man was so desperate to avoid a parking ticket that he ran over an NYPD traffic cop before she could write it, breaking her legs and causing a head injury.

The incident happened Friday afternoon on Jerome Avenue in the Bronx. Cops tracked down the suspect, 26-year-old Anthony Grullon, and arrested him Saturday afternoon.

The 26-year-old agent was about to write a ticket for a double-parked car when Grullon allegedly ran to the vehicle, got in and tried to drive away, police said.

As he made his escape, the car knocked the agent to the ground and then drove over her, crushing her legs.

The traffic agent is in guarded condition at St. Barnabas Hospital, police said.

Surveillance video captures the man believed to be Grullon wearing a red shirt and dark pants running across the street to his 2002 black Ford Taurus. The Bronx man has been charged with felony assault and leaving the scene of an accident.

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New York City Police Metermaid Ends Up Under A Wheel While Writing Parking Ticket

May 24, 2009

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – A man was so desperate to avoid a parking ticket that he ran over an NYPD traffic cop before she could write it, breaking her legs and causing a head injury.

The incident happened Friday afternoon on Jerome Avenue in the Bronx. Cops tracked down the suspect, 26-year-old Anthony Grullon, and arrested him Saturday afternoon.

The 26-year-old agent was about to write a ticket for a double-parked car when Grullon allegedly ran to the vehicle, got in and tried to drive away, police said.

As he made his escape, the car knocked the agent to the ground and then drove over her, crushing her legs.

The traffic agent is in guarded condition at St. Barnabas Hospital, police said.

Surveillance video captures the man believed to be Grullon wearing a red shirt and dark pants running across the street to his 2002 black Ford Taurus. The Bronx man has been charged with felony assault and leaving the scene of an accident.

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Federal Prisoners Sent Unsupervised From Prison To Prison Via. Greyhound

May 24, 2009

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – Dwayne Keith Fitzen — “Shadow” to fellow inmates at the federal prison in Waseca, Minn. — was halfway through his 24-year sentence when prison officials decided to move him to a facility in California.

To make the transfer, the Bureau of Prisons did something fairly routine for the government agency: It bought Shadow a one-way bus ticket and sent him, traveling unsupervised and unmarked, on the two-day trip.

Fitzen was 55 at the time, a motorcycle gang member convicted of dealing cocaine. He got off the bus in Las Vegas, about 400 miles short of his scheduled destination, and became a fugitive. Five years later he’s still at large.

Since April 2006, the Bureau of Prisons has allowed 89,794 federal inmates to be transferred without escorts, traveling mainly by bus. The rationale behind the unescorted transfers, according to bureau spokeswoman Traci Billingsley, is purely economic: Having prison officials, or U.S. marshals, in charge of moving inmates who have been prescreened and deemed low-risk would be incredibly expensive, she said. Exactly how much it would cost, the Bureau of Prisons doesn’t know.

Historically, fewer than 1 in 500 inmates being transferred without escorts have absconded, Billingsley said. Although the federal agency doesn’t have the exact numbers for recent years, that calculates to no more than 180 inmates since 2006. The Bureau thinks this number is small enough to justify the cost-saving program, though bus companies don’t agree.

Bus companies have no idea when inmates are being transferred. Greyhound in particular has asked the federal prison system several times to stop transferring convicts on its fleet.

“We feel this is an inherent safety risk to our customers and our employees as well,” Greyhound spokeswoman Abby Wambaugh said.

Greyhound executives learned of the transfer program in 2005 and complained. Prison officials tried to appease them, writing a letter noting that of the 77 inmates who escaped during unescorted transfers from October 2003 to September 2005, all but 19 were recaptured or returned to custody.

Fitzen is one of those 19.

Inmates going Greyhound have been gravy for TV news reporters who stumble upon the subject every few years and attack it with a vengeance. Often, their reports mention Shadow’s Las Vegas escape.

The truth is, unescorted transfers have been happening since the early 1990s, though Billingsley didn’t immediately have the program’s start date or the number of unassisted transfers for years before 2006.

Billingsley also did not have numbers for how many inmates have fled bus transfers in Nevada. But even one escaped inmate is enough to draw public ire, as well as ratings for TV news stations.

In its defense, the Bureau of Prisons offers a fact seldom addressed in reports on the subject: Of the almost 90,000 inmates who have been transferred alone since 2006, the vast majority — 94 percent — were being sent to halfway houses.

Inmates in halfway houses, where they are helped with finding jobs and integrating back into society, are allowed to ride the bus and walk around town freely. Make it to your final destination, in other words, and you can ride the bus all you want.

But not every inmate is being transferred to a halfway house. In the past three years 5,347 federal inmates have been transferred unescorted to minimum-security facilities, more commonly called prison camps.

Prison camp inmates are often sent into communities to do various jobs, repairing buildings, cleaning roads and so on. This work is sometimes performed without a staff escort, or under intermittent supervision, according to the 2005 letter from prison officials to Greyhound. The implied point: The bus isn’t the only opportunity to escape.

Fitzen was headed from Minnesota to the Lompoc Federal Correctional Institution — a low-security facility about 175 miles outside of Los Angeles. If he ever gets caught, he’ll be in a world of trouble. This is one of the “disincentives” prison officials say keep unescorted inmates from fleeing. Most inmates who run are ultimately caught and then face more charges, Billingsley said.

Fitzen got off the bus in Las Vegas, then went to a bank and withdrew $12,000 in cash, according to U.S. marshals, who are still looking for him. He has reportedly been spotted a few times since his escape, but has otherwise lived up to his nickname.

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Ocean City Maryland Swears In This Years Batch Of Crazed Summer Police Officers

May 24, 2009

OCEAN CITY, MARYLAND — Maryland’s most popular beach town doubles the size of its police force every summer by hiring more than 100 seasonal officers — most of them college students who are whisked through a four-week police academy, then given arrest powers and a gun.

Ocean City’s young officers have a lot to learn before they are let loose on the boardwalk with a badge. This year’s recruits are deep into the crash course that aims to meet — barely — the minimum state requirements for becoming a sworn officer. To meet a requirement that they fire at least 1,000 rounds, the recruits spent four full days at a firing range, pulling the trigger again and again.

“I call them ‘video game kids.’ The eye-hand coordination is there, but the hand muscles aren’t,” said firearms instructor Mark Doyle, a retired Ocean City officer. “They’re learning.”

The seasonal officers, who must be at least 21, are brought on to help police a population of more than 200,000, up from 8,500 in the winter. They patrol for underage drinkers, break up bar fights, stop drunk drivers and respond to noise complaints.

“A lot of them are going to tell us all of these stories — ‘You know how it is, man,’ or ‘You’re cool — you’ve been where we are’ — and it’s going to be hard to enforce the laws,” said Todd Clark, a 25-year-old Marine who has completed three tours in Iraq and is now a senior at Penn State. “But that’s our job.”

In a recruit class of mostly 21- and 22-year-olds, Clark is referred to as “the old man.” Two recruits will celebrate their 21st birthdays in the next two weeks, barely making the age cutoff.

No seasonal officer has fired a weapon while on the job in at least 20 years if not longer, said Michael Levy, a police spokesman who once trained recruits.

In Ocean City and elsewhere, permanent police officers must go to a six-month police academy.

None of the other Eastern Shore beach towns that hires seasonal officers equips them with a gun. Instead, officers in such places as Dewey Beach and Rehoboth Beach, Del., are given a baton, pepper spray and bulletproof vest.

“There are plenty of full-time officers around,” said Sgt. Michael Corbin of Rehoboth’s police department. “If there’s a situation where a gun is needed, they can get there quickly.”

Ocean City hired fewer new seasonal officers than usual this year because about 50 returned from previous summers, probably because the job market is poor. The new officers will complete their course June 6, in time to start patrols just as the beach is invaded by “June bugs,” the new high school graduates who arrive in waves every year.

All the recruits agreed that the academy is intense: Most have never been in a fight and didn’t know how to throw or block a punch. No one really understood the intricacies of Maryland liquor and traffic laws. Nearly all admit that they were way out of shape. And a handful had never touched a gun.

“I was scared about this part,” Jamie Temyer, 21, one of five women, said during shooting practice Friday afternoon. “I’m not going to lie — I thought I was going to shoot myself.”

The recruits are trained to defend themselves and to defuse potentially violent situations. In boot camp fashion, they are made to do countless push-ups and endlessly bark “Sir, yes, sir!”

This week, the recruits will practice using pepper spray — on themselves, in part to identify anyone who might be allergic.

“We will have EMS personnel on hand,” Levy said.

Most nights and weekends are spent hanging out as a group at restaurants and on the beach, and many of the recruits live together. Recruits aren’t allowed to drink during their academy training, and current seasonal officers say that when they go out for fun, they stay away from the bars they patrol.

“They’re living in a resort town, so if they live together, chances are they will keep each other out of trouble,” said Ocean City Detective Shawn Jones, who teaches recruits defensive tactics.

Jones was a seasonal officer one summer more than a decade ago, and he remembers the fear he felt on his first few patrols: “I can just remember being put out there and feeling like I had so little training for the job.”

The best training comes on the job, said Officer Andrew Nicholson, 23, who grew up in Fairfax County and is returning to Ocean City for a third summer.

Friday night and Saturday morning, Nicholson drove up and down the Coastal Highway, stopping to help two intoxicated people find a bus, quiet several parties and remind people of the dangers of jay-walking.

About 4 a.m., he stopped by a beach house where soft music and a conversation on the deck awoke a neighbor.

“Hey, guys,” Nicholson began, as he usually does. “I know you are just trying to have fun, but we got a call . . . .”

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Essex Connecticut Firefighters Lose Fire Truck

May 24, 2009

ESSEX, CONNECTICUT – A fire truck that had been stolen from the Essex Fire Department has been recovered, said officials Sunday morning.

Essex fire officials said they found the truck Sunday morning with the help of state and local police.

Firefighters say someone broke into a garage at the fire station on Saturday between 3 and 4 a.m. and stole the vehicle.

Police said they aren’t releasing any details of the investigation at this time because it is ongoing.

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Dumbass Off Duty Mountain View California Police Officer Leaves Keys In Patrol Car Outside Concert – Police Still Looking For Car

May 24, 2009

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIFORNIA – Mountain View police are asking for the public’s assistance in locating a patrol car stolen Friday night.

The car was stolen around 11:15 p.m. at the Shoreline Amphitheatre, located at 1 Amphitheatre Parkway.

An officer who was on duty during a concert left his keys inside when he went to respond to a call, police said.

An Amphitheatre staff member reported seeing the car traveling up and down Shoreline Boulevard and said one suspect, possibly a teenager or young adult, appeared to be inside the car, according to police.

The black and white patrol car is marked with the number 3006 in gold lettering in various places. The MVPD star logo is featured on both sides of the car and “Mountain View Police” is written in gold across the back. Police say the car was equipped with a fluorescent orange and black shotgun that shoots beanbags.

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Shasta County California Sheriff Lays Off 25, Plans To Close Part Of County Jail Due To Lack Of Funds

May 23, 2009

SHASTA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA – Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko issued 25 layoff notices this week and released a timeline for closing a floor of the county jail as part of department budget cuts.

Forty-seven positions within the Sheriff’s Office have been cut, resulting in the layoffs of 25 employees. Twenty-six positions are already vacant. Positions being cut include 18 deputies, three sergeants, one lieutenant, 12 public safety service officers and six correctional officers. The layoffs are effective July 1.

Bosenko said he made the cuts because he’s facing a budget deficit of more than $3 million.

Plans call for one floor of the jail to be closed, resulting in the release of about 150 inmates. Bosenko said the releases will begin in mid-June, with several inmates released each day until the floor is emptied July 1.

“It’s a threat to public safety with these releases,” Bosenko said. “And we’re looking at 60,000 releases from California state prisons as well.”

Bosenko said he is extremely concerned about public safety with the jail releases, layoffs and closing of the work-release program, resulting in 800 to 1,000 inmates not serving their sentences. The Burney station will be closed to the public and the Intermountain Area patrols will be reduced to 16 hours a day.

Bosenko said he understands that sacrifices have to be made and that county departments statewide are experiencing the same budget pains. But with crime on the rise, he said this is the worst time to make these cuts.

“I think it’s important to keep that floor of the jail open and the work-release program open and have patrols on the streets,” he said. “But with these cuts, I can’t do this. I need help from the public to emphasize the importance of public safety.”

Shasta County Supervisor Glenn Hawes said the Board of Supervisors will begin looking at next year’s budget in June and will determine which cuts are vital to the Sheriff’s Office and which are not.

“I think (the sheriff is) getting prepared for what might happen,” he said. “It’s a mess.”

Hawes said the county is at risk of losing all its tax revenue to the state because all but one of the propositions from Tuesday’s special election failed. If that happens, schools will likely get hit hard and even more countywide cuts will be necessary, he said.

“Nobody knows exactly how all this is going to play out,” he said. “We’re just going through the early steps.”

The Board of Supervisors will begin the process of compiling the 2009-2010 budget at a workshop June 8. All county departments will be present and each will be scrutinized to see what cuts are necessary, Hawes said.

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New Jersey Cities Justify Revenue Generating Red Light Cameras With Bogus Statistics Someone Pulled Out Of Their Butt

May 23, 2009

NEW JERSEY – Nearly two dozen cities throughout the state of New Jersey are preparing to install red light cameras to ticket motorists. In order to “save pedestrian lives” these programs, like others throughout the country, will issue up to ninety-five percent of citations not to straight-through red light runners but to the owners of vehicles that make rolling right-hand turns on a red. This type of turn rarely causes accidents in the Garden State.

“We will continue to bring this revenue-enhancing and life-saving program to all of our neighborhoods,” Newark Mayor Cory A. Booker said in a March statement announcing the expansion of its red light camera program.

Newark Police Director Garry F. McCarthy emphasized how the program would save the lives of pedestrians.

“Project Red Light will enhance our ability to enforce traffic ordinances and maintain safety for pedestrians and motorists alike without incurring additional expenses or duties for our officers,” McCarthy said. “We are using the latest technology and partnerships to enable us to work smarter, and to eliminate the needless tragedies that result when motorists ignore red lights.”

The Bergen, New Jersey Record newspaper obtained accident records from the state transportation department and found that no pedestrians were killed anywhere in New Jersey by drivers making right-hand turns in either 2006 or 2007. In fact, during the same period, nearly a quarter of all pedestrian fatalities could be attributed to drunks stumbling into traffic. The Record’s findings match those of a US Department of Transportation report that showed right-turn on red collisions were rare (view study).

Despite the lack of evidence that red light cameras would do anything to protect pedestrians and despite a number of studies that show the devices have increased the overall number of injuries and collisions where they are used (view studies), municipal leaders have rushed to obtain specific state authorization to use the automated ticketing machines. Since Governor Jon S. Corzine (D) signed legislation in January 2008, authorization has been granted to Brick Township, Cherry Hill, Deptford, East Brunswick, Edison, Glassboro, Gloucester Township, Hoboken, Jersey City, Lawrence, Linden, Monroe, Morris Township, Newark, New Brunswick, Piscataway, Roselle Park, South Brunswick, Stafford, Stratford, Wayne and Woodbridge.

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Douchebag Florida State Police Trooper Ariel D. Valentin Arrested, Quits, Charged, And Jailed After Forced Sex With Female Accident Victim

May 23, 2009

PALM SPRINGS, FLORIDA – Authorities say a former Florida Highway Patrol trooper followed a woman to her home, made her strip naked and then coerced her to have sex with him to avoid a traffic ticket.

Palm Springs police say Ariel D. Valentin was arrested Friday and charged with sexual battery and bribery.

Police say Valentin questioned the woman on May 13 after she was involved in a minor car accident. There were no injuries, and neither vehicle was damaged. Police say Valentin searched her at the scene and then suggested going to her home nearby to search her further.

Once they arrived at her home, the woman told police that Valentin told her to remove her clothes and then coerced her into having sex with him.

Valentin has since resigned from FHP.

He was being held without bail.

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Federal Judge Orders South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster To Shut The F*ck Up

May 23, 2009

SOUTH CAROLINA – A federal judge has ruled South Carolina’s attorney general must keep his mouth shut about threatening to prosecute Craigslist over ads for prostitution.

US District Judge Weston Houck granted a temporary restraining order and preliminary judgment against Attorney General Henry McMaster on Friday to “refrain from initiating or pursuing any prosecution against craigslist or its officer” in regards to content posted on the site.

McMaster is currently the subject of a lawsuit from Craigslist over his publicized threats to launch a criminal investigation against the online classified website for allegedly aiding and abetting prostitution.

Two weeks ago, McMaster demanded Craigslist remove the site’s “adult services” listings for South Carolina within 10 days or face possible criminal prosecution.

Eight days after the threat, Craigslist announced it would shutter the category on May 20 and replace it with a new section where each posting would be manually reviewed. When McMaster announced he would still continue pursing a criminal investigation, Craiglist filed a lawsuit seeking declaratory relief against such action.

Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster claims the website isn’t liable for content posted by third parties based on First Amendment free speech rights and under Section 230 of the US Communications Decency Act.

Section 230 essentially states that providers of interactive computer services aren’t considered publishers of information provided by their users for purposes of legal liability.

McMaster, who is considering a run for governor next year, intriguingly declared the lawsuit against his office “good news,” saying it “shows that craiglist is taking the matter seriously for the first time.”

Both McMaster and Craigslist have agreed to the judge’s restraining order.

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Douchebag Florida State Police Trooper Ariel D. Valentin Arrested, Quits, Charged, And Jailed After Forced Sex With Female Accident Victim

May 23, 2009

PALM SPRINGS, FLORIDA – Authorities say a former Florida Highway Patrol trooper followed a woman to her home, made her strip naked and then coerced her to have sex with him to avoid a traffic ticket.

Palm Springs police say Ariel D. Valentin was arrested Friday and charged with sexual battery and bribery.

Police say Valentin questioned the woman on May 13 after she was involved in a minor car accident. There were no injuries, and neither vehicle was damaged. Police say Valentin searched her at the scene and then suggested going to her home nearby to search her further.

Once they arrived at her home, the woman told police that Valentin told her to remove her clothes and then coerced her into having sex with him.

Valentin has since resigned from FHP.

He was being held without bail.

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Federal Judge Orders South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster To Shut The F*ck Up

May 23, 2009

SOUTH CAROLINA – A federal judge has ruled South Carolina’s attorney general must keep his mouth shut about threatening to prosecute Craigslist over ads for prostitution.

US District Judge Weston Houck granted a temporary restraining order and preliminary judgment against Attorney General Henry McMaster on Friday to “refrain from initiating or pursuing any prosecution against craigslist or its officer” in regards to content posted on the site.

McMaster is currently the subject of a lawsuit from Craigslist over his publicized threats to launch a criminal investigation against the online classified website for allegedly aiding and abetting prostitution.

Two weeks ago, McMaster demanded Craigslist remove the site’s “adult services” listings for South Carolina within 10 days or face possible criminal prosecution.

Eight days after the threat, Craigslist announced it would shutter the category on May 20 and replace it with a new section where each posting would be manually reviewed. When McMaster announced he would still continue pursing a criminal investigation, Craiglist filed a lawsuit seeking declaratory relief against such action.

Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster claims the website isn’t liable for content posted by third parties based on First Amendment free speech rights and under Section 230 of the US Communications Decency Act.

Section 230 essentially states that providers of interactive computer services aren’t considered publishers of information provided by their users for purposes of legal liability.

McMaster, who is considering a run for governor next year, intriguingly declared the lawsuit against his office “good news,” saying it “shows that craiglist is taking the matter seriously for the first time.”

Both McMaster and Craigslist have agreed to the judge’s restraining order.

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Nutcase Sinclair Community College Cops Attack And Arrest Campus Evangelists – Bogus Felony Charge Filed By Dayton Ohio Police – Witnesses Who Took Video Of The Attack Arrested

May 23, 2009

DAYTON, OHIO – A campus evangelism group is stunned today, as a ministry event at a community college in Ohio resulted in four members being arrested, one on a felony assault charge that the ministry’s leader claims is fabricated.

“I’ve done ministries like this at more than 200 universities,” said Jason Storms, director of Faithful Soldier School of Evangelism, a ministry of Mercy Seat Christian Church in Milwaukee, Wis. “We train people to do evangelism, and I have never seen an incident like this.”

Storms and a team of students earlier this week traveled to Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio, with signs, literature and a message of faith.

When they arrived, however, a student complaint led campus police to confront the evangelism team and demand that their signs and literature be put away in accordance with college policy. The evangelists insisted their materials were protected by the freedom of speech guaranteed in the First Amendment, and the officers arrested them on charges of disorderly conduct.

“There are many times when police hassle us and intimidate or bully us on campus, and usually we stand them down and are successful in defending our rights to freedom of speech,” Storms told WND. “I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve had an arrest situation.”

Later in the afternoon, however, two more arrests followed, one on a now-disputed felony charge of striking a police officer.

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Storms himself was detained by police, when after speaking freely with students on campus for a couple of hours, he approached Officer Michael Beane to inquire about the charges filed against the other two evangelists. Storms and Beane then got into an argument, resulting in the officer claiming he was being harassed and Storms being detained in a holding cell.

The situation escalated, however, when Officer Beane demanded that a member of the evangelism team surrender a cell phone that had been taping the incident.

Faithful Soldier student Katie Carroll refused to give up her phone and hid behind fellow evangelist team member Daniel Pollion. What happened next is highly disputed. Natasha Baker, director of public relations for the campus police force, told WND Pollion struck Beane in the face.

“We have witness testimonies, students who did see the officer being punched by one of the demonstrators and at that point [Pollion] was arrested,” Baker said. “We have not had anyone file a police report stating otherwise.”

The members of Faithful Soldier, however, tell a different story.

Pollion, who was released from jail today upon posting $2,000 bond, told the Dayton Daily News, “It can’t be construed as assault or even attempted assault. They were on the offensive, not us.”

Storms told WND his organization has witnesses of their own that say Pollion merely asked the officer to “chill out” when he was placed in a headlock and wrestled to the ground. Storms said Beane radioed in a phantom “fight” and phony charge that he had been assaulted.

“Three of our people were standing there watching the entire thing as well as Sinclair College students,” Storms said. “We have numerous direct, eyewitness testimonies. There was no punch, no assault, nothing like that. It was just a crazy cowboy officer acting belligerently and making his third arrest of the day of a group of Christians peacefully trying to witness.”

Baker told the Daily News, “It is a very serious matter and we don’t have things like this happen often and it deserves our attention.”

She also explained to WND that evangelists from Faithful Soldier had been on campus last year and were told then that while they have the freedom to talk to students, campus policy requires pre-approval of organizations bringing signs or literature.

“Because we do have the campus access policy and they did understand what that policy was before they came on campus,” Baker said, “the officers had asked them to please remove their signs and stop handing out literature unless asked for by students.”

Storms told WND the policy is unconstitutional and the evangelists should not have been forced to put their tracts and signs away. He also believes that the enforcement of First Amendment issues is driven by an anti-Christian atmosphere on college campuses.

“When we first got out there, a young man complained and told us it was not right that we were out there,” Storms said. “There are war protests that take place here where they scream about the war. There was an Obama rally here not too long ago. There are gay pride rallies that take place on this campus. Nobody gets offended by those things. The issue is not with our method; the issue is with our message.”

Storms continued, “I would like to see the campus’ freedom of speech policies changed, because it obviously has policies that aren’t constitutional. I think they need to invest in a little more training for their officers in how to deal with First Amendment situations.”

According to a statement from the college, external investigators will review the incident and report to school’s president.

All four arrested evangelists, including Katie Carroll – who was arrested for obstruction for refusing to surrender the video – have been released on bond.

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New York City Police Forensic Investigator Stabbed To Death In Bed By Former Lover

May 23, 2009

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – Michelle Lee’s career was solving crimes. Working as a forensic investigator for the New York Police Department, she was training to do the type of “CSI” work made famous on television.

But the 24-year-old became a victim of a crime herself, stabbed to death in her bed, her naked body found in a pool of blood. Using the same investigative techniques Lee was learning, authorities on Friday arrested her ex-lover Gary McGurk in the case, charging him with second-degree murder.

McGurk pleaded not guilty and was being held without bail. His attorney, Joseph Corozzo said his client was innocent.

“This is a gruesome crime, but my client is not responsible for it,” he said. “We look forward to seeing the purported evidence in this case.”

Lee had recently moved out of her parent’s home and was living in Sunnyside, Queens, a quaint neighborhood of working-class families. She started working for the NYPD last September and was training in forensic investigations at a police lab analyzing evidence like hair samples, drugs, gunshot residues and bodily fluids. She was going to specialize in narcotics.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly described her as a “very talented young woman.”

The weekend of her death, her roommate was out of town. She returned Sunday, April 26, and thinking Lee must’ve been sleeping, she didn’t bother to say hello. When she wasn’t up the next morning, the roommate peeked into Lee’s room and discovered the grisly scene. Lee was naked and had been tied to her bed, a knife jutted out of her neck. Her chest had been burned with an iron. Investigators would later say she was hit with a blunt instrument before she was stabbed.

There was no sign of forced entry. She was last seen leaving the gym in her neighborhood around 5 p.m. the Saturday before her roommate discovered her body.

Police offered a $12,000 reward for any information leading to her death. Meanwhile, investigators probed the case, talking to her friends and acquaintances. Lab workers – though none of Lee’s co-workers – analyzed forensic evidence from the scene.

Weeks went by, and one person’s story didn’t quite add up, according to police and prosecutors. McGurk, a 23-year-old Irish-born student at John Jay Criminal College, was apparently the last person to have contact with her, and his statements kept changing, investigators said.

The two had met at the John Jay athletic center in 2004, where she also attended, and he asked her out. But dating didn’t work, and so they were “friends with benefits,” according to his statement to police. He claimed they had rough sex – tied each other up, choked each other, that sort of thing, according to court documents.

“Sweet girl. Friends first, herself last,” McGurk said in a statement to police. “She told me that she made bad decisions. I told her that I was a bad decision, joking.”

After he started dating another girl, their relationship cooled but they still spoke regularly. They chatted online the Saturday before she was found dead. And he was apparently upset investigators didn’t contact him immediately, according to court documents.

She also owed him at least $2,000, he said. McGurk had lied to Lee, telling her he was sick with cancer and needed the money immediately. She didn’t have it, he said.

His statements to police on how much he owed her and how much she had paid kept changing, along with when and where he last saw her, according to court documents. Forensic evidence also tied him to the scene, but police wouldn’t get into details.

McGurk was charged Friday by District Attorney Richard Brown with second-degree murder, tampering with physical evidence, and two counts of criminal possession of a weapon.

He maintains his innocence.

“If I were to have done this to Michelle I would not only embarrass myself but I would also embarrass my family,” McGurk said, according to court documents. “I did not go into her apartment. She had company. You don’t like it but you accept it.”

He is due in court June 4. He faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted.

In his court statements, McGurk said he is scheduled to graduate May 28, but he wasn’t sure he could handle the life of a forensic psychologist.

“I find crime scene photos and cadavers disturbing,” he said.

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Nutcase Atlanta Georgia Police Officer Tickets Man For Walking In Street To Avoid Huge Hole In Sidewalk – Sentenced To 12 Months Probation And $227 Fine

May 22, 2009

ATLANTA, GEORGIA – Alvin Spencer told Channel 2 Action News reporter Jodie Fleischer that he can’t believe the punishment he received for walking in the street to avoid a sidewalk hole filled with water.

“Twelve months probation and a $227 fine,” said Spencer.

Spencer took pictures and showed Fleischer how rain easily accumulates inside the sidewalk hole along Memorial Drive in east Atlanta.

“The majority of people walk on the side of the street. You don’t have a choice unless you’re going to walk in the water or the mud,” said Spencer.

Spencer said the city has been using a fallen street sign as a makeshift cover for the sidewalk hole.

“The city needs to do their part right because this is wrong …that’s wrong,” said Spencer.

Spencer said the Atlanta police officer who wrote the ticket didn’t even look at the sidewalk’s condition.

“He said, ‘Tell it to the judge,’ so that’s what I did … and she said ‘$227.’ I got to do something about this,” said Spencer.

After going to Atlanta City Hall and not getting a response, Spencer contacted WSB-TV.

“What they want you to do … walk in the hole?” said a passer-by who stopped to give his opinion. “That’s got to be crazy … I’m not going to walk in the hole.”

It turns out, the passer-by is related to the developer of a nearby construction project that might have caused the damage.

“Do you need to repair that sidewalk? No, DeKalb County does that,” said a woman with Citiheart Developers. She later corrected herself to say she’d call the city of Atlanta and report the hole.

“I’m going to look into it,” she said.

“And if they won’t, will you fix it?” asked Fleischer.

“Absolutely; that’s what I do — construction. I’m not going leave a hole there,” she said.

Spencer hopes it gets fixed quickly, so no one else ends up in his legal hole, or worse.

“How dangerous it is, somebody could get hurt very seriously,” said Spencer.

Fleischer contacted the Atlanta Police Department. It confirmed the incident but wouldn’t go on camera until it talks with the officer involved.

Spencer’s probation will be suspended if he pays the $227 fine, but so far, he has refused to do that.

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Man Imprisoned For 4 Years By Seminole County Florida At Taxpayer Expense For Littering His Own Yard

May 21, 2009

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, FLORIDA – A Florida man who littered his yard with junk including toilets and a statue of buttocks has been released from prison after serving four years.

Alan Davis of Seminole County was originally convicted in 2003 on a felony criminal littering charge for what he called a political protest,

In 1999, he began covering the roof and yard of his home with toilets, airplane parts, scrap metal, a giant statue of buttocks and other objects his neighbors found objectionable. He was sentenced to one year in jail.

However, he was jailed for three more years after incurring multiple parole violations following his release.

Davis was released from prison Wednesday.

The exterior of his home is currently clear, except for some tall weeds, WKMG-TV, Orlando, Fla., reported.

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Virus Hits FBI And U.S. Marshals Computer Network

May 21, 2009

WASHINGTON, DC – Officials say the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service computers were partially shut down after a computer virus struck.

Officials say a virus was the problem at the Marshals Service; an FBI spokesman said only that the FBI was one of several agencies facing similar issues and had taken protective measures.

Technical staff disconnected the Marshals system from the Justice Department’s computer system as a precaution.

Marshals spokesman Nikki Credic said at no time was data compromised by the virus.

She said the agency had temporarily shut down their Internet access and some e-mail while the problem is addressed.

The type of virus and its origin haven’t yet been determined.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information.

WASHINGTON (AP)—A computer virus struck the computer system at the U.S. Marshals Service on Thursday, forcing a partial shutdown of its network to keep the bug from spreading to other agencies.

Officials said the problem emerged Thursday morning, and technical staff disconnected the system from the Justice Department’s computer system as a protective measure.

“At no time was data compromised,” said Marshals spokeswoman Nikki Credic.

She said the agency had temporarily shut down their Internet access and some e-mail while the problem is addressed.

The type of virus and its origin were not determined immediately, Credic said.

An FBI spokesman had no immediate comment on whether their system had seen any similar problems.

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5 Birmingham Alabama Police Officers Fired After Video Catches Them Brutally Beating And Kicking Unconscious Man

May 19, 2009

BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA – Five police officers in Birmingham, Ala., were fired on Wednesday after a video became public that shows them beating and kicking an apparently unconscious suspect in 2008 after a highway chase.

Police Chief A.C. Roper called the actions “shameful,” and the state bureau of investigation is considering charges.

The video, filmed on Jan. 23, 2008, by a police patrol car camera, showed officers chasing a suspect, Anthony Warren, who lost control of his van and was ejected from a window in the crash. After the officers raced toward Mr. Warren, motionless on the roadside, they could be seen punching, kicking and beating him with a billy club.

The video was released by the city on Wednesday after the district attorney’s office discovered it in March. Prosecutors for the district attorney, Brandon Falls, of Jefferson County, found the tape while preparing their case against Mr. Warren, who later received a 20-year sentence for first degree assault for hitting an officer with his van during the chase.

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Criminal Bush Officials Imune After Kidnappings And Torture

May 18, 2009

WASHINGTON, DC – The Supreme Court rejected on Monday a lawsuit by a Pakistani man against a former U.S. attorney general and the FBI director claiming abuse while he was imprisoned in New York after the September 11, 2001, attacks.

By a 5-4 vote, the U.S. high court overturned a ruling that Javaid Iqbal, who was held more than a year after the attacks, could sue former Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller.

The decision appeared to be narrow, limited to the facts of the case, although it could be cited as precedent in other lawsuits.

The civil case involves different legal issues than the recent demands by human rights groups to hold former Bush administration officials accountable for what they describe as torture of terrorism suspects.

Iqbal, a Muslim, said in the lawsuit that he had suffered verbal and physical abuse, including unnecessary strip searches and brutal beatings by guards. He said he had been singled out because of unlawful ethnic and religious discrimination.

Writing for the Supreme Court’s conservative majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy said Iqbal’s lawsuit failed to plead sufficient facts to state a claim for purposeful, unlawful discrimination.

Kennedy also ruled there was insufficient evidence that Ashcroft and Mueller had deprived Iqbal of his clearly established constitutional rights.

AFTER SEPTEMBER 11

In the weeks after the September 11 attacks, U.S. authorities detained 762 noncitizens, almost all Muslims or Arabs. Many of those held at the federal prison in Brooklyn suffered abuse, the U.S. Justice Department’s inspector general has found.

The Bush administration said that Ashcroft and Mueller have immunity, that they should not be held personally liable and that the lawsuit against them should be dismissed.

Ashcroft and Mueller argued they have qualified legal immunity because any misconduct was done by lower-level officials and they had no personal involvement in or knowledge of the alleged abuse.

The issue before the Supreme Court involved only whether Iqbal’s lawsuit against Ashcroft and Mueller could continue and did not address his claims of mistreatment against other lower-ranking current and former government officials.

Iqbal sued about 30 other current or former U.S. government officials, including the warden at the detention facility and the director of the federal Bureau of Prisons. He seeks unspecified damages.

Iqbal was arrested for having false Social Security papers. He pleaded guilty in 2002, was released in 2003 and deported to Pakistan. The lawsuit was filed in 2004.

The U.S. government paid $300,000 to settle with Iqbal’s co-plaintiff and fellow detainee Ehab Elmaghraby, an Egyptian.

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