Former Section Alabama Police Officer Ryan Evans Arrested In Meth Lab Raid

July 30, 2010

DUTTON, ALABAMA – Jackson County officials say a former Section police officer is in jail after a meth lab raid in Dutton.

Chief Deputy Chuck Phillips said investigators received complaints of possible drug manufacturing at the residence.

Phillips says 26-year-old Ryan Evans was arrested Wednesday after a more than month-long investigation.

Evans is charged with manufacturing of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance.

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Indiana State Police Want Drug Dealers To Call Them About Bogus Bills – Yeah, That Will Happen…

July 28, 2010

NEW ALBANY, INDIANA – A counterfeit bust lands five people behind bars in Floyd County. It happened at a New Albany apartment complex in the 2700 block of Paoli Pike on July 23. Police arrested Jerry Davey and Jonathan Alan Frantz after discovering $4,500 of fake money inside their apartment.

“When we walk into a room and we see literally thousands of dollars that’s printed, other dollars that are printed that are not cut out yet, the machine that’s making the money and also the people that are actually right there doing it, we feel like that’s a pretty significant bust,” said Sergeant Jerry Goodin of the Indiana State Police Sellersburg post.

Police arrested Davey and Frantz at the scene. As officers wrapped up their investigation, Goodin described a knock on the door. The visitor, Michael Casey, was questioned by police and ultimately led officers to another unit in the same complex.

“While we did our search there, we were able to locate half a pound of marijuana, hydrocodone and ecstasy,” Goodin said.

Casey and two others were arrested; 20-year-old Lindsay E. Portwood and 19-year-old Woodrow Sulikowski. Their charges included possession of marijuana and maintaining a common nuisance.

Goodin said those involved used fake cash to target high traffic businesses.

“They were going into small gas marts, grocery stores, places where they know there’s a lot of people,” Goodin said. “Where they can try to get in and out real quick. There’s a lot of people and the cashiers are in a real hurry.”

Those targeted also included drug dealers according to Goodin and he had a message for the victims.

“We have information allegedly that leads us to believe that a lot of this counterfeit money was going to buy drugs. What we are asking today is we want all the drug dealers to call us,” Goodin said. “We want to get all of your information and exactly what happened there. We want to see what we can do to try and help you. Trust us. Call us.”

Investigating agencies included the Floyd County Sheriff’s Department, Indiana State Police, New Albany City Police Department and the United States Secret Service.

Those responsible are being held at the Floyd County Jail in New Albany awaiting their first court appearance.

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Fiancee Of Unarmed Innocent Man Shot And Killed By New York Police In 50 Shot Barrage Awarded $7 Million

July 28, 2010

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – The fiancee of an unarmed man killed by police in 50-bullet barrage and a friend who survived the shooting said Wednesday that a settlement of the federal civil lawsuit with New York City that topped $7 million was fair but not cause for celebration.

“Nobody wins in this,” a somber Joseph Guzman — who was shot 17 times and still wears a leg brace — said at a news conference a day after the settlement was announced.

The deal in a case that ignited community outrage and raised questions about police firepower awards $3.25 million to the estate of Sean Bell, $3 million to Guzman and $900,000 to a third victim, Trent Benefield, minus 30 percent legal fees.

The Bell estate payout will benefit two young daughters he had with Nicole Paultre Bell, who legally took his name after his death.

The fiancee called the settlement “reasonable.” But, she added, the girls “will never have their father.”

Bell, 23, died in a hail of 50 bullets on Nov. 25, 2006, around the corner from a Queens topless bar where he had just had a bachelor party and where undercover police were investigating complaints of prostitution.

At a two-month trial in 2008, Detectives Gescard Isnora, Michael Oliver and Marc Cooper said they opened fire on a car carrying Bell and his friends because they believed the men were armed and because the men defied orders to halt and tried to drive away. No weapon was recovered.

A judge who heard the case instead of a jury cleared the three officers of manslaughter and other charges. He said in a decision that prosecution witnesses who testified that the officers opened fire without warning lacked credibility.

The officers remain on modified duty and are facing departmental charges that could result in their dismissal.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers called the settlement amount the largest ever for a fatal police shooting — a claim that city officials confirmed. It follows other multimillion-dollar payouts in high-profile civil lawsuits involving the police department.

In June, the city agreed to pay a record amount for a civil rights lawsuit when it settled for $9.9 million with Barry Gibbs, an innocent man who spent 19 years in prison after being framed by a police detective.

In 2001, the city and police union agreed to pay $8.7 million to Abner Louima, who was beaten and sodomized with a broomstick in a police precinct by officers. After legal fees, Louima was left with about $5.8 million.

The plaintiffs in the Bell case said Wednesday they would now lobby for pending state legislation that calls for a special prosecutor for police shootings, more firearms training for officers and other measures.

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Dumbass Cincinnati Ohio Police Officer marty Polk Runs Over And Kills Homeless Woman In A Park With Patrol Car

July 28, 2010

OVER-THE-RHINE – Deborah Gross couldn’t get the image out of her head Tuesday – a police cruiser driving over a blanket on the Washington Park grass, the screams that followed and then seeing Joann Burton slide out from underneath.

“I couldn’t believe what I saw,” said Gross, 48, who has frequented the park for about three months. CINCINNATI, OHIO – “She tried to get up, but then fell back down. She curled up in a ball and just rocked back and forth, moaning.”

Gross looked back at Cincinnati Police Officer Marty Polk and saw a pained expression fall over his face.

Near tears, he took his police hat off, wiped his hand over his head and cried “Oh my God, what have I done? … Oh my God.”

Burton – identified as homeless – died at University Hospital. She was 48.

Her death is hitting others who call Washington Park home hard.

“Everybody you see is my family,” said Tyrone Ziegler, who has lived in Washington Park on and off throughout his 51 years. “We watch out for each other.”

Before today, Washington Park’s homeless already felt threatened, especially by the city’s $47 million plan to renovate the park that sits across Elm Street from Music Hall and is in the backyard of the new School for the Creative and Performing Arts.

“This is not good,” said Latricia Harrell, 21. “People here are not happy.”

Polk, nicknamed “Eagle Eye” by those who frequent the park, was interviewed Tuesday by the Ohio State Highway Patrol, which has taken over the investigation along with the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office to avoid conflicts of interest.

A 25-year veteran of the department, Polk is assigned to the park unit, Cincinnati Police Chief Tom Streicher said. Polk will be tested for drugs and alcohol, as required by department policy. It was unclear Tuesday if he would be placed on leave.

People at the park said he generally treats them with respect and is the type to ask people to pour out cans of beer instead of ticketing them, Gross said.

“He was so distraught. It was clearly an accident,” she said. “But I know people won’t see it that way. A lot of people are angry.”

Councilman Cecil Thomas, a retired Cincinnati police detective, said he knows Polk to be an excellent police officer.

Thomas also said he is aware of the controversy over plans to renovate the park.

“We hope that people will understand there is no connection between what happened here and plans to renovate the park,” he said.

Service roads run through the park, but Streicher wasn’t sure why Polk drove onto the grass, something people at the park said they have not witnessed before.

Burton frequented the park regularly with her husband of nine months, Thomas Oats, known in his Washington Park family as “Cornbread” because he came to Cincinnati from Montgomery, Ala.

The couple recently took in a small dog named Buttermilk and had been hanging out at the park with the dog when Oats went to get cigarettes.

“I just don’t understand it,” Oats said. “I am so sad I can’t get upset no more. Somebody has to pay the price. She wasn’t doing nothing but laying on the blanket and playing with the dog.”

When he walked back into the park Tuesday night for his wife’s vigil, people from all over the park grabbed hold of him tightly, saying how sorry they were. Oats’ eyes filled with tears.

“She was a strong, beautiful woman,” Oats said. “She loved me.”

Burton’s youngest child, 22-year-old Kenneth Burton, attended her vigil as well. He said he will remember his mother’s bubbly attitude and great sense of humor.

He said he and his mother didn’t talk much about her homelessness, that she always changed the subject to talk instead about Kenneth and his four siblings.

“I’m disappointed,” said Kenneth Burton, who works full time and attends Cincinnati State’s nursing program. “We’re going to fight for her.”

Josh Spring, director of the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless, said this group will fight as well.

“(The officer) has been through this park before – how could he have made this mistake?” Spring said. “We should be outraged. The police protect all of us and now they have killed one of us.

“There are belongings there,” Spring said. “It is shocking that a park police officer could drive through the park and not see someone there.”

City Manager Milton Dohoney, Thomas and a team of street workers attended the vigil, where roughly 100 people circled around the spot where Burton was run over, singing hymns and reciting prayers.

After most people had gone, Oats stood near the vigil, a series of candles twisted into the ground around a photo of Burton.

“See that spot there,” he said, pointing to the spot next to her photo. “I’m sleeping right there tonight.”

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Crazed New York Amtrak Police Officers Arrest Man Photographing Train For Amtrack’s “Picture Our Train” Contest

July 28, 2010

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – One afternoon, Duane P. Kerzic was arrested by the Amtrak police while taking pictures of a train pulling into Pennsylvania Station. At first, the police asked him to delete the images from his camera, but he refused. He ended up handcuffed to the wall of a holding cell while an officer wrote a ticket for trespassing.

Mr. Kerzic, a semiprofessional photographer, proceeded to describe his detention on his Web site and included images of the summons. He also hired a lawyer to sue.

In due course, Stephen Colbert of “The Colbert Report” arrived to sound the gong. He turned the Kerzic story into a segment called “Nailed ’Em.” It mocked Amtrak without mercy.

“Finally,” Mr. Colbert reported, “Kerzic cracked and revealed the reason he was taking his terrifying photos.”

Mr. Kerzic appeared on the screen.

“The reason I was taking photos of trains is that every year Amtrak has a contest; it’s called ‘Picture Our Train,’ ” he explained.

Soon after the show was broadcast, a strange thing happened. The section of Mr. Kerzic’s Web site that dealt with Amtrak all but vanished. His lawsuit was settled, and as a condition of the deal, he had to remove his writings about the episode. Now his page on Amtrak — at duanek.name/Amtrak/ — contains two words: “No Comment!”

Mr. Kerzic and his lawyer, Gerald Cohen, both said they couldn’t talk about what had become of the Web pages describing the arrest and his commentary about it. Carlos Miller, a photographer and blogger who followed the case, reported that Mr. Kerzic received a “five-figure” settlement.

But how could Amtrak — the national railroad, whose preferred stock is owned by the American public and whose chief executive and board of directors are appointed by the president and confirmed by Congress — require that a Web site criticizing the railroad be shut down as a condition of settling a lawsuit for wrongful arrest?

What qualifications does Amtrak have to function as a censor?

“Our policy has been and continues to be that ‘Amtrak does not comment on civil case settlements,’ ”Clifford Cole, an Amtrak spokesman, said in an e-mail message. “We would not have any more to say on this matter.”

Since 9/11, a number of government bodies have sought to limit photography in railroad stations and other public buildings. One rationale is that pictures would help people planning acts of mayhem. It has been a largely futile effort. On a practical level, decent cameras now come in every size and shape, and controlling how people use them would require legions of police officers. Moreover, taking photographs and displaying them is speech protected by the First Amendment, no less than taking notes and writing them up.

LAST year, a man named Robert Taylor was arrested on a nearly empty subway platform in the Bronx, accused of illegally taking pictures. For good measure, the officer threw in a disorderly conduct charge, on the grounds that Mr. Taylor was blocking people’s movement, even though it was the middle of the afternoon, the platform was about 10,000 square feet and there was hardly anyone around. The charges were dismissed, and the city paid Mr. Taylor $30,000 for his trouble. The city had already paid $31,501 to a medical student who was arrested while he was shooting pictures of every train station in the city.

After Mr. Taylor’s case, the New York Police Department reminded officers that there was no ban on taking pictures in the subway system.

In November, Antonio Musumeci, a member of the Manhattan Libertarian Party, was given a ticket while videotaping a political protest in the plaza outside the federal courthouse in Lower Manhattan. Citing a federal regulation that dates to 1957, agents of the Federal Protective Service gave Mr. Musumeci a summons as he recorded a man who was handing pamphlets to potential jurors. The New York Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit on Mr. Musumeci’s behalf, arguing that the rules that govern photography on federal property were vague and unconstitutional. The lawsuit says people routinely take pictures on the plaza after new citizens are sworn in at the courthouse.

Since Mr. Kerzic’s run-in with the police at Penn Station, Amtrak has dropped its Web page on the “Picture Our Trains” contest.

Mr. Colbert wasn’t standing for it.

“This photography contest,” he said, “is Amtrak’s cleverest ruse since their so-called timetable.”

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Vancouver Canada Police Officer “Apologized” After Attacking Disabled Woman – Caught On Video

July 24, 2010

VANCOUVER, CANADA – A Vancouver police officer has apologized after he was caught on video tape pushing a woman with multiple sclerosis down to the ground in the one of the country’s poorest neighbourhoods.

The 65-second video was uploaded to the web Thursday by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.

It shows the 26-year-old disabled woman trying to weave her way through three male officers on a busy Downtown Eastside street last month.

One of the officers then appears to shove the woman to the ground, before walking away. The two other officers do not intervene.

“It’s not a particularly inspiring view of how policing should be done in the Downtown Eastside,” David Eby, executive director of the civil liberties group, said in an interview.

Eby said it’s hard to imagine the incident would have taken place in any other neighbourhood in the city.

“The pattern of use of force that we’re seeing tends to be focused in the 10 blocks of the Downtown Eastside,” he said.

The civil liberties association released a video earlier this month that raised questions about the arrest of a homeless Sudanese refugee within the Downtown Eastside. The force said the man tried to take an officer’s gun, but the association said he was only trying to push police away as they continuously kneed him.

The group filed a formal complaint in the case.

Eby said the group was then contacted by an advocate working with the woman last week and within days received the video, shot from a camera stationed at a nearby hotel. The incident occurred June 9.

Vancouver police held a press conference Thursday afternoon, a few hours after the video was made public.

Const. Jana McGuinness, the force’s spokeswoman, said the officer involved reported the incident to his supervisor the same day it occurred.

The department’s professional standards section then launched an investigation and notified the B.C. Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner.

McGuinness said the beat patrol officer, who’s been with the force since March 2009, apologized to the woman soon after.

“He did offer a genuine apology and he felt bad,” she said. “He regretted the incident and acknowledged the inaction after the incident when he did not offer her care.”

The officer is still on full duty pending the outcome of the internal investigation.

She said the video was obtained by an investigating officer within a couple of days of the incident but was not made public.

McGuinness said the force chose to comment once it was released by the civil liberties association because it will cause concern for many who view it.

“The VPD takes its responsibility for the safety of the residents of the Downtown Eastside very seriously,” she said. “If this incident has in any way caused the public to be concerned about our commitment to helping and serving the people of the Downtown Eastside, we are deeply sorry.”

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Dunkirk New York Police Piss Away Tax Dollars Blowing Up “Suspicious Package” – A Weather Balloon

July 22, 2010

DUNKIRK, NEW YORK – Dunkirk police blew up a suspicious package discovered Thursday morning at the entrance of Point Gratiot Park.

The package, though, turned out to be just a weather balloon, authorities said.

Police received a call at 7:33 a.m. from a Dunkirk city parks employee about a package found on the sand on the side of the park entrance road.

Officers located the package: a Styrofoam cooler with no markings on it.

“It had what appeared to be electronic devices, wiring and a battery taped to the container, which were connected to a pin and wire through to the inside of the container,” a police statement read.

There was no writing or other markings on the outside of the package.

The park was evacuated, and the park and beach were secured by police.

The Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office Bomb Squad used a remote-controlled robot to examine the device and then destroy it.

After it was blown up, authorities discovered it was a weather balloon.

Jon Hitchcock, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said that all of its weather balloons are marked with information explaining what the device is, but it likely washed off in the lake before coming ashore.

“It must have been soaking in Lake Erie to wash all that off,” he said.

Weather balloons are routinely launched into the air from 75 stations across the country. They float up to 100,000 feet into the air — about three times as high as most passenger planes — before they pop and parachute down to the ground, Hitchcock said.

Only about 20 percent of the crafts are recovered, he added.

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Hospital Security Guards Beat And Taser Man Having Epileptic Seizure – Who Happens To Be Nephew Of US Supreme Court Judge…

July 11, 2010

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is reportedly “outraged” after security guards at a New Orleans-area hospital were accused of punching and tasing his epileptic nephew, a news report states.

Derek Thomas was admitted to West Jefferson Hospital in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, Thursday, after a possible suicide attempt, reports ABC affiliate WGNO.

When the Supreme Court justice’s nephew refused to put on a hospital gown and said he wanted to leave the hospital, doctors ordered security to restrain him.

Security guards “punched him in his lip, pulled out more than a fistful of his dreadlocks and tasered him to restrain him,” a statement from Thomas’ family said.

Shortly afterwards, family members say, Thomas suffered a “massive epileptic seizure.”
Story continues below…

The station reported that an “outraged” Justice Thomas is headed to Louisiana to look into his nephew’s condition.

Members of Derek Thomas’ family are trying to have him transferred to another hospital, but as of Friday afternoon, he was reportedly still a patient at West Jefferson.

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Dumbass Osceola County Iowa Sheriff Douglas L. Weber Ordered By Federal Judge To Issue Gun Permit, Complete College Level Course In U.S. Constitutuion And Out First Amendment Right To Free Speech

July 8, 2010

PRIMGHAR, IOWA — U.S. District Court Judge Mark W. Bennett has ordered Osceola County Sheriff Douglas L. Weber to issue a gun permit to a resident and to complete a college-level course involving the First Amendment.

Bennett’s written decision on Wednesday involves the case of Paul Dorr, of Ocheyedan, who was denied a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

Dorr and his son, Alexander, were denied gun permits after being engaged in extensive First Amendment activity — protesting, passing out leaflets and writing letters to the editor — the opinion notes.

“The court finds a tsunami, a maelstrom, an avalanche, of direct, uncontroverted evidence in Sheriff Weber’s own testimony to conclude beyond all doubt that he unquestionably violated the First Amendment rights of at least Paul Dorr,” Bennett wrote in his ruling.

Dorr said Wednesday that he was pleased “justice is served. I get my permit back and the sheriff is being sent back to school. The harm done by Sheriff Weber against the 6th and 9th commandments has been made right.”

The elder Dorr had been issued a concealed weapons permit from the late 1990s to 2005. But his July 7, 2007, application for a permit was denied. His son’s was denied a year later, when he was 18 years old.

Weber’s reason for disapproving the application was, “concern from public. Don’t trust him.” The following year Weber also denied Alexander Dorr’s application for a permit and informed Paul Dorr that he would deny any further applications from him.

Weber testified that he had heard people refer to Paul as “a whacko, delusional, a nut job, a spook, and narcissist,” Bennett’s decision noted. “Regardless of the adjective used to describe Paul, however, Sheriff Weber stated that Paul’s ‘lousy’ reputation was due to his political activities of writing letters to the editor and distributing fliers.”

The ruling continued, “Giving Sheriff Weber more deference than is due his elected status, the court finds that Sheriff Weber denied Paul’s application for a concealed weapons permit not because of the content of his First Amendment activity but because it was effective and agitated many members of the local community.”

And, Bennett said, “In denying Paul a concealed weapons permit, Sheriff Weber single-handedly hijacked the First Amendment and nullified its freedoms and protections. Ironically, Sheriff Weber, sworn to uphold the Constitution, in fact retaliated against a citizen of his county who used this important freedom of speech and association precisely in the manner envisioned by the founding members of our nation …

“In doing so, this popularly elected Sheriff, who appears to be a fine man and an excellent law enforcement officer, in all other regards, blatantly caved in to public pressure and opinion and, in doing so, severely trampled the Constitution and Paul’s First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and association. This is a great reminder that the First Amendment protects the sole individual who may be a gadfly, kook, weirdo, nut job, whacko, and spook, with the same force of protection as folks with more majoritarian and popular views.”

However, Bennett’s decision did not favor Dorr’s son, who was 18 years old when he applied for the carry permit, and is 20 now. Bennett noted that sheriffs have the discretion to withhold permits from anyone under majority age.

Bennett required Weber take a class that must be a college-level course on the United States Constitution, “including — at least in part — a discussion of the First Amendment.” And Bennet said, Weber must obtain approval from the court before participating in the class. Upon completion of the class, Weber must also file anan affidavit with the clerk of court showing successful completion with a passing grade.

A request left with the dispatcher at the Osceola County law enforcement center, requesting a return call for comment from Sheriff Weber, was not returned, Wednesday night.

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Incredibly Stupid Riverside California Police Officer Assaults And Falsely Imprisons A Child Who Jumped His Own Fence

July 8, 2010

CARSON CITY, NEVADA – A man claiming to be a police officer from Riverside, Calif., tackled what he thought was a burglar, only to learn the 17-year-old was jumping his own fence, according to a police report.

Officers were called to the 200 block of Pine Lane about 10:53 p.m. Monday after a neighbor heard one man yelling at another.

When Carson City deputies arrived, they found the man holding the teen on the ground.

The man said he was an off-duty Riverside police officer and he had observed the teen jump over a 6-foot fence into a yard on Pine Lane, according to the report.

The man said he confronted the teen, telling him he was an off-duty police officer and to stop. But the teen looked at the man in his shorts, baseball cap and sleeveless shirt, and continued walking away.

The alleged off-duty officer then grabbed the boy in an arm lock and “escorted him to the ground on his stomach,” the report states. The man held the boy there until police arrived.

When deputies arrived the teen told officers he “didn’t want to wake his dad, so he used the back door and jumped the fence.”

The teen said when the guy told him to stop, “he thought he was joking based on what he looked like” and kept on walking. The teen denied any injuries and was free to leave.

The man was “given in-depth instructions to contact dispatch prior to acting in an official capacity in a different state,” according to the report.

Sgt. Brian Humphrey said a call to the Riverside Police Department to confirm the man’s employment was not immediately returned.

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TSA Can’t Manage To Remove American Children And Lawmakers From Its Error Filled “No Fly List” But Thinks It Can Keep Its Employees Off “Controversial” Web Sites While At Work

July 6, 2010

WASHINGTON, DC – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is blocking certain websites from the federal agency’s computers, including halting access by staffers to any Internet pages that contain a “controversial opinion,” according to an internal email obtained by CBS News.

The email was sent to all TSA employees from the Office of Information Technology on Friday afternoon.

It states that as of July 1, TSA employees will no longer be allowed to access five categories of websites that have been deemed “inappropriate for government access.”

The categories include:

? Chat/Messaging

? Controversial opinion

? Criminal activity

? Extreme violence (including cartoon violence) and gruesome content

? Gaming

The email does not specify how the TSA will determine if a website expresses a “controversial opinion.”

There is also no explanation as to why controversial opinions are being blocked, although the email stated that some of the restricted websites violate the Employee Responsibilities and Conduct policy.

The TSA did not return calls seeking comment by publication time.

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US Police Departments Look To Marijuana Busts For Funding As Money Runs Out

July 3, 2010

CALIFORNIA – Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko, his budget under pressure in a weak economy, has laid off staff, reduced patrols and even released jail inmates. But there’s one mission on which he’s spending more than in recent years: pot busts, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.

The reason is simple: If the California lawman steps up his pursuit of marijuana growers, his department is eligible for roughly half a million dollars a year in federal anti-drug funding, helping save some jobs. The majority of the funding would have to be used to fight pot. Marijuana may not be the county’s most pressing crime problem, the sheriff says, but “it’s where the money is.”

Washington has long allocated funds to help localities fight crime, influencing their priorities in the process. Today’s local budget squeezes are enhancing this effect, and the result is particularly striking in California, where many residents take a benign view of pot but federal dollars help keep law-enforcement focused on it.

To make sure his office gets the federal funds, Bosenko since last year has spent about $340,000 of his department’s shrinking resources, more than in past years, on a team that tramps through the woods looking for pot farms. Though the squad is mostly U.S.-funded, the federal grants don’t cover some of its needs, such as a team chief and certain equipment. So, Bosenko has to pay for those out of his regular budget.

He doesn’t doubt the value of pursuing pot farming, which he says is often the work of sophisticated Mexican gangs and leads to other crimes like assault. But other infractions, like drunken driving and robbery, may have a bigger direct impact on local residents than pot growing, he says.

The pot money is “$340,000 I could use somewhere else in my organization,” he says. “That could fund three officers’ salaries and benefits, and we could have them out on our streets doing patrol.” His overall budget this year is about $35 million.

The U.S. Justice Department is spending nearly $3.6 billion this year to augment budgets of state and local law enforcement agencies. In addition, the federal government last year set aside close to $4 billion of the economic stimulus package for law enforcement grants for state and local agencies. The White House also is spending about $239 million this year to fund local drug trafficking task forces.

Much of the federal money helps local agencies go after sophisticated criminal gangs and hard drugs like methamphetamine. Even staunch supporters of legal pot don’t dispute the value of that.

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Rochester New Hampshire Police Target Those “Loitering” In Area City Converted To A Community Gathering Spot

July 3, 2010

ROCHESTER, NEW HAMPSHIRE – In an ironic twist, police say there has been an increase in complaints about people loitering at Factory Court, the side street converted last year into a community gathering spot.

Police Capt. Paul Callaghan confirmed that through communications with Rochester Main Street and discussions officers on foot patrol have with business owners, the department has fielded numerous complaints about people congregating at Factory Court and staying there for hours on end.

He said police have been asked to disperse unruly groups, but it is a difficult issue because if the people are not committing crimes, police cannot force them to move along.

Some reports have involved disorderly conduct at the site, and Callaghan said police are taking a “zero tolerance” stance against such activities. Since warmer weather hit about six weeks ago, there has been a large increase in reports of littering, boisterous behavior and one case of indecent exposure, he said.

Police are focusing on the area, with officers on motorcycles, bicycles and foot patrols, as well as plainclothes cops, patrolling Factory Court, he said.

“When officers are there it’s fine. It’s when they’re not there that there’s issues,” Callaghan said.

Some have even requested no loitering signs, but Main Street officials note loitering is exactly what the alley off North Main Street was designed for. One such exchange occurred at a recent Historic District Commission meeting. HDC Chairman Nel Sylvain asked Main Street Executive Director Mike Provost about problems with Factory Court and wondered what could be done about the perceived problem.

With the money and effort put into making Factory Court a pleasant destination, said Sylvain, “I don’t want to see a bunch of people sleeping on the benches at night.”

Provost said Main Street is well aware of the issue, but noted, “It’s really hard to throw someone out unless they’re doing something wrong.”

Sylvain said his remarks were in reference to activities that supposedly go on at Factory Court between midnight and 6 a.m., including homeless people sleeping on the benches there. Callaghan said he could not confirm homeless have been using the area to sleep, but noted that complaints come in about different activities going on there throughout the day.

Of the situation with the homeless, Provost said at the HDC meeting, “It’s actually happening around town a lot more than people think it is,” adding, “We’re aware of it (and) we’re working on it the best we can.”

When Factory Court first opened as a pedestrian gathering spot last August, officials lauded it as a place where the community could get together, enjoy live music and take in the downtown. Callaghan, who serves as president of Main Street’s board of directors, said that is still what they want and they do not want to discourage people from congregating there.

“Our mission is to make the downtown a destination and source of pride,” he said, adding Factory Court is one small piece of that. “We’re really going to start seeing the benefits of it next week” when the Brown Baggers concert series starts up.

Provost said Friday that Factory Court was designed to allow people to linger, enjoy a sandwich and take in the downtown. However, he said some people are treating it like “it’s their exclusive backyard patio,” preventing others from using the area as well.

“Some people are overstaying much longer than they should,” he said, adding some will eat there and leave litter lying around for volunteers to clean up.

“The flip side is ‘No Loitering’ takes away the reason to create public spaces in the downtown,” Provost said. “I think people have to remember downtown has to be for everyone … Sometimes (people are) quick to judge by looks, but we are a community and all types of people make up the community.”

Provost said singling out certain people who use Factory Court is a step toward gentrification, which he thinks is not something the city wants.

“My personal view is that’s not something Rochester really wants … I think they want a real, vibrant, live community.”

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City Of Los Angeles California’s Botched Handling Of Fire Department Racism Case Costs Taxpayers Millions

July 3, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – The Los Angeles City Council has approved a $2.5 million payment to two white fire captains who won a racial discrimination case in 2008 involving a black firefighter who was fed dog food.

The City Council approved the payment Friday for fire Capt. Chris Burton and Capt. John Tohill.

A jury initially awarded the captains $1.6 million in 2008. An attorney says the extra costs include attorneys’ fees and interest payments.

The captains sued the city in 2006 claiming they were made scapegoats for the misconduct of a firefighter who laced firefighter Tennie Pierce’s spaghetti with dog food.

In 2007, the city agreed to pay Pierce $1.5 million to settle claims that he suffered harassment and retaliation after co-workers served him the tainted food as a prank.

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Botched Investigation? Buffalo New York Police Hide Details Of Woman’s “Accidental Death” From Family And The Public

July 3, 2010

BUFFALO, NEW YORK – The lawyer looking into Amanda L. Wienckowski’s death on behalf of her family said he did not come any closer Friday to getting all the documents, photographs and other evidence that he says could cast a negative light on how authorities investigated the case.

Attorney Steven M. Cohen met with lawyers for the city and the county in State Supreme Court Justice Gerald J. Whalen’s chambers.

“If Amanda’s death was an accident, I don’t know why they’re fighting tooth and nail before releasing any information,” Cohen said after the hour-plus meeting. “This is the sixth time we’ve come back to court, and we’re going to have to come back a seventh time, perhaps an eighth time, to argue in open court.”

Cohen said officials from the Buffalo Police Department and the Erie County Medical Examiner’s Office have refused to release the majority of what he’s requested.

“If Amanda’s death was an accident, what’s the big secret?” he asked. “If they think that their efforts have diminished our resolve, they are mistaken. We will follow them to hell and back until we get the truth in this case.”

Cohen said authorities are resisting turning over the information “to shield evidence of their own incompetence.”

“What Buffalo [Police are] saying is they won’t turn over the evidence from the scene of a crime, crime scene photographs or autopsy photos without a judge’s order because it could compromise an ongoing investigation,” Cohen said.

But authorities also have labeled her death an accident, he said.

“Then what investigation is it?” he asked.

The other lawyers declined to comment on their way out of the judge’s chamber.

The remains of the 20-year-old woman, who lived in Lewiston but grew up in Kenmore, were found frozen and upside down in a plastic garbage tote outside a Buffalo church Jan. 9, 2009, a month after she was first reported missing.

The Erie County medical examiner ruled that her death was accidentally caused by a heroin overdose.

Leslie Fink, Amanda’s mother, who waited outside the private session in Whalen’s chamber, said afterward she’s prepared to fight for more information.

“We have to fight for everything we need,” she said.

“This is my daughter, my daughter’s name,” she added. “She hasn’t been able to rest. And it’s terrible that I have to go through this. My family has to go through this. This is absurd. These are people that should be looking out for us. They have not helped my daughter one inch of the way.”

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