IL Private Security Guards Often Shoot, Not Disciplined

Security guards in Illinois fired guns at least 37 times in seven years, killing 11 people. The Chicago Tribune could find no case in which the state disciplined a guard for a shooting.

Unlike police officers, who have faced intense scrutiny over excessive force, the growing industry of private security guards often operates unwatched and unchecked, the Chicago Tribune reports. State regulators issue licenses to guards but exercise little oversight over what amounts to a massive, shadow police force that Illinois businesses, neighborhoods and citizens increasingly rely on for day-to-day safety. In the last seven years, the Tribune could not find a single case where the state disciplined a guard for his or her role in a shooting. Illinois regulators don’t even track incidents where guards fire guns. Training requirements are extremely limited — even barbers must complete more classroom time — and Illinois has set no standards for the use of force.

Using state and police records, court documents and media reports, the Tribune found that Illinois guards fired their guns in work-related incidents at least 37 times since April 2011. Eleven people died in these shootings, including a 20-year-old woman who was shot in the head as two security guards at a Chicago liquor store fired a barrage of bullets at a fleeing SUV. Illinois law requires security companies to report shootings to the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation, the agency that licenses guards. The agency then can open an investigation to determine if the guards remain fit for duty. The Tribune found 11 shootings since April 2011 that were not reported as required, and none of the firms was disciplined by the state. The number of licensed security workers in Illinois — a category that includes locksmiths and private detectives in addition to guards — has grown by  20 percent over the last decade. The number of working security guards nationwide reached 1.1 million last year, almost double the total for police officers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

from https://thecrimereport.org

NYPD Probing Officers’ Seizure of Child from Mother

Video of the incident went viral on social media. Two agency “peace officers” forced a woman to the ground and removed her one-year-old child from her arms. Police Commissioner James O’Neill called the incident “very disturbing.”

Two New York City “peace officers” were placed on modified duty Monday after they forced a woman holding a one-year-old to the ground at a city agency’s office and removed the boy from her arms with the help of New York police officers, reports the Wall Street Journal. The peace officers work for the city’s Human Resources Administration, and were assigned to a Brooklyn office that administers food stamps.  Cellphone video of the incident went viral on social media, prompting demands for a probe into the officers’ actions from politicians, lawyers and advocates. Jazmine Headley, 23, was arrested after the incident on Friday and charged with resisting arrest, acting in a manner injurious to a child, obstructing governmental administration and trespassing. The city’s child welfare agency took her son and placed him with a relative.

The cellphone video begins with Headley on the ground, cradling her child and shouting, “They’re hurting my son,” as the officers attempt to pull him away. A raucous crowd of bystanders surround the officers, and at one point, an NYPD officer points a stun-gun at onlookers. Police Commissioner James O’Neill said police are reviewing video of the incident, which he described as “very disturbing.” He said, “It was obviously a very chaotic situation, you can see that in the video. And we have to see what the decision-making process was.” Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks, who oversees the agency, said he is “deeply troubled” by the incident and directed de-escalation training for the peace officers and security staff. Headley wemt to the agency to learn why she stopped receiving government assistance with her child care. When there were no seats available, she sat on the floor, prompting a security guard to tell her to move.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Phoenix Can’t Explain High Rate of Police Shootings

Phoenix Police have shot 41 people so far this year, almost twice as many as last year and 11 more than the combined total for the three cities closest in size. City officials are making “biased claims against the community,” says a local activist.

Community activists in Phoenix say the city’s police are unusually quick to use force, slow to back down, and release selective or misleading information about what happened. That is why critics say police have shot more civilians this year than officers in other cities of its size, by far, the New York Times reports. Despite the police department’s vows to improve transparency, the city has not provided reports on officer-involved shootings and disciplinary cases requested by the Times almost four months ago. Critics say the department has avoided confronting the issue, despite 41 shootings so far this year, almost twice as many as last year and 11 more than the combined total for the three cities closest in size: Philadelphia, San Antonio and San Diego. While many cities have reacted to police violence with an emphasis on de-escalating tense situations, some Phoenix officials blame people who they say are too aggressive toward police.

“I don’t think there’s a sense that there’s something wrong in the department,” said city manager Ed Zuercher. “The issue is, ‘What’s going on in our community in total that assaults on police officers are up, the use of weapons against police officers is up, and that police officer-involved shootings are up?’” The department “makes these really biased claims against the community, and when we push back asking for the stats, they refuse to release the cases they say they’re citing,” said Viridiana Hernandez of Poder in Action, a community group. Since the early 1990s, Phoenix’s violent crime rate has declined, despite ticking up in the past few years, and is on par with that of other large cities. Chief Jeri Williams has commissioned a study of the rise in shootings and increased officer training. Williams said the shootings this year have had little in common with one another.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Ex-Police Chief Guilty of Child Pornography

     The police chief of Mount Pleasant, New York was arrested Thursday, January 23, 2014 on charges of possession of child pornography….Brian Fanelli, 54, was arrested at his home in upstate Mahopac after a months-long investigation by federal officials….The chief allegedly used a peer-to-peer file sharing program to download more than 120 images and videos of child pornography….

     As police executed a search warrant at his home, Fanelli voluntarily told investigators that he began viewing child pornography about one year ago….He said he had first started collecting the child porn as research for a sexual abuse awareness program he taught to elementary and middle-school students. But he said he later continued downloading it for personal interest….

     Fanelli had worked for the police department in Mount Pleasant, a town about 30 miles north of New York City, since November 1981….He has been suspended as chief, a position he took in November 2013….

     [In January 2016, following his guilty plea, the judge sentenced Fanelli to 18 months in prison followed by five years on probation.]

Leigh Remizowski and Pamela Brown, “Police Chief of New York Town Arrested on Child Pornography Charges,” CNN, January 24, 2014

     The police chief of Mount Pleasant, New York was arrested Thursday, January 23, 2014 on charges of possession of child pornography….Brian Fanelli, 54, was arrested at his home in upstate Mahopac after a months-long investigation by federal officials….The chief allegedly used a peer-to-peer file sharing program to download more than 120 images and videos of child pornography….

     As police executed a search warrant at his home, Fanelli voluntarily told investigators that he began viewing child pornography about one year ago….He said he had first started collecting the child porn as research for a sexual abuse awareness program he taught to elementary and middle-school students. But he said he later continued downloading it for personal interest….

     Fanelli had worked for the police department in Mount Pleasant, a town about 30 miles north of New York City, since November 1981….He has been suspended as chief, a position he took in November 2013….

     [In January 2016, following his guilty plea, the judge sentenced Fanelli to 18 months in prison followed by five years on probation.]

Leigh Remizowski and Pamela Brown, "Police Chief of New York Town Arrested on Child Pornography Charges," CNN, January 24, 2014

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

Philly Cops Say Fewer Cases Solved in Overtime Cutback

As the murder total has risen to 319, the highest in six years, the clearance rate has dropped to 32 percent, and overtime spending has been cut, leading detectives, union officials and even prosecutors to cry foul. 

In a darkened corner office on the second floor of Philadelphia Police headquarters, more than 80 detectives squeeze into the cramped confines of the homicide unit. Detectives work marathon shifts to identify murder suspects and in return, they typically earn staggering amounts of overtime, reports Philly.com. That arrangement has started to fray. As the murder total has risen to 319, the highest in six years, overtime spending has been cut, leading detectives, union officials and even prosecutors to cry foul. In 2017, homicide detectives earned an average of $69,536 in overtime — with 10 pulling down more than $100,000 — on top of an average salary of $83,000. Through the first three quarters of this year, 30 detectives have seen their overtime fall by $5,000 to $10,000.

Veteran investigators said the cuts have translated into less time to prepare for trials, and restrictions on their ability to interview witnesses who turn up during off hours. Some times late at night, the office has been staffed by a single detective. “Homicide detectives are being sent home mid-investigation,” said John McGrody of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 5. “Crimes are not being solved because of the slashing of overtime.” Police Commissioner Richard Ross and Capt. Jack Ryan, head of the homicide unit, insisted the budget reduction of 5 percent across the police department has not hurt investigations. “There are no draconian measures that were put in place,” Ross said. “All [Ryan] is asking for is for people to justify what they are doing.” The homicide unit’s clearance rate tumbled to 32 percent in 2016 from a peak of 66 percent in 2010. “Why the hell would their overtime be cut?” asked Yullio Robbins, whose son was fatally shot in 2016, a killing that remains unsolved. This fiscal year, almost $70 million was spent on police overtime. Of that, $6 million went to homicide detectives. This year, $4.5 million is budgeted.

from https://thecrimereport.org

NJ Officials to Design New Police-Use-of-Force System

After an investigation by NJ Advance Media, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, along with local, county and state law enforcement officials as well as the heads of major police unions — said they would be “working together to design a new system for obtaining use-of-force data in New Jersey.”

New Jersey’s scattershot system for monitoring how often police officers use painful holds, punches, kicks and other types of force in the line of duty will get an overhaul after NJ Advance Media investigation, reports NJ.com.

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, along with local, county and state law enforcement officials as well as the heads of major police unions — said they would be “working together to design a new system for obtaining use-of-force data in New Jersey.”

See Also: NJ Attorney General Grewal Promises ‘Wholesale Reform’ on Police Use of Force.

The announcement comes less than a week after the debut of The Force Report, a 16-month investigation by NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, which found major disparities in how police officers use force and who they use it against, as well as paltry oversight and no standard reporting practices.

The news organization filed 506 public records requests and invested more than $30,000 to collect and analyze 72,607 use-of-force reports from 2012 through 2016, the most recent year available. The resulting database, now available at NJ.com/force, includes use-of-force data for every municipal department and the State Police.

Its release prompted calls for reform as well as criticism from some police leaders, who said the self-reported data by law enforcement agencies did not present a complete picture of the circumstances surrounding use of force.

“The articles make one thing clear: although individual municipalities, departments, or counties may have effective systems in place, our statewide data collection system requires a complete overhaul,” the officials’ new statement said.

They said the records in the NJ Advance Media database “may be inaccurate in some cases and may cause those relying on the data to draw incorrect conclusions about the state of law enforcement in New Jersey.”

See also: New Jersey AG Assails ‘Harebrained’ Federal Immigration Policies

from https://thecrimereport.org

Police, FBI Job Applications Are Plummeting

Many police chiefs attribute their declining numbers to a diminished perception of police since the Ferguson, Mo., fatal shooting of Michael Brown in 2014. One police official says he would prefer that his children enter another profession, “even lawyers.”

Nationwide, interest in becoming a police officer is down significantly. Nashville job applications dropped from 4,700 in 2010 to 1,900 last year. In Seattle, applications have declined by nearly 50 percent in a department where the starting salary is $79,000. Even the FBI had a sharp drop, from 21,000 applications per year to 13,000 last year, before a marketing campaign brought an upswing, the Washington Post reports. Retaining officers also is harder. In a Police Executive Research Forum survey of nearly 400 police departments, 29 percent of those who left their police job voluntarily had been on the force less than a year, and an additional 40 percent had been on the job less than five years.

At a PERF meeting in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday of police chiefs and commanders from across the U.S., many attributed their declining numbers to a diminished perception of police since the 2014 shooting and unrest in Ferguson, Mo., and an increase in public and media scrutiny of police made possible by technology and social media. “There’s an increased potential for officers to be criminally liable for making a good-faith mistake,” said Chief Terry Sult of Hampton, Va. “We’re seeing a lot more media coverage of officers being prosecuted, and that weighs heavily on a lot of officers’ hearts.” Russ Hamill, an assistant chief of police in Montgomery County, Md., said he would prefer that his kids enter another profession — “even lawyers,” he said to big laughs. The trend toward fewer police officers per capita has been steady for 20 years, says the Bureau of Justice Statistics. While the population rose from 267 million in 1997 to 323 million in 2016, the number of full-time sworn officers per 1,000 residents dropped from 2.42 in 1997 to 2.17 officers per 1,000 residents in 2016. The raw number of sworn officers peaked at nearly 725,000 in 2013 and is now down to a bit more than 701,000.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Study Credits S.F. Crime Decline to Foot Patrols

A San Francisco police strategy to reassign dozens of officers to neighborhood foot beats has contributed to a significant decline in thefts and assaults, a study by the University of California Berkeley found. The city remains in an auto-burglary epidemic, however.

A San Francisco Police Department’s strategy to reassign dozens of officers to neighborhood foot beats has contributed to a significant decline in thefts and assaults, a study released Wednesday found, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The report by the University of California Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy found that daily incidents of larceny theft — which include vehicle break-ins — dropped nearly 17 percent, and assaults dropped 19 percent in the months after Chief Bill Scott reassigned 69 officers to foot patrols on Sept. 1, 2017. The strategy nearly doubled the number of officers walking neighborhood beats. Many are deployed to property crime hot spots that include tourist attractions where out-of-town visitors fall victim to teams of stealthy thieves.

“It’s good news. It’s not surprising though,” said Deputy Chief Ann Mannix. “If we continue to educate the public and target the hot spots, hopefully we can continue to lower property crimes and the violent crimes as well.” The decision to shake up police staffing was an early test for Scott, who started in January 2017 after being hired from the Los Angeles Police Department. San Francisco continues to be in the throes of a troubling auto-burglary epidemic that hit an all-time high last year with more than 31,000 reported incidents. Vehicle break-ins have begun to trend downward this year compared with the same period last year, dropping 16 percent in the first 10 months, but incidents remain at near-record levels. The UC Berkeley study — done in conjunction with the California Policy Lab — comes as the police department continues to increase foot patrols. The department last month announced it would add 10 officers, two sergeants and a lieutenant to walk a gritty stretch of Market Street between Fourth and Eighth streets that is plagued by open-air drug use and aggressive street behavior.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Chicago Cops Ask for Outside Help in Solving Homicides, Shootings

Police officials will bring in experts from the Los Angeles Police Department and U.S. Justice Department to address the low clearance rates. Prodded by a critical DOJ report in the wake of the Laquan McDonald police shooting scandal, they also announced plans to add 50 more sergeants next year to improve supervision of detectives investigating violent crime.

Under pressure over the Chicago Police Department’s abysmally low rate of solving shootings, officials have announced plans to add 50 more sergeants next year to improve its supervision of detectives investigating violent crime, reports the Chicago Tribune. The department will bring in experts from the Los Angeles Police Department and the U.S. Department of Justice to recommend how investigators  can solve more homicides and shootings. The Tribune has been examining the challenges faced by police in solving violent crime from just one weekend in early August when at least 75 people were shot, 13 of them fatally, the most violent weekend in Chicago in years. After a shootout that weekend left four people wounded, one eyewitness did not hear from a detective for nearly four months.

Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said most of the 50 new sergeants will likely be overseeing homicide and shooting investigations. Some could also be assigned to supervise the work of detectives handling robberies, sexual assaults and missing person cases, he said. Johnson said LAPD and the Justice Department — with an assist from the Police Executive Research Forum in Washington, D.C. — will start their work as early as next week. The assistance from outside experts comes nearly two years after the Justice Department — as part of an investigation following the Laquan McDonald police shooting scandal — issued a scathing report on the police department. That report cited the department’s low clearance rate for homicides, noting how trust between the police and Chicago’s communities, especially those most beset by violence, was critical in solving the killings. The report mentioned how grieving families of homicide victims told DOJ investigators about times in which detectives would not interview key witnesses or suspects, declined to obtain relevant video footage and failed to update relatives on the status of investigations in the slayings of loved ones.

from https://thecrimereport.org

PA High Court to Look At How Police Use Social Media

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court will consider whether state police must disclose more details about how they use information from social media to investigate crimes and make hiring decisions. The high court will hear an American Civil Liberties Union appeal of a lower court ruling that upheld the police agency’s decision to black out large sections of its policies.

Pennsylvania’s highest court will consider whether state police must disclose more details about how they use information from social media to investigate crimes and make hiring decisions, the Associated Press reports. The Supreme Court will hear an appeal by the American Civil Liberties Union of a lower court ruling in May that upheld the police agency’s decision to black out large sections of a document it provided. The justices will review whether the lower court should have privately examined the redacted portions of the state police’s social media monitoring policy and other evidence before overturning an Office of Open Records’ order granting access to the ACLU.

The Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association urged the high court to take the appeal.
Melissa Melewsky, the group’s lawyer, said the lower court “essentially said, ‘We don’t have to look at the actual records in this case, we’ll just take [the Pennsylvania State Police’s] word for it.’ That’s troubling from a public access perspective because it takes the best evidence in a case — the actual records — and removes them from the decision-making process, relying instead on indirect evidence and leaving the public without any real opportunity to challenge.” Redacted sections addressed how and when troopers should use open sources during investigations, what approval they need, when they should go undercover and use an online alias, and how to verify information they collect.

from https://thecrimereport.org