By: Rick McCann/Staff
PRIVATE OFFICER NEWS
Strapped for cash and working with fewer officers police and sheriff departments are now doing what they must do to keep their department afloat including charging for services.
While it has been no secret that many departments have been charging business and in some areas residents for false burglar alarms, now law enforcement agencies are planning to charge for other routine or specialized services.
According to Capt. Brady a police spokesperson in Texas, many departments especially smaller ones can not afford to have their officers tied up directing traffic after church services or at a busy intersection during a special event, concert or convention for free.
So now, many police agencies are turning to the event promoter or civic centers where the event is being held and charging them for the police manpower being used to patrol the area to keep it safe, direct traffic or other related duties.
In Mississippi, DeSoto County Sheriff Bill Rasco says an attorney general’s opinion supports his claim that Mid-South Fair organizers owe his office $27,000 for overtime for deputies providing security.
Rasco and Southaven police paid law officers overtime during the October fair to control traffic and provide a police presence.
Southaven is not seeking reimbursement. But Rasco said it is only fair a profit-making venture pay for extra protection.
Rasco said the attorney general opinion says “the sheriff is not a security guard company and is not required to provide security to events free of charge.”
Mid-South Fair general manager Jim Rout said he had not seen the opinion and could not comment.
While those towns collect tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, “doing both police and fire- that number could be well over a million dollars,” said St. Petersburg City Councilman Jim Kennedy.
“I don’t think the average citizen understands how much of the services that they pay for are provided to people who are not residents of the city,” Kennedy adds.
St. Petersburg Fire Rescue and Police administrators are now developing possible schedules of fees and city attorneys are writing a possible ordinance. Charges for emergency services could add up fast.
“For an accident with injuries we send one fire truck and one rescue truck. The fire truck’s there for hazard mitigation and also they assist the paramedics with patient care,” said Fire Rescue’s Lt. Joel Granata.
That means there are at least five or six firefighters and paramedics in the first response, then more are called if there is an extrication or a hazmat situation. They may be on the scene for an hour or more.
Police officers control traffic and investigate causes of the crash.
Kennedy proposes billing insurance companies first, then individual motorists if the insurance carrier refuses to pay.
“And that individual would probably be going back to their insurance carrier saying I purchased coverage to pay for this” Kennedy predicts.
Jothany Smith, 24, and Toneka Reid, 27, were charged with theft. The two women were arrested outside the Nashville West shopping Center on Charlotte Pike, according to a Metro Police news release.
Police said they had merchandise from World Market and New York and Company that they hadn’t paid for. When police searched their car, they found more than $1,000 worth of jewelry and shoes, as well as tools used to remove anti-theft devices used in stores.
Smith has been convicted in the past of aggravated assault, forgery, identity theft and theft, according to the news release. In 2005, Smith ran her car into a shoe store employee who had come out to the shop’s parking lot to accuse her of shoplifting The store employee was hit in the leg, and Smith was sentenced to three years for aggravated assault.
But shoplifting grannies were the main culprits on a list of the oldest people apprehended by police for the 2008-09 fiscal year, obtained by the Herald under the Official Information Act.
Police did not name the offenders – aged 85 to 93 – or say where the crimes took place for privacy reasons.
The oldest was a woman who used offensive behaviour or language on a private property in March. She received a written warning.
The offence, which states a person must be in a public place or be able to be seen or heard from a public place, carries a fine of up to $1000.
Women were 12 of the 17 criminals aged 85 and older.
Some charges were more serious, such as a 92-year-old man who assaulted a woman, an 88-year-old man who committed domestic assault and an 85-year-old woman who assaulted a person with a blunt instrument.
Other people in the list included an 87-year-old woman for the offensive or disturbing use of a telephone at a home in September 2008. She was cautioned by police. The woman either used or allowed her telephone to be used to threaten or disturb someone.
And an 85-year-old woman allegedly breached the Electoral Act in November 2008, which resulted in a written warning. Police records didn’t show how she breached the law.
Most of the pensioners were on the list for shoplifting or theft of goods valued under $500
The oldest shoplifter last year was a 92-year-old man. Seven others who shoplifted or stole were women.
Dave Norton, loss prevention manager for Foodstuffs South Island, said elderly people who stole from the chain’s supermarkets generally took “basic, everyday food items”.
In one case last year at a South Island supermarket, an 81-year-old woman, who was a regular shopper and would normally spend between $15 and $20, was found with items valued at $40.
She had concealed them on her person, in her handbag and under her clothing. Over an eight-week period she had been stealing goods between $40 and $100 each time.
What she was taking was butter, cheese, health and beauty, frozen food and everyday grocery items as opposed to targeting high-priced products.
Other cases included an 87-year-old man who stole $11.50 worth of items, an 83-year-old man who stole $20 worth of dairy products and an 81-year-old woman who stole shampoo, toothpaste and soap.
“Some care is needed when dealing with elderly persons who have not paid for products as it may not always be intentional,” Mr Norton said.
“We have had incidents where genuine error has looked like theft and also incidents where the elderly person has had a medical condition that has resulted in them being incapable of forming an intention to steal.”
John V. Buttura, Jr., 55, of Waterbury Center, remained free after pleading not guilty to violating the conditions of release.
“The state is very concerned about this,” said Washington County State’s Attorney Thomas Kelly. “Once again, here we are with this contact. … As the court can see, he’s violated the curfew, he’s violated the contact conditions, he visited her residence, dropping off some gifts.”
Buttura, a former technology teacher at Twinfield Union School in Marshfield, is accused of seeing the girl at least four times and violating his 24-hour curfew at least three times, at the end of February, while his wife was out of state. Last year he was arrested in May for allegedly contacting her on the Internet, after pleading not guilty last April to felony exploitation of a minor over his relationship with her. He allegedly had more contact with her in August.
The state did not seek to put Buttura in jail on Monday since the repeated violations do not appear to have affected the victim’s willingness to cooperate with authorities or to testify, Kelly said.
Buttura’s lawyer said there have been no allegations that Buttura has threatened the girl or been violent and most of the contact had been consensual and in many ways initiated by the victim. Richard Rubin said Buttura, who had hip replacement surgery on March 9, also is being treated by a psychiatrist and been prescribed medication to deal with “some of the obsession thinking that’s been going on.”
Rubin asked the judge to reinstate the 24-hour curfew with the exception that Buttura can leave the house only with his wife, who accompanied him in court.
Judge Geoffry Crawford, who participated by phone, agreed, reiterating he cannot have contact with the victim or her family, who all were in court.
“At most you’re particularly in danger to yourself at this point,” Crawford said, adding, “if what the affidavit says is true somebody within a month or two of resolving the felony trial shouldn’t be doing this.”
Security guard-school bus driver charged in crash death http://www.privateofficer.com
Furthermore, a county investigation alleged, he had been listening to his iPod through loudspeakers.
And he had been making personal phone calls.
That deadly cocktail, county investigators say, may have led Poust to make a reckless decision that day in Lower Frederick Township. Video from cameras mounted inside the bus showed that Poust turned left from Route 73 without stopping and crashed into an occupied Honda Civic, killing one person.
Passenger Richard Taylor, 27, was pronounced dead at the scene. The car’s driver was seriously injured. Five children on the bus suffered minor injuries.
The Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office has charged Proust, 38, with homicide by vehicle, 45 counts of recklessly endangering another person, 10 counts of stop-sign violations and other offenses, District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman announced yesterday.
It wasn’t the first time Poust, of Schwenks- ville, had been involved in a fatal bus accident. When he was driving a school bus in 1999, he ran a stop sign in Bucks County while dialing a cell phone, leading to a collision that killed a 2-year-old girl.
Poust served no jail time; he was given two summary violations.
Bus companies, including Student Transportation of America, which employed Poust, are required by state law to investigate incidents within five years of employment. Poust began driving with STA in March 2009, outside that five-year window, the company said.
Harrisburg legislators intend to revisit those regulations, Ferman said yesterday.
Poust had no sleep the night before the accident because he had worked a second job as a security guard at, Souderton Mennonite Home, a retirement community, investigators said.
The video from that morning showed that Poust exhibited “signs of fatigue, inattentiveness and careless[ness],” according to the affidavit of probable cause. It “captures him rubbing his eyes and facial area numerous times in the hour” before the crash, the affidavit said.
Poust is seen on video blasting through 10 stop signs.
Poust told investigators that when he went to make the left turn, he “slowed down to enter the turning lane and came to a complete stop in the turning lane,” according to the affidavit.
Poust said he stopped for “a few seconds. I always stop for a few seconds before turning.”
According to police reports, Nathaniel Emmons, 23, entered Priceless Bar in Mesa with his sister around 1:50 a.m. and started causing problems with another female. A bouncer warned him to stop, but he ignored him, police said.
The bouncer attempted to escort Emmons outside when Emmons apparently pulled out a pocket knife and cut the man on the elbow and hand, police reported.
Emmons left the bar, but police found him. During the arrest, police also found a bloody 2-inch pocket knife in his pocket. Police said Nathaniel admitted he had cut the bouncer.
Emmons may face charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
Source: Journal-courier They were close family members, playing with empty air guns with other teens at a relative’s Valley Station home.
But neither Dallas Barnes, an 11-year-old fifth-grader at Trunnell Elementary, nor his 16-year-old uncle knew that someone had loaded and pumped one of the BB guns, a Daisy Powerline 880, during a break in the games, police said.
When the 16-year-old pointed the gun at Dallas and pulled the trigger in the home’s tiny kitchen, the BB penetrated between Dallas’ ribs and pierced his heart, entering his right ventricle and artery.
Dallas was able to walk to the bathroom before paramedics were called, but he died less than an hour later at Kosair Children’s Hospital.
“It’s just an unbelievably tragic event,” said attorney John DeCamillis, who is representing Dallas’ mother, Amy Barnes, and his stepfather, Matthew Bauer, who live in the 3000 block of Fordhaven Road. “Dallas was Amy’s oldest, and she isn’t doing well, what with it being her brother that fired the gun.”
Authorities Monday called it a terrible accident, saying the 16-year-old uncle, who wasn’t named, likely won’t be charged. The two boys were “like best friends” and were together constantly, leaving the 16-year-old “devastated,” said Jefferson County Deputy Coroner Jack Arnold.
But authorities say the death highlights the dangers of a weapon that too often is treated as a toy.
“I don’t think anybody realized the nature of what this rifle could do,” said Barry Wilkerson, head of the Louisville Metro Police’s homicide unit, who called it “obviously very dangerous.”
Non-powder guns such as BB guns and air rifles kill an average of four people every year in the United States, according to a 2004 report by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
And their victims often are children.
Of the 39 such deaths recorded between 1990 and 2000, 32 were children younger than 15, the report said. That same year, for example, a South Carolina 13-year-old was killed after a pellet pierced his heart.
While deaths are rare — Lawrence Pilcher, a firearm examiner with the state’s Central Forensic Laboratory, said he couldn’t recall a similar case in Kentucky — the weapon can produce dangerous velocity, despite its tiny projectile.
A BB is just one-seventh the weight of a .22-caliber bullet, but anything shot at a speed exceeding 100 feet per second can penetrate skin, especially among the young and elderly, Pilcher said.
The $71 Daisy Powerline 880, a pneumatic multi-pump rifle, shoots BBs at 750 feet per second, according the Daisy product description, which warns that “air guns are real guns, not toys.”
“The ones you pump by hand you can determine the velocity yourself, and it can get high,” Pilcher said.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has warned that children younger than 16 should not use high-velocity BB or pellet guns, which have muzzle velocities of 150 feet per second to 1,200 feet per second.
Traditional firearm pistols have speeds of 750 feet per second and higher.
Some states such as New Jersey and Michigan require a permit for an air gun. But Kentucky, like many other states, doesn’t consider air guns firearms and doesn’t regulate them.
Still, retail stores often restrict sales to minors. Wal-Mart, for example, doesn’t sell air guns to anyone younger than 18, according to a Louisville store manager.
And Daisy itself only ships guns to customers 21 years or older who sign an affidavit of age.
Authorities could not say Monday who owned the gun that Dallas, his uncle and two other older teens were playing with Sunday, along with a second plastic pellet gun. They were at his grandmother’s Valley Station home in 9900 block of Donerail Way between Count Turf and Middleground drives.
None of the group was older than 19, police said, and the grandmother was not home.
The guns were empty while they were being played with. However, at some point, someone — police would not say who — loaded the gun and left it on the kitchen counter. Shortly after, Dallas’ uncle picked up the gun and shot it at Dallas.
Trunnell Elementary is going to make grief counselors available, said Lauren Roberts, a spokeswoman for Jefferson County Public Schools.
Funeral arrangements were still pending at Owen Funeral Home on Dixie Highway, Arnold said. He did not provide more details about the family.
DeCamillis said a memorial fund has been set up at Fifth-Third Bank, 9711 Dixie Highway, to help the financially struggling family afford the funeral.
By: Rick McCann/Staff
PRIVATE OFFICER NEWS
Police are reporting that one of their officers was killed in the line of duty overnight.
It happened late Monday night when Patrolman James Kerstetter was responding to a call from a mother who said a neighbor exposed himself and kicked in a window.
Police said that the suspect opened fire on the officer and he was also shot to death.
His name isn’t being released, but a family member has identified him as Robert Palmer,58.
Officer Kerstetter was on the force 15 years.
Funeral arrangements for the officer are incomplete.
Robert Gary Jones, of Woodstock, Ga., was killed instantly on Hilton Head Island on Monday evening, said Beaufort County Coroner Ed Allen.
The single-engine plane had lost its propeller and the pilot’s vision was blocked by oil on the windshield, Allen said.
Jones was married and had two children, the coroner said.
“Apparently he did not see nor hear the plane,” Allen said.
“The plane was basically gliding.”
Hilton Head fire and rescue spokeswoman Joheida Fister said the identities of the pilot and a passenger on the Experimental Lancair IV-P plane were not released. The two were not injured.
The plane started leaking oil at about 13,000 feet and tried originally to make it to Hilton Head Airport, Fister said.
The oil on the windshield blocked the pilot’s vision and he told authorities the propeller came off the plane. When he tried to land on the beach near the Hilton Head Marriott Resort and Spa, the plane hit the jogger and came to rest a little farther down the beach, she said.
“I would have to say it’s pretty unusual,” Fister said.
FAA records show the aircraft was registered to Edward I. Smith of Chesapeake, Va., with a certificate issued in 2004. Nobody answered early Tuesday at a phone number listed for Smith and a message was not immediately answered.
The plane left Orlando at 4:45 p.m. and was headed for Virginia, Fister said. The four-seater plane has a turbine engine, can be built from a kit and can fly up to 370 mph, according to the Lancair Web site. The IV-P model has a pressurized cabin.
The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were investigating, Fister said.
An FAA spokeswoman referred inquiries to the NTSB.
U.S. law enforcement agents are following the rest of the Internet world into popular social-networking services, going undercover with false online profiles to communicate with suspects and gather private information, according to an internal Justice Department document that offers a tantalizing glimpse of issues related to privacy and crime-fighting.
Think you know who’s behind that “friend” request? Think again. Your new “friend” just might be the FBI.
The document, obtained in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, makes clear that U.S. agents are already logging on surreptitiously to exchange messages with suspects, identify a target’s friends or relatives and browse private information such as postings, personal photographs and video clips.
Among other purposes: Investigators can check suspects’ alibis by comparing stories told to police with tweets sent at the same time about their whereabouts. Online photos from a suspicious spending spree — people posing with jewelry, guns or fancy cars — can link suspects or their friends to robberies or burglaries.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based civil liberties group, obtained the Justice Department document when it sued the agency and five others in federal court. The 33-page document underscores the importance of social networking sites to U.S. authorities. The foundation said it would publish the document on its Web site on Tuesday.
With agents going undercover, state and local police coordinate their online activities with the Secret Service, FBI and other federal agencies in a strategy known as “deconfliction” to keep out of each other’s way.
“You could really mess up someone’s investigation because you’re investigating the same person and maybe doing things that are counterproductive to what another agency is doing,” said Detective Frank Dannahey of the Rocky Hill, Conn., Police Department, a veteran of dozens of undercover cases.
A decade ago, agents kept watch over AOL and MSN chat rooms to nab sexual predators. But those text-only chat services are old-school compared with today’s social media, which contain mountains of personal data, photographs, videos and audio clips — a potential treasure trove of evidence for cases of violent crime, financial fraud and much more.
The Justice Department document, part of a presentation given in August by top cybercrime officials, describes the value of Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn and other services to government investigators. It does not describe in detail the boundaries for using them.
“It doesn’t really discuss any mechanisms for accountability or ensuring that government agents use those tools responsibly,” said Marcia Hoffman, a senior attorney with the civil liberties foundation.
The group sued in Washington to force the government to disclose its policies for using social networking sites in investigations, data collection and surveillance.
Covert investigations on social-networking services are legal and governed by internal rules, according to Justice Department officials. But they would not say what those rules are.
The Justice Department document raises a legal question about a social-media bullying case in which U.S. prosecutors charged a Missouri woman with computer fraud for creating a fake MySpace account — effectively the same activity that undercover agents are doing, although for different purposes.
The woman, Lori Drew, helped create an account for a fictitious teen boy on MySpace and sent flirtatious messages to a 13-year-old neighborhood girl in his name. The girl hanged herself in October 2006, in a St. Louis suburb, after she received a message saying the world would be better without her.
A jury in California, where MySpace has its servers, convicted Drew of three misdemeanor counts of accessing computers without authorization because she was accused of violating MySpace’s rules against creating fake accounts. But last year a judge overturned the verdicts, citing the vagueness of the law.
“If agents violate terms of service, is that ‘otherwise illegal activity’?” the document asks. It doesn’t provide an answer.
Facebook’s rules, for example, specify that users “will not provide any false personal information on Facebook, or create an account for anyone other than yourself without permission.” Twitter’s rules prohibit its users from sending deceptive or false information. MySpace requires that information for accounts be “truthful and accurate.”
A former U.S. cybersecurity prosecutor, Marc Zwillinger, said investigators should be able to go undercover in the online world the same way they do in the real world, even if such conduct is barred by a company’s rules. But there have to be limits, he said.
In the face-to-face world, agents can’t impersonate a suspect’s spouse, child, parent or best friend. But online, behind the guise of a social-networking account, they can.
“This new situation presents a need for careful oversight so that law enforcement does not use social networking to intrude on some of our most personal relationships,” said Zwillinger, whose firm does legal work for Yahoo and MySpace.
Undercover operations aren’t necessary if the suspect is reckless. Federal authorities nabbed a man wanted on bank fraud charges after he started posting Facebook updates about the fun he was having in Mexico.
Maxi Sopo, a native of Cameroon living in the Seattle area, apparently slipped across the border into Mexico in a rented car last year after learning that federal agents were investigating the alleged scheme. The agents initially could find no trace of him on social media sites, and they were unable to pin down his exact location in Mexico. But they kept checking and eventually found Sopo on Facebook.
While Sopo’s online profile was private, his list of friends was not. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Scoville began going through the list and was able to learn where Sopo was living. Mexican authorities arrested Sopo in September. He is awaiting extradition to the U.S.
The Justice document describes how Facebook, MySpace and Twitter have interacted with federal investigators: Facebook is “often cooperative with emergency requests,” the government said. MySpace preserves information about its users indefinitely and even stores data from deleted accounts for one year. But Twitter’s lawyers tell prosecutors they need a warrant or subpoena before the company turns over customer information, the document says.
“Will not preserve data without legal process,” the document says under the heading, “Getting Info From Twitter … the bad news.”
Twitter did not respond to a request for comment for this story.
The chief security officer for MySpace, Hemanshu Nigam, said MySpace doesn’t want to be the company that stands in the way of an investigation.
“That said, we also want to make sure that our users’ privacy is protected and any data that’s disclosed is done under proper legal process,” Nigam said.
MySpace requires a search warrant for private messages less than six months old, according to the company.
Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said the company has put together a handbook to help law enforcement officials understand “the proper ways to request information from Facebook to aid investigations.”
The Justice document includes sections about its own lawyers. For government attorneys taking cases to trial, social networks are a “valuable source of info on defense witnesses,” they said. “Knowledge is power. … Research all witnesses on social networking sites.”
But the government warned prosecutors to advise their own witnesses not to discuss cases on social media sites and to “think carefully about what they post.”
It also cautioned federal law enforcement officials to think prudently before adding judges or defense counsel as “friends” on these services.
“Social networking and the courtroom can be a dangerous combination,” the government said.
The Paducah Sun reported 33-year-old Larry C. Long told police he had smoked marijuana at a Paducah restaurant where he works and then came home and drank alcohol.
McCracken County Sheriff Jon Hayden said the mother of the 5-week-old boy was awakened by his cries Monday morning and found him the oven. Hayden said the baby was taken to a hospital where doctors found no injuries.
Long shares the home with the child’s mother, 33-year-old Brandy S. Hatton.
The newspaper reported child welfare officials placed the infant and his 10- and 14-year-old siblings in the care of 1 of Hatton’s relatives.
Long is charged with wanton endangerment.