Washington DC Aug 5 2010
By Rend Smith
By all accounts, Martin Freeman was—at one point—an exemplary D.C. cop.
In 15 years on the job, he was written up only once, when he says he missed a day of work without calling in after his mother died. Freeman spent most of his career on a SWAT team. He even earned a Medal of Valor, in a tale straight out of a comic book.
Nine years ago, he walked into the First Cash Advance Store on Pennsylvania Avenue SE to see if they needed part-time security, which he used to do in his off-duty hours. As he waited to speak to the manager, two stick-up men burst in. One had a gun, the other a knife. Freeman, who was off the clock and out of uniform, nevertheless had his service weapon on him.
After the robbers ordered everyone to the floor, they turned their attention toward the money. That’s when Freeman saw his chance. “I just acted on instinct,” he says. He got off the floor and drew. Two shots and a B-movie hostage situation later, the day was won. Freeman’s bullets just grazed the robbers, but he was able to subdue both of them without any civilians being hurt. Afterward, then-Metropolitan Police Chief Charles Ramsey praised the officer to The Washington Post, saying Freeman’s actions were “one of the most heroic things I’ve seen in 30 years of policing.”
Not long after that, though, Freeman was no longer the department’s ace. His once-fawning chief gave him the boot. As a way of humiliating him, Freeman says, his termination papers were tacked to his front door: “My neighbors read them.”
What Freeman had done to turn the department against him, it seems, was try to take its business. And worse—talk about it.
In any given month, at about three dozen bars and nightclubs around the District, security is provided by people wearing a familiar uniform: they’re off-duty MPD officers. Years ago, D.C. cops used to moonlight frequently doing security work. But the D.C. Council ended that practice in 2000, and later set up a plan where nightlife operators who needed extra muscle would pay the city to station a police detail on the premises. It’s a lucrative gig, as far as MPD’s budget is concerned: the department charges $55.71 an hour for each officer deployed, and so far in fiscal year 2010, the D.C. Office of the Chief Financial Officer says reimbursable details have brought in $1.9 million.
Freeman, though, says this system is basically a municipal protection racket. In a lawsuit heading to trial this month, he accuses the District of stealing business from him and punishing him for speaking out. Six years ago, he and a few other cops were about to sign a contract to provide security at the Gallery Place mall. They were just waiting for MPD to approve some paperwork so they could take the part-time side work. Instead, MPD swooped in, somehow convincing the mall to install a reimbursable detail instead of Freeman’s crew.
To Freeman’s thinking, MPD had delayed approving the work so it could step in. Freeman figured the department had put some kind of pressure on the mall, as the District charged about double what Freeman was going to charge. He went to the media, speaking to Fox5 for a news report. “I blew the whistle on the department because the department was involved in illegal activity,” he tells Washington City Paper. When Freeman’s then-commander, Cathy Lanier (now MPD’s chief), saw the news report, she wasn’t happy. According to court documents, Lanier remarked to one of the officers in charge of Freeman that “a lot of your guys got in trouble.”
Freeman believes those words signaled Lanier planned to get revenge on him and his crew. Indeed, about a year later, three officers were suspended and Freeman got fired. Freeman says since then he’s been blackballed from all security jobs. One of the places he tried to get a job with was Federal Emergency Management Agency, but each time anyone checks his references, “MPD says bad things about me.”
Now the Fraternal Order of Police—which never liked the rules on reimbursable details, because the policy interferes with cops’ side work—is financing Freeman’s lawsuit. They hope to get rid of the whole system.
“The Metropolitan Police Department has engaged in providing private security services for profit (competing with off-duty officers performing part-time jobs) and in this process, overcharged D.C. private businesses for millions of dollars in violation of D.C. law,” FOP Chairman Kristopher Baumann wrote in a 2009 letter to Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh, who chairs the Committee on Government Operations.
Baumann says two laws are supposed to prevent MPD from doing security work. There’s a law that says the police can only charge private venues the basic wage rate for cops working details, and there’s a law that forbids “brokering” by the cops.
Baumann told Cheh keeping the police department from going into business for itself is sound public policy: “It prevents the MPD from favoring private parties who hire the MPD, and it prevents the MPD from muscling out private security companies and off duty officers supplementing their income.”
Of course, as anyone who ever watched a gangster flick knows, there are two prongs to any protection racket. There’s getting rid of the competition—in this case, according to Freeman, his company—and there’s forcing people who may or may not think they need your services to hire you anyway. If MPD really is, as Freeman claims, running what comes down to a protection racket, when it comes to the second piece, they’ve got help. Spread across the city, there are venues who have no choice but pay their dues to MPD.
Take Muse Nightclub and Lounge, located at 717 6th St. NW.
To Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration investigators, Brenda Fuentes recounted a very shitty night out at Muse on April 25, 2009. Fuentes said she was partying with about 10 friends at the dance club when two women approached her. One of the duo pushed her, the other took her purse. Following the incident, Fuentes went straight for a nearby security guard. Attempting to get his attention she “loosened” his earpiece and asked for help.
Apparently, the bouncer didn’t appreciate that maneuver. As Fuentes explained that her purse had been stolen, he grabbed her. Soon she was being hustled toward a staircase. “Wait, wait,” said Fuentes, still trying to salvage the situation. But things only got worse: The guard dragged her down the stairs by the neck. On the 2nd floor landing, he threw her against a mirror and raked her “along the broken mirror and the wall to put her outside the club.”
Fuentes didn’t get her purse back. She did get lacerations, bruises and cuts—all of which she photographed for city liquor cops.
When things get that shady at a venue, city officials are quick to turn to reimbursable details. The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABC) can order a club to take one on—sometimes on the suggestion of MPD. Muse took on a detail in March. The detail “will minimize the drain of on-duty personnel and enhance the general public safety around the venue and Chinatown,” wrote First District Cmdr. David Kamperin to ABRA officials in an e-mail. The schedule would “extend a 1/2 hr after closing time and be no less than 4 hrs before that time.”
By the end of April, Muse had racked up about $7,000 in bills for its compulsory security. Each year the city and ABRA set aside $1 million to help businesses offset the cost of police guards, so Muse only had to pay $3,000 of that.
Michel Daley, one of the owners of Zanzibar on the Waterfront in Southwest, taps the same fund. Because Zanzibar has had some violence, they were told last August they needed to hire a detail that ranges from two to eight officers depending on the event they’re throwing. “On the up side, it helps,” Daley says. “On the downside, it’s expensive.”
Daley says his detail left him with an almost unmanageable bill. He’s required to have officers around for any hours his place stays open after 11:30 p.m. He also brings up another problem regarding the hired guns. “We’re not their supervisors, he says. So it’s hard to encourage typical employee values among the cops—like punctuality. They can’t be fired, since the District put them there, so Zanzibar can’t really do anything if the officers don’t hold up their end of the deal. Skip Coburn, executive director of the D.C. Nightlife Association, says some of his group’s members complain about similar problems. “Sometimes they don’t show up at all,” he says of the cops.
According to Coburn, lots of club owners probably want to see Freeman prevail. They just won’t say so. “They are all very afraid of speaking out,” Coburn says.
But to MPD’s thinking, reimbursable details came to be because the previous way of doing things just didn’t work. “It is important to understand why we have reimbursable details for ABC licensees,” e-mails MPD spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump. Crump says MPD forbids officers from working directly for ABC establishments “because of a potential for a conflict of interest.”
In the past, officials believed, the moonlighting led to inappropriate coziness between hired cops and club high-rollers. Which even those who grumble about the reimbursable details say was a problem. Coburn has a vague memory of a cop getting in trouble with his superiors after being filmed with a clubgoer sitting on his lap.
Another reason the department shies away from club/cop business relationships is Officer Brian Gibson. Back in 1997, Gibson was sitting in his patrol car at IBEX Nightclub at Georgia Avenue and Missouri Avenue when he was ambushed and killed. The man who shot him was angry about being tossed out of IBEX by another officer who was working security there.
According to Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham, who has championed reimbursable details, Gibson’s death inspired the department and the council to take a hard look at cops on the club circuit. He says Ramsey became concerned the situation was dangerous.
As for muscling Freeman, in court, MPD will argue that the forms that would have allowed Freeman and his associates to work at Gallery Place were delayed because Freeman was under investigation for a prior security job. They will also contend that Freeman was fired not because he went to the media, but because he began working for Gallery Place without permission.
And the 55 bucks an hour MPD charges? That’s not mind-blowing-ly expensive at all, the city will argue. That’s just how MPD covers paying the overtime cops who work the details plus some administrative fees. Nothing to see here, the District says.
Freeman, though, wants the court to look past all that and dwell on a more fundamental question: Should the city be able to force businesses to hire it for work private firms could do? Or does that blur the line between police work and the type of stuff the department would usually be investigating?
The move comes a week after four other workers were fired for ignoring city code in how they wrote purchase orders.
Atlanta Police Department spokesman Carlos Campos said the department has issued theft by taking arrest warrants for Quintard Isler, 34, and Yolanda Singleton, 49, for “making improper adjustments to customers’ water bills in exchange for cash under the table from those customers.”
APD’s Major Fraud Unit, working in conjunction with an investigator in the watershed management department, handled the investigation.
Campos said Isler is accused of taking $2,476 from customers paying him to reduce their bills, while Singleton is alleged to have taken $620 doing the same thing.
Janet Ward, a spokeswoman for watershed management, said Isler and Singleton were fired in early July. Both worked in the walk-in customer service division. She said the two would basically accept cash from customers in exchange for lowering their bills or getting their services turned back on.
For example, Ward said, if someone came in with a high bill, Isler and Singleton would negotiate a cash settlement. They would keep the cash and zero out the bill, she said.
On Monday, Isler is scheduled to appear before the Atlanta Civil Service board to argue that he should get his job back.
Last Friday, four members of watershed management’s security division were fired for circumventing purchasing rules in buying $2.1 million worth of equipment. Those workers wrote 160 purchase orders to a securities vendor to purchase cameras and other security equipment.
All of the invoices were for less than $20,000, and were designed to go through an easier approval process. No criminal charges have been filed, but several city and outside agencies are still investigating the purchases.
Seattle Wa Aug 5 2010 An off-duty Seattle police officer wrestled with and arrested an armed suspect Wednesday morning near Pike Place Market.
At about 9:18 a.m., the off-duty officer was working in the Pike Place Market when he heard a call on his radio reporting a fight between a security guard and a suspect.
The security guard had spotted the suspect, later identified as a 36-year-old man, enter Post Alley from Stewart Street to conduct an apparent drug deal. The security guard confronted the man as he left the alley and the man struck the security guard with a cane.
As the two men struggled, the suspect threatened to kill the guard and reached into his backpack to pull out a .45-caliber handgun, police said. The off-duty officer arrived and both he and the security guard prevented the suspect from pulling out the gun. The suspect was then arrested.
Police said the officer found the handgun as well as drugs on the suspect.The handgun had been reported stolen earlier in the morning during a car prowl in the 700 block of First Avenue, police said.
The suspect was later booked into the King County Jail on numerous charges, including Investigation of assault, Investigation of harassment, weapons violations and several outstanding warrants.
Deputy Chief Scott Ubele said plice were called to Technology Drive about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday where a security guard reported he’d been bitten by a pit bull.
While one officer interviewed the guard, the other officer saw the dogs and followed them. At the same time, the dogs saw a woman and charged her.
Police said Officer Steve Hawkins was able to cut off one of the dogs with his cruiser, but the other continued to approach the woman.
“He jumped out of the car and drew his weapon,” Ubele said. “At this point the woman was screaming for help. He got in between the woman and the dog. He was attempting to back her into his car where he could secure her and get her safe.”
Ubele saidthe larger of the two dogs lunged and Hawkins shot him. The second dog immediately attacked and the officer turned and fired. After running away, the wounded dogs were later shot to death by police. Who owns the dogs and whether they also may have attacked a boy in Lowell is under investigation.
St. Paul police spokesman Andy Skoogman said the masked suspect entered Park Midway Bank at 2300 Como Avenue at about 2:30 p.m. with a handgun.
The suspect allegedly took a female teller hostage inside the bank, and then took her with him as he fled the bank. Police say the teller was able to escape, and ran back inside the building.
An off-duty St. Paul police officer who was working at the bank as a security guard chased after the suspect, police said. The suspect allegedly fired more than one shot at the off-duty officer. No one was injured, and the off-duty officer did not return fire, according to police.
Skoogman said police believe the suspect fled the area in a vehicle.
“We believe we have a pretty good idea of who we’re looking for,” he said.
Police officers are searching the area for the handgun and other evidence.
New York City NY Aug 5 2010 Frankie Babilonia, the 23-year-old Yankee Stadium security guard who retrieved A-Rod’s 600th home run, apparently never gave a second thought to what he’d do with the ball. Babilonia, who is single and lives on the Lower East Side, is about to become an instant celebrity.
In an ironic twist: Babilonia was pinch-hitting for another guard who was on a break when the historic ball came his way, Jack Curry of the YES Network reported from Yankee Stadium. It landed in the netting above Monument Park, nearly 420 feet from home plate, making Alex Rodriguez the seventh player in Major League Baseball history to reach the milestone.
“His colleagues asked, ‘Did you ever think of running off with the ball?’ He said, ‘Absolutely not‘,” Curry said. “I knew what my instructions were.’
“He said he gave it to one of his supervisors.”
Unconfirmed rumors have swirled of what Babilonia will receive in return — including dinner with A-Rod and Cameron Diaz. But Curry said he was just glad to be part of baseball history.
“You could tell it was a big moment for him,” Curry reported. “He said it’s one of the coolest things that’s ever happened to him.”
PAULS VALLEY, Okla. Aug 5 2010 (AP) – The state Medical Examiner’s office has ruled that the death of the interim police chief of Pauls Valley was a suicide.
The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said Wednesday an autopsy found that 42-year-old Scott Robbins died of a penetrating gunshot wound to the head.
OSBI spokeswoman Jessica Brown said on Tuesday that a family member found Robbins’ body at his home and called 911 about 2:40 p.m. Tuesday.
The agency says it will continue collecting information on the case and eventually will give the Garvin County Sheriff’s Office a report on its investigation.
Agostinho Loiola Mar Rodrigues, 50, was arrested by the U.S. Marshals Service at his home about 2 p.m. on charges of sexual battery to a minor, unlawful sexual activity with a minor and two counts of lewd or lascivious battery to a minor. He is being held in the Orange County Jail without bail.
Authorities said Rodrigues began massaging the girl, now 15, who they said was doing some weight training, and progressed from there to sexual contact. There were three encounters in the Edgewater High School gym during late 2009, during winter break, they said.
The Marion County Sheriff’s Department began the investigation after the mother of the 15-year-old Odin girl found text messages on her daughters phone about a pregnancy scare. In the messages, Ebmeyer reportedly admits being the father. However, Sheriff’s Department Investigator Anthony Decker says a pregnancy test taken by the girl Monday was negative.
Ebmeyer is accused in the charges of having consensual sex with the girl on three occassions in the past two months, twice in the rest area on U.S. 51 north of Sandoval and another time in a vehicle alongside the road in rural Odin.
The charges state the offenses occurred while Ebmeyer was in a position of trust because of his role as a teacher. Decker reports Ebmeyer had befriended the student in a relationship that continued after school ended for the summer. Ebmeyer was arrested at his home in rural Carlyle without incident following the investigation. He remains in the Marion County Jail pending his first appearance in court.
Ebmeyer’s honorable discharge was the subject of a student sit in and pleas at two school board meetings to save his job. However, the board stood firm on their decision and promised to still make business courses available through other teachers. Odin School Superintendent Elaine Hemker admitted being shocked when learning of the arrest. She reports at this point no other students are believed involved.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. Aug 5 2010 – A strange battle is brewing in Daytona Beach involving the city’s finest versus the city’s bravest.
Police officers allege that, during the rescue attempt of an elderly woman trapped in her home on Wednesday, paramedics were anything but professional. Add to this, allegations by the police chief accusing fire fighters of tampering with a case involving one of their own. Last week firefighter Adam Silva was arrested for the second time. He’s accused of raping one woman and attempting to rape another.
Shortly after that second arrest, officers said someone was harassing one of the victims and the police chief himself said he believed a firefighter was to blame.
This latest investigation started with a call to 81-year-old Elenora Archer’s Daytona Beach apartment. She had fallen down and needed assistance. Roger Farvow tells FOX 35 News, “She and the neighbors were talking and says she was very thankful for the assistance they got from the fire department and police. In their eyes, everything was handled terrifically.”
Apparently, that’s not how at least two Daytona Beach Police officers feel. In letters to the police chief, they say they used a sledge hammer to get into Archer’s apartment, but, when they got to Archer, the two police officers say some of the responding firefighters were too busy being sarcastic instead of immediately attending to her.
In one letter, one officer writes that a fire department supervisor held up a piece of equipment and asked if he wanted to hook her up to the monitor, sarcastically, and says the firefighter said, “Yeah, you guys want to handle everything else.”
Another police officer wrote that a firefighter asked him if he, “wanted his blue medical bag,” and talked to him in an unprofessional manner saying, “You guys seem to want to control everything, you sure you don’t want to?”
These letters went right from the police chief’s office to the city manager. The city manager says in a statement sent to FOX 35 News, “..an independent third party within the city will conduct a thorough investigation of this incident…” and “there is no room for personal animosity between departments, especially first responders.”
Source:WOFL FOX 35
Miami Fla Aug 5 2010 The 38-year-old man who was shot multiple times Tuesday on a Flagami street has died.
Authorities have charged Yankier Crespo, 28, of Miami with the second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Odin T. Hernandez.
Witnesses told police that Hernandez and Crespo were arguing Tuesday morning inside a black Toyota near Southwest 57th Avenue and First Street, according to a Miami Police Department arrest affidavit. The argument escalated into a physical altercation and both men got out of the vehicle.
Authorities say Crespo pulled out a handgun and shot Hernandez in the neck, shoulder, stomach and side. An off-duty police officer in the area who heard the shots disarmed and arrested Crespo.
Hernandez died hours later at Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center. According to the arrest affidavit, Crespo worked as a security guard.
Detroit MI Aug 5 2010 A Detroit man is facing the death penalty after a jury found him guilty of federal murder charges for a fatal 2001 armored car robbery.
The jury deliberated less than four hours Tuesday before finding Timothy O’Reilly, 37, guilty on three counts, including murder, for the robbery that left Total Armed Services guard Norman Stephens, 31, of Detroit dead.
U.S. District Court Judge Victoria Roberts appeared to choke up a bit as she reminded the 12-member jury after the verdict that it could mean death for O’Reilly. Jurors are to begin the penalty phase of the trial Monday.
O’Reilly’s mother wept at the decision, saying under her breath: “He didn’t do it.”
She and other relatives left without commenting. Stephens’ family also declined to comment.
Shotgun-toting men blasted Stephens twice in the back during a 3:50 a.m. heist on Dec. 14, 2001, while guards were preparing to fill ATMs with cash at the Dearborn Federal Credit Union at Fairlane. Two other guards were unhurt.
In all, O’Reilly was convicted on six charges for that heist and another, a June 2003 robbery at a Comerica Bank branch in Detroit, where a Guardian Armored Security Services guard was wounded.
Though Michigan banned the death penalty in 1847, it’s permitted in federal cases.
O’Reilly’s lawyer, Harold Gurewitz of Detroit, said he couldn’t comment on a possible appeal.
“We’ll have no comment until after the penalty phase,” U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said.
The last person executed in Michigan under federal law was Anthony Chebatoris, 38, who was hanged at the federal prison in Milan in July 1938 for fatally shooting a bystander during a bank robbery in Midland.
Authorities said O’Reilly was among six men who took part in the credit union robbery. Three of them — O’Reilly; Kevin Watson, 39, and Norman Duncan, 40, also of Detroit — confronted Stephens and two other guards while three other men stood nearby to grab the money and drive the getaway vehicle, testimony showed.
Watson and Duncan also face the death penalty at upcoming trials.
O’Reilly’s lawyers argued that he was manipulated by Duncan into participating, that no one actually saw Stephens get shot and that it was Watson who shot Stephens.
New York NY Aug 5 2010 You travel to London, you travel to France. And the feds have saved records of X-raying your underpants.
A government agency admitted this week that they’ve stored more than 35,000 controversial body scanning images, despite the federal Transportation Security Administration previously stating the images can not be saved or recorded, CNET reported.
The U.S. Marshals Service said they had secretly saved the images at a security checkpoint at a Florida courthouse.
Recently Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano, said the scanners would be placed at most major airports in the country. But the machines have remained controversial. Critics have argued the scanners violate passenger privacy by producing “naked” pictures and likened the procedure to “virtual strip searches.”
The TSA recently acknowledged that it requires that all checkpoint scanners be able to save images, but said the feature was only for “testing, training and evaluation purposes.”
William Bordley, an associate general counsel with the Marshals Service, said the images were stored in a machine and tested in a Washington D.C. federal courthouse. The machine was then mailed back to the manufacturer, which still has the images.
Marc Rotenberger, the executive director of Washington D.C. advocate group, Electronic Privacy Information Center (which recently asked a federal judge to ban the body scanning program), said the TSA is not being honest with the public.
“This is the Department of Homeland Security subjecting every U.S. traveler to an intrusive search that can be recorded without any suspicion—I think it’s outrageous,” he told CNET.
North Escambia Fla Aug 5 2010 Authorities are investigating an early morning attack on a security guard near Solutia Park.
According to an Escambia County Sheriff’s Office incident report, the 26-year old female security guard employed by Securitus was attacked while making routine rounds at Ascend Performance Materials on Old Chemstrand Road in Cantonment.
The guard told deputies she was checking a bathroom in an outlying building located on the fitness center grounds near Solutia Park. The bathroom should have been locked, but the guard said she was immediately jumped from behind when she opened the unlocked door. The victim said a black male with a white shirt and dreads held a knife to her throat and said he would kill her if she screamed.
The guard told deputies that a struggle followed, and she was struck several times on her head and face with her own 7-inch long steel and plastic security wand. She said her shirt was ripped during the struggle. The guard was apparently knocked unconscious for an unknown length of time during the struggle.
It was not known exactly what time the incident occurred early Wednesday morning. Her last security log entry was 4:06 a.m., and she called for help on her radio at 4:35 a.m.
The guard was transported by ambulance to West Florida Hospital for treatment of wounds to her head and face, as well as what deputies termed “defensive knife wounds” to her arms.
An Escambia County K-9 unit was called to the scene but was unable to locate a suspect.
Deputies have not established any motive for the attack; the investigation into the incident continues.
Seattle Wa Aug 5 2010 A Seattle parking enforcement officer ticketed a man Tuesday who authorities say was likely dead hours before the ticket was issued.
About 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, the parking enforcement officer marked the man’s car in a 2-hour parking zone. The woman returned a few minutes after noon and found the car hadn’t moved.
“The PEO rapped on the window twice in an attempt to wake the man,” police spokeswoman Renee Witt said in a statement. “When she was unsuccessful she concluded that the individual was simply a sound sleeper. The PEO left the ticket on the windshield and continued her patrol.”
She later learned he was dead.
About 40 minutes after the man was fined $42 for parking too long in the 2-hour spot, his girlfriend found the car with a GPS device.
Medics were dispatched at 12:47 p.m., but the man was unconscious and unresponsive when they arrived, Fire Department spokeswoman Dana Vander Houwen said.
The driver was Derek Michael Eldridge, 36, according to the King County Medical Examiner’s Office. The office is waiting for tests before releasing his cause and manner of death, though police say there was no sign of homicidal violence. Eldridge’s exact time of death was not released Wednesday.
Parking enforcement officers have radios and a reasonable expectation to call for help in an emergency.
But police Sgt. Sean Whitcomb said it’s not uncommon for parking enforcement officers to find people asleep in their cars. The woman, a 29-year parking enforcement veteran, did nothing wrong in the circumstances, he said.
The ticket issued was Eldrige’s first parking ticket in Seattle Municipal Court, records show. The ticket was voided about an hour and a half after he was pronounced dead.