Lake County Sheriff’s Department, Indiana
End of Watch: Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Bio & Incident Details
Tour: 4 years
Badge # Not available
Cause: Vehicular assault
Incident Date: 3/6/2012
Suspect: At large
Corrections Officer Britney Muex was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver at the intersection of 93rd Avenue and Main Street in Crown Point at approximately 7:00 pm.
She and three other corrections officers were jogging along outer the perimeter of the Lake County Jail, while exercising at the end of their shift, when a vehicle struck all four officers. Officer Muex was killed instantly. The other three officers were transported to hospitals.
The driver of the vehicle that struck the officers fled the scene and remains at large.
Officer Muex had served with the Lake County Sheriff’s Department for four years.
Please contact the following agency to send condolences or to obtain funeral arrangements:
Sheriff John Buncich
Lake County Sheriff’s Department
2293 N Main Street
Crown Point, IN 46307
Phone: (219) 755-3400
Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, Florida
End of Watch: Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Bio & Incident Details
Tour: 15 years
Badge # 644
Incident Date: 3/6/2012
Weapon: Gun; Unknown type
Suspect: In custody
Deputy Sheriff Barbara Pill was shot and killed after stopping a vehicle near the intersection of John Rodes Boulevard and Estates Lane, in Melbourne, shortly before 11:15 am.
The vehicle was wanted in connection with a stolen property call from a local motel. As Deputy Pill made contact with the driver and ordered him out of the vehicle he opened fire on her, striking her multiple times. Responding deputies, Melbourne police officers, and Florida troopers chased the vehicle a short distance until it crashed on Turtlemound Road. A male and female subject in the vehicle were taken into custody and face charges in connection with Deputy Pill’s murder.
Deputy Pill was transported to the Holmes Regional Medical Center where she succumbed to the gunshot wound.
Deputy Pill had been in law enforcement for 30 years and served with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office for 15 years. She is survived by her husband, two sons who also serve in law enforcement, and a grandchild.
Please contact the following agency to send condolences or to obtain funeral arrangements:
Sheriff Jack Parker
Brevard County Sheriff’s Office
700 Park Avenue
Titusville, FL 32780
Phone: (321) 264-5201
Centerville MS March 7 2012 A fire chief in Mississippi who fell ill while at the scene of a structure fire Monday later died.
Centreville Fire Chief Nolan “Goat” Pittman died a short time after arriving at a local hospital, according to the USFA.
Reports indicated Pittman, 45, and another firefighter, who also didn’t feel well, went to the hospital on their own accord.
Pittman, who apparently walked into the emergency room, died a short time later. The cause of death has not been determined.
The Centreville Fire Department was dispatched at 3:17 a.m. Monday for a structure fire.
Austin TX March 7 2012 If you’re in need of an ambulance, Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services’ goal is to send you one in less than 10 minutes. But if you’re in Pflugerville, Webberville or the northwest part of the county, you might not be so lucky.
EMS officials are working on ways to fix what they say is an ambulance shortage in some parts of their 1,024-square-mile coverage area, including some of the fastest-growing parts of Travis County.
“We’ve got some areas of the county where we can’t make our response time goals,” EMS Director Ernie Rodriguez said. “As our community grows, it becomes more and more difficult to reach everybody.”
As the population of the Austin area continues to increase — especially in suburban areas outside the city — government officials have struggled to keep infrastructure on par with that growth.
In some of the “problem areas,” Rodriguez said, ambulances can take as long as 16 minutes to reach patients.
“It’s significantly longer than our goal is,” he said.
Rodriguez and other officials say EMS is working out the details of its next interlocal agreement with Travis County, which could address the ambulance shortages in certain areas. EMS Assistant Chief James Shamard said they have few options but to add more ambulances to the fleet.
“That’s the ticket right now,” he said. “I think we’ve squeezed everything out of the system that we can.”
Under the current agreement, the county reimburses the City of Austin to provide ambulance service throughout the region. There are 35 ambulances serving Austin and Travis County, Rodriguez said. Most are staffed 24 hours a day, but a few are staffed only 12 hours a day. Eight full-time ambulances and two part-time ones are in the county, he said.
There are four areas falling short of adequate ambulance staffing, Shamard said. They are the area on FM 969 near Webberville, the area on U.S. 183 near Crystal Falls Parkway, the Pflugerville area, and the Bee Cave corridor between RM 2222 and Texas 71.
EMS officials are drafting a plan that calls for three more ambulances to be added around the county, which Rodriguez said could cost about $3 million.
They are asking the county to turn the two 12-hour ambulances into ones staffed all day, he said. Rodriguez said he also wants to add an ambulance on FM 969 to handle anticipated growth in that area.
“The county has only had eight ambulances for years, and that has not been enough for quite a while,” Rodriguez said. Last year, the two 12-hour ambulances were added to the county in Pflugerville and Bee Cave. It was the first time that ambulances had been added outside the city in seven to 10 years, he said.
“In many counties in Texas, that would probably be fine,” Rodriguez said. But he said it’s a taller order in Travis County, which grew 26 percent in population between 2000 and 2010, according to census reports.
Rodriguez said that call volume, or the number of phone requests for an ambulance, has been proportional to the increase in population.
On the plus side, Rodriguez said he doesn’t think the ambulance shortages necessarily threaten lives. Typically, firefighters from the emergency services districts around the county — or the Austin Fire Department within the city — are the first to arrive at critical incidents and are trained to provide CPR and other basic lifesaving measures.
Still, Rodriguez said he doesn’t want anyone to have to wait for an ambulance.
“A citizen may do just fine (medically) if it takes us 14 minutes to get out there, but they won’t be happy with the service,” Rodriguez said.
He said that despite the shortages, EMS still has excellent patient outcomes and survival rates. “But if we don’t address this now, it could have an impact on patient outcomes in the future,” Rodriguez said.
Travis County Fire Rescue Chief Ken Bailey, whose Emergency Services District No. 11 serves the Del Valle area, said that he, too, has noticed a shortage of EMS ambulances in his region.
He calls the problem a “vortex” effect: Ambulances stationed in the county often get sucked into the city when things get busy in Austin.
“Obviously, the city has more calls than the county,” Bailey said. “It starts to pull resources.”
Bailey said 86 percent of what his fire department does is respond to medical emergencies. Because they are typically the first to arrive at an incident, and because of the ambulance shortages, they have taken extra steps in terms of medical care. He said that his firefighters are required to be trained in the intermediary level between basic emergency medical technicians and paramedics.
“We have had to increase the level of care we provide,” Bailey said.
Ronald Moellenberg, the chief of the Pflugerville Fire Department — another county emergency services district — said that the shortage of EMS ambulances is a significant problem but not a new one. First responders of all varieties are having to keep up with population growth across the region, he said.
Moellenberg said that during his long career as a firefighter, he’s watched Travis County evolve from a largely rural area outside of Austin to one that is filled with neighborhoods, shopping centers and businesses.
“You leave Austin, and it’s hard to tell where the city limits end and where the county begins,” he said.
Norfolk England March 7 2012 A number of employees at a Costessey-based security firm have been granted ‘selected’ policing powers after the organisation became a member of the Community Safety Accreditation Scheme (CSAS).
As a member of the Scheme, GSL Dardan will work in partnership with Norfolk and Suffolk police, strengthening links within the community to further increase public reassurance by supporting Safer Neighbourhood Teams (SNTs).
Thirteen members of staff from GSL Dardan were accredited at the firm’s Longwater Business Park offices at a ceremony last Wednesday<29>.
GSL Dardan’s accredited officers, who have had to meet specific training requirements, will wear a nationally identified logo on their uniform and carry an identification card which sets out the powers they are trained and authorised to use.
Some of the powers they have been granted include the ability to issue fixed penalty notices for offences such as graffiti and cycling on footpaths as well as assisting with traffic control and seizing tobacco from persons under 16 years old. They also have the authority to enforce anti-social behaviour laws such as restricting the drinking of alcohol in designated spaces and prohibiting underage drinking.
Superintendent Stuart Gunn, of head of community safety at Norfolk Constabulary, said: “The accredited staff will increase public reassurance and provide greater resources to deal with crime reduction and anti-social behaviour, which greatly impact on people’s lives.”
Adrian Ewing, a consultant at GSL Dardan, said: “We are delighted to become an important part of the Community Safety Accredited Scheme (CSAS) and develop our role within the greater Policing Community.
“We are looking forward to playing a full and active part with supporting ‘Safer Neighbourhood Teams’ and improving public confidence.”
The use of private firms for policing purposes has generated controversy recently, with forces in the West Midlands and Surrey having invited private security companies to bid for a wide range of services, including criminal investigations, patrolling neighbourhoods and detaining suspects.
Cafeteria worker bounds manager, tries to steal safe at Virginia Hospital Center www.privateofficer.com
Arlington County VA March 7 2012 A 48-year-old Alexandria man faces armed robbery, abduction and other charges following an attempt to steal a safe from the Virginia Hospital Center this weekend, according to the Arlington County Police Department.
Albert Murray, an employee of the company the hospital uses to staff its food court, approached the cafeteria manager Saturday afternoon and asked for her help in a back office, according to information police released today.
Once the two were alone in that office, Murray allegedly held the woman at knifepoint and demanded the combination of a locked safe — which the manager repeatedly said she didn’t know.
At that point, police say Murray bound the woman’s hand and feet with electrical cord. He removed the entire safe, sat it on an office chair and proceeded to roll it out of the hospital, according to police.
Murray had called a taxi ahead of time and told the driver to meet him outside of the hospital, police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said.
Murray was trying to load the safe into the taxi’s trunk when the driver became suspicious and went to alert hospital staff, according to police.
Meanwhile, the cafeteria manager managed to use her teeth to unbind her hands, and then used her hands to unbind her feet. She ran out of the office and told a security guard what had happened, Sternbeck said.
“Obviously, she was visibly upset,” Sternbeck said. “They ran outside. That’s when Murray was trying to get in the cab.”
The approaching security guard startled Murray, who jumped into the driver’s seat of the cab, Sternbeck said.
He managed to go about 10 to 15 feet before the driver was able to reach into the hybrid vehicle and press a button to kill the ignition, Sternbeck said.
The two men fought briefly, and Murray attempted to run away as Arlington County police arrived, who were dispatched at 3:53 p.m.
Officers chased the man on foot and were able to quickly take him into custody with no further incident, according to police.
It’s unclear what was in the safe, Sternbeck said — or if Murray knew what was in it.
“Obviously, he took a chance,” Sternbeck said. “It had to be planned out, because the taxi was waiting for him outside.”
Neither the cafeteria manager nor the taxi driver were injured.
Murray was charged with armed robbery, abduction, robbery by force, grand larceny of an auto and possession of PCP, a hallucinogenic drug commonly called “angel dust.”
There’s no indication Murray was under the influence of drugs during Saturday’s escapade, Sternbeck said.
The Virginia Hospital Center contracts with Philadelphia-based Aramark to staff its food court.
Adrian Stanton, a hospital spokesman, said while ultimately Murray is an Aramark employee, “Obviously, he won’t be working here.”
Stanton called the attempted robbery an isolated incident and said the hospital center had never experienced anything like this before. Beyond that, Staton said he couldn’t comment because the matter remains under investigation.
Sternbeck would not say whether Murray has a criminal history.
Murray is being held without bond.
Former Alton Credit Union employee sentenced to federal prison for embezzlement www.privateofficer.com
EAST ST. LOUIS, IL Match 7 2012 - A woman in southwestern Illinois has been ordered to spend eight months in federal prison for defrauding the Alton credit union where she once worked out of $72,000.
The (Alton) Telepgraph reports that 26-year-old Kalicza Tegel-Mills of Plainview apologized to her family and the credit union during a sentencing hearing Monday in East St. Louis. She pleaded guilty in November to one count of defrauding a financial institution.
Federal prosecutors say Tegel-Mills held roles ranging from teller supervisor to vice president of operations and loan officer while working at the Alton Employees Federal Credit Union from 2006 to 2010.
Authorities allege she fraudulently increased personal loan amounts without supervisory approval or proper documentation and wrongly posted payments to her and her husband’s credit card accounts.
Philadelphia PA March 7 2012 A teenager committed suicide in front of police after a brief foot chase through Kensington late Sunday, authorities said.
The 17-year-old boy, whose name was not released, was at his house, on Bellmore Street near Frankford Avenue, when he got into an argument with his aunt about 9:25 p.m., police said.
During the argument, the teen was handed a gun by a friend and he pointed the firearm at his aunt as if he was going to shoot her, police said. Instead, the teen fired one shot in the air and fled on foot with the gun, according to police. His friend followed.
The teen’s aunt called the cops, who spotted the boy about 11:40 p.m.
He took off running and police chased him to Potter Street near F. That’s where the teen stopped and was told by officers to take his hands out of his pockets, according to a police spokeswoman.
He did so, but when he took his right hand out of his jacket, he took the black handgun out with it, police said.
He then put it directly to his head and pulled the trigger, police said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Crescenta Valley CA Match 7 2012 Authorities arrested a La Crescenta man on suspicion of driving under the influence after he allegedly blew through a security check point at Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
When a security guard found 47-year-old Stephen Waugh in the visitor’s parking lot, he allegedly stood next to a box of empty beer cans, with additional empty cans on the floor of the car, according to a report at the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station.
During the 2:30 a.m. incident on Feb. 25, the security guard told deputies Waugh appeared confused, allegedly saying he was “in Pasadena somewhere,” the report states. The suspect was cooperative, but was unable to perform during sobriety tests, according to the report.
The investigating officer reported finding five empty cans of beer on the cabin of the vehicle as well as five more empty bottles in the miscellaneous box of beer found outside the vehicle.
New York State Corrections Officer given prison sentence for child pornography www.privateofficer.com
Buffalo, N.Y. March 7 2012 – An upstate New York man has been sentenced to 48 months in prison — to be followed by five years of supervised release — for possession of child pornography.
The sentence is the result of an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.
Shawn Pound, 41, of Gowanda, who was convicted of possession of child pornography, was sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny.
“All children have an absolute right to grow up free from the fear of being sexually exploited,” said James C. Spero, special agent in charge of HSI Buffalo. “While this sentence cannot repair the permanent damage done to the children depicted in these images, it should serve as a warning to those who engage in this behavior: HSI and our partners will be relentless in our pursuit of online predators.”
On March 9, 2010, the defendant, a New York State Corrections Officer at the time, possessed 190 images of child pornography stored on two computers at his residence in Gowanda. The two computers were seized by HSI during the execution of a federally authorized search warrant, and a subsequent search of the computers revealed the images. He pleaded guilty to the charge Nov. 29, 2011.
Memphis TN March 7 2012 Two Memphis Police officers are being treated after being hit by a car.
Both officers were off duty and working as security at Remington College at 2710 Nonconnah Boulevard.
The officers were told there was a domestic assault situation taking place in the parking lot of the school.
“Upon checking the complaint, officers encountered the suspect. The officers attempted to stop the suspect prior to him fleeing the scene, at which time, the suspect speed towards both of the officers in a tan Acura. Both officers were struck by the suspect’s vehicle.”
Both officers shot into the vehicle.
Windows were shot out but it’s not clear whether the driver was hit.
The whereabouts of the driver are not known/
One officer was treated on the scene by the Memphis Fire Department.
Nashville TN March 7 2012 Rebecca Sullivan, CFO of Nashville-based Southeast Waffles, was charged in federal court Monday with bank fraud and squirreling away employee taxes owed to the Internal Revenue Service.
The federal charges come only a few weeks after Sullivan’s boss, James Shaub II, also was accused of bank fraud and money laundering.
Shaub devised “a ‘check kiting’ scheme, in which funds from one bank were used to pay the other for the purpose of increasing the funds available to” his company, a franchise of Waffle Houses according to the February indictment.
Sullivan is accused of being an accomplice in that scheme, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court of the Middle District of Tennessee, by shuffling $775,000 between banks.
Sullivan also is charged with violating the Federal Insurance Contribution Act. Between 2002 and 2008, Sullivan allegedly withheld employee tax payments intended for the IRS.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. March 7 2012 The calls went out by the millions to unsuspecting consumers across the country.
Phony debt collectors – based in Southern California and using call centers in India – demanded immediate payment on delinquent loans. Often posing as attorneys or law enforcement officials, they threatened consumers with lawsuits or arrests if payments weren’t made.
And they were highly effective. In 8.5 million calls tracked over four months in late 2010 by the Federal Trade Commission, the callers raked in more than $5 million in payments from intimidated consumers.
Only problem: Nobody owed them a dime.
The “phantom-debt” collection calls originated from two companies – American Credit Crunchers LLC and Ebeeze LLC, based in Villa Park, Calif. The FTC announced last month that both companies have been shut down by court order and their assets frozen while an investigation continues.
During the four-month investigation, about 17,000 payments were taken from consumers’ credit or debit cards, ranging from about $300 to more than $2,000 each. The “phantom-debt” calls occurred in virtually every ZIP code across the country.
“This is a brazen operation based on pure fraud, and the FTC is committed to shutting it down,” said David Vladeck, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, in a statement.
According to the FTC, the deceptive collection calls focused on payday loans, the short-term, high-interest loans that have been the focus of consumer complaints for years.
In many cases, the victims had not even taken out a payday loan, but had filled out an online application that disclosed their bank account, Social Security or other personal financial information.
Using that information, the callers used coercive tactics, such as threatening to sue or arrest people for failure to pay.
Why would victims pay for loans they’d never taken out?
In a recent news conference, one victim, JanLaree DeJulius of Las Vegas, said she was so rattled by the call to her workplace that she paid more than $700 just to make the caller go away.
In its complaint, the FTC said payday loan applicants are often financially stressed and “overwhelmed with bad finances,” causing them to be confused or scared into paying.
“It’s very frightening,” said Chicago-based FTC staff attorney Elizabeth Scott. “They threaten to show up at your home or workplace and arrest you. And they have so much personal information on you – your bank accounts, etc. – that they’re believable.”
The companies’ owner, Varang Thaker, could not be reached for comment.
According to the FTC, a review of Thaker’s company bank accounts shows plenty of deposits by consumers, but no money going back out to known lenders or debt sellers.
The accounts also show payments to outsourcing companies in Gujarat, India, where the call centers are believed to be located. Other company transactions show transfers to Thaker’s personal bank accounts, as well as the purchase of a Mercedes-Benz SUV, airline tickets and tens of thousands of dollars in store purchases in both California and India.
Debt collection ranked No. 2 among consumer complaints received by the FTC in 2010.
That same year, an FTC report described the country’s system for resolving disputed debt collections as “broken,” citing lawsuits filed by debt collectors that leave consumers unable to defend themselves.
The FTC recommended that states enact laws to tighten their rules on the debt-collection process.
Phoenix AZ March 7 2012 A lawsuit filed Tuesday accuses Arizona’s Department of Corrections of unconstitutionally denying adequate medical and mental-health care to inmates in state prisons, and of routinely warehousing mentally-ill inmates in solitary confinement under brutal conditions.
“In two decades of prison litigation, this is one of the most broken systems I’ve seen,” said David Fathi, an attorney with the ACLU’s National Prison Project. “The indifference to the needs of desperately ill people is shocking. And the gratuitous cruelty we see in Arizona’s SMUs (solitary confinement units) is unlike anything we’ve ever seen even in other states’ Supermax prisons.”
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Phoenix by a coalition of human-rights groups, offers a myriad of specific, horrific allegations: an inmate whose pleas for help were ignored for two years while cancer swelled his liver to four times its normal size and then killed him; a four-months pregnant woman who was told her problems were “all in your head” and was left alone in a cell while she miscarried; at least two examples of inmate suicides that poorly-trained staff failed to prevent; an inmate punished for using CPR to save another inmate after a heart attack while corrections officers refused to summon medical help; and many examples of prisoners waiting months and even years for treatment of fractured bones, broken teeth and other medical issues.
More broadly, the suit, which seeks class-action status on behalf of some 33,100 prisoners, cites internal department emails to argue that Corrections Director Charles Ryan and state officials knowingly, systematically and intentionally provide inadequate medical care.
“Is the Department being deliberately indifferent? Maybe. Probably. That would be up to a Federal Judge to decide,” wrote Dr. James Baird, the department’s director of medical services, in a December 2009 email responding to a prison doctor who complained that the department was breaking the law by providing such poor care.
Ryan did not respond to requests for comment regarding the lawsuit. Corrections spokesman Bill Lamoreaux said that the state Attorney General’s office advised Corrections officials not to comment. However, in a Feb. 17 letter to the Prison Law Office, a San Quentin, Calif.-based group involved in the suit along with the ACLU, the Arizona Center for Disability Law, and the law firms of Perkins Coie and Jones Day, Ryan dismissed the allegations.
“There is not a system-wide deficit in the delivery of health care,” Ryan wrote. “While there have been some delays, there is no evidence (of) deliberate indifference by ADC or any member of its health care services staff. Our internal review does not support the wholesale allegations you have made in your original correspondence.”
Last year, the Prison Law Office won a landmark case against California’s Department of Corrections before the U.S. Supreme Court, which ordered California to release some 30,000 prisoners to relieve prison overcrowding. In October, the Prison Law Office wrote to Ryan, alleging problems with prisoners’ medical and mental-health care and demanding a legal agreement to improve care in order to avoid a suit.
On Nov. 17, Arizona’s Department of Corrections agreed to investigate the allegations in exchange for a three-month delay in any lawsuit. Ryan’s Feb. 17 letter ended that agreement.
While Ryan denied systemic problems, many of the allegations in the suit were consistent with those reported by The Arizona Republic in December and that have been raised by inmates, corrections officers and medical staff within the prison system in correspondence and interviews with the newspaper.
Regarding the use of solitary confinement, many states, including California, New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Ohio and Wisconsin, bar solitary confinement for inmates diagnosed with serious mental illness, because the conditions in solitary make those inmates deteriorate psychiatrically. By contrast, Arizona routinely places mentally-ill inmates in long-term solitary confinement, and uses solitary cells to house suicidal prisoners, according to the lawsuit filed Tuesday.
Dustin Brislan, one of the plaintiffs in the suit, is a seriously mentally ill inmate at the Eyman state prison who has repeatedly cut himself and been placed on suicide watch.
In a letter to The Republic, Brislan wrote that “Not only are the mentally ill forced to spend up to 24 hours in small windowless cells, but (we) are subject to harassment. Here at SMU-1 watch pod, the lights are left on all night long. At Browning Unit watch pod, the suicide watches aren’t given mattresses to sleep on. They sleep on cold steel. I know this because I’ve been on watch 6-7 times.” He wrote that the conditions “make prisoners’ mental illnesses worse. We’ve got nowhere to turn for help. Several people have committed suicide.”
Seven of the ten most recent suicides reported by the department were by prisoners in solitary confinement, even though those prisoners only make up one-tenth of the state-prison population. One of those was Karot Phothong. While in isolation at the Florence prison, he repeatedly asked to be seen by mental-health staff because he was suicidal. According to the suit, “nothing was done for him, and he committed suicide by hanging on Jan. 28.” Five other deaths in solitary in the past year remain under investigation.
The lawsuit alleges that prisoners on suicide watch are forced awake by correctional officers every 10 to 30 minutes, around the clock, and that the watch cells are filthy, the walls and food slots so routinely smeared with blood and feces that they are referred to as the “feces cells.”
Prisoners in solitary receive two cold meals a day, and are allowed to leave the cells no more than three times a week for a shower and a maximum of two hours’ exercise in a windowless, empty concrete “rec pen” cell.
“These conditions are gratuitously cruel,” and lead to self-injury and deteriorating mental conditions, said the ACLU’s Fathi. “There are no penological nor security justification for those kinds of conditions.”
In response to a public-records request by attorneys, Corrections said it doesn’t keep records of mental-health programming provided to prisoners in solitary confinement. But it appears to be minimal. According to the suit, one mentally-ill prisoner in isolation at the Eyman prison, Robert Gamez, wasn’t seen by a psychiatrist in four years, despite numerous referrals. As of November, four of the six prisons housing seriously mentally ill prisoners, including Eyman, had no psychiatrist on staff.
On her last day of work last June, the sole psychiatrist at the Perryville prison emailed Ryan after staff at the Florence prison, 90 miles away, asked her to prescribe or renew medications for patients there that she had never met or treated. She refused.
The suit noted that Corrections’ overall spending on health-care positions fell by $4.4 million, or 8.7 percent, between fiscal 2009 and 2011, while the prison population declined by one percent. As of November, more than 20 percent of health-care positions were vacant. In part, this was because plans to privatize prison health care led many employees to look for jobs elsewhere. In the last fiscal year, overall Corrections spending on health care fell 27 percent from a year earlier, to $111.3 million, or $3,258 per inmate.
The suit cited cases of an inmate losing his vision while waiting three years to see an ophthalmologist; of an inmate waiting two years for a biopsy while his prostate cancer metastatized into a stage 2 cancer; of an inmate with eye damage and broken orbital bones from an assault waiting nearly a year to receive proper treatment.
When the state locks someone up, noted Fathi, it assumes responsibility for that person’s basic needs, including health care. “The vast majority of these people are going to get out some day. Do we want them to be able to get a job? To become productive? Or do we want them debilitated by physical illness, by mental illness, and remaining public charges when they get out of prison?” he asked.
The suit seeks an order to the department to provide adequate medical and mental-health care staffing, to provide timely and adequate treatment and medication, to give inmates access to adequate mental-health care, and to prohibit isolation that puts prisoners at risk of physical and mental harm.
The Department of Corrections has 21 days to file a response to the suit.
LAS VEGAS NV March 7 2012 – According to a Clark County School District spokesperson, an employee of the Variety School has been arrested on child abuse charges.
The school district says the teacher’s aide was arrested earlier today after an investigation by the CCSD Police. The aide has been charged with felony child abuse and misdemeanor battery.
The aide worked at the Variety School near Eastern Avenue and Charleston Boulevard. In a statement, CCSD Spokesperson Amanda Fulkerson said, “Our community should be assured that the district will not tolerate this behavior by any employee and that our police department will work swiftly on this case. This teacher was immediately removed from the classroom upon evidence that she was conducing herself inappropriately.”
The employee was not identified by the district.
WASHINGTON DC March 7 2012 – Eight current and former members of the U.S. military allege in a new federal lawsuit that they were raped, assaulted or harassed during their service and suffered retaliation when they reported it to their superiors.
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Washington, accuses the military of having a “high tolerance for sexual predators in their ranks” and fostering a hostile environment that discourages victims of sexual assault from coming forward and punishes them when they do. The suit claims the Defense Department has failed to take aggressive steps to confront the problem despite public statements suggesting otherwise.
The eight women include an active-duty enlisted Marine and seven others who served in the Navy and Marine Corps. Seven women allege that a comrade raped or tried to sexually assault them, including in a commanding officer’s office after a pub crawl in Washington and inside a Naval Air Station barracks room in Florida. The eighth says she was harassed and threatened while deployed to Iraq, only to be told by a superior that “this happens all the time.”
“There (are) no circumstances under which women who are brave enough and patriotic enough to stand up and defend this nation should have to be subjected to being called ‘slut, whore, walking mattress,’” said Susan Burke, a lawyer representing the women. “This is the year 2012. This kind of conduct is not acceptable.”
The women say they’ve suffered depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder because of the assaults. One woman says she tried to commit suicide after being raped inside her home by a senior officer and his civilian friend.
The lawsuit names as defendants past and present military leaders, including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and his predecessors.
Defense Department spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said she could not discuss pending litigation, but said the military has no tolerance for sexual assault. Under a policy announced in December, service members who report a sexual assault have the option of quickly transferring to another unit or installation.
She said the department has also increased funding for investigators and judge advocates to receive specialized training in sexual assault cases and has appointed a two-star officer to direct a sexual assault response and prevention office. The Pentagon is assembling a data system to track reports of sexual assault and is reviewing how commanding officers are trained in preventing and responding to rape cases.
“It is important that everyone in uniform be alert to the problem and have the leadership training to help prevent these crimes,” Smith said in a written statement.
The Marine Corps issued a statement Tuesday evening saying it takes sexual assault allegations seriously and continues to improve in responding to and preventing rapes within the ranks. The statement challenged the allegations of two former Marines — Ariana Klay and Elle Helmer — who are part of the lawsuit, saying their claims had been investigated and properly handled. Although The Associated Press normally does not identify victims of sexual assault, Klay and Helmer agreed to publicly discuss their case.
“Commanders are expected to foster a climate where Marines will trust their command to listen respectfully, respond confidentially, investigate immediately, and take appropriate action,” the statement said.
A similar lawsuit was filed last year in federal court in Virginia. But the case was dismissed after the government argued in part that the judiciary had to defer to military decisions on command and discipline. That decision is being appealed.
Klay, a former Marine Corps officer and plaintiff who says she was raped in August 2010, said the military avoids scrutiny for its handling of these accusations by projecting a warrior culture immune to questioning and because the public doesn’t want to believe these crimes and cover-ups are occurring among service members.
“A noble cause is a great vehicle for corruption because nobody wants to look and nobody is going to look,” Klay told the AP.
After serving in Iraq, Klay was recruited to Military Barracks Washington in the nation’s capital, where she says she was falsely accused of adultery, taunted as a “slut” and “whore” and told to “deal with it” by a superior. She said the situation became so uncomfortable that she requested a deployment to Afghanistan, but that request was denied because she was told she was too critical to the command.
Klay alleges she was raped inside her row house near the barracks on the morning of Aug. 28, 2010, by an officer who said he planned to humiliate her and by his civilian friend. She said she reported the rape and left the barracks, but endured retaliation and became so despondent that she attempted suicide.
Haytham Faraj, a lawyer for the officer, denied that any rape occurred and said that his client and Klay were instead involved in a consensual sexual relationship. His client was found not guilty of the sexual assault allegations after a court-martial and was convicted instead of the lesser offenses of adultery and indecent language.
Another plaintiff, Elle Helmer, who says she was told she obtained a public affairs position at the Marine Barracks because she was considered the “prettiest,” reported being sexually assaulted by a commanding officer following a St. Patrick’s Day pub crawl in Washington’s Capitol Hill in 2006. She says she was discouraged from submitting to a rape kit and medical examination and was told she needed to toughen up. The lawsuit says the military initially refused to investigate, and Helmer says she found herself investigated for public intoxication and conduct unbecoming. She says left the military soon after.
“It took approximately 72 hours for the victim to become the accused in this example, and that was really the beginning of the Spanish Inquisition,” Helmer said.
“Are they saying we’re all lying? Are they saying it doesn’t happen? Hiding behind their rhetoric of zero tolerance is entirely cowardly and misleading and they know it,” Helmer said.
BRIGHTON, Colo.March 7 2012 – A sixth-grader found out the hard way that some administrators won’t tolerate sassing and being rude.
The Adams County Sheriff’s Office says 11-year-old Yajira Quezada was handcuffed and taken to a detention center after she disobeyed orders from an assistant principal and became extremely rude.
The girl claimed she was cold and needed to get a sweater from her locker when she was stopped for questioning.
According to KUSA-TV, the Adams County Sheriff’s Office says handcuffing kids during transport is standard procedure.
The girl moved to another school and no charges were filed.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla.March 7 2012 - Police arrested a 30-year-old woman Saturday after an officer said she ignored his orders and drove off in the Avenues Mall parking garage, dragging a mall security officer for about 15 feet.
According to the arrest report, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officer working off duty assisting mall security investigating four children left alone in a running car when Erica Ford walked up. FWC Lt. J.W. Bevan said he confronted Ford about leaving the children alone and was in the process of taking information when she ignored his order to get away from the car and got in and put the car in reverse.
Bevan said for his own safety he entered an open door of the car to avoid getting hit. Also thinking Bevan was going to hit get by the car, mall officer J. Greene grabbed the door handle and ended up getting dragged about 15 feet.
The report says one of the four children either climbed or fell out a passenger window as the car began moving and was almost run over.
Neither the officer nor the child were injured.
After Ford was in custody, it was determined she had given the officer a false name and birth date. She was arrested and charged with driving with a suspended license, careless driving, resisting police and giving a false name to police.
Evergreen Park IL March 7 2012 A woman accused of thievery at Carson Pirie Scott briefly escaped from police custody last month after climbing out of a squad car window, according to Evergreen Park Police.
Sylvia Johnson, 38, of Chicago, selected bottle of perfume and two pairs of women’s boots at the Western Avenue store and hid them in a Carson’s bag she got at a different location, police said.
She tried to leave without paying, police said, so store security took her to the security office. When the officer arrived and was getting information from store security, Johnson went to another Carson’s employee, placed her purse straps around the woman’s neck and tried to choke her, according to police.
Johnson was handcuffed and put in the back seat of a police squad car, but while the officer was checking on the woman who had been choked, Johnson kicked out the back window of police car, got out and started running northbound on Western Avenue while handcuffed.
When police caught her the second time, they took her into custody and later found out that she gave them a phony name, police said.
Police ultimately charged Johnson, with escape, criminal damage to government property, aggravated battery, retail theft and obstructing identification.
MOUNT PLEASANT, SC March 7 2012 – Investigators are saying there might be two additional cases against a teaching assistant from Cayce charged with having sex with a Special Olympian in the Lowcountry.
29-year-old Cornelius Davis of Hopkins is a special education teaching assistant at Brookland-Cayce High School and is charged with second-degree criminal sexual conduct.
A police report says Davis was traveling as a counselor and basketball coach for Special Olympics.
Police say they were called to a hotel Sunday by the girl’s mother, who reported her daughter told her she had sex with her teacher. Her age was not released.
The report says the girl told a nurse she had sex with the suspect in Cayce on Thursday and Friday in Mount Pleasant.
Cayce police are investigating the victim’s allegation that she was also assaulted last Thursday somewhere in Cayce.
A Department of Public Safety spokesman says the location of that incident is unclear.
Authorities are also trying to find out if Davis might have been accused of another sexual assault in Richland County.
Special Olympics representative Barry Coats says the organization is heartbroken over the allegations.
“I mean, you mention that it’s embarrassing and really to us, it’s hurtful,” Coats said. “We consider our athletes part of our family. I’ve been here 25 years. This is a lifestyle for me. And most of our staff have been here for 10+ years, so our athletes are our family.”
Davis has been placed on administrative leave and is not allowed on school property.
It was not clear if Davis has a lawyer.
Orlando Fla March 7 2012 More than 3.2 kilograms of heroin was found disguised as candy inside a man’s luggage at Orlando International Airport Friday.
Rafael Eduardo Quinonez Jimenez, 45, was arrested Friday at OIA shortly after he arrived on a TACA Airlines flight from San Salvador, El Salvador. The flight originated in Guatemala City, Guatemala.
Customs officials noticed Quinonez Jimenez appeared “very nervous and was sweating profusely” and referred him to a secondary check. That’s when officials discovered 172 lollipops packed inside a duffel bag.
Each “lollipop” containted18.8 grams of heroin, totaling 3.2 kilograms of the illegal drug, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court.
Quinonez Jimenez told Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials he was given the duffel bag by a man at a gas station in Guatemala City earlier that morning, along with a plane ticket, hotel booking information and $500.
Quinonez Jimenez claimed he didn’t know who he was supposed to deliver the drugs to in Orlando because he was supposed to receive a phone call, according to the complaint.
He was booked into the Seminole County jail where he is being held without bond.
RICHMOND, Va. March 7 2012 – VCU Police are taking new steps to increase safety around the university’s two campuses.
More than 2,000 new safety devices, donated by the VCU and MCV Alumni Associations, will now be freely distributed by police to students and staff.
With the portable battery-operated audio and light device, students can sound a loud alarm, if they are hurt, uncomfortable in their surroundings, or are suspiciously approached around campus.
Police hope the blaring sound and flashing strobe light will deter any crime and bring in help to any possible victims around campus.
“An audible deterrent is an excellent way to deter and interrupt the chance of someone being victimized by a person who’s intending to commit a crime,” said VCU Police Chief John Venuti.
Sgt. Jonathan Siok, the police officer who spearheads this new safety initiative, said the device was ideal to distribute, because it’s relatively easy to assemble and use.
“The device can be easier deployed than mace,” Siok said. “You can clip one end onto your belt or book bag, and clip the other end to either a belt loop or even your shirt, and if an emergency arrives you can just pull the pin and activate the device.”
Only a few devices have been handed out so far, but VCU Police plan to raffle off five to 10 devices during upcoming safety presentations and new student orientations.
During these presentations police also plan to inform and engage students, staff, and concerned members of neighboring communities about safety prevention and education.
“Safety here at VCU is everyone’s responsibility,” Venuti said. “We have been really aggressive this year with keeping students informed of the things that are happening mostly around VCU, because we want students to be aware of those situations that happened, and we want students to have that information so they can use it to safeguard themselves.”
During the 2010-2011 academic year (August – May), VCU Police responded to 37 robberies between the Monroe Park and MCV campuses.
So far this academic year, there have only been 15 robberies reported to the police.
In addition, larceny, the most common crime on campus, has decreased by 24% this academic year.
VCU sophomore Alex Waller said he tends to walk in groups to stay safe anyway, but he thinks it’s smart to use any provided resource that may protect him.
He believes the new safety devices are ideal because they can’t physically hurt anyone.
“I’ve seen someone in the library one time playing with their mace and spraying themselves,” Waller said. The safety device “is something that’s not going to harm you, but at the same time, would deter someone coming at you,” he added.
Other students agreed the new devices have advantages over other safety tools.
“I think it would be easier to pull out a pin then getting out pepper spray and spraying it in someone’s face,” said VCU freshman Ally Palmer. “It would take less of a reaction time to pull it out.”
“It could be beneficial,” VCU freshman Jane Taylor said. “It’s like a blinding device, so they couldn’t see, which would make it easier to get away.”
But VCU sophomore Katrina Khalil said alternatives such as mace or a small weapon are more effective when facing a real threat.
“I’d use this device because it’s effective and it would scare them away,” she said. “But I would still use my mace, because I think it would be more effective and actually hurt the person, so they don’t hurt me.”
The 2,040 donated devices are a start, but not enough for all VCU students and staff.
In the next few weeks, VCU Police will work with the Barnes & Noble bookstore at VCU to stock safety devices. According to Barnes & Noble General Manager Amy Randolph, the devices are expected to be available at the beginning of April for around $10.
ATTLEBORO, Mass. March 7 2012 – Attleboro High School was on edge Monday night following the arrests of two former students who allegedly threatened to kill the school’s resource officer as well as others.
“Today we received information from a Attleboro High School adjustment counselor that threats were made via Facebook regarding a Columbine incident at Attleboro High School,” said Chief Kyle Heagney, Attleboro Police Department.
Ryan Ringuette, 20, along with his alleged partner in crime, 18-year-old Natick Sand, were taken into custody on Monday. Both are from Attleboro.
Some parents were upset that they that were only notified early Monday evening about the alleged threats against the school.
“I mean, everybody’s calling everybody. My daughter goes to school here, you know. I mean, and I have to worry about her safety tomorrow? What do have under control because you have two kids that are arrested? How do you know there was only two kids involved in this?” said Joann Nephew, a concerned parent.
School officials say a student at the school got wind of the Facebook posts and brought it to their attention. Police wouldn’t disclose what the suspects’ motive might have been, but believe the situation has been brought under control.
“The school is safe; parents should feel the facility is absolutely safe to bring their children to. The incident was discovered. It was addressed and action was taken,” said Chief Heagney.
Parents said they are worried that these threats are just the beginning, and not the end of a frightening situation.
“I just think it’s crazy, I’d like to know what these kids are thinking what’s happening to our kids now a days?” Nephew said.
Friends of the suspects defended them, saying they were just saying stupid things.
“I’ve known Natick Sand and Ryan Ringuette for a very long time. I’ve known them many years. I know that Ryan Ringuette is a very good kid, he’s always been a good kid…Made a couple bad mistakes in his life, but he’s a good kid at heart,” said Ryan Arsenault, a friend.
The suspects will be arraigned on Tuesday in Attleboro District Court.
DENVER CO MAR 7 2012 — The Colorado Supreme Court has struck down a gun ban by the University of Colorado Board of Regents that had prevented students from carrying concealed handguns on campus.
The court sided with opponents of that ban who argued that the ban is illegal because it was never approved by the state legislature.
The Concealed Carry Act, passed in 2003, prohibits local governments from limiting concealed carry rights with a few exceptions: K-12 schools, places where guns are banned by federal law, public buildings with metal detectors and private property.
College campuses were not accepted under the law.
At the Capitol, most Republicans celebrated the ruling, as some Democrats mulled a legislative “fix”, measures that might be introduced next year to either allow colleges and universities to set their own safety policies or to amend the Concealed Carry Act with an additional exemption for higher education institutions.
“It just doesn’t seem appropriate that the state legislature is able to tell the CU Board of Regents what can and can’t happen on the campus of the University of Colorado,” said Rep. Claire Levy, D-Boulder.
For Levy, the former chairwoman of the House Judiciary Committee, it’s not just that — it’s also a concern about allowing more guns on college campuses.
“To say that more guns makes us more safe is wrong-headed,” she said. “What you’re asking for is violence.”
Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray, couldn’t disagree more.
“Where there is more concealed carry, there is less crime,” he said. “It’s been studied six ways to Sunday and everyone knows that now.”
Brophy pointed to the shooting at Virginia Tech that left 33 people dead, and to the shooting at New Life Church in Colorado Springs where a security guard, Jeanne Assam, shot and killed a gunman after he opened fire in a shooting that took two lives, as examples of the security concealed weapons can provide when violence erupts unexpectedly.
“While that shooter was on campus illegally possessing a firearm and murdering people, people who could have legally carried there and stopped him, as Jeanne Assam did at the church in Colorado Springs, weren’t allowed to do that,” Brophy said.
“We are safer when people are allowed to carry concealed weapons.”
Wesley Chapel Fla Mar 7 2012 A woman who went to Essentials Massage and Facials in Wesley Chapel for a massage was sexually assaulted by a massage therapist in January, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.
The woman reported that she went to Essentials Massage and Facials, 2230 Ashley Oaks Circle, for a massage on Jan. 25. During the session, the massage therapist, Raul Alberto Delarosa, “stuck fingers, on two occasions, in her vagina against her will,” according to a Pasco County complaint affidavit.
Delarosa, 33, of Tampa was arrested Monday, Feb. 27, and charged with sexual battery.
According to the report, Delarosa admitted to the incident post-Miranda. He was released from the Land O’ Lakes jail Monday night on $50,000 bond.
The sheriff’s office is asking any other victims to please contact them, Pasco County Sheriff’s spokesman Kevin Doll said.
The sheriff’s office can be reached at 727-844-771.
To leave an anonymous message, call the Pasco Sheriff’s Office Crime Tips Line at 1-800-706-2488; visit the Crime Tips page or contact Tampa Bay CrimeStoppers at 1-800-873-TIPS.
Pinellas County Fla March 7 2012 Sheriff’s Detectives say an off-duty security guard shot and killed a Palm Harbor man during a confrontation involving people in three vehicles. The off duty security guard was the driver of one of the vehicles. No arrests have been made in connection with the shooting.
It happened around 2:17 a.m on Seagull Drive, which is a road just inside the entrance to Boot Ranch. Deputies say they arrived to find 30 year-old Brandon Patrick Baker had been shot dead in the street.
Pinellas County Sheriff’s Detectives spent much of Tuesday morning interviewing the people involved in the incident in an effort to sort out what happened. They say three vehicles were driving southbound on County Road 611, which is also known as East Lake Rd. The shooting victim, Brandon Baker was driving a white Chevy pickup truck; Brandon’s twin brother, Christopher Baker, was driving a black BMW and had Brandon’s girlfriend Amy Marcellus in the car; and Seth Browning, the shooter, was driving a silver Mitsubishi Lancer.
Browning, who is a security guard, told deputies that while driving on East Lake Rd. he became concerned about Brandon Baker’s driving actions. Browning says he followed Baker onto Boot Ranch Road and then onto Seagull Drive in an effort to obtain his tag information. The third car, the BMW which was driven by Brandon’s brother Christopher Baker, followed the other two vehicles.
Detectives say the vehicles stopped on Seagull Lane. Brandon Baker got out of his truck and approached Seth Browning in an aggressive manner. Browning responded by using pepper spray on Brandon Baker and also on Christopher Baker, who by this time had got out of the BMW and had approached Browning’s car.
According to investigators, Brandon continued to approach Browning’s car. Deputies say Brandon then reached into Browning’s vehicle and punched Browning, who in turn pulled out his gun and shot Brandon.
Browning called 911 and remained on scene until deputies arrived. He was not on duty at the time of the incident and was authorized to carry a gun through his employer, according to investigators. Christopher Baker and Amy Marcellus were not injured. Marcellus remained inside the BMW during the incident.
Christopher Baker, Brandon Baker and Amy Marcellus all lived in the same apartment in the Sabal Palms complex, which is in Boot Ranch near the location of the shooting.
The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office says no arrests have been made at this time and the investigation continues. A Sheriff’s spokesperson had previously said that the incident is not being called road rage and Baker did not know Browning.
Source:Palm Harbor Patch
Orange County CA March 7 2012 How many movies have you seen where the crime-fighting hero commandeers a bystander’s car, embarks on a wild chase that leads to a shootout and the capture of the crook – along with a spectacular wreck that destroys a car or 50?
But how often do you see the part where the guy who owns the commandeered vehicle is an octogenarian trying to park peacefully at a Jack in the Box who now has to deal with the hassle of paying for a rental car, paying to store the wreckage of his old car, sorting out insurance issues, and arguing with authorities over whether he really ever gave consent to have his car appropriated for heroic purposes in the first place?
That doesn’t make for such compelling screen drama, but fortunately the bar for this column is somewhat lower.
Kenneth Carrier, 80, is a retired aerospace engineer who about 9 a.m. on Dec. 13 was with his daughter, Linda Threadgold, in the parking lot of the Jack in the Box at El Toro and Rockfield. Suddenly, they saw people running across the lot, including a man waving a handgun. According to Threadgold, the man, who was not wearing a uniform, “came up to Dad’s side of the car waving the gun saying, ‘Let me have the car! … Quick! I’m a police officer!” Carrier said he asked to see identification and the man flashed a badge on his waistband, but Carrier couldn’t tell whether it was real. Carrier said both he and his daughter were frightened, and she screamed, “Let him have the car, Dad! Let him have the car!”
Carrier said he felt he had no choice. He gave up his 2006 Suzuki Grand Vitara. “He commandeered the vehicle. He did not have my permission.”
It turns out the man with the gun was a security guard at the nearby AT&T store, which had just been held up, and he was chasing the man who’d robbed it. The chase ended nearby with either the Suzuki hitting a pick-up (the initial report) or a pick-up hitting the Suzuki (what the guard’s lawyer says happened).
In any case, a sheriff’s investigator who had joined the chase cornered the robber, yelled “Freeze!” according to witnesses, and then shot the man when he failed to comply. The robber has since pleaded guilty and been sentenced.
Back at the Jack-in-the Box that day, Carrier said, he “stood around wondering what to do.” Finally, a deputy took him behind the tape to show him his wrecked Vitara. “The whole right side was caved in,” Carrier recalls. An attorney representing the security company showed up and “told us not to worry, that they were going to take care of everything” regarding the wrecked SUV.
Carrier went home. A few hours later, a deputy called and said he could fetch the SUV. Carrier had the car towed to a shop. His insurance company declared it totaled and agreed to pay him $12,500.
A check finally came last week, less some expenses. What he’s left with doesn’t cover his loss, Carrier says. Those expenses include $3,200 to the storage yard and $2,300 for a rental car; plus the $250 deductible. Bottom line: Carrier can’t buy a dependable vehicle of the quality he lost with the money he’ll have left. He and his wife are living on a fixed income and don’t want to take on car payments to make up the difference. The Suzuki had been paid off.
In addition to full compensation by the security company, Carrier believes the guard should be charged with auto theft. That’s not the way the Sheriff’s Department or the guard’s attorney see it. Capt. Steve Doan told me, “I really feel for him, I do,” but Carrier’s statement at the scene was he turned over the Suzuki willingly, “so we didn’t have the elements of a crime.” If Carrier is changing his story, Doan said, it is still unlikely to result in an arrest. You can see why; the record of Carrier’s initial statement probably would be hard to overcome.
Alan Romero, attorney for the company that employed the guard, said the guard is a retired cop and called his actions “heroic.” He also says Carrier gave up the SUV willingly. Romero says he offered Carrier “full replacement value” for it and doesn’t understand why he won’t accept it. I asked Romero whether he was willing to include storage, car-rental and other expenses. He replied: “Please advise what other costs or monies the OC Register believes… my client should pay … and I will present these amounts to my client for consideration.”
Chicago IL March 7 2012 According to data released last month by the U.S. Department of Education, violent crime at public schools across the nation is declining. The data, which was published in a story by the Associated Press, showed that violent deaths decreased to 33 in the 2009-2010 school year, five fewer than were reported in the previous year. In addition, thefts and nonfatal violent crimes also saw a sharp drop between 2008 and 2010.
Despite these findings, however, shootings and other violent crimes at schools have dominated headlines recently. Last week, a 17-year-old boy allegedly walked into the cafeteria of an Ohio high school and opened fire with a .22-caliber pistol on a group of students, killing three and wounding two others. In Chicago last week, a teen allegedly stabbed a fellow student to death and wounded another in an attack at an alternative high school.
Though the Education Department’s statistics may paint a brighter picture about the state of crime at U.S. schools, Paul Timm, PSP and president of Chicago-based school security consulting firm RETA Security, feels that they may not be completely accurate.
“I not only feel there is an underreporting of crime, I know for sure there is an underreporting of crime and there are reasons for that,” Timm said. “First of all, there is no universal Clery Act requirement like there is for higher education. And, without that, schools are able to deal with things at the district level or district and local law enforcement level that never will make it to the general public.”
From a public relations standpoint, Timm said that schools don’t want to be seen as an unsafe environment for students and that he regularly deals with schools that are worried about criminal and other negative incidents being brought out into the public eye.
“Who wants to say there was a suicide in the building or an attempted suicide in the building, or a weapons incident, or a terrible fight, or bullying issues?” Timm asked. “Occasionally, some of those things are going to make it to the local community and maybe even beyond that. But in many of those cases, if it’s not an extreme tragedy, people will yawn just because we live in a day of great sensationalism.”
The proliferation of social media and cyber bullying has also resulted in increased stress for students, which could potentially lead to more violence in schools.
“Now if I’m a kid, I’m getting texts, I’m going on Facebook where people are either putting innuendo or suggestive type things. I think the stress is no doubt as high as it has ever been and I don’t think there is a person in the world who could deny that,” Timm explained. “Will the fruit of that stress manifest itself in terms of shootings, suicides, weapons incidents and fighting? It has to. I don’t want to say that everybody should look out because the sky is falling, but stress no matter what it is will manifest itself in poor health and in any number of other ways. I’ve got four kids of my own, one is in eighth grade, two are in high school and one is in college. I see firsthand the stress that social media and just today’s school culture puts on kids every day.
While school shootings and other types of violence will never be eliminated, Timm said that there are steps that schools can take to reduce their risks. One of the best ways Timm said they can do this is by taking a “cooperative and holistic” approach to security, which doesn’t include reactively running out and purchasing the latest and greatest surveillance equipment and metal detectors.
“I could get all the equipment in the world that I wanted to, but all of the value of my systems is dependent upon a foundation of training and policies,” Timm explained. “For example, you can throw in a camera system and kind of feel like the window dressing is in place and I feel safe now, but I go into schools all the time where I’m the one giving the person who has access to the camera system a tutorial on how to use features. If we don’t have proper training and there are not the proper documented practices and policies to use this equipment, we’re not going to get the kind of value we were hoping for.”
While he doesn’t expect to see a run on security technology attributed to the aforementioned school shooting in Ohio akin to the aftermath of Columbine, Timm believes there will be some reactionary equipment purchases made followed by an increase in security personnel. While he says there’s not a problem with having both of these things, he said that they need to be part of that holistic approach, which includes also focusing on access control and communications.
“What they should be doing is focusing on access control, which takes into account everything from student monitoring to visitor management and the kinds of locks they have on doors,” he said. “Access control is one of the primary areas and the other primary area is communications. The bottom line is you can get cameras and metal detectors, but if your P.E. people are not carrying two-way radios with them when they are taking students outside the building for physical education, the barn door is still wide open. We have to have functioning PA systems, intercom call buttons that work, telephones that are labels with emergency dialing instructions, and two-way radios that are carried around for real by administrators and people that monitor student movement.”
In addition to this, Timm said that schools need to create a collaborative effort with a broad base of internal and external stakeholders (teachers, parents, custodial workers, administrators, law enforcement, etc.) to make the school a safe environment for students.
“The first law of loss prevention states that effective loss prevention is always preceded by extensive losses. That’s why your neighbor doesn’t get a burglar alarm system until after their house has been burglarized or why we don’t get a Department of Homeland Security until after 9/11,” Timm said. “I would just say this for schools. We need to break that first law of loss prevention. We need to sit down collaboratively and we need to look at our entire security program holistically and move forward without events and incidents dictating what we do.”
Chandler AZ March 7 2012 A Valley con man who used promises of Christian goodwill to prey on churchgoers in Arizona and 12 other states will spend the next five years in prison.
Edward Purvis of Chandler was sentenced in Maricopa County Superior Court last week on charges of illegally controlling an enterprise and fraud, ending a bizarre seven-year case that involved fake gold mines, phony investment schemes, bribery of a police officer and bogus lawsuits against several public officials.
Purvis, who pleaded guilty to the charges as part of a plea deal in January, apologized in court to his victims, friends and his family. He and his supporters blamed the scheme on a former business partner who turned state’s evidence and will be sentenced next month.
Authorities say Purvis and his partner, Gregg Wolfe, operated a Ponzi scheme through a non-profit called Nakami Chi Group Ministries International, which promised to fund Christian causes around the globe while repaying investors 24 percent annual returns.
A Ponzi, or pyramid, scheme is an investment scam that uses money from new investors to pay old investors. Nakami’s investors included at least one pastor, church elders and members of Chandler Christian Church and Vineyard Church in Avondale.
Purvis and Wolfe told investors that Nakami was worth $170 billion and controlled assets around the world, including gold mines, Australian developments, telecommunication firms, banks and a Phoenix technology company.
One of Nakami’s investors, Rouzanna Burton of Buckeye, told the court how she and her husband were lured into the scheme through church.
“If you spoke against him, you were against the church,” she said while fighting to control her emotions. “When we told him we were going to authorities, he (Purvis) said, ‘If you go to the government, you will never get your money back.’ “
Assistant Arizona Attorney General Michael Flynn said in court that Purvis stalked and groomed investors in much the same way a child molester preys on children.
“This is a heinous crime,” he said, adding that 44 victims in Arizona lost about $4 million. “This has been a crime of financial violence.”
Court records showed Purvis used investor’s money for cars, jewelry, a down payment on an $800,000 home, excursions to Las Vegas, gambling debts, personal investments and other expenses.
About a dozen friends and relatives of Purvis spoke in his defense during the hearing, begging the court for mercy. They said Purvis was the victim of a conspiracy between state investigators and The Arizona Republic, which has been covering his case since 2006.
Purvis, who has been incarcerated for nearly three years on charges related to the fraud case, sat quietly in a black- and white-striped prison jumpsuit, head lowered over the defense table and nodding as supporters addressed the court.
They said Purvis used investor money to help build a church in India. And they said he has become a role model for prisoners in Yuma, where he started his own ministry. Some maintained the only reason Purvis pleaded guilty was to prevent his wife, Maureen Purvis, from being charged in the scheme, which was part of his deal with authorities.
Friends and relatives also painted Maureen as a victim, telling the court that the case has damaged her reputation and ended her career as a nursing- home administrator.
In 2008, a civil court judge ordered Purvis, Wolfe and their wives to repay $11 million to investors defrauded through Nakami. The judge noted that there was ample evidence to show that Maureen and Allison Wolfe knowingly benefited from the scheme. The verdict was later reduced to $8 million.
Robert Eckert, chief investigator for the Arizona Corporation Commission, which regulates securities in Arizona, testified in 2010 that Purvis and his wife were tied to an international money-laundering operation.
Eckert said a foreign account had been used to pay Maureen Purvis $5,000 a month since 2008.
Eckert said he is glad the case is over. “It is the culmination of seven years of work,” he said. “We can look at this and say justice has been served.”
Purvis was first sentenced to 18 months in prison in 2008 for bribing a Chandler police officer and for filing a series of bogus legal claims against public officials, including a judge, in an attempt to derail the Corporation Commission’s investigation.
Purvis was initially released from prison in 2009. But he was rearrested in 2010 after The Republic documented his efforts to promote a gold-mine project to potential investors while on probation.
Superior Court Judge Bruce Cohen last week could have sentenced Purvis anywhere from 42 to 90 months in prison. Citing aggravating circumstances, he gave Purvis five years plus seven years probation and ordered him to repay Arizona investors $3.8 million.
With time served, Purvis will be eligible for release around 2016.