CHILLICOTHE, Ohio March 17 2012– Authorities say an ambulance has rear-ended a flatbed truck in Ohio, killing the ambulance driver and the patient.
The Highway Patrol says the crash occurred around 10 a.m. Wednesday outside Chillicothe when the ambulance struck a truck carrying lumber that was stopped to make a left turn onto another road.
The patrol identified the ambulance driver as 21-year-old Cody King, of Chillicothe. The patient was 72-year-old Barbara McWhorter, also of Chillicothe.
WBNS-TV reports that the patient was in a wheelchair when the crash occurred.
The Chillicothe Gazette reports that the lumber on the truck smashed through the ambulance’s windshield.
The patrol says the truck driver was 50-year-old Carl Dearth of Frankfort. He was taken to a hospital with injuries that were not considered life-threatening.
Oklahoma City bus transit security officer captures man in act of murdering woman www.privateofficer.com
Oklahoma City OK March 17 2012 Police are investigating a homicide that occurred at the city ‘s bus transit center.
Tia Bloomer, 19, was stabbed multiple times before a security guard pulled the suspect off her and put him in handcuffs about 10:30 a.m., police said.
Police said that the security officer rushed to the aid of Bloomer and immediately subdued the armed man placing him in handcuffs.Police officers have arrested Isaiah Tryon, 22, on a murder complaint.
Police and court records show Tryon was the father of Bloomer’s 2-year-old child and had a history of violence toward her. He was serving a deferred sentence after pleading guilty in November to abusing Bloomer and also was accused of firing a gun at her in 2010 while she was holding their baby.
Quennin Tillman, of Oklahoma City, said he had just come out of the restroom inside the transit hub’s main building at 420 NW 5 when he heard a woman scream before she fell face down just inside the building’s front entrance.
“He laid on her back and stabbed her 15 to 20 times that I saw,” Tillman said. “There were so many people, no one could get in to help.”
Tillman said the security guard moved everyone out of the building seconds after the attack.
“The security guard deserves a medal,” Tillman said. “He was real quick at getting him into handcuffs.”
Another witness, Brittany Brown, of Oklahoma City, said the entire attack took only a few seconds and was over before the shock wore off on those who saw it.
“All I heard was her scream, and then I turned around and he was on top of her jabbing at her,” Brown said.
Philadelphia CAMarch 17 2012 Penn AlliedBarton security officers gathered at the Button yesterday afternoon to garner support for their intent to unionize.
The workers complained of poor working conditions, carried “I am a human” signs and handed out fliers that read, “We love our jobs, but conditions can be better.” They denounced what they view as unfair promotions and demanded improved health insurance, more sick days and more vacation times.
All PennWalk officers and officers who patrol Penn Park, who are employed by AlliedBarton, will vote on April 12 on whether they want to be a part of the Philadelphia Security Officers Union, an independent union for security guards in the area.
AlliedBarton officers from Penn approached PSOU last February for help on how to unionize and better understand their rights. They raised awareness for their intent to unionize at the National Day of Action for Education rally on March 1.
The officers seeking unionization are under the management of AlliedBarton Security Services, a national security company Penn contracts with. The company has about 55,000 employees.
Penn Police officers, however, are employed at the University.
In an emailed statement, AlliedBarton said it “supports its officers’ right to choose to be represented by a labor union” and that it “strives to provide the best wages, benefits and training for all of [its] employees.”
However, officers claim they have been mistreated as employees.
“We seek conversation,” AlliedBarton patrol officer and part-time supervisor Joshua Hupp said at the rally.
Hupp, who has been with the company for over a year, said he and his colleagues are lobbying for salary increases and more sick days. He also questions the company’s promotion practices.
David Scott, who has been a PennWalk patrol officer for five years, cited many examples of problems he has with his employer.
“We get these orders barked down to us. We want to have the respect of having a conversation,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing the union will do for us. It would give us a voice.”
He added that he wants AlliedBarton to offer better health insurance and benefits.
“They expect us to go out and help everyone with a big smile on our faces,” Scott said. “It makes it really hard to get up and go to work everyday.”
Scott also has complaints about rules regarding bathroom breaks while on duty.
“We do the bulk of the jobs here — jump-starts, lockouts, finding missing people — but get no praise,” Scott said.
About 20 students and faculty members joined the officers at the Button.
Though AlliedBarton security officers aren’t employed by the University, some believe Penn should aid the officers in their cause.
“Penn plays a role in it,” PSOU organizer Fabricio Rodriguez said. “What we’ve been able to prove over the years at Penn is that at the end of the day, the client — UPenn — has a say in how people are treated on campus.”
In 2008, Penn intervened, resulting in a wage raise from $9.70 to $15 an hour for roving security guards.
However, when asked about the current situation, Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush said “we do not get involved in any personnel or unionization issues.”
In 2005, five officers were suspended after handing Penn President Amy Gutmann a petition asking for improved working conditions.
“Workers and security guards are part of the community at Penn, so for them to be able to speak as a group is crucial,” said Wharton senior Russell Trimmer, a member of the Student Labor Action Project — a student labor rights group on campus. “There’s definitely a fuzzy line between what is University and what is not. Penn has a responsibility to help make an impact.”
College junior and SLAP coordinator Meghna Chandra said, “Just from a moral ethical standpoint, we definitely need to do something about it.”
Another union, Service Employee International Union, is trying to represent the Penn AlliedBarton officers, but the officers are resisting its efforts.
Corey Dowdle, an officer for three years now, said that after the 2005 agreement between AlliedBarton and SEIU, SEIU agreed to stay out of Philadelphia.
Hupp explained that National Labor Relations Board rule stipulates that SEIU cannot represent them. He questions SEIU’s intentions and believes that if they represented them, it would “slow us down.”
Fairfax police Capt. Denise Hopson settles lawsuit against Chief David Rohrer www.privateofficer.com
Fairfax County VAMarch 17 2012 The Fairfax County police captain who sued her own police chief for defamation, after the chief sent out e-mails that the captain said insulted her, has settled the lawsuit for more than $35,000 and a promise not to transfer her out of the high-profile major crimes division for a minimum of 18 months.
Capt. Denise L. Hopson was upset by actions taken by Fairfax Chief David M. Rohrer during an investigation of the promotional process for detectives, which was overseen and revamped by Hopson. After an anonymous complaint about Hopson was received, but before an investigation was completed, Rohrer in March of last year ordered the results of her new process thrown out and those promoted returned to their prior jobs. The chief sent an e-mail to top commanders that called the process “unfair and flawed.”
The chief’s e-mail stated, “the problems primarily center on flawed/poor judgment on the part of the commander running the process.” A second, department-wide e-mail from Rohrer described the testing as “clearly a flawed process from a fundamental fairness perspective.”
In her lawsuit, Hopson alleged that Rohrer was retaliating against her “for her challenge to his authority and decision” in an unrelated sexual harassment case.
As part of the settlement, neither side was allowed to comment beyond another e-mail written by Rohrer, to be sent to the entire Fairfax department. He said that the investigation into the allegations of unfairness had been completed and that Hopson had committed no violations.
But “my decision to vacate the process was affirmed by the inquiry,” Rohrer wrote. He said the investigation found a “lack of a standard protocol for lateral selection processes.” A county personnel director will develop new promotional processes, Rohrer said, which Hopson will oversee.
Hopson thought that she was about to be transferred out of the major crimes division, which includes the homicide, robbery, sex crimes and financial crimes squads, as a result of the anonymous allegations and resulting uproar. But according to the settlement released Thursday, she will remain in her captain’s post for a minimum of 18 more months. In the settlement, Rohrer denied a potential transfer or any retaliation against her.
The financial settlement of $36,097 covers the legal fees of her attorney, Victor M. Glasberg. Neither he nor a police spokeswoman would comment, in accordance with the terms of the case settlement.
NORTH RIDGEVILLE OH March 17 2012 — A North Ridgeville High School teacher was arrested today for sexual battery involving a 17-year-old male student in November, according to North Ridgeville police Capt. Marti Garrow.
Constance Yacobozzi, 28, was arrested by Lorain County Sheriff’s Deputies after she was indicted by the Lorain County grand jury earlier this week, Garrow said.
The investigation was condcuted by North Ridgeville Sgt. Alan Freas, the departments school resource officer. Garrow said the case was presented to the grand jury on Wednesday, and the indictment came down the same day.
“It started off as rumors at the school,” Garrow said, adding that Yacobozzi came forward to school officials herself in November after hearing those rumors. “Our school resource officer got involved, and the investgation led off from there.”
In November, Yacobozzi admitted to school officials she had texted photos of herself wearing a bikini top to a student, as well as having inappropriate and flirtatious conversation with him via text messaging.
At the time, Yacobozzi denied having sexual relations with the student.
Yacobozzi was placed on administrative leave during the investigation. North Ridgeville Superintendent Larry Brown could not immediately be reached for comment.
Source:the morning journal
San Antonio TX March 17 2012 Police have arrested a second suspect in connection with a gambling operation at a North Side apartment.
Santos Fabela, 37, was arrested Thursday and charged with gambling-engaging in organized criminal activity. Bail was set at $5,000.
Police said maintenance workers were performing repairs at a unit in the Colonnade Apartments in October when they saw there was nothing inside but poker tables, chairs and poker chips.
Managers at the complex notified an off-duty police officer who works as a security guard there, and police began conducting surveillance at the apartment.
Police in February raided the apartment, where several people apparently were engaged in a Texas Hold ‘em tournament.
Jaime Flores, 25, was arrested Tuesday and accused of running the operation. He had been released from Bexar County Jail by Friday morning, an employee there said.
Former Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice corrections officer arrested on sex crimes www.privateofficer.com
Gainesville GAMarch 17 2012 A former Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) corrections officer was arrested Wednesday for alleged sex crimes that occurred while she was a staff member at the Regional Youth Detention Center (RYDC) in Gainesville.
Ardith Brown faces charges of felony child molestation and sexual assault against persons in custody. Brown was removed from duty at the RYDC and suspended in January after other corrections officers alerted a DJJ Safety and Security Team to evidence of officer misconduct during an unannounced inspection. She was terminated February 2 following a DJJ internal investigation into allegations Brown had an inappropriate relationship with a 14-year-old RYDC resident in DJJ custody.
The Gainesville RYDC was the first DJJ secure facility to receive a surprise facility inspection after Commissioner L. Gale Buckner began a system-wide security sweep crackdown following a homicide at the Augusta YDC campus last November.
“As a result of our surprise inspections at all 27 Georgia juvenile detention centers, we’ve observed many of our Juvenile Corrections Officers become more diligent in monitoring youth activity at all our facilities,” said Buckner in an statement released late Wednesday.
She added, “We’re wasting no time recommending criminal prosecution wherever evidence is found and prosecution is warranted to remove officer misconduct from our ranks and protect Georgia’s youth in detention.”
Buckner predicted more misconduct violations would come to light as the statewide internal investigation continues. She also promised more prosecutions.
“We want this action to serve as a strong deterrent,” she said, “and we welcome this opportunity to help local authorities prosecute these crimes against the children in our care and custody
LAKEWOOD, Wash. March 17 2012– A former Lakewood police officer who cashed in on the deaths of four fellow officers pleaded guilty to a criminal charge in federal court Friday.
Charging documents say Skeeter Timothy Manos skimmed $150,000 from a fund set up after the officers were gunned down at a Lakewood coffee shop in 2009.
In U.S. District Court in Tacoma this morning, Manos pleaded guilty to a single count of wire fraud.
Prosecutors said Manos took the money from $3.2 million in donations that he was in control of as treasurer of the Lakewood Police Guild. They said Mano spent the money on shopping sprees and gambling.
The fund was formed to pay for the care and education of the deceased officer’s children and families.
Central Texas middle school teacher arrested accused of having sex with two students www.privateofficer.com
AUSTIN, Texas March 17 2012 — A 32-year-old Central Texas middle school teacher has been arrested after being accused of having sex with two students.
Travis County Jail records show Holly Marie Lopez of Pflugerville was in custody Friday on charges of aggravated sexual assault.
Bond is $100,000 for Lopez, who was booked Thursday. Online jail records did not list an attorney for her.
Officials say Lopez allegedly gave condoms to the 13-year-old and 14-year-old boys and had sex with them at the older child’s home on Feb. 11.
The Lexington Independent School District says Lopez was put on administrative leave about two weeks ago when the allegations became public. Supt. Frances McArthur says Lopez later resigned.
Lopez was special education math teacher in Lexington, located 50 miles east of Austin.
Estate of man who died after falling off a lift at the Jell-O Museum files lawsuit www.privateofficer.com
ROCHESTER, N.Y. March 17 2012 (AP) — The estate of an 81-year-old man who died after falling off a lift at the Jell-O Museum in western New York has filed a lawsuit.
Rochester media outlets report that the lawsuit filed in federal court in Rochester earlier this week by Frank LaMont Jr.’s estate names the defendants as the U.S. government, the Le Roy Historical Society, which owns the museum, and the companies that serviced, sold and installed the lift.
LaMont was living at the Canandaigua (kan-uhn-DAYG’-wuh) Veterans Affairs Medical Center in October 2010, when he visited the museum. LaMont was fatally injured when the scooter he was sitting on rolled through the back door of the museum’s wheelchair lift.
The lawsuit claims his death was the result of negligence by the V.A. and the defective design and maintenance of the lift.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. March 17 2012 - One of Kentucky’s best-known radio personalities is being sued by a Louisville police officer for making disparaging on-air comments about the officer.
The lawsuit against Terry Meiners says the longtime WHAS radio personality lied about the officer on air and disparaged him after being given a ticket for driving 75 miles per hour in a 55 mph zone last year.
Sam Cromity claims Meiners referred to him as “Black Barney” which is a “caricature of a bumbling, imbecilic police officer.” The Courier-Journal (http://cjky.it/Akcnqy ) reports that a jury later found Meiners not guilty in the speeding ticket case.
Meiners could not be reached for comment but has said he was going nowhere near 75 mph when he was stopped while on the way to work.
Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office raid nets 31 people using stolen identification to gain employment www.privateofficer.com
Tempe AZ March 17 2012 A Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office raid on a Tempe business this morning netted 31 arrests of people suspected of using stolen identification to gain employment.
Sheriff’s deputies searched 21st Century Healthcare, at 2115 S. Wilson St., this morning, a press release said. Investigators suspected the business was employing people who were using false identification.
The search warrant named 34 people, but only 31 were arrested on suspicion of using stolen identifications, the Sheriff’s Office said.
This raid is the 58th operation in a series of identity-theft investigations, the Sheriff’s Office said. Officials at 21st Century Healthcare’s Tempe office would not comment on Thursday’s arrests.
Henrietta NY March 17 2012 The Rochester Institute of Technology in upstate New York was placed on lockdown Friday morning after a man with an unusual umbrella was mistaken for an armed intruder.
Students and staff received an alert via text message shortly after 8:30 a.m. warning them of reports of a person with a gun on campus near Kate Gleason Hall, a dorm, reported Rochester’s Democrat and Chronicle. Students were told to stay inside and lock and barricade their doors.
“#RIT Alert has been activated. Report of an individual with a rifle allegedly outside of Kate Gleason Hall. Remain in place for more updates,” the school wrote on Twitter.
The call came from a Regional Transit Service bus driver who saw a student on the Henrietta, N.Y., campus carrying what appeared to be a rifle, reported The Democrat and Chronicle.
RIT security and Monroe County sheriff’s deputies talked to the student, identified only as a first-year photography major, after tracking him down in nearby Nathaniel Rochester Hall, according to the newspaper. Less than an hour later, it was determined that he was carrying an umbrella with a Samurai sword-style handle, police told the paper.
The lockdown was canceled shortly after 9:30 a.m. Traffic, which had been re-routed, was returned to its normal flow.
“Bus driver reported what he thought was person with rifle. Police investigation found it was umbrella w/ Samurai sword handle,” the university said in an updated tweet.
SEATTLE Wa March 17 2012
A Seattle police officer was sent to the hospital after a confrontation with a convicted felon armed with a handgun on the Seattle University campus late Thursday night.
Police were first alerted about the suspect by a witness who saw him menace a person with a gun at 12th Avenue and East Jefferson Street about 10:45 p.m., Seattle Police Department spokesperson Mark Jamieson said.
Responding officers located the suspect’s vehicle and a short pursuit ensued. The chase was quickly called off but the suspect was later spotted turning into a Seattle University parking lot at 12th Avenue and East Marion Street.
The suspect ran through the campus, 9mm semiautomatic pistol in hand, with the officers close behind.
After the suspect tossed his gun into the reflecting pool on the south side of the chapel, pursuing officers caught up with him.
“As the officer reached out to take hold of the suspect, the suspect turned and struck the officer in the head,” Jamieson said.
“At one point during the fight, the suspect attempted to grab onto the officer’s holstered service pistol. Additional officers and a Seattle University security officer arrived and assisted in taking the suspect into custody.”
The 29-year-old suspect has six felony convictions—making it illegal for him to be in possession of a gun. His weapon was later recovered from the reflecting pool.
He was booked into the King County Jail for investigation of unlawful possession of a firearm, felony eluding and assault.
The officer who was punched during the altercation was transported to Harborview Medical Center and released after several hours of treatment.
Olympia WA March 17 2012 Washington will become the eighth state to implement a Blue Alert system to alert the public of incidents where a law enforcement officer has been killed or seriously injured by someone and the suspect remains at large.
Gov. Chris Gregoire signed the legislation Thursday.
Metropolitan King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn said the Blue Alert system for law enforcement is a culmination of an effort to protect those men and women who protect the public.
“This is a great day for Washington’s law enforcement community, and recognition of the unique role public safety officers have in our society,” said Dunn in a media release. “These are men and women who leave home every day knowing they might not be coming back. Any system that helps make the public aware of attacks on law enforcement is a step towards protecting them and assisting in apprehending those responsible.”
Gregoire’s signature of House Bill 1820 makes Washington one of eight states that have a system similar to the AMBER alert system that is in place to notify the public about incidents involving children.
Blue Alerts will use media resources to inform the public about crucial information regarding suspects who have seriously injured or killed law enforcement officers.
Memphis, TN March 17 2012 - There’s a copy of the radio broadcast that captured an on-duty cop allegedly having sex in his squad car. That recording is now part of an open investigation by the police department. It will be released at some point.
Sergeant Karen Rudolph says every Memphis Police Officer is given two modes of radio communication: a shoulder microphone that stays with them and a console mic that stays in their squad car.
“Rather than picking up the phone, we use what’s given to us with our consoles and microphones. A lot of times it’s our life lines,” she said.
There’s no word yet on which microphone our sources say broadcast Officer Dion Anthony having sex in his squad car while on duty. But there is a recording because Sgt. Rudolph says every radio communication is recorded.
“Anytime you communicate via a handheld or console microphone you want to remain professional. Our job is to make sure all officers follow procedures. In this instance it’s possible he didn’t follow proper procedure,” Rudolph said.
Anthony joined the force back in July 2007. He works the 2pm to 10pm shift out of the Mount Moriah precinct. The controversial broadcast of him having sex in his squad car went out between 8:45 and 9pm Monday night. Our sources say it was on an open channel that could be heard by not only the 30 to 35 officers working that precinct. But by anybody with a police scanner.
“The allegations do surround inappropriate communications through either his handheld or console mic,” said Rudolph.
We still don’t know the woman in question. Anthony was relieved of duty Tuesday while the department investigates. At last check Friday an MPD hearing on the matter has not yet been set.
PURVIS, Miss. March 17 2012 - A former Hattiesburg Police Department officer indicted on a trio of charges that included rape and sexual battery has pleaded guilty to extortion.
As part of the non-adjudicated plea agreed in Lamar County Circuit Court, The Hattiesburg American reports 38-year-old Juan Fitzgerald Gray relinquished his law enforcement certification and was assessed $3,000 in fines as well as court costs last week.
In exchange, the three original charges were dismissed, and if Gray successfully completes five years of probation, the extortion guilty plea will be cleared from his record.
Authorities say Gray allegedly threatened a then-26-year-old nurse in January 2010 with arrest unless she performed sexual acts for and with him.
Prosecutors say the victim had since moved out of state and was reluctant to come back and testify.
Source: The Hattiesburg American
CITY OF SHASTA LAKE, Calif. March 17 2012– We’ve learned the name of a Central Valley High School security guard who was hospitalized Thursday.
A suspect threw a rock at 33 year old Brandon Trammel and then kicked him when he fell to the ground.
It happened about 1 p.m. this afternoon when Trammel was walking south of the school’s football field.
He noticed the man from a previous encounter, and asked him to leave the area.
The suspect complied, but then threw the rock..
The school’s principal said they called authorities immediately.
Deputies are now searching for the suspect.
He is a white male with a shaved head, 6 feet tall, clean shaven, with a tattoo on his neck.
He was wearing a black hoodie and black pants.
Rusk County TX March 17 2012 Today at approximately 10:00 am, the Rusk County Precinct 2 Constable, Benjamin Thomas Ferrell, 36, of Tatum, was arrested by Dallas Division F.B.I. Special Agents of the Tyler resident High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) office. Ferrell was charged with Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute Phentermine, Hydrocodone, Hydromorphone, Marihuana, and Selling Firearms to Prohibited Persons.
Ferrell’s arrest came after a lengthy investigation initiated by the Rusk County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Division, in cooperation with F.B.I. HIDTA Task Force, which resulted in sealed federal indictments, US Title Code 21, Section 846 and 922D. Ferrell was transported and booked in the Smith County Jail awaiting arraignment by a Federal Magistrate.
A short time later, Amanda Gayle Ferrell, 32, of Henderson, wife of Constable Ferrell, was arrested at her residence on County Road 2127, by Rusk County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Officers. Amanda was charged with two counts of Manufactory/Delivery of Controlled Substance, a state jail felony. This charge was in connection to the investigation by Rusk County authorities and the F.B.I.
At approximately 2pm, Amanda was arraigned by Justice of the Peace, Precinct 5, Joe Sorrells with bond set at $10,000. She currently remains in the Rusk County Jail. The investigation continues and updates will follow as they become available.
Sheriff Danny R. Pirtle commended the officers associated in this investigation. Due to the professionalism and specialized training the investigation went as planned. We appreciate the Federal Bureau of Investigation Agents for a job well done.
A little-known private defense contractor from Virginia has quietly received about $20 million under a series of no-bid contracts with the State of Texas to develop its border security strategies, an effort that included shaping the state’s public message on the increasingly controversial nature and extent of violence spilling into Texas from Mexico.
According to an internal Department of Public Safety memo, the role of Abrams Learning and Information Systems Inc. expanded dramatically after Gov. Rick Perry, then in the midst of a campaign for governor, ordered an acceleration of border security operations that the state wasn’t equipped to handle on its own.
Over the next 4 1/2 years — ALIS, founded in 2004 by retired Army Gen. John Abrams — would become intimately involved in nearly every aspect of the Texas Department of Public Safety’s border security apparatus, according to documents obtained by the American-Statesman through the Texas Public Information Act. Its assignments ranged from refining the state’s Operation Border Star campaign and coordinating the role of National Guard troops along the border, to setting up the state’s joint intelligence support centers and creating a multimillion-dollar high-tech system to map border crime.
Despite the firm’s work on the state’s most important border operations, ALIS flew so far under the radar that outside of law enforcement, few state and local leaders knew of its activities. Several officials who have worked closely on border security issues said they had no knowledge of the firm until contacted by the Statesman.
State Sen. Jose Rodriguez, D-El Paso, said he plans to call for an investigation into the state’s relationship with ALIS, saying that the state had outsourced vital security operations to a firm with “less accountability and less transparency than I would expect from state agencies.”
Even a keen observer of the Department of Public Safety could easily have been unaware of the contractor. Despite more than half a dozen contracts totalling $19.2 million, according to the Texas comptroller’s office, a review of the minutes and agendas of the state’s Public Safety Commission meetings between 2006 and 2011 revealed no public discussion about the firm’s role and only passing references to the firm’s contracts.
Department policy did not require contracts such as those with ALIS to be presented to the commission until September 2009, according to DPS officials.
Nor does the website of the Legislative Budget Board, the only agency charged with gathering information on state contracts, reveal the extent of the ALIS role; it shows just two contracts worth $2.1 million.
The outsourcing also raises questions regarding DPS’s contract procedures. The DPS awarded the initial ALIS contracts on an emergency basis, saying there wasn’t time to solicit bids from other vendors. The DPS then extended the emergency contracts through a state procurement system that is more often used to purchase goods and commodities from a list of pre-qualified vendors, bypassing the bidding process.
The state auditor’s office, while not specifically targeting the Abrams contracts, has reprimanded DPS for its frequent use of emergency contracts and failure to solicit bids as required by state and federal rules.
Doubts about status
Why was the DPS moved to declare border security planning an emergency?
A June 2006 memo from Jack Colley, who was chief of the DPS Division of Emergency Management at the time, spells out the reasons: “The governor directed expanded state and local border security to begin quickly and before any contracting process could begin,” wrote Colley, who died in 2010. Colley added that the state lacked the staff, expertise and technology to coordinate the security operations called for by Perry.
Perry’s call for increased border operations came during a gubernatorial election in which the issue of border security played a central role in Perry’s campaign. Perry’s first campaign ad in the 2006 general election touted the state’s border security efforts, but made no mention of the private firm at the controls.
By 2008, at least some within DPS believed it was a bad idea — and too expensive — to give private contractors such responsibility over border security operations. In the agency’s 2008 budget request to the Legislature, DPS asked for money to hire 19 state employees to replace the contract workers then staffing the border security operations and joint intelligence centers.
“It is more desirable and more cost effective to have state employees planning, coordinating, and evaluating joint state-local border security operations that involve more than $100 million in state appropriated funds,” the document says.
Instead, the following year, Abrams received a $4.2 million contract in part to staff and provide “leadership” to the Border Security Operations Center, where it would produce plans, analyses and “decision support tools for Texas leadership.”
That same year, 2009, the ALIS contract came under the purview of the Texas Rangers. By the next year, it was discontinued — because, officials said, the state could do the work itself for less money.
“The contract was coming to an end and when I looked at what (ALIS) was doing, I promoted people within the division to do the same jobs. It was more cost effective to do it ourselves,” said former Ranger chief Tony Leal, who left the Rangers last year and now is a vice president for a Houston rubber company. “When (ALIS) first came in, they offered a service to do something that the state was not doing at that time. Over time we developed the expertise to do it ourselves.”
High-ranking DPS officials had been aware for some time of the issues with emergency contracts.
In January 2010, DPS Director Steven McCraw told commissioners: “There’s a tendency toward everything being an emergency. We recognize that’s not the way to do business. We need to plan ahead.”
But seven months later, DPS gave Abrams another emergency, no-bid contract, worth $1.4 million, in part to shape the state’s public message on border security.
Controlling the message
As much as the Texas-Mexico border has been a battlefield between drug cartels and law enforcement, so too has it been a battlefield over public perception of what’s been dubbed spillover violence. At stake: the allocation of millions of federal and state dollars, which observers say very much depends on who controls the public message.
This fight has largely pitted state Republicans and some law enforcement officials, who portray the Texas border as a war zone, against border politicians and President Barack Obama’s administration, who point to the overall decline in the border’s violent crime rate and maintain it is among the safest areas of the country.
A 2011 American-Statesman analysis of five years of crime statistics in border counties revealed over-simplification by both sides. While many counties across from the worst Mexican violence showed notable crime decreases, other areas have seen crime rates soar in conjunction with drug violence in Mexico (El Paso, long held up as a paragon of the safe border city, saw aggravated assault rates increase 26 percent since 2006.)
State politicians, notably Perry in his successful 2006 gubernatorial campaign and failed presidential bid, have campaigned vigorously on a platform of increased border security and the notion that the federal government has failed to adequately guard the border.
In August 2010, the DPS enlisted Abrams to develop a public and media outreach strategy to “position Texas border security efforts in a positive light,” paying the firm to develop talking points, presentations, testimony and the “orientation” of senior government leaders. Abrams created a public relations campaign featuring 36 principal messages, including “The success of Texas border security and law enforcement efforts are critical to preserving you and your family’s safety and way of life” and “Border Security is a Federal Responsibility but a Texas problem” — the exact language contained in an earlier Perry speech and a common refrain during Perry’s presidential campaign.
A draft document obtained by the American-Statesman, titled “Border Security Public Outreach Themes and Messages,” includes talking points that would seem to boost the firm’s standing. In touting Operation Border Star, the state’s principal border security strategy, the document says that law enforcement agencies “join with private companies” to “reduce border-related crime.” The messages were meant to be used by the agency’s public information department and to guide agency interactions with the media.
DPS officials say they contracted with ALIS on media outreach because they wanted the public to know about Mexican cartels recruiting Texas students to carry drugs and other threats such as smuggling operations and public corruption.
Rodriguez said he thinks ALIS’s public information work represented a conflict of interest. “They are giving talking points to officials so they can make the case for more public money for border security, which they can then use to pay for more contracts,” Rodriguez said. “(ALIS) was doing this to make themselves more relevant.”
Law enforcement officials along the border say the firm brought a military sensibility to border operations, supporting “surges” of local and state law enforcement and helping to form Texas Ranger Reconnaissance teams, units that operate along remote areas of the border. ALIS also helped to set up joint intelligence centers in cities along the border, where military-style “joint” commands of local, state and federal law enforcement come together.
Don Reay, the head of the Texas Border Sheriff’s Coalition, said that ALIS initially butted heads with some border sheriffs. “It was more of a military approach, and some things need more local input,” Reay said, adding that in subsequent years the firm accepted more input from local officials. “The strength of the ALIS contract is that it allowed (DPS) to access former military personnel with expertise in a variety of areas critical to defending and securing terrain,” said DPS spokesman Tom Vinger.
Abrams, a retired four-star general, headed the Army’s training and doctrine command until 2002. After his retirement he became a military analyst for The Associated Press, joining a growing number of retired generals providing paid commentary on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars for media outlets.
And like several fellow generals, Abrams went on to create a consulting company to compete for government contracts, mostly in the realm of homeland security. Since its founding in 2004, Abrams Learning and Information Systems has received a number of state and federal contracts, including a $701,597 contract in 2011 with Abrams’ former training and doctrine command. According to its website, the company specializes in management and technology work related to homeland security.
Abrams is not the only retired general to receive a border security contract from the State of Texas: Last year, DPS and the Agriculture Department hired retired Gens. Barry McCaffrey and Robert Scales to produce an $80,000 report that declared spillover violence was occurring at alarming levels and that Texas border counties had become a “war zone.” Though it never mentioned the contractor by name, the report effusively praised the state’s border security infrastructure, much of it designed by ALIS, and called it a “model” for the federal government and the nation’s three other border states.
The amount of money Abrams earned from the state also was a source of some discontent among border law enforcement officials. “I’m not for or against Abrams, but I would rather see money going to boots on the ground to make our communities safer,” Reay said.
Laredo Mayor Raul Salinas said he was stunned to learn the private contractor had received $20 million from the state. According to a state auditor’s report, that represents a quarter of all state money spent on border security between 2005 and 2008 (in more recent years, border security funding has increased sharply). The firm’s federal contract price schedule lists wages for company employees that range from $39.54 an hour for a support specialist to $233.52 an hour for a subject matter expert.
“I hope state money was not being used to propagandize,” Salinas said.
A larger role
The firm’s role grew increasingly complex after it received its first contract in March 2006. That contract, along with several subsequent contracts, was an emergency procurement, which means it was not put out for competitive bids.
That first $471,898 contract called on Abrams to assist the state in setting up the Border Security Operations Center, the state’s Austin-based nerve center for border security efforts. After Perry instructed DPS to redouble its border security efforts, Abrams got a second emergency contract, valued at $679,676, three months later.
That contract vastly increased the firm’s responsibilities, which included developing a statewide border security plan; the National Guard’s mission along the border; a Web-based border surveillance camera program; and the concept for Operation Wrangler, a high-profile “rolling surge” of state and local law enforcement along the border.
The company received a series of contract extensionsbefore landing its largest single contractin August 2009 for $4.2 million. It assigned ALIS responsibility for developing the state’s 2010-2015 Homeland Security Strategic Plan and TXMap, a Web-based map of border incidents and arrests by various agencies.
Despite DPS rules enacted the previous October that required contracts of more than $1 million to be presented to the Public Safety Commission, it was not. DPS officials say the rules didn’t go into effect for such contracts until the following month. Nor was the contract — or any other contract between DPS and ALIS — put out for competitive bidding, according to DPS.
After its initial contract, ALIS became an authorized state vendor under the Texas Multiple Award Schedule, in which state agencies can contract with preferred firms without soliciting bids.
ALIS’s public and media outreach duties came in the form of another DPS emergency contract totalling $1.45 million over four months’ time. In an internal memo asking the Public Safety Commission to authorize the emergency extension in August 2010, DPS officials wrote that contract personnel from Abrams provided services that were “vital to the life, safety and welfare of those citizens and law enforcement officers working and living along the Texas border.”
That contract was presented to the commission but without any discussion of the firm’s specific duties.
At the same August meeting, commissioners expressed concern about how the media presented border violence, complaining about an August 2010 Texas Monthly article that questioned the extent of cross-border violence in Texas.
“Despite fears to the contrary, the violence has not spilled over into Texas,” the article concluded.
“I think it did the governor a disservice (by downplaying the severity of border violence),” said then-Commissioner Tom Clowe. “He’s asking the federal government for troops, we’re asking for more funds, more people, more equipment. I don’t think that article gave a proper impression at all. I think it did the state of Texas, frankly, a disservice.”
Orange County investigators say an alert deputy stopped the two robbers before they could storm in and take over the store.
The new Apple iPad was set to go on sale at the Best Buy store near Florida Mall on Friday, but the pair had different plans.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office said this was as inside job — a current employee and a former employee. Investigators said the pair planned a violent plot to steal more than 2,000 of the new iPads, but an alert deputy caught on before they even made it into the store.
Orange County deputies said 24-year-old Jasmin Roman and 26-year-old Juan Ortiz-Valez planned the million-dollar-plus robbery and heist targeting iPads and other Apple products.
But the plot was foiled when Sgt. Robbie Zeller, working off-duty security, hired by Best Buy, spotted a suspicious U-Haul truck. She called for backup.
“I got to the back of Best Buy. The van was sitting in the middle of Morning Drive with its brake lights on … very suspicious,” Zeller said.
Inside the van, deputies found guns, chains, handcuffs and masks. Investigators said the pair wore black clothing that they had bought the previous night.
“They watched too many movies. To come out and see this this morning was a like a practical joke or April Fools,” Detective Geoff Fahringer said.
But investigators don’t think their motives were a joke. Roman, the alleged mastermind, was a current employee. Ortiz-Valez had recently been fired, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Investigators said they planned to hold a manager at gunpoint first thing in the morning, tie employees up and steal $1.3 million worth of the Apple merchandise.
Investigators said the suspects confessed to the entire plot.
“If not for Sgt. Zeller, I guarantee you somebody would’ve been held at gunpoint and we would have had a significant theft,” Fahringer said.
Neither suspect has a criminal history. Investigators don’t know how they planned to unload the merchandise after the thefts.
As for Zeller, she told WFTV after the news conference at the sheriff’s office that this was the first off-duty detail she had worked in five years.
According to the police report for the incident, a security guard tried to stop the man, woman and child from leaving a store in the 13200 block of Aurora Avenue North Tuesday afternoon after witnessing the man pocket Velcro sticky tape, a Trojan vibrating ring, mascara, stimulating gel and two USB flash drives and fail to pay for them.
When the security guard tried to stop the man in the store’s parking lot, he pulled away, according to the report. The woman pushed the guard and told the man to run, according to the report.
According to the report, the man ran across Aurora to another parking lot with the security guard chasing him. The guard told police that when he tried to stop the man a second time, the man pulled out a Taser and punched him in the neck with it, shocking him.
During the ensuing struggle, the Taser fell to the ground, and a witness helped the security guard hold the man down until police arrived.
In the meantime, the woman and the 3-year-old had caught up. While being held down, the man told the woman to grab the Taser and run, which she did, the woman later told police.
The man was booked into King County Jail for investigation of robbery and for an outstanding warrant stemming from a drug-related incident Feb. 28 in Mountlake Terrace.
According to the report, police called the woman, who said she didn’t know the security guard was a security guard, even though he showed her and the man a card identifying himself. The woman agreed to meet officers to hand over the Taser for evidence.
Source:north seattle news
Gilroy CAMarch 17 2012 An Iraq War veteran who may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder shot and killed his 11-year-old sister Thursday in California before taking his own life in a murder-suicide, police said.
Meanwhile, investigators said they were frantically searching for the mother of shooter Abel Gutierrez, 27, who they feared also may have been killed or seriously injured.
“It’s horrible. We have no idea where she is,” Gilroy police Sgt. Chad Gallacinao told The Associated Press. “We are desperately trying to find her.”
Police were called to the Gutierrez apartment Wednesday night after a roommate came home, suspected something was wrong, and went back outside. Arriving officers found the bodies of Gutierrez and his little sister, Lucero, dead from gunshot wounds.
There was no sign of their mother, Martha Gutierrez, 52. However, police found clues inside the home that indicated she may be seriously hurt — or worse.
“We do believe based on the evidence at the scene that she is either critically wounded or deceased,” Gallacinao said.
Police said they had contact with Abel Gutierrez as recently as late last month.
Family members told the San Jose Mercury News that Gutierrez often said that he wanted to kill himself “all the time” and would ask if that would hurt them.
A niece, Kristell Gutierrez, said she knew her uncle was “very mean” to his mother and blamed her for his father leaving the family.
Alissa Fernandez, a downstairs neighbor, told the newspaper that Gutierrez “was just weird, the way he would act.”
About two weeks ago, Martha Gutierrez apparently went to the apartment manager, saying she was “scared of her son,” Fernandez said.
Mario Reyes, a neighbor who lives beneath the Gutierrez family, told KNTV-TV that he thought he heard a scuffle — but no gunshots — around the time police say the shooting occurred.
Gallacinao said officers found at least two firearms used in the killings, but he would not say whether Gutierrez left a suicide note.
Abel Gutierrez served in the Army and had recently returned from Iraq. His family suspected he was suffering from PTSD, Gallacinao said.
Police had been called to his apartment on Feb. 29, but Gutierrez did not seem dangerous and did not meet the criteria to be placed on a psychiatric hold, Gallacinao said.
Instead, police began working with the family and Office of Veterans Affairs in Palo Alto to help him.
Gutierrez had been receiving care at a VA facility in Puget Sound, Wash., confirmed Kerrie Childress, a spokeswoman for the Department of Veterans Affairs Care System in Palo Alto. She said she could not provide further details.
Jeri Rowe, public affairs director at the Puget Sound facility, said she was unable to confirm or release any information concerning Gutierrez because of privacy regulations.
RICHMOND, VA March 17 2012 – A minister was busted in a local prostitution sting with his two-year-old child with him during the solicitation, according to police.
30-year-old Robert Franco Jr. was one of 34 people arrested by Richmond Police over the six-day operation. The woman Franco thought was a prostitute turned out to be an undercover officer.
“It was a different type of case, I mean, a different scenario than they’re used to,” explained Richmond Police Major Michael Shamus. “You don’t see people bringing their two-year-old infant. So that was a first for me.”
Franco Jr. is from Medford, New Jersey but has family in the area. Now, he’s facing solicitation and felony child endangerment charges.
“They say that this is a victimless crime and it’s not,” Shamus told us. “That two-year-old is a victim, as well.”
During this sting, the department covered the entire city. Every precinct was involved. Neighbors had been complaining about prostitution activity in the Chamberlayne Avenue corridor. Then, undercover officers headed across the river to areas like Hull Street and Jeff Davis Highway. They also hit other hot spots like Midlothian Turnpike.
Major Shamus believes the 21 women and 13 men arrested were causing quality of life issues for Richmonders.
“Do you want prostitutes to walk in front of your house day and night?” he asked. “Do you want people picking them up? And with that comes drug use, larcenies and other crimes.”
Officials said they let the public know about the busts as a deterrent.
“Don’t come into the city and try to pick up prostitutes because you never know who you’ll be picking up,” he warned.
Prostitution and solicitation are class one misdemeanors. If convicted, these people face jail time and a fine.
Chicago Walgreen’s employee stole $10,000 of medications to sell on the streets www.privateofficercom
Chicago ILMarch 17 2012 An employee of an Englewood neighborhood Walgreens was charged with stealing more than $10,000 in prescription medications and selling them on the street, police said.
Jaleca Wilkins, 21, of the 6000 block of South Elizabeth Street, was charged with one count of felony theft, police said.
Wilkins was seen by coworkers on “numerous separate occasions” taking several prescription medications, including hydrocodone, from the store, 650 W. 63rd St., police said.
Walgreens conducted an investigation and contacted Chicago police. After she was arrested at her workplace Monday, Wilkins told police she’d sell the medications — hydrocodone, alprazolam and promethazine-codeine — from $125 to $600 per bottle.
Wilkins listed her occupation on an arrest report as a technician. Police listed the total value of the medications taken at $10,372.86.
Wilkins appeared in court today, but bail information was not immediately available
Saganing Eagle’s Landing Casino security-other employees recoginized for saving guest’s life www.privateofficer.com
STANDISH MIMarch 17 2012 — Staff members of the Saganing Eagle’s Landing Casino were honored Wednesday, March 14 after their quick thinking and medical training saved a guest’s life.
The six security and maintenance personnel — Doug Conrad, Christine Cousineau, David Hooper, Mike Peruski, Greg Peterson, and Mike Robinson ¬— were given certificates of recognition by members of Mobile Medical Response in a short ceremony at the casino.
A casino guest went into cardiac arrest in early February, according to MMR representative Lynn Schutter, and within seconds casino security staff were able to analyze and diagnose his condition.
The security personnel used an automated external defibrillator, or AED, to analyze the man’s heartbeat, and determined electric shock treatment would not be viable. They performed CPR on the man, stabilizing him until emergency response crews arrived on the scene.
Matt Holtcamp, MMR’s director of operations for Arenac County, praised the staff’s quick thinking and training, saying that often survival comes down to mere seconds.
“We’re not far from here, but being even 10 minutes away is too far away,” Holtcamp said at the ceremony. “So when you, the staff, can do something it helps.”
Holtcamp said after six minutes, the lack of blood flowing to the brain can result in permanent damage. By performing CPR, at least partial blood flow can be restored until emergency response personnel can arrive.
He said MMR staff are always happy to celebrate when a bystander can save someone’s life.
“We don’t get to do this very often, and we want to do it more,” Holtcamp added.
The six security personnel had taken part in MMR training, and three additional MMR continuing training sessions to keep their skills sharp, according to Holtcamp.
He added MMR puts on these training sessions for free, often with fire department personnel, but it was important for casino staff to be trained given the concentration of people there.
Frank Cloutier, spokesman for the Saginaw-Chippewa Tribe, said when the casino began hiring back in 2007, it intentionally sought out people who had been cross-trained in medical response, believing they could help pass along that education to other staff members.
“It was a good decision back then, and it paid off,” Cloutier said.
NEW YORK NY March 17 2012 — Prosecutors have charged a man with snatching luggage from passengers at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Police say Frederick McDonald of Queens netted more than $18,000 in cash, electronics and other property during six thefts between January and March.
Port Authority Police spokesman Al Della Fave says one of the victims was a college student from Seattle who had just arrived with $4,000 cash to pay his tuition at a college in New York.
The Queens district attorney’s office charged McDonald with one count of grand larceny on March 2 and five more larceny charges Tuesday.
He was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court Thursday but did not enter a plea.
Information about his lawyer was not immediately available.
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. March 17 2012– Sheriffs Office Investigators raided Alejandro Melgoza’s home on Cottonwood Avenue Thursday morning, seizing four pounds of methamphetamine, guns, ammunition and more than $3,000 cash.
Sheriffs investigators also found eight pounds of meth hidden inside a pickup truck’s speaker box.
The Sheriffs office estimates the 12 pounds of meth to be worth about $500,000
“They did locate a uniform, a badge and security access card to Kern Medical Center,” said Sheriffs Office spokesman Ray Pruitt.
Turns out Melgoza was a security guard supervisor for Kern Medical Center.
Deputies arrested Melgoza, and three men from Pomona and Montclair.
They’re identified as Emmanuel Burleson, Christopher Romero and Joshua Kuettle.
Law enforcement says the suspects could be trafficking drugs for a drug organization or cartel because they had such a large amount of drugs and most of the men were from out of town.
“Certainly it does cause us some concern that a person who is working as a security officer supervisor has acces to a county hospital,” said Pruitt.
KMC patients and visitors 23 ABC spoke to are worried.
“(It’s) kind of a security risk because it could be a pretty dangerous business,” said KMC visitor David Burgess.
“It’s kind of sad because the security guard was putting everyone at risk because he’s head of security and that’s who you look for for protection here,” said KMC patient Ramona Miranda.
Melgoza works for Trans-West security which is contracted by the hospital.
KMC says Melgoza had a clean background and drug check prior to being hired.
Trans-West issued a statement saying Melgoza has been suspended from his job and that “We take this matter very seriously. This type of behavior will not be tolerated, particularly in an industry where public safety is our number one priority,” said Brook Antonioni of Trans-West Security.
All three men face a total of 18 counts of several charges including: conspiracy, weapons trafficking, transporting drugs, drug possession and sales.
Melgoza also faces child cruelty charges because he has four children living in the home.
Each suspect has a bail of a million dollars.
They’re expected to be in court next week.
Chicago ILMarch 17 2012 - A 61-year-old Chicago woman has been charged with trying to take a gun onto a plane at Midway International Airport Thursday morning.
Elaine Robertson, of the 0-to-100 block of East 121st Street, was charged with attempting to board an aircraft with a weapon, police said.
A Transportation Security Administration agent spotted the gun in a carry-on bag as it went through an X-Ray scanner Thursday morning at Midway Airport, police. Robertson told police the gun was hers but that she did not realize it was in the bag.
She was arrested about 8:30 a.m. and appeared in bond court Friday, police said.
TITUSVILLE, Fla. March 17 2012 (AP) – When Florida police checked out a child abuse report, they found an emaciated boy lying on the floor inside a locked bathroom at his home, apparently punished for stealing food. The boy was rushed to the hospital where workers said he resembled a concentration camp survivor, and they treated him for malnutrition and dehydration.
The 12-year-old boy’s father and his girlfriend have been charged with aggravated child abuse and child neglect. Two other kids at the home have been removed as child welfare officials investigate.
According to a police report, the boy – weighing just 40 pounds – was locked in a bathroom, strapped to a bed or caged in a closet for days or weeks at a time over the past year.
Brevard County Jail records show 38-year-old Michael Marshall and 48-year-old Sharon Glass have been charged with three counts each of aggravated child abuse and three counts each of child neglect. A judge ordered both be held without bond. It is not immediately clear if they have an attorney.
The Titusville Police Department received a report of a young child being unlawfully caged and suffering from abuse, though the report doesn’t spell out whether there was a cage inside the closet. Authorities in Titusville have not returned telephone calls from The Associated Press.
Marshall is the father of the 12-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl. Glass is the mother of the 5 year-old boy.
The two other children at the home were being seen by doctors, said Carrie Hoeppner, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Children and Families.
“No doubt that the younger two have been subjected to mental abuse,” Hoeppner said.
Marshall also has a 17-year-old son with his ex-wife, Lisa Minshall, 36, who lives in southwestern Ohio. She said her son was still an infant when she and Marshall divorced, and Marshall hasn’t seen him since he was 3.
“I kind of feel sick, and I’m kind of happy that that situation didn’t happen to me and my son,” Minshall said. “If I would have stayed around long enough, he probably would have been abusive to his first son.”
Marshall was arrested on a criminal domestic violence charge in Ohio in 1995, records showed. It wasn’t immediately clear whether he was convicted.
Welfare officials investigated neglect and concerns about the home environment in the summer of 2010. Once the investigation was closed, the boy was taken out of school and went “unnoticed for so long,” Hoeppner said. There were no other reports from the home or contact between welfare officials and the couple.
Brevard Public Schools spokeswoman Christine Davis said the boy was removed from the system for homeschooling in August 2010. Records shows the boy was moved to a private school less than two months later, but the name of the private school wasn’t listed.
The couple’s home is located in Titusville, about 40 miles east of Orlando on the coast. The town was known as a good place to watch space shuttle launches at Cape Canaveral.
Myrtle Wilcox, a neighbor, said she hadn’t seen the boy since November, when he was outside on the front lawn playing with a dog.
“The boy looked to be about 8- or 10-years-old,” Wilcox said.
She said he was slender but nothing seemed wrong.
On Christmas Eve, Wilcox said Marshall had come over to get help jumping a car. He and his girlfriend wanted to go to a store to buy last minute gifts for their children.
“Just ordinary people,” Wilcox said. “Going to work and tending to their own business and taking care of their family. That’s the only thing I could assume about them.”