Monday, December 19, 2016


We’re shutting down until January 7 because the publisher will be out of the country.

Here’s wishing everyone a happy holiday season and may 2017 be a healthy and prosperous year for you!


National soul-searching over officer shootings has obscured a routine reality for cops—the threat of violence is often just behind a door

By Gary Fields and Zusha Elinson

The Wall Street Journal
December 18, 2016

The high-profile shootings of civilians at the hands of police, and police at the hands of civilians, has led to some fierce national soul-searching. That has obscured a routine reality of life on the beat, where the threat of violence is often just behind a door.

Officer Brian Leatherwood thought the elderly woman was alone and needed medical help when he responded to a routine call for assistance one 2012 night in Knoxville, Tenn.

He heard yelling in the kitchen and went to investigate when a man rushed out and began beating him. A minute later, blood was pouring from the policeman’s head and his assailant, whom he had shot twice, was dying on the living-room floor.

“I went to work that Friday in a clean, fresh uniform and nothing wrong,” Officer Leatherwood said. He got home the next morning looking like “Frankenstein,” with “100 sutures in my forehead and the top of my head.”

Four years have passed since the shooting of the mentally ill man, which an investigation concluded was justifiable. The 47-year-old veteran officer is still prone to mood swings, intense headaches and short-term memory loss as a result of the encounter.

Much of the national debate has focused on videotaped police shootings of civilians, mostly minorities, prompting calls for more body cameras and changes in training and de-escalation techniques. The International Association of Chiefs of Police, one of the world’s largest organizations of police executives, recently offered an unprecedented apology for the profession’s role in “society’s historical mistreatment of communities of color.”

At the same time, public officials, including President Barack Obama, have voiced support for police, and some polls show Americans’ respect for officers rising. Much attention goes to police killed in the line of duty.

Less noticed are the thousands more officers assaulted each year. Those numbers increased 2.5% in 2015 to 50,212 from 48,988 in 2014, the Federal Bureau of Investigation says.

Of those assaulted in 2015, there was a slight increase in the percentage of officers injured in the attacks. FBI statistics don’t show how many officers leave the profession, often driven away by stress and trauma, or officers who continue working with permanent physical or mental injuries.

Officers also often don’t speak about their concerns, especially what stresses or scares them, said David Thomas, a forensic psychologist who counsels law-enforcement employees and is a Florida Gulf Coast University justice-studies professor.

The stress, when held inside, can change how an officer interacts with the public, said Mr. Thomas, a retired officer and former hostage negotiator. That stress “has to come out someplace,” he said, “and when it does, it is nasty. It has to impact your judgment and the way you talk to people. It impacts everything you do.”

A deputy’s death

In Fort Bragg, Calif., 170 miles north of San Francisco, Chief Scott Mayberry was looking over his department’s electricity bill at the main station when Lt. John Naulty interrupted him: A high-speed chase was heading toward town.

Lt. Naulty grabbed an AR-15 rifle from the gun locker and took off in an unmarked Dodge Magnum.

Another officer, Ricky Del Fiorentino of Mendocino County, was already in pursuit in an SUV.

Lt. Naulty drove up behind the deputy’s SUV, lost sight of it at a bend, then heard gunshots. The suspect had ambushed Deputy Del Fiorentino. Coming on the scene, Lt. Naulty engaged the suspect in a pitched gunbattle.

Chief Mayberry pulled up, putting his car between the shooter and his lieutenant as a shield. The suspect ended the skirmish by shooting himself dead.

Deputy Del Fiorentino’s SUV was riddled with bullets. Chief Mayberry looked in the vehicle and knew the deputy was dead. “There was nothing we could do to save him.”

In the weeks to come, Chief Mayberry began having anxiety attacks and seizures, including one at a restaurant that led to an emergency-room trip. Within four months of the 2014 incident, he retired from the department and joined the county district attorney’s office as a special investigator. Now 53, he said he won’t return to police work.

Lt. Naulty had flare-ups in weeks that followed. There was an altercation with a neighbor and a road-rage incident, he said. He worried he would die in some other way, once panicking and screaming as his wife drove when she pulled in front of a car that was two blocks away.

The world closed in at odd moments. At a restaurant, he thought people were talking about how he was the hero cop who killed the gunman. He left without incident, but “that was the last time I went out for a long time.”

The department forced him to retire on medical disability. He said he couldn’t talk about the circumstances, citing a settlement. The city manager confirmed he left on medical disability but said she couldn’t speak further about a personnel matter.

Today, he drives a gravel truck. “I’ve had opportunities to get back in law enforcement,” he said, “but I’m done with it.”

Studies estimate 15% of law-enforcement officers suffer from at least some of the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, said University of Buffalo Professor John Violanti, who did research with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health on the health effects of stress on officers. A deadly incident can generate symptoms, he said, even when an officer isn’t directly involved.

In October, Sgt. Steve Owen, a popular 29-year-veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, was wounded by a burglary suspect who then stood over the officer and fired four times, killing him, according to the department. Coming after a bloody summer that saw five officers gunned down in Dallas at a protest, the death caught the national spotlight.

Deputies from the department streamed in for counseling afterward, said Steven Sultan, a psychologist who heads the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Psychological Services Bureau. The trauma experienced by officers, he said, is “under-acknowledged.”

Most officers fare much better after trauma than civilians would, Dr. Sultan said, because they have “mechanisms for dealing with these things that the average person doesn’t,” such as training and peers with similar experiences. While an officer’s diagnosis with full-blown clinical PTSD from a shooting is very rare, he said, more common is acute stress disorder, which has the same symptoms, including nightmares, anxiety and avoiding the scene, but dissipates within a few months.

Dr. Sultan studied 172 shootings involving 449 Los Angeles County deputies and found the leading reactions were second-guessing and indecision, followed by a heightened sense of danger, legal concerns and flashbacks. He found “virtually all” deputies returned to the job within days of the incident without reporting “severe difficulties.” Without the mandatory post-shooting meetings with Dr. Sultan’s psychologists, deputies who were struggling after shootings probably wouldn’t have sought help on their own, the study found.

In some cases, such as after multiple traumas or mass-casualty events, Dr. Sultan said, there can be more-lasting effects that lead officers to leave the profession. And in some small departments, he said, it may be difficult for officers to get the help they need because of a lack of specialized psychologists.

After high-profile events such as the killing of an officer, police departments are usually quick to provide support for officers, said Charles Ramsey, who was Philadelphia police commissioner for eight years, chief in Washington, D.C., for nearly a decade and co-chair of President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

“But what about the trauma that officers are exposed to a nearly daily basis?” said Mr. Ramsey. Traumas of everyday police work in big cities, full of violence and gruesome crime scenes, build up over time and aren't always addressed by departments, he said. “Some just go into depression, some deal with alcohol abuse, domestic violence. We have a higher rate of suicide than the majority of professions in this country.”

A career altered

When Officer Leatherwood in Knoxville headed out on his first call of the night of July 6, 2012, he knew how quickly a routine call can turn deadly. In 2001, he and a partner answered a domestic-violence call and were escorting a woman to her vehicle when her estranged husband appeared suddenly and drew a gun.

The man fired two shots at the officers before they shot him dead. Through the encounter, the suspect never spoke a word. The shooting was ruled justified.

The July 6 call came in as a possible domestic dispute. Officer Leatherwood arrived first and saw Shirley Capps, then 74, who asked him to come inside. He heard yelling from the kitchen and moved to see, finding her son, Paul Edward Capps, 47.

Mr. Capps came at him quickly. Officer Leatherwood tried to use his flashlight to fend him off, but the man grabbed it and bludgeoned the officer, according to a Knoxville Police report. Officer Leatherwood tried using a Taser, but that failed to subdue the attacker.

Finally, he got to his gun and fired two shots that killed Mr. Capps. The fight lasted 68 seconds, an audio recording later showed. It seemed like hours.

Officer Leatherwood was put on leave the next morning. Recriminations began quickly on the Web. Some said the police should have known about Mr. Capps’ mental-health issues. Others pointed out Officer Leatherwood had been involved in a previous fatal shooting and asked why he didn’t wait for backup.

The chief called and told him, “Don’t go reading anything” online. Officer Leatherwood responded: “Chief, it’s too late.”

He took seven weeks off work and needed physical therapy, he said, suffering a traumatic brain injury and concussion. Today, he sees a neurologist regularly. Mood swings catch him off-guard, he said, as do blinding headaches. He can’t exert himself physically as much as he used to.

He works in property crimes. Superiors thought it best he get out of patrol, he said. He applied to join the organized-crime unit, but the chief said he didn’t feel comfortable putting him back where he could be in another gunfight. A department spokesman confirmed his account.

Officer Leatherwood said he replays that July night and wonders if, had he waited for backup, two officers would have been able to resolve the call calmly and taken Mr. Capps to a hospital alive for an evaluation. “I think about that,” he said. “I can think about it until the end of time and never have an answer.”

Over the years, he has apologized to his own family for being grumpy. The response of his now-9-year old, he said: “It’s OK, Daddy. Mommy told me you had to shoot that man and kill him.”


Stop treating police as racist and pushing lower hiring standards as a way to achieve ‘diversity’

By Heather Mac Donald

The Wall Street Journal
December 16, 2016

Donald Trump’s promise to restore law and order to America’s cities was one of the most powerful themes of his presidential campaign. His capacity to deliver will depend on changing destructive presidential rhetoric about law enforcement and replacing the federal policies that flowed from that rhetoric.

The rising violence in many urban areas is driven by what candidate Trump called a “false narrative” about policing. This narrative holds that law enforcement is pervaded by racism, and that we are experiencing an epidemic of racially biased police shootings of black men.

Multiple studies have shown that those claims are untrue. If there is a bias in police shootings, it works in favor of blacks and against whites. Yet President Obama has repeatedly accused the police and criminal-justice system of discrimination, lethal and otherwise. During the memorial service for five Dallas police officers gunned down in July by an assassin who reportedly was inspired by Black Lives Matter, Mr. Obama announced that black parents were right to “fear that something terrible may happen when their child walks out the door”—that the child will be fatally shot by a cop.

The consequences of such presidential rhetoric are enormous, especially when amplified by the media. Officers working in high-crime areas now encounter a dangerous level of hatred and violent resistance. Gun murders of officers are up 68% this year compared with the same period last year.

Police have cut way back on pedestrian stops and public-order enforcement in minority neighborhoods, having been told repeatedly that such discretionary activities are racially oppressive. The result in 2015 was the largest national homicide increase in nearly 50 years. That shooting spree has continued this year, ruthlessly mowing down children and senior citizens in many cities, along with the usual toll of young black men who are the primary targets of gun crime.

To begin to reverse these trends, President Trump must declare that the executive branch’s ideological war on cops is over. The most fundamental necessity of any society is adherence to the rule of law, he should say. Moreover, there is no government agency today more dedicated to the proposition that black lives matter than the police.

The nationwide policing revolution that originated in New York City in 1994—based on proactive enforcement—saved thousands of minority lives over 20 years, and provided urban residents with newfound freedom. While police agencies and their local overseers must remain vigilant against officer abuses, the federal government will no longer deem cops racist for responding to community demands for public order.

Mr. Obama’s Justice Department has imposed an unprecedented number of federal consent decrees on police agencies, subjecting those agencies to years of costly federal monitoring, based on a specious methodology for teasing out alleged systemic police bias. The department assumes that police activity like stops or arrests will be evenly spread across different racial and ethnic populations unless there is police racism. So if police stops are higher among blacks, say, the police, according to this reasoning, must be motivated by bias.

But this analysis ignores the large racial differences in offending and victimization rates. Policing today is data-driven: Cops go where innocent civilians are most being preyed upon—and that is in minority neighborhoods. Under a Trump administration, police activity should be evaluated against a benchmark of crime, not population ratios.

The next administration should continue the new FBI initiative to collect and publish data on all officer use of force. But such information must be accompanied by information on local crime rates, since police force will occur most frequently where cops encounter armed and resisting suspects.

The next U.S. attorney general—Mr. Trump has nominated Sen. Jeff Sessions—should articulate the standards that will guide Justice Department lawyers in opening a civil-rights investigation of a police department, a process that has been shrouded in mystery.

An October purge in New York City illustrates why it is so important to appoint a leader for the Justice Department’s civil rights division who understands the realities of crime and policing. FBI agents and federal prosecutors based in New York had been investigating whether to criminally indict a New York police officer for the 2014 death of Staten Island resident Eric Garner; the agents and lawyers had found little ground for doing so. Their reluctance to indict did not sit well with the Washington-based attorneys in Justice’s civil rights division. So U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch removed the New York team and replaced them with attorneys from the civil rights division. The Trump administration should closely review whatever charges result.

Crime-fighting is overwhelmingly a local matter. During Bill Clinton’s presidency, however, U.S. attorneys and federal agents worked successfully with local police forces to prosecute violent street crime under strengthened federal penalties for gun offenses and drug trafficking.

In recent years, though, attention to violent crime has slackened in many federal prosecutors’ offices, not coincidentally as Mr. Obama and then-Attorney General Eric Holder were criticizing federal gun- and drug-crime sentencing for contributing to the “mass incarceration” of minorities. The next Justice Department should review whether federal law-enforcement personnel in the most crime-plagued cities such as Chicago should refocus on fighting gun violence.

The current Justice Department has ordered more than 28,000 federal law-enforcement officers and prosecutors into “implicit bias” training—a form of sensitivity re-education aimed at teaching police how to combat their own alleged subliminal bias. The new attorney general should cancel this initiative and lift the pressure on local police departments to put their own officers through this wasteful exercise.

In October, the Justice Department and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recommended that police agencies lower their hiring standards—including requirements that applicants have a clean criminal record—to achieve “diversity.” The thinking behind this recommendation must be repudiated. Lowered hiring standards are a recipe for corruption and tactical errors. The The Justice Department’s own research in Philadelphia suggests that minority officers are more likely than white officers to shoot unarmed black males.

Mr. Trump has rightly observed that “crime and violence is an attack on the poor,” adding that such violence “will never be accepted in a Trump administration.” If President Trump can restore the legitimacy of lawful proactive policing, fewer Americans will have to accept a life bounded by fear.


President Obama has cut short the sentences of 1,023 inmates, more than the previous 11 presidents combined. He has defended a clemency push for drug offenders, saying harsh sentences are a damaging relic of the war on drugs

By Beth Reinhard

The Wall Street Journal
December 17, 2016

Barack Obama, who has granted clemency more often than any president since Lyndon B. Johnson, is expected to perform more acts of mercy during his final weeks in office.

Mr. Obama’s frequent use of that executive power enshrined in the Constitution, along with reviews of thousands of drug-related cases, means he will be the first president since the 1960s to leave office with a smaller federal prison population.

Mr. Obama’s critics, including the incoming attorney general, say his use of clemency for a large class of convicts has been a disturbing power grab. But supporters say a law that reduced drug penalties six years ago created severe injustices for those sentenced before it. They also note that Mr. Obama has granted clemency for a relatively small percentage of the large number of people who have sought it.

These trends are a centerpiece of Mr. Obama’s legacy on criminal justice reform. Legislation that would have further reduced sentences for less-serious drug offenders foundered in this fall’s highly charged political climate. But as with other parts of the president’s agenda that were snubbed by Congress—including immigration, gun control and climate policies—Mr. Obama has turned to his executive authority in the absence of more sweeping and durable legislative action.

“He’s essentially rejuvenated clemency as a presidential power,” said White House Counsel Neil Eggleston. “But he has never seen it as a replacement for criminal justice reform.”

Now Mr. Obama’s legacy on this issue appears at risk. President-elect Donald Trump dubbed himself “the law-and-order candidate” during a campaign that highlighted surges of violence in some cities and minimized decades of falling crime rates overall.

Mr. Trump’s pick for attorney general, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, a former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has described Mr. Obama’s clemency record as an “alarming abuse of the pardon power.” The former prosecutor views the rollback of tough drug sentences as a threat to public safety. Mr. Obama, a former constitutional law professor, sees long, mandatory sentences as damaging excesses from the war on drugs, particularly in the African-American community.

In 2016, Mr. Obama has cut short the sentences of 839 inmates, the most commutations ever granted in a single year, according to the Justice Department, with more possibly on the way. That brings his total to 1,023, or more than the previous 11 presidents combined. Adding Mr. Obama’s 70 pardons, which go further than commutations by wiping out convictions and restoring civil liberties, puts his clemency record just behind Mr. Johnson’s 1,187 grants.

Civil-rights advocates are demanding a more sweeping review that would dent the prison population much faster than the current case-by-case analysis.

“We do not know whether the next president will support clemency efforts or criminal justice reform,’ says a late November appeal to President Obama from dozens of groups, including the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Sentencing Project, JustLeadershipUSA and the Brennan Center for Justice. “But we do know that until Jan. 20, you alone have the power to deliver both mercy and justice to those who deserve it.”

In addition to those receiving clemency from the president, another group of prisoners has been released following a decision by the U.S. Sentencing Commission to lower most drug-related sentences. That group totaled 14,080 as of late November.

Mr. Obama has received more requests for clemency than any other president, in part because of efforts to encourage inmates to petition for one if they were sentenced before a 2010 law that reduced the disparity between sentences for crack and cocaine offenses. Mr. Sessions spearheaded that legislation, which lightened penalties for crack users, but he opposes applying it to inmates retroactively. So does the nation’s largest police union, the Fraternal Order of Police, which endorsed Mr. Trump.

But in one indicator that Mr. Obama is more cautious than some critics suggest, he has granted 3% of nearly 35,000 requests; only George W. Bush granted a smaller percentage, according to an analysis by the Pew Research Center. Obama also has offered fewer pardons than any president in the past century, though more are expected before he leaves office.

Some civil libertarians are pushing Mr. Obama to consider pardoning transgender soldier Chelsea Manning, who leaked government secrets, and former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who is accused of doing so. Such last-minute acts of mercy risk tainting a president’s legacy, as did Bill Clinton’s pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich just hours before leaving office.

“You commute somebody and they commit a crime, and the politics of it are tough,” Mr. Obama said in August, one day after commuting the sentences of 214 federal inmates.

Monica White, who was a 28-year-old small-time crack dealer with four children under the age of 14 when she entered prison in 1998 with a life sentence, is typical of some of those freed by Mr. Obama. Had she been sentenced today, she could have received about 12 years in prison, according to her petition for clemency.

“I do not believe my family should have to watch me die behind bars,” she said in the petition. “If you allow me to return to them, I am determined to make both them and you proud of me.”

One week short of serving 18 years, Ms. White was released in early 2016. Her children were grown, with 10 children of their own. She had missed school dances, birthday parties and other milestones, but got to see the birth of her 11th grandchild. Now 47 and living with family in Rock Island, Ill., Ms. White works at a factory that supplies baked goods to major retailers. She is helping to raise her grandchildren and taking care of her ailing grandmother.

“I want to tell Donald Trump not to think that everybody who commits a crime is a bad person,” she said in an interview. “Everyone deserves a second chance at life, just like when he made bad decisions in his companies and in his life, he did what he had to do to bounce back.”

But critics like Mr. Sessions say Mr. Obama’s decision to forgive a large swath of convicted and sentenced criminals at a minimum violates the spirit of the Constitution.

“The president’s latest unilateral action is an abuse of executive power and creates a danger to our constitutional system,” Mr. Sessions said in 2014, when the administration announced the initiative to focus on nonviolent drug offenders.

Mr. Trump detailed few criminal-justice positions during the campaign, but signs suggest he will take less-permissive approach on clemency than Mr. Obama has.

Mr. Trump spotlighted the relatives of murder victims at rallies, endorsed the “stop-and-frisk” police tactics in New York City that were ruled unconstitutional because minorities were targeted, and insisted that five men found to be wrongfully imprisoned for assaulting a jogger in Central Park were guilty.

Uncertainty about Mr. Trump’s views on clemency is prompting lawyers like Margaret Colgate Love, who represented Ms. White, to urge Mr. Obama to use his powers broadly. Ms. Love in the 1990s served as the U.S. pardon attorney, a Justice Department official who makes recommendations to the president on whether to approve clemency applications.

“There are many hundreds of people still in prison whose cases are indistinguishable from ones that have already been commuted by the president,” Ms. Love said. “It is important for the president to reach as many of them as he can in these last weeks, since we can’t count on the program continuing after he leaves office.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Make no mistake about it. Most of those prisoners had been involved in drug sales and had their charges plea bargained down. They were not serving time for smoking a few joints. Nor were they victims of the war on drugs as Obama seems to think.

Our ‘Hug a Druggie’ president – especially when the druggie is black – has let a bunch of criminals back out the streets.


Cellphone signal-capturing devices previously installed at 18 prisons interrupted an average of more than 350,000 calls and text messages each week this year, more than double last year’s rate

By Don Thompson

Associated Press
December 18, 2016

SACRAMENTO -- California is installing nearly 1,000 sophisticated metal detectors, scanners and secret security cameras at its prisons in its latest attempt to thwart the smuggling of cellphones, thousands of which continue to flood the prisons despite previous efforts.

Officials say the phones can be used to coordinate everything from attacks in prison to crimes on the street, yet they have thus far been unable to prevent even high-security inmates like cult killer Charles Manson from repeatedly getting the devices that are illegal behind bars.

Corrections officials told The Associated Press a year ago that they were halting the expansion of a now 5-year-old program designed to make unauthorized cellphones useless by capturing their signals before calls are connected. Officials fear the call-intercepting devices may not be able to keep up with increasingly sophisticated cellphones.

So Virginia-based Global Tel-Link, the nation’s largest prison phone company, is heading a new approach funded by a projected $17 million a year from California inmates and their families who use landlines to make phone calls that are monitored for security reasons. Those range from 10 cents per minute for local calls to 25 cents per minute for collect interstate calls, in keeping with rates set by the Federal Communications Commission.

GTL has been accused by inmates and their families of charging exorbitant rates for phone calls, prompting some to join a class-action lawsuit against the company.

The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is installing 272 more metal detectors, 68 X-ray machines to scan packages, 103 low-dose X-ray scanners, 170 hidden surveillance cameras, 34 devices to decrypt and analyze cellphones, and 272 scanners that detect magnetic signals.

Removing illegal cellphones can force inmates to use the prisons’ phone system, said Jim Viscardi, vice president of global security for Illinois-based Metrasens, which is providing the magnetic-signal detectors. The sensitive scanners can detect tiny metal objects even if they are inside a body cavity, a common way of smuggling phones and weapons inside prisons.

The latest crackdown is unlikely to deter inmates who want to conduct illegal activities using an unmonitored cellphone, said Mitch Volkart, a Global Tel-Link product manager.

“There is no magic bullet,” he said. “You can’t try to address the demand because the demand is always going to be there.”

So it’s better to control the supply, Volkart said, not only by capturing illicit phones but analyzing their calls and contents. That analysis has at times led to investigators uncovering weapons or drugs within prisons, he said.

The company has similar programs with other states including Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Oklahoma, he said.

Smugglers are getting trickier: In April, they attempted to use a drone to fly two cellphones into Ironwood State Prison, 130 miles east of Los Angeles, though the drone crashed before it could deliver the goods.

And all the state’s previous efforts haven’t prevented Manson, the 82-year-old cult leader, from being caught with cellphones three times — most recently in February, but also in 2009 and 2011. Authorities say a visitor was thwarted in 2013 when he was caught trying to bring Manson a phone concealed in a boot heel.

The new detection devices are expected to be used on inmates, visitors and employees in all 35 adult prisons and three juvenile facilities by July.

Corrections department spokeswoman Vicky Waters said it is too soon to say if the scanners will replace body cavity searches or a controversial process known as contraband surveillance watches — or more informally, “potty watches.” Inmates suspected of swallowing or concealing contraband in body cavities are isolated and their hands restrained for several days or until they complete at least three bowel movements.

“Why can’t they do X-rays or something ... like the airports do to us now?” asked Irma Cooper, who had to leave her bra in the car when she went to visit her son because it contained metal. “I just think that’s ridiculous in this day and age, when they can do those scans.”

She was further dismayed when her son told her he had to undergo a digital rectal exam each time he left the visiting room at High Desert State Prison, to make sure he wasn’t smuggling contraband. Waters said inmates are strip-searched and scanned with metal detectors, but are not routinely subjected to rectal exams.

“We’re concerned that more and more barriers are being thrown up for visitors that aren’t getting us anywhere, as far as we can tell,” said Laura Magnani, an advocate with the American Friends Service Committee.

Cellphone signal-capturing devices previously installed at 18 prisons interrupted an average of more than 350,000 calls and text messages each week this year, more than double last year’s rate.

The number of seized cellphones had been dropping since California began using the call-intercepting devices, from 15,000 phones in 2011 to fewer than 8,000 last year.

But the number is growing again this year, with nearly 8,000 found just through August.


President Obama, the Democrats and some Republicans are all outraged over Russia’s alleged interference in this year’s presidential election

While I still have serious doubts that Vladimir Putin was directly involved in the hacking of the DNC and the release of emails that showed Hillary Clinton and the Democrats in a very bad light, let’s say that the evil Putin is guilty as claimed by the CIA. Do we have a right to be outraged over Russia’s interference in our elections? I don’t think so … that is unless we’re willing to admit we are the world’s biggest hypocrites.

Lest we forget, all during the Cold War, the U.S. interfered in the internal affairs of Latin American countries by supporting brutal right-wing dictatorships. In 1961 there was the CIA’s failed Bay of Pigs Invasion of Cuba. In 1973, the CIA sponsored the overthrow by the military of Salvador Allende, Chile’s democratically elected Marxist president. In Nicaragua, the Reagan administration armed the right wing Contra rebels in an effort to over throw the Marxist government of Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega.

More recently, President Obama’s surrogates were in Israel helping the opposition in a failed effort to defeat Netanyahu in the Jewish state’s election. And the U.S. State Department even gave the largest Israeli opposition party an infusion of our taxpayer dollars.

OK, so Putin is evil, but we are not holier than thou!


By Bob Walsh

Yes, it is true. I do, however, mean it in more of a socio-religious sense than any personal disparagement. They steal holidays.

Good old Yeshua ben Yosef, the famous red-headed carpenter, almost certainly was NOT born on December 25.

The Winter Solstice is a very convenient and very symbolic time for the birth of Saviors in general. Osiris, Mithras and Hercules were among them, though there are many others. They were all born at or around the Winter Solstice, in a barn, cave or other very humble place. The exact details of their birth are murky and mysterious, their parentage is miraculous. They engage in a lifetime of toil for mankind in general and often make a real or symbolic trip to the underworld and then return. These are common characteristics of Saviors in general.

The Winter Solstice is the longest night and shortest day. It is symbolic of a turning, of the light now beginning to gradually but definitely overtaking the darkness.

The early Christians were not stupid men. They knew that ripping off the holidays from the peasants would piss them off so many Christian holidays occur on, and are strongly modeled after, early Pagan holidays. (Halloween and May Day being two of the chief ones.) During about the seventh century I believe (I am a little fuzzy on that) the church made a serious attempt to document the actual birthday of the historical Jesus. They were unsuccessful. So they went with what they had. Interestingly enough there is no undisputed actual historical record of Jesus. The census Joseph and Mary were heading to Bethlehem for has no actual historical record. On the other hand there is a ton of documentation on the life of Pontius Pilate.

Now before your Christian zealots go 5150 on me (yes, I know it is a contradiction in terms strictly speaking, the zealots were Jews) I would like to say that I am reasonably confident that the actual person of Yeshua ben Yosef did in fact exist. I believe that he was an exceptional human being and that the Christian church was built around belief in his divinity. Whether he was in fact divine is another question.

As a practicing Pagan I merely wanted to bring the subject up, and hope for a little appreciation for our side of the table. I don't really expect an apology for you guys ripping off our holiday, nor do I need one. Pagans are the most ecumenical people imaginable. I would simply like not to be dissed for it.

Merry Christmas. Ho Ho Ho.

EDITOR’S NOTE: When Riverside Sheriff Ben Clark and I were pallbearers at the funeral of our friend Stan Everett’s father, the Baptist preacher shouted out: “If you don’t accept Jesus, you are going to hell!”

Ben poked me in the ribs and said, “I guess that means you are going to hell.”

See you in hell, Bob.


Grand juries in Houston have indicted no officers in more than 200 shootings since 2012

By Lise Olsen

Houston Chronicle
December 17, 2016

Prosecutors in all but one of Texas' biggest counties have launched a spate of police officer prosecutions in the shootings of unarmed or mentally ill people over the past three years that parallels a similar rise in police prosecutions nationwide.

Harris County, which leads the state in police shootings by a wide margin, is the exception. Prosecutors have presented evidence in more than 200 officer-involved shootings to grand juries here since 2012. One of every five individuals shot by police was unarmed. But in every case, the officer was not indicted, records show.

In an interview, newly elected Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said she will redouble efforts to ensure that all available information is presented to grand juries in reviews of shooting cases. She said she also will attempt to make videotapes of shootings by officers available first to families and then to the public "as soon as possible" to boost transparency and public confidence of shooting reviews.

Nationally, only about a quarter of police shootings involve unarmed civilians. But nearly all prosecutions of officers arrested for on-duty shootings involve unarmed people, according to a tally of 79 prosecutions from 2005 to the present by Philip Stinson, an associate professor at Bowling Green State University.

Many cases Stinson tracked, and five recent Texas cases, involved police who chased and then shot unarmed people either in their cars or on foot. In some cases, the shots were fired in the suspect's back or head. Stinson has recorded 15 prosecutions in 2015 for murder or manslaughter by on-duty officers who shot civilians, more than in any previous year in the past decade. He's tallied 13 more in 2016.

Dallas County alone has four pending cases against officers who killed or wounded civilians - video evidence played a role in three of those cases. Prior to that string of prosecutions, the county had no similar cases in 15 years. Officials in San Antonio, Fort Worth, Bastrop and Austin also recently prosecuted officers; each had seen no prior indictments of officers involved in shooting or killing civilians for years.

In Harris County, officers cleared by grand juries include an off-duty officer who shot a naked man in a hospital and an officer who shot a DUI suspect in the back. Another case involved an off-duty officer who was drunk when he shot two unarmed brothers, killing one. Another officer shot and killed a double-amputee in a wheelchair armed only with a ballpoint pen.

The last indictment here came in 2011 when Pasadena officer Michael T. Martin killed an unarmed 20-year-old during a traffic stop. Martin was fired, but a Harris County grand jury did not indict him for murder or manslaughter - only for the lesser crime of official oppression. He was acquitted in 2015.

Some shootings of the unarmed involved errors or poor police work that might be hard for ordinary citizens to accept. But none of the evidence was strong enough to convince a grand jury that an officer lacked an objectively reasonable fear of imminent threat to his life or to the lives of others before using deadly force, said Julian Ramirez, an assistant district attorney who leads the civil rights division, citing the high legal standard for such cases. Ramirez was on the list of 37 prosecutors that Ogg announced Friday that she will replace on January 1.

Few videos were available or released in the past. Police Chief Art Acevedo, newly arrived from Austin, last week announced he will push for officers to acquire body-worn cameras that will turn on automatically. He also said he will establish a specialized unit to investigate police shootings, now probed by HPD's Homicide and IAD division as well as by the DA's office. Acevedo said it's important to remember that there is at least one gun in all officer-involved shootings - and sometimes officers get shot or killed when their own weapons are wrestled away.

Video footage often key

Texas prosecutors typically present all police shootings to grand juries behind-closed doors in secretive reviews. Around the state, video tapes played a role in some controversial shootings that led to firings and to charges. Only the Travis County District Attorney's office currently routinely releases videos and witness statements in such cases after grand juries rule.

Dash-cam videos helped prosecutors decide to pursue charges in three of four pending Dallas County cases. Video footage called into question the veracity of Garland Police officer Patrick Tuter, who fired 41 shots and killed Michael Vincent Allen, 25, after a high-speed chase through eastern Dallas suburbs in 2012. Tuter initially claimed he fired after Allen had rammed his patrol car, though the video showed Tuter had crashed into Allen. A jury continued to deliberate late Friday after a manslaughter trial in that case.

That was the first such prosecution in more than a decade. Two other cases captured on video followed. One involved an unarmed teen, the other a mentally ill man whose mother had called for help.

"The existence of any evidence, including video evidence, makes the determination to charge and prosecute more clear. It makes the decision to convict or acquit more clear," said Messina Madson, first assistant DA. But because video tells only part of the story and isn't always available, Dallas County began sending its own team of investigators in 2015 to all officer-involved shootings, she said. Harris and Montgomery Counties do, too.

Video also played a role in a 2016 decision to indict an officer who fired a shotgun at an unarmed man carrying a barbecue fork in Tarrant County this year. Very few videos have been released to the public in recent Harris County shootings. Ogg said she was dismayed that it took nearly two years before Devon Anderson, the current Harris County DA, agreed to release a surveillance video of the struggle that occurred just before an off-duty police officer shot and killed Jordan Baker, an unarmed 26-year-old man in 2014. Baker was riding his bike through a strip mall parking lot, which was only three blocks from his home, when he was confronted by the Houston police officer working as a security guard.

Ogg, who previously worked as a victim's advocate, said quicker release of the video might have helped Baker's mother deal with the incident as a parent and boost public confidence in the objectivity of the county's legal review. The officer was no-billed by a grand jury, though the family's civil rights lawsuit remains pending in a Houston federal court. Baker's family has claimed in the lawsuit that he was racially profiled by the officer who accosted and attacked him without any legitimate reason.

Ogg will inherit the ongoing review of several 2016 officer-involved shootings of unarmed civilians, including that of an off-duty Houston Police officer who confronted and then shot his 21-year-old neighbor after their dogs fought. Another case involves the shooting of Earl Wayne Brown, a bystander injured by another off-duty officer, who drew a gun when a fight broke out and has claimed he accidentally fired after being pushed while working security at Mr. A's - a crowded nightclub, according to information released by HPD.

Ogg told the Chronicle that she will establish a committee to help advise her on police-shooting protocols when she takes office in January and will consider opening older cases that were reviewed under the previous DA.

Proving a murder or manslaughter case against a police officer presents particular challenges. Officers have a legal right to use deadly force when they have a "reasonable" fear that their own lives or the lives of others are endangered. They also can employ all of the same self-defense legal arguments that ordinary citizens can, said First Assistant Montgomery District Attorney Kelly Blackburn, chief of the trial bureau. He made national news when he successfully prosecuted an officer for manslaughter in 2014.

Although Texas departments can opt to have the Texas Rangers investigate their officer-involved shootings, many departments such as Houston investigate their own cases. After Conroe Sgt. Jason Blackwelder shot and killed an unarmed teenaged shoplifter in 2013, Conroe police detectives - his subordinates - investigated. Blackwelder was off duty when he spotted the suspect running out of a Wal-Mart and chased him into the woods. Seconds later, 19-year-old Russell Rios was dead, with a bullet hole in the back of the head. Blackwelder claimed he'd been choked and was nearly blacking out when he reached over the suspect and shot Rios, from behind in self-defense. But blood spatter evidence told a different story and led to a manslaughter charge and a guilty verdict in 2014.

At trial, Blackwelder stuck to his claim of self-defense - and hired a former state police training expert to defend his use of deadly force.

But the jury voted to convict after prosecutors presented testimony that showed the officer's account didn't jibe with the bullet wound location and other crime scene evidence. "He was lying because he knew what he did was reckless," Blackburn said. At trial, Blackburn used a blood spatter specialist to help prove the officer violated his training, mishandled his weapon and was negligent when he shot and killed Rios likely by accident - thereby committing the crime of manslaughter.

That unusual guilty verdict generated speaking invitations for Blackburn from other prosecutors seeking to chart a course for justice between inflammatory videotapes and pressure from both the black lives and blue lives matter movements.

"The simple fact is that these cases are way more complicated than the public or the media perceive them to be," said Blackburn.

Convictions prove difficult

Statistics show prosecutors nationwide have often failed to convict police who were charged with manslaughter or murder. Out of the 78 police officers charged with murder or manslaughter in shooting-related prosecutions tracked since 2005, only 27 officers were convicted; 29 were acquitted or had charges dismissed; 22 cases remain pending as of November, according to Stinson at Bowling Green.

Three other recent Texas prosecutions in Austin, San Antonio and Bastrop were ultimately unsuccessful. A Bexar County sheriff, normally assigned to work as a bailiff, was acquitted of a murder charge in May three years after shooting an unarmed motorist in 2013. The officer described the shooting as self-defense, while a special prosecutor characterized the incident as a minor accident that escalated into an off-duty road rage incident. A jury found the bailiff not guilty.

Another recent acquittal came in another murder case involving a rookie deputy who fired without warning when a woman opened the door at the scene of a disturbance call in Bastrop County near Austin. The officer, who had only a year's experience, was fired for killing the unarmed woman who had called 911 for help. But in his first trial in 2015, a jury deadlocked 8-4 on a guilty verdict. In March after a second trial, a visiting judge found the officer not guilty.


Durst was heard muttering “What the hell did I do?, Killed ’em all, of course,”while sitting on a crapper during the filming of HBO’s “The Jinx”

By Matt Hamilton and Jack Dolan

Los Angeles Times
December 16, 2016

Robert Durst, the eccentric heir to a real estate fortune, told Los Angeles prosecutors last year that he was high on methamphetamines during interviews he gave for the 2015 HBO miniseries “The Jinx,” according to court papers released Friday.

The series covered Durst’s links to three tragedies involving his wife, who disappeared in 1982 and is presumed dead, his best friend who was shot execution-style in her Beverly Hills home in 2000, and a former neighbor in Texas who Durst admitted shooting, chopping up and dumping in a bay in 2001 — in self-defense.

A jury acquitted Durst in the Texas case and he was a free man until the night before the final episode of the miniseries aired. In it, Durst is caught muttering into a microphone during a bathroom break: “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”

Worried that Durst may leave the country, authorities arrested him in New Orleans, where he had been staying in a hotel under a fake name. He had marijuana, a .38-caliber revolver, more than $40,000 in cash and a mask, according to court papers.

Days later, while sitting in a New Orleans jail, Durst gave a nearly three-hour interview to prosecutors from Los Angeles who were investigating his links to the slaying of Susan Berman, the friend of Durst’s who was discovered with a single bullet wound to the back of the head in Beverly Hills. Durst has since been charged with that murder. He has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.

On Friday, a transcript of the March 15, 2015, jailhouse interview was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

In it, Durst claims he was intoxicated during the filming of the HBO series. “I was on meth, I was on meth the whole time … it should have been obvious,” Durst said. “I think the reason I did it had to be because I was swooped, speeding,” he added.

Attorneys for Durst filed papers Thursday challenging some of the evidence against him in the Berman case, including the New Orleans jailhouse interview, during which he had no attorney representing him.

L.A. County Deputy Dist. Atty. John Lewin had previously told the court that Durst voluntarily participated in the questioning, The transcript includes a portion in which LAPD Det. Mike Whelan read Durst his Miranda rights.

“Anything you say may be used against you in court. Do you understand?” Whelan asked.

“I understand,” Durst replied.

Durst, 73, is currently serving a seven-year federal prison term for illegal possession of the .38-caliber revolver at the time of his New Orleans arrest. He was transferred from an Indiana penitentiary to Southern California in November.

In his first court appearance last month, Durst sat in a wheelchair and pleaded not guilty, telling the judge, “I did not kill Susan Berman.”

In the wide-ranging jailhouse transcript, Durst touched on his bitterness toward his wealthy family, who granted control of the business to a brother. At one point, he explained his lack of personal ambition and success as a kind of pacifism: “I don’t like to fight.”

He also described turning down an interview request from TV journalist Connie Chung because she’d previously done a long piece on boxer Mike Tyson that made him out to be a good guy, despite his many run-ins with the law. “I never felt like that,” Durst said. “I never felt that I was really a good guy.”

At another point during the interrogation, Durst described himself as “the worst fugitive the world has ever met," referring to his six weeks on the lam in 2001 when facing murder charges in Texas.

When Lewin said it was “mind-boggling” to him that Durst hadn’t tried to flee the country before the HBO series aired, Durst said he’d been suffering from “inertia”.

“I just didn’t really, really, really think that I was gonna end up arrested,” he added.

When Durst said he was surprised that his lawyers allowed him to take part in the documentary, Lewin reminded him that his legal team had repeatedly discouraged him from participating.

But as the interview drifted in and out of episodes in Durst’s complicated life, Lewin kept prompting him to talk about the slaying of Berman, the daughter of a Las Vegas mobster whom Durst met while both were studying at UCLA.

His efforts to elicit a confession included complimenting Durst, repeatedly, on his unusual honesty and brutally frank self-assessments. But when that failed, Lewin confronted Durst more directly, asking,"If you had killed Susan, would you tell me?"

"No," Durst replied.


A college professor reminds her class of tomorrow's final exam. “Now class, I won't tolerate any excuses for you not being here tomorrow. I might consider a nuclear attack or a serious personal injury, illness, or a death in your immediate family, but that's it, no other excuses whatsoever!”

A smart-ass student in the back of the room raised his hand and asked, “What would you say if tomorrow I said I was suffering from complete and utter sexual exhaustion?”

The entire class is reduced to laughter and snickering. When silence was restored, the prof smiled knowingly at the student, shook her head and sweetly said, “Well, I guess you'd just have to write the exam with your other hand.”

Sunday, December 18, 2016


Houston’s incoming anti-death penalty District Attorney Kim Ogg notified 37 prosecutors in District Attorney Devon Anderson’s office that they are out of a job the day she takes office

Kim Ogg, an uber-liberal lesbian who is opposed to the death penalty, defeated incumbent Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson, a Republican, in the November 8 election. Ogg won with the help of a $500,000 donation from George Soros and straight party-line voting.

For week after week, Ogg’s campaign ads blasted Anderson for jailing a rape victim to guarantee her appearance as a witness. Those ads popped up from morning until night during every commercial break on Houston’s local TV stations. That barrage of ads would not have been possible without the half-million bucks Soros gave her.

On Friday Ogg notified 37 prosecutors in Anderson’s office by email that they were fired. Most of those fired held management positions. Ogg said she wants a “culture change” at the district attorney’s office.

Ogg said:

“Because the district attorney's job is to be the guardian of justice and to seek justice over convictions, I pledged that we would not have a win-at-all costs mentality, that we would prize fairness and transparency and equality. And the leadership decisions that I made are directed to that view. I want individuals who, through their past actions and their professionalism, embody those very ideas. That's who I'm seeking to fill these positions.”

Anderson released this statement:

“Today, Kim Ogg fired by email 37 experienced prosecutors 9 days before Christmas. With her first act as District Attorney, Ogg is endangering the citizens of Harris County. The dedicated prosecutors let go today had a combined 685 years of service.”

By culture change, I am sure Ogg meant there will be few if any death penalty prosecutions under her administration. And during the campaign she promised there will be no prosecutions for the possession of ‘small’ amounts of marijuana.

The last I heard, the use and possession of marijuana is still illegal in Texas. I don’t suppose it ever occurred to Ogg that by not prosecuting pot possession cases, she is an enabler of illegal marijuana use.


By Bob Walsh

An FBI agent was arrested early Tuesday outside a Planet Fitness gym in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

No one was injured in the incident. Agent Ruben Hernandez was arrested at the scene. His attorney, Larry Willey, stated that Hernandez has only a "vage, hazy" recollection of the incident and was maybe a little bit sloshed at the time. The local cops got a call of a man brandishing a gun at the club. When they showed up Agent Hernandez opened fire. None of the cops fired back and Hernandez was taken into custody.

Hernandez, who is assigned out of the Las Vegas office and was in Grand Rapids for a case, was arraigned the following day.

Maybe what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas but I am not so sure that applies to Grand Rapids.


By Bob Walsh

The FBI conducted a raid Thursday on the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office and the Hammond Police Department in beautiful Louisiana. The FBI seized computers, cell phones and hard copy case files.

The FBI is apparently investigating a DEA task force operating in conjunction with these two agencies. The FBI thinks they have been skimming drug money, taking and selling drugs and intimidating witnesses. The sheriff’s office and P. D. buildings were shut down and treated like a crime scene for hours.


The certificates provide a positive signal to employers that an objective judge with detailed knowledge of the applicant’s history and behavior determined that he or she is work-ready

By Jennifer L. Doleac

December 15, 2016

Recidivism rates in the United States are high: two-thirds of offenders leaving prison will be re-arrested within three years. This is partly due to how difficult it is for people with criminal records to find reliable employment that can put them on a law-abiding track. Cities and states have struggled to find ways to help this group find jobs, and there is very little research to guide them. However, there is one innovative new policy that appears to make a big difference: court-issued certificates that signal an individual’s work-readiness.

Several jurisdictions across the country allow individuals with criminal records to seek “employability certificates” from local courts. It works like this: A judge considers evidence of the person’s actions since conviction and can issue a certificate if he or she is deemed to have been rehabilitated. The hope is that this piece of paper will convince employers to give job applicants with a criminal record a chance — particularly applicants with recent convictions. And it seems to work. New research finds that having an employability certificate dramatically improves a job applicant’s chances of getting an interview (and, presumably, a job).

Peter Leasure and Tia Stevens Andersen, both of the University of South Carolina, conducted research to examine the effectiveness of this program. They sent hundreds of fake job applications to employers, randomizing so that the applicant might have a year-old felony drug conviction or no criminal history or a year-old felony drug conviction and a court-issued employability certificate (called a “certificate of qualification for employment” in Ohio, where this study took place). They then waited to see which applicants received positive responses by phone or email (referred to as a “callback” in these types of studies). Consistent with other research, those applicants with felony convictions (and no certificates) were far less likely to receive callbacks than those with no criminal history. More specifically, 10 percent of those with a felony conviction received a positive response versus 29 percent of those with no criminal record. However, this disparity was almost entirely eliminated when the applicant had an employability certificate: Certificate holders received a positive response 25 percent of the time. Those with certificates were called back almost as often as those with no conviction at all.

A related study by Peter Leasure and Tara Martin, also of the University of South Carolina, shows that these certificates have similar positive effects for those applying for housing. This may be because landlords assume applicants with certificates are more likely to have steady incomes and therefore pay rent on time. Since finding stable housing is a primary obstacle for people with criminal records — and could affect someone’s chances of finding and keeping a job — this is an important result.

Why would employability certificates have such big effects? To answer this question, it helps to consider why employers might discriminate against applicants with criminal records in the first place. One reason is that they view a criminal record as correlated with a lack of work-readiness. Another reason is that hiring someone with a criminal record puts them at risk of a negligent hiring lawsuit — if an employee with a record commits another crime on the job, the employer could be accused of hiring someone that he or she knew was likely to commit a crime. Employability certificates could address both of these concerns.

The certificates provide a positive signal to employers that an objective judge with detailed knowledge of the applicant’s history and behavior determined that he or she is work-ready. It’s not obvious whether these certificates would be viewed as credible signals by employers. What does a judge at a criminal court know about hiring? And what would keep judges from giving certificates to everyone who comes before them? Perhaps a more credible signal would come from a job-training program with funding contingent on the success of its certified graduates.

Still, in the absence of better information, it’s possible that employers will view a judge’s determination as a better signal of an applicant’s work-readiness than anything else currently available — and certainly more than the original criminal record. This additional information may help employers sort applicants with criminal records into “work-ready” and “not work-ready” groups.

In addition, employability certificates can shield employers from negligent hiring lawsuits. The nightmare scenario for many employers is that an employee assaults a customer on the job. Should that happen, any previous conviction might look to a court or jury like a red flag, even if it appeared irrelevant during the hiring process. State laws and EEOC guidelines typically tell employers to use “reasonable judgement” when considering a criminal record in the context of the job responsibilities — but judgement might seem reasonable at the time and unreasonable in hindsight. A negligent hiring lawsuit could be catastrophic for the employer. In this context, many employers might prefer to hire someone without a record, just to be safe. An employability certificate adds new information: It is a court-issued document indicating that a judge has determined a particular applicant is not a risk. With that certificate, an employer can defend him or herself against any accusation of negligent hiring — if a judge’s judgement isn’t “reasonable,” then whose is?

These new findings suggest that employability certificates are a promising alternative to popular “ban-the-box” policies. These policies attempt to increase employment for people with criminal records by preventing employers from asking about applicants’ convictions until the end of the hiring process. Recent research has shown that delaying this information does more harm than good. For instance, it reduces employment for young, low-skilled black and Hispanic men. This is because employers respond to a lack of information about applicants’ criminal histories by trying to guess which applicants have recent convictions. The result is that ban-the-box increases discrimination against groups that include lots of people with recent convictions. Providing more information about applicants, rather than less, could avoid such unintended consequences.

Employers have genuine concerns about hiring people with criminal records. Figuring out what those concerns are can point us to innovative policies that address them. Employability certificates show promise (I describe several other ways to address employers’ concerns in a recent Hamilton Project policy proposal). Cities and states will be experimenting with such policies in the coming years. Lawmakers should pay close attention to which ones turn out to be most successful at increasing employment for people with criminal records and, ultimately, reducing recidivism.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Good idea, but will it overcome an employer’s reluctance to hire an ex-con?

Saturday, December 17, 2016


Or did Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner hire a frustrated patrolman?

Art Acevedo, Austin’s former police chief, is now the new police chief in Houston. Before he became Austin’s chief, Acevedo was a California Highway Patrol officer, rising through the ranks to division chief.

During his nearly 10 year tenure as Austin’s chief, Acevedo was credited for strengthening community ties, but he was criticized for using Twitter to defend police officers. But a poll earlier this year by the Austin Police Association showed that 52 percent of officers thought morale within the department was poor and 42 percent of officers said they didn't think Acevedo could effectively lead the department in the future.

Acevedo was also known for frequent ride-alongs with his patrol officers.

Despite all the praise heaped on him by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, Acevedo left a DNA lab at Austin PD which, according to DPS, was staffed by analysts, 2/3 of which were so incompetent that they were not retrainable. And according to the Austin American-Statesman, Acevedo put his resources into the patrol division while neglecting the other Austin police divisions..

Let’s see now: A former California Highway Patrol officer who, as police chief, likes to ride along with his patrol officers. There’s nothing wrong with that … it probably helped strengthen ties between Austin PD and the community. But you can’t do that at the expense of other police divisions.

It sure looks like Mayor Turner hired a frustrated patrolman.

City officials from Austin, including that city’s new police chief, traveled to Houston to be present at Acevedo’s swearing-in ceremony. Hmmm, I wonder … could the real reason they traveled to Houston be that they were glad to be rid of him?


U.S. defense officials assert the seizure of the unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) supposedly occurred more than 50 nautical miles from the Scarborough Shoal, China’s nearest territorial claim

Stratfor Global Intelligence
December 16, 2016

The Chinese navy has reportedly seized a U.S. Navy unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) in the South China Sea, adding a new layer of tension to the two countries’ uneasy relationship. According to several reports, China deployed a boat on Dec. 15 to capture the vehicle in waters 50-100 nautical miles northwest of the Philippines’ Subic Bay port, just before the USNS Bowditch was preparing to retrieve the UUV. U.S. defense officials have said that Washington has requested, through the appropriate diplomatic channels, that Beijing return the vehicle. The incident comes amid increasingly harsh rhetoric between Chinese leaders and the incoming administration of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, though frictions have been worsening between Washington and Beijing for years as the United States has sought to counter Chinese expansionism in the disputed waters.

The USNS Bowditch, a Pathfinder-class survey ship under the Naval Oceanographic Office’s Maritime Sealift Command, is routinely deployed to survey and map the ocean floor. Though this mission is ostensibly civilian in nature, the data the ship collects also has useful military applications that are particularly relevant for submarine navigation. In its demand for the UUV’s safe return, the United States asserted that the vehicle had been captured in international waters.

A similar dispute arose in 2009 when Chinese naval, maritime security and fishing vessels trailed and harassed the USNS Impeccable. The Impeccable, also a U.S. Navy maritime surveillance ship, was using towed arrays to map the seafloor and, as Washington later admitted, to track the paths of Chinese submarines. During the incident, a Chinese fishing boat tried to grapple the sonar dragging behind the U.S. ship. But there are two major differences between the 2009 and 2016 spats. First, in the most recent case, China nabbed a U.S. naval vessel, even if it was unmanned. Second, it did so far from Chinese shores. (In 2009, the Impeccable was underway near Hainan Island, the main base for Beijing’s nuclear submarines.)

The latest episode appears to be a fairly bold move on China’s part. By taking physical action in the South China Sea, Beijing could be trying to assert its claims in the contested waters, many of which were likely undermined by the recent Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling against China’s artificial island construction. That said, based on statements by U.S. defense officials, the incident supposedly occurred more than 50 nautical miles from the Scarborough Shoal, China’s nearest territorial claim. China is also, of course, attempting to address more direct security concerns. The underwater mapping that the Bowditch would have been engaged in can be used to support U.S. anti-submarine operations by identifying submarines’ most likely paths and, in doing so, improve the targeting and efficacy of anti-submarine monitoring and patrols.

China’s decision to take the UUV will certainly ratchet up tensions with the United States, though not to the same extent as in 2001, when Beijing held the crew members of a downed U.S. aircraft on Hainan Island. That incident, however, was accidental (even if Chinese jets were closely shadowing U.S. aircraft). This week’s was not. The premeditated move may have been a calculated signal of China’s willingness to pressure the United States, should Washington reconsider its recognition of Taiwan as it has hinted it may. Beijing may also be indicating that it has no intention of backing down from its assertive tactics in the South China Sea.

In the United States, the incident will no doubt inflame the heated political debate about how best to manage Washington’s relations to China in the years ahead, particularly as Trump prepares to take office. Meanwhile, for Southeast Asian states already struggling to safeguard their maritime interests, their positions in the disputed waters will only grow more precarious. Given the location of the capture and China’s blatant actions, according to U.S. allegations, the U.S. Navy will probably be compelled to respond by stepping up its presence in the South China Sea and providing armed escorts to U.S. surveillance vessels. This, in turn, could give rise to more posturing and harassment operations from China as Beijing pushes back against Washington’s growing footprint in the Asia-Pacific region.


The National Academies of Sciences considers forensic evidence, from fingerprint analysis to hair-and-fiber to ballistics to bite marks, to be non-scientific

Grits for Breakfast
December 15, 2016

The 2009 NAS report considered DNA evidence the gold standard of forensics and focused more on the non-scientific nature of nearly all other types of forensic evidence, from fingerprint analysis to hair-and-fiber to ballistics to bite marks. DNA mixture evidence may be a mess, but so are many other types forensic evidence used every day in Texas and American courts. You can put a person in a lab coat but that doesn't make what comes out of their mouth science.

The nation since the election been grappling with the rise of "fake news." But fake science, pseudoscience, whatever you want to call it, has been embedded in American courts for decades, harming more people, certainly, than any climate-change denier has to date.

It makes you wonder: How in heaven's name can this much error with such grave consequences have been tolerated and justified by the justice system for so long? We need forensic analysis and Grits continues to think some forensic disciplines are useful. But being useful doesn't make them science, which is a pretension designed to exaggerate the credibility of analysts and overstate the certainty with which jurors and other stakeholders interpret state testimony about physical evidence.

EDITOR’S NOTE: fingerprints, hair and fibers, ballistic evidence, and bite marks have in many investigations proven to be accurate rather than questionable. Unfortunately, it is however true that some 'analysts' have testified in court to results they knew were questionable, if not downright incorrect, and that includes analysts from the FBI lab.

Slamming all fingerprint, hair and fiber, ballistic and bite mark evidence is like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.


Los Angeles man accused of sexually abusing San Bernardino girlfriend’s 1-year-old child

By Beatriz Valenzuela

San Bernardino Sun
December 15, 2016

SAN BERNARDINO -- Police arrested a man accused of sexually abusing his girlfriend’s 1-year-old child in the San Bernardino area then reportedly threatening the woman with a gun.

Edgar Alvarado Gonzalez, 26, whose last address was in Los Angeles, was arrested Tuesday and charged Thursday on suspicion of lewd acts with a child under the age of 14, sexual penetration with a foreign object of a child under the age of 14, robbery and making criminal threats, San Bernardino County sheriff’s booking records show.

The child’s gender was not released as of Thursday morning.

A witness reportedly walked into the child’s bedroom and saw Gonzalez molesting the child, said San Bernardino police Lt. Mike Madden.

“A scuffle ensued, and the suspect left the location on foot,” Madden said Thursday.

Soon after, the child’s mother came home, and the witness told the mother of the reported sexual attack on the child, Madden said.

As the women were getting ready to leave the home to report the alleged abuse, Madden said Gonzalez returned and pointed a firearm at the mother and threatened to hurt her if they went to police. He also took the mother’s cellphone.

A short time later, as the women and the child were driving to the San Bernardino Police Department, Gonzalez pulled up alongside them in another vehicle and again brandished a weapon at the women, officials said.

The women reported the alleged abuse and the threats to investigators. Officers found Gonzalez about an hour later in the 300 block of West Ninth Street, Madden said.

A search of Gonzalez’s records shows he has several outstanding traffic warrants in San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties.

Authorities are not certain if there may be other victims as the case is still under investigation.

Gonzalez was booked into West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga and is being held in lieu of $250,000 bail.


Hey sorry to post on here but I tried calling and couldn't get a hold of you and you wouldn't reply to my texts either.

I found the information you asked me about. It's called Pruritus, in other words itching anus.

It's quite common and not dangerous, typically caused by not wiping properly. It can also be a sign of hemorrhoids in or around your butt hole.

I still recommend you go see a doctor. Wash it and keep it real clean and wash your hands after you scratch to avoid pink eye because I'm pretty sure that's probably how you got pink eye last time.

Hope this information helps!

Friday, December 16, 2016



By Robert Allen

Detroit Free Press
December 15, 2016

DETROIT -- Detroit Police Chief James Craig says a judge's dismissal of a threat of terrorism charge against a man accused of spray-painting "kill all police" and "kill James Craig" on a building will empower people "who threaten, who shoot at police officers."

"I'm fighting nationally on this issue: We have to be a united front against violence on first responders, against violence on police officers," Craig said at a news conference Wednesday, a day after a district judge dismissed the charge against Stuart H. Lewis, 49, of Detroit.

Lewis was bound over Tuesday for trial on related charges of malicious destruction of a building (maximum penalty: 93 days) and possession with intent to deliver marijuana (four years), according to the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office.

But District Judge Deborah Lewis Langston dismissed the terrorism charge, which would have carried up to 20 years in prison, finding that there wasn't enough evidence for it to move forward.

Lewis is accused of spray-painting a commercial building Oct. 20 on the 200 block of West State Fair Avenue, near John R S in Detroit.

Craig, who testified against Lewis at Tuesday's preliminary examination, said he held the news conference to explain his opposition to Langston's decision. He also said the defendant threatened an investigator while he was being interviewed, but that charges weren't pressed on that.

Since mid-September, two Detroit police officers and one Wayne State University police officer have been killed while on duty in the city. In the two Detroit police cases, suspects have been charged with murder, and the investigation on the Wayne State case has resumed after a suspect was released.

This year in the U.S., 137 police officers have died in the line of duty, up 15% from last year, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, which tracks the data.

Craig said he believes the allegations against Lewis would not have been dismissed if the incident were in Oakland or Macomb counties, As an example, he mentioned the case of Royal Oak doctor and medical-marijuana facility director who is charged with about 22 felony charges alleging threats on Oakland County prosecutors, a retired judge, bailiffs and others. That case is being handled by the Genesee County Prosecutor's Office, and the Detroit News reports that a preliminary examination in that case is pending psychiatric testing.

In a separate Wayne County case, Lewis is accused of felonious assault (maximum penalty: five years incarceration) and using a firearm in a felony (two years, consecutive to assault count) stemming from an Oct. 17 incident at his home in the 19900 block of Exeter. In that case, he is accused wielding a BB shotgun when confronting a man who arrived to repossess his truck, according to the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office. Langston on Tuesday bound over Lewis on both charges.

Lewis is to be arraigned on both cases at 9 a.m. Dec. 20 in Wayne County Circuit Court. His bond in both cases is $25,000 or 10% with a GPS tether.


By Bob Walsh

A 27-year old woman, who has not been named by the police, managed to self-rehabilitate Tuesday night after her third crash of the evening.

The CHP got a call of a hit-and-run about 10:10 p.m. on West Lane north of Morada in north Stockton. They found a newish Honda sort of wrapped around a power pole with the driver dead inside. The woman had apparently been involved in two hit-and-runs before in the Fox Creek area of north Stockton and left at a high rate of speed traveling north on West Lane.

It seems that the woman sideswiped a tree on the passenger side of the car, causing the car to roll over onto the drivers side. At that time a power pole jumped out in front of the car and the car slid into it and wrapped the roof around the power pole.

The CHP said that it is unknown if there was a drug or alcohol involvement in the crashes. I am willing to make a modest bet there was. Either that or her exuberance clearly exceeded her level of skill.


By Mari A. Schaefer

The Philadelphia Inquirer
December 14, 2016

NEWARK, New Jersey -- A New Jersey state trooper has been arrested and suspended from his job after he allegedly stopped female drivers to proposition them, the Office of Attorney General's office announced.

Trooper Marquice Prather, 37, of Linden, was charged with tampering with public records or information for trying to cover his tracks after he conducted the improper traffic stops. He was arrested Friday, released without bail and suspended without pay.

The improper conduct came to light after several women came forward to file a complaint, the AG's office said in a statement released Tuesday.

An investigation by the Office of Professional Standards found Prather pulled over young women between the ages of 20 and 35 and then asked them out or asked for their phone number. Prather would deactivate his wireless microphone during the encounters and then report it had malfunctioned. He would also falsely report the gender of the drivers to conceal the number of women he was pulling over, the investigation revealed.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Shit, and all this time I thought that was the reason for stopping women.


By Steve Miletich

The Seattle Times
December 15, 2016

SEATTLE -- The firing of a King County sheriff's deputy -- who was arrested in Newcastle on New Year's Eve 2013 after being found asleep in his patrol car and showing signs of impairment -- has been overturned by an arbitrator.

Arbitrator Michael Cavanaugh, in a decision issued last month, ordered that Deputy Whitney Richtmyer be reinstated and paid back wages.

Richtmyer has returned to duty and assigned to the records unit as a result of his appeal brought by the King County Police Officers Guild.

The deputy, who joined the Sheriff's Office in 1998, was fired in July 2014 for violations involving criminal conduct and dishonest statements related to his actions the previous New Year's Eve, as well as an investigation that found paperwork, including citations, in his car hadn't been turned in over a four-year period.

Richtmyer was taken into custody after a citizen called 911 to report the deputy was hunched over the steering wheel of his marked vehicle.

Alcohol wasn't suspected, but a Bellevue police drug-recognition expert who was called to the scene believed the deputy was "under the influence of some sort of drug, possibly a narcotic," a sheriff's spokeswoman said after the arrest.

Blood drawn from the deputy was submitted to the State Patrol Toxicology Lab, which ran a standard screen on the sample and did not detect drugs, according to the Bellevue Police Department.

Because that finding was at odds with what the drug-recognition expert observed and the deputy's alleged admission he'd taken prescription drugs during his shift, Bellevue police submitted a blood sample to a lab in Pennsylvania that conducts broader substance screenings.

Bellevue police said that new lab analysis had returned with a positive result for the presence of multiple prescription drugs, all of which have impairing qualities and carry warnings they are not to be used while operating machinery or vehicles.

In the arbitration decision, Cavanaugh disagreed with Sheriff John Urquhart's finding that Richtmyer was physically in control of vehicle while impaired because the deputy had pulled safely off the roadway, as allowed under state law.

Consequently, Cavanaugh wrote, he didn't need to resolve a dispute over whether Richtmyer was actually impaired.

Cavanaugh also found Richtmyer had not been dishonest about his use of medication, as well as other actions related to the incident.

"I agree that initial appearances in this case strongly suggested serious misconduct on the part of Deputy Richtmyer," but "appearances" aren't a sufficient basis for the firing of a law-enforcement officer protected under a collective-bargaining agreement, Cavanaugh found.

Cavanaugh ordered Richtmyer be issued a written reprimand for the paperwork violations in lieu of termination, calling his actions sloppy and procrastination but not deliberate. Termination was too severe, particularly when compared with the prior discipline of another deputy in a similar case, he wrote.

He upheld Urquhart's written reprimands for sleeping on duty and similar conduct that occurred after the incident.

During the arbitration proceedings, the guild said Richtmyer was diagnosed with a sleep disorder after the incident for which he is being treated.

Urquhart, in a statement, said: "Under the collective bargaining agreement, the police union has an opportunity to take discipline cases to an outside arbitrator, which was done in this case. I certainly respect the process, but I believe the arbitrator got it wrong. I stand by my decision to terminate."

Thursday, December 15, 2016


Auto theft prevention expert Harry Dunne says: Never ever valet park.

And I never lock or unlock my car with the fob. I lock it bu pressing the button by the door handle. To unlock it, all I have to do is pull the door handle. No code transmission s from my fob.


By Bob Walsh

Yup, it's true. The Wisconsin recount ended up with Trump picking up 131 more votes than he had in the first place. That, however, is not IMHO the REAL story.

The real story was in Michigan, where a federal judge stopped the recount. The partial recount found a SIGNIFICANT overcount in Detroit, which is, as one might expect, heavily Democrat. In 2/3 of the precincts that were counted, which was only slightly more than 40 % of the total, more votes were counted than there were registered voters in the precinct. One precinct in Wayne County counted 306 votes but had only 50 actual ballots.

Krista Haroutunian, chairwoman of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers, remarked, ":This isn't normal." It was unclear whether she meant the massive fraud was not normal or getting caught at it wasn't normal.

The microscopic number of Republican lawmakers in the state are calling for a probe. I am confident that the U.S. Department of Justice will get right on that. (Gag gag cough cough puke.)


Ex-Sheriff’s deputy recalls culture of abuse in the Los Angeles County jails under Lee Baca

By Susan Abram

Los Angeles Daily News
December 14, 2016

A convicted Los Angeles County deputy whose actions within the Men’s Central Jail triggered criminal charges against former Sheriff Lee Baca and many others down the chain of command, recounted for a jury Tuesday how the culture of abuse against inmates was commonplace, and how he got caught.

Shackled at his ankles and wrists and dressed in a white, federal prison jumpsuit, a heavily bearded Gilbert Michel explained at the federal courthouse in downtown L.A. how he beat inmates when he worked at Men’s Central Jail between 2008 and 2011. He also took a $1,500 bribe to smuggle a cell phone to a state prisoner being held there named Anthony Brown. Brown had become an FBI informant, and Michel unknowingly accepted a bribe from an undercover FBI agent in exchange for smuggling the cell phone to Brown.

Federal prosecutors used Michel’s testimony to show the link between him, Brown, the FBI and eventually Baca. Prosecutors have said when the phone was discovered and Sheriff’s Department officials learned the FBI was involved, the plan to thwart the investigation was set into motion. Top brass at the sheriff’s department gave Brown different names, and transferred him to other jails, so FBI officials could no longer find him.

Meanwhile, Michel also testified that he saw a deputy named Justin Bravo, Baca’s nephew, punch and kick another inmate. Michel’s testimony came on the fourth day of Baca’s jail abuse and corruption trial in downtown L.A.’s federal courthouse. Baca is charged with allegedly obstructing justice for trying to keep FBI agents away from Brown and also conspiring to obstruct justice in August and September of 2011.

Baca’s defense attorney, Nathan Hochman, worked to distance Michel’s actions from the former sheriff. Hochman asked Michel if he told other deputies, and those up the chain of command about how he accepted the bribe from the FBI, that he beat inmates, or lied on a report until he was caught.

Michel said no.

Hochman also pointed out that Michel made an agreement with the federal government to accept one charge of bribery in exchange for his testimony against several other Sheriff’s Department personnel.

Michel is currently serving a six month sentence for that one count, even though he accepted two bribes. He was never arrested or charged for beating inmates.

Last week, an imprisoned former Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy told the jury that his illegal hiding of a jail informant from FBI agents was based on orders passed down from the former sheriff and other “big bosses” of the department.

James Sexton testified that he believed directives came through his immediate superiors including Baca to “remove a particular inmate” from the jail system – at least on paper – so federal authorities could not track him down.

In testimony Tuesday, former deputy Tara Adams said she was asked by a Sheriff’s lieutenant to remove Brown’s name from the Men’s Central Jail computer system. But without a court order, she said she couldn’t do it. She said the lieutenant and those with him were upset and told her the orders came from Paul Tanaka, Baca’s undersheriff at the time.

“They said they had their orders from Tanaka,” Adams said. “They said ‘are you going to tell Tanaka no?’ I said ‘Yes, I’ll tell him no. He needs to put it in writing’.”

But before that happened, Adams said her superior changed the name on the file.

Adams was asked by Hochman if she had any communication from Baca. Adams said no.

Tanaka is serving five years in federal prison on corruption charges. Many of the same witnesses who appeared at Tanaka’s trial also are testifying in Baca’s case.

Testimony is expected to continue Wednesday when FBI agent Leah Tanner, known during the investigation as Leah Marx, who is at the center of the investigation, will take the stand. The jury also may hear from a former Los Angeles Times reporter who interviewed Baca about the investigation.

A federal grand jury indicted Baca in August on charges alleging that he conspired to obstruct a grand jury investigation, obstructed justice, and lied to the government in connection with the FBI probe into jail-abuse allegations.

Baca retired from the Sheriff’s Department in 2014.


By Bob Walsh

A total of 99 Dallas PD officers have either retired or otherwise left the department in the last ten weeks. There are only 30 people in the upcoming academy class, and it is unlikely they will all graduate. That class does not start until February. They were hoping for 60 in that class.

The Dallas PD has an ideal strength of 3,500 sworn officers. It is now down to 3,252, approximately 10% below optimal. They would like to have 3 officers per 1,000 residents, which on a national average is very good.

Last year the department lost 294 officers and hired 142. Their pay is below par and their pension fund is in serious financial trouble. They disbanded their property crime unit and their motorcycle unit is half its previous strength. Overall violent crime is up 12% this year over last. The homicide clearance rate is 48%.


By Bob Walsh

OK, Bunker Hill, Indiana isn't the biggest burg in the world. Its police department consisted of one Town Marshall and four reserve deputies. They all quit on Monday.

The officers cited mismanagement of the department and political influence from the town council. Allegedly members of the council asked officers to run background checks and supply confidential information on other council members. There had been nine reserve deputies which the council reduced to four.

Among other things the council cut the Marshall, who is civil service, back to a part-time employee to avoid paying for his medical insurance after he developed cancer.

Council President Brock Speer accepted the resignations, announcing " is what it is."


By Bob Walsh

On Saturday night Yesennia Gonzalez, 28, was stopped for suspected drunk driving in Pima County, AZ. As officers put Ms. Gonzalez in the back of a patrol car she became aggressive and started kicking. She nailed Sgt. Mark Bustamante in the eye with one of her high heels. Surgery was unable to save his eye.

Ms. Gonzalez is facing charges of resisting arrest, DUI and aggravated assault on an officer.

The Sgt. will very likely lose his career due to this drunken asshole. I hope they nail her to the max for everything they can manage and then destroy her in a civil suit. The woman has NOTHING coming. I don't know if the charge of Mayhem applies to this in Arizona, but it sure as hell should.


By Bob Walsh

The California High-Speed Rail Authority is a misnomer, a very expensive joke and Jerry Brown's pet project. It got both a modest shove forward and a modest kick in the ass today.

The high-speed rail board approved $3.2 billion in funding for two segments of the project. The largest chunk, $2.6 billion, is for the Fresno to Madera leg, 16 miles. (I am confident that everybody will want to spent $2.6 billion to travel not-so-quickly by train from Fresno to Madera. Or not.) The remainder is to electrify a section of existing CalTrain track between S.F. and San Jose that will (hopefully-maybe) eventually connect to the rest of the system. The money must be coughed up to meet federal matching funds. This money comes from $10 billion that the voters approved as Proposition 1A back in 2008 when the proposed total cost was a measly $40 billion. (Even optimistic estimates now put it at $67 billion, and also admit that it will be much slower than the mandated travel times that are actually written into the ballot language.)

While this was happening Stuart Flashman announced that he had submitted yet another lawsuit challenging the legality of AB1889, a quickie rush-thru bill passed thru the legislature last year that re-wrote a large chunk of Proposition 1A. It is his contention that since the original bill was a ballot initiative passed by a vote of the people only another vote of the people can make any significant change to it.

The pro-train mob asserts that AB1889 merely CLARIFIED Proposition 1A rather than making any material changes. Its horseshit of course, but you never know what a California court might say. At one time the California Supreme Court, under Jerry's appointee Rose Bird, determined that a murderer did not intend to kill a man he deliberately decapitated. Black is White and Up is Down if you want it to be badly enough, and have the power to make it stick. The California courts have already ruled that even though the program is clearly fucked up it can continue because it is (not yet) completely, totally and irretrievably fucked up.


By Bob Walsh

On Monday she called the cops repeatedly and told them that she needed protection. She wanted somebody to come and keep watch. She was having a significant issue with an ex and was afraid it would turn bad. She was not wrong.

Somebody walked up to the front door of the second floor Magnolia St. apartment on Monday night right around 9 p.m. and blasted about 16 shots thru the front door. Two people are in critical condition. Two more have significant injuries.

The Sacramento SO had responded to that location twice during the day, both due to specific disturbances. There are no security cameras at the complex and the access control gates are allegedly non-functional. There is no on-sight security, though there used to be. Used to be doesn't help a lot apparently.

There may have been as many as 14 people living in the unit at the time of the shooting. It is believed that the shooting was not random but rather was committed by someone known to one or more residents of the unit.


BY Bob Walsh

Any form of conditional release for someone with a long criminal history has its potential issues. I offer a case in point.

Mathew Wade Barnec, 33, is a resident of beautiful Stockton. He was arraigned yesterday on charges related to the hit-and-run deaths of three people in Stockton last Thursday. Somebody, presumably Barnec, ran down and killed a bicyclist on the Hwy 99 frontage road about 7:40 p.m. After responding to that collision the cops found a stolen Honda with significant front-end damage and two dead people in it. Those people died from collision injuries.

Barnec told the judge that he did not want a public defender and has the ability to hire his own counsel and therefore his arraignment was put off two weeks.

Barnec has, since 2003, served four prison sentences, primarily for stealing automobiles. (That's barely a crime in the formerly great state of California any more.) He was out of custody on O. R. (own recognizance) on two other charges when his three most recent alleged victims were killed. He was awaiting sentencing on one of those cases when this most recent situation went down.

Barnec is being held against a $1.4 million bond in this case. He is also being held without bond on the additional, previous charge that he had previously been out on O.R. on.

Clearly this is a man who refuses to play by the rules. I hope they hang him, after a fair trial of course.

EDITOR’S NOTE: You can say that about any form or amount of bail for someone who has a track record of repeated criminality. Whoever authorized O.R. for Barnec must have been smoking some funny tobacco.