Tag Archives: Law Enforcement

How hard is it to get a warrant?

cell phone recordConnecticut claims it is too hard to get a warrant to obtain the cell phone records. In Connecticut-the police can obtain the cell phone records of “anybody” with an “ex parte  application. Here is the article from “a public defender”.

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Transparency and the Jacksonville Police Department

Florida Beach - Police Cars
Image by mnadi via Flickr

This is transparency.  Makes accountabilty as a “public official”  very real for this employees.

Report: 6 Jacksonville Beach officers disciplined in 2008

JACKSONVILLE BEACH – Six police officers were disciplined last year after internal affairs investigations showed they violated rules of conduct in cases including a drunken-driving arrest, auto accidents and an unauthorized chase.

One of the most serious penalties was issued to Cpl. Robert Bacon, the officer who fatally shot a man who threatened him with a gun in 2005.

A summary of Bacon’s internal affairs report and several others recently became public as part of the Jacksonville Beach Police Department’s annual internal report.

Bacon received 80 hours’ suspension, a demotion in rank and six months’ probation for showing up intoxicated at the Police Department about 8 p.m. Oct. 3, according to the report. He was off-duty at the time.

Bacon wasn’t arrested or charged with drunken driving. However, his behavior drew the attention of another officer, who noticed his awkward parking and unsteady gait. Bacon told the officer not to report him to the supervisor on duty and asked him to drive him somewhere, causing the officer to leave his post, the records said.

Bacon received a medal of valor and was promoted to sergeant after the 2005 shooting of 21-year-old Jamie Williams, which police and prosecutors concluded was justified.

Police said Williams and two friends were involved in a botched plot on Oct. 11, 2005, to rob and kill a Jacksonville Jaguars cheerleader in Neptune Beach. After fleeing an attempted burglary at the cheerleader’s house, Williams got a gun, ran into the ocean and turned the weapon to his own head. He then pointed the gun at Bacon and refused Bacon’s orders to drop it.

During last year’s internal affairs investigation, Bacon told officers that he had consumed four beers hours before he arrived at the department. As part of his discipline, Bacon was required to participate in the Employee Assistance Program.

Alcohol also created a problem for Officer Dan Watts, who was arrested July 28 on Jacksonville’s Westside and charged with a drunken-driving accident. Watts was driving home from work about 2:30 a.m. when he ran a red light at Chaffee Road and his truck struck a commercial cargo tractor-trailer. No one was seriously injured in the accident.

Watts received 200 hours’ suspension for violating codes of conduct. In addition, the department required him to participate in the Employee Assistance Program and indefinitely suspended his use of patrol cars, requiring him to patrol the community with a bicycle or Segway.

Records in his internal affairs file show Watts’s blood-alcohol level was about 0.16, twice the legal limit to drive. Watts told internal investigation officers that he had four to six drinks over a four-hour period before the accident.

Here are some of the details in the other four cases:

– Canine Officer Craig Pfeuffer received a written reprimand after he destroyed a patrol car about 2 a.m. Aug. 22 during a high-speed chase on 13th Avenue South and Roberts Drive. He wasn’t wearing a seat belt during the incident.

Pfeuffer was chasing people who had fled a home invasion robbery on Sixth Avenue South. The roads were wet because Tropical Storm Fay had drenched the area.

At one point, Pfeuffer drove up to 73 mph as he pursued the car west on 13th Avenue South. He put on the brakes as he neared the curve at Roberts Drive. But he lost control of the car and it jumped the curb, went airborne and landed in the bushes near a chain link fence.

– Officer Brandon Shoemaker received a written reprimand for chasing people in a stolen truck Aug. 31. Those in the truck were fleeing a burglary in Ocean Cay, a neighborhood off South Beach Parkway.

Shoemaker was chasing the truck about 10 p.m., going south on Third Street South, when a sergeant told him to “break it off” because there was too much traffic and the suspects were involved only in a property crime. Despite the sergeant’s order, Shoemaker turned on the patrol car’s lights and sirens and continued the chase for a few more minutes, the internal affairs report said.

Shortly after crossing into St. Johns County, the suspects’ vehicle lost control and crashed. No one was seriously injured.

– Another case, involving the improper use of a criminal background search in March, led to 30 hours’ suspension for Officer Shawn Stieb and 10 hours’ suspension for Officer Jason Ashton.

Stieb told investigators that he needed to get a criminal background check on his daughter’s friend before she could attend the senior prom with his daughter in St. Johns County. Students who don’t attend St. Johns County public schools can’t buy a prom ticket until they are cleared by a criminal background check.

Ashton was disciplined for letting Stieb do the computerized criminal justice search with his identification number and agreed to sign a memo confirming the girl did not have a criminal record. City policy prohibits police officers from using the criminal background system for personal reasons.

– Officer Michael Branscom received a written reprimand for cursing and using unnecessary force on a woman at a loud house party in the 1300 block of Sixth Avenue North. About 40 people attended the Oct. 4 party, where underage people were drinking alcohol, Branscom said.

He said he entered the back door and asked everyone to quiet down, but they wouldn’t comply. He asked the 21-year-old woman who was hosting the party to help get the situation under control, but she yelled at him, saying he didn’t have the right to enter her house without a warrant. When the woman’s screaming and yelling escalated, Branscom started to handcuff her and she fell to the ground and continued resisting him.

Later, Branscom removed the woman’s handcuffs and issued a citation to her and her brother for hosting the party. He acknowledged using profanity and losing his temper during the incident.

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NC Private Investigator To Be On Talk Forensics Radio

Although this is a PR release, it is after all about Monty Clark, the famous Monty Clark

Private Investigator Monty Clark Is This Week’s Guest on Talk Forensics Radio Show Feb 22

2009-02-17 20:11:14 – Talk Forensics, a new talk radio show hosted by Larry Daniel of Guardian Digital Forensics, is proud to announce Monty Clark, Private Investigator will be the guest on Talk Forensics Radio for the February 22nd Episode.

About our guest:

Monty Clark is a member of the North Carolina Association of Private Investigators (NCAPI), the South Carolina Association of Legal Investigators (SCALI), The National Association of Professional Process Servers (NAPPS), The US Process Servers Association (USPSA) and the Internationl Association of Process Servers. Monty has been on the Board of Director’s for the North Carolina Association of Private Investigators for the past 13 years serving as Vice President from 1996-2000. He has served as President of the NCAPI during 2000-2002 and 2004-2005. He is presently serving as the President.

Prior to entering the Private Investigative profession, Monty was a Charlotte City Police Officer for 11 years. During this time he assisted the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) in various undercover assignments. He was then transferred to the Vice and Narcotics Bureau where he served four years undercover investigating specialized crimes. Monty was then transferred to the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, Narcotics Interdiction Unit investigating drug smuggling.

Monty was also assigned to special tasks units that provided executive protection for President Ronald Reagan, President Jimmy Carter and Presidential Candidate Gary Hart during their visits to the Charlotte area.

In 1997 Monty was accepted by the National Football League (NFL) to assist as the Associate Security Representative assigned to the Carolina Panthers Football Team.

About the Show:

The purpose of our show is to educate and entertain the public on the various fields of forensic science, crime scene investigation, missing person searches and various aspects of the legal system as it relates to forensic science.

You can call (646) 727-3674 and ask questions of our Expert Guest during the live show.

About our host:

The host of our show is Larry E. Daniel. Larry is the primary expert for Guardian Digital Forensics. Larry is well known for his work on capital cases and is an expert in computer forensics.  Larry also writes a popular internet blog on forensics at http://www.exforensis.blogspot.com.

The show airs on www.blogtalkradio.com/TalkForensics each Sunday at 4PM Eastern. Shows will be available soon after on iTunes as pod casts.

We are currently looking for additional guests in various forensic disciplines and for law enforcement experts as well. Contact Leslie Denton for more information or to be considered for the show. (919)868-6291 or email leslie@guardiandf.com

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How Politics Influences Criminal Law

Here is an example of how politics influences the crime level, whether or not an activity is legal or not.

Blueprints

N.C. legislation that makes vandalism a felony becomes law

Triangle Business Journal – by Sonia L. Johnson

Dathan Kaszuk
Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby says some cases of vandalism “cried for” tougher punishment.

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RALEIGH – To combat the many acts of vandalism reported every year, the state’s construction industry has pushed through legislation that could put offenders behind bars for as long as 12 months.

A bill signed by Gov. Mike Easley that goes into effect on Dec. 31 elevates acts of vandalism that result in more than $5,000 in damages to class 1 felonies. Previously, such acts were classified as misdemeanors.

For many in the construction industry, the change could not come soon enough. Counties are reporting thousands of cases of vandalism, and some of these crimes are said to occur at construction sites.

In Wake County, not including incorporated areas such as Raleigh, the number of cases of vandalism in 2006 and 2007 was 1,838, of which arrests were made in 219 cases, according to the Wake County Sheriff’s Office.

This year, as of Aug. 22, the county reported 547 cases with 60 arrests. Of the 547 cases, 23 occurred at construction sites.

Statewide, in 2007, the number of arrests tied to vandalism dropped to 9,876, compared to 10,882 arrests reported in the previous year.

Vandals are said to specifically target remote or less-frequented places such as subdivisions under construction, country churches and schools that are closed for summer vacations.

CASE OF A MARINE

Leading the charge for tougher punishment was state Rep. Robert Grady, a Republican from Onslow County who sponsored House Bill 946. Grady points to the case of a young couple in Onslow County who bought their first home in a new neighborhood. The husband – a Marine – was readying to leave for Iraq. The couple and furniture arrived at the home, ready to move in before he left. The man unlocked the door to find that vandals had left a trail of destruction. They had hammered every appliance and metal fixture once, expertly, aiming to ruin each piece. Every countertop and toilet was broken. The faucets on both floors were opened, and the house was flooded. The second story floor had collapsed from the weight of the water. The wiring was ruined. Damage to the house totaled $25,000 – too much money for a couple who had already sunk their savings into their home.

According to Grady, the builder took pity on the couple and let them have another house, saddling himself with the damaged home. But there was more bad news. Four other unsold homes in the neighborhood had also been systematically vandalized. The total bill for damages handed to the builder totaled $125,000.

Grady says that while the vandals were later caught, there was no justice for the victims because the crime was classified as a misdemeanor, with a maximum penalty of a $1,000 fine and 30 days community service.

“The fellows that did it were sitting there laughing,” says Grady.

Grady was so upset over the story, over the pictures of the damage, that he led the effort to harden punishment for the crime. At legislative meetings, he held up pictures of the damaged home and the traumatized home owners. Both the Carolinas Associated General Contractors and the North Carolina Home Builders Association supported the legislation.

WANTON DESTRUCTION

After passing both chambers, the legislation was signed into law by Gov. Easley on June 25.

The aim of the legislation is to raise the stakes for the worst offenders, says Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby. “There were some cases that cried for more than a class 2 misdemeanor, with extensive damage and people bent on mischief, not just some kids … but on wanton destruction.” Grady says vandals are aware of the current, light punishment – in fact, they count on it.

He says the crimes are premeditated and that vandals choose properties with lower odds of getting caught. They also go in with a plan of destruction and often bring tools – hammers, paint etc. After a house has been vandalized, the builder has no choice but to replace broken mirrors, toilets and cracked countertops. One dent in a fixture warrants its replacement.

“It’s just pure destruction, and it’s a conscious act, full of hate and anger,” says Grady. “They might be sick, but they’re not crazy. They’re coldly rational and go in with a well thought-out plan of destruction.”

Says Carolinas AGC’s Building Director Dave Simpson: “(The legislation) couldn’t come at a better time because people are getting desperate, especially with the economy the way it is. It sends a strong message to the public that if you’re going to vandalize churches, schools and construction projects, you better think twice.”

But how much good can the law do? For that matter, how will vandals learn about the tougher punishment?

Willoughby says that because the punishment for vandalism is commonly known among such offenders, word will spread.

For its part, the NCHBA has signs ready for members to post at construction sites.

SECOND VICTORY

Conviction under a class I felony results at a minimum in community punishment. This includes some combination of fines, basic probation and community service. If the vandal has a prior record, the judge could raise it to intermediate punishment, which places the offender under supervised probation plus some other special condition such as house arrest or a sentence of 30 to 60 days followed by probation. The hardened repeater, Willoughby says, faces an active sentence of 6 to 12 months in jail.

Willoughby also points out that, once convicted of a felony, a person forfeits the ability to obtain certain licenses.

Raising the crime to a felony also gives prosecutors extra leverage, he says, and allows prosecutors to justify putting resources toward such cases.

This is the second major victory for the construction industry in fighting crimes. In 2005, builders welcomed a state law that tightened punishment for construction site thefts. The NCHBA had solicited horror stories from members, and those flooded in. That only left a gap around vandalism cases, according to Lisa Martin, director of regulatory affairs for the NCHBA. The association hoped legislators would be sympathetic to issues of vandalism at construction sites, sensitized as they were by the stories of construction site thefts. Passage of the vandalism law suggests that may be the case.

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