Archive for September, 2013

Richmond VA Sept 30 2013 Using Department of Motor Vehicles records as its core, the state government is quietly developing a master identity database of Virginia residents for use by state agencies.

The state enterprise record – the master electronic ID database – would help agencies ferret out fraud and help residents do business electronically with the state more easily, officials said.While officials say the e-ID initiative will be limited in scope and access, it comes at a time of growing public concern about electronic privacy, identity theft and government intrusion.

“It makes it easier to compromise your privacy,” said Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia. “They’re using DMV for some other purpose than driving.”

DMV points out that, in today’s world, state driver’s licenses are the fundamental identification documents used by most Americans.
State officials say participation in the e-ID system will be voluntary, but the reason that the state has been moving to offer “privacy-enhancing credentials” to Virginia residents is the increasing number of government services offered online.

However, “anything you make more accessible and efficient for the user, you potentially open up for opportunities for risk, for attack,” said Robby Demeria, executive director of RichTech, Richmond’s technology council.

The first state agency using the largely federally funded Commonwealth Authentication Service system will be the Department of Social Services, aiming to satisfy federal Medicaid requirements under the Affordable Care Act and to reduce eligibility fraud and errors. The system goes live Tuesday.

About 70 percent of Social Services’ clients are in DMV’s database, said David W. Burhop, the Department of Motor Vehicles’ deputy commissioner and chief information officer.

Four state agencies are now involved in Virginia’s e-ID initiative: DMV, the state’s “ID professionals”; the Virginia Information Technologies Agency, which runs the state’s IT systems; the Department of Social Services; and the Department of Medical Assistance Services.

DMV has the records of about 5.9 million licensed drivers and ID card holders. Some of that information – names, addresses, dates of birth, driver’s license numbers – will form the core of the state’s identity authentication system.

“To us, it is a tool that allows individuals to create online accounts,” said Craig C. Markva, communications director of the Department of Medical Assistance Services, speaking for Secretary of Health and Human Resources William A. Hazel Jr.

“When someone wants to do this, we need to be able to verify that the person trying to access the account is who he or she claims to be,” Markva said.

“This requires that they provide basic demographic information … that we can compare to what is known by DMV or by DSS (Department of Social Services) already.”

So far there’s been no public discussion in Virginia of the state’s electronic personal identity initiative or the use of the Internet for increasingly more transactions with the state government.

“When we allow governments to do that,” said Virginia ACLU’s Gastañaga, “it facilitates and empowers things that we might not want to have happen if the wrong people get into power.”

Decisions based on the convenience of using information technology are often done with a short-term perspective, said Rob S. Hegedus, chief executive officer of Sera-Brynn, a cybersecurity company in Suffolk.

“The privacy aspect catches up afterwards,” he said.

The state does not plan to hold public hearings on the Commonwealth Authentication Service system, officials said, but Demeria with RichTech contends “there’s plenty of reason for us to have a public discussion, debate, (and) consideration.”

“We want to make sure all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed before we execute,” he said.

For members of the public, Burhop said, e-ID would allow use of the Internet with security and privacy while needing only a single sign-on, providing faster service and lowering service costs.

“This is geared toward citizens who say, ‘Why do I have to fill out this again?’ ” DMV’s Burhop said.

Virginia is a leader in using online transactions, DMV said. But in order to move higher-risk transactions to the Internet, a more robust authentication method is needed, officials said.

For example, if a Virginian sells a car to another state resident, the deal requires a physical exchange of the registration card and the handwritten information on the card that is often hard for DMV representatives to read when the buyer registers the vehicle at the agency, noted Pam Goheen, DMV’s assistant commissioner for communications.

“If both parties had a high-assurance credential such as an e-ID,” Goheen said, “this transaction could be done entirely online which would include the registration and title updates eliminating the need to visit the DMV and speeding up the process.”

The Virginia Information Technologies Agency and contractor Northrop Grumman are responsible for state IT infrastructure, but state agencies are responsible for their business applications and the data they hold, said Sam Nixon Jr., the state’s chief information officer.

IT security is a shared responsibility between VITA and the state agencies it serves, Nixon said.

DMV says the $4.3 million Commonwealth Authentication Service system will be safe from abuse because agencies will control individuals’ files. Those files will not all be put into a single database open to other agencies.

Agencies using the service to verify a client’s identity will get only a yes-or-no reply from the Commonwealth Authentication Service system, DMV said.
And the DMV has not suffered a data breach, Burhop said.

Nonetheless, cyberhackers are always trying to break into the state’s IT system.

In 2012, VITA and Northrop Grumman blocked more than 110 million cyberattacks on the state’s data networks, Nixon said. “You can do the math, but that represents hundreds of thousands of blocked attacks each day.”

More than 47,000 viruses were blocked before they affected Virginia’s government IT assets, Nixon said, and the number of security incidents VITA detects and fixes has tripled since 2011.

But in 2009, before the Northrop Grumman took over the state’s IT system, hackers got into the Virginia Department of Health Professions’ prescription-monitoring database. Though it was unclear what records were actually taken, the database contained records of more than half a million people and more than 35 million prescriptions.

Also in 2009, the Department of Education sent a thumb drive to another agency that contained more than 103,000 sensitive records. It was later determined that the thumb drive was lost.

“When you ask a government entity to keep something like this safe, they really can’t,” Sera-Brynn’s Hegedus said. “Nobody can guarantee it.”

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CLEVELAND, Ohio Sept 28 2013 – For the second time in two days, the city of Cleveland on Friday announced that it is expanding the use of portable traffic cameras.

And this time, the city got it right.

At a news briefing held near a traffic camera at 2300 St. Clair Avenue, city officials said the would be placing six Xerox traffic-enforcement machines around the city to catch speeding drivers in the act.

The announcement came a day after city officials reported that they placed five speed cameras along five thoroughfares citywide, only to issue a statement 30 minutes later noting that two of the locations did not have the required signs, warning drivers that they were entering a speed enforcement zone. The release also noted technical problems, but did not elaborate.

Cleveland City Council overwhelmingly approved the expansion in May, and city officials have said the move is intended to improve safety rather than raise money.

Each ticket triggered by the devices costs the driver $100. Some of that money is used to pay a flat monthly fee to Xerox State and Local Solutions, Inc., while the city gets to keep the rest.

One of those who had to pay was Cleveland Safety Director Martin Flask, who said Friday that he was caught by a camera driving 37 mph in a 25 mph zone.
“I was angry when I got the ticket, but I paid it,” Flask said.

The portable camera unit devices are part of the broader automated photo enforcement program, which Flask said launched in 2005 and netted the city $6 million in tickets last year. That number could increase in the years to come, as the city plans to eventually have 15 portable cameras deployed.

And because they’re portable, they can be picked up and moved to different locations, which Department of Public Safety project manager Larry Jones II said will happen as often as every three days.

Another advantage to the devices is that operate by themselves, without the use of an officer. Flask said that will save the city about $500,000 in salary and benefit costs annually.

Flask, pointing out that the total combined revenue and cost savings only adds up to about 1 percent of the city’s $500 million operating budget, said the devices are really about keeping pedestrians and drivers alike safe as they traverse the city’s streets.

“All we’re asking is for people to respect our neighborhoods, respect our children and drive within the speed limit,” Flask said.
Here’s how they work. A sign placed about 100 feet in front of the camera alerts drivers there may be a traffic enforcement device in the area. The large, white box – which is hard to miss – sits on the sidewalk. Radar extends out from the box in a cone-shape, capturing driver’s speeds once they reach about 20 feet past the device.

While the device measures the speeds of all drivers that pass, it only enforces in one direction, and only snaps a photo while a car is traveling at least 11 mph over the designated speed limit.

“I think our enforcement policy is very fair,” Jones said.

Flask said there’s about a 10-day process from the moment the picture is snapped to the issuing of a ticket. During that 10 days, the ticket information is examined by Xerox, compared with the Department of Motor Vehicles and then sent to the Cleveland Police Department, which issues the ticket.

Flask said each photo will be inspected to make sure the ticket is warranted and that the vehicle wasn’t an emergency or funeral vehicle. He also said there is an appeal process for drivers who feel they don’t deserve the ticket they received.

The devices also capture video, which is archived for 60 days. That, Jones said, could help in the event an accident is captured nearby.

Jones said the devices are re-calibrated every year, and the city maintains all maintenance and service records on the devices.

The cameras are stationed at 4050 Superior Ave., 2416 East 55th St., 2300 St. Clair Ave., 3219 Detroit Ave., and 4123 Pearl Road. A device was originally set up on Edgewater Drive, but was removed due to “densely wooded tree lawns in the area,” the city said.

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Federal agents will start targeting high-level drug traffickers in Puerto Rico with intelligence gathered during a three-month blitz on criminal activity in the U.S. territory, the Department of Homeland Security said Thursday.

The campaign is part of operation “Caribbean Resilience,” which began in July 2012 and focuses on the smuggling of drugs, weapons, money and migrants.

The agency says agents have seized some 53,000 pounds (24,000 kilograms) of drugs, confiscated more than 170 firearms and arrested more than 320 suspected criminals who will be prosecuted at federal and local levels.

“We have not only made the streets of Puerto Rico much safer, but also improved security in the mainland United States,” said John Sandweg, acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Officials said the drugs in Puerto Rico are mostly cocaine and some heroin imported from Latin America that is being sold locally as well as shipped to the U.S. and Europe. Weapons are being smuggled in from the U.S. mainland through checked luggage, and Transportation Security Administration officials have adjusted screening procedures to catch the firearms, the DHS said.
Agents have increased the number of cargo inspections and strengthened security at the main international airport by adding more dogs and officers with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The U.S. Coast Guard bolstered its resources in areas including the eastern portion of the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Mona Passage, a popular smuggling route that lies between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

Some 30 agents with Homeland Security Investigations were assigned to the island over the past three months, and an additional seven agents were permanently deployed, DHS officials said.

The three-month offensive focused on street-level enforcement that allowed agents to cull intelligence following the arrests of dozens of suspects, the DHS said.

The island of 3.7 million people is struggling with a crime wave that brought a record 1,117 homicides in 2011.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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New Internet Crime Initiative

A pilot program targeting Internet crime—focused on establishing a model for sharing information and coordinating investigations—was recently launched by the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) and the state of Utah.

“The Utah pilot is the first step in our efforts to fix a gap that the FBI and our state and local law enforcement partners have recognized exists in the investigation and prosecution of Internet fraud,” said Richard McFeely, executive assistant director of the Bureau’s Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch. “Because not all Internet fraud schemes rise to the level necessary to prosecute them in federal court, we are enhancing how we package the investigative leads we receive at IC3 and disseminating those packages directly to state and local agencies.” Based on the initial results of the Utah pilot, he said, the FBI plans to expand it to other states.

Internet fraud and other Internet-based crimes for profit cause untold financial losses each year. The IC3 reports that in 2012 alone, victims reported more than $500 million in losses due to crimes like fraudulent auto sales, intimidation/extortion scams, online dating fraud, scareware and ransomware, auction fraud, charity fraud, and computer intrusions. Our new initiative, led by IC3 with the assistance of our Cyber and Criminal Investigative Divisions, combines law enforcement resources to strategically pursue criminals responsible for these kinds of crimes.

How the program works. Using its complaint database and its analytical capabilities, IC3 personnel create actionable intelligence packages that are connected to particular geographic regions. These packages can highlight trends, identify individuals and criminal enterprises based on commonalities of complaints, link different methods of operation back to the same organization, and detect various layers of criminal activity. They will also contain results of preliminary investigative research performed by IC3 analysts, including criminal record checks and basic web domain searches.

Once the packages are complete, they are submitted to the local FBI cyber task force for further action, giving investigators a leg up on any case before the first interview is even conducted.
Our cyber task forces, located in every field office, are made up of FBI agents, other federal representatives, and state and local law enforcement dedicated to investigating a whole range of cyber threats, including Internet crime. In the Utah pilot program, our agents team up with officers from the Utah Department of Public Safety State Bureau of Investigation, along with federal and local prosecutors. Decisions are made jointly whether to prosecute locally or federally, or if violations of local statutes can be combined in a federal prosecution going after an entire criminal enterprise that operates across jurisdictional lines.

Another vital aspect of our focused effort to investigate Internet crime is partnering with state agencies charged with the regulatory policing of the various entities being investigated—like consumer protection bureaus—as well as federal regulatory agencies. Our cyber task force in Salt Lake City has made those partnerships a priority.

A note to the public: The information extracted from crime complaints submitted to IC3 is the bedrock of this initiative, so the more complaints IC3 receives, the more effective law enforcement can be in identifying and arresting those responsible. If you believe you or someone you know may have been a victim of Internet crime, please file a complaint with IC3.

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Houston neighborhoods turn to private security

HOUSTON TX Sept 26 2013 — Recent crime trends in the Oak Forest area have residents and their homeowner’s association doing more to beef up security. On top of normal HPD service, neighbors are now considering adding private security as well.

Many residents say they’ve been taking proactive steps to try curbing crime and they’re hoping a constant security presence on theirs streets can help make a difference.

It’s a normally quiet community, but like many neighborhoods across Houston, Oak Forest has been getting hit with its fair share of crime recently.

“Because of the rapid growth and development, it’s put a lot of challenges on our security program,” Oak Forest resident George Dobek said.

From robberies, to burglaries and car break-ins, Houston police patrols the area, but some folks like Dobek feel more needs to done.

“They’ll call the police sometimes. Police are rather late in showing up, and there’s just this kind of defeatist attitude that kind of develops,” he said.

That’s why Oak Forest’s HOA has been researching security options for months. The group’s trying to convince neighbors to pitch in to hire SEAL Security to dedicate extra patrols here.

“We do a vehicle patrol through the communities, but we also are able to get out and do a foot patrol of areas where you cannot get a vehicle,” said James Alexander with SEAL Security.

SEAL Security already works with neighborhood groups, apartment complexes and management districts across Houston. And the officers say their presence has been making a significant impact in comparable-sized areas like Sharpstown.

“We’ve been able to come in and cut their crime stats in half inside the community,” Alexander said.

“I don’t know how much of an effect it would make on crime, to tell you the truth,” Oak Forest resident Jesus Gonzalez said.
And even with some neighbors like Gonzalez on the fence about an outside security company, the Oak Forest HOA is confident it can raise the money to bring in an extra crime fighting tool.

The Oak Forest Homeowners Association is asking about 1,200 neighbors to make a commitment for the security program by October 15. The group’s also holding several fundraisers to reach their goal.

Crime Stoppers will pay up to $5,000 for any information called in to the 713-222-TIPS (8477) or submitted online at that leads to the filing of felony charges or arrest of the suspect(s) in this case. Tips can also be sent by text message. Text TIP610 plus your tip to CRIMES (274637). All tipsters remain anonymous.

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New York State is creating a statewide system of specialized criminal courts to handle prostitution cases and provide services to help wrest human- and sex-trafficking victims from the cycle of exploitation and arrest, the state’s chief judge announced on Wednesday. The initiative, he said, is the first of its kind in the nation. Eleven new courts across the state, modeled on three narrower pilot projects in New York City and Nassau County, will bring together specially trained prosecutors, judges and defense lawyers, along with social workers and an array of other services, the chief judge, Jonathan Lippman said in a speech to the Citizens Crime Commission in Midtown Manhattan.

“Human trafficking is a crime that inflicts terrible harm on the most vulnerable members of society: victims of abuse, the poor, children, runaways, immigrants,” Judge Lippman said. “It is in every sense a form of modern-day slavery. We cannot tolerate this practice in a civilized society, nor can we afford to let victims of trafficking slip between the cracks of our justice system.”

The new Human Trafficking Intervention Courts will handle all cases involving prostitution-related offenses that continue past arraignment, Judge Lippman said. Cases will be evaluated by the judge, defense lawyer and prosecutor, and if they agree, the court will refer defendants to services like drug treatment, shelter, immigration assistance and health care, as well as education and job training, in an effort to keep them from returning to the sex trade.

The new program is in some measure modeled after specialized courts for domestic violence and low-level drug offenses. They are intended to end the Sisyphean shuffling of victims of trafficking through the criminal justice system, a process that fails to address the underlying reasons for their landing in court — or on the streets — in the first place, the judge said.

The initiative comes at a time of growing consensus among criminal justice professionals across the country that in many cases it makes more sense to treat people charged with prostitution offenses as victims rather than defendants. It is a view that is in some measure born of an increasing focus on the widespread trafficking of under-age girls; women typically enter prostitution in the United States between ages 12 and 14, Judge Lippman said.

That consensus was reflected by some of the people who joined Judge Lippman for the announcement. There were district attorneys from across the state, including Cyrus R. Vance Jr. from Manhattan, Richard A. Brown from Queens and Daniel M. Donovan Jr. from Staten Island; Kathleen M. Rice from Nassau County, who heads the state’s District Attorneys Association; Steven Banks, the Legal Aid Society’s attorney in chief; and Lori L. Cohen, director of Sanctuary for Families’ Anti-Trafficking Initiative, a leading advocate for trafficking victims. Representatives of some of the dozen other service providers involved in the new program also attended.

The consensus was also reflected by three laws passed by the New York Legislature in recent years, including the Anti-Human Trafficking Act, which criminalizes sex and labor trafficking; the Safe Harbor for Exploited Children Act, under which anyone younger than 18 who is arrested on prostitution charges is treated as “a sexually exploited child”; and a law that allows trafficking victims to have their prostitution convictions vacated.

The new courts, one in each of New York City’s five boroughs and six others situated from Long Island to Buffalo, will all be functioning by the end of October, Judge Lippman said. They will handle 95 percent of the thousands of cases each year in which people are charged with prostitution and human trafficking offenses.

Other cities across the country have special trafficking courts, including Baltimore; Columbus, Ohio; Phoenix; and West Palm Beach, Fla. A law that took effect this month in Texas requires the largest counties to start prostitution diversion programs, and Connecticut has two courts that deal with so-called quality-of-life offenses, including prostitution.

But New York State’s new courts, Judge Lippman said, represent the first statewide system to deal with human trafficking.

He said setting up the courts would require minimal to no additional spending because the system would simply be handling the same cases in a more creative manner. He said there would be more costs to the service providers, which are financed largely by government grants and private sources, but he could not provide a dollar figure.

Mr. Banks, of the Legal Aid Society, said in an interview that the new system was “an extremely important step forward nationally” to set up courts where people accused of prostitution and prostitution-related offenses can be connected to programs that offer what he called “a pathway to change.”

“It’s certainly critical that underlying all of this is the concept of providing a helping hand rather than the back of a hand,” he said. “Survivors of trafficking are left with literally an indelible scar in the form of a criminal record that affects employment, housing, financial aid for college and government benefits and even the ability to stay in this county.”

The approach being tried in New York, he added, “can give human trafficking survivors a second chance in life.” Correction: September 25, 2013

An earlier version of this article gave an incorrect name for the director of Sanctuary for Families’ Anti-Trafficking Initiative, an advocacy group for trafficking victims. Her name is Lori L. Cohen, not Laurie Cohen.

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A national background check system is intended to prevent gun sales to people with serious mental illness, but it’s a haphazard way to figure out who poses real danger.

WASHINGTON — For years, federal and state governments have struggled to build a background check system that can keep guns out of the hands of mentally troubled people.

Monday’s mass shooting at the Navy Yard shows that goal remains elusive.

The National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, run by the FBI, is supposed to prevent gun sales to people with serious mental illness, as well as to convicted criminals, fugitives and domestic violence offenders. (Despite the system’s name, not all the people it flags have been accused of wrongdoing.) President Obama, lawmakers and gun-control advocates have pushed hard to persuade states to turn over more of their mental health records to the federal system.

But the fix isn’t that simple. Because of problems in the mental health system and NICS’ definition of mental illness, the national background check system has proved to be a haphazard way of trying to identify who might be too dangerous to own a gun.

Most mentally ill people — including Aaron Alexis, the Navy Yard shooter who apparently showed signs of psychosis — never get treatment or aren’t recognized as being in crisis.

Only a small fraction of people with mental illness meet the federal standards for inclusion in the gun database. Those standards include a court ruling of insanity. Most, however, enter the database after they have been involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital. Further, most people who are involuntarily hospitalized — typically under a 72-hour hold for observation — aren’t included in the database, because they cases never received a formal mental health evaluation by a judge.

The result is a system that misses many people who are at risk of harming themselves or others, while it sweeps in thousands of others who are no longer dangerous or never were in the first place.

“We set the bar pretty high before we take away someone’s gun rights,” said Mark Glaze, director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which is fighting for an improved background check system.

The pro-gun lobby and many mental health advocates would oppose more expansive rules, he noted, saying, “It’s hard to imagine we are going to lower the bar on that.”

Some states use tougher standards than the federal rules to try to keep guns out of the hands of people with mental illness. California bans someone from buying a gun for five years after a 72-hour commitment. Even people who check themselves into a hospital for psychiatric treatment can lose their ability to buy a gun.

But California doesn’t send those names to the federal system; state officials decided their mental health records didn’t meet the federal guidelines. Of the 1.3 million such records in its state database, California has sent only 400,000 to NICS.

That means someone with a recent 72-hour hospitalization would be banned from buying a gun in California but could clear a background check in another state.

In 2006, former postal worker Jennifer Sanmarco returned to her old post office in Goleta and shot six people, then killed herself. Sanmarco had spent three days in a Ventura hospital after a history of bizarre and paranoid behavior — and couldn’t legally buy a gun in California.

But she had no trouble passing a background check when she bought her gun at a New Mexico pawn shop. At the time, California had not submitted any records to NICS.

The Navy Yard shooting points to another problem: Like Alexis, most people who suffer from apparent mental illness are never treated.

Even though police who encountered Alexis in Rhode Island worried about his delusions, there are no reports that he was hospitalized. He twice went to Veterans Affairs hospitals complaining of insomnia. Doctors asked him whether he was depressed or had thoughts of harming himself or others; he said no.

Even if those doctors had thought he might be dangerous, it’s not clear they would have told anyone. VA rules prohibit the disclosure of medical records for employee background checks. And the VA also doesn’t disclose most records to NICS unless someone in law enforcement asks for a specific record. The exception is when a veteran is found incompetent to handle his or her affairs.

In falling outside the bounds of background check standards, Alexis had something in common with perpetrators of other mass slayings.

James Holmes, the gunman in the Aurora, Colo., movie theater shootings in 2012, passed a background check. So did Jared Loughner, who in 2011 killed six people in Tucson and wounded 13 others, including Gabrielle Giffords, who was then a congresswoman. Adam Lanza, the Newtown, Conn., elementary school shooter, got his guns at home, but he would not have had trouble passing a check either.

In fact, in 43 mass shootings over the last four years, none of the shooters was prohibited for mental health reasons from possessing a gun under federal law, according to a survey published by Mayors Against Illegal Guns. None had been involuntarily real danger.

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Job Integrity and Inherent Risks

After many years in this profession I repeatedly hear the same sad stories. Young officer takes new assignment and ends up in deep trouble and probably fired, if not indicted. There are several perilous assignments around the department that if not taken seriously can be the road to ruin. Why do these stories continue I have asked; maybe nobody warned them or they thought that a compromise in the system would not be detected by the bosses? Matters not; it can and will happen and do not let this happen to you.

Probably the most prevalent one is the Evidence and Property Room Assignments. First of all money, jewelry and drugs seems to be the reoccurring theme here. I have heard the ‘property manager taking some money and with great intentions bringing it back before it got discovered’ tale. How about ‘substituting the silver certificates with regular currency’? After all they both are legal tender. Nope, vintage currency is far more valuable. Do not even consider taking the jewelry or the bling watches for the night on the town. There are vast temptations within the realm of the property/evidence room. Frequent audits and integrity audits are not against you but rather there to protect you and the system. A few compromises of the system can have adverse effects on the integrity of trials and the morale of the department. We don’t steal; we do it right every time. If you are a chief or sheriff, your selection of this staff member can be one of the most critical selections so choose well.

Gun Permits (purchases or conceal carry permits) now are becoming scrutinized more than in the past. Whether it is a gun purchase, transfer, or concealed carry permitting, there are vast pitfalls here; a friend of a friend or a family member slips through because somebody turned their head. Without debating the firearms issues or rights, know the laws that you are mandated to enforce and follow them. If one firearm gets into a thug’s hands we are all possibly a victim. If someone is trying to circumvent the process there is a resounding reason why. Find it out to protect your career and officer safety.

Wreckers and taxi permits have one common factor here: money. A wrecker driver offers you $50 per recommendation for each tow he gets. A taxi company offers you tip or bonus for always hailing their hacks over the other taxi companies. Seems simple for cash is unreported income; who could possibly know? Well, the second that the wrecker and taxi company gets called on the carpet for unscrupulous business practices guess whose name will come out of their mouths? Taking tips for ‘recommendations’ will haunt you; I’ve seen this happen too much. That $20 tip will get you unemployed.

Special events are an entirely different world. Having seen cops working the backdoor getting friends in to meet the band, to backstage goodies and passes will come up and bite you. If you are working an event, sporting or concert, you have got to be the professional police officer and not a fan. The second you become a fan you are compromised. Granted you can make some extra by selling backstage privileges but when you are caught you could get discipline and lose all of your extra work income. The secret is to do your job as a professional and not get caught up in the excitement of the event or the star.

Parking permits and parking tickets have created more trips to the commander’s office and more calls to the chief’s office than anything. I have seen more complaints over a $15 parking ticket than I have over felony charges. Everyone does it they say; the meter was broken and so forth. Please do not get wound up with the ‘courtesy cards’ and voiding tickets. If you need to void one, take it to a supervisor and get a clean blush on it.

Are there other pitfalls within the profession? Yes, I have not covered off-duty work and some more special assignments; these will be at a later date. What is worrisome is that these stories of cops making an assignment or task a financial endeavor will continue to plague our profession. First of all, we are all human. The full vetting of all applicants to these special positions is required. The audits and compliance checks are there for our own good. It is not what you do when you know you are being watched, but it is what you do when you think nobody is watching that defines your level of integrity. We are the guardians of our profession and the only ones who keep the tarnish off the shield.

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Airport gun seizures continue to climb in Florida

Orlando Fla Sept 22 2013 Florida gun owners are being advised to repack their bags before flying after a recent jump in seized firearms at airports across the state.

Ten handguns were confiscated in less than a week in Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Miami and Orlando with the most recent stopped today in Tampa, according to the federal Transportation Security Administration on Thursday.

“Unpack before packing to be sure you do not have prohibited items such as guns in your carry-on bag,” TSA spokeswoman Sari Koshetz wrote in an email.
Orlando International Airport continues to lead the state with 31 guns seized this year. Fort Lauderdale and Tampa are tied at 29. Others include Miami, 25, Jacksonville, 19, and Palm Beach, 10, records show.

The latest Orlando case was Saturday afternoon when a state concealed-weapon permit holder was arrested trying to board a flight to Minneapolis with a loaded .380-caliber pistol in his carry-on bag, records show.

Gregory Squires, 45, of St. Cloud was charged with carrying a firearm in a place prohibited by law and booked at the Orange County Jail.
Besides the criminal charge, he faces up to $11,000 in federal fines, records show.

The recent gun confiscations include four in four days in Miami and three in four days in Jacksonville.

Passengers on domestic flights are allowed to travel with firearms if they are properly declared, unloaded and cased inside checked luggage. T
SA advises travelers to check local and state gun laws. More information is available at

More than 1,500 guns were stopped by TSA officers last year.

More than 1,200 have been stopped this year, according to TSA.

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Fla. man charged with robbing crossing guard

Lake Wales, Florida Sept 21 2013 – On September 20, 2013 at approximately 7:57am Polk County Sheriff’s Office School Crossing Guard Gail Mucha was hard at work with her partner escorting elementary school children across SR60 at the intersection of 1st St in Lake Wales. Prior to beginning her shift she parked her vehicle in a parking lot near the intersection at which she performs her duties. Mucha told police while she was performing her duties she looked toward her vehicle and noticed the door was open and could see feet hanging below the door. She began to walk toward her vehicle and noticed a man rummaging through her property inside the vehicle. Mucha verbally confronted the man and began using her cell phone to contact 911. The man saw she was calling 911 and approached Mucha, who is 57 years old, demanding the phone. A brief struggle took place between the man and Mucha over the cell phone, but the man was able to forcibly take the phone from Mucha. The man then threw the phone breaking it and fled the scene.

After the struggle, Mucha was able to contact 911 by using another crossing guard’s phone. Mucha was able to give a good description of the suspect and the direction he fled. Lake Wales Police Officers established a perimeter and began searching for the suspect. Officers located a person matching the description in the parking lot of Citizen’s Bank at the intersection of SR60 and 3rd St. The suspect was identified by Mucha as the man who burglarized her vehicle and robbed her of her phone. The suspect was placed under arrest and identified as Quindale L. Clark, a 21 year old Lake Wales resident. At the scene, Clark admitted to the incident and was also found to be in possession of a small amount of marijuana. Clark was transported to Lake Wales Police Department for further questioning. Mucha did not receive any injuries as a result of the struggle and the suspect was unable take anything from her vehicle.

In addition to this incident Clark was interviewed about the June 17, 2013 burglary to Holmes Family Practice located at 455 Emerald Ave. On September 19, 2013 Clark became a suspect in this case when DNA evidence returned from FDLE placing him in the crime scene. During the interview Clark admitted he is who committed the burglary.

Clark, who is no stranger to criminal activity, was booked into the Polk County Jail on the following charges: 2 counts of Burglary, Robbery, Tampering with a Witness/Victim, and Possession of Marijuana Less than 20 Grams.

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