Archive for May, 2015

Despite the addition of police patrolling in the city’s core, including a greater effort to address vagrancy, a downtown Colorado Springs advocacy group has said the effort is not enough.

Two security guards now also are patrolling downtown streets looking for aggressive panhandlers, moving along people loitering in alleyways and parking structures and responding to calls for assistance.

The program, paid for by the Downtown Development Authority, an affiliate of the Downtown Partnership, comes after business owners and shoppers complained about vagrants and loiterers.

The city, its police department and the Downtown Partnership, along with its affiliated groups, have tried numerous avenues to address the issue.

Security cameras are affixed to buildings and streetlights, two repeat offenders have accepted a ban from the city’s downtown, a police satellite office at Pikes Peak Avenue and Tejon Street houses officers, including those from the department’s Homeless Outreach Team, and signs telling people “It’s OK to say no,” to panhandlers are in the city’s core.

The guards, who are unarmed and carry handcuffs, will monitor the area roughly between St. Vrain Street to the north, Weber Street to the east, Moreno Avenue to the south and Cascade Avenue to the west, between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m., seven days a week until the end of September.

“In a sense, it’s more than being a deterrent, it’s really extra eyes and ears on the street,” said Sandy Friedman, public space manager for the Business Improvement District, also part of the Downtown Partnership. Friedman said the security officers are not acting on behalf of police, but can provide a quick response if a business owner is in need.

The program coincides with an expected increase in visitors and shoppers downtown during the summer months, he said. Security guards also were used Nov. 1-Dec. 24 during the holiday shopping season.

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U.S. Border Patrol Opens New Detroit Station

New facility sits on 11 acres on Detroit’s east side

— United States Border Patrol Detroit Sector held a grand opening ceremony today on the Border Patrol’s 91st Birthday for their new Detroit Station. The facility located at 11700 East Jefferson Avenue meets Leadership in Engineering & Environmental Design Silver Standards, and can accommodate 100 agents in a 42,500 square foot building.

It is located on more than 11 acres of land and replaces a 5,200 square foot leased facility at 1331 Atwater Street that was designed for only 9 agents.

Construction for the new station began in early 2013 and was completed at the cost of approximately $14 million.

The new station features over 23,000 square feet of office space; a 3,000 square foot processing area; gym and locker room; muster room; wet gear/bulk storage area; a short-term kennel that can accommodate up to three canines; and a 8,100 square foot helipad to support Office of Air and Marine aircraft as well as other law enforcement aviation assets.

“The Agents and staff who work in this station are not just Border Patrol agents they are also Detroiters. They are men and woman who care about this city as much as they care about our country.” said Acting Chief Patrol Agent R. Alan Booth. “This building sits as a symbol of 91 years of Border Patrol tradition and a symbol of the resurgence of Detroit.”

The Detroit Border Patrol Station was executed as a partnership between U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Administration Facilities Management & Engineering Directorate; Border Patrol Facilities & Tactical Infrastructure Program Management Office; U.S. Border Patrol Headquarters; U.S. Border Patrol Detroit Sector; and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Engineering & Construction Support Office Detroit and
Fort Worth Districts.

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Following the lead of European regulators reacting to the presumed suicidal co-pilot who brought down a Germanwings jet, the Federal Aviation Administration has set up an advisory group to consider possible changes in mental-health screening of U.S. commercial pilots.

The industry-government committee, which also includes labor and medical experts, can look at everything from potential regulatory changes to voluntary efforts by unions and airlines, the agency indicated Wednesday.

The move, however, comes after international groups representing pilots and carriers have warned against overreacting to the Germanwings tragedy, which killed all 149 people aboard the Airbus jetliner that went down in the French Alps in March.

The European Aviation Safety Agency formed a similar study group last month, and German regulators have launched a separate effort to re-examine mental-health assessments of airline pilots. The aviation arm of the United Nations also indicated it would re-evaluate international mental-health standards.

It isn’t clear whether any of those groups will end up urging major changes to existing screening procedures. Strict privacy laws in Germany allowed Andreas Lubitz, the Germanwings co-pilot, to keep his mental problems hidden from management of the airline, which is a unit of Deutsche Lufthansa AG.

Safety and medical experts have stressed the difficulty of devising a new regulatory system—even one mandating more-frequent and in-depth screenings—that can reliably identify suicidal tendencies among pilots.

Given the current limitations of testing and medical science, many psychiatrists and psychologist believe such a goal is unreasonable. The public has to “recognize this is a complex medical challenge,” according to Olumuyiwa Bernard Aliu, president of the top policy-making council of the U.N.’s International Civil Aviation Organization.

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Recently, Senate Bill 1422 was amended to increase opportunities for hunters. SB 1422, as amended in the House, would expand hunting opportunities in the Collar counties by allowing the use of crossbows during the deer archery season.

Sponsored by Senator Neil Anderson (R-36), SB 1422 passed the House as amended by a 103 – 12 vote on May 21, 2015. SB 1422 now awaits a concurrence motion on House Amendment 1 in the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Experience in other states has shown that allowing the use of crossbows during hunting seasons helps retain and recruit hunters and does not have a higher success rate over vertical bows. NRA has always supported expanding on hunting opportunities when there is no biological reason to oppose them.

Also, crossbows would allow young hunters who do not yet possess the physical strength to use a vertical bow to go afield earlier and as a result, they would be more likely to recruit more family and friends into Illinois’ ranks of hunters.

Please call state Senator John Sullivan (D-47), chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and urge a concurrence motion on House Amendment 1 to SB 1422.

Senator John M. Sullivan
(217) 782-2479

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On May 18, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued an order prohibiting enforcement of provisions of D.C. law that effectively grant to the police chief the discretion to decide who may lawfully exercise the right to bear arms in public for self-defense.

This follows on the heels of an earlier ruling in which the District lost the argument that the right to “bear arms” does not apply outside the home, leading to the hasty enactment of an “emergency” may-issue concealed carry licensing scheme. Such a license is the only means by which most people can lawfully carry firearms in D.C. for self-defense. Monday’s case, Wren v. District of Columbia, made a preliminary ruling that D.C.’s policy of discretionary issuance would likely run afoul of the Second Amendment.

Under D.C.’s law, an applicant must show a “good reason to fear injury to his or her person” or “other proper reason” for the carrying of a concealed handgun. Apart from employment involving the handling or transportation of cash or other valuables, the only way to meet these requirements is to show “a special need for self-protection,” or for protection of a vulnerable family member, “distinguishable from the general community” (emphasis added).

In other words, the District has established a strong legal presumption against exercise of the right that an applicant has to rebut with “evidence of specific threats or previous attacks which demonstrate a special danger” to the life of the applicant or vulnerable family member.

The upshot of these requirements is that most applications will be summarily denied, which D.C. acknowledged to the court was the point of enacting them. The court wrote, “Defendants argue that the … requirement[s] reasonably further[] its important governmental interest in reducing the number of concealed weapons in public in order to reduce the risks to other members of the public and to reduce the disproportionate use of such weapons in the commission of violent crimes.”

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FBI Releases New Version of Child ID App

The FBI today is announcing a reboot of its popular Child ID App, which provides parents with an easy way to electronically store their children’s pictures and vital information to have on hand in case their kids go missing.

The application, which works on most Apple and Android smartphones and tablets, allows users to store up-to-date images and physical descriptions—like height, weight, birthmarks, etc.—that could help responders in the event of an emergency. The information is stored only on your device—not with your mobile provider or the FBI.

The latest version of the Child ID App contains updated features, including high-resolution image capability, a default recipient field (where you can enter your local police department’s e-mail address, for example), and optional automatic reminders to update your children’s profiles.

Current users of the Child ID App are encouraged to download the latest version for improved performance and capabilities. Please note that if you had been using an older version of the app (prior to 2.0), you will need to re-enter all relevant information after installing the update.

The app has been downloaded more than 250,000 times since it was released, first on iTunes in 2011 and then for the Android operating system in 2012. The current version, released in April, has been downloaded more than 50,000 times onto devices around the world.

The Child ID App also includes tips on keeping children safe as well as specific guidance on what to do in those first few crucial hours after a child goes missing.

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Agreements by Citicorp, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Barclays PLC, The Royal Bank of Scotland plc, and UBS AG to plead guilty to felony charges were announced today by the FBI, the Department of Justice, and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission during a press conference in Washington, D.C.

Four of the banks—Citicorp, JPMorgan, Barclays, and RBS—have agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to manipulate the price of U.S. dollars and euros exchanged in the foreign currency exchange spot market and will pay criminal fines totaling $2.5 billion. According to Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer, “The dollar-euro spot market is as big as it gets. Every day, about $500 billion worth of dollars and euros are traded in this market. Trading on the dollar-euro spot market is five times larger than all U.S. stock exchanges combined.”

The fifth bank, UBS, agreed to plead guilty and pay a $203 million criminal penalty for breaching the non-prosecutive agreement it had previously entered regarding manipulation of the London Interbank Offer Rate (LIBOR), a benchmark interest rate used worldwide.

The investigation, conducted by the FBI’s Washington Field Office (WFO), uncovered illegal activity that began as early as December 2007. Currency traders from four of the banks—self-described members of “The Cartel”—used an exclusive electronic chat room and coded language to manipulate exchange rates. The result of their actions inflated the banks’ profits while harming countless consumers, investors, and institutions around the globe. Said WFO’s Assistant Director in Charge Andrew McCabe, “This investigation represents another step in the FBI’s ongoing efforts to find and stop those responsible for complex financial schemes for their own personal benefit.”

In addition to paying large criminal fines, all five banks have agreed to a three-year period of corporate probation which, if approved by the court, will require regular reporting to authorities. The banks will continue cooperating in the ongoing investigation, and the plea agreements don’t preclude the prosecution of individuals for related misconduct.

The case, said U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, serves as a reminder that the U.S. government intends to “vigorously prosecute all those who tilt the economic system in their favor, who subvert our marketplaces, and who enrich themselves at the expense of American consumers.”

Press release
Remarks by WFO Assistant Director in Charge Andrew McCabe
Remarks by Attorney General Loretta Lynch
Remarks by Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer

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Today, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) released its annual report highlighting the numbers and common types of complaints it received during 2014 on suspected Internet fraud and other Internet-based crimes.

The report mentions two new trends that took shape during 2014: criminals increasingly taking advantage of personal data found on social media to start relationships with victims and scam them out of their money; and the emerging popularity of virtual currency, which has attracted perpetrators who capitalize on the vulnerabilities of the developing digital currency system.

Other common scams reported to the IC3—which received an average of 22,000 complaints a month during 2014—included auto fraud, impersonation e-mails, intimidation/extortion scams, real estate fraud, confidence fraud/romance scams, and business e-mail compromise schemes.

According to the report, the IC3 adapted its approach to handling complaints during 2014: Analysts began reviewing more recent complaints first and then looked back at older submissions to better identify urgent threats, recognize new trends more quickly, and disseminate information to law enforcement and the general public based on the most recent data.

The IC3—which houses well over three million complaints from consumers in its database—continues to encourage anyone who thinks they’ve been the victim of an Internet crime, regardless of dollar loss, to file a complaint through the IC3 website. The more complaints it receives, the more effective it will be in helping law enforcement gain a more accurate picture of the extent and nature of Internet-facilitated crimes.

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Shrouded by darkness in the early dawn, the heavily armored investigators marched toward the Mid-City apartment on St. Elmo Street. One of the officers strode straight to a door on the first floor and banged on it, yelling in Spanish for it to be opened.

On the other side, a desperate young man was stuffing an iPad with 80 downloaded images of child pornography into the cushions of a couch, a detective would say later.

Within moments, 19-year-old Abraham Escoto, his father and uncle were standing outside. The lanky young man with disheveled hair had only recently moved to Los Angeles from Mexico to live with his father.

Now he was facing accusations that he had traded child porn over the Internet with someone in Russia.

Escoto told the investigators standing around him that he would never touch a child.

The Los Angeles Police Department’s Internet Crimes Against Children unit serves about 300 warrants each year in pursuit of child pornography suspects. In a high-rise building in Long Beach, 11 officers review an average of 350 child pornography cases a month.

The unit is a byproduct of an age in which almost everything can be shared electronically, whether on social media or in dark, digital back alleys. Detectives say many teens share nude photographs and videos, unwittingly contributing to a web of material that is distributed as child pornography. There are apps that essentially allow adults to pretend they are children, investigators say.

Whether child porn is more prevalent now than it used to be is an open question. But officials say there are now many more ways to acquire and circulate in this digital world — and that’s where the unit comes in.

Team members have found pornographic images of children as young as 9 months old. They have arrested suspects in tony neighborhoods and roach-infested motels, said Det. Gilbert Escontrias. They have arrested paramedics, teachers, police officers and city attorneys.

They comb through hundreds of tips from other LAPD officers and law enforcement agencies and the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children.

The center has reviewed more than 132 million child pornography images since it was created in 2002.

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TUCSON, Ariz. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers assigned to the Port of Douglas arrested a Douglas woman and a Mexican man during separate marijuana seizures May 12.

Officers arrested a 37-year-old man from Cananea, Sonora, Mexico after a CBP narcotics-detection canine alerted to the presence of drugs within his Ford SUV. Officers retrieved 238 packages of marijuana, weighing 253 pounds and worth almost $127,000, from throughout the vehicle, including the engine compartment and all tires.

Earlier, officers apprehended a 34-year-old Douglas woman after a secondary inspection of her Chevrolet SUV led to the discovery of 52 packages of marijuana, weighing nearly 100 pounds and worth almost $50,000.

Officers seized the marijuana and vehicles. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations took custody of the subjects.

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