Archive for December, 2015

Off-duty NYPD cop saves suicidal man

A hero cop saved a man’s life by asking him a simple question: do you want a hug?

Officer Christian Campoverde was Christmas shopping with his family at Queens Center Mall last week when he heard a distraught man mumbling that he wanted to kill himself, according to the NYPD News.

Campoverde, who was off-duty at the time, noticed something didn’t seem right with the man and followed him to a balcony area where the man had one leg over a railing. There, Campoverde began to talk to him about why he wanted to end his life and as both strangers connected, he said “Is it OK if I give you a hug, do you want a hug?”

The man replied with a yes and was taken safely by EMS for evaluation.

“I just saw somebody who needed help,” Campoverde, who finalized the NYPD’s Crisis Intervention Team training the week prior, said.

The training focuses on assisting officers on how they can recognize signs of mental illness, respond to such calls and helping someone in a crisis.

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As soon as next year, a driver’s license may no longer be enough for airline passengers to clear security in some states, if the Department of Homeland Security has its way.

Federal officials said they would soon determine whether Transportation Security Administration agents would start enforcing a 10-year-old law that required states to comply with a set of federal standards when issuing driver’s licenses.

The issue is quickly intensifying, and the debate over identification and privacy has grown after the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and California.

But some states have bitterly opposed these requirements out of privacy concerns, and more than a dozen have passed laws barring their motor vehicle departments from complying with the law, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The new standards require more stringent proof of identity and will eventually allow users’ information to be shared more easily in a national database.

Privacy experts, civil liberty organizations and libertarian groups fear the law would create something like a national identification card.

Federal and state officials have been arguing for years about the merits of the law, called the Real ID Act, which was enacted by Congress in 2005 on the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission. Its proponents argue that it is a necessary tool to reduce identity theft and fraud, and enhance the nation’s security.

The federal government cannot force states to adopt these identification standards, but it can gain compliance in other ways. In October, it began requiring that visitors to military bases, nuclear plants and federal facilities produce a driver’s license from a state that complies with the law, or show another form of government ID, like a passport.

But the biggest leverage the government has over the states is commercial air travel.

The Department of Homeland Security said it would provide a schedule by the end of this year for when airport screeners would start accepting only driver’s licenses that complied with federal standards. It said that 120 days’ notice would be given before starting to enforce the law at airports.

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VSP promotion makes gender history

The Virginia State Police is marking a milestone with the promotion of a woman to lieutenant colonel.

That makes Maj. Tracy S. Russillo the department’s highest ranking female. She’s succeeding Lt. Col. Robert G. Kemmler as director of the Bureau of Support Services in Richmond — also a first in the department’s 83-year history. Kemmler is retiring.

Bureau operations include communications, information technology and training divisions, among others.

Russillo is a native of Fredericksburg. She joined the state police in May 1989. Her first patrol assignment was in Spotsylvania County, followed by two years in Culpeper County.

Her promotion to lieutenant colonel is effective Christmas Day.

The promotion was announced by Col. W. Steven Flaherty, commander of the VSP.

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The Van Dyke Money Gang in New York made off with more than $1.5 million this year — but it wasn’t in gunpoint robberies or drug running, it was a Western Union money order scheme. In New Jersey, 111 Neighborhood Crips used a machine to make dozens of fake gift cards for supermarkets, pharmacies and hardware stores.

In South Florida, gangs steal identities to file false tax returns.

These aren’t members of an organized Mafia or band of hackers. They’re street crews and gangs netting millions in white-collar schemes like identity theft and credit card fraud — in some instances, giving up the old ways of making an illicit income in exchange for easier crimes with shorter sentences.

“Why would you spend time on the street slinging crack when you can get 10 years under federal minimums when in reality you can just bone up on how to make six figures and when you get caught you’re doing six months?” said Al Pasqual, director of fraud security at the consulting firm Javelin Strategy and Research.

Law enforcement officials say they see increasingly more gangs relying on such crimes. This year, more than three dozen suspected crew members have been indicted in separate cases around the country. Grand larcenies in New York City account for 40 percent of all crime last year — compared with 28 percent in 2001. About 5 percent of Americans nationwide have experienced some kind of identity theft, with Florida leading the country in complaints.

New York Police Commissioner William Bratton wrote in an editorial in the city’s Daily News last week that white-collar crime was being committed by gang members “to an astonishing degree.”

Crews recruit bank account owners to help cash phony checks, they pay off crooked employees who skim credit card information using hand-held readers, and they buy identities online.

Pasqual said for some, it was a replacement for other crime. “For some it’s a supplement. They’re earning the money to grow the other side of their business, using white-collar crime to fund gun running. For a lot of them this becomes their day to day. They travel the country when they get really good at it.”

A task force created by federal officials in Florida has charged more than 400 people with causing more than $140 million in losses — including more than 60 charged three weeks ago — and officials say increasingly those arrested are gang members.

It’s an organized crime — but not “Organized Crime,” said Bill Maddalena, assistant special agent in charge of the white-collar branch of the Miami FBI office. “They’re very well organized. They have to recruit people to help steal devices, cash the checks.”

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Corrections officer awarded Medal of Valor

A corrections officer at the South Central Correctional Center received the state’s highest public safety award for his actions in a 2014 inmate attack.

Nathan F. Box was one of nine officers from across the state who received the Missouri Medal of Valor honor from Gov. Jay Nixon during a ceremony last Wednesday in Jefferson City.

Officers who responded to deadly threats in 2014 represented Missouri police and EMS and fire departments, as well as the Missouri Department of Conservation, the Missouri Department of Corrections and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Box sprung into action on May 30, 2014, when a prisoner attacked a corrections officer with an 8-inch-long steel improvised weapon.

The offender had stabbed the officer multiple times, including in the jaw, back of the head and left torso when Box came to the officer’s aid.

He first deployed pepper spray at the attacker, but it had no effect.

Because corrections officers do not carry guns, Tasers or other weapons, Box physically engaged the attacker, attempting to pull him away from the injured officer. The attacker remained violent and began attacking Box.

In subduing the attacker to protect his wounded colleague, Box suffered a stab wound and a fractured jaw. Despite his injuries, Box was able to subdue the attacker and recover the improvised weapon.

The wounded officer who was originally attacked was treated at a hospital and released. Box was also treated, including requiring surgery on his jaw.

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Disney acknowledged that it’s an armed world, after all — installing metal detectors at eight theme park and water park entrances in Florida and California today as part of a package of new security measures in the wake of recent mass shootings.

Toy guns are prohibited and adults are no longer allowed to wear costumes under the new policies. Disney has also stopped selling toy guns — including toy blasters and squirt guns — at the properties. Some stores at the parks, such as a Pirates of the Caribbean-themed gift shop, had featured racks full of plastic guns available for purchase.

A Disney spokesperson said security measures, both visible and non-visible, have been added in recent weeks, including additional law enforcement and use of dogs in patrols. The parks use private security.

The measures were attributed to “the current state of heightened awareness” involving guns, the spokesperson said, and follows attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., in which shooters targeted victims in public places.

“We continually review our comprehensive approach to security and are implementing additional security measures, as appropriate,” Disney said in a statement.

The security additions come one day after the Department of Homeland Security identified “public events or places” as potential terrorist targets in a National Terrorism Advisory System bulletin.

Security measures were also added at non-Disney parks such as SeaWorld, Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood.

Information about the security overhauls was reported by the Orlando Sentinel. The website, which focuses on news and information about the resort, also posted images showing the security changes.

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2014 Expanded Crime Statistics Released

National Incident-Based Reporting System Includes More Detailed Data

Today, the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program released details on more than 5.4 million criminal offenses reported by law enforcement through the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) during 2014. According to NIBRS, 2014, 6,520 law enforcement agencies—charged with protecting more than 93 million U.S. inhabitants—reported 4,759,438 incidents involving 5,489,485 offenses, 5,790,423 victims, and 4,414,016 known offenders.

Among the report’s highlights:

Of the offenses reported during 2014, 63.6 percent involved crimes against property, 23 percent involved crimes against persons, and 13.4 percent included crimes against society (so-called “victimless” crimes like gambling).

There were 4,414,016 known offenders, meaning that at least one characteristic of the suspect—such as age, sex, or race—was known. Of these offenders, nearly a third (32.3 percent) were between 16 and 25 years of age, the majority (63.9 percent) were male, and more than half (57.1 percent) were white.

Concerning the relationship of victims to known offenders, 52.7 percent of the 1,273,602 victims knew the individual perpetrating the crime but were not related to them. Nearly a quarter of the victims (24.8 percent) were related to their offenders.

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Three women were charged with shoplifting in two incidents at Kohl’s department store, 290 Tunxis Hill Road, over the last week.

Stacy Flanagan, 45, of High Meadow Road, was charged Monday with sixth-degree larceny after store security alleged they saw Flanagan put several pieces of jewelry into her purse, before going into a dressing room and hiding clothes under her jacket, according to the report.

She then walked past the registers before being detained, police said. The merchandise totaled $338 in value.

Flanagan was released on a promise to appear Dec. 14 at state Superior Court in Bridgeport and warned not to return to the store.

Two Bridgeport women were charged with shoplifting at the store on Friday of last week.

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The suspicious fire that started in a top floor apartment in a building near 35th and Kaul in Milwaukee on Tuesday night, December 8th was so intense all the units are unlivable and the building remains boarded up. Police say they know who started the fire because the suspect was already detained when they arrived.

It was a hectic scene outside the Florist Townhomes Tuesday night — an apartment complex with 24-hour care for its residents.

“It’s definitely unbelievable just to see it,” said David Tribble Junior, Silvermill Plaza security officer.

Tribble was the first person to arrive at the scene.

“I seen flames blazing out of the window,” Tribble said.

Tribble was also the first person to run into one of the residents he recognized from her trips to the plaza to shop.

“I asked her what happened and she said, ‘I set the fire,’” said Tribble.

When Tribble asked her why…

“She said ‘because someone stole my cigarettes.’ I grabbed her and I said, ‘just come with me and I will make sure you’re safe,’” said Tribble.

Tribble held the 27-year-old woman until the Milwaukee Police Department showed up.

“She was calm, very calm. She answered all the questions straight forward, very honestly and very cooperative,” said Tribble.

Now a few days later, he says he’s still a little overwhelmed by it all because even though no one was hurt, he can already see the dramatic affect this is having on those that lived in the complex.

“It’s sad seeing them sit outside or wondering if they can come back or when are they going to come back into their homes and it’s around Christmas,” said Tribble.

Officials with the facility say all of the clients have been taken care of and placed elsewhere. They don’t know when or if they will be allowed back in.

Electric crews came by on Thursday to start the process of inspecting the building.

Milwaukee police continue to investigate this as a possible arson case.

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Rochester Institute of Technology Public Safety will soon deploy specially trained officers with access to firearms in an effort to protect individuals on campus. The objective of the armed response is to contain an active violent threat until local law enforcement arrives at the scene.

The enhanced level of security will begin in 2016.

“Violence on college campuses across the United States has tragically become all too frequent in recent years,” said RIT President Bill Destler. “Sadly, there have been 23 shootings on college campuses in 2015 leading to too many violent and senseless deaths.”

The specially trained RIT officers will be on patrol around the clock on Public Safety shifts throughout the year and have access to firearms. The highly trained officers will be in a position to respond immediately in a crisis. Firearms will not be visible to the public during daily routine patrols.

The decision was made by RIT leaders after thorough research and evaluation of the benefits and inherent risks. According to FBI data, there were 120 students, faculty and staff who were victims of gun violence on college campuses between 2000 and 2013. Of all the active shooter incidents in the U.S. during that time period, about 24 percent occurred at educational institutions.

“These are sobering statistics and a recognition that gun violence has become more frequent on college campuses during the past decade,” said Destler.

The FBI data also points out that once an active shooter is confronted by an armed response, no other innocent people were killed.

A national search will be held to hire a new Assistant Director of Public Safety, who will oversee policy, procedure and training for an armed response.

“RIT Public Safety has valuable relationship with our campus community,” added Destler. “This new measure will further enhance all of our safety.”

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