Albuquerque Fingerprint Backlog Increases to 6,000 Cases

“Three Albuquerque Police Department forensic scientists have a daunting task – closely examine and match thousands of collected fingerprints to suspects in order to help solve crimes.

At the Albuquerque Metropolitan Forensics Science Center, 6,000 latent fingerprint packets are waiting to be processed.

The backlog has increased 20-fold since 2014, according to APD data. In 2014, there were five forensic scientists and approximately 300 backlogged cases. Back then, prints took one to two months to process.

Now, latent fingerprints can wait anywhere from one week to 16 months to be processed depending on the Bernalillo County Case Management Order.

The CMO was created to clear up the Bernalillo County District Court case backlog and to prevent pretrial detainees from waiting in jail for months for their cases to be tried.

Instead, Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez has said that the CMO has unintentionally put an undue burden on the public because defendants – sometimes repeat offenders – are often released with no bond before their trial.

Though the Albuquerque City Council approved funding to train and employ civilians to be property crime scene specialists in order to help police, the rate at which the civilian specialists have been collecting prints and dropping them off at the metro lab is greatly outpacing its ability to process them.

“We’ve increased our staff to get reports done and collect the evidence, but we haven’t been as proactive in increasing the lab staff to do the backend work,” APD Commander Jeff McDonald said.

‘I GUESS THEY DON’T CATCH ANYBODY’

Criminals have targeted Aragon’s Lawn and Wood Center in northeast Albuquerque more than 30 times over the past decade, according to the owners. It’s gotten to the point where Owner Richard Aragon has slept at his business armed.

The marine veteran was a sniper in the Vietnam War.

“They’re all fully loaded,” Aragon said.

That isn’t the extent of the precautions he has taken. The lawnmower business is surrounded by motion detector lighting, surveillance cameras and concertina wire.

“We can catch them with the infrared (cameras) and we can get good images at night. Some of the pictures that we’ve taken with our surveillance show us the same guy,” he said.

Aragon and his wife, Kathy, are just two of the thousands of property crime victims in the city waiting for justice.

“Nothing that we know of, or at least they don’t tell us anything and I guess they don’t catch anybody,” Kathy Aragon said.

McDonald has a message for the Aragons and others in their situation.

“Be patient. We’re trying,” he said. “We’re trying to get everybody’s cases solved.”

McDonald said there are currently plans to hire two more forensic scientists. Two retired in 2015, but were never replaced.

Still, the hiring process could take anywhere from two to four months. If the applicant is a recent college graduate with limited experience, he or she will have to be trained for a year.

“I joined the police department to help people,” McDonald said. “(It’s) just not at the fastest rate I’d like.”

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TSA Precheck signs 11 more airlines, and if you fly you should have it

“The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has signed up an additional 11 airlines for the TSA Precheck program, including prominent international airlines Emirates and Virgin Atlantic, as well as low-cost domestic carrier Spirit Airlines.

Precheck is a program created by the TSA to help frequent flyers speed through security checkpoints with shorter lines, and without removing shoes, laptops, liquids, belts, and light jackets. It’s available at more than 180 airports and now with 30 different airlines.

It’s a terrific program for anyone who flies even only a few times per year, as it makes obnoxious airport security checkpoints slightly more tolerable; the TSA has encouraged flyers to enroll in the program in order to reduce the size of lines at checkpoints. Earlier this year, long lines at TSA checkpoints caused dozens of delayed flights, and the authority in charge of airports around New York City threatened to dump the TSA and hire a private screening service instead. TSA screening times have improved significantly since then, however.”

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How New Tech Knows If a Fingerprint Is ‘Alive’

“It’s a classic, if gruesome, staple of Hollywood action movies. The villain, desperate to gain access to the secret government vault, tricks the biometric security system by opening the door with the severed finger — or dangling eyeball — of the security guard.

In the real world, fake fingerprints and other forms of biometric spoofing pose serious challenges to the security community. Just this week, a team of Japanese researchers proved how easy it is to copy someone’s fingerprints from a “peace” sign selfie. A few years back, a hacker scanned the fingerprints of the German defense minister using a publically available press photo. The same hacker once fashioned a fake thumb out of wood glue to fool Apple’s Touch ID sensor.

But before you toss your new iPhone out the window or put on gloves every time you take a selfie, you might want to hear about a new technology that can tell if a biometric image like a fingerprint or an iris scan is really “alive.”

Matthew Valenti is the West Virginia University site director for the Center for Identification Technology Research, a multi-institution collaboration that has developed and patented anti-spoofing technology based on something called liveness detection.

“There are subtle features that are only present in a living person,” Valenti told Seeker. “Your fingers, for example, have tiny pores in them, and the signal processing algorithms used to scan your fingerprint can look for the presence of sweat in your pores. A spoof wouldn’t have that.”

Valenti’s colleague Stephanie Schuckers at Clarkson University is a pioneering researcher in liveness detection. She has tested her perspiration algorithms against fake fingers made out of wax and Play-Doh, and also a few dozen cadaver fingers from the morgue. Schuckers’ algorithms are the core technology behind NexID Biometrics, a private company claiming that its software can spot a fake fingerprint with 94 percent to 98 percent accuracy.

Still, liveness detection is so new that you won’t even find it on the latest biometric gadgets like the new MacBook Pro. So should we be concerned that hackers and identity thieves are scouring Instagram looking for fingerprints to steal?”

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Give yourself a holiday gift: TSA PreCheck

“There are few things in life sweeter than alighting at the airport, scanning the grim-faced travelers in the regular TSA line — doffing shoes, belts and light jackets, yanking laptops out of suitcases — and then skipping past them to the expedited TSA PreCheck line. No elaborate undressing or unpacking rituals in PreCheck. A swift pass through a metal detector, and you’re at the gate in plenty of time for the flight.

Even so, millions of Americans haven’t applied for PreCheck. Why not? The usual lame excuses: Procrastination. No time to fill out the forms. Where’s the processing center again? And that $85 fee.

Now a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign study suggests a new way to coax more people to sign up for expedited security screening: Waive the $85 fee. Make it free for frequent fliers (an average of 12 screenings or six round-trips a year).

That would save the government $34 million a year, according to the study by U. of I. computer science professor Sheldon Jacobson, along with graduate students Arash Khatibi and Ge Yu.”

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Chalice Zeitner Sentenced to More than 25 Years in Prison

Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced today a judge sentenced Chalice Zeitner to more than 25 years in prison after Zeitner faked cancer to qualify for a taxpayer funded abortion and scammed veterans charities out of more than $15,000. Zeitner was convicted of 17 felonies at two separate trials. The Attorney General’s Office prosecuted this case after an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation Phoenix Field Office and AHCCCS.

“Zeitner is a con-artist who brazenly stole money from veterans and the taxpayers of Arizona,” said Attorney General Mark Brnovich. “Our office has built a strong partnership with the FBI to investigate and prosecute complex fraud cases like Zeitner’s and seek justice for the victims.”

“The crimes for which Ms. Zeitner has been convicted are particularly offensive, from defrauding veterans’ charities to faking cancer in order to receive a government-funded, late-term abortion. The FBI is committed to protecting the public from frauds and is well-situated to investigate frauds occurring in multiple states and jurisdictions,” said Special Agent in Charge Michael DeLeon. “I would like to thank Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich for dedicating the resources necessary to prosecute Ms. Zeitner.”

In April 2016, a jury convicted Zeitner of fraud and other charges for faking a cancer diagnosis to get the state to pay for a late-term abortion. In August 2016 after a separate trial, a jury convicted Zeitner of Fraudulent Schemes and Artifices and Theft for scamming veterans charities out of $15,000 and charging more than $25,000 to a fraudulently obtained credit card associated with a family member of an owner of a veterans charity.”

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Marijuana Smokes the Competition, Pulls in Key Victories on Election Night

“Marijuana was on the ballot in nine states Tuesday, gaining sometimes-sweeping approval in all but one.

California, Nevada, Massachusetts and Maine all approved measures legalizing the recreational use of the Schedule I drug, while Florida, Arkansas and North Dakota voted to allow cannabis for medical purposes only. Arizona was the lone holdout, with 52 percent of voters rejecting the recreational use legalization measure. Additionally, while Montana already had a medical marijuana law, voters decided to roll back restrictions on that law.

The recreational use of cannabis is now legal in eight states, which are home to almost a quarter of the nation’s overall population. Cannabis for medical use is now legal in 25 states and the District.

Activists are pointing to marijuana’s triumph in this election as a turning point for the drug, which is federally classified as Schedule I, indicative of the “most dangerous” label, alongside heroin and LSD. For one, California is the most populous state in the country; and Massachusetts puts the east coast on the board.

The Associated Press said, collectively, it was the closest the U.S. has ever come to a national referendum on marijuana. Under President Barack Obama, individual states have been afforded the opportunity to go forward with their own legalization measures, despite the ban on cannabis at the federal level. However, that could all change when President-Elect Donald Trump enters the office in January 2017. This could all quickly go south for marijuana activists depending who Trump appoints to his cabinet, as well as his own personal feelings on the drug. He has flip-flopped in the past, saying he supports state’s rights to choose, but also calling Colorado’s legal marijuana industry a problem.”

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Canada’s Largest Pharmacy Chain Applies For Medical Marijuana License

“Canadians may soon be able to refill their prescriptions for medical marijuana at the pharmacy counter. Shoppers Drug Mart, the largest pharmacy chain in Canada, has applied for a license to distribute marijuana.
“We have applied to be a licensed producer strictly for the purposes of distributing medical marijuana,” Tammy Smitham, the vice president of external communication for Loblaw and Shoppers Drug Mart, said in a statement Tuesday. “We have no intention of producing medical marijuana but we do want the ability to dispense medical marijuana to our patients in conjunction with counselling from a pharmacist and we are hopeful that the Government of Canada will embrace that opportunity for enhanced patient care.”
Stocking medical marijuana at Shoppers Drug Mart’s 1,700 locations would have a significant impact on the culture surrounding medical marijuana in Canada.
Spokesperson Smitham believes that the Government of Canada is ready to revise the current set of regulations that prevent marijuana from being dispensed at a pharmacy. “We believe that allowing medical marijuana to be dispensed through pharmacy would increase access, safety, quality and security for the thousands of Canadians who use the drug as part of their medication therapy,” she told Huffington Post Canada.
Obtaining the coveted status of licensed producer in Canada is no easy feat. The long list of expensive requirements is only financially possible for major Canadian companies. Multiple screenings, inspections and security clearances are the only way to achieve a license to distribute and/or produce marijuana.
Canadian patients can currently only legally obtain their medical marijuana via the mail.
Over 75,000 Canadian patients participate in the nation’s medical marijuana program.
If Health Canada approves the application for Shoppers Drug Mart, it could become Canada’s first coast-to-coast dispensary chain. Canada’s Liberal party plans on introducing the groundwork for cannabis legalization by the spring of 2017.”

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Nashville pastor, associate accused of getting grant money for non-existent program

“A Nashville area pastor and his associate have been indicted after TBI agents said they secured state grant money for an addiction treatment program that didn’t exist.
Clinton Lewis, 48, of Hermitage and Aundre Trice, 38, of Antioch are charged with four counts of theft each, according to a news release from TBI.
Agents said between 2011 and 2015, Lewis, a Mt. Hopewell Baptist Church pastor since 2002, and Trice received more than $60,000 in grant money from the Tennessee Dept. of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services for an addiction recovery program.
TBI said the clients listed in the program never received any treatment. Some clients listed were even in jail, prison or had died. The counselors listed in the program weren’t aware it was in operation, agents said,

Lewis and Trice were booked into Davidson County Jail Friday on $10,000 bonds each.”

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Passengers Stranded At O’Hare Airport Due To Long TSA Lines

“Security lines at airports in Chicago and across the country are longer than ever. Now airlines are fighting back.

About 450 American Airlines passengers trying to fly out of O’Hare International Airport Sunday night couldn’t get to the gate on time. Airport employees offered them cots to sleep on overnight.

“Got here two and a half hours before my flight and security took two to three (hours) to get through,” said Kevin Revis, a stranded traveler.

“I’d never seen this before. Completely unexpected,” said Adnan Ahmed, who was also stuck in Chicago.

Video shot at 5 a.m. Monday shows hundreds of passengers slowly making their way through an hours-long security line in Terminal 3 at O’Hare.

ABC7 Eyewitness News viewer Kim Adele Serritos shared video of lines at Midway International Airport Monday morning on the ABC7 Chicago Facebook page.

American Airlines spokesperson Leslie Scott said over the next week, the company is deploying its own employees to help TSA workers with non-security functions.

“(They will be) standing in line, telling people to take shoes off, take electronics out and bag of liquids out,” Scott said.

The chronically understaffed Transportation Security Administration promises to hire 800 new screeners next month and offer more overtime opportunities for existing employees.

Until the TSA can get more screeners hired and trained, travelers’ only relief is the paid pre-check program.

Otherwise, airlines are recommending passengers arrive two or three hours before their flights are scheduled to depart.

Revis said he’s taking no chances Monday. He got in line four hours early.

Airlines also asked passengers to tweet about how frustrated they are using the hashtag #ihatethewait to put pressure on the TSA to fix this problem.”

NY’s Security-Guard Industry Grows Amid Lax Oversight

“TV and movies tell us security guards are bumbling fat idiots. They are the butt of a joke. Falling asleep with their feet up, they never pay attention to those security camera monitors while burglars steal gold or priceless paintings or stacks of cash. They’re easily distracted, easily gagged and tied up and — as in Die Hard or The Matrix or countless other action films — easily killed.

In real life, they work long, boring hours strolling the halls of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, waving metal detectors at Mets games, printing sticky visitor passes at commercial buildings, checking IDs at concerts, standing for hours and hours on end at public landmarks, department stores, colleges, pharmacies.

There are more than two times as many security guards than police officers in New York state and roughly 10 times as many guards as firefighters. While a lot of kids grow up itching to join the NYPD or the fire department, it’s hard to find someone who said they wanted to be a security guard when they grew up.

The guard who patrols a corporate plaza with an H&R Block and Chase Bank in Midtown wants to be a train conductor. The guard scanning IDs at a commercial office building near Grand Central dreams of a career as a stand-up comedian. The guard who works at a Duane Reade in the Upper West Side hopes to be a cop. The older guards who aren’t retired police officers, when asked what they think of a career in security, will shrug, as if to say, “It’s a job. It pays the rent.”

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