More than 400 weapons and potential weapons seized

More than 400 weapons and tools that could be weapons have been seized by security at Plymouth’s crown and magistrates courts in the last two years – including one replica firearm.

Security guards seize a range of items every day including drugs and alcohol, and objects which could be used as a weapon.

The figures have been released today by the Ministry of Justice following a Freedom of Information request.

Some months see the city courts finding a weapon once every other day, with objects that could be used as a potential weapons routinely held.

In total 177 weapons were seized at the two courts in the last two years and 226 tools were held when security thought they could be used as a weapon.

In May 2014 a replica firearam was found on one person at Plymouth Magistrates Court.

Knives are the most common seized weapons, with 10 knives with a blade longer than three inches found in October 2013 alone at Plymouth Magistrates Court – the biggest monthly haul for large blades.

There were also 10 smaller knives found at Plymouth Crown Court in June 2013 and in November 2014.

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Police chiefs from around the country meet in D.C. to discuss violent summer

Law enforcement officials from the Washington area and across the country said Monday that there has been a recent increase in shootings in several major cities but that they haven’t pinpointed what’s causing the spike in violence.

Officials from several cities, including the District, St. Louis, Chicago and Baltimore, met at the Newseum in the District to discuss the trend and possible solutions to the violence. They were joined by criminology professors, attorneys and others.

“We had this meeting as an urgent summit because we felt a sense of urgency because people are dying,” D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said at a news conference after the summit. “We have not seen what we’re seeing right now in decades.”

The event was hosted by the Major Cities Chiefs Association (MCCA), which said a survey of its members showed that police in many cities are seeing more guns on the streets and more killings. Four of the nation’s largest cities — New York, Chicago, Houston and Philadelphia — recorded a rise in homicides by mid-
July compared with the same period in 2014.

The District has experienced the same trend. The city’s homicide toll for 2015 is now 87; the total for all of 2014 was 105. Violent crime in general also is on the increase compared with last year, police said.

The summit was organized by Lanier, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and MCCA President J. Thomas Manger, the police chief in Montgomery County, Md., following a conference call in late July, Darrel Stephens, executive director of MCCA, said in an e-mail.

During the summit, the group identified several issues prevalent across many of the major cities, with the proliferation of guns high among them.

Manger said at the conference that 40 percent of the 35 cities surveyed reported shooting scenes with multiple firearms, with an increased number of shell casings found at the scenes.

Among the recommendations that came out of the summit, the chiefs called for more stringent gun laws, including harsher penalties for gun crimes and the use of high-capacity magazines.

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Cold Case Investigation

Solving a Decades-Old Mystery

Tonya Hughes was just shy of her 21st birthday on a spring day in 1990 when she was struck by a hit-and-run driver in Oklahoma City. She died five days later, but the investigation into her suspicious death led to a mystery—and a murder—that took decades to fully unravel.

That’s because Tonya Hughes was not who anyone thought she was—and neither was her husband, Clarence Hughes, who now sits on death row in a Florida prison.

“The FBI has been chipping away at this one,” said Special Agent Scott Lobb, who began working the cold case investigation in 2013 out of the Bureau’s Oklahoma City Division. “There were a lot of peculiar twists to this case.”

Tonya left behind a child, Michael Hughes. Her husband claimed he was Michael’s biological father, but shortly after Tonya died, Clarence gave Michael to Oklahoma state welfare officials and promptly disappeared. “He knew the truth would come out,” Lobb said, “and so he fled.”

The truth—discovered during the hit-and-run investigation—was that Clarence Hughes was actually Franklin Delano Floyd, a federal fugitive from Georgia wanted since 1973.

Floyd was arrested in Georgia two months later and sent back to prison to serve the rest of his sentence. A blood test revealed that he was not Michael’s biological father. That fact apparently didn’t matter to Floyd, because when he got out of prison in 1993, he was determined to get custody of Michael. And he did—by kidnapping the 6-year-old from elementary school on September 12, 1994.

When authorities caught up with him in Kentucky two months later, Michael was nowhere to be found, and Floyd would not say what happened to the boy. Floyd was later found guilty of a federal kidnapping charge and sent to prison.

During the kidnapping investigation, photos were found taped to the gas tank of Floyd’s pickup truck that showed a young woman who appeared to be bound and beaten. Years later, the woman—Cheryl Ann Comesso—was identified and matched to remains that had previously been discovered near a freeway on-ramp near Tampa, Florida. Floyd was charged with her 1989 murder, convicted, and sentenced to death in 2002.

The investigation into Michael’s kidnapping also determined that Tonya Hughes, too, had been kidnapped by Floyd—sometime between 1973 and August 1975—and when he surfaced in Oklahoma City, he began introducing his future wife as his daughter.

In 2013, the FBI and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children conducted a cold case review of the Hughes kidnapping and reopened the investigation. A year later, Lobb and Special Agent Nate Furr spent several days interviewing Floyd in prison regarding Tonya and Michael Hughes.

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Steeplechase opts for traffic enforcement on private roads.

An effort over the past year in Oak Brook to have residents in subdivisions with private roads agree to allow police to enforce the entire Illinois Vehicle Code has proven successful.

The Steeplechase Community Association of Oak Brook, which has 21 homes, is the latest homeowners’ group to agree to the enabling ordinance that allows enforcement. The Oak Brook Village Board approved the agreement July 14.

“We are restricted to what we can enforce on private roads unless those residents agree to the enabling ordinance,” Police Chief James Kruger said. “Having the enabling ordinance in place allows us to better serve the community and provide the same level of service for everyone.”

Without an agreement to the enabling ordinance, police are not able to write tickets for violations of lane usage and vehicle registration. Police also are not able to issue tickets to those driving without a license or with a license that has been suspended.

Bob Sheppel, president of the Steeplechase Community Association of Oak Brook, said the group’s board decided to accept the enabling ordinance because it “goes hand in hand with security.”

Kruger and Village President Gopal Lalmalani reached out to homeowners association presidents a year ago, asking that they agree to the enabling ordinance. Since that time, homeowners associations in Briarwood Lakes, Heritage Oaks and Midwest Chase also have agreed to the ordinance.

“I couldn’t be more pleased with the response we’ve received from our homeowners associations,” Kruger said. “We’ve had a couple of requests for extra patrol, and some have expressed traffic safety concerns. This allows us to have an increased presence.”

Kruger said the Oak Brook Club and Covington Court are the only two remaining eligible subdivisions in the village that have yet to agree to the enabling ordinance.

“They have expressed interest, and we are working with them,” Kruger said.

Two Oak Brook subdivisions with private roads, Breakenridge Farm and Wendell Woods, are not eligible for the enabling ordinance because each has only nine homes. State law requires a minimum of 10 homes to enact the enabling ordinance, Kruger said.

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NY prison escapee Sweat back behind bars. What’s different this time?

David Sweat has been transferred to another upstate New York maximum security prison, but he will lose all the privileges he enjoyed before his breakout a month ago.

After spending three weeks on the run and one in the hospital, escaped prisoner David Sweat is back in a maximum security prison. He was transferred Sunday to the Five Points Correctional Facility in Romulus, N.Y., according to the State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS).

This time, the level of attention focused on Mr. Sweat will be heightened. Whereas prior to his breakout from Clinton Correctional Facility Sweat had lived in “honor housing,” where well-behaved inmates were trusted with limited privileges, Sweat’s freedom at Five Points will be severely abridged.

He will spend the first 24 hours at Five Points in the infirmary for a medical evaluation, DOCCS said in a statement. Sweat will then be placed in the facility’s Special Housing Unit, where he will be locked in a single-occupancy cell for 23 hours a day. He will also be on active suicide watch.

Each of the 150 cells in the Special Housing Unit comes furnished with the basics for all-day confinement: a bed, a toilet, a sink, a writing platform, and a shower that the prison controls to “limit movement,” DOCCS said.


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Chicago police officers sue over tattoo cover-up rule

Three Chicago police officers filed a federal lawsuit against the department Thursday, challenging its new policy that requires uniformed officers to cover their tattoos.

The officers, all of whom served in the military and have tattoos on their arms, argue in the suit that the policy violates their First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and expression. The city of Chicago is named as the sole defendant.

According to the Police Department’s new policy, which went into effect June 12, tattoos and body brandings cannot be visible on officers “while on duty or representing the department, whether in uniform, conservative business attire, or casual dress.”

The hands, face, neck and other areas not covered by clothing must be covered with “matching skin tone adhesive bandage or tattoo cover-up tape,” according to the policy. Uniformed officers also are barred from wearing baseball caps, and knit caps in the winter, under the new policy.

One of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Officer Daniel Medici, a nine-year veteran of the department, bears a tattoo that honors his service in the Marine Corps. An Iraq War veteran, he has a “wings and halos” tattoo in remembrance of his fallen comrades, according to the suit.

The two other plaintiffs, Officers John Kukielka and Dennis Leet, each have a religious tattoo of St. Michael, the patron and protector of police, mariners, paratroopers and sickness, the suit says. Medici also bears a religious tattoo. Leet and Kukielka both served in the Air Force and were hired by the Police Department in 1999 and 2009, respectively.

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Mississippi College officer saves child

A Mississippi College public safety officer saved a child’s life while on vacation in Florida.

Two weeks ago, Mary Lou Dill and her husband, Lieutenant Christopher Dill with the Clinton Police Department, were on a last minute vacation with friends in Orlando, Florida.

Dill, who had been visiting her sick father in Canada, booked the trip weeks ago but forgot to cancel; an oversight Dill now says was guided by fate.

Dill, her husband and her friends were walking around their hotel grounds at West Gate Resort when they heard music coming from one of the resort’s 14 pool areas. The women decided to go back to their hotel rooms and change into their bathing suits. Once she changed, Dill left her hotel room by herself and began walking back down to the pool area where her husband was waiting.

On her way, a hotel employee on a golf cart stopped and asked if she wanted a ride. A move, once again, where Dill believes fate intervened.

As soon as she got off the golf cart and walked into the pool area, Dill saw chaos. Hearing screams, Dill initially thought a fight had broken out but then she saw a woman running, carrying a lifeless body of a little boy.

Once he was laid on the ground, Dill could see foam coming from the child’s mouth.

“He was blue, it was just awful,” Dill told The Clarion-Ledger Thursday.

Dill asked that the child, a six-year-old triplet, not be identified.

Dill, a mother of three, said her instincts took over and she sprung into action. To this day, she said the moments between when she first saw the child and when she began doing chest compressions are a blur. Dill checked and the child did not have a pulse. She began administering CPR.

“From that point, I can’t remember what I did,” she said. “I just dropped everything and I started doing compressions.”

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Milford Police Officer Receives National Recognition For Bravery

The Jonathan Law School Resource Officer was cited for his courageous actions during the stabbing death of Maren Sanchez at the school.

Jonathan Law School Resource Officer James Kiely has received a national award for the courageous and brave actions he displayed on April 25, 2014, which is the day Maren Sanchez, 16, was fatally stabbed at the school by a fellow classmate.

Kiely was on duty at the time of the incident, and helped take the suspect into custody.

According to the Milford Board of Police Commissioners meeting minutes, the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) – acknowledging and congratulating Officer James Kiely as the NASRO recipient of the National Award of Valor for his courageous actions and bravery on 4/25/14 at Jonathan Law High School, noting the award will be presented at the NASRO Conference in Orlando, Florida in July.

Police Chief Keith Mello also shared the letter of recommendation sent by Gianni Ragaini, Dean of Students at Jonathan Law which nominated Officer Kiely for this award.

The letter commended Officer Kiely’s action on 4/25/14 and the many days and weeks which followed. It also noted that Officer Kiely is of value to the student body and staff as he continues to be a respected role model, friend, counselor and confidante to the students and staff.

Chief Mello stated he and Officer Kiely’s fellow officers are proud of him and congratulate him for being awarded this honor and will work together as a department to see that he is able to travel to Orlando to accept the award.

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For LAPD investigators, cases involving child victims can be hard to shake

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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NY county approves firearms for probation officers

PLATTSBURGH — Clinton County legislators agreed to allow probation officers to carry firearms if they wish, but not without some dissent.

“This may be overkill,” Legislator Mark Dame (R-Area 8, City and Town of Plattsburgh) said at Wednesday night’s meeting.


DANGER OF VIOLENCE

For the past two years, the legislature has been considering allowing the use of firearms for probation officers, studying the issue at length.

Probation Department Director David Marcoux said the number of people on probation that they have to supervise has grown significantly in recent years and that concern about people becoming violent during home visits has increased.

The policy that Marcoux and the legislature’s Public Safety Committee came up with allows officers to use firearms, if they want, on certain home visits.

The guns and ammunition would be purchased by the county, and the officers would be trained before they are issued.

DRUGS

Legislator Robert Hall (D-Area 10, City of Plattsburgh), who chairs the Public Safety Committee, said the situation has gotten so dangerous in the county because of drugs that the need for firearms is real.

“I really do believe that this is a deterrent,” Hall said.

Legislator Peter Keenan (D-Area 5, Peru) agreed with Hall.

“These officers will be well trained, and I think we really need this program badly,” he said.

Harry McManus (D-Area 1, Champlain), Chairman Sam Dyer (D-Area 3, Beekmantown), Patty Waldron (D-Area 6, Saranac), Jimmy Langley (R-Area 7, Peru), John Gallagher (D-Area 9, City of Plattsburgh) and Jonathan Beach (R-Area 2, Altona) also favored the policy allowing guns to be used.

“Our job is to hire good department heads and give them the tools to do the job right without micro-managing them,” Langley said, adding that Marcoux’s endorsement of the policy was enough for him.

“David (Marcoux) moved up the ranks in this department quickly because of the good head on his shoulders. I have the utmost faith in him. This is not an ego thing with him.”

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