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Around the Nation

     Northeast

CONNECTICUT  William R. Kohnke stepped down as police chief in Bristol in October, to head the police department in Pompano Beach, Fla. Kohnke, who has been with the Bristol Department for three years, said the Pompano Beach department would present new challenges. It is three times as large as Bristol, with a diverse community. Kohnke has had relatively short stays at several other departments, including Battle Creek, Mich., Oak Park, Ill. and Greenwood Village, Colo. He said he likes to create new programs and policies and then implement them. Kohnke is credited with bringing state and Federal funding to the Bristol department by aggressively pursuing grants, modernizing the computer system and implementing an action team in the community.

A Middletown police officer was suspended without pay for 90 days in October after his union memo outraged Wesleyan University students. Officer William Clayton, the secretary of Local 1361, made posters out of a news account of a student rally in support of Mumia Abu Jamal, a death-row inmate convicted of murdering a Philadelphia police officer. To the news story, Clayton added “remember this the next time you deal with persons associated with this so-called Univ[ersity].” Police Chief George R. Aylward and Mayor Maria Madsen Holzberg said Clayton’s memo implied a “threat” that was both inappropriate and unacceptable. Clayton will also undergo a thorough character and personality evaluation to determine if he’s fit for duty, said Aylward. Clayton, a 13-year veteran, said his message meant to warn fellow officers about dealing with incidents on campus. He said he considered the rally an insult to fellow officers.

 

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA  The Metropolitan Police Department has launched a hotline number  (202) 727-0589 to fight hate crimes. Victims of hate crimes can report incidents anonymously, said Chief Larry Soulsby.

The District’s juvenile curfew law was rejected as unconstitutional on Oct. 29 by a Federal judge, who ruled that it violated the rights of minors and parents. The law, which took effect Sept. 20, 1995, kept children under age 17 off the streets from 11 P.M. to 6 A.M. on weekdays and midnight to 6 A.M. on weekends. The city failed to make its case, said U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, that the curfew would protect children from becoming victims or perpetrators of crimes.

 

MAINE A 1994 candidate for Cumberland County sheriff, Elwin “Al” Martin, 65, was arrested on a felony weapons charge Oct. 17 after police seized explosive devices from his locksmith shop in South Portland. Martin, who has had frequent run-ins with police, was arrested three weeks before the 1994 election on felony charges of sexually exploiting two teen-age girls in Biddeford. He lost the election by a 2-1 margin.

A background check required under the Brady Law of a Plymouth man seeking to buy a handgun revealed him to be wanted on a 22-year-old murder charge in South Carolina. David A. Godfrey, 42, had been arrested in 1974 on a murder warrant for the death of his 18-year-old wife, Marie. Godfrey was later released on $5,000 bail. A bench warrant was not issued for him until 1976.

 

MARYLAND Baltimore Police Officer Tarodd Shawndre Jacobs, 24, was charged Oct. 14 with assault, false imprisonment, reckless endangerment and a handgun violation after pulling a motorist out of his car at gunpoint during a rush-hour argument on the Beltway while Jacobs was off duty. According to a statement given to state police by the victim, Andrew J. Paladino, the incident began when the two cars had a minor sideswipe. Paladino said he tried to pass Jacobs when Jacobs’ car came to an unexplained stop in front of him. But Jacobs, he said, tried to force him off the road. Next, Jacobs drove up beside him, pointing a gun at his car and cutting him off. It was not until Jacobs had pulled Paladino out of the car at gunpoint that he identified himself as a police officer, Paladino said.

 

MASSACHUSETTS Former New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton has been hired to overhaul the New Bedford Police Department, which has been harshly criticized after the strip search of a 12-year-old girl and the death of a suspect in custody.

Three Lowell police officers and one retired officer were killed in a plane crash Oct. 20 as they were returning from a hunting trip in Canada. Those killed include the city’s first mounted officer, Donald Brill; its original K-9 officer, David Seamens; and Lieut. Steven Smith, who was to take over as day-shift commander. Also lost was retired Sgt. John Sullivan, who left the force in June, Robert Marchionda, a K-9 officer with the North Reading Police Department, and three other men.

The entire staff of 18 student security guards was eliminated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst campus book store on Oct. 18, amid complaints that the guards, all of whom are white, targeted minority students as shoplifting suspects, according to officials.

Boston police say only 80 inquiries  fewer than expected  have been made since the launch on Oct. 1 of a sex-offender registry.

A Federal judge ruled Oct. 23 that records from a rape counseling center have the same legal protection against subpoena as medical records. The state’s highest court issued a similar ruling earlier this year in another case.

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent John Lennon, 46, was awarded $60,423 in back pay and a promotion by a Federal judge on Oct. 17, because a supervisor wrongly promoted an under-30 female agent over Lennon.

DNA evidence will soon be used for the first time in a Federal criminal trial following a judge’s ruling Oct. 22. The defendant, Paul Lowe, 26, is charged with raping a woman after helping her push her car out of a snowbank, then taking her vehicle and driving her to New Hampshire.

 

NEW JERSEY A legal brief filed Oct. 30 contends that prosecutors in a case involving a Metuchen man accused of killing a Newark police officer in 1976 concealed information that another defendant committed the murder. V. James Landano, 57, whose lawyers filed the complaint against the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office and the State Attorney General’s Office, was convicted of the slaying of Officer John Snow 20 years ago, but had his conviction overturned on the grounds of prosecutorial misconduct. He was reindicted for the slaying last August. The information on which the latest brief is based was provided by the prosecutor’s office as part of its pre-trial obligation.

An off-duty Edison police officer, David Rodriguez, received 150 stitches in his face Oct. 26 after being slashed by a broken beer bottle. Police said the incident occurred during a melee outside a Scotch Plains nightclub. Rodriguez and three other off-duty officers were randomly attacked during the disruption that was already in progress when they left the nightclub. The suspect, Kareem L. McDowell, a 21-year-old carpet cleaner who said he had wielded the bottle in self-defense, was charged with aggravated assault, possession of a weapon and the possession of a weapon with the intent to use it unlawfully.

 

NEW YORK New York City Police Officer Darryl Edmonds, 28, was charged Oct. 22 with tipping off members of an Upper West Side drug gang about ongoing investigations, anti-drug tactics, and gang members who were cooperating with law enforcement. The gang, the Young Talented Children, dominated a six-block area around W. 107th Street and Columbus Avenue for several years. Edmonds was arrested more than two years after prosecutors learned he had helped the gang between 1992 and 1994 in exchange for $5,000 in bribes. His services came to light during the 1995 trial of a gang trigger man, Raymond (Dillinger) Rivera.

The state Director of Criminal Justice, Paul Shechtman, announced his resignation Oct. 28, saying he could no longer balance the demands of his office with his family life. Shechtman said he will return to a private law practice in New York City when he steps down early next year. As chief architect of Gov. George Pataki’s criminal justice agenda, Shechtman played a major role in shaping the state’s major crime initiatives, from increasing the penalties for violent felons to ending parole for repeat offenders.

New York City Police Officer Robert Loughlin, a 10-year veteran, was charged Oct. 29 with stealing $2,000 from the armored-car company where he moonlighted as a security guard.

An unemployed Queens printer, Ambioris Sanchez, 28, was arrested on counterfeiting charges Oct. 31 by U.S. Secret Service agents. Some $7 million in phony bills were seized, along with another $2 million in sheets of uncut bills, plates and negatives.

Undercover New York City police officer Richard Padin, 29, was accidentally shot by another officer Oct. 24 during a search in a cavernous Brooklyn drug hideout. Padin and his partner had returned to the building, which functioned as a bodega by day and a social club at night, after arresting Miquel Baez, 41, and Awand Marag, 28, on drug charges. While conducting an additional search of the basement, the officers were confronted by uniformed officers Richard Kuhnapfel and his partner, who were responding to a burglary-in-progress call. Spying the glint from a gun and unable to see Padin’s shield in the basement’s dim light, Kuhnapfel fired a round and then made a radio call for help. Although the incident is being investigated, it appears Kuhnapfel followed departmental guidelines when he fired.

A Bronx grand jury in October indicted New York City Police Officer Richard Molloy on charges of second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the Jan. 21 death of Hessy Phelan, a 39-year-old Irish immigrant. Phelan was drinking in the Oak Bar, whose bartender, Maggie McGrath, is Molloy’s girlfriend. Sources said that Phelan, fearing he was too drunk to make it home, asked Molloy to take him to McGrath’s apartment. Later, Molloy called 911 and said Phelan had taken his off-duty gun from his holster and fatally shot himself through the eye. In July, however, the Medical Examiner’s Officer concluded that Phelan’s death was a homicide.

The New York City Police Department will forego the use of high-tech laser-beam sights on weapons because officers apparently do not trust the equipment. Lieut. Thomas Stokes of the Emergency Services Unit told The New York Post that officers fear that the lasers’ sights are easily knocked out of alignment. The weapons were highly regarded by the Transit Police during a two-year pilot study, but a police firearms and tactics supervisor said that in at least ten incidents the laser beams did not serve their intended purpose or work properly. Officials said that one of the advantages of the laser-sighted weapon is the scare it puts into those who see the red circle of light on their chests, which often frightens them into surrendering.

The New York City Police Department has spent more than $60,000 in overtime through the first nine months of this year for drug testing of night-shift officers, according to a report in The New York Post. While officers who work the day shift can be tested during their normal work hours, those who work the overnight shift end up providing urine samples on overtime because there are no medical technicians on duty at night. Officials contend the overtime pay is still cheaper than bringing in medical staffers to monitor and safeguard tests and samples. There are also fewer officers on the overnight shift, they said, so removing them would create a public-safety hazard.

New York City Police Commissioner Howard Safir completed a unprecedented meeting Nov. 4 with President Leonel Fernandez of the Dominican Republic, during which they explored the possibility of police officer exchanges and the extradition of prisoners. There is no formal extradition treaty between the Caribbean nation and the U.S., making it a haven for Dominican suspects accused of crimes. Some 400 drug traffickers wanted in New York are hiding there, said Safir.

Gov. George Pataki and New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani charged in October that the number of convicted violent criminals being released on parole remains alarmingly high, despite recent demands for a crackdown. The state Parole Board approved early releases for more than half the robbery and burglary convicts and nearly a third of assault inmates who appeared before the board in the six-month period that ended Sept. 30. Records show that 2,070 convicts in those three categories were released, most of them making their first appearance before the panel. However, early releases have dropped sharply for convicted killers and rapists  from 60 percent to 14 percent for murderers, and from 37 percent to 3 percent for rapists. The issue was brought home last month when a parolee with a criminal record dating back to 1957 killed New York City Police Lieut. Frederico Narvaez.

 

PENNSYLVANIA Philadelphia Police Officer Joy Carter-Herman was awarded $127,000 by a Federal jury in October in her discrimination suit that charged her refusal to date a supervisor ruined her career and caused her to be ostracized by fellow officers. The supervisor, Capt. Samuel Lynch, was ordered to pay $20,000 to Carter-Herman, and the two officers she accused of retaliating against her were ordered to pay $7,000. The city was ordered to pay $100,000 in compensatory damages. Carter-Herman said Lynch had pressured her to date him when the two worked together in May 1993. Another female officer, Barbara Rachuba-Feeney, was a co-plaintiff in the case. She was not awarded any money. Both women said they were humiliated by fellow officers, disciplined on trumped-up charges, and had their personal property stolen.

Three men, including two local rap artists, were convicted Oct. 30 of the murder of Philadelphia police Officer Lauretha Vaird during a Jan. 2 bank holdup. After deliberating 4½ hours, a Common Pleas Court jury convicted Christopher Roney, 26, of first-degree murder, and Warren “Steady B” McGlone, 26, and Ernest Mark Canty, 22, of second-degree murder. Prosecutors said Roney was the triggerman, while McGlone drove the getaway car. Canty, they said, held the 9mm. gun and ordered employees of the PNC bank to open the vault. Vaird, who responded to the bank’s silent alarm, was shot in the abdomen, and was the city’s first female officer to be killed in the line of duty. Roney could face the death penalty; the other two face mandatory sentences of life without parole.

As part of the settlement of a civil rights suit, deputy city solicitor James Jordan will watch over the Philadelphia Police Department, overseeing its hiring, training, and disciplinary procedures as head of the new Office of Integrity and Accountability.

A proposal for a civilian review board to investigate complaints against police was rejected Oct. 22 by the Pittsburgh City Council. The U.S. Justice Department is investigating a class-action suit that alleges a pattern of police misconduct and complaints of civil rights violations.

 

     Southeast

ALABAMA A $216,000 settlement of a sexual discrimination lawsuit will be shared by five Dothan women who claim they were passed over for promotion at the Houston County Sheriff’s Department. The women said that in some cases the promotions were then given to less qualified male employees.

 

ARKANSAS A group known as the American Federation of Police and Concerned Citizens Inc. agreed on Oct. 17 to repay a total of $21,500 and more accurately describe its solicitation efforts. Attorney General Winston Bryant said the group, which solicited money by mail, had led consumers to believe their donations were going to aid widows and orphans of slain police officers in their local area.

The Hot Springs Police Department held an open house Oct. 20 to show off its new station. Voters approved a 15-month, half-cent sales tax in 1994 to fund construction of the two-story building. More than $4.5 million in tax receipts, interest and donations were received.

The Boy Scouts from the Quapaw Area Council will be helping police in Little Rock and Pulaski County fight crime by promoting neighborhood watch groups and developing local education programs outlining simple crime prevention techniques. In May, the Boy Scouts of America began a national crime prevention program, but waited until October  National Crime Prevention Month  to announce the program’s start.

 

FLORIDA Many Dade County police officers had their work week extended to six days in late October in a bid by Mayor Alex Penelas to crack down on crime. A 90-day assault on crime, which authorities termed “Safe Streets, Clean Sweep,” was due to begin Nov. 15, at a cost of $4 million in overtime.

A former New York City police officer who retired on a $29,000 tax-free disability pension is now a police officer in Port St. Lucie, where he is apparently showing little signs of the dizziness and ear problems that led to his retirement. Officer Charles Lamm, 36, said he had to leave the NYPD because a 25-foot fall in 1983 while chasing a burglary suspect led to a disabling head injury. Lamm was once fired by the South Florida city  which he refers to as “Port St. Nowhere”  for delivering pizza boxes from his patrol car. He was reinstated after city officials decided the penalty was excessive.

 

GEORGIA An accident investigation report released in October has blamed a woman killed in a crash with two Marietta police officers for causing the accident. Officers Mark Bishop and David Barnes were responding to a call for backup from another car that was following a stolen vehicle when the victim, Hu Chen, 30, tried to turn left in front of them, according to the Cobb County police traffic unit report. Chen was attempting to go north, requiring that she cross two southbound lanes and a center turn lane. There was oncoming traffic from both southbound lanes, said the report.

The Forest Park Police Department’s Chief of Detectives, Capt. Dale Moorefield, 47, died Oct. 20 from injuries received when his motorcycle collided with a van in the northern part of the state. Moorefield was leading a group of motorcyclists when the van turned onto his path at an intersection. He was a member of the Clayton County Sheriff’s Department before joining the Forest Park police force in 1974.

A lawsuit filed against the city of Atlanta and the Atlanta Police Department, in which a 25-year-old woman claims she was repeatedly threatened and raped in 1993 by a moonlighting police officer who worked at her housing project, claims that police failed to punish officers who ignored her complaints against Sgt. Lary Hall. Police Chief Beverly Harvard and other top police officials admitted in depositions that there was no interest in pursuing the rape allegations against Hall, who has since pleaded guilty and has been sentenced to 32 months in prison for conducting illegal searches and taking money from suspects. Before the scandal, however, the woman said she told police about Hall pressuring her for sex, and threatening her with the loss of  her children if she did not comply. Jim White, a Florida State University associate professor and former police officer who is acting as an expert witness in the case, said officers took a year to prepare a report on the victim’s complaint. Two of the officers central to the internal investigation of the case were promoted, according to documents, despite their handling of the complaint.

 

LOUISIANA Police 911 dispatchers in New Orleans were overcome by fumes Oct. 26 from a chemical used to clean the carpets in their unventilated work area. Officials said no 911 calls were lost, although 13 dispatchers had to be treated at Tulane Medical Center for shortness of breath, dizziness, and nausea.

 

SOUTH CAROLINA There were 89 bank holdups in the state through the first 10 months of this year, compared with 56 for all of last year, according to the South Carolina Bankers Association. A spokeswoman for the organization, Anne Gillespie, noted that the Christmas season, when there is always a rash of robberies, has yet to come.

Forty-one people were indicted on Oct. 23 in what authorities said is one of the state’s largest drug busts. Law-enforcement officials seized $1.5 million in cash, boats and weapons, as well as 22 pounds of cocaine. Authorities said those indicted were connected to drug rings operating in South Carolina, Florida, Texas and New York.

Columbia police officials on Oct. 25 released an internal affairs report on alleged police misconduct, two months after a state Supreme Court ruling refused to allow them to keep such reports confidential. The report details a Dec. 31, 1992, incident in which police chased four black youths, detaining one they believed was a drug dealer.

 

VIRGINIA The unusually high number of state troopers and special agents charged this year with crimes ranging from assault and battery of a prisoner to domestic assault is said to be causing concern for State Police Supt. M. Wayne Huggins, who said that while he believes it to be an aberration, it is still unacceptable. From Jan. 1 through mid-October, 12 officers had been accused of wrongdoing. Only one of the cases involved an officer who had less than five years on the job, said Huggins, who added that he and his staff have found no common denominators among the officers charged this year, aside from unrelated domestic assault cases.

 

     Midwest

ILLINOIS After a reduction in crime, the rise of property values and an overall sense of renewal in Edgewater due in part to a successful community policing program, residents were shocked and dismayed in October by the arrest of two Nigerian women on suspicion of being part of an international heroin cartel. The two women had owned a local dress shop.

 

INDIANA Marion police Sgt. Thomas Faulkner resigned in late October amid accusations of fondling a 17-year-old girl. The alleged Oct. 13 incident was under investigation by the Indiana State Police.

Federal agents have joined a local investigation of a cross-burning outside the mobile home of a black family near Kokomo. A note was left near the cross, warning James Johnson and his family that if they did not move, the next time “we’ll do more than just burn a cross.”

 

KENTUCKY Free trigger locks are being made available throughout Jefferson County after the accidental shooting deaths of three children in six months.

 

MICHIGAN A Nov. 20 job fair in Detroit tried to match ex-convicts with potential employers under the state Corrections Department’s “A Fresh Start” program. The program will also provide help with résumés and interview skills, along with tax breaks for employers who hire ex-convicts.

 

OHIO Seven suspects were arrested Oct. 25 by Federal agents in Lincoln County after reports that Lincoln Heights police did little to ease local problems with marijuana and crack cocaine. A 31-count indictment charged the seven with conspiracy to distribute the drugs. U.S. Attorney Dale Ann Goldberg said local authorities were not involved in the sweep at the request of “frustrated citizens.” But the village’s acting manager, William Franklin, disputed the remark, saying that agents from the FBI and DEA had asked that local police “back off” so as “not to rock the boat” while the agents pursued those higher up in the drug-trafficking chain.

A 15-year-old female gang leader, Shamika Jones, was indicted by a Hamilton County grand jury in October on charges of attempted murder, aggravated riot and complicity to rape in connection with the August torture of a fellow gang member. The 18-year-old victim, who was allegedly forced to perform oral sex on 15 men, oincurred Jones’s wrath when she failed to win a fight the gang leader had ordered her to win. Jones and another woman, Bridget Housworth  who is facing similar charges  beat the woman with a board while a cement-filled bucket was dropped on the victim.

The state Department of Youth Services has pledged to provide $6.5 million of the $18 million needed to build a 125-bed juvenile-detention center in Lucas County. The county will have to come up with the rest.

 

WISCONSIN Milwaukee police were hit with rocks and bottles in Oct. 22 as they tried to arrest a drug suspect. Six people were arrested.

A study prepared for the state’s 11 Indian tribes in October shows no increase in crime since the opening of casinos on reservation lands. State Senator Fred Risser, who opposes gaming, said the report was invalid because it was financed by the tribes.

 

     Plains States

IOWA State troopers in October found 23 kilograms of cocaine wrapped in Halloween paper hidden in the sides of Irene Beleckas’s pickup truck after she was pulled over for speeding on Interstate 80. The cocaine was estimated to be worth $2.3 million.

 

MINNESOTA The state will get a total of $33 million in Federal grants to hire new police officers. One-third of the money will go to 130 communities with populations of under 10,000, including many that report little or no violent crimes. Minneapolis and St. Paul will get a total of $7.8 million.

The state’s Republican Governor, Arne Carlson, and Democratic legislative leaders proposed similar anti-crime packages in October, including boot camps for juveniles, an anti-gang unit and street sweeps.

A state report released Oct. 28 has found that an increase in the number of students bringing weapons to school is largely to blame for the quintupling of students being expelled from the state’s schools. Since 1991, 303 students have been thrown out.

 

MISSOURI Federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms have joined the investigation into a fire that destroyed the tower-like entryway of the predominantly white New Bethel Community Church in Anderson in October. Fire Chief Shelby Turner said he does not believe race was the motive for the blaze. Signs of a liquid accelerant were found, he said.

 

MONTANA Anti-government radical Gorden Sellner was convicted Sept. 13 of attempted murder in the shooting of Missoula County Sheriff’s Deputy Bob Parcell in 1992, but was acquitted of criminal endangerment for firing three rounds from a high-powered rifle in the direction of deputies hiding in woods near Sellner’s Swan Valley home in 1995. Sellner, who has not paid taxes since 1972, claimed he was terrified that Parcell was an Internal Revenue Service hitman who had come to silence him for his anti-government activities. Parcell, however, had merely stopped Sellner because he was a witness to an earlier assault. Parcell was wearing a bulletproof vest, and thus the shot from Sellner’s .41 magnum revolver did not penetrate his chest. After the shooting, a standoff between Sellner and the sheriff’s office went on for three years until Sellner was shot in the neck.

 

NEBRASKA Grand Island has been identified by the U.S. Attorney’s Office as the source of a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine throughout the state. Eight people were indicted in late October on Federal charges related to the sale of the drug.

Thirteen officers from police departments in Omaha and Boys Town, Neb., along with St. Paul, Minn.; Des Moines and Woodbine, Iowa, and Chelsea, Mich., were graduated in October from a 48-hour certified mounted officer training course.

No action will be taken against two Omaha police officers who arrested state parole officer Mel Washington in September following a scuffle. Police Chief Jim Skinner said an internal investigation has concluded that the officers acted appropriately. The scuffle began when officers Bradley Beyersdorf and Alvin Kessinger asked Washington to move his car. Washington got out of his vehicle and began walking toward the police station. He was arrested on suspicion of obstructing police, obstructing traffic and resisting arrest.

Some 700 sample prayer cards were distributed in October to Omaha churches and synagogues by the city’s police and fire officials, asking residents to pray for them. The move was prompted by recent police and firefighter deaths.

 

NORTH DAKOTA An investigator from State’s Attorney John Goff’s office is going to be loaned to work with local police officers in the Cass County area on an anti-gang task force. Goff said in October that he believes the area is going to see an increase in gangs.

 

WYOMING  The state is examining several options now that the Wyoming State Penitentiary has reached its capacity, said Judy Uphoff, head of the state Corrections Department. Some inmates may be moved to other states.

The conviction of Rodney Gunderson, the first man in Fremont County to be sentenced to life in prison for being an habitual criminal, will stand, after the state Supreme Court rejected Gunderson’s claim that two of his four convictions were out-of-state.

 

     Southwest

ARIZONA Three members of the Viper Militia group, Walter Sanville, Christopher Floyd, and Donna Williams, pleaded not guilty Oct. 16 to charges of making and possessing unregistered explosives. Charges of conspiring against the government were dropped after prosecutors determined there was no such plot.

Four of six Federal prisoners who escaped in October from the Central Arizona Detention Center, a private prison in Florence, were recaptured a day later. The prisoners, who include three murderers, were from Alaska. They cut through three fences and fled into the desert.

The same day that a police officer was sentenced to three years’ probation for molesting a 15-year-old girl while on duty, the Tucson City Council voted Oct. 21 to create a new citizens’ committee that will review complaints of police misconduct. The panel will have no power to conduct investigations or subpoena witnesses. Council members said they want the panel to be an amalgam of two different types of committees used in other cities. Under one system, alleged misconduct is investigated by police and the review committee makes recommendations to the police chief, but has no authority to conduct independent investigations. The other approach involves hiring an independent auditor to take part in the investigations.

 

COLORADO In October, Kathleen Apodaca became the first female road deputy in the 100-year history of the Las Animas County Sheriff’s Department. Apodaca joined the department in 1995 as a detention officer.

A report released Oct. 16 concluded that the Littleton Police Department engaged in a pattern of discrimination against female officers, including lost promotions and special assignments; retaliation for complaints; and female officers being told not to communicate with each during breaks or call on each other for back-up. The report by independent attorney John DiFalco notes that female officers with less than five years experience reported no concerns about sexual discrimination. Most of the department’s seven female officers have less than five years on the job.

A robbery suspect dressed in a supermarket uniform was shot dead by Lakewood police Oct. 16 after spraying a chemical substance into an officer’s face during his attempted getaway. The officers encountered the suspect as they were responding to a 911 call. The fatal shooting was the fourth one involving a Lakewood officer in the past two years. Prior to that, there had been only one in the 27-year history of the department.

 

OKLAHOMA A Canadian truck driver, Richard Aupin, told Federal agents in October that he feared his family would be killed if he revealed the source of the 500 pounds of cocaine that was discovered in a hidden compartment in his rig.

Jury selection began Oct. 21 in the trial of suspended Ottawa County Sheriff Ed Walker, who faces gambling and extortion charges that could bring him up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Applications for concealed-handgun permits have been running below expectations since the gun law took effect 10 months ago. Out of 15,617 requests, 14,000 have been issued.

 

TEXAS Officials said Oct. 30 that the number of juveniles in the state’s youth facilities is expected to increase by 73 percent by 2002 because of stricter sentences and tougher probation rules.

A Federally-funded research study on the factors that prompt police to use force while making arrests was conducted in Dallas in early October, with other replication studies planned for Charlotte, N.C., Colorado Springs, Colo., St. Petersburg, Fla., and San Diego. Researchers from the Joint Centers for Justice Studies Inc., in Shepardstown, W.Va., interviewed suspects and had officers fill out short questionnaires about each arrest as part of the routine paperwork they do following an incident. A similar study done in Phoenix in 1994 found that force was more likely when bystanders were present, when both the officer and the suspect were male, and when the suspect was violent. [See LEN, Sept. 15, 1996.]

A Federal jury convicted drug kingpin Juan Garcia Abrego in Houston on Oct. 16 on charges that he masterminded the transportation of tons of cocaine into the United States from Mexico. Prosecutors said Garcia Abrego, who faces life in prison, was making $2 billion a year before his capture by Mexican agents in January. After he was arrested in Mexico, Garcia Abrego was flown to Houston where he waived his right to an attorney and incriminated himself to U.S. drug-enforcement agents. Seizures of his property, said prosecutors, could yield $1 billion.

Unless changes are made in the state’s mandatory-release law, prison officials will be forced to release as many as 60 convicted child molesters before the completion of their prison terms.

The Department of Public Safety reported in October that 100,000 Texans have been licensed to carry concealed weapons since the law was changed in 1995. Only 1,015 have been denied licenses.

Marijuana is becoming the main problem drug for youth, a report on substance abuse trends showed in October. Illicit drug use is up overall, the report said.

United States Attorney Bill Blagg asked in October that a 500-acre Las Moras ranch owned by indicted drug dealers be forfeited to the Federal Government. The ranch, he said, is still being used to smuggle drugs.

 

UTAH Pressed by a 1991 court order to avoid overloading its downtown jail, the Salt Lake County Commission has ordered that an interlocal agreement be drawn up with Utah County in the hopes of sending 100 felons to a new facility being built there.

 

     Far West

ALASKA Nine game enforcement officers are using a boat, a helicopter, and a float plane to patrol for violations in the Kodiak area, where common problems include wanton waste and the transfer of antlers before all the meat is packed out.

 

CALIFORNIA Seventy-three Huey helicopters and four transport planes will be donated by the United States to the Mexican military to transport elite troops intercepting drug shipments. The $50-million donation marks the first time the U.S. has made such a grant to the military; other donations of helicopters were made to Mexican police units. Some of the helicopters will be deployed along the 2,000-mile long Mexican border.

The family of a Rowlands Heights man who was shot to death by an inebriated, off-duty, sheriff’s deputy in 1994 was awarded $750,000 by a Federal jury Oct. 17. The deputy, Thomas Kirsh, was never charged with the shooting of John Huffman, a car salesman, during a scuffle in a bar. Kirsh, a 24-year veteran, had a blood-alcohol level of 0.21, more than double the legal limit. Huffman, whose blood-alcohol level was only slightly lower, also had a trace of cocaine in his system.

Curtis Hemphill, accused of kidnapping his estranged wife and shooting her boyfriend, an off-duty Los Angeles police officer, was the focus of an all-out search after he fled following the Oct. 27 incident. The officer, Vernon Ward, 31, was listed in extremely critical condition on life support after sustaining a gunshot wound to the front of the head. After Hemphill shot Ward, he kidnapped his wife, Keri, and drove her to March Air Force Base. She was shot in the hand before being rescued by Riverside County sheriff’s deputies.

A paroled sex offender, Randall Lee Wickham, 44, led Los Angeles police on a 100-mph chase Oct. 28 before a crash resulted in his arrest in Pasadena, said investigators. Wickham apparently attempted suicide by slashing his wrists during the televised pursuit. He had been paroled earlier this year after serving a prison term for indecent exposure.  Police had been seeking him since Oct. 15 when he allegedly failed to report to his parole officer. That same day, police received a call about a man, believed to be Wickham, masturbating in his car outside a Redondo Beach elementary school. The following day, another complaint was filed about a man exposing himself to five female students at a Santa Monica elementary school, and a second arrest warrant was issued for Wickham. Police caught up with him when a car rental agency said Wickham failed to return a vehicle. The car was spotted by Long Beach police officers.

A Federal civil jury concluded Oct. 28 that Inglewood police officers used excessive force when they took long-time gang member Eddie Joe Hewitt into custody in 1989. Hewitt, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in connection with a double homicide and is now in prison, was awarded $10,000 in general damages. Before additional punitive damages could be considered, the City of Inglewood agreed to settle the case for a total of $105,000. The case caused a bitter dispute between the Inglewood and Los Angeles departments, both of which said the other’s officers pulled Hewitt from his hiding place after a manhunt, and caused injuries that included gashes to the head, bruises, and dog bites. One of the most disturbing allegations leveled at the Inglewood department by both the 32-year-old Hewitt and Los Angeles police was that Inglewood officers tried to cover up the incident because it was witnessed by a captain, and that the captain’s wife was among the officers delivering the blows.

A Federal appellate court on Oct. 28 upheld a 1993 judgment against Santa Monica Police Officer Skystone-Egale Lambert for violating the Fourth Amendment rights of  two black men he arrested at gunpoint because they resembled two armed-robbery suspects. The two men, George Washington, a photographer for Sports Illustrated, and Darryl Hicks, a computer programmer, were in the city on vacation from New York when they were followed by Lambert to their hotel, where he and other officers called in as back-up ordered them out of their rental car and handcuffed them. They were released once it was determined that their rental car was not stolen. U.S. Circuit Court Judge Stephen Reinhardt, who wrote the opinion for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, asserted that the arrest went to the heart of long-standing complaints that African-Americans are stopped routinely by police because of their race.

California Highway Patrol officials cannot say whether more drivers are hurtling down the state’s freeways at speeds topping 100 miles per hour or more are just getting caught. Through mid-October, CHP troopers had given out 4,301 tickets, putting the total on a pace that could surpass the state’s highest number of tickets for the offense, 5,290 handed out in 1992. While representing only a fraction of the 636,000 speeders ticketed each year in the state, those in the 100-mph club are considered the most dangerous and are punished accordingly: a $1,300 ticket and a 30-day license suspension.

A secret investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department has concluded that allegations of police misconduct made by retired Det. Mark Fuhrman on a tape recorded by an aspiring screenwriter were either exaggerations or lies. Fuhrman, whose stories of torturing, beating, and framing suspects rocked the O.J. Simpson criminal trial, pleaded no-contest to perjury charges stemming from his testimony. The internal report, which cost more than $400,000 and involved 224 interviews and more than a quarter-million documents, has been formally requested by the U.S. Justice Department. The department’s civilian Board of Police Commissioners, however, said the report is so poorly reasoned and incomplete that it may encourage the Federal agency to step up its own ongoing inquiry into the department’s operations.

San Francisco police will begin handing out $55 citations during the city’s Friday Night Skate, which has grown to include as many as 600 skaters since it began in 1989. Police say the event has become a giant headache for pedestrians and motorists.

 

HAWAII Prompted by the robbery of three Japanese golfers on Oct. 15 at a Honolulu country club, Japan’s consul general met recently with police officials to discuss ways to protect tourists.

 

NEVADA The City of Las Vegas may pull out of the Metropolitan Police Department if legislative efforts fail to correct a tax inequity between the city and Clark County, said Mayor Jan Jones. There are already enough votes on the City Council, said Jones, to break away from the consolidated department.

Clark County Deputy District Attorney Steve Hill entered a drug rehabilitation center and plans to resign after being caught with cocaine in his car’s ashtray in October. Earlier, Hill was stopped with a known prostitute, police said. Neither was arrested.

 

OREGON Nathan Milligan, 18, was shot to death Oct. 21 by Federal agents when he arrived to pick up ransom money as part of an extortion threat to blow up the Bonneville Dam, said authorities. Milligan was armed with a rifle and what he said was a detonator, but there was no bomb.

Marion County jail officials on Oct. 21 freed 22 low-risk inmates before their sentences were up to ease overcrowding. Most were jailed for probation violations, or drug or driving offenses.

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Published in Law Enforcement News
Dec. 15, 1996.
© 1996, LEN Inc.