Thursday, April 30, 2009

Changes Are Coming

Fort Hood transferred nearly 700 acres of land to Texas A&M to build Texas A&M University-Central Texas.
“This is a great day for Army soldiers and Texas A&M University,” said Edwards, Chairman of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Committee. “This Army-A&M partnership will mean Fort Hood soldiers, their families and students throughout Central Texas will have access to a first-class, affordable university education.” Source: Austin American Statesman
This is going to mean changes for the Killeen area.

Analysis of Kansas v. Ventris

The SCOTUSblog has an interesting analysis of yesterday's Supreme Court decision on Kansas v. Ventris.
In its decision Wednesday in Kansas v. Ventris (No. 07-1356), the Supreme Court ruled that the government may impeach a defendant’s testimony using statements obtained during an interrogation that violated his Sixth Amendment right to counsel, even though the prosecution would be barred from using such tainted evidence as part of its case in chief. Source: SCOTUSblog
The march of justice rolls on.

Seeking Truth Not Convictions

The blog Grits For Breakfast has a post on another problematic issue with the Houston PD Crime Lab. He raises an interesting point with this:
Before this, in the most recent, previous exoneration in Houston, Ronald Taylor's false conviction also resulted from HPD crime lab errors; in that case, bad forensic analysis from the Houston crime lab corroborated an incorrect witness identification. These examples show how a too-close relationship between detectives and crime lab workers can corrupt forensic results. When lab workers are told too much information about the case - e.g., "a witness ID'd him and we just need you to confirm" - they go into the test with a bias about what the results should be. Source: Grits For Breakfast
I would carry this idea even further, given the gravity of the issues we deal with, we in Law Enforcement should cast a sceptical eye at nearly everything and not get too locked into any one theory or suspect too soon. Even if that information comes from another cop, a victim or a witness.

Murder For Hire Plot Nets Prison Time

A Killeen woman who participated in a murder for hire plot involving a Fort Hood soldier was sentenced to federal prison for her part. The case involves a Fort Hood soldier who approached the woman and her husband to kill the soldier's spouse.

Rail Crossing Scofflaws Ticketed

Killeen Police issued 63 citations in a joint KPD/BNSF Railroad operation targeting people who violate Texas laws regarding railroad crossings.
"These people just don't understand how it could cost you your life, just disregarding a red light." Source: Killeen Daily Herald
This is a unique way to enforce the law. I still want to sound the train whistle.

Killeen Youth To Stand Trial As Adult

A Killeen teen accused of burglarizing a home and raping a 9 year old girl has been certified to stand trial as an adult in these crimes. The youth was 15 at the time he committed the offense.

Bell Sheriff Still Working To ID Body

The Bell County Sheriff's Office is still working to identify the body of a woman found in the burned out rubble of a home. The body was tentatively identified as that of a Killeen woman but DNA tests to confirm this are still pending.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Child Abuse Arrests

A Killeen couple is under arrest for Injury To A Child. This stems from the investigation into the death of the couple's infant.

Baa, Baa, Black Sheep

The blog Grits For Breakfast has an interesting post of a bill in the Texas legislature to make the stealing of one goat, sheep or other livestock animal a felony offense.
Beyond the policy madness of a felony rap for stealing a $35 goat, this bill raises a more general complaint I have about such legislation: The political process is not honest about what it would cost. As with all bills expanding incarceration at the Texas Legislature, the official "fiscal note" for SB 1163 claims the legislation is a freebie to taxpayers, but obviously that is false. Source: Grits For Breakfast
Even is this law passes, it's not likely to have an increased deterrent effect. Most felonies around here aren't prosecuted as such since most people get "deferred adjudication". Deferred adjudication means if they complete probation the conviction won't go on their record.

I Always Wanted To Drive The Train

Killeen Police will accompany trains in order to stop people from violating Texas laws regarding railroad crossings. The "Officer On The Train" program is part of the Operation Lifesaver.
"You get to see a whole different light of how people run those red lights in front of trains and how trains can't stop on a dime. You have a lot of weight behind that engine," said Carroll Smith, police spokeswoman. "Just like when you're in a big vehicle, it's not as easy to stop behind a small vehicle when something pulls in front of you."

The officers on the train will alert officers patrolling the streets near the downtown railroad track about violators, and tickets will be given. Source: Killeen Daily Herald
But does the officer get to blow the train whistle?

Will It Work?

I don't usually introduce a theological perspective on this blog, but I wonder if this is going to work? Thieves have repeatedly burglarized a DFW area church. Their response is interesting.

Parishioners at Concordia Lutheran Church said they are hoping guilt will do what reinforced doors can't: Stop the thieves in their tracks.

A billboard in front of the church on Harwood Road now reads: "You are forgiven, again. Bring back our stuff." Source: NBCDFW.com

Hope it works in more ways than one.


A New Trend?

For a while in the town where I work, we saw a number of ATM burglaries where a suspect would crash a vehicle into a business with an ATM inside, drag the machine out with the vehicle and take it to a secluded location to gain entry into the ATM's vault and the money inside. This was part of a larger trend of similar burglaries nationwide.

Now Dallas area authorities are reporting a variation on this type of crime. Businesses hardened their locations to prevent the burglaries and now thieves have upped the ante by using heavy equipment to facilitate these crimes.
"OFFICERS ARE ENCOURAGED TO BE AWARE OF ANY CONSTRUCTION SITES WITH HEAVY EQUIPMENT WITHIN CLOSE PROXIMITY TO A BANK OR ANY OTHER BUILDING WHICH MAY HAVE AN ATM MACHINE INSIDE," a Dallas police bulletin says. "OFFICERS SHOULD ALSO BE AWARE OF ANY CONSTRUCTION EQUIPMENT THAT IS MOVING DURING THE NIGHT TIME." Source: Dallas Morning News
Thieves can be quite inventive.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Swine Flu

Health Officials in Mexico and the US are currently warning of an outbreak of swine flu. In addition to the hundreds of cases reported in Mexico, there have been a number of cases reported in Texas, Kansas and New York. Most of the US cases center around people who have recently traveled to Mexico or have come into contact with persons who have.

A San Antonio area school district has been ordered to close for the week by the Texas Department of Health due to an outbreak among their students.

Some health officials have expressed concern that this strain of swine influenza could possibly become a pandemic. While a number of deaths have been reported in Mexico, most of the cases in the US have been relatively mild.

Officers should use caution when dealing with persons who appear to be ill, especially if that person has recently traveled to Mexico.
Germs can be spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth. Droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person move through the air. Germs can be spread when a person touches respiratory droplets from another person on a surface like a desk and then touches their own eyes, mouth or nose before washing their hands. Source: CDC.gov
The virus that causes swine flu can live on surfaces for up to several hours on surfaces such as doorknobs, tables and desks.

The CDC recommends these actions be taken to protect yourself:
There is no vaccine available right now to protect against swine flu. There are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza. Take these everyday steps to protect your health:
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you get sick with influenza, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them. Source: CDC.gov
Officer safety is not just about fighting bad guys. In the immortal words of Phil Esterhaus "Let's be careful out there."

Prison For Killeen Sex Assault

A Fort Hood soldier got 20 years in prison for sexual assault of a 12 year old girl in Killeen.

Always Have A Plan B

Two Florida deputies were killed by a domestic violence suspect. The deputies had reportedly used a Taser on the suspect who then shot the two officers after he got up from the ground.
"Within seconds he sat up and began firing a weapon that came out of nowhere, it was somewhere on his body we assume," Okaloosa County's Interim Sheriff Ed Spooner told more than 300 sheriff's office employees who gathered Sunday night to pray and hear an explanation of the shootings. Source: Yahoo News
The thing to take from this tragedy is that none of these non-lethal force options are perfect. In 18 years in law enforcement I've seen these gadgets come and go as the latest "wonder device". The only consistent thing they possess is inconsistency.

Crime's A 24/7 Business

Though it's not in Bell County, Austin PD is moving a number of their detectives to shift work to provide near 24 hour a day coverage.

Most detectives have worked daytime hours, picking up cases from patrol officers hours — or sometimes days — after a crime occurred. The detectives were then responsible for following up with potential witnesses, reviewing forensic evidence and determining whether a suspect could be charged.

Police officials said the current arrangement means thatdozens of types of crimes do not receive a detective's review for 24 hours or more. Source: Austin American Statesman

It's almost always best to "strike while the iron is hot". Solvability is increased when the case is handled in a timely manner. It will be interesting to see if this improves APD's clearance rate.

Not Something To Be Number 1 In

Bell County has the highest rate of child abuse deaths per capita in Texas for 2008.
"It touches every walk of life, every race, every religion," Wallace said.

"It's not stopping. In some cases, it's not slowing down – it's progressing." Source: Killeen Daily Herald
Bell County also has the second highest per capita rate of child abuse according to this article.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Are You Ready?

The swine flu outbreak in Mexico is spreading, both the illness and fear. The Mexican government is starting to enact emergency public health policies like forcible quarantines.
Mexico City has become the epicenter of the sickness, which is suspected to have infected 1,324 people nationwide by Saturday night. Mexican President Felipe Calderón issued a decree allowing the federal health department to enter homes and forcibly quarantine people, and the authorities ordered all schools closed until May 6 in the capital and neighboring Mexico State. Source: USA Today
So far there are about a dozen cases that have been reported in the US. Is your police department ready to confront the realities of a pandemic? It may not be the swine flu but how would your agency cope with such an outbreak? Do you have plans in place? Are you ready personally to weather such an epidemic?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Fort Hood Housing May Impact Bell Area

A shortage of on post housing for Fort Hood soldiers could lead to more soldiers finding housing out in town.
1st Sgt. Valdemar Gonzales, acting sergeant major for the 4th BCT rear detachment, said when the 3,900 troops from the 4th BCT return in June, nearly 300 of them will have to find a place to live. Source: Temple Daily Telegram
In spite of the fear that there will be a reduced number of troops assigned to Fort Hood (and hence a negative economic impact on the surrounding communities) this story seems to point to growth not decline.

The wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan have kept troops busy and away from Bell County for a number of years. Their return to the post in the short term should lessen the impact in the long term. It's not all doom & gloom.

Profile Of Families In Crisis Shelter

The Temple Daily Telegram has a long article on Families In Crisis, a Bell County area domestic violence shelter.
“When someone decides to seek shelter, it is usually after a while,” Armour said. “A lot of times it is after years of abuse.” Source: Temple Daily Telegram
As a large part of police work consists of dealing with domestic violence it's a pretty good read.

At Least We Sound Tough

The blog Grits For Breakfast has an interesting analysis of recent legislative efforts to increase the penalty for violating Texas' graffiti statute.
The fact is, penalty hikes are among the least effective ways to reduce graffiti because a) penalties have already been increased many times and b) so few people are arrested for the offense, particularly compared to the tens of thousands of separate graffiti offenses committed statewide every year (much of which goes unreported). Source: Grits For Breakfast
Graffiti is not the only statute where the felony enhancement has not proved to be effective.

Recent Bell County Court Actions

A number of Bell County crooks were sentenced this week including rapists, burglars, thieves and dopers.

The march of justice continues.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ruling Expected To Clarify Second Ammendment

The SCOTUS blog offers an analysis of an upcoming court case that could clarify 2nd Amendment rights.

But, only about a year after the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on gun rights in District of Columbia v. Heller, the Justices could soon be faced with one of the most significant issues left undecided by Heller. That is whether the Second Amendment’s guarantee (as interpreted in Heller) of a personal right to have a gun restricts the power of state and local governments to regulate personal weapons (as it already does for the federal government). Source: SCOTUSblog.com

The evolutionary process of case law marches on.

Changes Coming To Killeen Animal Ordinance

The City of Killeen's Animal Advisory Committee recommended changes to the City's animal control ordinance that would prohibit tethering or tying up dogs.

"We're looking at going to a no-tie ordinance. Currently, the ordinance allows for a pulley system so it's not tied to a single point. A lot of research shows that it tends to breed aggression in animals," Clements said. Source: Killeen Daily Herald

Now that the recommendations have been made, it will be up to the City Council to decide.

Guilty Plea In Killeen Pawn Shop Robbery

A Killeen man plead guilty to murder in the death of a Killeen pawn shop clerk. By accepting the plea deal, the man would be eligible for parole in 30 years as opposed to a possible life sentence.

"We offered the deal a while back," Waldman said. "The only benefit Roberts really got was possible parole in 30 years. It's my expectation that he will never take a free step with what he did to Kathy Parker." Source: Killeen Daily Herald

He also plead guilty to drug and escape charges.

Four Indicted For Temple Robbery

Four men were indicted for a home invasion robbery that occurred in Temple in December. Great work by an alert TPD officer led to identifying the men.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Changes To Search Doctrine

The US Supreme Court made a ruling this week which changes the doctrine of search incident to arrest.

The Court held that a search of the passenger compartment of a vehicle following an arrest is allowed “only if [1] the arrestee is within reaching distance of the passenger compartment at the time of the search or [2] it is reasonable to believe the vehicle contains evidence of the offense of arrest. When these justifications are absent, a search of an arrestee's vehicle will be unreasonable unless police obtain a warrant or show that another exception to the warrant requirement applies.” Source: PoliceOne.com

The case law affecting search and seizure ebbs and flows. I once heard an expert say that even if you had a Supreme Court justice riding in your police car you'll have a hard time keeping all the case law straight on search & seizure.

Grandma & Boyfriend Arrested For Child Abuse

There's not much you can say about this Killeen pair.

Texas Driver's Licenses Get New Look

The Texas Department Of Public Safety has begun issuing new redesigned Driver's Licenses and ID cards.

The link has a picture of what the new licenses will look like.

Killeen To Consider Cell Phone Ban

The Killeen City Council is looking at an ordinance limiting the way driver's use cell phones in Killeen. Discussions have spoke about an ban on text messaging while driving, an outright ban on calls while driving or requiring the use of a hands free device.

If a ban goes into effect, it will be interesting to see how many citations are issued.

Prescription Drug Fraud Growing

Obtaining prescription drugs via fraudulent means is on the rise according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

"You steal a prescription pad and you start writing prescriptions and go from one side of town to the other, to every pharmacy and give them your prescription until you get caught," said Lt. Joe Coy, of DPS Narcotics. Source: KXXV.com

I have noticed an increase of the seizure of prescription drugs from drug users who in years past would have only had illicit narcotics. This is only the tip of the iceberg as many prescription drug abusers are "respectable" citizens who aren't being arrested in a crack house.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bell County Court Cases

Bell County District Courts sentenced several Bell County crooks for their misdeeds including a sex offender, burglar and drug offender.

Killeen Man Arrested For Impersonating TABC Agent

A Killeen man was arrested for Impersonating A Public Servant. Shawn Glen Woolever, 38 was arrested by real Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) Agents. TABC stated they had been receiving complaints from local bars and restraunts that a man had been claiming to be a TABC agent and giving instructions to them on the service of alcoholic beverages.

Woolever's masquerade has him now facing third degree felony charges.

Monday, April 20, 2009

If Pot Was Legal

NPR did a piece on their program All Things Considered exploring what would occur if marihuana was legalized. Regardless of where you stand on the issue of the de-criminalization of drugs it is interesting to think about. 

Imagine if you turned on the radio and heard this: "From NPR News in Washington, I'm Carl Kasell. After 70 years of prohibition, marijuana becomes legal today for personal consumption throughout the United States for persons 21 and older …"

How would the world change if cannabis finally came out of the closet, if it were fully legal to possess, sell and cultivate? Source: NPR

The real interesting part is that they did not believe that the legalization of marihuana would put an end to the plague of Mexican drug cartels. Given that the organized crime gangs in the U.S. that started with the Volstead Act didn't go away when prohibition ended is about as close as you can get to proving that theory. Crime is just too profitable. 

There's A New Sheriff In Town...or Should I Say Chief

Belton PD's new Chief started work today although with the title "Police Administrator" until his TCLEOSE certification is official.

Welcome Chief Ellis.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Slow And Steady Wins The Race

The Killeen Daily Herald has an article on construction of the new KPD Headquarters. 

The 80,000-square-foot complex was slated to be finished this summer. Police Chief Dennis Baldwin said Tuesday the completion date was pushed back because of delays in acquiring steel and cinder blocks for the project.

The station is expected to be finished in December and possibly earlier, Baldwin said. He expects KPD's move-in will take between 30 days and several months after it receives the keys to the headquarters on Featherline Road. Source: Killeen Daily Herald

KPD is going to be in this for a long time, in the whole scheme of things a few months won't matter much. 

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Missing Killeen Boy Found Unharmed

A Killeen elementary school child kidnapped from school by non-custodial relatives was found. His grandfather, who was named in a warrant charging him with Aggravated Kidnapping, turned himself in to police in Georgia. 

Friday, April 17, 2009

Killeen Child Abduction Update

Killeen Police obtained an Aggravated Kidnapping warrant for a family member seen leaving school with an 8 year old Killeen boy. It is believed that the family member is headed to Georgia with the child. 

There's video with images of the boy in the linked story. 

Arrest Made In Burglaries & Rape

Lampasas Police arrested a man for several burglaries and a sexual assault. The man has previous ties to west Bell County offenses.

Cummings said Batiste has an extensive criminal record. Source: KWTX.com

Maybe he'll do some real time for this if he's convicted.

Illegal Drug Distribution

Stratfor has a good article outlining how illegal drugs are distributed in the U.S. Given the drug war in Mexico and Texas' proximity this piece provides understanding how the whole process of getting drugs from Central America to the streets of the U.S.

The U.S.-Mexican border is a dynamic place, with competition over drug routes and the quest for cash destabilizing northern Mexico and straining local and state law enforcement on the U.S. side. Putting pressure on the people who are active in the border drug trade has so far only inspired others to innovate and adapt to the challenging environment by becoming more innovative and pragmatic. Source: Stratfor.com

As usual another great report from Stratfor. I highly recommend subscribing to their free email reports.

Interesting Stats

Jason Trahan at the Dallas Morning News Crime Blog has an interesting piece analyzing FBI Bank Robbery stats.

Bank robbery has about as high a clearance rate as murder. About three quarters of all bank robbers are caught. Usually more. By comparison, some property crimes in Dallas have single-digit arrest percentages. Source: Dallas Morning News

With the economy in the tank, it is likely we'll see even more bank robberies.

But Do They Get An Issued Lightsaber?

A freedom of information request to one of the largest Scottish police forces revealed that nine of their employees listed their religion as "Jedi" on a diversity survey.

Jane's Police Review editor Chris Herbert, who requested the information, said: "The Force appears to be strong in Strathclyde Police with their Jedi police officers and staff.

"Far from living a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, some members of the noble Jedi order have now chosen Glasgow and its surrounding streets as their home." Source: BBC

Either this police force has a few Star Wars geeks or this proves that cops hate filling out surveys that come from Human Resources.


KPD Seeks Missing Boy

The 8 year old boy went missing. Video footage shows him leaving with a relative. KPD doesn't believe he's in any danger.

It would appear that the relatives don't have a legal right to custody of the boy.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Man With Temple Ties Arrested For Cold Case Homicide

Detectives in Fort Worth used AFIS to tie fingerprints to a suspect in a 1986 murder. Turns out the suspect's prints were in AFIS from a previous arrest in Temple.

"Because of the malicious nature of this case, several detectives have spent many hours working the investigative and crime scene aspects through the years," Thornton said. "We’ve always been aware of the existing fingerprint evidence and had just hoped one day it would help identify a suspect." Source: Fort Worth Star Telegram

Kudos to the Fort Worth detectives.

Bell County Area Ranks High

KWTX.com is reporting that the Bell County area ranked #5 for areas with the best employment outlook.

The study is based on job growth in more than 300 metropolitan areas across the U.S. but the analysis also took into consideration how employment figures have changed in the last decade. Source: KWTX.com


Here in Bell County we've been very fortunate to escape most of the employment problems plaguing other areas of the US.

Fort Hood Fighting Sexual Assaults & Domestic Violence

The Temple Daily Telegram did a follow up story on Fort Hood's efforts to combat domestic violence and sexual assault.

“I am convinced that we can stamp out sexual assault by ensuring that we educate our soldiers and their families, and we encourage them to act,” Lynch said. Source: Temple Daily Telegram


Like many crime problems, it takes a comprehensive approach to make a difference.

Peek A Boo

Harker Heights Police indicated they are going to spend their Byrne Justice Assistance Grant money on surveillance equipment, bicycles and other items. Many Bell County law enforcement agencies are taking advantage of the grants to buy things that they haven't been able to use budget money for.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Great Job Officer, Now You're Fired

Arrest a shooting suspect, get a commendation from the city and get canned all in one day.

"It was nice to be recognized," said Weston, who has 10 months on the job. "I'll just leave it at that." Source: Lawofficer.com


Kind of makes you not want to complain about having a rough day at the office.

Fail To Identify Law Could Change

There's a bill currently in the Texas Senate to change the Fail To Identify law in Texas.

Under the bill, which passed 24-6, Texans could be arrested and charged with a crime if they refused to give their name, date of birth and address. Source: KVUE.com


While this law could be useful I would bet it gets challenged in the courts should it survive the legislature.

Fort Hood To Combat Domestic Violence

Fort Hood's Lt. General Rick Lynch detailed a domestic violence task force established to combat domestic violence issues with his troops and their families.

Lynch said he has established a task force on domestic violence to battle it head-on, because “we’ve seen a marked increase.” Source: Temple Daily Telegram


Stressors on a population whether soldiers or civilians tend to increase violent crime. Repeated deployments are hard on military families.

Fort Hood Troop Levels To Drop

Fort Hood's Commanding General announced that troop levels at Fort Hood are going to drop. As much of Bell County's economy is tied to Fort Hood, this drop in troop levels could affect many things in the county.

The Commanding General of Fort Hood, Lt. General Rick Lynch announced that troop levels will drop by more than 7200 soldiers over the next four years. Source: KCENdt.com


Not only will this affect the area's economy but it will also affect area police department's workload. More people = more calls for service.

KPD To Spend Grant Money

Killeen Police Chief Dennis Baldwin outlined where his Department will spend recently awarded Byrne Justice Assistance Grant funding.

Chief Dennis Baldwin intends to spend some of the funding for patrol cameras, a specialized K-9 patrol SUV and equipment for evidence processing and organized crime investigations. Source: Killeen Daily Herald


This grant should augment what's shaping up to be a lean budget year for police departments across the nation.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

State 1, Bell County 0

Bell County was rebuffed by state legislators in their attempt to get support for a proposed bill. The bill would prohibit the state from creating unfunded mandates where the state requires counties to do something, yet does not provide the funding for it.

The issue stems from the state requiring counties of a certain size to have "drug courts" to handle drug offenders.

Statutes in the amendment stated if a county did not have sufficient funds for the court, it was not required to have it, but other county programs, including adult probation and Child Protective Services, could be in jeopardy of having their state funding pulled.

"We just can't risk losing funding on those programs because we didn't have a drug court," Burrows said. "We're trying to come up with a solution to satisfy the state without costing taxpayers in the end." Source: Killeen Daily Herald


It will be interesting to see how a new drug court changes the dynamics of the court system here in Bell County.


Killeen Council To Discuss Road To New Police HQ

The Killeen City Council is going to discuss improvements to the roads near KPD's new headquarters.

Consultants from PSA-Dewberry told the council that the new 87,000-square-foot headquarters strongly needed the extension of Featherline Road northward toward W.S. Young Drive or Stan Schlueter Loop, before it became active, or else there would be no immediate direct north response route from the headquarters. Source: Killeen Daily Herald


The new headquarters in currently under construction. You can monitor progress on the new building on the KPD website.


Two Sentenced For Assaults On Public Servants

The Killeen Daily Herald reports that two different Killeen crooks got sentenced for assaults on public servants. One got four months in jail, the other probation.

OSHA has reported in the past that police officers and prison guards are more likely to be assaulted in the workplace than any other occupation.

In the same KDH story, several other Bell County crooks got sentenced for their misdeeds.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Can You Hear Me Now?

Cell phone bans while driving not likely in Texas. Out of all the bills filed to ban phoning, texting, etc. while driving the only one's getting traction are ones regarding teen drivers.

"Our cars are different in Texas. We want to be able to carry guns, spit, chew, call on our cellphones or sharpen our knives while driving. Texas is unique," Pickett said. Source: KVUE.com

This probably won't stop the politicians from trying. A local councilman tried to introduce a similar ordinance here.


How Would You Respond To This Call?

An Indianapolis senior citizen was stabbed while trying to break up a sword fight between two of her relatives. She died of her wounds while one of the relatives was hospitalized and the other was jailed.

"We're unsure yet who started this fight, how the swordplay got involved," Mount said. "We're not sure who it was who stabbed the woman. We'll have to do some testing on the swords and figure out who had which sword, whose blood is on which sword." Source: Yahoo! News

When swords are outlawed, only outlaws will have swords.

Of Course They're Crazy

This is going to be interesting. Legislation is being proposed to rewrite Texas laws regarding insanity as a defense to prosecution. This stems from a 2004 murder where a Texas man killed his wife and kids then tore out their hearts and ate them. If that wasn't enough, during his trial he ripped out one of his eyes. While he's been on death row, he ripped the other one out and ate it.

Thomas is "clearly 'crazy,' " a judge on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals wrote in a concurring denial of his appeal last month, "but he is also 'sane' under Texas law." Source: Dallas Morning News

This brings up an interesting point. Many criminals have mental problems. How do we define the line that determines insanity versus criminal culpability?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Good Citizenship

We get jaded at times and think that the citizenry is always hostile to police or at least indifferent. It takes stories like this to remind us that's not true. 
 A 10-year-old Killeen girl tipped Killeen police off as a knife-wielding robbery suspect fled through her neighborhood Friday evening.

Killeen police responded to a shoplifting report at the Killeen Wal-Mart about 6 p.m. Friday. Two men, one displaying a knife, are believed to have been involved in a shoplifting attempt that became a robbery, Sgt. Scott Meads said. Source: Killeen Daily Herald
Good for her. She showed more good citizenship than many adults would have. 

Friday, April 10, 2009

This Won't Be Good

The Killeen Daily Herald is reporting that sales tax rebates for cities in the Bell County area are down. Texas funds both state and city government with money collected from sales taxes. A decrease in sales tax revenues means a decrease in operating capital for city budgets.

Local government and commercial leaders have said that people cut back on spending as soon as they saw their 401(k)s shrinking but that in the last couple of months the real effects of the recession have been showing up in the area's commerce. They have said that the recession would not be as deep here as elsewhere in the state and nation because of the stabilizing effect of Fort Hood. Source: Killeen Daily Herald
Hopefully this won't last long. A lot of cities are putting off hiring, purchasing new equipment and the like due to the slump. A recent Byrne grant may help departments with a few purchases so it's not all bad news.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Unusual Warrant Service

A Killeen man wanted for sexual assault fled and then stabbed himself in the chest in a bid to commit suicide as a Killeen Police Tactical Unit tried to arrest him Thursday.

He was taken to the hospital and I'm sure the police will be there waiting for him when the doctor's are done fixing him.

Navy SEAL Hero Catches Badguys

These crooks don't know how close they came to getting killed. A Navy SEAL went after three crooks who killed his dog. The chase spanned three counties and lead to their arrests.

All it took was the gunshot fired outside his Walker County home to trigger training ingrained in former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, the lone survivor of a dramatic battle in Afghanistan in 2005.

He did a sweep through the house. Checked on his mother. And bolted out the door, where he found dead his beloved Labrador retriever, Dasy, a dog given to him to help him recover from his own wounds and the loss of his fellow Navy comrades.

“I could tell she tried to get away because there was a blood trail,” Luttrell recalled in a phone interview Wednesday. “When I saw she was dead, the only thing that popped into my head was, ‘I’ve got to take these guys out.’ ” Source: Houston Chronicle

These three mopes apparently have no idea that SEALs are some of the best trained operators in the world.

More On Yesterday's Shooting

The Killeen Daily Herald reported more details regarding a drive by shooting that was posted yesterday. The story also made this interesting claim:
The area of four-plexes off State Highway 195 and Elms and Florence roads is one of Killeen's most active crime areas. A recent string of unsolved taxi driver robberies happened near Cantabrian Drive. Also, a man listed among Bell County's most wanted was captured April 3 in a traffic stop on Cantabrian Drive. A woman was shot in September on Hereford Lane after being dropped off at one of the four-plexes.

Tony Evans lives two four-plexes down from the shooting. His children always stay with his wife because he is too scared they will be shot by random gunfire while playing outside, he said.

"It's all the time," Evans said. "It's a bad neighborhood. If I'd known what I know now, I never would have moved here." Source: Killeen Daily Herald
It will be interesting to see how those comments will play out. The Killeen City Council has been discussing changes to the City's zoning ordinances to change the way high density housing is constructed. This area has lots of multi-family housing.

Taxi Robber Indicted

The Killeen Daily Herald reports that a Harker Heights man was indicted for several recent armed robberies of taxi cab drivers that occurred in Killeen. The man was identified in part from security camera footage.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A New Meaning To Cut The Cheese

I couldn't pass this one up. A man's in jail for stabbing another man during a fight that started when one of the men passed gas in their hotel room. According to this story:

Castellano passed gas “which upset Ramirez to the point he picked up a large knife and threw it at Castellano, striking him in the leg,” states a news release from the Waco Police Department.

Ramirez then crossed the room, picked up the knife and stabbed Castellano on the left side of his chest, the release states. Source: Waco Tribune

I'm always amazed at the number of felony assaults that start for stupid reasons.

Drive By Shooting

Local news is reporting a drive by shooting in Killeen this afternoon. The reports stated that one man was slightly wounded and two suspects are in custody.

Further details will probably be forthcoming later.

Traffic Fatalities Up

Fatality traffic accidents are down in most areas of the country except for Central Texas. This is according to a report released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. A news report attibutes this to the number of highway construction zones in Bell and McLennan County.
The number of fatalities in both Bell and McLennan Counties has increased over the past year and safety officials say the number of construction work zones may be to blame. Source: KCEN DT TV
While it seems like most of Bell County is under construction I don't know that many of our fatal traffic accidents are occurring in these zones, accidents maybe but not fatalities.

New 8 Liner Law In The Works

The Texas Legislature is considering a new law to combat 8-Liner style gambling machines.
"There's concerns that there's money laundering at some of these sites, so they (the comptroller's office) can now monitor who owns what and where they are," said state Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, who voted in favor of the bill. Source: Laredo Morning Times
8Liner gambling operations generate a ton of citizen complaints and are very hard to combat under the current Texas law. Hopefully this law will close more loopholes than it opens.

Take Me Out To The Ballpark

I'm not a baseball fan but I might become an Oakland A's fan now. The Oakland A's announced that they will honor the four Oakland Police Officers killed in last month's shooting. A ceremony is planned for the A's home opener, money's will be collected for the officer's families and the owner of the A's announced he will match all money collected. The A's are also going to wear Oakland PD patches on their baseball uniforms for the entire season.
Officer Jeff Thomason, a police spokesman, said the department was grateful for the team's support. "It's overwhelming for us," he said. "It does mean a lot for the Oakland Police Department and the men and women who work here." Source: SFGate.com
It seems like most news about Oakland PD makes you think they are always under siege from a community that doesn't like them. Things like this should help Oakland PD feel appreciated.

In another note, the Oakland Police Officers Association has set up a trust fund for the officers' familes.

Former Killeen Resident Killed

League City Police are hoping DNA will give them a break in a hit & run death. The man had been previously been arrested by Killeen Police for a 2003 Galveston murder. He was later acquitted during a trial.

Ouch

I previously posted about the posthumous exoneration of the wrongfully convicted Timothy Cole. The judge who wrote the exoneration order criticized Lubbock Police for the conviction in his written order. He wrote:

"Baird said that Lubbock police zeroed in on Cole for no good reason after he flirted with an undercover officer outside of a Lubbock pizza parlor. The officer was attempting to lure the person responsible for a string of unsolved rapes near the campus, according to testimony at the February hearing.

Cole's behavior — he gave his real name, was polite and left when the officer rejected his request for her number — did not in any way resemble the rapist, who forced his victims into their cars, Baird wrote.

Baird said a "suggestive lineup" led rape victim Michele Mallin to identify Cole as her attacker. She joined Cole's family in seeking his exoneration." Source: Austin American Statesman

I don't bring this up to pick on Lubbock PD but I think we can all learn from these exonerations. I am sure that Lubbock PD was under incredible pressure to solve the string of rapes that led to Timothy Cole's arrest.

I think the days are coming to an end where we can get a conviction based on an "eye witness" identification alone. In fact, we should be the first to cast a suspicious eye at a case based soley on a photo lineup. While a lineup ID may give us a direction to go during an investigation we should not be so lazy as to rely on it alone for probable cause. We also should keep an open mind for other possible suspects when such an ID was made.

Dallas PD already got stung by improper photo lineups and changed their policy to improve their lineup procedures.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Motivations Of Mass Murderers

Yahoo! News has an interesting article exploring the motivations of mass murderers.

"But experts say most people who embark on such wholesale slaughter share certain key characteristics: A catastrophic event that triggers a suicidal rage and an unquenchable thirst to get even.

And there is often no way to see it coming.

"I'm not sure you can even predict it," says Mark Safarik, who retired in 2007 as a senior profiler in the FBI's famed Behavioral Analysis Unit.

"It's the constellation or coming together, the perfect storm of someone's last shot at something. For them, there's just no other way out. Or if there's another way out, they don't choose it, because they're going to punish somebody."

Mass murder is nothing new, and the invention of repeating guns only made it easier. But even experts who study the phenomenon have been stunned by the recent rash — seven in the past month, three in the past week alone." Source: Yahoo! News

While this doesn't offer any easy answers to preventing these incidents, it does point to likely places people who feel aggrieved may lash out, workplaces, government buildings, schools, etc.

Every disturbance call has the potential to go bad.

Questions, questions...

A Pennsylvania 911 Dispatcher didn't relay information about weapons to officers who responded to a disturbance that would claim their lives.
"There is no excuse. It could have been handled better, without a doubt," - Allegheny County Chief of Emergency Services Robert Full, Source: Yahoo! News
When you're getting information about a 'routine' disturbance are you asking the right questions? If your dispatcher gives you this information are you taking it to heart?

This Is A Tough One

The Binghamton, NY PD explains the reason they waited 40 minutes to enter a building where an immigrant gunned down 13 people.

Then, because cops heard no gunfire, suggesting there was no "active gunman," they decided to wait for a SWAT team before entering, said Binghamton Police Chief Joseph Zikuski.

"Nobody could have been saved even if police walked in the door that first minute," Zikuski insisted. Source: Officer.Com

This brings up an interesting question, at what point does an active shooter cease being active and the scene becomes a multiple murder? How would you respond?

Another Texas First

This time it's not one to be proud of. Texas has now issued it's first posthumous exoneration. Timothy Cole was convicted in 1986 of raping a Lubbock coed. He died of medical complications in prison protesting his innocence. After DNA tests proved another man was responsible a judge exonerated Cole.
"We ought to treat these exonerations like we treat a plane crash. It's a big deal. We've gotten so accustomed to false convictions in Texas that we just shrug our shoulders and say, 'Oh, well."' Source - Dallas Morning News
Many departments and even the state legislature are working on changes to help prevent this from happening in the future. Texas leads the nation in DNA exoneration of people wrongly convicted.

The Dallas Morning News also has an interesting online feature regarding these exoneration.

Bell County Agencies To Recieve Grant

Several Bell County law enforcement agencies will receive Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant money.
"Bell County received $554,000 from the grant to split among five law enforcement entities. This year marked the first time Belton and Harker Heights will receive money through the grant.

Money is distributed to each city and county based on their violent crime rate.

Killeen will receive the highest amount in the county, $352,570. Temple will receive $92,568 and Harker Heights will receive $23,221." Source: Killeen Daily Herald
These monies should provided a needed boost to purchase equipment during what many are characterizing as a lean budget year.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Hero NC Officer Responded Alone

Officer said confronting an active shooter alone was "very scary". Officer stopped active shooter killing inside a nursing home.

Would you be ready to respond as he did?

Three PA Officers Die In Shootout

The officers died in Stanton Heights, PA after responding to a domestic dispute. The criminal complaint charging the suspect is an interesting read.

You never know when the next routine call will go bad. Are you on your toes at all times?

Man Confesses To Cold Case Murder

You don't hear of this happening every day. A Temple man walked into the Sheriff's Office to confess to a 15 year old murder. It appears his conscience got the better of him for killing his wife. Too bad every murderer didn't follow his lead.

SWAT Officer Wounded During Drug Raid

A Temple PD SWAT officer was wounded during a Friday drug raid. Just a reminder what officer's risk every day they go to work.

KPD Narcotics Detectives Were Busy Last Week

KPD arrests 10 drug dealers last week in Killeen. I'm sure their neighbors are happy.

FBI Initiative To Solve Serial Killings

The FBI announced an initiative to solve serial killings along the nation's highways.They've documented over 500 murder cases occurring near US highways and are making resources such as ViCAP, behavioral experts and training to local agencies to solve these crimes.

The initiative has already netted several serial killers working as truck drivers. Ever wonder what draws a trucker into serial murder or serial murderers into truck driving?