Friday, May 29, 2009

Stats And Other Ways To Fib

The Austin American Statesman has an interesting piece on the Texas Department of Public Safety's recent release of preliminary crime stats for Texas.
"When the Department of Public Safety released its latest crime statistics last week, it crowed that the statewide drop in the 2008 crime rate was due to “Texas’ tough approach to law enforcement.”

That’s funny. Across the country, crime rates have been trending down for years, and more steeply than in Texas. More remarkably, the volume of violent crime is falling, too.

What’s the difference between crime rates and crime volume? Rates — the ratio of offenses per 100,000 population — adjust for population growth. Volume — simply counting the number of offenses reported — does not.

Texas is growing, so the DPS prefers to talk about crime rates statewide. That’s why its press release led with the news that the major crime rate in Texas dropped 2.9% from 2007 to 2008. That includes a 3.2% decline in the rate of property crime and a small decrease (less than 1%) in the rate of violent crime.

But crime volume should be part of the conversation too, especially since those numbers are down nationwide. In the first six months of 2008, the total number of violent criminal offenses (murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault) dropped 3.5% from the same period in 2007. The statistics are from the FBI’s latest semi-annual Uniform Crime Report. (The next report, due later this year, will cover all of 2008. Both have the same Texas statistics that the DPS reports.)

Hold on, there are even more numbers. In three of the four most-populous states, total violent crimes also declined in 2008: California, by 3.3%; Florida by 4.3%; New York by 2%. Those states are growing, too.

What happened in the fourth state, tough-talking Texas? Here, the total number of violent crimes was up 1.2% in 2008. Yes, up. That was due entirely to an increase in aggravated assaults, which occur far more frequently than other violent crimes." Source: Austin American Statesman

The unfortunate part of the article is Ms. Bell's seeming dismissal of crime rate as being less important than crime volume. It is my professional opinion that rate is often times more important than volume.

If your population grows, you can likely expect more crime and disorder. Where people are there is always a certain amount of crime and disorder. Depending on what is happening to your population numbers and your crime volume numbers you can have a number of interesting scenarios. Crime rate is the ratio of crimes to people. Because it is a ratio it is possible to have your volume increase, yet your rate decrease and vice versa.

Because rate determines the number of crimes in a given population it can be used to compare different populations (areas) to determine the difference in those areas. If you knew that the average rate for a particular type of crime was lower in another city than the rate in your city, this could lead you to believe that this type of offense was more problematic in your city. You should then examine the likely factors causing that disparity. Maybe that's a type of crime you need to focus more enforcement effort on. This is a very simple example as demographic, geographic and other factors can weigh heavily on the incidence of crimes in a population. However, it's great tool to determine potential problem areas for further study.

The biggest problem with crime statistics is not methodology but their misuse. Rather than using them as a tool that reasoned heads can use to make their cities safer, some with an axe to grind use them for political reasons, some use them to enlarge their fiefdoms, and some hide their flaws behind statistical chicanery.

We should always keep in mind the old saw, "there are lies, damn lies, and statistics."

Drive By Shooting In Killeen

A Killeen teen was wounded in a drive by shooting Wednesday.
Killeen police responded to a drive-by shooting at a fourplex in the 3900 block of Gus Drive at 9:14 p.m., a police report stated. A dark-colored vehicle, possibly a Kia Sephia, stopped in the street in front of the fourplex and the occupants used a shotgun loaded with buckshot to shoot a teen who was outside, said Carroll Smith, Killeen police spokeswoman.

The man, who had non-life-threatening injuries, drove himself to the hospital.

A woman, who declined to be named, said a man in a silver sports car drove up to the apartment, slowed the car, revved the engine and unloaded between nine and 12 rounds from a shotgun in the direction of an apartment, causing a group of men outside to scatter inside the apartment...

..."It's a bad area. It wasn't bad when I moved here a year ago," the woman said. "We're leaving as fast as our legs can carry us."

Neighbors, who for safety reasons declined to be named, said the shooting was the eighth incident in the area in two weeks, including five incidents of gunshots being fired along Gus Drive and two fights; another incident involved someone walking up with a gun, but the person did not fire.

Anyone with information on the vehicle or the driver in this incident should call KPD at (254) 501-8800. Source: Killeen Daily Herald

Nothing like random violence to really spruce up a neighborhood.

Off Duty Cop Killed By Another Cop

In what is likely a tragic case of mistaken identity, an off duty NYPD cop chasing a car burglar was killed by another NYPD cop.
The officer who was killed, Omar J. Edwards, 25, a two-year veteran who was assigned to patrol housing projects and was wearing plain clothes, was shot in the arm and chest after a team of three other plainclothes officers in a car came upon him chasing a man on East 125th Street between First and Second Avenues with his gun drawn, Mr. Kelly said...

...Mr. Kelly said the tragic string of events began when Officer Edwards, a member of the Housing Bureau Impact Response Team, left duty about 10:30 p.m., approached his car and saw that a man had broken the driver’s side window and was rummaging through the vehicle. The two scuffled, and the man escaped Officer Edwards’s grip by slipping out of his sweater.

A police official said officers at the scene learned that Officer Edwards was a colleague only when they ripped open his shirt in an effort to revive him and saw a Police Academy T-shirt. They then searched his pants pockets and found a badge. Source: NY Times

This shooting and others like it, highlight the dangers for officers taking action while off duty or in plain clothes.

At what point should you take action off duty? Do you have your the ability to easily display your badge if you do decide to take action? How should you react if other officers respond to your off duty incident? How would you respond to a man with a gun call if the armed subject claims to be another officer?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Bouncer Indicted For Manslaughter

A local bar bouncer was indicted for manslaughter in an incident where a man was killed outside a Harker Heights nightclub.
A Bell County grand jury indicted Richard Dewayne Toon, 24, with manslaughter in the death of Kevin Ray Alexis.

Toon, a former bouncer at Ernie's Sports Bar and Grill in the 300 block of West Veterans Memorial Boulevard, originally was charged with murder on Sept. 3.

Police found Alexis unconscious and unresponsive in Ernie's parking lot.

First Assistant District Attorney Murff Bledsoe said Alexis was selling CDs out of his car in the parking lot, when Toon told him to vacate the premises.

Alexis did not leave, and Toon detained him, according to a statement from witness Michelle Magee.

Magee stated she saw Toon grab and choke Alexis. She attempted to aid Alexis after the incident, but one of the bouncers prevented her from doing so, according to the arrest affidavit. Source: Killeen Daily Herald

In addition to the bouncer, a collection of dopers, drunks, thieves and other assorted accused villains were also indicted for their alleged misdeeds.

Killeen Man Indicted For Capital Murder

A Killeen man arrested for murder had charges against him upgraded to Capital Murder.

A Bell County grand jury indicted Christopher Ray Smith, 26, who is accused of murdering Anthony Hemingway with a handgun in his Killeen apartment in the 1500 block of Windward Drive, on Aug. 20, 2007.

Police responded to a call from Hemingway's teenage son that shots were fired in their apartment at 6:30 a.m. Police found the back door kicked in and Smith lying in the hallway, according to the arrest affidavit.

First Assistant District Attorney Murff Bledsoe said Smith allegedly broke into Hemingway's apartment and robbed him at gunpoint.

Hemingway grabbed his own loaded gun during the robbery and fired at Smith in self-defense.

Smith allegedly fired back and killed Hemingway.

Smith sustained multiple bullet wounds from the exchanged gunfire, according to the affidavit.

Hemingway's body was found in the master bedroom with a gun underneath him, according to the affidavit. He died from five gunshot wounds to the chest.

Police found Hemingway's cell phone and wallet in Smith's pocket, according to the affidavit.

"It's not uncommon to have a murder charge upgraded during the course of the investigation," Bledsoe said. Source: Killeen Daily Herald

This upgraded indictment may give prosecutors more leverage in getting a plea bargain worked out.

Nationwide Steroid Investigation Nets Local Firefighter

An investigation into a nationwide steroid trafficking operation landed a local firefighter in jail.

Others arrested included professional bodybuilders, gym owners, personal trainers and pharmacists. They are charged with manufacturing, selling and possessing steroids, human growth hormone, Ecstasy and other prescription drugs.

The arrests came after authorities found several labs in Fort Bend and Harris counties outside Houston, where steroids were manufactured from chemicals smuggled from China. Other steroids and drugs were smuggled to Texas from Mexico, Fort Bend County Sheriff Milton Wright said.

Acting U.S. Attorney Tim Johnson said Charles Falkenhagen illegally imported human growth hormone from a Chinese pharmaceutical company. Falkenhagen ran a fitness center in Sugar Land, a Houston suburb in Fort Bend County.

A federal grand jury indicted Falkenhagen and 21 others on 46 counts in April related to the operation, ranging from smuggling human growth hormone, money laundering, conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute Ecstasy and other charges, Johnson said. Source: Killeen Daily Herald


There have been a number of steroid trafficking arrests nationwide in the past few days. Some are probably related to this story, others might just be coincidence. I wouldn't be surprised to see a few pro athletes or other "upstanding" citizens ensnared in this.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

KPD Seeks Another Hit & Run Driver

This time the errant driver struck a man in a wheel chair.
Killeen police asked for the public’s help Tuesday after a hit-and-run early Sunday morning in which an SUV struck a Killeen man in a wheelchair who was crossing a street.

It happened just after 1:30 a.m. Sunday in the 400 block of West Mary Jane Drive, police said.

The 34-year-old victim, whose name was not released, was crossing the roadway in his wheelchair when an eastbound red or burgundy Chevrolet Trailblazer struck him.

The driver did not stop, witnesses said.

The SUV had front-end damage including damage to at least one headlight, police said.

The injured man was flown to Scott & White Hospital in Temple where he’s in critical condition.

Investigators are asking anyone with information to call Killeen police at (254) 501-8830, Killeen Crime Stoppers at (254) 526-8477 or to contact Crime Stoppers online. Source: KWTX.com



These types of incidents seem to be more common late at night. Might be a good reason not to be a pedestrian or cyclist during these hours.

Bad Dog

Killeen now has a new ordinance to enforce after the City Council approved changes to the City's Animal Control ordinance to ban tethering dogs.
The City Council unanimously approved a change to animal control policy to ban tethering, a practice considered by many to breed aggression in dogs.

Councilman Larry Cole, animal advisory committee chairman, believes the law, which follows a similar law at Fort Hood, will decrease aggression in animals and make residents safer when they walk the streets.

"Tethering causes more aggressive animals and we want to alleviate that aggression as much as possible," Cole said.

Cole said tethering also endangers animals because they can become tied up and strangled in the tethers.

A violation of the tethering law will be a class C misdemeanor with up to a $200 fine, said Kathy Davis, city attorney.

Tethering violations will be enforced by complaints and when animal control officers discover them on patrol, Cole said.

The ordinance is not breed-specific, but is largely aimed at pit bulls. The tethering ordinance is the last part of the city's revamped animal control policy. Source: Killeen Daily Herald

What's a person to do if they can't have their pit bull chained to the front of their trailer home?

Nobody Wants To Be #1

Dallas PD says they have lost the distinction of having the highest crime rate among large US cities.
Dallas has shed its title as the U.S. city of more than 1 million with the highest crime rate.

The city is poised to announce that the No. 1 rank, which Dallas held for at least 10 years, now goes to San Antonio.
Also Online

Based on an analysis of population growth and crime numbers released last week by the Texas Department of Public Safety, Dallas will drop to the No. 2 spot, and Houston will rank third. Source: Dallas Morning News

Dallas was always the city where you could deflect criticism on your own city by pointing to them. I guess cities will have to find someone else to pick on.

For more, see the original article at the link.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

New Method To Reduce Recidivism

This ought to cause hardened criminals to give up their evil ways.
Like plenty of fathers, Kevin Bell took his young daughter to Chuck E. Cheese's for her birthday. He just had to get a ride from his jail cell to do it.

While serving his final six years for cocaine trafficking, Bell left jail for more than the party in 2006, state investigators say. In fact, his daughter was conceived after Cherokee County jail officials sprung him to attend a holiday dinner nearly three years earlier.

He had a $20,000 bank account — and deposited money into it by selling items on eBay for deputies, jailers and even the sheriff, according to a state investigation. It's a good thing that Bell was earning money, though. After all, he had to pay his cell phone bill and needed money for his planned wedding to one of his jailers.

The bizarre prison term of Bell, who was released last year, has launched a state criminal probe and outraged people in this close-knit former mill town about 50 miles south of Charlotte, N.C. While behind bars, Bell became so trusted that he ran a business washing county cars, was driven by an officer to shop at Wal-Mart and was allowed to eat dinner at his parents' house.

"Everyone at the jail knew of Kevin's relationship and other activities. It was overlooked," Robin Murphy, a jail employee, told state prison investigators. Source: Yahoo News

Then again, maybe not.

Yup, The Economy Is Bad

This has all the signs of a sophisticated master criminal.
Lincoln police Capt. Bob Kawamoto says the man walked into a Kwik Shop convenience store before dawn Monday wearing an empty Bud Light box on his head as a mask.

Kawamoto says the man also had wrapped something around one of his hands, suggesting he was armed. But the man never showed a weapon.

Police said the bandit left with nine packs of smokes valued at nearly $50. Source: Yahoo News

It seems the economy has everyone looking for ways to cut costs. Think of the savings he'll reap in ski masks alone.

Border Corruption

STRATFOR has an interesting article comparing recent drug cartel corruption along the US/Mexican border and cold war spying.
In fact, the sophistication of these groups means they use methods more akin to the intelligence recruitment processes used by foreign intelligence services than those normally associated with a criminal organization. The cartels are known to conduct extensive surveillance and background checks on potential targets to determine how to best pitch to them. Like the spotting methods used by intelligence agencies, the surveillance conducted by the cartels on potential targets is designed to glean as many details about the target as possible, including where they live, what vehicles they drive, who their family members are, their financial needs and their peccadilloes. Source: STRATFOR.com

I don't doubt this is only going to get worse. There is too much money to be made by the cartels. Maybe it's time to work towards an effective drug control strategy because I'm not sure our current one is working.

SCOTUS Rulling Affects Police Interrogation

A new Supreme Court ruling will likely mean some changes to police interrogation procedures.
By a 5-4 vote, the conservative majority overruled a 23-year-old Supreme Court decision that barred the police from initiating questioning after a defendant asserted the right to an attorney at an arraignment or similar proceeding.

The 1986 decision held that once a defendant invoked the right to counsel, only the suspect, and not the police, can initiate the contact.

The ruling was the latest in a recent string by conservative justices expanding the power of police to question suspects, but it does not change the landmark 1966 ruling barring the police from questioning a suspect who invoked the right to remain silent or have a lawyer present.

The decision was a defeat for Jesse Jay Montejo, a Louisiana death row inmate. He was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of a dry-cleaning operator during a robbery in 2002.

He initially waived his right to a lawyer and was questioned by the police. He told several conflicting stories. Several days later, he appeared in court for a preliminary hearing and a local judge appointed a lawyer to represent Montejo, who could not afford an attorney.

Later that day, police investigators approached Montejo in prison and he again waived his right to a lawyer.

But Montejo later claimed the police had violated his constitutional right to counsel by interrogating him without his lawyer being present and pressuring him to write a letter confessing and apologizing to the victim's wife. That letter was later introduced as evidence against him at his trial. Source: Yahoo News

Not likely to mean big changes, but changes nevertheless.

Don't Take The Clown

There's nothing like a drunken clown to liven up a party.
Patricia Ingalls is the clown who Wheeling police arrested for alleged drunken driving late Friday after they said she left the scene of an accident.

Ingalls talked with NEWS9 Sunday and said that she's sorry that the children she went to entertain witnessed her being taken into custody.

"I'm not allowed to drink in costume and I should have never went (to the party) because I was too upset," said Ingalls.

A Breathalyzer test showed her blood alcohol level was .252, more than triple the legal limit.

Ingalls has been a clown for 17 years, but she's not laughing about what's happened, especially considering the children she said she disappointed as she was led away in a police cruiser in handcuffs.

"They were all hanging on me and saying, 'Don't take the clown,'" said Ingalls.

Ingalls was arrested and charged with driving under the influence and fleeing the scene of an accident. Source: WTOV9.com

This is just pitiful.

Former Prosecutor To Be Nominated To SCOTUS

The SCOTUS Blog has an interesting analysis on the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to fill Justice Souter's upcoming vacancy on the Supreme Court.
Equally significant for not only Hispanics but all Americans, Sotomayor has an extraordinarily compelling personal narrative. She grew up in a housing project, losing her father as an adolescent, raised (with her brother) by her mother, who worked as a nurse. She got herself to Princeton, graduating as one of the top two people in her class, then went to Yale Law. Almost all of her career has been in public service–as a prosecutor, trial judge, and now appellate judge. She has almost no money to her name. Source: SCOTUS Blog

This will be interesting to watch.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Unusual SCOTUS Case

For those of you that are interested in actions at the Supreme Court (SCOTUS), there is an unusual case coming before the court. This is a plea for an "original" habeas writ. The case involves...

Davis was sentenced to death after being convicted of the murder of a Savannah, Ga., police officer on August 19, 1989. Since the trial, seven of the nine witnesses who said Davis had done the killing have recanted their trial testimony, saying they were coerced by police or were subjected to questionable interrogation tactics. Davis’ lawyers also said that newly discovered witnesses have said that another man at the scene committed the murder of Officer Mark MacPhail, and that the other man himself had confessed to friends.

In the new petition, Davis’ counsel wrote that “a study of federal habeas case law reveals no case in which seven State witnesses have recanted their testimony, much less a case with seven recantations supplemented by four confessions from the alternative suspect. Moreover, the recantations presented to this Court are to the rare variety: recantations from State witensses who were innocent bystanders.”

Almost all recantation cases over the past ten years that have been summarily rejected without an evidentiary hearing involved recantations from accomplices or a family member” of the accused, the petition said. Source: SCOTUS Blog

It will be interesting to see how this one plays out.

Friday, May 22, 2009

More Domestic Discontent

A Killeen man was in jail for threatening his girlfriend with a handgun.
Police say Terrance Quinton Rivers and the victim were arguing about breaking up at a home at 2000 block Kingwood Drive in Killeen when the victim attempted to get away by climbing through a window.

She was then pushed down and had a gun held to her face with the threats made. Neighbors called police and warned officers the man had a gun.

Rivers was taken into custody and a 9 millimeter handgun was recovered at the scene. Source: KXXV.com

I bet that will win her heart back.

Timeline In Killeen Murder Published

The Killeen Daily Herald published a pretty good description and timeline of the Killeen murder of a Fort Hood soldier. The ex-girlfriend of the victim was arrested and I posted an article about that yesterday.

Wow, 99 Years

A habitual criminal from Nolanville was sentenced to 99 years for sexual assault. The judge in the case said:
"I base my decisions on the defendant's background and priors," Carroll said. "If you come to court with a bad criminal record and bad facts, you're not going to get a good sentence." Source: Killeen Daily Herald

That's not a bad sentence from a County that isn't exactly known for still sentences.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Teacher Linked To Killeen Student Death Placed On Leave

A former KISD teacher linked to the death of a Killeen student has been placed on leave by a school district in Virginia where she now works.
A Virginia teacher has been placed on leave after school officials in Loudoun County found a federal report that linked the teacher to a special education student's death in Texas.

The unnamed teacher was hired at Park View High School in Sterling in 2007. She had cleared a background check, and now she's been placed on leave pending an investigation of how she initially got hired.

The student died in 2002 at a middle school in Killeen, Texas. Police say the teacher pinned the child to the floor and laid on top of him, suffocating him to death.

Government investigators said the death was ruled a homicide, but a grand jury did not indict the teacher. Source: WCAV TV

The story of the 2002 death came to light during congressional hearings into the use of restraint holds on special needs children in public schools. I blogged about this testimony earlier this week. The original post is here. Another story from another Virginia news outlet about the teacher is here.

Police Related Bills Could Make It

The Dallas Morning News has an editorial on several bills awaiting the Texas legislatures approval. Two of them could impact police procedures across the state.
A bill to provide safeguards (SB 117) has cleared the Senate, and House members are duty bound to pass it as well. Authored by Sen. Rodney Ellis of Houston and sponsored by Rep. Pete Gallego of Alpine, it requires police to adopt written lineup policies based on best practices established by outside experts. The Dallas House delegation should be the fiercest advocates of this proposal.

A related bill (SB 116) by Ellis, national chairman of the New York-based Innocence Project, addresses the bewildering fact that 25 percent of exonerated men had given false confessions. His bill pushes police agencies to electronically record their suspect interviews as another safeguard on wrongful convictions. It, too, deserves House approval. Source: Dallas Morning News

Thanks to Grits For Breakfast for the heads up.

Arrest In Killeen Murder

A woman is in jail for her part in the murder of a Fort Hood soldier in Killeen.
Kathryn Nellie Briggs was in the Bell County Jail Wednesday, charged with capital murder in the October 2008 slaying of Fort Hood E-6 Ryan Michael Sullivan who was found dead in a Killeen town home after he failed to report for duty on post.

Briggs was arrested last Thursday at her home at 2201 Keepsake Dr. in Austin.

Her bond is set at $750,000.

The indictment handed up by the Bell County Grand Jury says she conspired with another soldier, John Anthony Valdez, to kill Sullivan in order to collect the murdered man’s $100,000 life insurance policy, of which Briggs was a beneficiary. Source: KWTX.com

There have been a number of plots of this type involving Fort Hood soldiers lately. Not sure why but I guess the lure of a $100,000 payoff is too much to resist.

The Temple Telegram has a really good article detailing this crime here.

Dealing With The Nuts

NPR has a good story on law enforcement officers training to handle people with mental illnesses. More and more agencies and or states are requiring this type of training.
It's a situation no one wants to see: An armed police officer is called because someone is in the throes of a psychotic episode. "How the officer handles that situation can have a significant impact," says Russell Laine, head of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Source: NPR.org

Police spend a huge amount of time dealing with the mentally ill. Lots of our customers are at least a little crazy, a few profoundly so. Unless you are swinging an axe at your therapist you are probably not going to end up institutionalized so guess who gets to deal with 'em.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Crime Down In Texas

The Texas Department of Public Safety released the state's 2008 crime stats. The numbers show that overall crime went down 3% in Texas in 2008.
Compared with 2007, the crime rate — the number of crimes per 100,000 population in Texas — decreased 2.9 percent in 2008. The violent crime rate decreased 0.6 percent in 2008 from 2007. The property crime rate decreased 3.2 percent in 2008.

“The reduction in our overall crime rate is a result of Texas’ tough approach to law enforcement. I commend the brave men and women of local law enforcement who continue to work every day to keep our state and its citizens safe,” said Col. Lamar Beckworth, interim director of the DPS. Source: Austin American Statesman

Of course, it will be interesting to see what effect the poor economy has on the 2009 crime numbers.

Hello, You've Reached Death Row

A cell phone number used by a death row inmate from Killeen to threaten a state legislator still works and the legislator wants to know why.
And the senator who faced a death threat from Tabler over the phone caper is demanding to know why.

“The number used should have been taken out of service forever,” said state Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston. “I would hope whoever has it now would not be another inmate. But who knows. Here we go again.”

Whitmire said today he called Tabler’s number on Sunday after spotting it in his cell phone directory — and was surprised when it went to voice mail, with a gruff-sounding man who warned:

“Look, this is my phone. This is my voice mail.

“So, if you’re looking to leave a message, be sure that you’re leaving a message for me, not nobody else.”

Whitmire said he immediately wondered if some other convict was still using the number. After all, prison investigators determined after his arrest that Tabler had borrowed the phone from another death row inhabitant.

“As usual with the (prison) system, it’s what I don’t know that scares me,” said Whitmire, who heads the legislative joint committee that oversees the prison system. Source: Austin American Statesman

There are a number of reasons the number is still working. One could be the number was already reassigned. In spite of the fact that there could be a few legitimate reason the number still works I don't think TDCJ wants to tick this legislator off any further.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Local Constable Inspires Youth To Work Hard

Bell County Constable Peter Yong has for years been known as a serious weightlifter. Now he's inspiring others to pursue his passion.
Luke Mayo's nerves rattled him Saturday, but did not stop him from setting a state power lifting record and winning a gold medal.

Mayo, 17, following the lead of Peter Yong, Bell County deputy constable and his mentor, calmed down after his first lift.

Yong, who also won a gold medal, lived up to the nickname "Mr. Miyagi," from "The Karate Kid," a movie which inspired Mayo.

"Those Asians, they are all laid-back," Mayo joked. "He wasn't nervous at all. He's professional."

The Ellison High School junior set out to bench press a state record of 335 pounds in his 181-pound weight class at Saturday's USA Power Lifting National Championships at the Plaza Hotel.

Mayo set a state record, but missed his lifting goal. Mayo suggested nervousness and impatience may have pressed him to lift too much during his warm-ups, which kept him from lifting 335 pounds during the competition.

"At first I wasn't confident enough how I was going to start with my first lift," Mayo said. "I went all out in warm-ups, so I wasted some of my energy."

Instead he lifted 315 pounds. Less might have meant more for Mayo. Yong urged Mayo to slow down and save his best lifts for last. Mayo did just that and won the gold medal for his weight class.

Mayo credited Yong's training with his success. The same disciplined and demanding training has scared away many workout partners from Yong at Gym X, where he also trains. Source: Killeen Daily Herald

Way to go Luke and way to go Constable Yong.

Bell County Court Cases

Dopers, drunks, thieves, escapees and more were sentenced last week. Three go to prison and five get probation.

2002 Killeen Student Death Makes Headlines

USA Today is running a story on the controversy over "restraint holds" being used on students. Much of the story includes details of the 2002 death of a Killeen student whose teacher restrained him in a manner that caused his death.
Toni Price was at work that afternoon in 2002 when she got the call from her foster son Cedric's eighth-grade teacher: Paramedics were at his middle school in Killeen, Texas. Cedric wasn't breathing.

When Price arrived at school, there he was, lying on the floor. "I'm thinking he's just laying there because he didn't want to get in trouble," she says, fighting back tears.

Actually, Cedric was dead.

A 14-year-old special-education student who'd arrived at the school with a history of abuse and neglect, Cedric had been taken from his home five years earlier with his siblings.

He'd just been smothered by his teacher, police said, after she placed him in a "therapeutic floor hold" to keep him from struggling during a disagreement over lunch. Source: USA Today
This topic is making headlines in a number of national news outlets in recent days.

Bomb "Joke" Lands Soldier In Jail

This one is just too stupid to comment on.

KPD Forum Filled With KISD Issues

Killeen Police have sponsored a community forum every year as a way for citizens to air their concerns. Yesterday's community forum generated more discussion of KISD issues than those involving KPD.
In a community forum organized by KPD that often centers on police issues, KISD dominated the discussion at Killeen Civic and Conference Center Monday.

The topic of discussion mostly centered around how KISD polices its students. Phyllis Jones, Killeen NAACP president, inquired about what has been done to stop the escalating rivalry between Palo Alto and Live Oak Ridge middle schools.

Jennifer Washington, a KISD official, said an estimated 100 students and some adults congregated off-campus in February at Robinette and Elms roads to watch a fight during which one student with a knife was detained.

Washington said what was once an athletic rivalry has grown into fights that could be "the beginning of a gang."

Principals at those school have discussed the issue with students and made changes that have prevented any incidents since February, Washington said. Source: Killeen Daily Herald
Police are not always the best solution to crime and disorder problems. The school district closing campuses would solve many of these off-campus student issues during the school day. The big question is, will it take a student being killed during one of these school day off campus altercations to get KISD to come around?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Countering The Stop Snitching Message

DOJ's COPS program and the Police Executive Research Forum has published a report on efforts to counter the "Stop Snitching" mentality that is pervading the streets.
Stop snitching is not an entirely new phenomenon in the criminal justice system; an unspoken code of silence has existed in many communities for a number of years. The problem, however, gained notoriety in 2004 with the release of the Stop Snitchin’ DVD that was produced in Baltimore and distributed widely on the Internet, featuring an appearance by a professional basketball player. The video’s purpose was to threaten retaliation against those cooperating with police and frighten potential witnesses. Though the term “stop snitching” is believed to have originated in Boston, it was the release of the Baltimore DVD that is thought to have spawned t-shirts, hats, and rap CDs with stop snitching messages that threaten violence against those who provide information to the police about crimes. Source: DOJ
One point I thought was important was that police cannot have a double standard, expecting a frightened community to speak out when officers themselves have a "blue code of silence" themselves. If communities don't respect the police and view them as public servants who are there to help them they cannot expect to be trusted by that same community.

Fortunately, most officers really do want to make a difference in their communities.

Wear Your Seatbelt

Killeen Police will be out looking for violators of Texas' seat belt laws. KPD announced they will be participating in a "Click It Or Ticket" traffic enforcement program. KPD received a grant from Texas DOT to fund the extra enforcement efforts.

Related to this is the extra traffic enforcement efforts announced for the Memorial Day holidays. Local police agencies and the Texas Department of Public Safety are going to be searching for traffic violators, drunk drivers and others who endanger drivers on Texas roadways.

KPD Seeks Fatal Hit & Run Driver

Killeen Police are seeking the driver of a vehicle involved in a fatal hit and run accident with a motorcyclist. The accident occurred Saturday night. The suspect vehicle is reported to be a maroon sedan, possibly a Dodge Intrepid.
The accident, involving a car and a motorcycle, occurred about 8 p.m. in the 2700 block of East VMB, a Killeen Police Department news release stated.

Orlando Rivera-Paz, 48, who was riding on the motorcycle, was pronounced dead at 8:59 p.m. Saturday by Justice of the Peace Don Engleking.

According to the preliminary investigation by KPD, Rivera-Paz was eastbound on a 2002 Honda motorcycle when the driver of a maroon colored vehicle, possibly a Dodge Intrepid, traveling westbound, turned south in front of the motorcycle, the release stated.

Rivera-Paz laid the motorcycle on its side before striking the vehicle's passenger side, the release stated. He then slid under the vehicle as it sped off south on Hillside Drive, running over Rivera-Paz. The driver failed to stop and render aid, the release stated. Source: Killeen Daily Herald
Visibility is a huge issue with motorcycles. Many drivers just don't see a motorcycle in traffic.

Oldest Profession Not Likely To Go Away

Even though Craigslist is changing their policy on posting "Erotic Services" ads, not much is likely to change for what's know as the world's oldest profession.
The Craigslist announcement made national headlines, but the move is likely to bring only a temporary change to the so-called "world's oldest profession."

Rick Miller prosecutes Bell County's misdemeanor prostitution cases. He supports Craigslist's decision. Miller thinks no online service should make it as easy to commit a crime and as hard to prosecute as Craigslist has done for prostitution.

What has been advertised on street corners, then in newspapers, classified ads and even the Yellow Pages will find a way to carry on, said Mike Gentry, Harker Heights police chief. Source: Killeen Daily Herald
Criminals will always adapt to new technology in their trade whether it's prostitutes, burglars or other crooks. To think that a minor change in policy will make it go away is naive. Craigslist's changes are largely smoke and mirrors. It's not that they won't accept ads for erotic services, they are just going to put them in a different category and likely make the wording be less obvious.

Friday, May 15, 2009

ATF Cracking Down On Straw Purchases

A recent case in Austin highlights the fight against the flow of guns from the U.S. to Mexico.
The surveillance video showed two women leaving Cabela's in Buda and handing three guns they had just bought to a man, who then put the guns in the trunk of his black Lexus, according to a federal criminal complaint.

The purchase and handoff in November piqued the suspicions of Cabela's employees, who alerted federal firearms agents.

According to court documents, the agents soon identified the man as Humberto Fernandez, 47, who splits time between Mexico and the Austin area and who in recent years has enlisted help in purchasing dozens of guns to ship south of the border.

Last week, Fernandez, who has been arrested, and five of his so-called "straw buyers" were indicted in federal court in Austin on firearms conspiracy and other charges. His lawyer declined to comment. Source: Austin American Statesman

I know it gets the NRA's dander up to talk about gun laws, but it is very important to work to stem the illegal flow of firearms to Mexico.

Police Memorial Day Observance

Bell County law officers gathered to remember those who have fallen while serving their communities.
"Every year, policing agencies across the county strive to do better in keeping their officers safe," Smith said. "As long as there is freedom, there are heroes who will be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice." Source: Killeen Daily Herald

Nemo me impune lacessit.

Bell County Court Actions

A burglar, a drunk, a thief and a robber were sentenced in recent court actions. Three of the four got probation for their misdeeds.

Killeen Burglars Busted

Neighbors watching out for neighbors led to arrests in two separate Killeen burglaries. The most effective way to fight crime is community involvement.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Another One?

Temple Police are investigating yet another home invasion robbery. This type of robbery is somewhat unusual in normal circumstances. This line from the story gives us a clue as to the motivation of the robber.
Police said one of the victim’s became uncooperative as investigators began to gather evidence, but said “because the child was placed at risk during the incident, the case remains under investigation at this time.” Source: KWTX.com

This type of crime most often occurs when the victims are also engaged in some nefarious activities themselves.

What's In A Name

The White House wants to rename the "War On Drugs".
In his first interview since being confirmed to head the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, Gil Kerlikowske said Wednesday the bellicose analogy was a barrier to dealing with the nation's drug issues.

"Regardless of how you try to explain to people it's a 'war on drugs' or a 'war on a product,' people see a war as a war on them," he said. "We're not at war with people in this country."

Gil Kerlikowske, the new White House drug czar, signaled Wednesday his openness to rethinking the government's approach to fighting drug use. Mr. Kerlikowske's comments are a signal that the Obama administration is set to follow a more moderate -- and likely more controversial -- stance on the nation's drug problems. Prior administrations talked about pushing treatment and reducing demand while continuing to focus primarily on a tough criminal-justice approach.

The Obama administration is likely to deal with drugs as a matter of public health rather than criminal justice alone, with treatment's role growing relative to incarceration, Mr. Kerlikowske said. Source: Wall Street Journal

The "war on drugs" is a war that we have already lost. Americans are the world's largest consumers of illegal drugs. I don't advocate legalization, but I do think we need a more reasonable policy. Incarceration without treatment will not work.

Meth Cook Gets 30 Years In Prison

A Temple man who manufactured methamphetamine in an apartment he shared with his wife and two small children was sentenced to federal prison. Hair and blood samples from the children tested positive for meth.

Temple Man Arrested In Stabbing

A Temple man is under arrest after being involved in an altercation where another man was stabbed. A security guard at the apartment complex intervened and the man fled. He was later arrested.

Law Enforcement Is A Tough Job

A 72 year old Killeen woman is in jail after she bit a Killeen Police officer. The officers were at her home trying to arrest her son when the woman assaulted one of the officers.

Counterfeiters Arrested

Four Killeen men were arrested for counterfeiting currency.
Killeen Police were dispatched to an apartment complex in the 1300 block of 2nd Street to remove four people who were not suppose to be at the building. When they arrived, officers found four people claiming to be headed to Florida. Officers collected identifying information from the individuals to be run through dispatch.

When the IDs came back as not found, officers asked one of the individuals if they could search his bag for identification. During the search, officers found an envelope containing several fake $100 bills. Each bill had the same serial number and was missing common security features.

After finding the fake cash, officers searched an apartment where they found a computer and equipment set up to produce the counterfeit bills. Source:KXXV.com

Technology has made counterfeiting incredibly easy. It's always a race to defeat these new technologies.

More Foolishness From A Nightclub

A Killeen man was indicted for his part in a gunfight that wounded a bystander.
A Bell County grand jury indicted Justin S. Richardson, 23, on a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

First Assistant District Attorney Murff Bledsoe said two women were arguing in front of a nightclub in the 800 block of South Fort Hood Street on Nov. 27. One woman was Richardson's wife.

Bledsoe said Richardson allegedly pulled out a .45-caliber handgun and began firing shots, according to witnesses.

The other woman's boyfriend then pulled out a gun and began shooting back.

A bystander, who was a friend of Richardson's wife, was struck in the neck and facial area by a bullet from Richardson's gun.

Bledsoe said Richardson did not intend for the bullet to strike the woman, but he can be found guilty of the second-degree felony if the prosecution proves that he intended to shoot someone. Source: Killeen Daily Herald

There is a mindboggling amount of violence and disorder and some nightclubs. Not exactly the kind of fun I'd be looking to have during a night on the town.

Killeen Probation Officer Indicted

A fired Killeen area probation officer has been indicted for stealing on the job.
On Wednesday, a Bell County grand jury indicted Shawn Edward Barnes, 38, on a charge of unlawfully appropriating money from seven different people while on the job, April 9, 2008, through May 1, 2008. Source: Killeen Daily Herald

He's now looking at felony charges himself.

Thinking Outside The Box

The blog Grits For Breakfast has an interesting take on a story in USA Today regarding the role of education in reducing crime.
Noting that more than one in 5 Texans age 25 and over didn't graduate high school, the site focuses on murder rates as its key crime indicator; Texas' rate is 6.6 per 100,000, compared to 5.9 nationally. By their data, if Texas were to increase the number of people who graduate college from 25-32%, it would reduce Texas' murder rate to the national average (and boost median personal earnings by 5%). Source: Grits For Breakfast

While the website referenced in his blog may be somewhat oversimplifying a complex problem, there is validity to the argument that education, and hence opportunity lowers the likelihood of criminal behavior.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

New Chief Has Big Plans For Belton PD

Belton PD's new Chief outlines some of his plans for the Department.
“I’ve always loved Central Texas, it feels natural to be here, it just fits, “ said Chief Ellis. “Everyone seemed to be ready for me to come on board and be part of the team.”

As head of the Belton Police Department Chief Ellis plans to implement many goals in the community.

He said he would like to see a full implement in community policing, meaning the police department can’t stop all crime alone; he plans to build community partnerships and have the department become more proactive in the community.

A few ways already planned to help reach that goal is to enhance the development of programs such as the National Night Out, Citizen Police Academy, and the Explorer Post.

He also plans to use the bike patrol more proactively and hopes the department will be more active in agency and civic club community events. The department, partnered with Farmers Insurance has already begun applying this goal by involving the M.I.L.K. program in the Kiwanis Fun Day event and at the BCYC earlier this month.

“We want to build and enhance relationships through out the community,” said Chief Ellis. “We want to earn the trust and friendship of the citizens of Belton.”
Source: Belton Journal

Belton has been experiencing significant growth. A new Chief can bring a new vitality to a Department. This will be an interesting transition to watch.

Killeen Man Arrested For Sex Assault

A Killeen man is in jail for sexually assaulting a 13 year old child over 30 times. The child initially reported the abuse to her mother who reportedly dismissed the allegations. A friend of the child reported the abuse to police.

Second Hand Property Crackdown

Killeen Police are using their new Second Hand Property ordinance to crack down on businesses that purchase stolen property. The ordinance extends a similar Texas law regarding pawn shops to other types of businesses that regularly deal in second hand property.
Criminals want to off-load goods they've stolen, and second hand store owners who don't care about breaking the law can make triple their profit on stolen goods. Police say they've noticed and they are going to bring that practice to a screeching halt.

Pawn shops by law must already keep records of the items they buy to keep out stolen merchandise. According to Johnny Fredrick of Top Loan in Killeen, a new city ordinance will force other stores will have to do the same.

"Whether it be a video game store or a video store that may buy movies and dvds or take trade-ins, the Hastings, the Gamestops, the Gamecrazys, those type chain stores...they're going to be required to keep a record just like pawn shops do."

The ordinance has been around since March, but police have allowed businesses to familiarize themselves with the new law. But now they say the grace period is over, and tickets will be handed out. Source: KXXV.com

If you remove the outlet to sell stolen property it makes it harder for a thief to unload the property and hopefully will reduce the incentive to commit the thefts.

Wow, Something They Agree On

It's not often that big city mayors and the NRA agree on anything to do with gun violence. In this case they do.
The National Rifle Association and big-city mayors have rarely agreed on gun laws. But they’ve found something they may both support: the Obama administration’s call for full law-enforcement access to data from traces of guns used in crimes.

The rare, and somewhat vague, consensus between the NRA and the mayors appears likely to increase the chances that Congress will pass the reform

The administration is proposing a partial rollback of a 2003 amendment named for Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.). Under the changes, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives would be able to share gun-tracing information with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, and prosecutors would be privy to the information.

Supporters say the change would help law enforcement target the source of guns used in crimes and would help prevent illegal drug trafficking.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other mayors support the change, arguing that removing the limitation on local police departments’ ability to access the information will make cities safer.

Christopher Cox, an NRA spokesman, stopped shy of endorsing the reform but did not oppose it: “While we do not believe any change is necessary, we appreciate the President’s decision to support law enforcement and not gun control activists.”
Source: Politico.com

Our nation is awash in guns. In the 18 years I have been in law enforcement I've seen the type of guns we've siezed go from cheaply made, marginally powerful handguns to full tilt assault weapons. Something's got to change.

Killeen Crime Down

Chief Dennis Baldwin had good news to report to Killeen City Council. Crime was down according to a presentation he gave to the Council. While overall, crime was down as well as certain categories such as Burglary that had previously plagued Killeen. Crime was up in a few categories.
The declines come after half a decade when Killeen led Texas cities with the highest burglary rate. The title "Burglary Capital of Texas" should be long gone when the Department of Public Safety releases statewide numbers used to calculate crime rates later this year.

If the downward trend continues through the rest of 2009, Killeen could possibly fall outside the top 10.

The steepest increase during the first quarter of 2009 came in larcenies, which rose 23.44 percent, spurred on by the nationwide recession. The increase follows historical and nationwide trends that misdemeanors such as vehicle burglaries, shopliftings and thefts increase during economic downturns.

"As soon as the economy slowed down, we started seeing the numbers increase," Baldwin said.

Aggravated assaults rose by 14.09 percent overall in 2008, but decreased by 15.63 percent in the first quarter of 2009. Baldwin attributed the drop to more awareness about family violence through an advertising campaign KPD launched in late 2008.

Baldwin also credited Fort Hood's family support programs with helping families cope better with stress that leads to aggravated assaults.

"While we're seeing aggravated assaults drop; that's good news, but we're not out of the woods yet," Baldwin said, emphasizing that constant awareness is needed. Source: Killeen Daily Herald.

Hopefully, the economy won't force budget cuts for Killeen PD that would end up reversing gains they have made.

Belton Police Are All A' Twitter

Belton Police not only have a new Chief, but are making changes to get the word out about the Department to the public. Belton Police now have an online presence on Twitter and Facebook.
“We see this as a communication tool,” Ellis said. “But it’s not meant to replace the department Web site. It’s simply another way to engage the public.” Source: Temple Daily Telegram

When used properly, any tool that helps a department get it's message out directly is a good thing.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sometimes The Best Tech, Is Low Tech

In their fight against drug smugglers, Border Patrol agents often resort to low tech ways of catching criminals.
Radar units, infrared scopes and other technological marvels "are damn good machines," said Eddie Parra, a supervisor in the Lordsburg Border Patrol station. "But they can't see everything here. It's still up to us." Source: LA Times

High tech or low tech, use the best tool for the task.

Lot's Of Dots

The Crime Report has an interesting article on the evolution of crime mapping and it's use by both cops and citizens.
Law enforcement use of the technology has surged over the past decade. According to a study by the Gartner Group, 90 percent of U.S. police departments are expected to use GIS systems by the end of 2009. Compare that to 1998 when, according to the Crime Mapping Research Center, only about 13 percent of the 2000 police agencies surveyed in the United States used computerized crime maps, and fewer than half of those shared their maps with the public.

Digital maps have been used to redraw police districts in Tuscon, Arizona and Charlotte, North Carolina, and they’ve been credited with helping reduce crime in East Orange, New Jersey. And unlike the system pioneered by the New York City Police Department’s fabled CompStat program, today’s crime maps are not limited to internal police use. Cities like Los Angeles, Savannah, Georgia, and Lincoln, Nebraska, to name just a few, make their maps available to the general public.

“Part of what we are is trying to empower citizens,” says Judy Paul of the Savannah Police Department. “We hope it will help people make smarter decisions about their safety.” Source: The Crime Report

Mapping in law enforcement goes back to the turn of the century. Modern GIS and crime mapping tools make map production, faster, more analytical and easier to publish.

Death Penalty Changes?

Should someone convicted under the "law of parties" get the death penalty in a capital case if they didn't pull the trigger? The blog Grits For Breakfast looks at legislation currently being considered in the Texas legislature that would change Texas law on that issue.
Non-killers convicted of capital murder under the law of parties could still receive life without parole, as I read the bill, but the death penalty would be off the table. See a good discussion of the legislation and its pros an cons from the House Research Organization.Source: Grits For Breafast

Life without parole is probably a good option in these circumstances.

Recent Court Actions

Two dopers and a drunk got sentenced for their misdeeds in Bell County Court actions. The wheels of justice continue to turn.

Killeen PD Graduates Citizen's Police Academy

The Killeen PD's Citizen's Police Academy graduated their 26th Citizen's Police Academy class. CPA is a great community outreach tool for police agencies.
"It changed my whole outlook. I didn't realize how hard their job really is," Freeman said. "I do see the big difference they are making."Source: Killeen Daily Herald

CPA graduates generally becomes some of the biggest police supporters in a community.

Accused Pervy Bus Driver's Charges Upgraded

A Temple school bus driver accused of molesting a 13 year old girl, had his charges upgraded from Indecency With A Child to Aggravated Sexual Assault. Maybe he'll actually get prison time if convicted which seems to be a rarity in Bell County for sex offenders.

Now Where Did I Leave That Folder?

Note to criminals: If you're going to commit a burglary and you bring your parole paperwork with you, don't leave it behind in the business you burglarized. It's really a no-no when you are a six time convicted burglar. That's a good way to get arrested...again.

Killeen Murder Suspect Returned To Bell County

A suspect in a murder outside a Killeen 8-liner establishment has been returned to Bell County to stand trial. A co-defendant was also arrested in Maryland and will also likely be returned to Bell County.

Drug Courts Are Coming...Maybe

Bell County is working towards establishing a Drug Court to handle non-violent drug offenders. Texas counties were forced into creating them by the state threatening to withold probation funding if they didn't.

Nonviolent drug offenders, or those who committed crimes under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances, will be screened initially, then evaluated to determine the severity of their condition.

Those with severe addictions will be admitted to treatment facilities. Less severe cases will be geared toward drug education.

The program's goal is to keep drug offenders out of the criminal justice system, and administer adequate treatment for addictions, Jermstad said. It is geared toward people who have failed other substance abuse programs. Source: Killeen Daily Herald

This is probably a good first step. Incarceration without treatment is not stopping drug offenders. While many drug offenders will reoffend even with treatment, virtually all will reoffend without it.

Red Light Cameras May Be On Their Way Out

Photo red light enforcement cameras may be on their way out if the Texas legislature has it's way. A bill in the House has a sunset clause that would phase out the cameras within five years.

The amendment would forbid cities from entering into contracts for red-light cameras after June 1. It also would forbid cities with existing systems – such as Killeen – from renewing or extending their contracts. Source: Killeen Daily Herald

Of course, this ammendment has to survive the vote and the process of being reconciled with the Senate version. Given all the hue and cry about these traffic enforcement cameras I wouldn't bet on their long term survival.

Man Arrested After Kidnapping Teen

A Belton man has been arrested for kidnapping and fondling a Temple youth. The youth originally didn't come forward with the allegation until days after the offense occured. However, police found the man near the youth's school apparently stalking the youth.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Lions and Tigers and Cons, Oh My!

Grits For Breakfast has a thought provoking post on what the nation's budget woes might do to state prison populations. It costs a dang lot of money to incarcerate someone.
Mass incarceration is a rich country's game, with the United States accounting for 5% of the planet's population but 25% of its prisoners. Forcing states to rethink draconian incarceration policies could turn out to be a silver lining amongst the economic storm clouds. I predict that over the next few years, with the economy feeling the pinch, more states will be forced to get serious about reducing prison populations, which were already too large and expensive before the economy dipped. Source: Grits For Breakfast
While we should not incarcerate someone if there are more cost effective options available, we really need to be careful about who we release and who we keep locked up.

Waiting For Justice

The victim's family in a hit and run accident are still waiting for justice. The suspect vehicle was found shortly thereafter but Bruceville-Eddy Police have been unable to close the case.
“Unfortunately, nobody saw the driver,” Bruceville-Eddy Police Chief Dan Ferguson said. “People saw the suspect up here, but nobody ever saw what he was driving. Nobody saw him come in or leave. His statement is that he left the truck at his house and came to Mayfest in a white Tahoe.” Source: Temple Daily Telegram
Too bad the suspect won't man up and take responsibility.

Whose Going To Try 'Em

The New York Times has an interesting article on how budget cuts are going to affect prosecutions. There was a good quote from Dallas County's DA Greg Watkins:

In some cities, the budget cuts are coming at a particularly unfortunate time, as the recession appears to have contributed to a spike in crime and federal stimulus money is putting more police officers on the street. In Dallas, Criminal District Attorney Craig Watkins has been fighting a proposed 10 percent cut in his budget, even as he says crime has increased in some areas and more police officers are expected to make more arrests.

“My question to the commissioners is when they hire all those new officers and make all those new cases, what difference does it make if we can’t prosecute them?” Mr. Watkins said. Source: New York Times
This is going to be an interesting time. We are already staring at budget cuts in the City where I work. Might be a good time to start looking at what works and cut what doesn't. Cost effectiveness is probably going to be an important factor in policing decisions for some time to come.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Local Court Actions

A couple of convicted dopers got their sentences handed down to them. Of course, 17 years sounds tough. He won't be in prison that long though. Even more tragic is the fact there is little or no substance abuse treatment in Texas prisons. No wonder they go right back to dope when they get out.

Dallas PD's Fusion Center Used For Real Police Work

The Dallas Morning News has a good article about Dallas PD's Intelligence Fusion Center. Most fusion centers were born out of fears during the post 9/11 era. There has been some bad press about the fusion center concept as some are concerned about the implications to civil liberties. I do think that many of them are being operated correctly and can be extremely useful for normal police work.
"I think it's one of the critical pieces of the drop because it does allow us to respond quicker to crime issues and better manage information and intelligence throughout the department," Kunkle said. Source: Dallas Morning News
While I don't discount the fact that local police are probably more likely to come into contact with terrorism suspects than federal agents, I think that we can't forget that there are many more every day criminals to deal with. Chief Kunkle is quoted about this:
"It didn't make a lot of sense to spend all this money around a relatively few incidents related to homeland security when you could also use the same methodology and information architecture to support how we identify, respond and distribute information regarding crime," Kunkle said. Source: Dallas Morning News
I think the Chief hit the nail on the head with that comment. Regular criminals are a larger threat to Americans than terrorists. Let's try to apply crime analysis and intelligence techniques to putting bad guys in jail.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Man Arrested After Setting Girlfriend's House Alight

A Killeen man was arrested for setting his girlfriend's house on fire after a domestic disturbance. I bet that really solved his problems.

New Lineup Proceedures Are Coming

Austin Police are reported to be changing their policy for conducting lineups. Faulty eyewitness identification has been in the news a lot lately as many people convicted based largely on an eyewitness identification have been exonerated by DNA testing.
"It is important for us to have an actual written protocol so we can ensure that regardless of the assignment, regardless of the detective, that they are all doing business the same way on this critical issue," Police Chief Art Acevedo said. "It helps protect the integrity of the investigation, and it strengthens our position in criminal proceedings." Source: Austin American Statesman
It will be interesting to see if legislation pending in the Texas legislator that covers makes it through. We really need a standard to avoid tainting an identification. A faulty identification is an injustice both for the wrongly accused and for the victim who won't get real justice.

Recent Court Actions

A burglar, a violent felon and doper were sentenced for their misdeeds in Bell County court actions.

I Bet TAKS Doesn't Cover This

Killeen area law enforcement officers detained around 40 Shoemaker High School students who gathered off-campus during lunch to watch a brawl.
"Some of these kids are really good kids, but they have no business leaving campus," the mother said about policies that allow students to leave campus during lunch. The mother declined to be identified. Source: Killeen Daily Herald
It's much easier to keep students from getting into trouble if they are contained to their campuses.

Soldiers Sentenced In Murder For Hire Plot

Two Fort Hood soldiers were sentenced for their part in a murder for hire plot. Another co-defendant has already been sentenced. The plot involved a soldier who wanted his wife killed and plotted with another solider and his wife to commit the murder. The plan was interrupted before they could carry out their plan.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Arrest In Killeen Rape

A Killeen man was arrested for a sexual assault that occurred in Killeen. The accused rapist is currently in the Bell County jail on a $100,000 bond.

Gang Asset Bill Causing Rift

A bill in the Texas legislature to allow the seizure of gang assets has created a rift between the Texas Attorney General's office who supports the bill and some prosecutors who oppose it.
“This is cast as a crime-fighting bill, but the folks who do the crime fighting in Texas aren’t in the bill,” said Rob Kepple, executive director of the Texas District & County Attorneys Association, which is working to kill the bill. Source: Houston Chronicle
I always get worried when lawmakers start talking about the "huge" amounts of money they expect to seize. That kind of mentality leads to things like this.

Another Day At The Office

A gasoline soaked man forced the evacuation of the Killeen offices of the Mental Health Mental Retardation center. The man apparently wanted to harm himself and doused himself with gasoline.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

More Details On Bus Driver Assault

Several days ago a Temple ISD bus driver was arrested for having sexual contact with a teen student. Today, more details were reported in this incident. KWTX.com reported that the bus driver and the child talked of "running away together".

Arrest affidavits are considered public records and often contain many details about the offense.

More Hate And Discontent

Killeen Police responded to a disturbance where a shotgun was fired yesterday resulting in a man being hospitalized.

Contrary to many people's perceptions, the majority of police calls involve disputes whether between family members, neighbors, acquaintances, etc. If people could just learn to get along, we'd have more time to deal with other crimes.

Good News For Bell County

The Texas Comptroller's office released a report indicating that the Bell County area is bucking the nation's economic downturn and is expected to see job growth in the near future.
"A struggling national economy is currently slowing the pace of growth and development; but with its many economic positives, the Killeen-Temple-Waco area can maintain stability and continue expanding when the national economic climate improves," Combs said. Source: Killeen Daily Herald
Since crime in many instances is linked to the economy, this may be doubly good news. The whole report from the Comptroller's office can be found here.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

SCOTUS To Consider Life Sentences For Juveniles

The Supreme Court will hear appeals on cases where two juvenile offenders who committed offenses were sentenced to life in prison. Neither of these offenses involved murder.

The question before the court is the sentence of life without parole "cruel and unusual" for cases that didn't involve murder? One of the appeals involves an offender sentenced for a rape committed when he was 13 years old.

KPD Community Forum

The Killeen Police Department, in collaboration with numerous community organizations, is sponsoring a Community Forum to be held on Monday, May 18, 2009.

The event will be held at theKilleen Civic and Conference Center located at 3601 S.W.S. Young, at 6:00pm. This forum is for the citizens of Killeen and members of the police department to exchange information, ideas and concerns regarding the community. Questions regarding this forum may be directed to Carroll Smith at 254-501-8807.

Source: City Of Killeen

Ruckus Over Legislator Spiking Proposed Bill

The bill would have increased the penalty for fleeing a police officer on foot and was named for a fallen law enforcement officer. State Representative Jim Dunnam killed the bill saying:
“I just think that’s going way too far (in changing the penalties),” Dunnam said. “I don’t think a kid running on foot evading a shoplifting charge should be convicted of a felony.” Source: Waco Tribune
Dunnam's action killed the bill and drew the ire of the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas (CLEAT). CLEAT's position is that police chases are inherently dangerous and put officers at risk. It's a laudable goal to try to reduce the number of people who run from the police but will the way this bill is worded really do it.

Recently the law concerning evading arrest in a vehicle was changed to increase the penalty to a felony. I am not sure we are seeing any fewer people fleeing though. Especially since these people aren't really prosecuted as a felony with the courts tendancy to hand out "deferred adjudications" sentences to many felony offenses.

Charges Reduced

Prosecutors dropped a felony sex crime charge down to a misdemeanor in a recent court action in Bell County. The 20 year old man was accused of engaging in sex acts with a 15 year old.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Bus Driver Arrested For Sex Crime

A Temple ISD bus driver was arrested for Indecency With A Child.

“In hiring Mr. Trevino, Temple ISD complied with employment procedure, including the responsibility of obtaining a criminal background check,” the statement said.

“Temple ISD had initiated an investigation involving Mr. Trevino. During the course of that investigation, Mr. Trevino resigned,” the statement said. Source: KWTX.com

The incident involved a 13 year old child.

Texas Honors Fallen Law Enforcement Officers

Fallen officers were remembered during ceremonies yesterday and today at the Texas State Capital. There is video at the link.

Crime Stats Rules Can Be Confusing

The Houston Chronicle has an interesting article about how crime clearance stats are calculated.
“The rules on clearance leave a lot of latitude for interpretation,” explains Larry Hoover, director of the police research center at Sam Houston State University. Source: Houston Chronicle
These rules sometimes work out in a weird way. Last year the agency I work for had a month where we reported -1 Rapes. There were a number of cases from the preceding month that were cleared as Unfounded the following month so the math came up with a negative number. Seeing a negative number in our monthly UCR submission raised a eyebrow or two till we explained how UCR rules work.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

How Much More Trouble Can You Get In

Just to prove that even on death row, it's possible to get in even more trouble a criminal from Bell County has managed to get himself and several members of his family indicted for smuggling cell phones into death row.

A Polk County grand jury also indicted Richard Tabler on a felony retaliation charge. He's accused of threatening to kill state Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston. Officials said Tabler sent a letter to Whitmire.

Tabler’s alleged use of a cell phone from death row sparked the statewide prison sweep, which led to the confiscation of hundreds of banned items, including cell phones and weapons.

The probe was tied to reports accusing Tabler of calling Whitmire and saying he knew the lawmaker’s daughter’s name. Whitmire is chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, which oversees prison operations. He reported the calls to authorities. Source: Houston Chronicle

This guy is liable to continue to be a problem child till the moment they strap him down to the gurney.

Friday, May 1, 2009

No Tattoo For You

Temple Police served a search warrant on a Temple residence that was serving as an illegal tattoo parlor. The operators were tattoo'ing minors which violates state law, and it's a City of Temple ordinance violation to operate a tattoo business in the city. 

Victim Returns To Tell Her Story

Schoolteacher Bridgett Kelly was raped, shot and left for dead in Killeen several years ago. She returned to Killeen recently to tell her story.
Now, she speaks to audiences saying that there's nothing to be ashamed of if one is a victim of crime, especially rape. Initially, hometown newspapers were reluctant to write about her rape, only the fact that she was shot.

"Why is it more shameful to be a rape victim than a gunshot victim? I felt like in a way I was hiding something." Source: KXXV.com
Kelly has turned something evil into good.

Killeen Man Indicted For Sex Assault In Beaumont

A Killeen man was indicted for a 2002 sexual assault in Beaumont. The 85 year old victim was sexually assaulted in her home. DNA taken from the rapist during a stint in prison was matched to DNA recovered from the victim.

The victim will not get see her attacker in court as she has since died.

Temple Rapist Sentenced

A man convicted in the rape of 13 and 15 year old Temple girls was sentenced to prison for his role. The sentence prompted an outburst from the rapist's mother.
Melinda Ferstl, the defendant's mother, yelled at Assistant District Attorney Leslie McWilliams after her son was escorted away by sheriff's deputies.

"Everyone will be judged by their maker!" Mrs. Ferstl shouted. "You will be judged, too, one day, lady." Source: Killeen Daily Herald
The sentence was a part of a plea agreement that requires him to cooperate in the investigation of his co-conspirator.

This Sounds Like A Good Idea...

A man convicted of a Killeen arson is currently a member of the Nolanville Volunteer Fire Department. The man was convicted of arson in an incident where after an argument with his girlfriend he started a fire in their residence.

The Killeen Daily Herald also covered the story here.