Friday, July 31, 2009

Temple Murder Arrests

Two men are under arrest for a Temple murder.
Temple police arrested Ricky Lavelle Johnson, 21, of Killeen and Aaron Bo Simmons, 18, of Temple; Johnson was taken into custody in Killeen on Wednesday and Simmons was arrested at his home without incident on Thursday.

Both men remain are charged with murder and remain in the Bell County Jail on a suggested bond of $1 million each.

The charges stem from the July 23 shooting death of Temple resident Vaughn Wattley, 36. Source: KWTX.com

Temple Police did a good job and made short work of this one. Let's hope they can close the other two recent murders they had too.

Police Work Is A Tough Job

A Killeen man who hadn't screwed up enough by getting drunk and crashing his car decided to improve his lot.
Police say Akeem Smith was drunk when he wrecked and left his car in the median of Central Texas Expressway Friday morning.

They say he ran from the officers and hid. When found, Police say Smith damaged a camera in a patrol car and threatened the officer for arresting him. Source: KXXV.com

Most times, cops don't get paid enough for this.

Police, Arrests & Race

NPR has an interesting article about what lessons can be learned by the recent dust-up over the arrest of Henry Gates, a prominent Harvard professor who happens to be African American by a white Cambridge, MA police officer.
"We've been all watching, and it forces you to take a step back [and] look at what you're doing to ensure what you're doing is appropriate," says Martin Flask, Cleveland's public safety director. "I think as this information unfolds we'll all learn something from it."

But what this "teachable moment" — as Obama described the incident — teaches, of course, depends on whom you ask. There is as much disagreement among police as there is among the general public. The one thing police do agree on is that no one wants to make the next questionable arrest that makes headlines for weeks.

"Folks want to take a look at their protocols and their procedures and make sure that it doesn't happen in their neck of the woods," says Joseph McMillan, outgoing head of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives. Source: NPR

Probably the most important thing we can learn from this is not that people can be jerks, I'll leave it to you to determine which party in this fiasco fits that moniker, but what you and your agency can do to reduce the negative presumptions that many in our communities have about law enforcement.
We must always remember that we are here to serve the communities where we work. They pay our salaries are should have some collective say in how we do our jobs.

National Night Out

Both Belton and Harker Heights Police are kicking off their National Night Out events over the next few days.
The celebrations coincide with the nationwide National Night Out, set for Tuesday. Thousands of police departments across the country will hold National Night Out festivities Tuesday.

Texas established a separate National Night Out date for Oct. 6. The Belton and Heights police departments decided to use the nationwide date as a kickoff for their festivities later this fall.
...

"The whole premises behind it is building a partnership with the community, breaking down barriers of communication and letting criminals know the community and the police do talk," said Gene Ellis, Belton police chief. Source: Killeen Daily Herald

I've seen lots of signs promoting this event in the Belton area recently. I don't remember seeing them in previous years. Might be Belton's new Chief is putting more of an emphasis on this program.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

More Nolanville Budget Woes

In the continuing saga that is Nolanville, this happy burg's mayor fired five police officers and two other employees today.
A council member confirmed the firings to News 10 and said the fired employees were told the town would consider rehiring them if budget problems can be resolved.

The firings come after the Nolanville City Council voted on May 13 to cut six jobs including three patrol officer positions, a court clerk, a police secretary and a public works secretary in an effort to keep the struggling community afloat.

Police Chief Lester Holt is now the only member of the Nolanville Police Department still on the job.

On Tuesday, McCullough effectively fired the town’s volunteer fire department, cancelling Nolanville’s contract with firefighters and ending an annual subsidy she said amounted to $96,000.

She said the town has only about $13,000 in the bank, and could run out of funds within a matter of weeks. Source: KWTX.com

Good luck Chief Holt. You're going to need it.

Adding Insult To Injury

A Killeen man was indicted for burglary in an incident where he tried to force his way into an apartment and the female resident shot him.


The victim reported her cell phone rang at 3:30 a.m., and she did not recognize the number or the voice of the person who called, according to the arrest affidavit. The man asked her if she was home.

About 30 minutes later, the woman's doorbell rang repeatedly. The woman told police she grabbed her handgun before opening the door, which was barely cracked.

The person outside claimed to be a neighbor and asked to use her telephone, according to the affidavit. He then started to push on the door, but the woman pushed back.

The woman then fired two shots at the intruder.

Police retrieved a gun from the front porch that did not belong to the victim, according to the affidavit.

Jones reportedly checked into Metroplex Hospital's emergency room later with a gunshot wound. Jones told police he was shot while he was taking a walk.

Jones appeared to have been shot from the front instead of the back, as he had initially told doctors, and his clothing was not wet, despite the fact that it had been steadily raining earlier for several hours, according to the affidavit. Source: Killeen Daily Herald

Maybe he'll think twice about pulling a stunt like this again.

Killeen Shooting Investigation

KWTX TV is reporting that Killeen Police are investigation a shooting this morning.


Killeen police and emergency personnel have been called to the area of 1306 Janis Dr., where there is a report of a shooting.

Officers were dispatched to the residential area just west of State Highway 195 at about 1:50 a.m.

Police have confirmed to News 10 that officers are investigating reports of as many as two victims. Source: KWTX.com

Just another busy day in the big city.

The Grand Jury Has Been Busy

The Bell County Grand Jury has been working overtime. There is a huge list of folks indicted this week. You can view the list over at the Temple Daily Telegram.

The wheels of justice roll on.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Killeen Police Investigate Drowning Death

Killeen PD is investigating the circumstances behind the drowning death of a child.


According to police, the 3 year old boy and his siblings were playing in the backyard of their home in the 3800 block of River Rock Drive.

They went through an opening in the wooden fence, where a board was missing, into their neighbor's backyard.

The 3 year old boy went through the latched gate around the pool, climbed the stairs to the pool, and went into the water.

When he was discovered by his siblings they went for help, and the child was taken out of the water unconscious and not breathing Source: KWTX.com

All it takes is a few moments of inattention to result in tragedy.

Killeen PD Seeking Robber

Killeen Police are seeking a man who attempted to rob a Killeen business.


A man entered the Family Dollar Store in the 3300 block of East Rancier Avenue around 12:30 p.m. He pretended to purchase a small item, but instead pulled a gun from his waist. According to a Killeen Police Department news release, he demanded money from the female cashier. He walked around the counter and pressed buttons on the register. When he failed to open the register, he ran west from the store and escaped into a gray vehicle, possibly a Pontiac, the release stated.Police describe the robber as a 5-foot, 10-inch black male, weighing between 160 and 175 pounds. He wore a green baseball cap, a white T-shirt and blue jeans. Source: Killeen Daily Herald

You can view a video of this crime at the KWTX.com website.

If you have information on this crime you can contact Killeen CrimeStoppers.

Kidnapping Attempt Thwarted

Fort Hood authorities were searching for a woman who attempted to kidnap a newborn infant from Darnall Army Community Hospital.
The abduction was thwarted by the hospital’s infant abduction warning alarm and staff responding to a report of suspicious activity on the Mother-Baby Ward, according to a press release from Darnall.

The Army has released a photo of a woman it is interested in talking to.

The hospital was locked down and all exits were blocked while the hospital staff, security guards and special agents from the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command checked the identification of everyone in the hospital, according to the release. Source: Temple Daily Telegram

If this suspect's not identified it's likely that she'll keep trying. Women who attempt this type of crime are driven by strong psychological motivations. Hospital staff should remain vigilant.

This Can't Be Good

It's not really law enforcement related, but the City of Nolanville voted to terminate their contract with the Nolanville Volunteer Fire Department. While NVFD is staffed by volunteers the city paid for fuel and a few other miscellaneous costs.

The city already laid off three police officers and several other city employees and is in the midst of a financial crisis.
Miller said a new round of layoffs could leave just the department heads at city hall, including only police chief Lester Holsey Jr., at the Nolanville Police Department.

The city lacks money to pay its current employees beyond July and has two more months remaining in its budget cycle, Miller said.

"If we don't get some money, we can't operate a city," Matthews said. Source: Killeen Daily Herald

Let's hope things turn around for them soon.

Pick Me, Pick Me

There are quite a number of stories out about the US Department of Justice awarding COPS grants to allow local law enforcement agencies to hire police officers. Quite a few of the stories were about cities complaining they didn't get any money. One of the best quotes from the stories was this one:

Some single-officer grants went to tony Colorado ski resorts such as Telluride and Vail.


“If you’re concerned about someone cutting the lift line when you go skiing, the formula made sense,” Weiner said. “If you’re more concerned about a terrorist attack on Wall Street, it didn’t.” Source: Politico.com

Based on information released by US DOJ, 454 Texas law enforcement agencies applied for the COPS Hiring Recovery Program (CHRP) grants and 31 agencies were awarded grants. That means that only 6.83% of Texas agencies were awarded grants. Only 14.3% of agencies nationwide got grants so this program was likely to piss off the majority of agencies nationwide when they didn't get any money.

What I am most curious about is how agencies were selected for grant awards. The CHRP website says that the purpose of the grant was:
Part of the stated intent of the Recovery Act from which CHRP funds are allocated is: 1) to preserve and create jobs and promote economic recovery; 2) to assist those most impacted by the recession; and 3) to stabilize state and local government budgets, in order to minimize and avoid reductions in essential services and counterproductive state and local tax increases. Source: CHRP website
Additionally, their methodology page speaks to the scoring methodology.

A key policy question in allocating the existing funds was how to balance the economic factors against reported crime and community policing factors that were gathered in the CHRP application. It was determined that fiscal health factors would account for 50% of the total score and reported crime and planned community policing activities would also account for 50% of the final score. In this manner, the COPS Office evenly valued the importance of fiscal distress against reported crime and community policing strategies. This 50/50 split was chosen because it strikes the best balance between the purpose of the Recovery Act, which highlights the role that community policing plays in economic recovery, and the underlying COPS statute and historical mission of supporting public safety and community policing.

Each individual question was assigned a score based on the overall weight given to each category (fiscal health, reported crime and community policing) based on a 100 point scale. Specifically, the questions pertaining to fiscal health were constructed to sum to equal 50 points, the reported crime and community policing indicators to sum to 50 points.

Because of the requirement to award ½ of CHRP funds to agencies with populations greater than 150,000 and ½ to populations less than 150,000, all eligible applicants were split into these two population groups. Applicants in each group were then ranked on each individual question compared to all other applicants in the group. This individual rank on each question was then multiplied by the assigned weight to that specific question. Source: CHRP website

Did your agency apply for a grant? Do you want to see how you fared compared to other agencies? The ranking for every agency is contained in a 215 page document available on the CHRP website. If you're interested in what questions were asked on the application. The application can be found here.

What is interesting is the degree to which community policing was relevant to the awarding of the grant. You might want to take a peek at the application to see what kind of questions were asked about community policing. Those question starts about page 16 of the application. Given that this grant is awarded from DOJ's COPS program, and the whole point of the COPS program is community policing hence the name being an acronym for Community Oriented Police Services it probably should not be surprising that community policing played a large role in the grant methodology.

For all those agencies that didn't get an award, I think the old saw about "don't count your chickens till they hatch" is probably good advice to keep in mind next time one of these grants rolls around.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What A Lovely Purse Ms. Burglar

Killeen Police nab two burglars after a woman returning home saw two people leaving the area of her apartment.
A Killeen woman returned to her apartment in the 900 block of Sissom around 12:30 a.m. and saw Robertson and Galecki walking behind her apartment, Smith said.

The woman said Galecki was carrying a purse she recognized as hers, Smith said. Police say the woman then confronted the two suspects and retrieved her purse. When the woman entered her apartment, police say, she found that her back door had been kicked in and multiple items were missing from her apartment. Source: Austin American Statesman

Looking at the booking photo I'm not sure the purse matched her outfit.

Step 6 - Be Very Crime Specific

In our journey through Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers we've seen that successfully implementing Problem Oriented Policing requires carefully adhering to the principals of POP. The next step is to Be Very Crime Specific.


It's important to understand that crimes that may have similar sounding offense titles, may have very differing dynamics behind the crimes and hence require a different solution to solve the problems. In the city where I work, we had a problem with burglaries for a number of years. The biggest problem was with daytime residential burglaries committed by somewhat unsophisticated criminals. Their modus operandi (M.O.) was to drive around till they found a residence that appeared to be unoccupied, force open a door, and then grab small, portable, high value items and flee the scene rapidly.

The solution to target this type of burglar would not apply to the home invasion burglar who strikes an occupied dwelling with the intention of robbing the occupants by force. They are both violations of the same statute in the Texas Penal Code, but the M.O. is completely different. Because of these types of differences, the solution to one would likely work on the other.

Additionally, focusing on a specific type of offense allows you to determine if the number of crimes of that type is worth the expenditure of resources it would take to implement a successful solution.

There are few rules for determining precisely the level of specificity needed for a successful POP project. Tightening the focus too much could result in too few crimes being addressed to justify the expenditure of resources, though this depends on the nature and seriousness of the crimes. If only a few hubcaps are being stolen, then this problem would not merit a full-blown POP project. On the other hand, a POP project to reduce corner store robberies could be worth undertaking, even if only a few such robberies occur each year, because these can escalate into worse crimes such as murder, and because they increase public fear. Source: Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers

Depending on your analysis, you may be able to address to related crimes with the same or similar solutions.

Finally, as you learn more about a problem in the analysis stage, you might decide that it is so similar to a related problem that it is worth addressing the two together. For instance, when working on a problem of assaults on taxi drivers, you might discover that many of these are related to robbery attempts and that it would be more economical to focus your project on both robberies and assaults. In this way you may identify a package of measures that would reduce the two problems together. Source: Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers



Monday, July 27, 2009

Killeen Police Catch Taxi Robber

Killeen Police made short work of a man who robbed a cab driver Friday. Police responding to the robbery apprehended the robber after a short chase.
Police arrested Crawford just after 1:30 p.m. Friday after a 911 caller reported that the driver of an Express Cab had been robbed at gunpoint in the area of Carrie and Conder.

Officers in the area spotted a man in the running west in the 600 block of Carrie who matched the description of the robber.

He ignored a officer’s order to stop and continued to run, police said Monday.

The officer chased him until he caught him in the next block.

Crawford is charged with aggravated robbery.

His bond was set at $300,000. Source: KWTX.com

The report also indicates that a CrimeStoppers tip linked him to several other recent robberies. CrimeStoppers pays cash for information leading to the arrest and indictment of area criminals.

Heights Police Welcomes New Officer

Just a few months after losing his predecesor, Heights Police welcomed their newest K9 to the force.
Heights police swore in "Rokky" on July 14. Rokky, a 2-year-old German Shepherd, fills the void left when the beloved "Lando" entered early retirement in April. Lando, 12, died June 28 in his sleep.

Lando left an indelible mark on the Harker Heights community through his reading program, presence at civic functions and heroism.

Rokky's role encompasses more than crime fighting. He represents the department in the community, beside his handler, Officer Gabrielle Guerra.

"I told him you've got big shoes to fill. Lando was a PR hound. You got to get used to this life," Guerra said.
Source: Killeen Daily Herald

I'm sure he'll have a long a productive career at HHPD.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Step 5 - Be True To POP

Have you ever noticed that some people tend to experiment with different techniques of doing things? "A little bit of this, a little bit of that" might work if you are making a pot of stew but it isn't always the best approach for police work. This is why the next step in Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers is to Be True To POP.

Some police managers attracted to problem-oriented policing also apply other strategies, such as community policing, "broken windows" policing, intelligence-led policing, and CompStat. Depending on how these other strategies are implemented, they may or may not be compatible with POP. Even when implemented in a compatible manner, they are not the same as POP. For these reasons it is critical to understand how POP differs from these other strategies. Source: Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers

Step 5 has a really good explanation of how these differing policing strategies differ from Problem Oriented Policing. It also identifies ways in which they are compatible in spite of their differences. At the end of the section there is a link which will pop open a chart that should help you understand the differences in these policing approaches. The overall lesson from Step 5 is not to dilute POP by a careless 'throw everything at a problem and hope something sticks' approach. The most important element of POP is careful analysis and research of your particular problem. Mixing differing policing strategies is often times neither careful nor analytical.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Heights Rapist's Sentencing Delayed

A man convicted to burglarizing a home and raping the occupant had his sentencing hearing delayed.
Jonathan Matthew Baker, 19, was scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Martha Trudo of the 264th District Court Thursday, but the sentencing was rescheduled for Aug. 28.

Baker faces up to 99 years in prison. Source: Killeen Daily Herald

Maybe they'll send him away for a long time.

The Problem With Cheap Motels

While this one's not in Bell County, it could be in nearly any community. One of the problems faced by communities is how to deal with businesses that breed crime. Not uncommonly, these businesses are motels. Austin Police have been battling the owner of this motel for a couple of years now. Recently they took the owner to court.
An agreement approved by a federal judge this week between the City of Austin and the Budget Lodge in North Austin has nearby neighbors and police optimistic that the area will soon be safer.

Under the settlement, signed by U.S. District Court Judge Sam Sparks on Wednesday, the court could order the property closed and sealed shut for one year if the 20 stipulations of the agreement are "knowingly violated." In addition, Budget Lodge owner Larry Hall could face up to 30 days in jail and fines up to $10,000. Source: Austin American Statesman

I bet there is a nuisance business like this in your community. What is your agency doing to abate these problems?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Heights Police At The Library

Harker Heights Police gave a presentation to kids on scuba diving. The event at the city library was designed to introduce kids to police officers.
Their mother, Jennifer Stark, also enjoyed the presentation. It gives the children a chance to get out of the house and learn about something interesting, something they could do as a hobby, Stark said.

Haley said the police department is excited about doing events such as the one at the library because it teaches children about safety and lets them meet officers.

Often, children fear police officers because their parents tell them they have to behave or they will go to jail, Haley said.

This way "they get to see a police officer up close, so they know we are just like they are," Haley said. Source: Killeen Daily Herald

This sounds like an innovative way to get cops and kids interacting in a positive way.

Temple Police Investigating Shooting Death

Temple Police have been busy with murders lately. It looks like they had another one last night.
Temple Police Sergeant Alan Teston says the shooting occurred near the intersection of South Martin Luther King Boulevard and East Avenue K, in Temple.

Police were called to the scene at 1:35 a.m. where they found a man outside of a residence, suffering from a gunshot wound.

That man was taken to Scott and White Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Thursday's shooting death is being investigated as a murder, making it the third in 2009.

Sgt. Teston tells News 10 it is very unusual for Temple to have more than one or two murders in a given year.

Some years there are no murders in the city, Teston said. Source: KWTX.com

These investigations are extraordinarily time consuming. I hope things will slow down for them soon.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Killeen Police Nab Burglars

Killeen Police made quick work of three burglars after a homeowner heard them breaking in to his home.
Officers responded just after 1:30 p.m. Monday to 2911 Persimmons Dr. after the resident called 911 to report the burglary.

A short time later, officers spotted a vehicle that matched the description the resident provided and arrested two men and a woman.

Officers also recovered property that had been stolen from the home, police said. Source: KWTX.com

Efficient work by dispatchers and police officers likely made this case.

More Is Not Always Better

PoliceOne.com has an interesting article on the use of emergency lights and it's effect on officer safety.
“While it is clear that some lighting is necessary in order to warn approaching motorists of the presence of emergency responders, it is also suspected that too much or certain types of lighting can actually increase the hazard to personnel operating on the scene, particularly during nighttime operations.”
...

While there is sound evidence that more lighting is not necessarily better than less lighting and evidence does suggest that the combination of lights and flashing lights can create a gaze or “moth effect” on those that are driving towards the lights, the problem with the use of emergency lighting goes much deeper than the issue of the number of lights used.

How lights are used, when they are used, where they are located and what types of lights are used in certain conditions are just some of the topics to consider when giving an officer the keys to a patrol vehicle. Quite frankly, they are topics that I was never taught but they are vitally important to the safety of our officers and the motoring public. Source: PoliceOne.com

The article is worth the read for those use drive marked cars and those who equip them. Hit the link for the rest of the article.

Emergency Responder Red Light Law Changes Coming

If you call police for an emergency, do you want the officer responding to your emergency to be worried about getting a red light ticket? A new law would fix a problem with photo red light laws in Texas.
The new law, which takes effect Sept. 1, clarifies existing state law, which exempts emergency vehicles from being penalized under the state's criminal traffic laws, but didn't provide an exemption for red-light camera citations.

Without the law, police, firefighters and other emergency responders risked being personally liable for any red-light civil citations they received. Such fines can run up to $75, not counting up to $25 in late fees.

"To me, it makes common sense," said Sen. Joan Huffman, a Houston Republican who authored the bill. "It doesn't seem right that these tickets were being issued." Source: Officer.com

An officer running Code 3 to an emergency has enough to worry about without having to worry if he's going to have to cough up $75 to pay for a red light ticket.

Sounds Like A Country Song

If you meet a girl in a bar and she invites you home, might want to ask if she's married. At least, this guy probably wishes he did.
Killeen police say the victim met two women at the Starlight Station Night Club and had gone home with them to an apartment at 1611 Grandon in Killeen. When they got they got there, they were met by one of the women's husband, Christopher Michael Lynch, and a friend identified by police as Justin Henry Kroh.

Witnesses told police the two men beat and stomped the victim several times, severely injuring him. Police found the attackers at the scene with swollen and bleeding knuckles. Source: KXXV.com

Of course you could argue that going home with someone you met in a bar is probably not a good idea anyway.

Heights and Killeen Police Nab Robber

A man who robbed a person in Harker Heights was arrested a short time later by Killeen Police.
Police responded to the call in the 500 block of North Ann Boulevard around 10:30 a.m. Monday where the victim was able to give them a detailed description of the suspect.

The victim told officers that the robber drove into the parking lot and pulled out a gun, demanding money. The victim handed over $5 and the robber fled.

Shortly after arriving on scene, officers broadcast the suspect's description along with a partial license plate number to other law enforcement agencies in the area. Minutes later, Killeen Police Officers spotted a vehicle and suspect matching the robber's description.

The robber then tried to run from officers; he was taken into custody after a short foot chase. Source: KXXV.com

This is a great example of inter-agency communication working to catch bad guys.

KPD Working Early Morning Shooting

KWTX is reporting that Killeen Police are working an early morning shooting.
Police officers were dispatched to the 1600 block of Central Texas Expressway in Killeen around 4:30 a.m. Wednesday to investigate a report of shots fired in the area.

A vehicle fleeing the scene at a “high rate of speed” was stopped by police officers who found a male passenger inside suffering from a gun-shot wound to the leg.

Police are not questioning the driver, whom they believe was transporting the victim to the hospital. Source: KWTX.com

Just another busy night in the city.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Step 4 - Become A POP Expert

As we continue on with our walk through Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers the next step is to become knowledgeable in the theory of Problem Oriented Policing or POP. You should Become A POP Expert. There is an interesting bit in this section. One that I hope will be taken to heart in your organization.

We have also seen that random patrolling, which the public expects, is not an efficient way to apprehend criminals. This means that much police work that is carried out to meet public expectations is of limited value in controlling crime. Source: Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers

As Departments are forced to do more with less, I hope that there will be less resistance towards doing away with what won't work. No one wants to be spinning their wheels in dealing with repetitive crime problems. POP offers a way out of that rut. Problem Oriented Policing originated with Herman Goldstein. From the book:

His idea was simple. It is that policing should fundamentally be about changing the conditions that give rise to recurring crime problems and should not simply be about responding to incidents as they occur or trying to forestall them through preventive patrols. Source: Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers

Goldstein believed that police should work through problems in four steps sometimes known by the acronym SARA. SARA stands for Scanning, Analysis, Response and Assessment. Later on in Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers they will explore SARA in depth. For us as crime analysts, we should be ready to use SARA and POP to make our organizations more effective in their mission.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Study Examines Murders Tied To Army Post

There's a study making the news that examines the link between a Fort Carson based Army unit and several murders committed by members of that unit.
The report, commissioned by commanders last year after six 4th Brigade Combat Team soldiers were charged in murders in a 12-month period, says combat stress, and mental health issues found in the bulk of soldiers-turned-killers combined with a cocktail of substance abuse issues, including drug and alcohol abuse, that wasn't consistently addressed.

It will result in increased screening for soldiers who show signs of trouble, policy changes and a series of Army studies at Fort Carson and elsewhere to better determine what eight years of war have done to troops. But the study reached no conclusions that showed a direct cause-and-effect relationship that led to the killings.

Lt. Gen. Eric Schoomaker, the Army's surgeon general, said while no one factor accounts for the violence, several causes contributed to the cluster, including substance abuse, mental illness and failures of leadership.

"Those three in combination are a really toxic mix," he said at a Fort Carson news conference. Source: Colorado Springs Gazette

The entire 126 page report can be found here. This has implications for us here in Bell County as a huge number of soldiers from Fort Hood have deployed numerous times to Iraq and Afghanistan. Are we doing enough for our soldiers when they return?

While the report found fault with commanders, particularly in failing to get help for soldiers for drug abuse and mental illness, the study itself will not result in any disciplinary action. Source: Colorado Springs Gazette

Often times, the warning signs are when soldiers get in trouble for minor offenses related to substance abuse. Is your agency communicating effectively with Fort Hood to ensure that they are aware of these minor incidents if they occur in your city? The Army can't help these soldiers if they aren't aware of their problems.

Temple Woman Murdered

A Temple woman was killed in a shooting at her home this weekend.


Robin Simek died at approximately 11:30 p.m. at Scott & White Hospital, Temple police said in a news release Sunday.

After being dispatched to a home in the 1100 block of South Third Street, police found Simek, who had been shot several times in the upper torso with a medium-caliber handgun, police said. She was taken to the hospital.

Officers searched the area, but they were unable to find the suspect. There was no suspect description available Sunday, but investigators believe the suspect and the victim knew each other. Source: Killeen Daily Herald

There is an interesting angle on this from another news source.
Several people were at the same home with Simek when she was shot, but only one man suffered a minor injury after he dove out a window to escape the gunfire.

The shooting happened across the street from another home subject to an ongoing police investigation.

Police say Daniel Sullivan Jr disappeared in April. Police suspect foul play. Source: KWTX.com

Sounds like this is a lot more to this one.

Killeen SWAT Standoff

Killeen Police spent five hours dealing with a standoff this weekend. Police responded to reports of gunfire.


By the time police arrived the 32 year old suspect, who lived near-by ran to his home in the 1800 block of Lea Ann where he stayed holed up inside until 11:25. That’s when police went inside to get the suspect and he surrendered without a fight. No one was injured in the ordeal. Source: KCENDT.com

Just another weekend in the big city.

Fort Hood Murder

You don't hear of things like this happening all that often on post. A man dies after being shot during an incident in a housing area on Fort Hood.
At a casual get-together on the lawn of the McNair area, a soldier fired a gun into a crowd of people, hitting one soldier in the hip. The shooter fled and witnesses at the scene called 911. Military police responded, and the soldier who was shot was taken to Darnall Army Medical Center, where he later died.

A suspect was arrested at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the post's main gate and is now in custody on post, said Bruce Zielsdorf, civilian deputy public affairs officer at Fort Hood. Source: Killeen Daily Herald

It looks like Fort Hood Police made quick work of this one.

Friday, July 17, 2009

If At First You Don't Succeed...

The trial of a man implicated in the gang rape of a 13 year old girl in Temple derailed when the judge declared a mistrial.
Jurors told judge Joe Carroll at around 7:30 p.m. Thursday they could not reach a decision on guilt or innocence after about eight hours of deliberation.

Carroll declared the jury deadlocked and granted a defense motion for the mistrial.

Bell County Assistant District Attorney Leslie McWilliams told News 10 Friday the case would be put back on the trial docket and said she anticipated the first pre-trial hearing to be set within 30 days. Source: KWTX.com

His co-defendant is already serving time for this offense.

Step 3 - Know What Is Effective

There's a biblical quote that says "There is nothing new under the sun." This also applies to police work. Many times, the solutions to our local problems have been figured out by someone, somewhere else who has previously dealt with the same or a similar problem. The third step in Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers is to Know What Is Effective (and not) in Policing. If someone else, somewhere else found a solution to a similar problem, why not apply that knowledge in dealing with your problem? Conversely, if someone else tried and failed in their attempt to address a problem, why would you want to go down that same road to failure?

The lessons during a third of a century of research are now clear. Effective police work requires both focused attention and diverse approaches. The least effective policing uses neither element. The explanation for this is also clear. If diverse approaches are used without focus, it is difficult to apply the appropriate approach to the places and people who most require it. If police are focused on hot spots, but only enforce the law, they limit their effectiveness. A fully effective police agency must take advantage of the details of crime situations to reduce crime opportunities. Source: Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers

The authors include a very nifty chart explaining the general effectiveness of various policing approaches in the book. Click through the linkto view it. Studies of some of the traditional approaches to crime control, show these methods aren't terribly effective. If this is the case then why do we still do them?

Crime analysts have important roles in applying both elements -
focusing with precision using their analytical methods, and helping to craft appropriate police tactics that fit the details of problems they have uncovered. Source: Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers

Do you know what practices work?

Coach, Meet Your New Cellmate Bubba

A pervy Little River-Academy baseball coach who went on the lam in Mexico after it came out he was sexually abusing young boys got a life prison term.
One of the victims said that Jacobsen told him not to tell anyone, but the boy confided in a friend on his way home from a sleepover at Jacobsen’s home.

Another victim explained how Jacobsen held a knife to his throat. When the teenager asked Jacobsen if he was going to kill him, the man said, “why not?”

The boys’ testimonies during the trial indicated the abuse went on for about a year, but the indictment used to formally charge Jacobsen only alleged abuse from September 2007 to June 2008. That’s because he was indicted under a new get-tough child predator law first enacted in September 2007.

This was the first time the new law had been used in a case in Bell County.

A family member, who cannot be named because it would identify one of the victims, said she was pleased with the sentence.

“And those boys were so brave to get up there and tell all the horrible things that were done to them,” she said. “The prosecutor called him despicable - that is too good a term for people like him.”

She said Jacobsen knew exactly what he was doing when he encouraged the boys over for camping nights and to let them play computer games.

“He built up their trust in him and then took all their trust within months,” she said. “But he’ll never get to do that again.” Source: Temple Daily Telegram

This was a weird one. He's 32. His wife is nearly 60. After the allegations surfaced he and his spouse fled to Mexico along with their little dog too. She was also arrested for helping him to flee but has not had her trial yet.

Your Past Can Come Back To Haunt You

An ex-con who tried to steal CD's from a Wal-Mart was sentenced to life in prison for his attempted theft. It seems that jurors had a serious problem with his criminal past which included at 1984 murder conviction.
“They agreed with us that he just needed to go away for the rest of his life,” said Peabody “He was not going to be able to adapt to life in the free world with honest people.”

In August 1984, Leroy and Marilyn Larson were returning home from their honeymoon in Galveston when they spotted Balentine and his older brother, Terry Balentine, standing next to their apparently disabled car at a rest stop in Freestone County — about midway between Houston and Dallas.

“The Larsons stopped to help. They were being Good Samaritans,” Peabody said.

Instead, the newlyweds were forced at gunpoint to drive along back roads while the brothers plotted their next move.

“They discussed the ways they were going to molest the young lady,” Peabody said.

Leroy Larson grabbed the steering wheel, forcing the car off the road. One of the brothers opened fire. Leroy Larson was shot twice.

Marilyn Larson grabbed the keys from the ignition and ran. They began shooting at her.

She was struck twice but managed to flag down a passing Department of Public Safety trooper.

The brothers received three life sentences. Brian Balentine, now 43, was released on parole in August 2006, Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials said. His brother, now 47, remains in prison. Source: Houston Chronicle

The best part of the story is the quote from his defense attorney:
Attorney Earl Pryor, who represented Balentine during the trial, said he was disappointed with the life sentence the jury gave his client for a crime involving a handful of stolen CDs. “I was shocked,” Pryor said. “I was beyond shocked.”

Pryor knew that the prosecutors would bring up the 1984 murder conviction during the punishment phase of the trial but said he didn't realize the impact it would have on the jury.

“There's no doubt in my mind that they wanted to re-punish him some more for that case,“ he said. They just couldn't get past his past.” Source: Houston Chronicle

Yup, I think the jury might have been swayed by his past. At least a little bit.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Bank Robber Gets 45 Years

Yesterday I posted about a man convicted in robbing a Temple bank. He was later sentenced to 45 years for this crime.
Myhand, his mother and his sister took the stand Wednesday morning during the sentencing phase to convince the jury he had good character. Myhand insisted he was not guilty of robbing the bank.

Myhand also told the jury he was released from prison in Florida in August 2007, four months before the bank robbery. Myhand was convicted of attempted homicide and robbery in July 1994.

Because of Myhand’s two previous convictions, he could have received between 15 years and life in prison. He will receive credit for his time spent in jail since his arrest and for good behavior. He will be eligible for parole in 22 years.

Police became interested in Myhand as a suspect in the Dec. 20, 2007, bank robbery after they were tipped off by an informant. Source: Temple Daily Telegram

I think the previous convictions might cast doubt on the "good character" assertion.

Hottie Can't Guard Cons

This is pretty funny. A British woman was told that she was too sexy to be a prison guard and according to her was harassed to the point where she quit. She is now seeking compensation.
Amitjo Kajla, 22, is demanding compensation from Justice Secretary Jack Straw.

The 5ft officer told an employment tribunal how colleagues complained that she wore too much make-up and that her clothing was more revealing than the standard-issue uniform, which had to be adapted to her tiny size-four frame.

One young inmate told her: 'Miss, you look sexy', prompting colleagues to warn the officer that her glamorous appearance left her at risk of being dragged into a cell.

Another inmate was overheard telling Miss Kajla: 'I wouldn't mind taking you back to a cell', the tribunal heard.

Miss Kajla claimed she was called a 'stupid little girl' by a senior colleague for putting her security at risk by sitting with prisoners during their 'free association' period.

She added that she was mocked by staff at Brinsford Young Offenders' Institution, in Featherstone, Staffordshire, for carrying a handbag and reprimanded for waving and saying 'hello' to inmates.

The remarks, often made in front of inmates and other staff, made her feel harassed and humiliated, she told the tribunal. 'I couldn't sleep at night because of the bullying and harassment. I lost weight and decided I couldn't take it any longer and resigned.' Source: Dailymail.co.uk

I bet this problem doesn't happen that often in most Texas prisons.

Mother Of The Year

If you hired someone to babysit your child and let them move in, then you find out he's molesting your child would you do something? I bet it would be more than this:
"He had been living there an extended period of time," First Assistant District Attorney Murff Bledsoe said. "The transgressions were happening for more than a year, while he was working as a live-in baby sitter."

The victim reported to police that she told her mother about the assaults.

Her mother responded by saying the child would not be able to prove Brewington had assaulted her, and she was not going to kick him out of the house, according to the arrest affidavit.

One of the victim's friends told police about the assaults, according to the affidavit. The victim told police the assaults occurred about 30 times and the last was on May 1. Source: Killeen Daily Herald

Amazing.

Recent Grand Jury Action

A whole boatload of crooks were indicted by the Bell County Grand Jury this week. They include, burglars, rapists, thieves and others. Follow the link to see the whole list at the Killeen Daily Herald.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Temple Bank Robber Convicted

Even with some highly unusual testimony, a man was convicted of a Temple bank robbery.
The last witness called by defense attorney Michael White testified that Myhand was not the person who robbed Guaranty Federal Bank in Temple on Dec. 20, 2007. Instead, Derrick Johnson, a supervisor at Integrico Composites in Temple, said the man in security photos from the bank was his former employee, Cedric Johnson.

Prosecutors Mike Waldman and Nelson Barnes were clearly taken by surprise when White told them minutes in advance about what Johnson would be testifying about.

As White questioned Johnson, prosecutor Kara Schneible, who was not one of the prosecutors assigned to the case, made two trips to the District Attorney’s Office in an attempt to retrieve information about either Johnson.

Ms. Schneible returned with a copy of a driver’s license photo of a Cedric Johnson but with no way to confirm he was the right Cedric Johnson, prosecutors did not use the information.

Derrick Johnson was clear in his assertion that his former employee was the bank robber based on the photo taken from the bank. He even said Cedric Johnson, who he said was terminated in February 2008, often wore a blue jumpsuit and liked to tie a do-rag to his head, which matched the clothing the robber was wearing. Source: Temple Daily Telegram

What I find a little troubling, especially in light of all the problems with eye witness testimony that have come about in recent years is this:
The state’s main witness, bank teller Betty Dare, identified Myhand as the robber in court, although she was not able to pick him out of a photo lineup. Source: Temple Daily Telegram

I hope that the decision to convict was not only based on her testimony. The newspaper article doesn't really go into detail on that.

Should Jail Be A Money Maker?

Sheriff Dan Smith gave a presentation on the new Bell County Jail to a civic and business group. In the story there were some interesting comments about the jail being a money making venture. If you'll remember, voters rejected several jail proposals prior to the construction of the jail.
"These facilities didn't come about without some birthing pains," Smith said.

"I know the facility was controversial for some people in the county. People were opposed to the location of the jail since it is near housing subdivisions. The architect and Commissioners Court wanted something aesthetically nice for the area."

The new jail is the third in the county. There is a capacity for 1,300 inmates among all county jails.

Smith said the county was paying thousands of dollars to house inmates in neighboring Limestone and Milam counties before the new jail was built. At the time there were only 706 beds for more than 800 inmates at the county jail.

The previous facility is currently being renovated, and will be used to lease out space for other county's inmates. Smith said the jail will re-open in about a year. The money gained from the venture will go toward the county's general revenue. Source: Killeen Daily Herald

Should the purpose of having extra jail space be to make money? As it stands right now, the money making incentive makes for bad justice policy.

For example, if Bell County sentences a local offender to probation, the County gets funding from the State to pay for the costs associated with Community Supervision and the jail bed that offender would have occupied can be rented out to another County. If that local offender is jailed, the County does not get the State Community Supervision money and that space is unavailable for rent.

In short, locking up a Bell County offender costs the County money twice. Giving him probation allows the County to make money off the deal. Do you see any incentive for the County to turn local crooks loose for any reason? Is this really what communities want from their County jail?

Killeen PD To Purchase Citizen Reporting System

Police agencies spend a lot of time taking reports. Often, the reports are for minor offenses. Even though they are minor, they eat up a significant amount of time just creating and processing the reports. That time could be used for doing the things that people expect of the police, catching bad guys.

To improve their efficiency, Killeen Police are working on implementing a system for citizens to file their own reports for minor offenses. This will free up officers' time to focus on other tasks. Killeen Police are planning on purchasing this system with money from the Byrne Justice Assistance Grants. The Killeen City Council approved that purchase last night.
In what was mostly a formality, the Killeen police received permission to use up to $25,699 to purchase software from Coplogic, a California company. The software allows residents to report crimes through the Internet, eliminating the need for officers in minor offenses.

Killeen police will begin detailed negotiations to purchase the software now that they received council approval, Deputy Chief Larry Longwell said.
Source: Killeen Daily Herald

Also approved in this Council action was permission to obtain grant funding for Tasers, bulletproof vests and tobacco enforcement programs.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Step 2 - Be The Local Crime Expert

The next step in the book Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers is Be The Local Crime Expert. If most other police agencies are like mine, there are very few people who get to see the whole picture of crime in your jurisdiction. Day Shift Patrol officers don't get to see what's happening on the Midnight Watch, Property Crimes Detectives don't often investigate Persons crimes and so on. Many times, the only place where all the reports are funneled through is in the Crime Analysis unit. As an analyst you are one of the few in your department with the big picture.

In short, nobody can see the whole crime picture. But if you became the local crime expert it would help make your department more informed, efficient, and capable of using its resources to reduce crime. It would provide more opportunity to warn citizens, to detect offenders, and to initiate prevention efforts. In short, you could help a lot of people by gathering the right information. Source: Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers

The authors talk about a number of ways you can become "The Local Crime Expert". Many of these ways are sound advice such as:

  • Talk with Officers & Dispatchers, even the midnight crew
  • Ride with Officers on Patrol when you can
  • Visit crime scenes occasionally
  • Communicate with your peers in other agencies

In my opinion the most effective way is to review those offense reports coming in. I try and make it a habit to review the arrests and reports from the previous day every morning. The suggestions above are all good, but some of them can be very time consuming and time is something few analysts have an excess of. There are always more demands on us than we can possibly fulfill. Block off time in your day to skim the reports from the previous day. You'll be surprised what you can discover that way.

This Will Fix Everything

NPR has an interesting article about data mining software and it's use to spot terrorists.
Intelligence officials have been hoping for some time that vacuuming up vast amounts of information and putting it into a computer would uncover some sort of discernable terrorist pattern. The technique, known as data mining, is controversial because information on the innocent, as well as potential terrorists, ends up in the same database. Now it is increasingly unclear whether data mining will ever really work because terrorists don't appear to have predictive patterns.

"We don't even have enough of a data set to get a good pattern of 'What does a terrorist look like?' " says Fred Cate of Indiana University's Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research. "And terrorists, of course, are constantly changing their patterns because, quite simply, they don't want to get caught."

That's why they use one-time cell phone numbers and drop-box addresses.

"There had been, over the past seven years, this sense that if you collect more and more data and put it into a powerful enough computer, shake it and bake it the right way you'll come up with the unknowns" — terrorists who aren't yet on law enforcement's radar screens — says Jim Dempsey, the executive director of the Center for Democracy and Technology, a privacy group in San Francisco.

"I think, and other people who are more technically adept than I think, that's really a fool's errand." Source: NPR

As I listened to the two part story, yesterday and this morning I thought about the tendency in law enforcement to pin their hopes on some technical solution to identifying catching criminals. In my 18+ years in law enforcement I've seen a lot of things come and go. While software tools can help you catch bad guys, nothing replaces human intuition and analysis. There are way too many variables to come up with a formula that works even most of the time, much less all the time. I'm sure there will be those that keep trying though.

Monday, July 13, 2009

This Is Gonna Hurt

The Nolanville City Council has decided to start cutting jobs to keep the city afloat. The jobs slated for cuts include three police officers and a civilian police department employee.
Hollie Costello, whose job was one of the six the council cut, said residents may feel the impact.

"I handle sex offenders, I registered them and keep track. Who’s going to do that now? Costello said. KWTX.com

I hope this isn't a sign of things to come.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Heights Police Remember K9 Lando

Harker Heights Police paid tribute to their fallen K9 Lando at a memorial service yesterday.
Lando was remembered Friday at a memorial service attended by Villella, almost 60 mourners and Lando's owner/handler, Officer Gabrielle Guerra.

Tables adorned with Lando's leash, his vest, photos, awards and memorabilia encircled a crowd inside a meeting room at the Harker Heights Police Department. Outside everyone gathered around a memorial stone that read "Forever and always a guardian of the night."

Lando, a community icon and award-winning detector dog, died June 28 in his sleep at Guerra's home. He served more than 10 years with HHPD. He died two days before his 13th birthday and a few weeks before his July 14 retirement. Source: Killeen Daily Herald

It looks like Lando made quite an impact at HHPD.

Friday, July 10, 2009

This Week's Bell County Court Actions

A child rapist, a robber, a car thief, an arsonist and a doper got their helping of justice this week. At least the rapist is actually going to prison for this one. It seems like way to many of them got "unadjudicated probation" here in Bell County in the past.

If we could just get Mother's Against Drunk Driving to include baby rapists in their campaign I bet we see these folks do some real time more often.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Watcha Gonna Do When They Come For You?

The City of Belton's Municipal Court is announcing a warrant amnesty prior to their warrant round up.
The amnesty program is available to those persons with outstanding Class C misdemeanor warrants such as traffic offenses and municipal ordinance violations and will be offered until the warrant round-up occurs.

Offenders who voluntarily appear before the Belton Municipal Court during the amnesty period will be permitted to either pay the fines incurred in full or enter into agreement with the city for a repayment plan on the outstanding fines.

Additionally, the city will waive warrant fees for defendants with outstanding warrants during the amnesty period.

The waived fees will save offenders $50 per warrant and could result in a significant savings for persons with multiple warrants, the city said. Source: KWTX.com

It seems like there is a lot more emphasis on city's clearing out their backlogged warrants given the state of our economy. Is this really a pursuit of justice or just a pursuit of revenue? Even with the "$50" dollar off discount you got to wonder. It's a slippery slope to consider fines and court costs as a source of revenue or an alternative to taxation.

Soldier Indicted For Abuse

A Fort Hood soldier was indicted for Injury To A Child in an incident involving his girlfriend's toddler. The child suffered life-threatening injuries while in his care.
"Apparently, the child made a significant recovery, but it was too early to tell if there will be permanent damage," Bledsoe said. "He suffered subdural hemorrhages and retinal hematomas."

The doctor told police the injuries were not consistent with an accidental injury, according to the affidavit. Source: Killeen Daily Herald

All too often, the mother's boyfriend are perpetrators of abuse. Since the boyfriend is often not the parent of the child, there is less emotional attachment to the child which increases the risk of abuse.

Cigarette Price Increase Having An Unintended Consequence

Convenience stores are often the targets of crimes. Usually the crimes are armed robberies and thefts. The general modus operandi (MO) for the armed robberies is that a robber accosts the clerk with a weapons and demands cash. The theft MO is usually one of a "beer run" where the crook grabs beer or cigarettes and then runs out the door without any threat of violence or the display of a weapon.

A couple of recent incidents in Temple could signal a new trend emerging.
The first robbery was at about 11 p.m. Tuesday at Teals Exxon at 3002 Thornton Lane.

The clerk told officers the robber entered the store, displayed a gun and demanded cigarettes.

He then ran to the waiting pickup, which was last seen headed north on South 57th Street.
.
Then at 2 a.m. Wednesday, police responded to the 7-Eleven store at the intersection of South 57th Street and Scott Drive where the clerk told officers a man entered the store, displayed a gun, demanded cigarettes and then ran to the waiting two-door gray pickup. Source: KWTX.com

With the recent increase in the price of cigarettes due to taxes, cigarettes are quickly becoming high value items. While a thief will often not resort to the threat of violence to steal something of little value, it seems like the incidences of the threats of violence increase with the higher values of the targeted goods.

If this theory holds true, I bet those proponents of higher cigarette taxes didn't anticipate this unintended consequence.

Heroin Making A Comeback?

Autopsy results on a man found dead in his vehicle in May revealed that the man died of an overdose of cocaine and heroin.
Donald Eugene Hood, 26, was found dead inside his pickup truck outside Patriot Furniture at 2301 W. Central Texas Expressway in Killeen, according to the autopsy report.

Autopsy results showed that Hood died of a lethal combination of drugs, including cocaine and heroin.

A groundskeeper mowing the lawn discovered Hood's body not moving inside the truck on the morning of May 10. Source: Killeen Daily Herald

Ordinarily, this is not a terribly notable event but for the fact that one of the drugs was heroin. In June, Killeen police seized heroin from a Fort Hood soldier in a drug raid. Austin Police recently announced a bust of a large heroin operation in their city. I have some concerns that heroin is going to make a comeback in the area.

Heroin is a very popular drug in certain areas of the US but with the exceptions of certain subcultures in Texas, we had not seen widespread abuse of heroin in Central Texas. All that may be changing. With the popularity on the rise in certain areas, and the deployment of large numbers of soldiers and civilians to Afghanistan this may change.

Afghanistan is the producer of most of the world's illicit opium. More Americans with ties to Central Texas are going to be exposed to heroin. A few of them may even attempt bring some of it back either for personal use or for profit. It may be a good time for local agencies to stock up on their heroin drug test kits.

Killeen Woman Tries To Run Down Her Ex

A Killeen woman was indicted for Aggravated Assault in an incident where she tried to run down her ex-boyfriend with a car.
The man reported to Killeen police that Young agreed to meet him at a location in the 900 block of U.S. Highway 190 so he could visit his children.

Young reportedly kept her car doors locked, refusing to let the man to see their children, according to the arrest affidavit. The man, who was accompanied by a female friend, then drove away.

Young followed and crashed her car into the back of the victim's vehicle, according to the affidavit. She followed the man to his home in the 1500 block of Janis Drive in Killeen, where she supposedly crashed her vehicle into the passenger side of the victim's car, then pulled into the street and struck the car again.

The two victims reported to police that after they left their vehicle, Young accelerated across the front lawn and tried to run over them, according to the affidavit. Source: Killeen Daily Herald

It would seem that the old adage of "hell hath no fury" applies here.

Temple Man Convicted Of Kidnapping

A Temple man who had previously been convicted of assaulting or abusing women, was convicted of kidnapping his ex-girlfriend. The ex-girlfriend testified that he held her captive for several days, beat and raped her during her ordeal.
"A year and a half later, you could still see the fear and terror on that witness stand," Assistant District Attorney Shelly Strimple said during closing arguments. "Now is the time to hold (Collingwood) accountable." Source: Killeen Daily Herald

The man will be sentenced at a later date.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Police Impersonator In The Area

This issue pops up occasionally. A delivery driver was pulled over by a man claiming to be a police officer. When the driver questioned the "officer's" credentials the stop went south and led to the delivery driver chasing the fake cop from Florence to Killeen and back down to Georgetown where he was arrested by Williamson County deputies.
"When they looked inside the man's truck, they found a signal light and a badge from an out of state fire department," said Detective John Foster with the Williamson County Sheriff's Department. "He was arrested for impersonating a public servant."

Deputies arrested Eric Dearmitt for the third degree felony. They believe he was a volunteer firefighter in another state and don't yet have a motive as to why he was impersonating an officer.

"You should know immediately if someone is an officer," said Foster. "They should have a marked vehicle and/or many lights. If you see a car with just one light following you, then get over to the right and let them pass. If they continue following you, then call 9-1-1 and let them know." Source: WTNH.com

For every one of these incidents that results in an arrest, there are probably many more persons who've been stopped by this crook and didn't realize he was a fake.

Want To Buy A Jail?

A real honest to goodness jail is up for sale in Bell County. The old jail is now a residence located in downtown Belton.


Before it was a nice quaint home capable of sheltering a family from the elements, it housed some of the most notorious men in Bell County. The home at 210 N. Pearl with stained glass accents adorning the front entrance was originally a county jail when it was built in the 1800s. Source: Temple Daily Telegram

I had some friends who used to live there. It was kind of weird to stand in the living room and look through a small barred window into the kitchen. If nothing else, it's a sturdy structure.

You Gotta Help Too

Killeen has seen another person complaining about their rude neighbors. I posted about this a while back. While it's easy to complain that the police aren't doing anything, it must be asked of the people complaining: "What are you willing to do about it?"
"It's like a cat and mouse thing," Rauch said. "As soon as the police leave, they turn the music up. When you call the police, they turn the music off."...Rauch said the police "aren't doing a good job over here. And I'm angry. I'm frustrated - I really, truly am, because I'm just tired of being tired." Source: KXXV.com

The crux of the issue is this. If you call police to complain about your neighbors and the police respond and don't witness a violation of the law, the police can't take action without a person willing to sign a criminal complaint. Rather than taking to the media to whine about this, you could file a report with the police department, provide a sworn statement and sign a criminal complaint. The case would then be referred to the courts and you'd get your day in court.

Fortunately, the US legal system does not allow police to arrest for offenses with no complaining witness. A person accused of a crime has the right to face their accuser in court. Imagine the chaos if police took action based only on anonymous complaints. I'm sure that Ms. Rauch could likely end up the target of such anonymous complaints and I bet she'd really be pitching a fit if she got a ticket or was arrested for such nonsense.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Combatting Uninsured Motorists

Texas authorities are working to combat uninsured motorists. Years ago, Texas adopted laws that required drivers to present proof of insurance when getting their vehicles registered or insured.
“At least every week I have an accident that involves an uninsured or underinsured driver,” said Harper, an 18-year veteran with State Farm Insurance. “It is still a major problem. There are a lot of people that will buy it (automobile insurance) for a week, just to get their car registered, inspected or to get a driver’s license and then they cancel it. They get it for a temporary time and they just drop it.” Source: Temple Daily Telegram

To fight this, the State and the insurance industry developed a system to allow authorities to check the insurance status of motorists in real time.
TexasSure employs a statewide database that matches more than 21 million license plates numbers with insurance information. Rebecca Davio, Texas Department of Transportation director of vehicle titles and registration, said 3 million queries are made monthly to TexasSure.

Senior Cpl. Charlie Morgan of the Department of Public Safety office that covers Temple, Killeen and Waco, said this program helps catch these insurance cheaters. When a trooper stops a motorist or investigates an accident, he checks the license number and insurance card. If the vehicle is uninsured, the trooper will issue a citation.

“When we run what we call a 10-28, it comes up on our screen and shows the information,” Morgan said. “Most of the time it’s the vehicle that’s covered and not the driver. That’s the reason it was tied in with the vehicle data base and not the driver data base.”

Another way to catch people who drive vehicles with expired or canceled automobile insurance happens at the county level when a motorist applies for vehicle registration. Even if that person displays a current insurance card, the clerk accesses the TexasSure system. If the insurance is not valid, no window sticker or new plates will be issued. Source: Temple Daily Telegram

Rather than just rely on punitive measures such as ticketing the uninsured, this comprehensive approach looks promising.

Soldier Arrested For Arson Death

A Fort Hood soldier was arrested for the arson death of an Arizona firefighter in 2001. An anonymous tip to authorities six years after the fire led to his arrest.
For six years, Benitez was not even on Nelson's radar. Then in 2007, an anonymous tip linked Benitez to the fire. Nelson interviewed him at Fort Hood in 2008 and Benitez gave information that placed him at the scene. A grand jury returned murder and arson indictments against Benitez earlier this year, Nelson said.

Benitez set the fire as an act of retaliation, Nelson said.

"The motive behind it was several days before the fire, Christopher was caught shoplifting.

He did a beer run for a couple of 12-packs and threw some in his backpack, ran out the front door. The store manager chased him down and captured him," Nelson said.

Benitez returned to the store and set fire to discarded packing boxes. He remained in Bell County Jail Monday without bail until he is transferred to Phoenix. Source: Killeen Daily Herald

Great job on this by the Arizona cops. Arson fires are notoriously hard to solve and have one of the lowest clearance rates of any UCR Part 1 crime.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Step 1 - Rethink Your Job

The first step in the book Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers is to Rethink Your Job. While Crime Analyst's have come a long way in being seen as credible assets to a law enforcement organization, it's still pretty easy to get thought of as just some "admin pencil pusher". Many times, the responsibility for that view is our own. It's pretty easy to get so bogged down in the routine grind of cranking out periodic statistical reports and meeting deadlines that we fall into a rut. To get out of that rut and head off in a new direction we need to rethink what our job is. The authors put it this way:

Control over information is crucial, and the ability to analyze it is all-important. The person who learns how to do so becomes an essential member of the team. But we are not talking here about power or status. We are referring instead to a challenge facing all police forces: how to solve enduring and repetitive crime problems. Think of yourself as a member of a team helping to solve these problems, with a particular
role in that team. Source: Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers

I don't know about others, but I enjoy discovering new things. Whether it's detecting a new crime series or a new way I can help an officer or detective solve a crime. There's a certain excitement that comes with it. It's sure beats futzing around with a spreadsheet.

In short, you should begin to see yourself as more than just a technician, skilled in manipulating and presenting data. You should become more like a researcher - albeit with a highly practical focus - one who is bringing the very best that science can offer to make policing more effective. Source: Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers
Are you ready to change the way you look at your job?

Still Ticked Off

I previously posted about a Killeen woman arrested after leaving her child locked in a hot car on a 100+ degree day. Apparently the judge is still ticked off about this as he refused to lower her bail.
Ms. Traylor was arraigned Sunday by Justice of the Peace Bill Cook of Killeen on $50,000 bail for abandonment of a child.

Attorney Ted Potter, representing Ms. Traylor, requested a hearing on Thursday to petition Judge Joe Carroll in 27th District Court for a reduction of bail to $2,500.

Potter argued that Ms. Traylor couldn’t afford bail in that amount and unless the bail was reduced to a reasonable amount Ms. Traylor would be forced to remain in jail until trial. He said the state was not ready for trial. Source: Temple Daily Herald

There's an interesting quote from the ADA about it.
Bechtol said Carroll considered the denial on two main points.

The nature of the offense was No.1,” Bechtol said. “And he wanted to ensure she would appear for trial.” Source: Temple Daily Telegram

In spite of her obvious and blatant stupidity, bail is not supposed to be punitive. I'm not sure she's going to get any sympathy any time soon though.

Somebody Knows Something

On the Fourth of July 2007, a gunman took the lives of two Killeen store clerks. Today, the case remains unsolved.
A surveillance video captured the masked murderer on camera. The footage haunts Ortiz with possibility.

"There's nothing worse than seeing the murderer on film and not being able to do anything about it," Ortiz said. "It's just about as frustrating as knowing who committed the murder but you can't prove it."

Ortiz remains hopeful the case will be solved either when someone comes forward or the forensic technology provides a fresh lead.

"I'm not giving up on hope. As long I'm here with KPD I will remain hopeful," the 29-year KPD veteran said. Source: Killeen Daily Herald

Can you help? Do you know something about this murder? Contact Killeen CrimeStoppers.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

60 Steps

The Center For Problem Oriented Policing, a DOJ funded think tank published an excellent book "Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers In 60 Small Steps". This publication is an expansion of one previously published by the Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science in the UK. You can download the book for free at the link. To give you a little taste of what's in the book I want to cover the 60 Steps in posts here at The Crime Analyst's Blog. Even if you aren't a full time crime analyst at your agency I think we can all benefit by what's covered in 60 Steps.
" Problem-oriented policing is an approach to policing in which discrete pieces of police business (each consisting of a cluster of similar incidents, whether crime or acts of disorder, that the police are expected to handle) are subject to microscopic examination (drawing on the especially honed skills of crime analysts and the accumulated experience of operating field personnel) in hopes that what is freshly learned about each problem will lead to discovering a new and more effective strategy for dealing with it. Source: Center For Problem Oriented Policing
While law enforcement is as fond of buzz words as many other enterprises, I don't think we need to get too hung up on what "Problem Oriented Policing" is. In looking at the definition above, Problem Oriented Policing is just good police work. Someone wrote it down and gave it a name and it's really kind of irrelevant for us whether it's called Community Oriented Policing, Problem Oriented Police, Intelligence Led Policing or the latest buzzword du jour.

In the introduction to the 60 Steps, the authors write of the role of crime analysts in Problem Oriented Policing.
"Indeed, the latest writings on problem-oriented policing see crime analysts as central to this new way of policing communities. These writers argue that many of the weaknesses of current practice result from the insufficient involvement of well-trained crime analysts at each stage of the problem-solving process." Source: Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers In 60 Small Steps

As a crime analyst, or as a police officer who wants to be a little more analytical in their approach to policing their communities, you are important to this process. In the coming days I'll work my way through the 60 Steps here. Hopefully, we'll all gain by this.

Heights PD Loses One Of Their Own

Harker Heights Police lost one of their own only a short time before his scheduled retirement.
"Lando," the department's 12-year-old black Belgian Malinois, died in his sleep Sunday afternoon at the home of his handler and partner, Gabrielle Guerra. He would have celebrated his 13th birthday Tuesday. Lando was scheduled to be retired July 14 and replaced by Rocky, 2. Source Kileen Daily Herald