Law Enforcement

House passes bill which targets police shootings

The House approved legislation Thursday that makes killing a state or local police officer an aggravating factor that juries and judges would consider in death penalty cases. Under current law, killing a federal law enforcement officer is already an aggravating factor in death penalty deliberations. The bill’s supporters say it’s important to apply that standard to the murder of state and local law enforcement and other first responders, too, because it sends a message of accountability. The vote was 271-143. Some lawmakers and civil rights groups said the legislation ignores racial biases in the imposition of the death penalty. They also called the legislation duplicative since the killing of any police officer likely meets one of the other 16 aggravating factors that federal juries already consider in death penalty cases. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., acknowledged the scenarios the bill would apply to “are probably limited.” Still, he said it would be important in some acts of terrorism where a state or local officer is killed, or if an officer serving on federal task force were killed. He said it would also cover volunteer first responders. “This legislation sends a simple message. The stalking and killing of a law enforcement officer will not be tolerated,” Goodlatte said.

Excellent!!  Glad to see the House doing something which supports our first responders like this.

MS-13 gang targeted in pre-dawn sweep across Los Angeles

Hundreds of federal and local law enforcement fanned out across Los Angeles in pre-dawn sweeps, serving arrest and search warrants as part of a three-year investigation into the ultra-violent street gang MS-13. Federal prosecutors unsealed a sweeping indictment Wednesday morning charging dozens of members and leaders of the brutal street gang with a variety of crimes, including murder. Acting U.S. Attorney Sandra Brown said the 127-page anti-racketeering indictment targets 44 members and associates of the gang, including the one-time leader of a Los Angeles faction of MS-13. Three people accused of murder could face the death penalty, she said. Twenty-one people named in the indictment were arrested in pre-dawn raids across Los Angeles and Brown said warrants were served at more than 50 locations. Jail officials around the region also conducted cell searches, as some of those indicted were already in custody on unrelated charges. About a dozen of those arrested were so-called “shot callers” for the gang. At least three people were still at large Wednesday. “It’s one of the largest and most entrenched gangs in Los Angeles,” Brown said. “Today’s actions will deal a critical blow to the top leadership.” Brown said MS-13 is responsible for murders of rival gang members, drug and human trafficking, prostitution and illegal alcohol sales, among other crimes. She described the racketeering case as one of the largest single cases targeting MS-13, a gang that started in Los Angeles but has expanded to nearly every state and El Salvador. The gang is blamed for horrific violence that has sent Salvadoran immigrants fleeing that country for the United States. Because of the group’s propensity for violence, federal and local agencies used tactical and SWAT teams to serve some of the warrants, including at a storefront along a strip of dilapidated buildings near downtown that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said was being used as a “casita,” or sort of club house, for one group of gang members. Just before 4 a.m., heavily armed ATF agents raided the building and found at least seven people locked in a room. FBI Assistant Director in Charge Deirdre Fike said investigators are trying to determine if those people are human trafficking victims. As the agents made their way through the building, they described over a police radio a labyrinth of walls and secreted rooms, something that made clearing the building time consuming. The raids and the indictment are part of a multi-agency case led by the FBI that started in 2014. More than half of those arrested and charged in the case are in the country illegally, Fike said. It was unclear how long they had been in the United States or what countries they are from. Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck and others said the suspects’ immigration status was of little consequence, given the nature of the criminal charges. “These are criminals. Regardless of their immigration status they are going to go to prison,” Beck said. “If they ever get out…their immigration status may become an issue, but it has nothing to do with their arrest today.” The chief said this latest indictment and raid marks the seventh time that local, state and federal authorities have targeted MS-13 and its leadership. That law enforcement pressure, he said, has led to a steady decline in the gang’s influence in the Los Angeles area. In 2012 and 2014, his department ranked the group as the number one street gang in the area, but the group has since dropped to seventh, Beck said. There are currently about 800 known MS-13 members in the city, down from a peak of about 1,200 in recent years. Beck said the indictment and arrests may not dismantle the gang, but they will have significant impact on its power structure, as have previous busts. MS-13 has become a primary target of the Justice and Homeland Security departments amid the Trump administration’s broader effort to crack down on illegal immigration and violent crime. President Donald Trump and members of his administration have repeatedly said MS-13 poses a particular risk to American communities and is among the most ruthless street gangs. Trump signed an executive order in February specifically directing federal law enforcement to focus resources on combating street gangs and transnational criminal organizations. MS-13 leaders in El Salvador were targeted for financial sanctions by the Obama administration in 2012 as part of an earlier executive order targeting such groups.

We’re definitely glad to see this effort to target MS-13 by law enforcement.

Trump takes aim at Black Lives Matter, slams ‘hostility and violence’ against police

Criticized for firing the FBI director, President Trump sought to reinforce his bond with law enforcement Monday, decrying the ambush-style killings of police last year during the Black Lives Matter movement, pledging to restore respect in the White House for police and even illuminating the White House in blue lights. At a memorial ceremony for fallen officers at the Capitol, Mr. Trump referred to the assassinations of police officers in Dallas, Texas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana during the peak of anti-police protests as “a stain on the very fabric of our society.” “We are living through an era in which our police have been subject to unfair defamation and vilification, and even worse … hostility and violence,” Mr. Trump said. “More officers were slain last year in ambushes than in any year in more than two decades.” Mr. Trump seemed to refer to former President Barack Obama when he told the audience of police officials and families of fallen officers, “I want you to know that patriotic Americans of all backgrounds truly support and love our police. A very sad thing is that many of today’s politicians don’t want to say that, don’t want to talk about that because it’s not politically correct or they think it might hurt them with the voters. I will say it and I will talk about it proudly.” During the ceremony, Mr. Trump tossed a white USA cap to 6-year-old Micah Glasser, son of Phoenix, Arizona, police officer David Glasser, who was killed in shootout a year ago. The president even put his support for police in lights. The White House was bathed in blue light Monday night, a move that Mr. Obama had resisted. Some law-enforcement officials criticized Mr. Obama during the height of police-minority tensions, accusing him of emboldening the BLM movement and putting more cops at risk by expressing sympathy for some unarmed minorities killed by police. Mr. Obama convened a task force on police practices in an effort to build better relations between police departments and minority communities. President Chuck Canterbury of the National Fraternal Order of Police praised Mr. Trump for the shift in tone. “In his short time in office, he has let America know that our law-enforcement officers are important and that their lives matter,” he said. The new administration’s attitude toward law enforcement is more than blue lights and warm words. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who attended the ceremony, announced last week that the Justice Department is reversing an Obama administration policy and charging nonviolent, less-serious drug offenders with the most serious provable crimes, including some with mandatory-minimum sentences.

Bomb-sniffing dog who has protected Trump struck by bullet meant for deputy

A South Florida bomb-sniffing dog who has helped protect President Trump was shot and wounded in the line of duty Friday when he took a bullet meant for his two-legged partner. K9 Kasper is recovering after being shot in the side when deputies with the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office exchanged gunfire with a wanted stick-up man who was killed, Fox 13 Tampa reports. None of the deputies were injured. “During the gunfire, PBSO K9 Kasper was shot while protecting his handler,” the sheriff’s office said in a Facebook post that included a photo of the wounded dog on a veterinarian’s operating table. The sheriff’s office posted video on Twitter Saturday of Kasper leaving the hospital to go home. Kasper has protected Trump at times in Palm Beach, WPBF-TV reported. Deputies say Phillip O’Shea, 46, was wanted in connection with an early morning hold-up at a West Palm Beach bar. They say O’Shea got away after firing shots at deputies and car-jacking a woman’s car. About 13 hours later, three deputies spotted O’Shea in Jupiter, the Palm Beach Post reported. They confronted him in a parking lot. Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said O’Shea lived in West Palm Beach and had an extensive criminal history. Bradshaw said O’Shea was wanted in Raleigh, North Carolina, in connection with a May 2 motel robbery.

What a hero Kasper is!!  Man’s best friend, indeed!  To see the video of him leaving the hospital, click on the text above.  Good job Kasper!!    🙂

Sessions ends Obama-era leniency on sentencing, infuriating civil rights groups

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Friday that he has told prosecutors to pursue the most serious charges possible against criminal suspects – a stunning reversal of Obama-era policies, and a move that infuriated civil rights groups. “We will enforce the laws passed by Congress pure and simple,” he said at an awards ceremony in Washington D.C, adding that prosecutors deserved to be “unhandcuffed and not micro-managed from Washington.” “This is a key part of President Trump’s promise to keep America safe,” Sessions said. “We’re seeing an increase in violent crime in our cities – in Baltimore, Chicago, Memphis, Milwaukee, St. Louis and many others. The murder rate has surged 10 percent nationwide – the largest increase since 1968.” In a letter to 94 U.S. attorneys Thursday night, Sessions called it a “core principle” that prosecutors charge and pursue “the most serious and readily provable offense.” Sessions defined the most serious offenses as those that carry the most substantial guidelines sentence. Sessions noted that “there will be circumstances in which good judgment would lead a prosecutor to conclude that a strict application” of the policy is not warranted, but that any exceptions must first be approved by a U.S. attorney, assistant attorney general, or a designated supervisor. The move, which will send more criminals to jail and for longer terms by triggering mandatory minimum sentences, explicitly reverses policies set in motion by President Obama’s former Attorney General Eric Holder – who implemented the “Smart on Crime” drug sentencing policy that focused on not incarcerating people who committed low level, non-violent crimes. DOJ officials call it a “false narrative” and say unless a gun is involved, most of those cases aren’t charged period. Officials say Holder’s “Smart on Crime” policy “convoluted the process,” and left prosecutors applying the law unevenly, which they said “is not Justice.”

Exactly!!

ATF Permanently Relocating More Agents to Violence-Plagued Chicago

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) is permanently relocating more agents to gun-controlled Chicago in the wake of the city’s nearly 800 homicides in 2016 and the upward trend in violence during January 2017. The new agents will be part of the “Chicago Crime Guns Strike Force.” According to CNN, “ATF headquarters in Washington sent out a bulletin to field offices around the country Wednesday looking for agents to volunteer for permanent transfer to the Chicago area.” An unidentified official said “it’s unusual to ask for permanent relocation in reaction to a specific problem.” Normal practice is for the agency to request a surge of agents “for 30 to 60 days.” January 2017 saw a surge in shootings and violence that easily surpassed the violence witnessed in January 2016. According to the Chicago Tribune, “At least 228 people were shot in Chicago [January 1 through January 22, 2017].” That was an increase of 16 victims above the number shot during the same period in 2016. And there were “at least 42 homicides,” marking a “23.5 percent … [increase from] the 34 homicides from the same period in 2016.” President Trump reacted to this surge in violence by tweeting: “If Chicago doesn’t fix the horrible “carnage” going on, 228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24% from 2016), I will send in the Feds!” CNN spoke to two ATF officials about the additional federal agents heading to Chicago. One said the new surge “is not in response” to Trump’s tweet and the second official “could not say for sure that Trump’s comment had nothing to do with decision.”

Well, of course it did.  This was no accident.  Trump threated to “send in the Feds” if Chicago couldn’t get control of the gang-related gun violence problem.  This is just Trump keeping another one of his many campaign promises…and therefore is hardly a surprise.

 

Border Patrol Chief: Assaults on Agents Have Increased 200% From Previous Year-to-Date

During testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday, Border Patrol Chief Mark Morgan stated that assaults on Border Patrol agents have year-to-date increased “200% from the previous year-to-date.” Morgan said the US Border Patrol is “the most assaulted federal law enforcement in the United States. More than 7,400 Border Patrol agents have been assaulted since 2006. That rose in FY 16 by 20%, and year-to-date, we’re seeing an increase of assaults of 200% from the previous year-to-date. It’s a dangerous job.”

No kidding!!  Wow..