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More smoke and mirrors from the criminal Justice crime family


NOPD tells federal consent decree judge training reforms soon will bear fruit

The Hale Boggs Federal Building at 500 Poydras St. is where U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan held a public hearing Tuesday (Feb. 24, 2015) to get a progress report on consent d

on February 24, 2015 at 7:46 PM, updated February 24, 2015 at 7:57 PM


Deplorable training of New Orleans police officers was cited Tuesday (Feb. 24) in federal court as one of the core reasons behind the unconstitutional practices that resulted in the department facing a consent decree. But NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison assured a U.S. district judge that reforms are under way and soon will lead to meaningful change on the streets.

Cmdr. Richard Williams, Harrison's handpicked head of NOPD's Education, Training and Recruitment Division, offered the bulk of testimony in the 2½-hour public consent decree hearing before federal judge Susie Morgan. But Harrison first outlined the ambitious goal he put before Williams when he gave him the job on Oct. 19.

"When I became chief, I wasn't satisfied with our training program and I wanted to improve it," Harrison told Morgan. "I charged and tasked Cmdr. Williams with making our academy the best in the country."

Williams replaced Lt. Kim Lewis-Williams, who was reassigned to a supervisor role in the 7th District in Harrison's first senior management shuffle, two months after Harrison replaced the retired Ronal Serpas as head of the department. According to Department of Justice investigators, new training leadership and policies were sorely needed.

"In our investigation, we found the training being provided to officers was insufficient in almost every respect, and it compromised officer and public safety," Justice Department attorney Emily Gunston told Morgan. "We found that training was at the root of nearly all the constitutional policing problems we found."

Gunston said the quality of training received by NOPD officers "was poor," eroded by a combination of insufficient resources
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Mary Jane Wilmoth
(202) 342-1902
mjw@whistleblowers.org [ mailto:mjw@whistleblowers.org ]


Bipartisan Group of Senators Launches Whistleblower Protection Caucus

Washington, D.C. February 25, 2015. Washington, D.C. February 25, 2015. Senator Charles Grassley announced the official formation of a Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus. The founding members of the caucus are Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) (chairman), Ron Wyden (D-OR) (vice-chairman), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Deb Fischer (R-NE) Thom Tillis (R-NC), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Ed Markey (D-MA).

"This is an example of bipartisanship which will make our system work," said Stephen M. Kohn [ http://www.kkc.com/attorneys/stephen-m-kohn/], Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center.

"Beyond the name calling that is pervasive in today's politics, it is a breath of fresh air to see highly respected senators from both parties recognizing the importance of whistleblowers and the need to protect them from retaliation," Kohn continued.

Today, the National Whistleblower Center released the report ""Utilizing Whistleblowers in the Fight Against Waste, Fraud and Abuse [ http://www.whistleblowers.org/storage/whistleblowers/docs/BlogDocs/whistleblowerreport2-25-15.pdf]"" for use by Members of Congress in considering how to strengthen whistleblower protections. This report sets forth the central role whistleblowers play in protecting our nation from fraud.

"The National Whistleblower Center looks forward to working with the Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus to ensure all whistleblowers obtain meaningful protection," Kohn added.
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Deputy Faces Inquiry in Courthouse Dragging

A sheriff's deputy in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. has been placed on restricted duty while his bosses investigate why he dragged a mentally incompetent woman by her ankles through a courthouse.

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I hope you are not waiting for community leaders to create a civilian review board with subpoena powers

Couple of reads



At forum, FBI and police give Muslims the warm shoulder
February 27, 2015 Last updated: Friday, February 27, 2015, 1:21 AM

Muslim attendees, including Issam Doukali, the only Muslim in the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office, praying Thursday before the start of the gathering in Jersey City between Muslims and law enforcement groups.

JERSEY CITY — Several of the state’s top law-enforcement officials and Muslim leaders engaged in a lengthy back-and-forth conversation Thursday night over issues of trust, security and working together.

The crowd of about 50 community leaders, FBI agents and police officers gathered in a parks building for the four-hour "Breaking Down Barriers" forum, held on the heels of the shootings of three Muslim students in North Carolina and what Muslim advocacy groups say is an increase in hate threats and violence nationwide. The discussion also coincided with the arrests of three New York City residents who were arrested in an alleged plot to travel to Syria to join Islamic State militants.

FBI officials and the state’s acting attorney general, John Hoffman, stressed the importance of more communication between law enforcement and Muslim communities. Hoffman said youth were key in the outreach effort, noting a recent discussion with a Homeland Security official about their vulnerabilities in being recruited online by ISIS extremists.

"Security is communications, security is trust, security is building relationships," Hoffman said.


They'll Be Back: PATCON, Oklahoma City, and Jesse Trentadue's ...
Nov 13, 2014 - Trentadue believes that the suppressed tapes would help identify “John Doe II,” a dark-haired, heavy-set man seen ... Back at ya: FBI Special Agent Quirk. ..... Sun Feb 22 2015 16:00:00 GMT-0800 (PST) -- requesting promo.
Judge to FBI: Go probe yourself on OKC bombing
Aug 27, 2014 - Tuesday, February 24, 2015 ... 13 hearing on the matter, in which Trentadue accuses the FBI of threatening to eliminate a former ... his refusal to testify, including the name of the FBI agent who had contacted him, Adam Quirk.
FBI Denies Witness Tampering In Oklahoma City Bombing Lawsuit
Nov 10, 2014 - SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The FBI did not pressure a former government ... The lawsuit was filed by Salt Lake City attorney Jesse Trentadue, who ... The report found Quirk should have notified the Justice Department about the calls .... Copyright ©2015 TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc. "The Huffington Post" is a ...
Did the FBI tamper with a witness in OKC bombing evidence case ...
Nov 13, 2014 - Trentadue has claimed that other person was an FBI operative. ... testify, claiming FBI Special Agent Adam Quirk told him he didn't have to without a subpoena. .... Best Buys: Consumer Reports' top 10 car/SUV picks for 2015 ...
FBI denies witness tampering accusation | CNS News
Nov 10, 2014 - SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The FBI did not pressure a former government operative into backing ... Trentadue leveled the witness tampering allegation during trial in July. ... The report found Quirk should have notified the Justice Department about the calls and been clearer ... Ben Shapiro February 19, 2015.
FBI Agent Accused of Witness Tampering Arrested as OKC Bombing ...
Dec 16, 2014 - FBI Agent Adam Grant Quirk was arrested over the weekend following an alleged fight with his ... Screenshot of Trentadue's Motion 12-1-14.
FBI Officials Accused of Telling Key Witness to Take Vacation to ...
Aug 10, 2014 - The text below is one of several filings made by Trentadue during the weeks .... Agent Quirk told Mr. Matthews to take a vacation so that he could not be .... UPDATE 2/24/2015 at 6:45 p.m. Central: The FBI agent alleged to be ...



Paper Says FBI Blocked Plan to Foil N.Y. Blast
[Home Edition]
Los Angeles Times (pre-1997 Fulltext) - Los Angeles, Calif.
Date:         Oct 28, 1993
Start Page:         21
Section:         PART-A; National Desk
Abstract (Document Summary)

Tape recordings secretly made by an FBI informer reveal that authorities were in a far better position than previously known to foil the Feb. 26 bombing of New York's tallest towers, the New York Times reported.

The New York Times published conversations the informer, a 43-year-old former Egyptian army officer, Emad Ali Salem, taped with his FBI handlers.

Tapes Depict Proposal to Thwart Bomb Used in Trade Center Blast
Published: October 28, 1993


Law-enforcement officials were told that terrorists were building a bomb that was eventually used to blow up the World Trade Center, and they planned to thwart the plotters by secretly substituting harmless powder for the explosives, an informer said after the blast.

The informer was to have helped the plotters build the bomb and supply the fake powder, but the plan was called off by an F.B.I. supervisor who had other ideas about how the informer, Emad A. Salem, should be used, the informer said.

The account, which is given in the transcript of hundreds of hours of tape recordings Mr. Salem secretly made of his talks with law-enforcement agents, portrays the authorities as in a far better position than previously known to foil the Feb. 26 bombing of New York City's tallest towers. The explosion left six people dead, more than 1,000 injured and damages in excess of half a billion dollars. Four men are now on trial in Manhattan Federal Court in that attack.

Mr. Salem, a 43-year-old former Egyptian army officer, was used by the Government to penetrate a circle of Muslim extremists now charged in two bombing cases: the World Trade Center attack and a foiled plot to destroy the United Nations, the Hudson River tunnels and other New York City landmarks. He is the crucial witness in the second bombing case, but his work for the Government was erratic, and for months before the trade center blast, he was feuding with the F.B.I. Supervisor 'Messed It Up'

After the bombing, he resumed his undercover work. In an undated transcript of a conversation from that period, Mr. Salem recounts a talk he had had earlier with an agent about an unnamed F.B.I. supervisor who, he said, "came and messed it up."

"He requested to meet me in the hotel," Mr. Salem says of the supervisor. "He requested to make me to testify and if he didn't push for that, we'll be going building the bomb with a phony powder and grabbing the people who was involved in it. But since you, we didn't do that."

The transcript quotes Mr. Salem as saying that he wanted to complain to F.B.I. headquarters in Washington about the bureau's failure to stop the bombing, but was dissuaded

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Retired cop gets no-jail deal in Social Security scam

February 27, 2015 | 1:52pm

A retired NYPD cop who scammed Social Security in order to collect hundreds of thousands in disability — all while he was relaxing and sail fishing in Costa Rica — got a no-jail deal Friday for his role in the massive scam.

Richard Consentino received a conditional discharge after pleading guilty to a lesser charge of third-degree grand larceny.

He was sentenced Friday to 100 hours of community service and ordered to pay $207,000 in restitution, both of which he has completed, his attorney said in Manhattan Supreme Court.

Consentino, who notoriously posted a Facebook photo of him on vacation with a giant Marlin fish while he was “disabled,” was just one of hundreds of retired city cops and firefighters ensnared in the $22 million scheme.

“Thank you for your time,” he told Justice Daniel FitzGerald. “I want to apologize to the court and my family.”

His attorney, Alan Abramson, said he got caught up with the wrong people, whom he thought
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Index of /pdfs_all/COPS_DAs_JUDGES_PED_PORN/1986- 2011 posted

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Protesters question investigation of fatal police shooting in New Jersey

Jerame Reid was killed two minutes into traffic stop in December
New lawsuit filed against one of two officers involved in shooting

A woman wears a shirt with a photograph of Jerame Reid during a news conference in January in Bridgeton, New Jersey.

Saturday 28 February 2015 14.57 EST Last modified on Saturday 28 February 2015 14.58 EST
Video shows New Jersey police shoot man dead two minutes into traffic stop
Read more

Protesters gathered in Bridgeton, New Jersey on Saturday, to rally against what some see as a biased investigation into the police shooting death of a 36-year-old man in December.

On 30 December, a dashboard camera captured Bridgeton officers Braheme Days and Roger Worley firing a several shots into a black Jaguar less than two minutes into a traffic stop. Jerame Reid, a New Jersey man, was killed.

On Thursday, Days was accused in a federal lawsuit of raping a 22-year-old woman, Bridgeton resident Shakera Brown, for months while threatening to send her to jail, and continuing to so after the alleged abuse had been reported to his superiors. The suit said Brown complained in summer 2014.

After Reid’s death in December, Days and Worley were put on administrative leave, with pay. Three weeks later Jennifer Webb-McRae, head of the Cumberland County prosecutor’s office, which is investigating the shooting, recused herself from the case. Webb-McRae cited personal connections to Days, whom she said she knew “from the community”.

The new allegations against Days are the latest blow for the Cumberland County prosecutor’s office, which recently failed in its attempts to meet voluntary standards set by the New Jersey State Ass
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Couple of stories


Elite Surveillance Team Accuses FBI of Nepotism, Favoritism at Expense ofInvestigations


An FBI surveillance team is fed up with what members say are internal politics and nepotism that are distracting from the mission of tracking terrorists, spikes and mobsters, The Washington Times reports.

The newspaper reviewed FBI memos that showed at least three relatives of FBI supervisors landing jobs on the elite surveillance team. Two were “fast-tracked to full special agent status,” The Times wrote.

Agents with more experience are being passed up by politically connected officials.

One longtime surveillance team member is even seeking whistleblower protection as he explains the issue to the Justice Department’s inspector general and the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.

When the whistleblower launched complaints, he said he was given a poor personnel review.
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Mar 04, 2015 3:34 pm
Attorneys Claim Chicago PD Had No Right To Stop Motorist They Killed

Attorneys for a Chicago motorist who was shot dead by two Chicago police officers in 2011 said on Tuesday that the officers lied under oath when they claimed they had a legal justification to pull over his vehicle.

Officer Raoul Mosqueda of the Chicago Police Department testified that he and Officer Gildardo Sierra pulled over 27-year-old South Side resident Darius Pinex on Jan. 7, 2011, because his Oldsmobile Auroroa matched the description of a car involved in a shooting that night that they received from their police radio. Mosqueda claimed the car described by dispatchers was a green car with aftermarket rims, much like Pinex’s.

But after Mosqueda’s testimony Tuesday, attorneys for Pinex shared the recordings of the radio transmission for jurors, and it showed that dispatcher made no reference to the car’s color, wheels and never indicated whether it was involved in a shooting or had a dangerous occupant inside.

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Federal judge: alleged sexual relationship between government agent, criminal defendant, not enough to kill case

SPRINGFIELD - A federal judge denied a motion to dismiss by defendant Sherad Therrien based on "egregious government conduct."

on March 05, 2015 at 2:00 PM, updated March 05, 2015 at 2

SPRINGFIELD - A federal judge Thursday denied a motion to dismiss charges against drug and gun defendant Sherad Therrien, ruling that the defendant's allegation that a female DEA Task Force member seduced him into becoming an informant wasn't enough to kill the government's case.

Springfield attorney Jeanne Liddy on Dec. 31 filed a motion to dismiss based on "egregious government conduct." The motion alleged that Hampden County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Jessica Athas met Therrien while he was in jail, and struck up a friendship that became sexual once he was released. Liddy contends Athas used her "feminine wiles" to convince a reluctant Therrien to sell drugs and a gun to his former cellmate, who turned out to be an FBI informant.

Attached to her motion Liddy included 98 text messages between Athas and Therrien, 24, which included banter and talk of purchasing a $550 Michael Kors watch, but nothing sexual.

Therrien was charged with five counts of cocaine distribution and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. The alleged sales occurred in 2013 and 2014, and were captured on video and audiotape.

In his response to Liddy's motion, Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd E. Newhouse argued the case should stay. But he took no position on whether he believed Athas had a sexual relationship with Therrien. Newhouse stated the government does not plan to call her as a witness because he felt she had been untruthful during two separate interviews in January. He contended she lied in their first conference about meeting with Therrien in person on two occasions. In 2013.

However, the FBI informant in question told investigators that while he was incarcerated with Therrien at the Ludlow jail, he had never heard of any inmate having a sexual relationship with Athas. He added that inmates had nicknamed her "the devil." Athas also produced a receipt for the Michael Kors watch indicating she bought it for herself, according to court records.

Liddy asserted in her motion that not only did Athas seduce her client into becoming an informant, but the government failed to disclose the relationship as they were headed to trial. Additionally she argued that Athas told Therrien she needed to cultivate him as informant to advance her career as a member of the Drug Enforcement Administration Task Force. That task force includes members of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

Based on Newhouse's motion, it appears as though the relationship - whatever it was - was news to the government.

Athas is still employed by the sheriff's department but is no longer on the DEA Task Force. Neither she, nor her lawyer, nor any of the law enforcement agencies involved have commented on Therrien's allegations.

At any rate, U.S. District Judge Timothy Hillman noted in his ruling that a motion to dismiss based on egregious government conduct has never prevailed in this federal circuit. Moreover, in another federal circuit, the FBI employed a female informant to have sex with a target, who later sold drugs to undercover agents and was successfully prosecuted.

"In finding that this practice was not so shocking as to violate due process, the Ninth Circuit observed that 'the deceptive creation and/or exploitation of an intimate relationship does not exceed the boundary of permissible law enforcement tactics,'" Hillman wrote, citing the precedent case.

Hiillman added: "The court was not persuaded by the fact that the government had used sex -- as opposed to
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cided to bring no federal civil-rights charges against Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Brown.

Ferguson report's racist Obama email: 'What black man holds a steady job for four years'

Mudd, 64, was linked to an email sent in November 2008 which suggested Barack Obama “would not be president for very long because ‘what black man holds a steady job for four years?’,” according to the St Louis Post-Dispatch, which first reported the officers’ names.

Henke, 59, was said to have been associated with an email sent in May 2011 that stated: “An African American woman in New Orleans was admitted into the hospital for a pregnancy termination. Two weeks later she received a check for $5,000. She phoned the hospital to ask who it was from. The hospital said, ‘Crimestoppers’.”

A woman reached by telephone at Mudd’s home address on Friday evening said: “We have no comment about anything.” Henke could not be reached for comment.

Figures released by Ferguson under open records laws last year stated that Henke, who joined the police force in July 1978, was paid $87,555 a year. This was more than any other officer except Chief Thomas Jackson. Henke was also listed as second in line to Jackson on the police department’s website.

Mudd, who was hired in July 1976, was paid $70,741 a year. He is listed as a 1993 recipient of the Medal of Valor, Misso
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Veteran white cop who shot unarmed black teen Tony Robinson in Wisconsin cleared in 2007 'suicide by cop' shooting

Saturday, March 7, 2015, 11:44 AM

March 7 2015        

Tony Robinson, pictured here with his mother Andrea Irwin, graduated from Sun Prairie High School in 2014 and was soon entering college, said a source following the teen's death from a police shooting. Michael Johnson via Facebook

Tony Robinson, pictured here with his mother Andrea Irwin, graduated from Sun Prairie High School in 2014 and was soon entering college, said a source following the teen's death from a police shooting.

Tony Robinson, 19, was shot and killed by Madison police after they responded to a call of a disturbance Friday night. Antonio Robinson

A veteran white cop who fatally shot an unarmed black teen during a Wisconsin apartment scuffle killed another man in a 2007 shooting, officials confirmed Saturday.

Tony Robinson, 19, was not carrying a weapon when Officer Matt Kenny began shooting Friday evening after a brief chase through the capital
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Missing Person Files Go Missing in San Joaquin Sheriffs

March 10 2015

The San Joaquin Sheriff's Department was accused of deleting or canceling missing person files for at least five cases. The cases have possible connections to the Speed Freak Killers, Wesley Shermantine and Loren Herzog. Shermantine and Herzog were convicted of four murders, but are believed to be responsible for many more.

Marie Gillit said her father, Phillip Cabot Martin used to work construction with Shermantine.

"He is not a man that would abandon his children," she said.

Her father disappeared in 1993. She said his burned car was found in the impound, but no sign of him. Gillit saidshe checked in with San Joaquin investigators regularly for the last 22 years, but no one told her that her father's case had been deleted.

"I was under the impression that they were doing their due diligence to find my dad," she said. "There is no way it could be an open and active investigation when they took him out and threw him away," Gillit declared.

Senator Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton) filed a motion against the San Joaquin Sheriff's Department to vacate protective order so information on these cases can be released.

"They deliberately deleted, canceled these files, canceled DNA records for these five missing individuals that we know of," said Galgiani.

Galgiani said she reached out to the Sheriff's department in 2010, to tell them about a letter between Shermantine and a family member detailing possible locations of other bodies.

"The deletions occurred three days after i turned over a letter to the Sheriff's department that Wesley Shermantine had written to his family saying where bodies were buried," she said.

In court documents she shows emails and letters exchanged between a San Joaquin detective and the Department of Justice. In one of the emails, an employee with the DOJ writes, "On 9-1-2010 your agency requested several cold/older cases canceled. This is not something that should normally be practiced and DOJ advises against."

It also said, "...your agency insisted on the cancellations."

The detective responded, "We didn't request to have the entry cancelled; there were other people working up here at the time that thought differently about our long term missing persons cases than I do (but that explanation is for another day)."
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Former Hudson County jail PBA president says he told feds deputy director was taping calls

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The criminal justice system crime family tribe.
The number 1 employer of serial killers returning from the U S A
Military-Industrial complex invasion of 3rd World Countries.

See link for full story


Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition (MPAC) is a statewide coalition working to lower recidivism and strengthen quality of life in the prisons. See http://www.maineprisoneradvocacy.org.

We read Caroline O’Connor’s story (“Correcting Corrections,” Feb. 26 Phoenix) about prisoner health care provided by Maine Department of Corrections’ (MDOC) private contractor, Correct Care Solutions (CCS). When you follow up on this story, or in the future for other MDOC-related stories, please get in touch with MPAC. We have a great deal of background on a broad spectrum of issues with MDOC, including health care services. The huge complexities of prisoner health care were not adequately addressed by the Government Oversight Committee’s OPEGA review, or by the Portland Phoenix report.

As additional balance to the Phoenix story, the Kennebec Journal published a report with experts’ opinions on the problems of housing or treating mentally ill patients in correctional facilities, and also noted some important progress at Riverview Psychiatric Center: https://www.centralmaine.com/2015/02/27/judge-praises-progress-at-maines-riverview-psychiatric-center/

During the previous ownership of the Portland Phoenix, MPAC was often used as a source for MDOC related stories and we are very willing to continue that relationship.


Joseph Jackson, MPAC Coordinator

Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition (MPAC)


Homeless in Portland don’t choose to converge in shelters


At 8 p.m. last night it was 12 degrees. And it’s March — not January. Together we’ve experienced one of the longest, most frigid, and snowiest winters in history.

I don’t really want to talk about the weather. But I do want each of us to stop for a second and think about a time this winter: Think about the 10 minutes it took you to walk from your office to your car on a blustery cold day. Your cheeks froze. Your fingers and toes hurt and you couldn’t wait to seek shelter from the wind.

What if you didn’t have a home. If you didn’t have a place where you could crank the heat, pull up the blankets, and settle in with a cup of tea.

What if, at sun down, you had stand in line for hours with the hopes–not the guarantee – that you could get a mat to sleep on at a shelter. A mat, by the way, that is only three inches thick. A mat that is placed in an open room – flanked on each side by strangers – only five inches from you. Clutching all that belongs to you, in a bag or a backpack.

Mark Swann, the executive director at Preble Street in Portland, said, one day this winter, there were 282 people who showed up for one of the 142 mats. The math on this one is easy: 140 people were left to find shelter elsewhere that night. Some slept on the floor of the soup kitchen down the street. Others, had to sit up in chairs all night at city offices. And, a few others waited at the shelter – hoping a mat would open up. One person waited 11 hours; only to lay his head for two hours before the morning came, and the shelter closed for the day.

Who chooses this?

The answer is, nobody.

Nobody chooses to be homeless. Nobody chooses to be mentally ill. Not one of the 282 people who lined up at the Oxford Street Shelter that night was trying to get away with something. Nobody working at the shelter or the city who is trying to provide life-saving shelter is trying to get away with something.

At its core, this service of providing EMERGENCY shelter is serving the most basic and fundamental and crucial needs of humanity.

It’s not an easy story to tell. Why? Because we are talking about mental illness. We are talking about diseases like Schizophrenia.

Recently the City of Portland studied 30 of the so-called “long stayers” at the shelters. What did they find? All of them, 100% had serious and persistent mental health issues – often untreated. Some had money in the bank. Some even had thousands of dollars in the bank.

What does this mean?

It could mean many things.

For some, it means that perhaps a special account was set up by family members to put money aside for them. Perhaps intended to pay for things like dental and medical care.

For some, it could be the remnant of another time in their life – before they got sick.

For all, it is money that – because of their psychosis, they are unable or unwilling to use.

They are not staying at homeless shelters to save a buck. They are staying there because they believe staying at a shelter is the best option available to them.

And … most importantly, they are not numbers on someone’s spreadsheet. They are our brothers and sisters, our parents, our aunts and uncles. They are our fellow human beings living much more difficult lives than we can imagine.

Mental illness is not easy to understand. But it is something that we all need to take a closer look at. We can’t be afraid of it. And most of all, we can’t play the blame-game – that serves no purpose other than to distract and delay from a meaningful solutions-based dialogue.

Long before this administration, the mental health system in Maine has been broken. The overflowing shelters in our state is one symptom of that – as are our jails – that are also overflowing with people who would benefit more from mental health intervention and treatment.

As a member of the Health and Human Services Committee and a former member of the state’s Criminal Justice Committee, I can tell you that there are dozens of lawmakers who are interested in solving this problem and helping our fellow Mainers who are suffering. But the first step toward a solution has to be one that is honest.

Sen. Anne Haskell, D-Portland

(Editor’s note: This letter was excerpted from a radio presentation by Sen. Haskell, available at http://www.mainesenate.org.)
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Sheriff must air phone-tracking details

Cell device data cannot be withheld, judge says

on March 17, 2015 - 4:07 PM

A state judge Tuesday ordered the Erie County Sheriff’s Office to release information about its acquisition and use of cellphone-tracking devices to monitor users and their locations.

State Supreme Court Justice Patrick H. NeMoyer issued the order in response to a legal action filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union after the Sheriff’s Office denied its request under the Freedom of Information Law for records on the devices known as Stingrays.

NYCLU staff attorney Mariko Hirose, lead counsel on the case, welcomed the ruling. “The court today has confirmed that law enforcement cannot hide behind a shroud of secrecy while it is invading the privacy of those it has sworn to protect and serve,” she said.

“The public has a right to know how, when and why this technology is being deployed. They deserve to know what safeguards and privacy protections, if any, are in place to govern its use.”

Erie County Attorney Michael A. Siragusa said Sheriff Timothy B. Howard will review the 24-page ruling with outside counsel to determine the next step.

The NYCLU filed the information request in June, a month after Howard acknowledged to county legislators that specially trained deputies have been using Stingrays since 2008. He told them that it was up to the courts and not legislators to provide oversight on use of the devices.

Howard said the devices are used only for tracking a person’s movements, not for checking content of phone communications. He said THAT use of the devices in criminal investigations is always part of a judicial review.

The Sheriff’s Office denied the NYCLU’s information request in July. The civil liberties group filed an appeal but got no response in the required 10 business days.

The NYCLU filed the legal action in November, seeking records the Stingrays, including invoices, contracts, loan agreements and communications; policies and guidelines governing their use, the number of investigations in which they were used and the number that resulted in prosecutions; and any court applications for authorization to use Stingrays or other cellphone-tracking devices.
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FBI special agent fired amid criminal investigation

An FBI special agent is under criminal investigation after allegedly stealing thousands of dollars in cash while working cases as part of a Riverside-based drug task force.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015 01:00PM
An FBI special agent is under criminal investigation after allegedly stealing thousands of dollars in cash while working cases as part of a Riverside-based drug task force.

Scott Bowman worked out of the Los Angeles field office and had been with the FBI since 2005. He was transferred and promoted recently to supervisory special agent at FBI headquarters in Washington.

Eyewitness News and ABC News have learned that Bowman was escorted out of FBI headquarters under guard in early February. According to a letter from the U.S. Attorney's Office obtained by Eyewitness News, Bowman was fired from the agency on March 1.

That letter was sent on Tuesday to dozens of defense attorneys who represent about 75 current and former defendants in drug conspiracy cases that were investigated by Bowman. Questions about the agent's integrity could compromise the prosecution of those cases.

Defense attorney David Kaloyanides has clients connected to three different cases investigated by Bowman.

"It completely unravels your trust in the system. Now, from a defense lawyer's perspective, it undermines the system even one step further," Kaloyanides said.

"How can we trust any of the evidence that the government is providing to us as their case against our client
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In 1999 a Memphis jury declared FBI agents planned,carried out and covered up the assassination of Martin Luther King

see/google mlk Rockwell Douglass

Time to shut down the FBI and implement Policing by Consent

UN to Consider US Government's Role in Ignoring Civil Rights Era Murders

19 Mar 2015 07:29


'There are potentially thousands of suspicious race killings at the hands of local police yet the federal and local governments refuse to investigate many of these deaths,' justice team says
Washington, DC--(--March 19, 2015
The U.S. Justice Department has not done enough to investigate civil rights era murders as mandated by the Emmett Till Act of 2008, named for the 14-year old (pictured) tortured and killed in Mississippi in 1955. (Photo: Public domain)

A United Nations panel will consider on Thursday whether the U.S. Department of Justice failed to account for hundreds of murders and disappearances of black men and women by groups like the Ku Klux Klan during the Civil Rights era.

The Cold Case Justice Initiative, a team of lawyers and rights experts from Syracuse University led by professors Paula Johnson and Janis McDonald, is set to tell the UN's human rights council in Geneva that the Justice Department did not properly investigate a spate of racially motivated violence that took place in the Jim Crow south during the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, despite a recent law mandating that the FBI look into the events.

"The United States has never come to terms with accountability for the devastating loss of life during a time of domestic terrorism that continued in many forms after the legal end to slavery," Johnson and McDonald wrote in their official submission to the panel.

More than 300 suspicious killings and disappearances of black Americans have yet to be acknowledged by the bureau, let alone solved, according to the justice initiative, which independently investigates the cold cases.

According to the initiative, the amount of murders and missing persons cases suggests that there have been hundreds, or even thousands, of white supremacy killers who have escaped justice—and may even still be alive.

The UN is currently in the process of a months-long review of the U.S. human rights record, which has received international attention following recent protests sparked by the police killing of unarmed teen Michael Brown last August in Ferguson, Missouri. A wave of high-profile police brutality cases around the country have fueled the ongoing movement, resulting in a federal investigation into the Ferguson Police Department's racist and unconstitutional tactics and the subsequent resignations and firings of several city officials.

The Cold Case Justice Initiative will draw parallels between those recent events and the group's research. The Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act of 2008, named for the black teen who was tortured and drowned in Mississippi in 1955 for allegedly whistling at a white woman, was passed to help the FBI investigate and prosecute murders from that era. While government officials have defended the bureau's record in those cases, the justice initiative will argue that there have been several basic failings in the FBI's work.

"Only a handful of names have been added to the partial list that existed when the law was passed," its submission states.

Since 2008, there has only been one successful prosecution of one of those cases. In 2010, former Alabama state trooper James Bonard Fowler confessed to shooting civil rights protester Jimmie Lee Jackson. Fowler was sentenced to six months in prison.

Nonetheless, the justice initiative will call for the Emmett Till Act to extend beyond 2017, when it is set to expire. The lawyers will ask that it be amended to include the more recent police killings of black teens.

"There are potentially thousands of suspicious race killings at the hands of local police yet the federal and local governments refuse to investigate many of these deaths," the initiative stated.

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Former boss of MI5 quits role with crime-fighting agency to keep £3,000-a-day job with scandal-hit HSBC


Baron Evans of Weardale has resigned from the the National Crime Agency
The former MI5 boss quit the role to keep a lucrative directorship at HSBC
He left after a 'conflict of interest' following the bank's tax-dodging claims

Published: 18:44 EST, 21 March 2015 | Updated

Lord Evans quit his role with the National Crime Agency to keep a lucrative directorship with scandal-hit HSBC

Lord Evans quit his role with the National Crime Agency to keep a lucrative directorship with scandal-hit HSBC

A former intelligence chief has quit his role with Britain’s top crime fighting agency to keep a lucrative directorship with scandal-hit HSBC.

Baron Evans of Weardale, the former director-general of MI5, has resigned from the board of the publicly-funded National Crime Agency (NCA) after just a year, due to a ‘perceived conflict of interest’ as the bank has come under fire over tax-dodging allegations.

In a statement, the crossbench peer admitted there has been ‘a lot of controversy’ over claims that HSBC enabled clients of its Swiss private banking arm to avoid tax. But he chose to keep his £3,000-a-day role with the financial giant rather than stay with the law enforcement agency which is Britain’s equivalent of the FBI.
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Things Cop Apologists Say
Yet Another Shooting of an Unarmed Teenager by Police in Cleveland, OH
Ohio Bar Raided by Police W/O Warrant on St. Patrick’s Day – Exclusive From Lima-Allen County CopBlock
R.I.P. James “Jimmy” Higgins of Virginia Cop Block – By Nathan Cox
City Auditor Alleges Police Union Intimidation Of Civilian Review Board

Cop Block
Citizen Review Boards – Helpful? A Distraction? Harmful?
Published On December 10, 2014 | By Pete Eyre | Articles

The content below was published on October 16, 2014 to Reno News & Review by D. Brian Burghart, the founder of Fatal Encounters. It is cross-posted here as the topic – civilian review boards – often comes up during conversations about police accountability, and because the various perspectives offered by those involved is pretty exhaustive.
Illustration by Jonathan Buck

Illustration by Jonathan Buck

Eyes wide open
What should citizen oversight of law enforcement look like?
By D. Brian Burghart

Particularly since Michael Brown’s death at the hands of police in Ferguson, Missouri, a national dialogue has been taking place regarding the creation of citizen oversight boards to monitor law enforcement. In this, the fifth installment of Fatal Encounters, the Reno News & Review’s series on issues of deadly police violence, we’ve assembled a panel of people who, for various reasons, have reached the national stage with regard to police violence.

Our panel includes Brian Buchner, president of NACOLE, National Association of Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement, which has engaged with the city of Ferguson to develop a new citizen oversight committee in that community. Pete Eyre is co-founder of Cop Block, a national decentralized project that focuses on police accountability. Pamela J. Meanes is president of the National Bar Association and active in the recent actions in Ferguson, Missouri. Jonathan S. Taylor is a professor at California State University, Fullerton, who’s been active in issues of police violence, particularly following the brutal crackdown on the Occupy Movement and the killing of the mentally ill man Kelly Thomas in 2011.

This conversation, due to technical problems, took place in two instances, which were combined. All the participants were asked five questions, of which they were informed in advance.

RN&R: What are the benefits to civilian oversight of law enforcement?

Buchner: There are a number of benefits to civilian oversight of law enforcement. Civilian oversight helps support effective policing. Civilian oversight helps build bridges between the police department and the community that it serves. It ensures greater accountability and transparency in policing. It helps manage risk inside an agency and within the jurisdiction. And related to building trust and building bridges, it helps increase confidence in the police department.

Pamela J. Meanes is the president of the National Bar Association (NBA). During the 2014-2015 bar year, the NBA will focus on four crucial areas: 1) Education: The New Civil Right, 2.) Voter Protection: Restoring the Voting Rights Acts and Advancing Democracy; 3) Judicial Equality: Dismantling The Barriers That Prohibit A Diverse Bench; and 4) Police Misconduct. Pamela Meanes is a partner in St. Louis’ largest law firm. She was the first African American in Thompson Coburn’s history to be elevated from associate to partner.

Eyre: My initial thought is that I would think that we would all have a shared end goal, which is to live free. I could use civilian oversight to maybe have less corruption or double standards applied to people who violate the rights of others who happen to be aggressive with badges and things like that. The thought I had was, Why do we want to build a bridge to this institution? Essentially, we’re just changing the deck chairs on a boat that’s sinking. It’s the institution that needs to change. I’d just advocate that we move past the institution and build something different altogether that would bring about the desirable conclusion.

Meanes: I don’t know what the benefits are of police review boards, because of the ones that we’ve taken a look at, the citizens have complained that those have become an extension of the police department. Sometimes, there is an appearance that the police still are unable—even through the review boards—to police themselves. I think it’s better to have some type of independent federal oversight and an independent evaluation. Or if there is a police review board or some type of citizen oversight board, that that board is really represented by the citizens and not necessarily by individuals who may be somehow connected to the department.

RN&R: Jonathan, would you respond to the question? What are the benefits to civilian oversight?

Taylor: Accountability, of course, that’s the goal, but I think we have to look beyond that. We have to look at the big picture, the long-term goal. I think the goal should be to end or reduce police violence as much as possible. Civilian oversight is one tool that can be used to help reduce police violence, but I also think it’s insufficient in and of itself. There are many issues involved with police violence, and civilian oversight will only go so far. Where I live in California, civilian oversight is only as useful as the law permits it to be. In California because of laws that protect police officer confidentiality, it’s just not that useful. So, yeah it’s much better to have a police oversight committee than to not have one because any sort of civilian control over the police is preferable to none. But there are a bunch of structural obstacles to having it really work.

RN&R: Didn’t some changes come about in your neck of the woods after Kelly Thomas?

Taylor: No, not really. There were no substantive changes. There’s probably a lower level of blatant police violence in the city of Fullerton itself, but that’s more the result of the protests and the fact that the community sort of had an uprising. There still is no civilian oversight board or authority in Fullerton at all. There’s a committee that’s been trying to get civilian oversight, but there is no civilian oversight yet.

Buchner: I’m going to push back on that just a little bit because the city did contract with an organization called the Office of Independent Review Group, OIR Group. I think they’re calling it an independent auditor—and that independent auditor is charged with a number of things, including use-of-force investigations, samples of complaints, and conducting independent audits of police department investigations and activities. There was a committee of concerned citizens called the Police Oversight Proposal Committee, and they were pushing for something other than was ultimately adopted, but as a result of that discussion, the city did contract with this OIR Group for that independent audit function for a couple of years, actually using asset forfeiture funds, which is kind of unique in the world of civilian oversight.

Taylor: I was at the City Council meeting when Michael Gennaco gave his report and presented the findings. The general take on that in the city of Fullerton from the community was that was a whitewash, and that his office is essentially contracted in order to prevent meaningful oversight, so it’s a sort of a smoke screen. Of course there are going to be different takes on this—it’s just a matter of perspective—but the people that I know who are critical of the police in Fullerton did not view the hiring of the OIR Group as true oversight in any sense. We feel that that’s just kind of window dressing, and there really haven’t been very meaningful changes.

RN&R: Pete do you want to respond to the original question? What are the benefits to civilian oversight?

Eyre: I would just add to what I initially stated. I personally have issues that we would be likened to a citizen because a “citizen” implies that there are two classes of people—the citizens and the non-citizens, and then inevitably there are then two sets of rights that apply. I believe that each person is equal no matter where on Earth they were born, no matter what color, no matter any of those arbitrary characteristics. As Jon noted, yes, it is preferable to have one than not to have one, but I don’t think it’s a worthy allocation of resources. I think that law enforcement exists ostensibly to provide effective safety or security, and I think that those, like in any other good or service, could better be provided through consensual interactions. Instead of trying to put Band Aid on this corrupt system, I would rather we just move past it and create something better.

Buchner: One of the things that we see across the country is that people have different understandings of what civilian oversight of law enforcement is and what it looks like. And so some people think of civilian oversight as a civilian review board or some kind of police commission, and maybe it would be helpful to start off either with a definition or some kind of common understanding.

RN&R: We could address that in the next question, which is, what should civilian oversight look like? For example, should oversight primarily focus on after-the-fact things like misconduct or officer-involved violence, should it be more concerned with more proactive ideals like transparency and policy setting, should it be entirely independent to investigate anything it chooses, or are there better strategies?

Buchner: The definition that we use is one that’s being kind of adopted from Dr. Sam Walker who’s one of the noted scholars on civilian oversight, probably over the last 20 years. We define it as “an agency or procedure that involves participation by persons who are not sworn officers. They investigate, audit or review internal police investigations or processes including citizen complaints and use of force in incidents. And they conduct ongoing monitoring of law enforcement agencies, policies, procedures, training and management supervision practices.” So it’s a pretty broad definition that really means non-law enforcement officers have some role in overseeing the conduct operations or activities of a law enforcement agency.

RN&R: You included all the three parts of that second question in that blanket statement of what civilian oversight is. Do you have a preferred method for that?

Buchner: Our position is that civilian oversight needs to reflect the needs of the community. We know that there are over 200 different models of oversight currently in existence around the United States, and they each look different. They have different names, different scopes of authority, and different placement in their governing structure. That’s because the needs of each community are different. You can’t just take the Inspector General model for the LAPD and put it in Ferguson, Missouri, and expect that it’s going to work. It’s not necessarily built to address whatever issues Ferguson is having. It was built specifically for the issues that came out of Los Angeles. Our position is there are certain similarities between some of the different approaches, but to say that there’s one ideal model or some best practice, I think isn’t necessarily reflective of the fact that it needs to be responsive to each individual community.

Meanes: I think citizen oversight would have to be a combination of a few of those things in order to return some credibility and some trust back to the community. I think the oversight or the individuals doing the oversight need to have the freedom to independently issue opinion—similar to how you have attorney review boards—to determine whether or not a violation has occurred. That opinion should have some weight within the department to review and evaluate an officer. The review board should have the independent opportunity—not the same weight and force as Internal Affairs—but it should have some process to evaluate and monitor police misconduct investigations. It should not be looking just when misconduct happens, but it should be looking at the causes that may contribute to what happened and making some recommendations to the law enforcement agency, the community and the political officials: “Here are some things that we can do to be proactive instead of reactionary to things,” because if the police review board is limited to just responding to issues that are raised about an officer or the department, then we’re not going to get to a place where there is trust built between the citizens and the police force. The police review board becomes almost like a police entity within itself, and you don’t want to create that. You do want the board’s job really to be to create trust back between the community and the officers.

RN&R: Jonathan, in your idea, what should civilian oversight look like?

Taylor: I think it needs to have to teeth. I think it needs to have power, and I think it needs to be able to make the sort of decisions or make recommendations that are binding. So in other words, if you have a civilian oversight board, and you have a one officer who has had numerous complaints in terms of excessive force, and the department is not taking action, then I think the civilian oversight board has to be able to recommend that officer be terminated, and that recommendation has to be taken seriously. I don’t know exactly how you give these committees teeth, but if they don’t have teeth, then what ends up happening is they’re just used by the police departments as a way of saying, “Oh look we have a civilian oversight board so there’s no problem” or “Don’t worry, it can be handled by the civilian oversight board.” And that’s potentially worse than not even having one. So, however they work, the most important thing to me is that they have to be composed of people who are not, have no vested interest in law enforcement, are not connected with law enforcement, and who have some kind of power to make decisions.

RN&R: Pete where do you come on this? What’s should civilian oversight look like, and you’re welcome to talk about your idea of how to move past the civilian oversight board.

Jonathan S. Taylor is a professor in the Department of Geography at California State University, Fullerton. He became involved in the protest movement against police violence in the aftermath of the killing of the mentally ill homeless man Kelly Thomas which occurred a few miles from his home in Fullerton in 2011. He has research interests in the geography of illegal drugs; police violence and police accountability; and international political geography.

Eyre: I heard a couple of terms like “civilian,” “communities” and the need for them to have the ability to essentially check these law enforcement employees who may act out of line. I guess I would just take what was implied to its logical conclusion. Instead of saying, “What does a community want?” and then, “What is a community?” It’s a group of people, but how is it defined? Do you set up boundaries at a block level or a town level or a city or region level? Ultimately, it’s individuals who act—we’re talking about police employees who individually choose to act in the wrong. Instead of looking to communities to oversee them, individuals could choose to vote with their wallets and to choose who they employ to keep them safe, if anybody. The fact that police employees subsist off stolen money [asset forfeiture funds] means that they have no incentive to actually be accountable. Their own courts have ruled that they have no duty to protect their customers, so you’re never going to get accountability out of that system. The best oversight would be that the service or protection is treated like any other good or service, and it could be provided through consensual interactions. Then this conversation of having an oversight board becomes mute. We don’t have an oversight board for shoe manufacturers, because we know that if a shoe manufacturer tries to initiate force, no one’s going to go to that shoe manufacturer. That should be no different from policing.

RN&R: So you’re talking about a private entity that we contract with? That this is like market-driven policing. Is that what you’re saying?

Eyre: Sure. I would say it should be up to the individual. Some people might conclude that they don’t live a risky lifestyle. They live out in the country. They’re pretty competent with firearms. They have few risks. Maybe they need to pay nobody. Maybe they choose to allocate zero of their funds to somebody else, whereas somebody who transports a lot of money, they’re in a high-risk situation. They might employ a person or get with people, and there might be organizations who help provide coverage for free to people that aren’t as well off economically or people who just volunteer their time or they train each other. Today, because there’s a centralized, so-called authority that has a monopolistic privilege to provide this kind of service, it disincentivises you and me from actually looking out for our neighbors. Instead we’re told to call 911 and report trouble to the so-called authorities. We need to move past that and look out for ourselves and look out for each other. That will go a long way instead of trying to continue to legitimize a system that’s based ultimately on force. You can’t get something good or accountable or transparent out of a coercive centralized structure.

Buchner: I think one of the interesting things is that we’re seeing an evolution in the way that civilian oversight approaches its responsibility. It’s moving away from being reactive, so it’s moving away from being a complaint-driven process. It’s moving toward being proactive, where it’s focused on things like organizational change, looking at policies, trainings, so it’s looking beyond just the disciplinary process, and it’s looking at the overall operations and activities of the police department and the police department employees. And so its system’s change. There’s a greater presence of data being used to analyze police practices, and so that’s kind of a big revolutionary shift in the field of civilian oversight. I think oversight, ideal oversight anyway, should be able to be proactive and identify problems in advance and do broad-based investigations, systemic investigations, collect and analyze data, do things like that.

RN&R: So that’s the upfront set-policy type, as opposed to go in and punish afterwards.

Buchner: Yeah, there’s an argument to be made for actually doing some of that work in partnership with the law enforcement agency. I think it’s not an absolute. You wouldn’t say it should always be the oversight agency that does this kind of investigation, but I think you would make a case-by-case assessment to determine where it’s best and most appropriate to have [a citizen oversight board] lead an investigation and where it makes sense to partner with the law enforcement agency. But I think that there’s an argument for oversight having a robust role in playing that sort of proactive role in overseeing the police.

RN&R: What are the obstacles to having citizen oversight?

Taylor: I see a lot of obstacles. First of all, I see cultural obstacles. I think the police view themselves as a special protected class, different than the rest of the us, and with that kind of mentality it’s very difficult to establish oversight over them because they view it as an us-against-them framework. I think they’re sort of indoctrinated to feel that the people that they’re dealing with are — they use the words like thugs and scumbags—and that people who are on drugs are always criminals. They have all these preconceptions based on the dominant model of police in the U.S. historically, and so I think there’s a huge cultural obstacle to civilian oversight coming from within the mentality of police officers.

Then I think there are various political obstacles. I do think that cities and municipalities—all sorts of government—use police as revenue generators and so for civilians to come in and say, “No we don’t want them to do this anymore,” which is what I would do if I was on a police board, we’re talking about cutting off their funding stream. Things like asset forfeiture, which I’m completely against in almost capacity, that’s their bread and butter, so there are economic motivations. There is a lot of organized power. Police unions are major lobbyists. Politicians are afraid to cross police unions, and therefore legislators write policies that benefit police unions that are essentially scripted by police unions. So you have these very major bureaucratic legal obstacles to civilian oversight. I view it as being almost impossible. I don’t maybe go quite as far as Pete does in what he was saying before, but I think he’s kind of heading in the right direction, which is that some of these institutions are not amenable to just tinkering with at the edges to correct them. We need some major changes here, and the obstacles are really structural. My point is there are cultural, political, legal and economic obstacles. These are formidable obstacles. They’re structural, and it’s not going to be easy to overcome them.

Eyre: I would echo a lot of what Jonathan said about the legal protections, such as sovereign immunity, which essentially equates to impunity. Ultimately, the biggest obstacle is ideas. The existing paradigm says that a certain group of people has a legal right to steal from others in their area and to then protect them. I think better ideas are assured, and those bad ideas will get shed in favor of better ideas. So currently the biggest obstacle is the bad idea that says that some people are authorities based on where they work instead of authorities based on having earned that authority. To me someone who claims to protect you, if they first steal from you, that doesn’t grant them any authority in my book. Jonathan used the word “indoctrination” to apply to police employees, but I would also say that the folks who seek to control others have for decades used public school systems to essentially help shape the mindsets of the people that they seek to control. Likewise the corporate media—you know that 95 percent of it is owned by six corporations now—it’s much easier for these self-proclaimed leaders to have their messages peddled through those outlets. You almost never see a mainstream media source question police employees. They just quote them verbatim as if they speak the truth, and they afford them as authorities. So again, it’s the ideas that have to change.

RN&R: OK, Brian, what’s your idea of obstacles that exist to establishing civilian oversight?

Buchner: Jonathan said the obstacles are political, economic and social. I think those are some big points. I would just add that obstacles to establishing oversight and building and maintaining effective oversight include a failure to engage the community in a meaningful way. To get true public participation in the oversight of police, I think is a real obstacle. To say “community,” in some ways is disingenuous because it implies that there’s a unified community. We know that that’s not the case.

There are different groups within every community and not every one of those groups is going to support police reform or to support oversight. I think to the extent that any community or city or county or jurisdiction is able to really get public participation and public input so that the model of oversight or the approach to oversight reflects and tries to maximize public interest while also realizing that there are other interests at play, I think is probably a big obstacle.

Quite frankly, it’s an ongoing obstacle because I think establishing oversight isn’t the end of the equation. I think that oversight has an obligation to continue to engage their community, continue to try and build trust in what it’s doing in the role that oversight plays in the overall process. The public support is important, but it also can be a fairly significant obstacle. I think also limited resources for oversight sometimes can be a big result of a lack of commitment on the part of any jurisdiction that’s establishing that oversight. Failing to adequately resource an agency can really hamstring what it’s able to do from the very start. In fact, resources are probably a big one, but that plays into what Jonathan was saying about the sort of economic and structural obstacles and limitations.

RN&R: What’s going on with trying to build civilian oversight in Ferguson?

Buchner: Well, some of you may have seen that my organization, NACOLE, has been engaged by leaders in Ferguson to work with them on building their model of civilian oversight at the Ferguson Police Department. We weren’t brought in at the very beginning, but just last week, we met with the mayor, the police chief and the city manager and encouraged them to listen to us and to engage with us so that we could provide them some support and guidance on working to improve upon the model of oversight that they initially proposed about two weeks ago. [This interview was conducted on Sept. 24.] We’re really not any farther along than that. It’s clear that there’s a disconnect between the city, the Ferguson community, and the people outside of the Ferguson community who are interested and engaged in matters inside Ferguson. One of the things that we kept telling their mayor and chief and city manager that had to happen was, that they can’t just put a proposed ordinance out there to create a citizen review board—I say “citizen review board” because that’s what they named it—and then not try to get public participation and input on that model. And so we encourage them to reach out to the general public, which is going to include parts of the community who are not supportive of the Ferguson Police Department or necessarily engaged in civic affairs in the city and would also include some of the groups who we identified as groups that they have positive working relationships with. You can’t just go to your friends and expect that you’re going to get the true and honest input into what oversight needs to look like in that city.

RN&R: Do you have a feeling for how long this system will take to create a board? Is there some kind of timeline that you could suggest?

Buchner: They wanted to move pretty quickly, but we keep telling them that it’s important to get it right, and you don’t want to do something just in the interest of doing something but that if you do something too quickly, and you really don’t get through public participation and input, you’re going to spend time later on trying to fix and undo what you did. They’re not going to support it from the very beginning, and so you’ve already lost the public, and you’ve lost community support for oversight. And so whether it’s going to be weeks or whether it’s going to be months, it’s really unclear, but I think until they’ve exhausted all their efforts to get community input and engage different groups in the community, I think that they should not rush to implement something. They were looking at weeks, but we advised them to slow down and to take a little bit longer and be thoughtful about it.

RN&R: It’s easy to feel a sense of urgency when the whole country’s looking at you. Pete, what methods have been successful in establishing civilian oversight in areas around the country? And I think of you as kind of a civilian oversight board in a way since the whole point of your organization is civilian oversight and recording, right?

Eyre: Yes, and that’s actually the direction I was going to go to respond to this question. As I said earlier, I don’t like the word “civilian.” I think it’s divisive, and it creates categories—not just from so-called civilians but from the non-civilian’s perspective. The successful oversight of people who choose to initiate force is quite simply transparency and reputation. We’re fortunate to live in a time when technology has proliferated, where are a lot of folks now have access to smart phones and recording devices to document their interactions, so it’s no longer their word against the so-called authorities. They’re able to put that content online, and it can be seen by anyone with an internet connection. The court of public opinion is powerful, and that’s what we’re seeing at Ferguson.

Just to touch back on the responses just given for that last bit of commentary, why does the Ferguson Police Department deserve authority? Essentially, they now have a bad perception. People might question whether they deserve authority. They’re just circling the wagons, and they’re trying to maintain that perceived legitimacy. Shouldn’t a group that failed to provide good service—in this case security or protection—shouldn’t they be allowed to go under if they fail to provide it? Why should we try to work with them to shore up their perceived legitimacy? I don’t think organizations like that are deserving.

Brian Buchner is the president of the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE), having been involved with the organization since 2004. Established in 1995, NACOLE, a 501(c)(3) organization composed of law enforcement oversight agencies and practitioners, works to enhance police transparency and accountability and build community trust through civilian oversight. Currently, Mr. Buchner is a Special Investigator with the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners, Office of the Inspector General (OIG). In that capacity he oversees all aspects of the Los Angeles Police Department’s operations, with a primary focus on ensuring the preservation and institutionalization of Consent Decree reforms, assessing compliance with Department policies and state and federal law, and evaluating the integrity and effectiveness of the Department’s accountability systems.

To go back to this question of oversight, yes, I would say the cameras filming the police, it’s passed through the culture now, it’s happening. You see instances now, there are multiple people who don’t know each other, who film an interaction, they look out for each other, and that’s very empowering. The traditional gatekeepers of information, the people who were the editors at newspapers, they used to just be able to deny access to that medium, but now anybody can share their experience online. We can connect with each other around these centralized systems and along with that go to the sharing of information. Dictators, historically throughout the world, have sustained themselves by quashing views that question their perceived authority. That means burning books and burning people, and today, because of the internet and other technologies, information has been shared past them. A lot of people have been pulling back that curtain, and they’re realizing, “I don’t need somebody else to run my life, and in fact it makes more sense for me to govern myself.” And so, it’s an ideas and technology thing that’s happening, and I really think it’s very empowering, and it’s an evolution in a sense.

RN&R: So Brian, you know as well as anyone, what methods have been successful in establishing civilian oversight around the country?

Buchner: We get a question like that a lot, and there really is no perfect script for how oversight is established. It really just comes about in a number of ways. But in a lot of places, it really does require continuous pressure on the decision makers. It’s pretty common for oversight to be created in the wake of a police-use-of-force incident or allegations of misconduct, and then the community will call for increase in accountability and transparency, and one of the ways to accomplish that is by establishing civilian oversight. And by no means do we say that civilian oversight is the be all, end all. We think it’s an important part of the process to help ensure a greater accountability and transparent police departments. Community organizing certainly is an important part of it. Community groups really need to put continuous pressure on the decision makers to establish oversight because city council members or county officials are initially reluctant to implement any kind of additional layer of accountability or oversight over the police department.

It takes either a controversy or a scandal or a controversial use of force where suddenly they’ll realize that it’s something that they now have to do rather than thinking proactively and deciding to put something in place before that happens. In a lot of places, the press, the media picks up a narrative, that’s another source of pressure; that’s something that we’re seeing in Pasadena right now. Local Pasadena press and the LA Times are really packing a coalition of community groups’ call for increased oversight of the Pasadena Police Department. We’ve been working with that coalition and others to encourage the city to adopt some form of oversight. Police unions are certainly one of the more powerful obstacles to oversight, and so that’s why continuous pressure is necessary because it really has to overcome significant obstacles, sort of countervailing forces that don’t want oversight to be a part of the overall process of increasing accountability and transparency in law enforcement.

RN&R: And then that pressure—even if something is created—then the pressure has to stay on. My feeling is that some places had oversight that was diminished when people stopped feeling a pressure to use it, right?

Buchner: Right. What we’re saying is oversight is a process, just like policing is a process. And there are some places that do it well, and there are some places where it’s not working so well. Establishing oversight isn’t the end goal. It’s a part of the ongoing work to ensure accountable and transparent police departments, and so once oversight has been established in any community, it’s really incumbent upon the members of that community to make sure that oversight is accomplishing what it’s designed to accomplish, to make sure it’s meeting the community’s goals, to make sure it’s following its commitments. It requires oversight of oversight really. That’s one thing that we continue to tell people that we work with around the country: “If you are skeptical that an oversight entity will be able to hold the police department accountable, whether it’s individual officers or the agency itself, then it’s incumbent upon you to make sure you’re scrutinizing the work of the oversight agency.

Oversight should not be immune to criticism from the public or from law enforcement or from anyone because part of its role is to be the eyes and ears of the community and to shine a bright light on what has been opaque internal processes of the police department. Certainly, there are structural restrictions and legal restrictions—someone mentioned the strong protections against personnel matters in California and other states around the country—but even in that framework, there are certain things that oversight can do to shine a light on what’s happening in the police department. So it’s all of our responsibility to make sure that oversight is meeting our expectations.

Taylor: It’s interesting to hear Brian and Pete talk on this because both are coming from completely different directions. I really have to commend both of you, Brian on your efforts to work within the system to actually create these police oversight boards that actually have some kind of power through the political process. But at the same time, I love what Pete’s been doing with Cop Block, and Cop Block and other organizations like that are making this incredible difference. In the last three years, I’ve seen incredible public awareness growing of police violence and police brutality. I attribute it to a bunch of different things but mainly to these efforts on the internet that publicize these cases—to take pictures, to take video, to get the video up online, to embarrass and humiliate and shame the officers that are responsible and the institutions that protect them. I think this is a truly great stuff that’s happening. And so to have these things working in both directions, both through official channels and through nonofficial public awareness, I think this is the way forward. This is a big enough problem that we need to throw everything we can at it so whether through creating actual review boards or having people create new use-of-force regulations as well as just public outrage and people saying, “Hey you guys have shot this guy for no reason. You guys just beat this person for no reason. We’re going to publicize it, and we’re going to shame you, and we’re going to call the department, and we’re going to write letters, and we’re going to bother people until something happens here.”

I think this is all really tremendously important work, and I’m just glad that there are people doing it because here in Fullerton, after Kelly Thomas’ death, we started kind of a protest movement informally. This was a completely grassroots thing that just sprouted here. It’s just completely bipartisan. It doesn’t have any political affiliations; just liberals and libertarians and conservatives and leftists all together. We were always looking like, “Where is this on a national level?” And now it’s very apparent that it is national, and when Ferguson happened, it’s like, there were organizations going, “Yeah, yeah, see this is what we’ve been telling you. It’s going to happen in your city before too long.” So I commend both of you, I’m just happy there are people doing this really important work.

RN&R: Do you want to address more the question? You basically answered at least part of the question: working inside and outside the structure that exists. Do you have an idea of what other methods have been successful?

Taylor: No, I can’t answer that question because I don’t think we have been successful. If we had been successful we wouldn’t have the incredible epidemic of police violence that we have right now. We have not yet been successful. We are in the very beginning process of trying to create something here, and we are not successful at all yet. Let’s not kid ourselves.

Meanes: I think that one of the things that has been successful is the point the federal government has come in and actually taken over and implemented some of its programs—similar to what St. Louis County has done, to agree to actually do some of the training programs and adhere to some of the policies and procedures that are in place. I don’t know that I could point you to a successful oversight board that has some real teeth to it that has been utilized. For me, success would mean that there’s been a reduction in misconduct cases, and I don’t know that I can point you to that yet. I would say that the best thing that I see that has been working is when the federal government has come in and really laid out the facts and procedures that have been utilized to say, “This department is really out of control.” Putting in those restraints where there have been these watchful eyes. That’s when I see it working.

And it’s not that we haven’t had a lot of success [in different ways]. I don’t know that we have aimed at targeting at reducing misconduct or if it’s just been spotting misconduct because those are two different things. Spotting misconduct is very different from reducing and eliminating misconduct. You’re very right in what you said in the beginning: In order for the second to happen, there has to be some weight and some teeth there. So the question becomes, what is the real mission for establishing the oversight board? Because they can be successful, if all it’s doing is spotting the issue. But the real solution that will stop lives from being wasted, that will stop women from being raped, and that will stop good cops from being sullied by bad cops, will be there being some direct action and some targeted things that are tracked and monitored with there being some consequences to actions.

That’s one of the pieces of legislation that we are looking at the National Bar Association to introduce on a federal level. Citizens don’t realize that there are two factors that contribute to officers not being indicted. I mean many people were shocked and surprised that the officers in the Wal-Mart shooting in Ohio were not indicted by the grand jury. I was not. Many will be shocked and surprised that the officer who shot Michael Brown will not be indicted. I don’t know that I would be because there are two contributing factors. One is, there is no real definition of limitation on what is constitutes excessive force, it’s all subjective. The law basically says that an officer has the right and authority to utilize any measure of force that he believes is sufficient to save his life. That’s real broad and open.

And so we have two pieces of legislation that we’re going to be offering on a federal level: You need to put a definition to what constitutes excessive force, and there needs to be required training in these departments to deal with that issue. Number two: There needs to be a definition and some limitations put on when you can elevate force, and what kind of force that can be elevated too, because an officer has many weapons at hand. He has a billy club, he has the Taser, then he has a gun. Should you go to three before you go to one or before you go to two? And circumstances and training should be around it. I don’t want an officer to feel endangered. I want them to protect the community, but I don’t want an officer to immediately go to the worst form possible. The definition is so broad and is so subjective that a grand jury is sitting there thinking, “Can I really put myself in an officer’s place in the heat of the moment and make a quick rash decision of what I should do?” That’s what a grand jury and a jury is faced with deciding because they have no real parameters to go on.

Pete Eyre is co-founder and active with Cop Block, a national decentralized organization that empowers individuals to protect themselves and their communities by holding police accountable for their actions.

RN&R: So Pete what kind of authority—I have a feeling where you’re going to go with this—but what kinds of authority should oversight boards have?

Eyre: It’s kind of tough for me to answer the question as it’s stated again because I’m not really for oversight boards per se. I think that each individual owns themselves, and they have a right to govern themselves, and so everybody should have an inherent right of pursuing their happiness so long as they respect each other’s ability to do the same. If there’s damage to a person or property caused, then I think that the aggressor should be held accountable. To me the issues of police accountability and civilian oversight boards, we’re talking about an institution that has a monopoly on violence. It’s institutionalized violence. Our projects and each of us have sort of tried to minimize that from happening. If that’s in fact the case, then it seems to me that we should try to deconstruct, de-legitimize the bad ideas that allow for that institutionalized violence, that perversely accepted violence. I would just say that each of us has the authority to act so long as we don’t infringe on each other, and if there’s any aggressor then they should be held accountable. I don’t foresee a violent community without the police. I think in fact, there would be fewer episodes of this unaccountable violence and this pattern of violence. Again, people would have an incentive to look out for themselves and others.

Meanes: I think there has to be some either ordinance passed by the city or there has to be some state ordinance that gives it some power. If all it’s doing is rendering opinion that has no impact on either termination or hiring of officers or helping to set standards, then it’s just going to be a board that issues a feel-good opinion. There has to be some legislative action either done by the municipality, by the county or by the state, or there has to be some piece of federal legislation that would take into account some of the issues—whether monitoring devices going on or that refers those issues back up to the Justice Department. In places they do have [oversight], when we did our Town Hall meeting at our convention back in July, a lot of individuals, prosecutors too, were saying that the state oversight boards are good, but sometimes the real issues are whether or not you can get access to information, whether or not they have teeth, whether or not whatever recommendations they’re making really has any bearing on anything, or is it just some committee that’s created to issue opinion, but there’s nothing done with anything that they do.

RN&R: Brian, what kinds of authority do you feel oversight boards should have?

Buchner: I would just restate what I’ve said earlier. One, we wouldn’t say that it should look one way or should have a certain authority but that it should reflect the needs of the community. I would also say that it’s important to consider this evolution of oversight beyond just a complaint-driven or disciplinary-driven model—not that oversight should abandon its focus on complaints and allegations of misconduct, certainly it’s critical that there’s independent oversight or investigations into allegations of police misconduct, but that oversight really should include a more proactive focus and look at organizational change, systematic change and really looking at training, look at management supervision practices, and really look at all aspects of the operations of the law enforcement agency. Oversight should be flexible enough to be able to look beyond just a narrow slice of the police department but should have broad authority over the agency itself.

RN&R: Jonathan you talked earlier about teeth. What kind of authority do you think oversight board should have?

Taylor: Major systemic change is needed. It is hard to answer that question because authority is tricky. You give a bunch of people authority, and then they might misuse it. It would very much depend on who the board was. What I was saying about teeth, though, is it’s really not any good to give recommendations that are just ignored. So I guess that certain things that oversight boards would come up with like, let’s say they wanted to modify use-of-force policies within a department, then their recommendations would have to be adopted. It wouldn’t be like, “OK, thank you for your report. We’ll keep that into consideration.” That doesn’t do anything for anybody. That’s just the way for the police to deflect responsibilities. I think that if we’re going to create these things, they have to be able to have some meaningful effect. And again, I think we can look at a kind of utopian view, but I think we can also look at incremental change. So what can we do right away? And I think use-of-force policies need to be rewritten, and I think that complaints of violence against police officers need to be investigated by somebody other than the police department itself. I don’t believe that police departments can or will properly investigate themselves. But the problem is is that what we really need is police officers that are treated equally with everybody else, so that they don’t have special rights and privileges to inflict violence. I mean unless it’s in legitimate self defense and not just based on some of these arbitrary perceptions of threats, which are not even threats to begin with. So as far as what kind of authority do you give civilians over a system like that? You have to probably give them the authority to get police officers fired based on improper use of force or excessive force or misconduct.

About this series In Fatal Encounters, the RN&R will look at the stories, statistics and impacts of police use of deadly force. RN&R, 02.27.14.
Who Watches the Watchers? RN&R begins a six-part series looking at the use of deadly force by police in Northern Nevada and beyond. RN&R, 02.27.14.
Death in the afternoon Here’s one example of a woman killed by police who never had her name mentioned in the media. RN&R, 02.27.14.
First encounter Close encounters of the deadly kind. RN&R, 02.27.14.
Let the sunshine in Washoe County must come into the 21st century with regard to investigations and the records that document them. RN&R, 03.06.14.
Who shot Darcie Latham? New reports suggest that Sparks Police, not the mother, shot the woman. RN&R, 03.20.14.
Who’s been killed? RN&R looks at the numbers of people in Nevada killed by police. RN&R, 04.10.14.
A Date with Destiny A violent tweeker meets a violent end. RN&R, 04.10.14.
More encounters Man, it’s the media. It’s always the media. RN&R, 04.10.14.
Cops Reno police reach out to troubled people. RN&R, 07.10.14.
Irreconcilable differences Micah Abbey illustrates the difficulty for police dealing with mentally ill people. RN&R, 07.10.14.
Police story Reno police leaders talk about how polices are set within their department. RN&R, 07.10.14.
Police psychology How Fatal Encounters affect officers forced to kill in the line of duty. RN&R, 08.28.14.
Head wounds Steven Ing is a psychologist who works with law enforcement. His father was also killed by police. RN&R, 08.28.14.
House of pain Kenny Stafford was an Iraq veteran with PTSD who had a fatal encounter with law enforcement. RN&R, 08.28.14.
Sparks PD should stop hiding from the truth Deception by omission is not an admirable quality in leadership. RN&R, 09.04.14.

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The counted: inside the search for the real number of police killings in the US

State by state, town by town, cop by cop, a lack of transparency is halting police reform. But part two of a Guardian investigation reveals that a quiet revolution in crime data may be under way – and justice may be next
Police are not required to report to the federal government when they kill someone. The autonomy of local police in this regard is thoroughly American.

Saturday 21 March 2015 07.53 EDT Last modified on Saturday 21 March 2015 12.30 EDT

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Girlfriend: Cop idolized slave master from 'Django Unchained'
Published On: Mar 23 2015 11:16:58 PM EDT

Broward Public Defender Howard Finkelstein said his agency has found 56 active cases involving the four former Fort Lauderdale police officers accused of engaging in racially charged exchanges, including a derogatory video.
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Woman Exonerated After Spending 22 Years on Death Row Based on Detective’s Lie

Mar 24, 2015

Arizona woman Debra Milke is free at last following 22 years on death row after an appeals court determined that her conviction in the slaying of her 4-year-old son was based on flimsy evidence and a lie concocted by detective Armando Saldate.

Former death row inmate Debra Milke cleared of all murder charges
Phoenix, AZ

Arizona woman Debra Milke wept and celebrated with supporters on Monday as Judge Rosa Mroz dismissed the prosecution’s last appeal and dropped the charges that caused her to spend 22 years on death row, accused of playing a role in the brutal 1989 killing of her own son. Though her conviction had originally been overturned in 2013 after a judge determined that since-retired detective Armando Saldate, who claimed that Milke confessed to the crime, had a history of lying under oath and abusing citizens’ rights while interrogating them, Monday’s dismissal formally ended her ordeal. Judge Rosa Mroz ordered that Milke’s ankl
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Downed Drones: ATF Spent $600K on 11 Drones That Never Flew, Report Says

One Department of Justice agency spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on drones that never flew due to mechanical issues, and multiple agencies have unclear drone policies that can lead to costly confusion, according to a federal auditor's report.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) spent about $600,000 on six drones -- then never flew them because of technical problems with flight time, maneuverability and more, according to the report from the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) that audited DOJ units.

The ATF ended up canceling all of their drone-related operations and tossing the drones in the trash. The OIG said it was "troubled" ATF spent that kind of money on drones with problems that were "significant enough to render them unsuitable for deployment."

But just one week after the ATF suspended its drone operations, an ATF unit called the National Response Team bought five small drones for about $15,000 and didn't coordinate the purchase with the ATF.

That team tried one brief flight in July 2014 with one of the drones, about which they did not inform the ATF. They also did not receive approval from the Federal Aviation Administration as required for drone missions. The National Response Team ultimately grounded all their own drone operations pending more guidance on flight requirements.

Meanwhile, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which operates under the DOJ, spent $3 million on 34 drones between 2004 and 2013. As of last year, 17 of those drones were considered "operational," the OIG said. The FBI used drones in 13 investigations -- including kidnapping cases and anti-drug trafficking missions -- between Septem
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PostFri Mar 27, 2015 5:32 pm
Detroit Police Sergeant Caught on Video Planting Evidence to Ruin Local Business – Lawsuit

Detroit, Mich. – A family scrap metal shop was illegally targeted according to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court Monday. The suit is filed against the City of Detroit and the Detroit Police Department, as well as Sgt. Rebecca McKay, Mayor Mike Duggan and Police Chief James Craig.

Dearborn resident Joseph Fawaz, whose family owns Southwest metals, accused a Detroit police sergeant of planting evidence, lying to prosecutors, attempting to bribe witnesses, and arresting employees in a multi-year vendetta.

The suit claims Detroit Copper Theft Task Force member, Sgt. Rebecca McKay, was caught on the scrap metal shop’s surveillance camera planting evidence during a raid of Southwest Metals
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