Friday, July 5, 2013

MA - Lawmakers weigh bills responding to Newtown

Pistol in hand
Original Article



BOSTON (AP) - Massachusetts lawmakers are still grappling with dozens of gun-related bills more than six months after a shooting rampage left 20 first-graders and six educators dead in neighboring Connecticut.

Those bills include proposals like Gov. Deval Patrick's legislation to tighten access to high-powered rounds of ammunition, create four new types of firearms-related crimes and mandate that buyers undergo background checks before purchasing weapons at gun shows.

While Patrick's bill takes a sweeping approach to updating the state's firearms laws, many of the other nearly 60 gun-related bills under consideration are more targeted.

They include proposals that would treat toy guns as true weapons if used during a crime, require gun dealers to collect identifying information from anyone who buys bulletproof vests or body armor, establish statewide gun buyback programs and study whether GPS locators should be installed in guns.
- Why do they allow anybody outside of police buy bulletproof vests or body armor in the first place?

Yet another proposal would create a Gun Offender Registry Board, modeled in part after the state's existing Sex Offender Registry Board designed to track convicted sex offenders. The gun offender board would maintain a centralized computerized registry of all gun offenders in Massachusetts. The bill defines a gun offender as anyone convicted of the unlawful use or criminal possession of a firearm.
- Just like we have said all along, the sex offender registry is the test bed, once they realize they can get a way with one registry, more will follow.

Not all the bills are aimed at limiting access to guns.

Other bills being weighed on Beacon Hill would bar the confiscation of "any lawfully carried or lawfully owned firearm, rifle, shotgun, machine gun or ammunition" during a declared state of emergency, reduce firearm identification card renewal fees for seniors and create a sales tax exemptions for gun safes and trigger locks."

Another bill would repeal Massachusetts' assault weapons ban.

The renewed push to update the state's already strict gun control laws was sparked by the shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

Patrick filed his bill in January at the start of the new legislative session and just a month after the killings.

"I am encouraged by the palpable consensus in our Legislature that the time for action is now," Patrick said at the time. "All of us must pull in the same direction to bring about real change in this state and across the country."
- We are surprised he is not attaching some kids name to the bill(s).

Part of the focus at the Statehouse is also on mental illness as it relates to potential gun violence.

Patrick's bill would require Massachusetts courts to send all relevant mental health records to the state's criminal justice information system so the federal government could include that information in a national gun license registry. The bill also includes $5 million for Department of Mental Health programs, including training teachers to recognize symptoms of mental illness in students.

Legislative leaders have also promised action.

In March, House Speaker Robert DeLeo named an eight-member panel to advise him on how to address gun violence.

"We need to make sure we craft legislation that deals comprehensively with guns and mental illness," said DeLeo, D-Winthrop.

The Legislature's Public Safety Committee has launched a series of public hearings across the state on proposed changes to gun laws. The next hearing is scheduled for Monday at Assumption College in Worcester.
- Wow, you mean they are having meetings and stuff on these laws?  When it comes to ex-sex offenders, that all goes out the window, even though these rampages have killed more people, over the last 10 years than child killers like John Couey have.

Others hope to stem acts of gun violence by instituting what they've described as market-based solutions.

One of the bills before the Legislature would require gun owners to purchase liability insurance in case the firearm is used to injure anyone.

The insurance policies would give those injured by a weapon a legal recourse, backers of the bill say, but they also would create financial incentives that could reduce accidents and fatalities. Gun owners, for example, might see lower insurance rates if they agree to take firearms training courses and properly store their weapons.

The bill's sponsor, state Rep. David Linsky, D-Natick, said insurance companies were also able to discourage smoking through the marketplace and make cars safer using tools unavailable to law enforcement.

CANADA - Preying on predators: Anonymous group has noble intentions but risky tactics, police say

Anonymous are criminals!
Anonymous Criminals
Original Article


By Jen Gerson

The videos started to trickle in this month: the now-familiar Guy Fawkes mask, a computerized female voice, stock video graphics and bland instrumental background music.

Hello citizens of Edmonton Alberta Canada. We are Anonymous.

The loosely organized online activism group is at the forefront of modern cyber-dissent, protesting a range of organizations and people, ranging from Scientology to PlayStation and Sarah Palin. Their numerous operations have been both global and local in scope.

In the Edmonton videos, the group claimed to be part of a wide Internet sweep targeting Internet predators in the area, setting up fake profiles on Facebook, Plenty of Fish and Nexopia to lure pedophiles.

And, they said, they found some.

"We have been waiting patiently over the last twenty four hours for your police service to respond."

We have been waiting patiently over the last twenty four hours for your police service to respond to us with some form of proof that they have apprehended the individuals that we lured out during our pedo sweep operation in your city. We have not received any confirmation. There has been no reply. This is unacceptable,” it said.

The video went on to name the two local men who allegedly tried to lure minors.

Police say online Internet vigilantism a growing concern in the wake of both the Edmonton videos, and cases like Rehtaeh Parsons, the Halifax teenager who killed herself after she was allegedly raped by several local boys. In that case, Anonymous scoured social media networks for evidence of the crime.

The intentions of the anonymous collective are clearly noble.

However, it takes time for police to conduct investigations and, according Sgt. Mike Lokken, the non-commissioned officer in charge of the Northern Alberta Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) unit, online vigilantism could not only expose potentially innocent people to censure and harm, it could also put police investigations at risk.

Our number one goal is to protect and rescue children. The people working in my unit and in Calgary see the worst in human behaviour on a daily basis. We see thousands of images of child abuse every day. It’s very difficult work and our heart is in the right place. We are working to save these children and to have someone or some group that is not willing to fully co-operate with us question our integrity and say we’re not doing anything is just very disappointing,” he said.

"Our number one goal is to protect and rescue children."

A group of people behind the video would not identify themselves by name, but said they were all concerned parents.

Their frustration with the legal system was palpable.

One got involved with the Anonymous operation after, he said, his daughter was almost kidnapped.

Via email, he said he had stopped at a store he frequented, parked in front and left his young daughter to wait in the truck.
- Why would you leave your child in the vehicle by herself in the first place?

I was in the store for not more than a minute and one of the cashiers asked, who is in your truck? I looked out and there was a man in the drivers seat of my truck, looking like he was going through my console, looking for something. I ran out, and he slammed the door and locked me out. I could hear my little girl screaming and he was screaming at her to shut the f— up and threw her sippy cup at her,” he wrote.

The man put the truck in reverse and tried to leave. The father then said he punched through the drivers’ side window and wrapped the seat belt around his neck until he passed out.

I had to.”

The father then ran around the truck to comfort his daughter who was shaking. The failed kidnapper ran away.

I didn’t care. I had my baby. I felt like such a failure. She didn’t leave my side for days.”

He said he was afraid of people who prey on children online. The group was angry at a system that no longer worked, allowing criminals back on the street again and again.

He said Anonymous had compiled lists of local predators from their online sweep. However, he added: “I mostly realize the release of that video was probably wrong. There won’t be anymore. Even if I need to distance myself and go my own route to just send the information to police and work with them, I would.”
- If you find abusive material or suspect child abuse, you should NOT take the law into your own hands, but contact police.  If you do, like they said, it could hamper their investigation and the person could go free due to your criminal activity.  You are not the police, so let them do their jobs!

Further, he promised to come forward and testify openly if any of the group’s information successfully puts the potential pedophiles in court.

If our information helps and puts someone before a judge and I’m called upon, my mask comes off. I’ll be there. That’s my promise. That’s my responsibility to see it through. And I will.”

"The release of that video was probably wrong."

While police said they welcome all tips — even anonymous ones — they cautioned citizens against taking the law into their own hands.

Outing an alleged pedophile could spook him, putting ongoing police surveillance at risk.

Sex offenders here in North America and in the world, they are diabolically elusive. If they see somebody’s on to them, bam, they pull that tent down and disappear faster than Houdini,” said Bill Pitt, a criminologist and associate professor at MacEwan University in Edmonton.

Further, obtaining a conviction involves a meticulous search for verifiable evidence. Even officers with years of training and experience can find their evidence ruled inadmissible in court.

"It would definitely be a starting point for us, but it wouldn’t be evidentiary for court."

Sgt. Lokken said anonymous tips are often only the starting point of a more detailed investigation.

The methods that we use to collect and verify this evidence of hours, if not days, of scrutiny in a courtroom,” he said. “The methods of police who are trained in evidence collection and are up to date on current case law are under the scrutiny of the courts. If we have a person who has no training and we can’t even verify who the person is, or the methods they used in collecting this, it would definitely be a starting point for us, but it wouldn’t be evidentiary for court.”

Sgt. Lokken said he couldn’t comment in detail on the cases of the men Anonymous accused. According to the video, Anonymous — claiming to be a minor — allegedly lured at least one middle-aged man to a meeting at the West Edmonton Mall. The man then sent video that appeared to show himself masturbating.

Anonymous claimed it sent the information to the police, and was surprised when none showed up. Anonymous then released the identity of the alleged predator.

Sgt. Lokken said police had been in contact with the group responsible for the video.

What this person, I think, fails to realize is that he’s basically trying to extort the police into investigating these crimes,” Sgt. Lokken said.

On average, Alberta’s ICE unit investigates 450 complaints of online child exploitation. Last year, 125 people were charged with child pornography or luring offensives. And, Sgt. Lokken said, the numbers are increasing dramatically. In the first quarter of 2013, the number of cases have risen 30% over last year.

I don’t want to minimize the allegations of this person, because any time a child is at risk, of course we take that seriously,” he said. “The unfortunate reality is that we are flooded with complaints of child exploitation. We have to triage these complaints and, of course, the number one priority is a child at risk.”

Meanwhile, the man accused in Anonymous’ tape was identified by more than just his name. It also included his workplace.

His boss said the allegations put the company in an impossible situation. Short of police charges, they had no grounds to fire the employee.

The owner said the employee was put on administrative leave — which was not a disciplinary action. On Wednesday, he resigned, citing the good of the facility, she said.

Our relationship with the Edmonton Police Service has always been exemplary and I’m putting my faith in them,” she said.

AL - Murder suspect (Jose Manuel Martinez) confesses to killing more than 30 people

Jose Manuel Martinez
Original Article

And yet people like this (serial killers) you don't see on some online registry!


LAWRENCE COUNTY (WAFF) - Police confirm a Tennessee Valley murder suspect may have been one busy killer. Jose Manuel Martinez is charged with murder for one killing in Lawrence county and may be connected to dozens of other murders.

Lawrence County Sheriff's investigators said they put his name on the national crime information center database and an hour later got a hit from Arizona where authorities in Yuma picked up Martinez as he tried to cross into the U.S. from Mexico.

Once they got him to confess to the murder here, investigators said he started telling him about scores of other murders. Authorities have connected him to 10 murders in California and two in Florida.

According to authorities, Martinez said he killed while collecting drug-related debts in retaliation for things done to his family members, and that he even claims he murdered child sex predators in vigilante-style killings.

"You work the evidence. You work those types of angles to build a good case in the event you don't get a confession. Obviously, when you get a confession for the case, that can be a surprise in itself. But when they start confessing to other cases that you're not investigating, it is a shock. You don't expect to encounter someone that tells you they possibly killed over thirty people," said Capt. Tim McWhorter with the Lawrence County Sheriff's Office.

One of the many cases that Martinez is now tied to happened in Florida six years ago in November 2006.

Two men were found zip tied and shot multiple times inside a truck along the road in Marion County, Florida.

A key piece of evidence was found in a soda can. Police said they pulled DNA off a cigarette butt they discovered inside the can.

Investigators said that DNA matches Jose Martinez.

One of the victims, 20-year-old Javier Huerta, was reportedly moving large quantities of cocaine. The other victim, 28-year-old Gustavo Rivas, was a friend of Huertas. Police said it looks like he was an innocent bystander in the wrong place at the wrong time, with the wrong person.

NC - Ex-cop (Mickey Edwin Cook) used camera to secretly record female tenant

Ex-officer Mickey Edwin Cook
Mickey Edwin Cook
Original Article


By Michael Barrett

A retired Gaston County Police sergeant was arrested Thursday and charged with using a video camera to secretly record a female tenant.

Mickey Edwin Cook, who will celebrate his 64th birthday Friday, was charged with misdemeanor secret peeping. He was released from the Gaston County Jail after posting a $2,500 bond.

Cook and his wife have a small apartment beside their home that they had been renting to a woman in her upper 30s since November, said Belmont Police Chief Charlie Franklin. The single mother lives there with her young child.

The woman came to the police department Thursday and told officers she and a friend had been in her bedroom earlier when they noticed a small pinhole camera between the slats of an air conditioning vent.

They pulled it down from the vent and saw it had wires attached to it,” said Franklin. “They clipped the wires off and brought it to the police department.”

Officers investigated and traced the wire, which led out of the house and down an outside wall. It had been buried underground and ran to an adjacent outbuilding that Cook also owns. Cook was not at home, but his wife gave them consent to search the outbuilding, Franklin said.

Inside, officers found that the wire connected to a TV monitor and a VCR recording device. They also found several floppy disks and pornographic material.

Officers then searched Cook’s residence and found several videotapes, along with a computer believed to be linked to the crime, Franklin said.

Cook returned home while the search was underway and was arrested, Franklin said.

Franklin said they were unsure Thursday whether Cook owns or manages any other rental properties in the area. They are continuing to investigate.

This is not just an open-and-shut thing,” he said. “We’ll need to review that computer and see what else is on there.”

Franklin described the crime as a serious violation, even though Cook was only charged with a misdemeanor.

Crimes like this are disturbing,” said Franklin. “People should not have to fear being recorded in their homes. Anyone caught doing something like this in Belmont will be prosecuted.”

FL - Lawrence cop (Carlos Gonzalez) accused of child rape in NH, Fla.

Veteran officer Carlos Gonzalez
Carlos Gonzalez
Original Article


By Jill Harmacinski

LAWRENCE - In a swiftly issued decision, hearing officer Peter McQuillan upheld Mayor William Lantigua’s termination of veteran police officer Carlos Gonzalez.

The city on Monday served Gonzalez with a termination letter and is in the process of shutting off his pay, officials said.

Gonzalez, 48, is currently sitting in a Florida jail awaiting trial on child rape charges. He was also indicted on child rape charges in New Hampshire last month. Gonzalez, who earns $60,000, has been on paid administrative leave since Dec. 17, 2012. With McQuillan’s decision, the city can now shut down Gonzalez’s pay.

The officer is charged with sexually assaulting a girl under age 13 in Salem, N.H. in 1992 and 1993 and raping a girl under age 12 in Haines City, Florida in July 2012.

While Gonzalez is being stripped of his salary, two other city police officers indicted on felony charges, Deputy Chief Melix Bonilla and P.J. Lopez, remain on the city payroll. Lantigua, as mayor, is the appointing authority and ultimately decides if a police officer will be fired.

On Monday, a termination letter was faxed to Gonzalez who is being held on a $165,000 bond in the South Jail in Polk County, Fla., officials said.

A termination hearing for Gonzalez was held on June 21 at Lawrence City Hall. McQuillan, city attorney Charles Boddy and police Capt. Scott McNamara attended the hearing. Neither Gonzalez nor his defense attorney were present.

McQuillan issued his decision, agreeing with Lantigua’s firing the 25-year police officer, five days later on June 26.

In his decision, McQuillan wrote “just cause” exists for Gonzalez’s termination for conduct unbecoming of an officer and noted he’s facing “serious criminal charges of moral turpitude in Florida and New Hampshire involving two separate alleged victims who are minors.”

He added it’s reasonable to conclude Gonzalez committed a serious breach of public trust and quoted state case law (city of Boston v. Boston Patrolmen’s Association) which reads, “One of the most important police functions is to create and maintain a feeling of security in communities. To that end, it is extremely important for the police to gain and preserve public trust, maintain public confidence and avoid abuse of power by law enforcement officials.”

It is therefore my opinion that the city of Lawrence has provided just cause for it’s allegations that Gonzalez’ conduct constitutes conduct unbecoming a police officer and that is unfit to perform the duties of that office,” McQuillan wrote.

Police Chief John Romero and Boddy both declined comment on the decision.

Gonzalez can appeal McQuillan’s decision to the state’s Civil Service Commission.

The city hired former Methuen City Solicitor McQuillan to oversee the termination hearing, although it was unclear yesterday how much he was paid for his services. McQuillan stopped working for the city of Methuen on May 31 but continued to collect $2,000 weekly in paid vacation until June 30.

In December, one of Gonzalez’s alleged victims went to Lawrence police and reported she was sexually assaulted.

On February 27, Gonzalez was arrested and charged on a Haines City, Fla. fugitive from justice warrant. He is charged in Haines City, located between Tampa and Orlando, with sexual battery by a custodian on a person between the ages of 12 and 18, and selling, giving or serving alcohol to a person under age 21.

Last month, after Salem, N.H. police re-opened a previous complaint about Gonzalez, Rockingham County grand jurors handed down an indictment against Gonzalez for aggravated felonious sexual assault. The indictments alleged between Nov. 1, 1992 and April 30, 1993, Gonzalez sexually assaulted a girl who was then 11 years old.

While Gonzalez is being terminated, Bonilla and Lopez, who earn $140,000 and $60,000 respectively, are still on the city payroll although they are not working.

In September 2012, Bonilla was indicted by the Essex County Grand Jury as part of an ongoing investigation into Lantigua and his administration. Bonilla, Lantigua’s campaign manager, is accused of swapping 13-city owned vehicles for four Chevrolets with a Lantigua friend. The state inspector general said the city lost $30,000 in the deal.

Lopez, another Lantigua supporter, was also indicted in September 2012 by a federal grand jury for allegedly making arrangements with a local tow company to have cars he ticketed towed in exchange for a stream of benefits, including a $4,000 snow plow.

Previously, Lantigua also allowed police officer Daron Fraser to spend 29 months on paid administrative leave, racking up $150,000 without working and continuing to accrue vacation and sick time and retirement benefits.

Knowing the Numbers: How Bad Sex-Offender Data Could Cause More Harm

Jill Levenson
Jill Levenson
Original Article


In the US Supreme Court's recent decision upholding sex offender registration requirements (SORNA) under the Adam Walsh Act (PDF), the Court's opinion (PDF) included the following statement: "SORNA's general changes were designed to make more uniform what had remained a patchwork of federal and 50 individual state registration systems ... with loopholes and deficiencies" that had resulted in an estimated 100,000 sex offenders essentially disappearing off law enforcement's radar.

It is astounding that in this age of widespread information and access to research, the Court is relying on inaccurate statistics. The commonly repeated statistic of 100,000 missing sex offenders is often erroneously attributed to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children or the US Marshals Service, both of which continue to proclaim on their websites that 100,000 sex offenders are missing — despite published evidence to the contrary. This misinformation is frequently included in congressional testimony and in media reports, influencing social policy, public opinion and funding allocations.

A study published in 2012 disputed the claims that 100,000 registered sex offenders in the US are "missing." The study, conducted by University of Massachusetts Lowell criminologist Andrew Harris and myself, was published in the scientific journal Criminal Justice Policy Review. It analyzed data downloaded directly from online sex offender registries in 2010 and also surveyed states' registry managers.

The study utilized a sample of more than 445,000 registered sex offenders listed on public registries. Harris and I were able to identify sex offenders designated by states to be transient, homeless, absconded, non-compliant or whose address or whereabouts were otherwise unknown. Nationwide, about 2.4 percent were officially listed as absconded, unable to be located or non-compliant with registration mandates. When including those designated as homeless or transient, the rate grew to slightly over four percent.

Using the more liberal four percent figure to estimate the number of sex offenders living in the community whose whereabouts could not be verified, the count was calculated to be somewhere between 23,000 and 30,000. The study emphasized that these numbers included technical non-compliance as well as true absconding. Ultimately, no evidence was found to support the frequently repeated statistic that 100,000 (or about fourteen percent) of the nation's sex offenders are missing or unaccounted for.

Harris and I also reported on data obtained in 2010 via e-mail and telephone surveys of state registry managers. Rates of registration non-compliance among registrants living in the community varied greatly, ranging from about one percent in some states (e.g., Florida, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia) to approximately thirteen percent in others (California, Hawaii and Oklahoma). Nationally, the median rate of non-compliance is about 2.7 percent. The variation in how state systems defined and categorized offenders made it difficult to estimate exactly how many sex offenders have truly gone missing.

Policymakers and courts should make decisions armed with current, published, peer-reviewed research utilizing appropriate methodologies. Those providing testimony (especially federally funded agencies) should be expected to inform legislative bodies, courts and media with current and credible data. To do otherwise breaches the public trust.

Dr. Jill Levenson is an Associate Professor of Psychology and Social Sciences at Lynn University in Boca Raton, FL. Recognized internationally as an expert on sexual aggression and sex crime policy, she has published over eighty peer-reviewed articles and book chapters and has co-authored three books on the treatment of sex offenders and their families.