You would expect that officers from Homeland Security, ICE and TSA would be more responsible for their guns than the average person is. Not so according to the latest article in Federal Times.
The article reports that Homeland Security officers lost nearly 200 guns and misplaced handguns, shotguns and military rifles that were never found. Some of the weapons ended up in the hands of gang members, criminals, drug users and teenagers according to the Inspector General. From 2006 through 2008, 289 missing firearms were lost because of negligence, or because of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and even some were stolen from safes!
This may be a small number of guns lost when compared to 190,000 firearms issued to these agencies, but even one lost gun shows an appearance of irresponsibility among employees of these agencies.
Several examples of “inappropriate practices” have these agencies beefing up their training for their employees. Take for example, a customs officer who left a firearm in an idling vehicle in the parking lot of a convenience store. The vehicle was stolen while the officer was inside. A local law enforcement officer later recovered the firearm from a suspected gang member and drug smuggler.
Or an ICE officer who left an M-4 rifle and a shotgun unsecured in a closet at his home. Both weapons were stolen in a burglary and later recovered from a felon. Another officer left his firearm in the restroom of a fast-food restaurant, and it was gone when he returned.
Other officers left firearms in places such as a fast food restaurant parking lot, a bowling alley and a clothing store. The best example was the TSA officer who left a firearm in a lunch box on the front seat of an unlocked vehicle. When the officer returned to his car two days later he realized the firearm was stolen.
Some of these officers have been fired or suspended for their actions. Great care and due diligence need to be exercised when a gun is issued to law enforcement. Criminals can find guns anywhere and at anytime if they want a gun. Government law enforcement agencies should not oblige these criminals with an easy path to obtaining a gun.
When you are driving on the highway and see flashing lights from a State Patrol car, remember to Move Over and slow down. Unfortunately, this common sense driving idea has not been followed recently in Newport, Minnesota where two Minnesota State Troopers and a medic were nearly hit by a car.
The troopers and medic were helping a driver after a rollover crash but a passing driver hit a patch of ice, lost control and spun around stopping just inches from the trooper car and a few feet from emergency personnel. This time no one was hurt.
Minnesota’s Move Over Law requires drivers to move one lane over when they see flashing lights. The law was named after Corporal Ted Foss, who was killed during a traffic stop in 2000. Since the Foss incident, six troopers have been hit while responding to roadside emergencies. Sadly, from 2001 to 2005, passing vehicles have injured 126 troopers.
Troopers have ticketed more than 400 people in 2006 for disobeying the Move Over Law. People need to start responding to the law. Crashes can be avoided if everyone simply slows down around accident scenes.
Don’t forget, your State Troopers are out on the highway to help and assist you the motorist everyday. Their enforcement work is just as dangerous as any other police officer. Give them a break, move over, and slow down when you see an accident on the highway.
DWI traffic deaths in Minnesota account for at least one-third of all traffic deaths. This statistic is lower than previous years however; there is much work to be done to halt DWI traffic deaths according to the Department of Safety’s (DPS) latest report.
Details of the report include:
- 4,245 alcohol-related crashes occurred in 2008 resulting in 163 deaths and 2,896 injuries.
- 35,794 motorists were arrested for DWI, translating to 98 DWI arrests a day.
- In Minnesota, alcohol-related deaths decreased by 14 percent (190 in 2007, 163 in 2008).
- Nationally, alcohol-related deaths decreased by 19 percent (17,036 in 2007, 13,846 in 2008).
The DPS is aggressively looking to lower these statistics in 2010 by enhancing DWI patrols on the counties of: Anoka, Dakota, Hennepin, Olmsted, Otter Tail, Ramsey, Rice, St. Louis, Scott, Sherburne, Stearns, Washington and Wright. These 13 counties accounted for more than one-half of the state’s total alcohol-related deaths and serious injuries during 2006–2008.
Additionally, Governor Tim Pawlenty has proposed that all convicted DWI offenders be required to have ignition interlocks installed in their vehicle or face a longer revocation period. The proposal also would lower the alcohol concentration limit from 0.20 to 0.15 for enhanced administrative sanctions. A current statewide interlock pilot program is active with nearly 600 participants.
The report finds that one in eight Minnesota drivers — 523,891 — have a DWI on record, and one in 18 has two or more DWIs. DPS reports 41 percent of those who incur one violation will incur a second DWI.
For those of you who enjoy apps for your iPhone, the latest app from CrimeReports can now be downloaded to your iPhone. This app offers information on crime in your neighborhood. Recently, the Douglas County Sheriff’s office in Colorado is partnering with this site by publishing their crime data on the national crime map.
While this is a simple site, it holds important information. The application allows you to
- Filter data by location or address, incident type and date
- View recent neighborhood level crimes
- Sign up for free, automated, email crime alerts
If your law enforcement agency is not involved in this, contact them to join this site to download their crime data on the national crime map.
Despite major advertising, there were more than 1,600 DUI suspects arrested statewide in Colorado since Thanksgiving. Just over the New Year’s weekend in Colorado arrests of drunken drivers topped 400. In addition, at least nine people were killed on state roads in alcohol related crashes between November 23 and January 4. This is slightly down from the same period when 12 people died in DUI crashes.
Cutting down on the number of intoxicated drivers and fatal crashes caused by alcohol remains top priority for all law enforcement agencies throughout the U.S. In Minnesota, the preliminary DWI arrest count is 28,540 but will grow as alcohol-concentration data is finalized. Crash data regarding alcohol-related deaths will be reported later this year. Each year, impaired driving accounts for up to 200 deaths and 400 serious injuries. Last year there were 163 alcohol-related deaths, the lowest death count on record yet still representing one-third of all annual fatalities.
Some of the factors in declining deaths in Minnesota is the slow economy that likely causes motorists to drive at slower, safer speeds to conserve fuel, and there are fewer motorists on the road.
The next “Heat Is On” program is planned for the Super Bowl weekend, Feb. 5-8.
Did you know that iPhone has an application that allows people to estimate intoxication levels? This app has been downloaded 103,400 times since being introduced in December. The “R-U-Buzzed BAC Calculator,” launched by Colorado Department of Transportation site, remains in the “Top 25 Free Healthcare & Fitness” apps since its debut. The free app allows users to calculate blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels based on information like amount of drinks consumed, length of time drinking and body weight.
A new radio system will be installed later this year that would close police communication gaps in Winona County. The Winona Daily News recently reported that a Winona County Sheriff’s deputy was out of contact with dispatchers for about a half hour recently. He was in a “dead zone” in the county and couldn’t even use a cell phone to communicate. The Sherriff was conducting an investigation on an assault in Altura and Utica.
For years, police have struggled with radio and cell phone dead zones in Winona County. However, a county proposal to join a new 800-megahertz radio system may eliminate this communication gap. This radio system is pricey – $10 million – however, dead zones should vanish with new, more powerful towers. The State Patrol already has switched to the new frequency, and their radio communications are much clearer even in Mankato.
Even though the radio system seems to be costly, isn’t it worth better safety for law enforcement and the residents they protect?
Law enforcement personnel personifies trust, ethics, respect, responsibility, however when a cop goes bad it is devastating to a community. In a Twin Cities article, a Minneapolis cop was arrested for a string of armed robberies in suburban Dakota County.
Timothy Edward Carson age 28 was an Apple Valley police officer for three years. Now he is charged on suspicion of first-degree aggravated robbery in connection with a bank robbery in Apple Valley. This is a felony charge and if convicted he would serve time in a Federal Penitentiary.
The Minneapolis police department broke this case. The FBI now has the case for further investigation. Carson, who was hired in 2007, worked overnights on the SWAT team in the 3rd Precinct of south Minneapolis. All the robberies were committed in the early morning hours, which would have been just as Carson was finishing his shift. He is also a suspect in several other armed robberies in the area.
Police are looking at a December 30 robbery of a CVS pharmacy at gunpoint. At 6:00 a.m. Tuesday, a man matching the same description robbed a woman at gunpoint as she was making a deposit into the drive-through teller at a U.S. Bank. Less than an hour later, a man matching the same description robbed a Quick Stop convenience store. Police were also probing whether the same man robbed a Marathon gas station in Rosemount on Dec. 16 and stole a purse from a Rosemount woman on Dec. 30.
Whatever reasons Carson had to rob and steal from people and businesses doesn’t justify his actions. He was in a position of trust with the public and that is why this arrest is difficult to understand why a cop went bad.
Recently, the Denver Post reported that murder rates for the city of Denver, Colorado for 2009 were the lowest since 2000 and the second lowest since 1964.
Even in Los Angeles, the number of murders dropped below an average of one a day for the first time in at least five years. The rate fell 18 percent from 2008, from 382 to 313. In Chicago, the number of murders dropped 11 percent from 509 to 453. New York City’s murder rate decreased to 11 percent from 516 in 2008 to 461 in 2009.
Some of the reasons for the decline in the murder rate are an aging population, better crime tools and lengthier prison terms. With improved policing that includes better crime-scene methodology, more interagency cooperation and better tools such as DNA and fingerprint analysis, the police are getting better and smarter at solving crimes. In addition, better correctional programs today have curbed recidivism of some of the most violent criminals. Finally, improvements in emergency medical services of paramedics and doctors, are keeping people alive who may have died in the past.
However, a criminologist warns that this may change if the economy remains bad. Living with the strain of dealing with a recession may cause people turning to crime.
The number of officers killed in the line of duty by gunfire increased 24 percent from 2008 according to statistics from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. So far, forty-seven police officers have died nationwide this year, up from 38 for the same time in 2008.
Police officers are always under the threat of being shot by criminals but the spike in the death toll is overwhelming. What makes this statistics so difficult is that criminals have specifically targeted police officers. From a police officer gunned down in his patrol car in Penn Hills, PA while waiting for backup, to four officer shot to death in Oakland, California after a traffic stop, to the most recent incident in Seattle where four officers starting their day at a coffee shop being ambushed by an ex-con with a hand gun.
Times are tough these days with high unemployment, foreclosed homes and state budget cuts. However, law enforcement experts can’t really explain this increase in shootings.
The Minnesota State Patrol plans to team up with about 400 local law enforcement agencies statewide to conduct DWI enforcement for the holiday season.
Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is typically the most deadly time on Minnesota roads. From 2006-2008, alcohol related crashes in the month of December accounted for 44 traffic deaths and 76 serious injuries. In addition, during this period, 9,903 motorists were arrested for DWI.
While most people think that being arrested for a DWI is no big deal, think again. The results of being arrested results in loss of license for at least 90 days and fines up to $20,000 when factoring increased insurance rates, court and lawyer costs, driver reinstatement fees and more. This can really turn your life upside down for a long time.
Law enforcement also will be enforcing seat belt laws enacted in June 2009. A major factor in many alcohol-related deaths is seat belt use. Each year, 75 percent of the impaired drivers killed are also not belted. By partnering seat belt and DWI enforcement, law enforcement will provide better results for traffic safety. This means that law enforcement will stop and ticket drivers and passengers for seat belt violations that can total more than $100.
Don’t drive drunk during this holiday season and always buckle up before you drive.