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Officer Down

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

NEWS: (Franklin Park) Lawsuit dismissed over village president campaign language

From The Pioneer Press

March 29, 2010

A slander/libel lawsuit by the former village president of Franklin Park against the current village president has been dismissed.

Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Lawrence dismissed the suit filed in June 2009 by Daniel Pritchett against his successor, Barrett Pedersen.

Pritchett charged that during the campaign for village president in early 2009, Pedersen made statements and created fliers "with knowledge it was false or reckless disregard for the truth," according to court papers.

Among the fliers was one released by the Pedersen campaign suggesting that Pritchett was, at best, apathetic about the planned opening of Club VIP. Club VIP featured young women dancing in bathing suits.

Pedersen's attorney argued that "significant latitude" is afforded to speech made during a political campaign and that Pritchett can't establish that Pedersen acted with actual malice.

Judge Lawrence agreed with Pedersen's attorney and dismissed the suit. He also ordered Pritchett to reimburse Pedersen for $14,000 in attorney's fees and costs.

UNION: (Franklin Park) Police union: Strip reserves of weapons, citation pads

From The Pioneer Press

March 29, 2010

Franklin Park's full-time police officers would like to see the villages reserve officers no longer be able to carry weapons or write citations.

In early March, the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police, which represents full-time officers, sent a letter to the village asking reserve officers no longer be allowed to carry a gun or write citations.

"It takes 180 hours (of training) to become a police officer," said Gary Bailey, an attorney with the IFOP. "Our concern is that (full-time) police officers have police authority and training. If all (reserve officers) are doing is being meter maids, why do they need to carry a gun?"

In 2009, new village president Barrett Pedersen pushed to increase the number of active reserve officers as a way of writing more citations and to free up full-time officers. Reservists can work no more than 25 hours a week, are paid by the hour and do not get benefits.

Reserve officers do carry weapons and are required to take the same 40-hour weapons training full-time officers take, said Deputy Chief Mike Witz.

"When it's impractical for a full-timer to be available, that reserve officer can fulfill that position," Witz said.

Reserve officers may be sent out on lower priority calls such as an animal at large or a parking complaint, Witz said. They are not sent out on "priority" calls such as a fight in progress or an accident with injuries.

Reserve officers can issue parking tickets, but no other type of tickets. Nor can they stop drivers.

Full-time Franklin Park officers saw their number decline by seven earlier this year when the village trustees offered buyouts to help the village balance its budget.

Full-time officers are also working on a contract that expired almost two years ago.

Bailey said the concerns of the full-time officers had nothing to do with staff reductions or contract negotiations.

Village leaders and the IFOP plan to continue contract negotiations during the next two weeks.

NEWS: Man accused of arranging hit on Stone Park ex denies charges

From The Pioneer Press

March 31, 2010

A suburban man accused of trying to arrange his ex-wife's murder from the DuPage County Jail said Wednesday he never intended to harm her.

Instead, 42-year-old John F. Johnson dismissed his discussions on a jail pay phone with a purported hitman about shooting his former wife as "mere talk."

"We vent in the jail, we talk in the jail -- this is what we do. It's mere talk on the phone," Johnson, acting as his own attorney, told jurors as his murder-solicitation trial opened.

Johnson is charged with trying to arrange the murder while he was in the jail last July for allegedly violating an order of protection obtained by his former wife of Stone Park following their divorce in 2008 after a brief marriage.

While in jail, Johnson tried to hire a hit man to kill his former wife, DuPage County prosecutors said, but an informant tipped off sheriff's police, so Johnson was actually talking with an undercover detective in the recorded calls.

In a tape recording played last year at his bond hearing, Johnson is heard telling a purported hitman how he wants former wife Tracy Hampton killed.

"Two slugs to the head, that's it. Real quick," Johnson said in the July 1, 2009 phone call. "I just want that b - dead. That's all I want."

Hampton tearfully testified today that after the couple separated in September 2007, Johnson repeatedly threatened to kill her and once broke into their former Stone Park home.

"He had a gun pointed staight at my head," she said, wiping away tears.

Hampton locked herself in a bathroom and called police, who arrested Johnson as he left the house.

Prosecutors argued that Johnson was consumed with a desire to kill his former wife.

"He was brimming with an excessive hatred of his ex-wife," prosecutor Demetri Demopoulos said of Johnson. "The defendant's intent to silence Tracy permanently is unwavering."

NEWS: (Northlake) Stepson charged in shooting death of Northlake man

From The Pioneer Press

March 29, 2010

A Northlake man has been charged with killing his stepfather the evening of March 25.

Lorenzo Mercado-Perez, 32, was charged with first degree murder in the death of Jose Diaz, 55, said Andy Conklin, spokesman for the Cook County State's Attorney.

At 11:20 p.m. March 25, Northlake police received a 911 call about a domestic disturbance. Shortly after, they received another 911 call.

"The last 911 call was from Perez, stating he had just killed his (step) father," said police Cmdr. Jay Millitello.

Diaz and his wife were at home at 36 E. Victoria Drive when Mercado-Perez arrived at their shared home, Conklin said. Diaz was sitting at his kitchen table, Millitello said.

"There was an exchange of greetings," Conklin said. "(Mercado-Perez) pulled a 38-caliber handgun out of his pocket. He shot Diaz twice in the chest and once in the head."

When officers arrived, Mercado-Perez surrendered peacefully, Millitello said.

He's being held without bail at Cook County jail. If found guilty, Mercado-Perez faces 45 years to life in prison.

Monday, March 29, 2010

NEWS: (National) Heroin Use In Suburbs On The Rise


Suburban Teens Are Getting Addicted, Overdosing And Dying

March 29, 2010—

It's 7 a.m. and we're on an undercover surveillance operation with the Drug Enforcement Agency.

At a bus stop 35 miles outside of New York City, drug dealers from the city are dropping off heroin that will be sold in the suburbs later that day.

These are not the kinds of communities you'd imagine having drug issues. But the rolling hills and picturesque houses betray a rising problem. In suburbs like this across the country, heroin use is skyrocketing and teenagers are dying.

"The interesting part too is when you start going to the schools and school events. You go back towards the bleachers, areas, you used to find little empty bags of marijuana, now you are actually finding the glassine stamps on the ground," said DEA Agent Bradley Cheek. "Which means these kids have escalated from marijuana to heroin."

The Ones You'd Least Expect

Honor students and athletes, some not even old enough to drive, are overdosing on heroin.

Jeffrey Veatch's son Justin overdosed and died from his heroin addiction.

"The first reaction parents have -- 'I would never let my kids do this, this would never happen in my house,'" he says. "But we've learned a lot since then about substances and what's available."

"The signs weren't overt. They weren't always there and as parents you always look to the bright side and want to be optimistic that everything's going to be fine."

The Bigger Picture

The explosion of heroin in suburban America isn't by accident. Rather, it is the plan of drug lords from Mexico and Columbia, who strategically market the drug to middle America with new, sophisticated techniques.

Packets of heroin are now stamped with popular brand names like Chevrolet or Prada, or marketed using blockbuster movies aimed at young people, like the Twilight series.

"Those drug traffickers were marketing that Heroin directly towards teenagers," says John Gilbride of the DEA in New York.

Dealers even give it away for free in the suburbs at first. Once the kids are hooked, they sell it to them, dirt cheap.

In fact, kids can buy a small bag of heroin for as little as $5. It's cheaper than movie tickets or a six pack of beer.

And this stuff is more potent than any pill.

"I was paying $60 a pill for oxycontin," said one girl. "Heroin was a lot cheaper and the effects were a lot stronger."

Stories From Users

Our New York affiliate, WABC, spoke to former heroin users at a rehab center.

"It's euphoric," said one patient. "It's unexplainable."

They start by snorting it.

"Whenever you're having a bad day it makes you feel better," said another. "If bad things were to happen to you that would hurt don't really care about it."

"You'll never get that same rush you got the first time you did it. That really warm sensation," said another patient. "It's keep chasing it."

That chase is what leads many to start injecting the drug.

We met "Jake" and "Katie," two young users with similar stories.

"[I'm] definitely from the suburbs, pool in my backyard," says Katie, "A nice big house, lots of brothers and sisters, big family, you know went to a good school."

She says she first tried heroin for fun and instantly became addicted.

It's not surprising. Today's heroin isn't just cheaper, it's stronger. In the 70s, most heroin was about 3 percent pure. Today, it's upwards of 60 percent. And the more potent it is, the more deadly.

"Every day you shoot up, you could overdose," said Dr. Constantine Ioannou, vice chairman ofpsychiatry at Nassau University in East Meadow, N.Y.

We spoke to DEA agents across the country.

In Ohio, there were more heroin overdose deaths than deaths on the highway this year.

In the suburbs of Denver, Salt Lake City, even rural Wisconsin, heroin has taken its hold.

Charlotte, N.C., has seen a five-fold increase in heroin overdoses and death.

Back at the bus stop, we watch teens walk away with their fix for the day.

"I guess I'm surprised this is happening in broad daylight," said Cheek. "It's come out from the shadows. People need to realize it's not confined to the alleyways and dark, dingy rooms, the heroin dens.

It's here.

NEWS: (National) NW Indiana man charged in alleged militia plot

--Plotting to kill cops on our home turf--

From The Chicago Tribune

March 29, 2010 9:41 AM

Nine members of a Christian militia group, including one from northwest Indiana, are accused of plotting to kill a Michigan police officer and then stage an attack on other officers attending his funeral.

Members of the group, Hutaree, plotted to attack law enforcement vehicles during the funeral procession with "improvised explosive devices" and "explosively-formed projectiles," the U.S. attorney's office said. According to a federal indictment, members of the group view local, state and federal law enforcement as the "brotherhood," their enemy. The plot dates to August 2008, the indictment says.

Among those charged in the alleged plot is Thomas Piatek, 46, of Whiting, Ind., who was arrested Sunday at an apartment complex in Clarendon Hills in west suburban Chicago.
Others charged are David Brian Stone Sr., 45, his son, Joshua Matthew Stone, 21, his wife, Tina Stone, 44, all of Clayton Mich.; and his other son, David Brian Stone Jr., 19, of Adrian, Mich.

Also charged were Joshua Clough, 28, of Blissfield, Mich., Michael Meeks, 40, of Manchester, Mich., Kristopher Sickles, 27, of Sandusky, Ohio, and Jacob Ward, 33, of Huron, Ohio.

Stone Sr., Hutaree's leader, received information about the explosives over the Internet and e-mailed diagrams of the devices to a person he believed capable of manufacturing them, prosecutors allege. He then had his son, Joshua, and others allegedly gather materials for manufacturing the explosives, which the indictment described as "weapons of mass destruction."

In June 2009, Stone Sr. and his other son, Stone Jr., taught other Hutaree members how to make and use the explosives "intending or knowing that the information would be used to further a crime of violence," prosecutors allege.

All nine are charged with attempted used of a weapon of mass destruction--which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison--seditious conspiracy, teaching the use of explosive materials and carrying or possessing a firearm during a violent crime.

Eight of the nine charged are scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court today. Joshua Stone, however, is currently a fugitive. Anyone with information about his whereabouts should call the FBI's Detroit office, 313-965-2323.

--Jeremy Gorner

NEWS: (Cook County) Shrine honoring fallen officers will be unveiled Monday at Triton

From The Pioneer Press

March 28, 2010

Eight Cook County Sheriff's Police officers killed in the line of duty will be remembered Monday when a shrine memorializing their sacrifice is unveiled after years of research and planning.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, along with families of the eight officers, will dedicate the shrine Monday at 11 a.m. in the auditorium at Triton College in River Grove, according to a release from Dart's office.

Several of the officers were killed during traffic stops, while one officer was shot by a man investigators later learned was headed to a “contract killing” while the officer was investigating criminal activity. Another was struck by a vehicle while conducting surveillance work, the release said.

The dates of their service spans from the 1930s -- when the department was known as the Cook County Highway Police, a name it kept until the 1950s -- to 2006, the release said.

The display is the culmination of years of research and outreach by several sheriff's officers who located surviving family members to ensure all eight officers were properly recognized for their sacrifice, the release said. Some relatives even located rare photos of the officers, which they shared with the shrine's planners.

“It is an honor to be able to pay these men the proper respect they so richly deserve,” Dart said in the release. “Their families deserve to know how much we appreciate their sacrifice and the place each of the officers will forever hold within our department.”

The shrine, an 8x10-foot cherry wood display, includes placeholders for each of the officers and will permanently reside at the entrance to the Cook County Sheriff's Police headquarters in Maywood, the release said.

The shrine will feature a rendering of each officer and a description of the circumstances of his death inscribed on 8x10-inch magnesium plate. A sheriff's patch and star will accompany each officer's display, according to the release.

The display is funded entirely by asset forfeiture funds, money which has been seized from criminals arrested by sheriff's police officers, according to the release.

The officers who will be recognized and their dates of death are:

• Sam Kaiser, April 20, 1930: Killed while attempting to stop a speeding vehicle, Kaiser's motorcycle struck a utility pole near 79th and Archer. Though never married, he was one of 10 children and many of his family members remain in the area, while some relatives went on to hold careers in law enforcement, including with the Chicago Police Department. A great-nephew located the only known photo of Kaiser. Relatives from Glendale Heights and Elgin will attend the ceremony and represent the family.

• Fredrick Bryant, May 24, 1930: His motorcycle struck a ditch near Higgins and River roads while he was attempting to stop a speeding vehicle. The accident threw him off his motorcycle and he died. His wife and two daughters have since died. His granddaughter, of Springfield, and great niece, of Evanston, will attend the ceremony and represent the family.

• Meyer Joseph Jack LaPine, Sept. 5, 1932: He was killed in an automobile accident at the intersection of Rand and Wolf roads, as he was attempting to stop a speeding vehicle. Married, but with no children, a nephew in Flossmoor located the only known photo of LaPine. That nephew will attend the ceremony and represent the family.

• Robert (Ruby) Schanbaum, Aug. 11, 1934: Killed by a drunk driver as he and his partner were issuing a speeding ticket to another driver on Milwaukee Avenue. Married with two children, one of his children is still living and currently resides in Texas, where the family re-located after his death. Family members have yet to confirm attendance at this ceremony.

• Frank Christian, Oct. 14, 1941: Killed by a drunk driver as he was investigating a traffic accident at 79th and Harlem. Married with two sons, both of his sons will attend the ceremony to represent their family. Though young when their father was killed, both said they continue to cherish the few memories they still have of him and shared photos, as well as his star, in helping to plan the memorial. The sons live in Brookfield and Matteson.

• John Rusnak, Aug. 3, 1977: His unmarked vehicle was struck from behind by a truck while Rusnak was conducting surveillance. Married to Sheriff's Police Officer Roberta Rusnak, they had two children, including a son who is a correctional officer with the Cook County Sheriff's Office. Family members from Bolingbrook and Riverside will attend the ceremony.

• Michael Ridges, Oct. 17, 1985: While investigating criminal activity in Prospect Heights, Ridges stopped three suspicious men when he was shot and killed by one of those men – who investigators learned were headed to a contract killing. Married with no children, he came from a police family - his father and brother worked for the Chicago Police Department. A K-9 with the Sheriff's Department is named after him. His parents, widow, brother and sister will come from Northwest Indiana, Naperville and Palos Hills for the ceremony.

• James Knapp, Jan. 4, 2006: Killed in a motor vehicle accident during poor weather conditions at the intersection of 100th Place and 76th Avenue in Bridgeview. He was married to now-retired Cook County Sheriff's Deputy Lt. Grace Knapp. She and his two sons from a previous marriage, all coming from Lynwood and Northwest Indiana, will attend.

R.I.P.: Texas Officer Dies 29 Years After Crash

Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Texas

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Nearly three decades ago, Forest Hill police officer Tim Zurovetz's squad car crashed into a utility pole when he swerved to avoid an elderly motorist.

Mr. Zurovetz sustained a massive head injury, and, for three months, he lay in a coma in an area hospital.

When he awoke, his mother said Friday, he was a different person.

"I had to teach him how to walk again and eat again," Ann Zurovetz said. "I had to raise him twice."

Today -- 29 years after the wreck -- Ann Zurovetz will bury her only son in a Forest Hill police uniform.

Mr. Zurovetz died Wednesday at a rehabilitation hospital where he was recuperating from surgery. He was 53.

"Here is a guy who really did die in the line of duty -- it's just that his death was extended," said the Rev. Bruce Engelman, who will officiate at the funeral.

'A day at a time'

Timothy Joseph Zurovetz was born April 6, 1956, in Fort Worth. His father was a firefighter, his mother a homemaker.

From a young age, Mr. Zurovetz wanted to be a police officer, his mother said.

After graduating from Paschal High School in 1974, he attended the Fort Worth Police Academy. Later, Mr. Zurovetz worked as a Tarrant County deputy sheriff before being hired as Forest Hill officer.

According to Star-Telegram articles, Mr. Zurovetz was on his way to check on a reported house fire June 12, 1981, when an elderly motorist pulled out in front of his squad car in the 3800 block of Mansfield Highway. Mr. Zurovetz swerved to avoid the car and struck a telephone pole.

The motorist didn't stop and has never been found.

Ann Zurovetz, now 87, remembers the day clearly.

She said her late husband, Daniel Zurovetz, was on his way home from work when he heard a report of a wreck on Mansfield Highway.

"When he got home, the telephone rang, and they told him to go to Peter Smith Hospital right away," Ann Zurovetz said.

Mr. Zurovetz was later transferred to Saint Joseph Hospital, where he lay in a coma for months, friends and family said.

"I went to Saint Joseph's Hospital every day for five months, from 7 in the morning until 9 at night," Ann Zurovetz said. "My husband went to work, and then he would join me."

Eventually, Mr. Zurovetz was transferred to a Houston rehabilitation hospital, where he underwent extensive therapy to relearn how to do the simplest tasks.

"We took it a day at a time," Ann Zurovetz said.

'A loving, kind person'

When Mr. Zurovetz was well enough, he left the hospital to live with his parents. He was in a wheelchair with a brace on his left foot and a support on his left arm, but his mother vowed that he would walk again.

"I said: 'I'm not your mother anymore. I'm your therapist,'" she said.

Ann Zurovetz exercised her son's feet and legs and forced him out of his wheelchair. Eventually, he learned to walk with a walker, talk, read and do math again.

As the years passed, Mr. Zurovetz improved enough that he moved into a nearby house. For a time, he was even married, and he and his wife had a daughter, Britney.

But despite his progress, Mr. Zurovetz was never self-sufficient, and caretakers came and went, his mother said.

Fifteen years ago, the family found a friend in caretaker Pat Acker, who moved in with Mr. Zurovetz and looked after him until his death.

"He was my best friend," Acker said.

Acker said Mr. Zurovetz enjoyed reading newspaper articles on his computer, car rides and reminiscing about his days as a police officer.

"He was always proud to be a police officer," she said. "He loved his job, and he was a good cop."

She said he never harbored resentment about the wreck.

"He was just a loving, kind person," Acker said.

In September, Mr. Zurovetz fell and hit his head while getting out of a car, Acker said. Afterward, he experienced paralysis in his "good side" and could no longer eat or bathe without assistance, she said.

On Wednesday, he was recuperating at a local rehabilitation hospital from a recent surgery when he went into cardiac arrest.

"He lived for 29 years after that accident," Acker said. "He was a miracle case."

NEWS: (Chicago) Video cameras in cars make some cops uncomfortable

From The Chicago Sun-Times

Fear they might get in trouble: 'It will take a while to be accepted'

March 29, 2010
BY FRANK MAIN Staff Reporter

In the 1960s, Chicago cops initially griped about having to wear radios on their belts.

In the last decade, some fretted about having to communicate for the first time through laptop computers in their cars.

Now some officers have been resisting the latest police technology: video cameras installed in 340 vehicles.

"For an organization of this size, this is a fundamental change, and it will take a while to be accepted," said Jonathan Lewin, commander of the Information Technology Section.

Privately, some cops told the Chicago Sun-Times they were ignoring the rule to turn on camera systems because they're worried their words and actions will come back to haunt them. They explained they sometimes must use harsh language to establish control over people they stop.

But Police Supt. Jody Weis said the video systems are an essential part of the department's push to make officers accountable.

"I think it's absolutely critical to have them turned on," Weis said last week. "Oftentimes, we have allegations where it was an individual's word vs. the officer's. In most of the instances, allegations against the officers go away when video evidence is available. It's unacceptable not to have them turned on."

A few weeks ago, Weis reminded supervisors to make sure officers are patrolling with their cameras on. An officer must enter his ID into the system to activate the cameras.

The department, meanwhile, has asked Coban Technologies Inc., the manufacturer, to make some fixes.

Soon, supervisors will receive an electronic alert when an officer is patrolling with a turned-off camera. Eventually this year, new hardware will tie the cameras to the ignition. The cameras will turn on when the key is turned, and they will stay on for an hour even if the car is turned off.

Coban will make the changes for free, Lewin said.

About 340 vehicles have two cameras -- one pointing out of the front window and the other aimed at the back seat, where prisoners are transported.

Audio is recorded on traffic stops, but not on other types of street stops, Lewin said.

Illana Rosenzweig, head of the Independent Police Review Authority, said her agency has exonerated cops of false complaints with the videos.

But she also has complained to the department about the lack of video evidence in some cases in which a squad car was equipped with cameras.

And in at least two cases, she said, officers have been disciplined because of in-car cameras.

In one case, a Chicago Police officer was fired for using excessive force while he assisted a State Police trooper on a traffic stop. A State Police camera captured the misconduct, Rosenzweig said.

IPRA also is preparing to recommend discipline for another Chicago Police officer whose misconduct was captured on a Chicago Police in-car camera, she said.

Still, Lewin pointed to a 2005 International Association of Chiefs of Police report that surveyed state police agencies across the country -- and found that 93 percent of the time, an officer is cleared of allegations of misconduct when there's video evidence available.

The video can be shown to officers in the training academy as an educational tool, too, Lewin said.

Former Police Supt. Terry Hillard first announced plans for pilot tests of cameras in squad cars in 1999, and over the years their use has been expanded. In May 2009, the last of the city's 25 police districts was equipped with in-camera cars, Lewin said. Some cars in specialized units also have cameras, he said.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

NEWS: Man shot near Bellwood convenience store

From The Pioneer Press

March 26, 2010
A 25-year-old man suffered minor injuries Thursday night after being shot near a Bellwood convenience store. Police said the man was waiting outside a convenience store on the 500 block of 25th Avenue at about 8:15 p.m. Shots were fired and the man realized he was shot.

Nina Lakhia, manager of Sam's Pantry, 545 S. 25th Ave., said the man was initially shot in a nearby alley and came in the store for help.

“By the time he had come into the store, someone had called the police,” she said, adding a lot of people were in the store when the incident took place.

Phyllis Duncan of Bellwood was one of those people.

“I was purchasing some items and I was in line getting ready to pay for my items and the people in the store were talking,” she said. “A young lady stepped into the store and we heard four gunshots outside.”

“We saw some young men in front of the door and a young man walked in,” she said.

She said the victim was shot near his left shoulder and when he entered the store he fell to the ground.

“He tried to get up off the floor and we (people in the store) asked him to stay still,” she said. “ We waited until the police came.”

“You could see the bullet in him on his left shoulder blade,” she said. “He was laying on his stomach, but halfway on his side.”

Duncan, founder of Mothers of Murdered Sons, a support group for mothers who have lost their children to violence, said this kind of violence is unnecessary.

“I feel that this is getting out of hand where a young man can come up to a liquor store and shoot someone,” she said.

According to a village press release, the man's injury was not life-threatening. No arrests had been made as of Friday and the case is still under investigation.

R.I.P.: S.C. Trooper Killed in Highway Collision

Story by


The South Carolina Highway Patrol announced Saturday that a state trooper was killed in a motor vehicle collision in Lancaster County during the early morning hours.

Cpl. D. Kevin Cusack, 45, died while on duty in Lancaster County, about six miles south of the city of Lancaster, at about 3:30 a.m.

Cusack was traveling on state Highway 200 when his vehicle left the roadway, police said.

The Lancaster County Sheriff's Office is working the collision, and the Lexington County Sheriff's Office is assisting with the reconstruction.

"All of those who knew Kevin Cusack, and the law enforcement community as a whole, are greatly saddened by the loss of our co-worker and friend," said Highway Patrol Col. Kenny Lancaster Jr. "Kevin has served the York County area his entire career and is well-known and loved in that area."

Cusack, who joined the Highway Patrol in 1989, lived in Clover. He is a Florence native and is survived by his mother of Lake City and three children.

"Every highway fatality has a devastating impact on the victim's family, as it does in this instance with Cpl. Cusack's family," said S.C. Department of Public Safety Director Mark Keel. "In addition to his family, this death affects and saddens every member of the South Carolina Highway Patrol and all SCDPS employees."

Funeral arrangements will be released by the Highway Patrol at the wishes of his family

Friday, March 26, 2010

NEWS: (Red Light Camera) New controls on red-light cameras

From The Chicago Sun-Times

March 26, 2010

SPRINGFIELD -- Unpopular red-light cameras watching heavily used intersections in Chicago and the suburbs might soon become a little more forgiving.

By a 45-10 vote, the Illinois Senate on Thursday passed and sent to the House legislation to ease enforcement and make appealing red-light camera tickets less costly.

"It doesn't abolish them because I believe it's fairly clear there's still a need for safety reasons to make sure people aren't allowed to run red lights," Senate President John Cullerton said.

Under his plan, drivers no longer could be ticketed if their vehicles come to a stop at an intersection but cross the stop line or edge into a crosswalk, unless pedestrians are present.

Cullerton's legislation also would require municipalities to divulge on the Internet where red-light cameras are and prohibit fees on those who appeal tickets.

Cops and or trained technicians would review video and write tickets in Chicago. The period of time traffic lights would be yellow must correspond with federal standards, and violators would be permitted to see their videotaped infractions.

NEWS: (Chicago) Let city teachers live in suburbs?

--I think I can see where this will lead. The police and fire department unions should jump all over this if it is passed. I am sure Daley will fight it tooth and nail because he will lose a sliver of control.--

From The Chicago Sun-Times

March 26, 2010

SPRINGFIELD -- Teachers would be able to live in the suburbs but commute to their Chicago Public Schools jobs under legislation that passed the Illinois Senate on Thursday.

The plan to lift the teacher residency requirement flew out of the Senate on a 40-7 vote, with nine voting present. Mayor Daley's administration opposed the measure, which carried strong backing from the Chicago Teachers Union.

"I think this is another step in improving the quality of the schools," said Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago), the bill's chief Senate sponsor. "You want the best possible pool of candidates to recruit."

Since 1996, all school system employees have been required to live in Chicago unless granted a waiver by the Board of Education.

That state law is unfair because teachers in city charter schools can live in the suburbs, and Chicago housing is expensive, the union said. "Some teachers aren't making the kind of salary to be able to live in the city," spokeswoman Rosemaria Genova said.

CPS opposes the union-backed proposal. Foes in the Senate said allowing other municipal workers, such as police, firefighters and Park District employees, to live in the suburbs could erode the city's middle class.

"I think it's a real slippery slope. . . . I really think they contribute to the stability of the communities in which they reside," said Sen. Ed Maloney (D-Chicago), who opposed Steans' legislation.

The proposal now moves to the House, where its prospects are uncertain.

NEWS: Norhlake man shot dead at home

From The Chicago Tribune

A 55-year-old man was shot in the head and killed Thursday night in an apparent domestic incident at his home in Northlake, according to officials.

Jose Diaz was found dead at his house in the 300 block of East Victoria Drive, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office. He was pronounced dead at the scene at about 11:45 p.m.

Police declined to release information on the incident this morning.

Check back for additional details.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

NEWS: Cicero Town Board empowered to write parking tickets

--This is such a bad idea on so many levels. I can imagine the trouble starting almost immediately.--

From the Chicago Sun-Times

March 25, 2010

Police officers won't be the only ones issuing tickets for parking violations in one western suburb after passage of an ordinance giving elected officials the power to issue citations.

The new ordinance, adopted Tuesday by the Cicero Town Board, is viewed as a way to keep costs down while stepping up safety and traffic enforcement, according to a release from the town. It will do so by putting seven new sets of eyes -- and ticket books -- on the streets.

Town President Larry Dominick has always had the power to issue traffic and parking citations under town law, the release said. The new ordinance extends the power to the seven trustees, including three township board members.

Town Collector Fran Reitz, whose office oversees administration of the Parking Enforcement Division and Vehicle Sticker licensing, said all of the trustees call in traffic and parking violations.

Although enforcement officers respond quickly, sometimes that little extra time allows violators to move their cars and escape citations, she said.

“I personally contact our police dispatch center on a daily basis to alert them to send out officers for serious parking violations,” Reitz said in the release. “Cars blocking fire hydrants and crosswalks around schools, or illegally parked in a handicapped parking spot need to be ticketed immediately.”

The intent of the ordinance "is to make our town a safer place for families and children, and also for visitors who come in to shop,” Reitz said.

Dominick, according to the release, believes the ordinance will improve safety for residents and boost enforcement without having to increase spending.

“It’s a good idea because all of the members of the board live here in the community and spend a lot of their time monitoring conditions in the town," he said in the release. "They are aware of everything. This will help increase the response time and also crack down on motorists who violate parking and traffic laws but escape punishment."

Reitz emphasized that town officials who participate in the program will receive training in parking enforcement through her office, the Violations Department, and the Cicero Police Department.

PENSION: State pension plan highlights

The sweeping pension-reform package would affect future government workers and teachers covered by 13 retirement systems -- but not current employees or retirees. Here are the highlights:

* Raises retirement age with full benefits to 67. In some systems, employees can now retire with full benefits at 55.

* Bars people from collecting a pension from one system and drawing a salary from another system.

* Limits post-retirement cost-of-living adjustments to half the rate of inflation or 3 percent, whichever is smaller.

* Bases pension benefits on eight-year average of pay rather than four years for most systems.

* Affects County Employees' Annuity & Benefit Fund of Cook County; Forest Preserve District Employees' Annuity & Benefit Fund of Cook County; General Assembly Retirement System; Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund; Judges' Retirement System; Laborers' Annuity and Benefit Fund; Municipal Employees' Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago; Park Employees' Annuity and Benefit Fund; Public School Teachers' Pension and Retirement Fund of Chicago; Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Retirement Fund; State Employees' Retirement System; State Teachers' Retirement System, and State Universities Retirement System.

PENSION: Pension cuts a giant first step. Keep going.

From The Chicago Sun-Times


March 25, 2010

Sweeping, radical change to the state's pension systems finally came to Illinois on Wednesday, an important first step toward pulling the state back from the brink of bankruptcy.

With unexpected speed, the House and Senate passed legislation that creates a two-tier pension system estimated to save the state $150 billion over 35 years. It features a new retirement age of 67 and significantly lowers pension benefits for most newly hired government workers, including teachers, university employees, legislators, state employees and municipal workers across the state. Gov. Quinn says he supports the bill.

That means the Legislature's work has only begun.

Legislators and those of us who pushed for this reform bill are allowed a victory lap -- this is a real triumph -- but only a brief one.

A two-tier pension system helps lower costs long term but does almost nothing to fill the state's $12.8 billion deficit. It also does nothing to lower the $78 billion in pension debt the state has accumulated. That's why this page, and others, including the right-leaning Civic Federation, also have called for major budget cuts and, yes, a dreaded income tax increase.

There is simply no other way to tackle the deficit and continue running public schools, nursing homes, prisons and other essential services in a humane and responsible way.

House Speaker Mike Madigan has all but said he won't push for an income tax increase before the November election, a position we consider reckless and irresponsible. He used his considerable powers to ram through this pension reform bill and, unfortunately, he's using that same power to prevent an income tax increase.

Madigan, aided by Senate President John Cullerton, moved this pension bill through the Legislature at record speed, tossing aside any chance for careful deliberation. As a result, it includes elements many thoughtful observers could do without. But, on balance, there's much to like in the bill.

It caps the salary from which pensions are calculated, lowers annual cost-of-living increases and prevents retirees from getting a pension if they take another government job. We don't think current benefits are grossly excessive -- 78 percent of state retirees don't even get Social Security -- but the state can't afford these benefits any longer.

We do have some complaints. We don't think all employees should wait until 67 to retire. Is that really the right age for a kindergarten teacher?

We're concerned that the cost-of-living reduction is too severe. The bill exempts the financially weak pension systems for police officers and firefighters, which we think is a mistake.

In a nod to the troubled Chicago Public Schools facing a $1 billion deficit, the bill reduces its massive pension bill by $400 million this year. We support this, reluctantly, because the only real alternative is unconscionable cuts in the classroom. In general, we oppose underfunding pensions. That is, after all, how Illinois got into this fiscal mess in the first place.

Illinois has finally passed meaningful pension reform.

It must make the most of it by refusing to live off future savings today and by diligently paying annual pension bills -- $4.6 billion is due this year.

For once, the Illinois Legislature delivered. This is a moment, albeit a brief one, to savor.

Police Blotters March 25, 2010

Click on the town your interested in.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

R.I.P.: Mo. officer killed in crash while pursuing suspect

David Haynes had only been on the force for one year

By PoliceOne Staff

ST.LOUIS — According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 27-year-old police officer David Haynes was killed this morning in a four-car crash while pursuing a burglary suspect.

Haynes, who only had one year on the force and was a newlywed, was pursuing a suspect with lights and sirens on when the cruiser was struck from both sides at an intersection.

According to reports, Police Chief Dan Isom said, "It's certainly a tragic day for the police department. We are all sorry for the loss, for his wife and mother. We ask that everyone in St. Louis pray for his family and all of the officers in the St. Louis police department."

There were no other injuries in the accident.

MELROSE SEVEN: Montino sentenced to a year and a day

From The Pioneer Press

March 24, 2010

Law and order is what a police officer is supposed to represent, but another Melrose Park Police officer has showed that image isn't always reality.

Melrose Park Deputy Police Chief Gary Montino was sentenced Wednesday, March 24, to a year and a day in prison on charges of one count of racketeering and four counts of mail fraud.

After serving his time in jail, he will serve two years of supervised release and wear an electric monitoring device that he has to pay for. One of the two years of his supervised release will be relegated to home confinement.

Montino and his wife gave tear-filled statements during sentencing, when they were given an opportunity to speak. The courtroom was packed, mostly with Montino supporters.

But his sentence is far less than the more than 15 years of prison the prosecution requested last year. Montino is the last of seven Melrose Park police officers of varying ranks to be sentenced in federal court.

He and the others were involved in extortion and racketeering through a security business owned by former Melrose Park Police Chief Vito Scavo. Scavo, along with Montino and others, strong-armed local businesses to hire Scavo's security firm while he was in office from 1995 to 2006.

Montino often pulled on-duty cops off the street to perform private security work. He also was paid for hours he did not work and allowed non-police officers to pretend to be police officers at various security jobs.

Monday was considered payday for the department, with uniformed police officers in squad cars arriving at bars in the village to collect envelopes of cash payments that were given to Scavo.

No surrender date has been set for Montino because the judge is deciding on an amount of asset forfeiture in regards to Montino's crime.

Former Melrose Park part-time police officer Michael Wynn's surrender date has been extended 30 days because the judge is deciding forfeiture assets as well.

Four of the police officers are still receiving their pensions. The rest were not full-time police officers with the village.

NEWS: Cash, potentially incriminating tapes found in mobster's home

From The Chicago Tribune

March 24, 2010 7:53 PM

Federal agents say they discovered potentially incriminating tapes and notes -- along with almost $730,000 in cash and about 1,000 pieces of apparently stolen jewelry -- stashed behind a large family portrait during a search of the family's Oak Brook home of convicted mob hit man Frank Calabrese Sr.

Authorities said they found recordings of what they believe could be "criminal conversations" that Calabrese taped with mob associates years ago.

They seized several recording devices, such as suction-cup microphones used to tap into telephone conversations, and 10 to 15 used microcassettes -- one of which appears to bear the last name of a convicted Outfit member, agents said.

There also were "handwritten notes and ledgers" that could be records of extortion and gambling activities, authorities said.

In addition, authorities discovered seven loaded firearms they believe had been used in criminal activity because they were wrapped so no fingerprints would be left on them.

In a court filing this afternoon, federal authorities said they want to seize the property to satisfy some $27 million that Calabrese was ordered to pay in forfeiture and restitution following his conviction for a series of gangland slayings and sentence of life imprisonment.


Calabrese's lawyer Joe Lopez said he was surprised to hear about the search at his client's home on Tuesday. He said Calabrese's wife and their two sons, one of whom is in college most of the year, live in the home.

He said the home had been searched on other occasions over the years by the FBI and said he was surprised the items were not uncovered in the past.

"Now that this is coming up it leads one to wonder what is really going on in this case,'' said Lopez. "I was surprised, I think everyone was surprised who heard of this."

He said he did not know if family members knew about the items found in the home because he has not had a chance to speak to Calabrese's wife or his client. He said Calabrese does not have access to telephones and is "kept under lock and key."

He said that among the items that were found at the home was at least one recording that he believed was made in 1998 after Calabrese was in custody.

He said that Calabrese was in brief custody in 1995 and was released on bond, and then surrendered himself to authorities in 1997 and was in federal custody in Michigan.

"He's been in custody since 1997," said Lopez. "I have no idea what those recordings are. For all I know it's Frank Sinatra singing."

He said that the money is going to the government because the government went into the home to search for any assets that would go to the government as part of Calabrese's outstanding forfeiture order.

"There is no recourse. The money belongs to them. They can seize assets to satisfy judgment just like any other judgment creditor,'' said Lopez.

Calabrese, 71, was one of the five Outfit associates convicted in the landmark Family Secrets trial that riveted Chicago for weeks with its lurid testimony about 18 decades-old gangland slayings.

The code name for the federal investigation came from the secret, unprecedented cooperation provided against Chicago mob bosses by Calabrese's brother, Nicholas, and his son, Frank Jr. Their testimony peeled back layers of Outfit history as they detailed hits, bombings, extortions and other mayhem by the mob's 26th Street crew.

When he was sentenced to life in prison a year ago, Calabrese denied he was a feared mob hit man responsible for more than a dozen gangland slayings.

"I'm not no big shot," said Calabrese, dressed in an orange jumpsuit with a strap holding his glasses on his mostly bald head. "I'm not nothing but a human being, and when you cut my hand, I bleed like everybody else."

A federal judge didn't buy it.

Saying he had no doubt Calabrese was responsible for "appalling acts," U.S. District Judge James Zagel sentenced him to life in prison at a hearing marked by emotional testimony from victims' relatives and a heated exchange with his own son.

Another of Calabrese's sons, Kurt, stepped to a lectern to tell Zagel that his father beat him throughout his life.

"In short, my father was never a father," said the younger Calabrese, describing him instead as an enforcer who hurled insults as regularly as he threw punches, ashtrays, tools or whatever else was within reach when his temper exploded.

The son asked his father whether he might want to apologize for his conduct.

"You better apologize for the lies you're telling," the father barked back in the crowded courtroom. "You were treated like a king for all the things I've done for you."

"You never hit me and never beat me up?" Kurt Calabrese answered incredulously before glaring at his father and stepping from the courtroom a moment later.

In another dramatic courtroom scene, Charlene Moravecek, widow of murder victim Paul Haggerty, yelled at Calabrese for cutting Haggerty's throat and stuffing him in a trunk. Her husband had no connection to the mob, she told Calabrese.

"You murdered the wrong person," she said. "That shows how smart you all are."

"God will bless you for what you say," Calabrese replied calmly from the defense table.

"Don't you mock me, ever," Moravecek responded through tears.

In September 2007, the same jury that convicted Calabrese of racketeering conspiracy held him responsible for seven murders: the 1980 shotgun killings of hit man and informant William Dauber and his wife, Charlotte; the 1981 car bombing of trucking executive Michael Cagnoni; and the slayings of hit man John Fecarotta, Outfit associate Michael Albergo, and bar owner Richard Ortiz and his friend Arthur Morawski.

Zagel, using a lower standard of proof than the jury, held Calabrese responsible for six additional murders, including Haggerty's, making him eligible for life imprisonment.

Nicholas Calabrese had testified in gripping detail about how brother Frank beat and strangled many of his victims with a rope before cutting their throats to ensure they were dead. Zagel said it was that family betrayal that stuck with him as he presided over the trial.

"I've never seen a case in which a brother and a son -- and counting today, two sons -- testified against a father," the veteran judge said.

"I just want to say that your crimes are unspeakable," Zagel said later.

Allowed to address Zagel before he was sentenced, Calabrese rambled for half an hour about how his family had conspired to steal from him and then falsely blamed him for mob crimes to keep him behind bars.

He called his brother a wannabe gangster who collected for Outfit bookmakers. Calabrese didn't deny being a loan shark, but he said his organization never resorted to violence to collect debts.

Cagnoni's widow as well as relatives of Morawski and Ortiz testified about dealing with decades of grief over the violent deaths of their loved ones.

Richard Ortiz's son, Tony, said he was 12 when his father was shot in a car outside his Cicero bar. Ortiz said he ran to the spot where the killing had occurred.

"I remember the crunching of the broken glass under my feet," said Ortiz, who recalled that his father's trademark cigar was still lying on the ground.

"I picked it up and held onto it, knowing it was all I had left of him."

-- Jeff Coen, staff report

NEWS: (Illinois) Pension reforms zoom through General Assembly

From The Chicago Tribune (Clout Street)

--This is the first step in a very wrong direction.--

Posted by Ray Long and Michelle Manchir at 5:45 p.m.; last updated at 8:11 p.m.

SPRINGFIELD --- Following years of calls for pension reform, changes that would raise the retirement age to 67 for government workers to collect full benefits and put new limits on annual pensions zoomed through the General Assembly tonight.

The idea is to save billions of dollars in the coming decades for taxpayers who will have to dig deep to cover retirement costs for school teachers, lawmakers and public servants in state government, universities, cities, park districts and counties.

But the reforms would not apply to anyone who’s currently in the retirement system, only new government hires and state officials elected in the future.

Another criticism of the legislation is that it will have little, if any, immediate impact on the worst-in-the-nation pension debt--estimated between $77 billion and $90 billion. But the growth in that pension debt should be reduced considerably and save tens of billions over several decades, budget analysts said.

The Illinois Senate approved the bill 48-6, with three present votes, tonight after it passed the House 92-17, with seven lawmakers voting present, this afternoon. To see how House lawmakers voted please click here.

"This bill is not window dressing," said Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, R-Lemont. "It's substantial reform."

Quinn issued a statement in favor of the legislation this afternoon.

"I am a longtime advocate for pension reform and believe it is crucial for our state to get its public pension costs under control to help save Illinois taxpayers’ money now and in the future. The proposed pension reform will stabilize the system, protect current state employees and provide attractive pension benefits to future state workers," the governor said.

The Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago called the legislation "a step in the right direction," but argued it doesn't begin to address the state's "urgent fiscal problems."

That's because the legislation doesn't apply the reforms to current government employees, said R. Eden Martin, the organization's president.

If the reforms are approved, they could give Gov. Pat Quinn and state lawmakers a chance to pick up savings of hundreds of millions of dollars in a new budget year beginning July 1, according to legislative budget forecasters.

NEWS: Cook County Jail guard arrested on weapons charge

From The Daily Herald

A Cook County Jail guard was arrested Tuesday on charges of buying an Uzi semiautomatic rifle for someone else while claiming that he was actual purchaser.

Miguel Echevarria, 44, of Chicago was arrested outside his home without incident and charged in a complaint filed by the FBI with lying on the federal form that gun buyers must fill out when he claimed to be the actual buyer.

Echevarria was acting as what law enforcement officials call a "straw purchaser" -- someone who claims to be the actual buyer but is turning the weapon over to the real buyer.

Often the real buyer has a criminal record and thus is not allowed to buy guns. But in this case the real buyer was a cooperating witness working with the FBI, according to an affidavit accompanying the complaint.

It said the witness paid Echevarria $3,000 for the Uzi plus $300 for making the purchase.

While the complaint charged Echevarria only with lying on the federal form when he bought the Uzi, the affidavit said he had earlier served as a straw purchaser and obtained an AR-15 rifle for the FBI's witness.

Echevarria appeared before Magistrate Judge Geraldine Soat Brown on Tuesday afternoon and was released on $4,500 bond and placed on house arrest with electronic monitoring.

Defense attorney Imani Chiphe of the Federal Defender program represented Echevarria and said afterward that he had no comment.

NEWS: (Illinois) Report: State police plan massive layoffs, station closures

See also No more state police on Chicago expressways

From The Daily Herald

Illinois Acting State Police director Jonathon Monken said Tuesday his department will lay off more than 460 troopers and close five regional headquarters, including one in Des Plaines, due to budget shortfalls, the Galesburg Register-Mail is reporting.

The published report quotes Monken as saying staff cuts could reduce the number of sworn state troopers by about 600, or 30 percent of its force now.

The force currently has a little over 2,000 troopers.

He said, about 100 officers are expected to retire during the fiscal year beginning June 1. With the layoffs, the state police could go from 2,025 sworn officers to 1,425 or 1,450 by mid-2011.

Monken said in the publication the agency's head count hasn't been that low in 40 or 50 years.

The Des Plaines state police office is one of the five slated to be closed if this budget cut goes through, the publication is reporting.

"There will be significant consequences to public safety," Monken warned. "We expect an increase in traffic fatalities, increased exposure to terrorist threats in Illinois, an increase in gun and drug trafficking, in addition to the loss of an estimated $12 million in citation revenue for counties across the state."

Monken told a Senate appropriations committee the cuts are necessary due to the state's budget crisis. In Gov. Pat Quinn's latest budget, Illinois State Police will lose $32 million in general revenue fund appropriations, Monken said.

Only half of the 10 officers now assigned to the Statewide Terrorism Intelligence Center in Springfield would remain, he said, while the agency's methamphetamine response team of 42 officers spread throughout the state would be nearly eliminated.

State Police would still patrol tollways in northern Illinois, Monken said, but local agencies would be asked to patrol many other highways in the absence of state officers.

Monken said the districts closed were picked either because they're in relatively low-crime areas or because of the availability of other police agencies.

If the Des Plaines headquarters is closed, the entire Chicago area would rely on local or the Chicago Police Department to maintain a police presence.

"They do have 13,000 officers," he said of the Chicago Police Department, "but that doesn't mean they have a lot of people who are just sitting around waiting for something to do."

NEWS: (National) Slain teen's parents want anti-sex offender law

From The Daily Herald

SAN DIEGO -- The parents of a 17-year-old former Naperville resident who was killed after vanishing in a park began campaigning Tuesday for a law that aims to strengthen oversight of child sex predators.

Brent and Kelly King said in an interview they will begin their effort in Sacramento by backing a state bill being called Chelsea's Law in honor of their daughter.

The bill is expected to be introduced next month in the state Legislature.

The Kings also want to see changes in federal law. If that fails, they intend to work state-by-state for heightened electronic monitoring and other measures targeting sex offenders such as the one charged with the murder of their daughter.

"If that's what it takes, that's what we will do," Brent King said.

The campaign comes less than a month after Chelsea King failed to return from a run in a San Diego park, and her body was found near a lake.

John Albert Gardner III, a convicted child molester, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Chelsea and attempting to assault another woman in December. Gardner, 30, is also a suspect but has not been charged in the death of a 14-year-old Amber Dubois, who disappeared walking to school last year.

The Kings said they were educating themselves about the legal system while staying focused on their priority of raising Tyler King, Chelsea's younger brother.

"We're still in the very infancy of trying to even breathe in the morning," Brent King said.

They have met for hours with Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, a San Diego Republican who intends to introduce Chelsea's Law.

Fletcher appeared Tuesday with the Kings at a news conference and spoke only in broad outlines about the proposed legislation. He said it would include "an effective one-strike provision" to send predators to jail, changes to the parole system and closer monitoring of sex offenders.

Fletcher said he was also considering the possibility of lifetime parole with GPS monitoring for sex offenders and having parole violators go before the Board of Parole instead of lower-level corrections officials.

Gardner, he noted, repeatedly violated parole and was never sent back to prison. Records showed one violation involved living too close to a daycare center, while others were issued for letting the battery on his ankle bracelet run low and missing a meeting with his parole officer.

Gardner served five years of a six-year sentence for molesting a 13-year-old neighbor in San Diego in 2000 and was on parole for three years, until September 2008.

"The unfortunate reality is this case has exposed a broken system," Fletcher said.

Brent King said he can't bear to read about Gardner's history and has been infuriated by the news stories he has seen.

Since the death of their daughter, the Kings have put their careers on hold. Brent King worked for years in mortgage banking. Kelly King is a medical assistant in a dermatologist's office.

"We are parents first, activists second, then everything else will sort itself out after that," Brent King said.

The couple has been relying on a tight circle of friends and family for advice and support. The have formed a nonprofit group, Chelsea's Light Foundation, to promote legislative and educational initiatives to protect children from sexual predators.

Brent King said the days have blurred since Chelsea vanished Feb. 25 in Rancho Bernardo Community Park in San Diego.

"It feels like one terrible day that never ends," he said.

Kelly King said she has been sleeping only when her body won't allow her to stay awake.

"Chelsea would be so upset if we didn't take care of ourselves first, take care of Tyler first," she said.

Meanwhile, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger asked an expert panel to investigate why Gardner wasn't classified as a high-risk sex offender or sexually violent predator before he was released from prison.

The California Sex Offender Management Board should also review whether Gardner's parole should have been revoked for violations including living too close to the daycare center, Schwarzenegger said in a letter to the board.

He asked the board, made up of law enforcement, victims and treatment providers, to recommend ways to better monitor sex offenders.

Schwarzenegger asked the board to review the Gardner case earlier this month. He expanded on the request in Tuesday's letter.

NEWS: No more State Police on Chicago expressways?

From The Chicago Sun-Times

March 24, 2010


The Chicago Police Department may be forced to assume primary responsibility for patrolling 53 miles of Chicago area expressways -- at a time when police manpower is woefully short -- under Gov. Quinn's proposal to slash the State Police budget and lay off 464 state troopers.

State Police have had exclusive control over Chicago area expressways since 1985. In 2001, Chicago Police joined forces with the State Police to help enforce traffic laws on the Eisenhower, Dan Ryan, Stevenson, Kennedy, Edens spur and Bishop Ford to curb rampant speeding.

Now, Quinn's sweeping budget cuts are threatening to shift the entire burden to Chicago as early as July 1 -- and it couldn't come at a more difficult time. The Chicago Police Department is 700 officers short of its authorized strength and more than 2,100 officers short each day, counting those on medical rolls and limited duty.

That's apparently why Police Supt. Jody Weis is referring to the change as a "worst-case scenario."

"I've got my fingers crossed that it will not materialize. It would be a challenge for us," Weis said.

NEWS: (Park Ridge) Police, firefighters bring campaign against staff cuts to your doorstep

From The Pioneer Press

March 23, 2010

Members of the Park Ridge Police and Fire departments have been going door to door across the city, sharing how proposed staffing cuts within their departments could be detrimental to the community.

The labor unions representing the police and firefighters have funded the printing of a flier distributed to Park Ridge homes and businesses during the past week. The double-sided yellow flier reads, "Don't cut corners in public safety," and describes the impact members of the departments believe the personnel cuts will have. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses of the mayor and the city's seven aldermen are also listed and residents and business owners are encouraged to contact them to "let them know that cuts to your public safety are not acceptable."

Matt Jarka, president of the Park Ridge Firefighters Local 2697, said about 65 percent of the community was reached last weekend.

"We've been ringing doorbells because we want to make contact with people," Jarka said.

The proposed budget cuts call for layoffs of four police officers, three firefighter/paramedics and two community service officers.

The cuts will result in the elimination of the Police Department's Traffic Unit, something Police Chief Frank Kaminski said would reduce the "quantity and quality of traffic-safety programs." These programs include daily selective traffic enforcement, enforcement around schools in the mornings and afternoons and addressing traffic complaints in specific areas following analysis.

The Fire Department stands to lose three firefighter/paramedics, which Acting Fire Chief Jeff Sorensen said will result in the loss of personnel to command the department's 95-foot ladder truck. The truck, purchased by the city in 2001, will be sold, Sorensen said.

Without the ladder truck the department will need to rely on equipment from other fire departments if a fire occurs in a building more than 24 feet tall, Jarka said. It could also mean a longer wait if the equipment is not immediately available or takes time to arrive from another community, he said.

"We just think (the cuts) are a bad idea," Jarka said. "We think they certainly do endanger residents and firefighters. They don't make sense to us from a financial standpoint or a safety standpoint."

Rising call volume led to the Fire Department adding three firefighter/paramedic positions in 2000, Sorensen said during a recent budget workshop.

"Compared to 1974, we have two more sworn personnel and our call volume has roughly doubled during that same time period," he said.

Jarka said police and firefighters are also encouraging supporters to attend the Monday meeting of the City Council, during which aldermen are expected to begin discussing the budget cuts and making decisions on what should be left in the budget. The meeting will be at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 505 Butler Place.

NEWS: (Park Ridge) City joins pension reform initiative

From The Pioneer Press

March 23, 2010

Rising pension obligations have the city of Park Ridge reaching out to the state of Illinois in search of relief.

The City Council recently agreed to join the Pension Fairness for Illinois Communities Coalition as a "supporting voice" member. This type of membership does not require the city to pay fees, but indicates that Park Ridge supports "a fair and sustainable pension system for public safety employees in Illinois."

Members of the coalition feel there is an unfair burden placed on municipalities -- and, ultimately, taxpayers -- to fund pension obligations of their public-safety employees. Municipalities are required to contribute about 40.4 percent of salaries to employee pensions, according to Park Ridge's 2010-11 proposed budget.

A resolution passed by the Park Ridge City Council on March 1 states the city is "committed to working with all stakeholders to implement fair and long-term changes that will ensure the sustainability of these pension funds without placing an overwhelming burden upon our taxpayers or leaving communities unable to provide basic services."

During the 2010-11 fiscal year the city of Park Ridge expects to contribute a total of $3.6 million to the Police and Fire departments pension funds. That is an increase of $621,600 from the previous year, according to the city's proposed budget.

Park Ridge expects to pay pensions to 100 pensioners from the Police and Fire departments during the 2010-11 fiscal year.

The Pension Fairness for Illinois Communities Coalition was formally launched March 3 and is supporting two state bills calling for public-safety pension reform. The coalition supports initiatives like new public-safety personnel enrolling in a "modified pension system" that would "bring public employee benefits more in line with the private sector." The group also supports consolidation of the public-safety pension system into one statewide fund.

Twenty-seven municipalities are listed as members of the coalition, including Niles, Glenview, Mount Prospect, Winnetka and Evansto

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

NEWS: (National) NYPD Officer Shot in Ambush


Courtesy of The New York Post

NEW YORK, N.Y. -- A young cop was seriously wounded yesterday during a blazing gun battle in a Bronx housing project dubbed "Vietnam" by residents.

Police Officer Robert Salerno, 25, was shot three times at close range when he confronted Santiago Urena, 57, a lovelorn loser who had just attacked his 92-year-old mother's home-health aide and menaced her with his .38-caliber revolver inside the family's apartment in the Morrisania Air Rights complex at 3073 Park Ave.

Urena was later found dead from what police believe was a self-inflicted gunshot.

It was an "ambush," a police source said of the cop's shooting.

The home-health aide, Yesenia Rodriguez, told cops that the unemployed Urena flipped out when she rejected his persistent come-ons. She called 911 after he grew so angry that he viciously slapped her and waved his pistol.

"He beat me," a weeping Rodriguez, 27, told The Post last night at New York Presbyterian Hospital, where she was treated for bruising. Salerno and three other officers rushed to the scene at about 12:30 p.m. "[The cops] go down to the bedroom, they knock on the door, they ask him to come out," said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. "They open the door, and the perpetrator fires at least four shots, striking [Salerno] twice in the lower torso and once in the chest."

One bullet hit Salerno in his upper torso but was stopped by his Kevlar vest. Two other rounds struck his lower abdomen with one shot exiting through his buttocks.

In the melee, Salerno unloaded all 16 rounds in his gun. Two of his fellow officers got off two shots and the other fired one, Kelly said.

The wounded cop's shaken comrades grabbed him and carried him from the second-floor home and out of the building to safety. He was badly bleeding at the time, police sources said.

Urena, who had no criminal record, was later found in the bedroom with a single, fatal, gunshot wound to his temple. He also had a bullet wound to the abdomen.

Salerno, who joined the NYPD in January 2007 and is assigned to the 44th Precinct, was in critical but stable condition at Lincoln Hospital last night.

His parents, brother and girlfriend -- a sergeant at the same precinct -- were at his side.

Just hours after surgery, he was awake and talking -- receiving an emotional visit from the three other officers involved in the shootout, police sources said.

Salerno was concerned about how his fellow officers were doing and told them he planned to be back on duty as soon as he was able, the sources said. His colleagues were so traumatized themselves by the incident that they were also being treated at the hospital, the sources said.

Urena's brother and neighbors said they were stunned that he snapped. Some neighbors suggested that Urena -- who worked as a Kennedy Airport cleaner until last year -- may have been troubled by the death of his father, Elias, last month.

"My brother's a good person -- something set him off," said Urena's brother, Demitrio, who lived with him and their mother, Ana. "We just buried my father. Now we have to bury him."

The shooting occurred on a rough-and-tumble block -- a short walk from Yankee Stadium -- nicknamed "Vietnam" by residents because of past gunplay.

Urena's unrequited love -- or lust -- was apparently behind the incident. Rodriguez, the mother of a 2-year-old daughter, told The Post that Urena had been pursuing her for awhile.

Neighbor Jimmy Molina, 54, who translated Rodriguez's Spanish for cops, said, "[Rodriguez] said something to him [about his advances], and . . . he pulled out the gun. He smacked her and he said, 'I'll kill you! I'll kill you!' "

In a twist, Mayor Bloomberg said he knew Salerno's father, Joseph, when the mayor lived in Westchester in the 1980s.

The dad used to serve coffee to Bloomberg when he stopped at his service station in Armonk on his way to work.

"When I walked in the [hospital] room, I thought, 'I know this guy,' " the mayor said.

Salerno's relatives said they worry constantly about his dangerous job.

""He wasn't scared of anything, he had no fear, and that worried us," said cousin Mark Mezzancello, 44.

COMMENTARY: Getting tough on speeders?


In response to a recent investigation by the Chicago Tribune that was published on March 21, 2010 the Illinois General Assembly finds themselves “up in arms” over this travesty in public safety. Really? We allow people to get arrested 10, sometimes15 times for Driving Under the Influence before a judge finally decides enough is enough and sentences them to jail time. We see offenders who have had their licenses revoked for most of their lives arrested well over 15 times and they are never incarcerated. But, in 3 days time since the article was published an amendment has already passed through a committee and will be made a law in probably record time that will prohibit judges from imposing a sentence of court supervision for people stopped for driving in excess of 40 miles per hour over the posted speed limit. Is this a good idea? Yes it is, but should it take an act of congress to get it done? No, absolutely not.

Since January 1, 2000 it has been a class A misdemeanor to drive in excess of 40 miles per hour over the limit. This means it is actually a crime, not just a traffic violation. You can be arrested; your cars impounded, fingerprinted and yes, actually have a criminal record. You can be sentenced up to for up to 364 days in jail, a $2500.00 fine or you can receive probation. But judges seem to feel that this is not a severe enough crime for such a penalty. Why wouldn’t they? Look at how the D.U.I. punishments are imposed in this state.

In the 20 years I was involved in law enforcement I have seen an incalculable number of these issues arise and absolutely nothing be done. Will this time be any different? I do not think so. Judges do not like to be told what to do. I think it comes with the robe.

There is currently pending legislation that will amend the speeding law once again. It will make exceeding the applicable limit by more than 30 miles an hour but less than 40 a class B misdemeanor. There is also a pending change that will allow municipalities to bill people who are convicted of driving in excess of 40 miles per hour over the limit and cause a situation that requires an emergency response (i.e. police officer needed, ambulance needed, firefighter needed, etc.) the offender can be charged $1000.00 per response needed. This is on top of any fine or court costs. Since this court imposed supervision that judges love to hand out is not a conviction this negates the municipalities ability to recover those costs.

The problem is not the laws, the problem is the system and those tasked with making the system work. Maybe the solution needs to come from the municipal level. Some judges are appointed and some are elected but they are all subject to public opinion and can be changed. Mayors and police chiefs need to step up and be heard by the politicians that are responsible for appointing Chief Judges. Mayors love to send out letters at election time asking their residents to support certain candidates, maybe it is time to start telling these politicians seeking support to man up and fix these problems or the there will be no letter mailed out.

Maybe it is time the Fraternal Order of Police, Teamsters and ICOPS step up and say enough is enough and start pulling their support for political candidates who appoint people to these positions.

This is obviously not an enforcement issue since it appears the cops are doing their jobs and making the arrests so it must lie further up the chain and a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

Time to fix the link in the chain.


NEWS: 1,600 knives at one Chicago home

From The Chicago Sun-Times

Man threatened lawyer's daughter, has 18 arrests

March 23, 2010


When Kevin Long walked into the Daley Center last week, allegedly armed with four knives, he was doing it on time he otherwise would have spent behind bars.

But Long, convicted of threatening to kill the 9-year-old daughter of an opposing attorney in a civil case, was released from state prison in November after he was recommended for six months of "meritorious good time" credit, prison officials said Monday.

Cook County sheriff's police and U.S. Marshals raided Long's house on the 4500 block of North Milwaukee over the weekend. They said Long, who was on a judicial watchlist, had a stash of weapons -- 1,600 knives, five guns, seven law enforcement badges, brass knuckles and names of officers with targets by their names.

A source said an officer who lives on Long's block was on the list.

Long, 48, was charged with 49 counts of unlawful use of a weapon by a felon and is being held on $350,000 bond. Some of the knives recovered were sharp but made of plastic, allowing them to elude metal detectors.

To some, the arrest put Long on the radar screen for the first time. But not to Emery Yost, who says he has been terrorized by Long for 10 years. Yost is writing a book titled Pro Se: It's Your Worst Nightmare, chronicling his interactions with Long.

Long has been arrested 18 times since 2000 on charges that include being caught in a secure judge's chamber, masturbating in public and violating an order barring him from Northwestern Business College in Skokie. The U.S. Marshals threat-assessment team banned him from the federal court's law library after he asked women to model for him, according to records.

It was Yost who called police on Long after he masturbated in public, including in front of children, according to public records. It was Yost's attorney, Joe McCaffery, whose daughter was threatened by Long outside the Daley Center in 2008. After a ruling didn't go his way, Long ran outside and told McCaffery he would kill his then-9-year-old, McCaffery said.

"I knew we would battle in court. But I didn't know I had locked horns with the devil," McCaffery said.

Long was sentenced to 3½ years in prison. He served one year in county jail and three months in prison when he received a 90-day pass for good behavior and then as a nonviolent offender qualified for a "supplemental" 90-day pass.

Illinois Department of Corrections spokeswoman Januari Smith said he spent more than a year in county jail and was by law eligible for day-for-day good time off.

NEWS: Ill. Officer Suspended for Sleep Behind Wheel


Posted: March 23rd, 2010 09:10 AM GMT-05:00

A Wheaton police officer who was asleep behind the wheel of a squad car when it struck a home was issued a six-day suspension without pay, officials said today.

According to a press release issued by Wheaton officials, an investigation determined that the Sept. 24, 2009 accident occurred when the police officer fell asleep behind the wheel of a squad car. The officer was working in the early morning hours of the night shift when the car struck a home on the 100 block of Brighton Drive, according to the release.

According to Wheaton Police Chief Mark Field, officials entered into a settlement agreement with the officer whom they can only identify as "Night Shift Officer Opalinski."

Citing the agreement, Field refused to fully identify the officer or to say how long the officer worked with the Wheaton police.

According to the statement, there was no evidence that the cause of the accident was anything other than the officer falling asleep.

No one was injured in the accident and according to the statement, the suspension was based on the fact that the incident was unintentional.

The discipline was delayed while Wheaton officials and the homeowner's insurance company and contractors determined a dollar value for the damage, according to the statement.

R.I.P.: Calif. officer dies 30 years after being shot

Orange County Sheriff's Sgt. Ira G. Essoe died of "delayed complications" from wounds he suffered

Orange County Register

ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. — Being fatally shot in the line of duty didn't stop Orange County Sheriff's Sgt. Ira G. Essoe from living another 29 good years.

Paralyzed by a bullet from the chest down in 1980, beset by numerous infections and illnesses over the years, Essoe still enjoyed a loving wife and three children who followed his career into law enforcement - a profession he never stopped loving.

Now, the profession is loving him back.

Essoe, 69, died Feb. 4 of "delayed complications" from gunshot wounds he suffered Nov. 6, 1980, during an attempted car theft in Orange, the coroner has ruled. Technically, he succumbed to sepsis, in which the bloodstream becomes overwhelmed by bacteria.

Because all of Essoe's medical issues were determined to be a result of his initial gunshot wounds, his name will be enshrined next year on a California Peace Officers' Memorial Foundation memorial in Sacramento, as an officer who died in the line of duty.

Essoe will be similarly honored in Orange County and likely in Washington, D.C.

"This is a vindication of everything he went through these last 30 years," said his son, whose name also is Ira Essoe, a sergeant with the Sheriff's Department's contract city of San Juan Capistrano.

The younger Essoe, 46, recently recounted a tale he knows by heart, down to every exacting detail.

He was a 17-year-old senior at Ocean View High School when he thought he lost his father forever.

A little after 8 p.m. on Nov. 6, 1980, Essoe and fellow sheriff's investigator Greg "Mike" Brown drove to the Mall of Orange to collect bail on a warrant issued against a relative of an employee at Sears.

As they looked for a place to park their unmarked car, the investigators - wearing plain clothes - saw three men attempting to steal a black 1968 Mustang.

The Inland Empire men - Robert Dustin Strong, 25; David Michael Knick, 23; and David Ray Vogel, 34 - all were parolees with long rap sheets and in need of a getaway car for a planned theft at a nearby supermarket.

Essoe got out of the car and approached one side of the Mustang while his partner walked to the passenger side.

One of the men disarmed Brown at gunpoint, took his gun, told him to lie on the ground and threatened to kill him.

Essoe pulled out his gun, trying to save his partner's life.

The three men fired on Essoe simultaneously.

Numerous rounds narrowly missed him, tearing through the fabric of his shirt.

Then, from behind, Essoe got hit under his left arm, the bullet exiting the top of his chest.

A second bullet - another .45-caliber slug - shattered his ribs, passed through his left lung, blasted two of his vertebrae and severed his spinal cord.

Essoe fell to the ground in a clump, unable to move.

One suspect walked over to him. He reached down and took Essoe's gun and car keys. Strong and Knick sped off in Essoe's vehicle.

Police arrested Strong and Knick about an hour later, after they crashed during a high-speed pursuit on the freeway. Vogel fled on foot and was linked to the crime later while serving time in federal prison on a bank robbery conviction.

Essoe was rushed to the hospital in critical condition.

Brown was not injured.

Growing up in Budapest during the hardships of World War II, Ira Essoe Sr. had setbacks early. By age 7, he'd endured two bouts of polio, rendering his left leg underdeveloped.

When he was 8, the family moved to America.

The elder Essoe, whose father was a troop commander in the Hungarian army, always knew he wanted to be a police officer. But, for financial reasons, he had to put off his dream job.

Living in Westminster with his wife, Ramona, and three children, Essoe worked several years as a computer analyst and got a master's degree in business administration.

By age 31, he was able to walk away from a nice salary and enter the Sheriff's Academy. For nine years, he thrived as a deputy and, later, as an investigator.

Then, he got shot. The biggest setback of his life had begun.

Essoe's wife, Ramona, never left his side. She became an expert caretaker as he dealt with constant pain and, throughout the years, kidney failure, colon cancer and the loss of both of his legs.

The younger Essoe says his father never complained. "He had to be in such pain, but he never showed it."

Nor did he once regret getting into law enforcement. "Being a cop was the one thing that made him happy," Essoe says. "Ultimately, the way he looked at it, he was still alive. He still had his family.

"His attitude was, 'I can choose to be miserable, or I can choose to be happy.' "

Essoe says his father's attitude helped inspire him to become a peace officer.

The younger Essoe's siblings, Tony and Ramona, also went into law enforcement.

And, in 2008, the younger Essoe's son, Raymond, was sworn in as an Orange County sheriff's deputy.

The three men involved in the shooting got sentences for attempted murder that ranged from eight to nearly 18 years in state prison.

Essoe's shooting prompted then-Orange County Sheriff Brad Gates to initiate what has become "Project 999," which helps wounded officers and the spouses and orphans of peace officers killed in action.

Essoe was the first California peace officer to die in the line of duty this year and the ninth Orange County Sheriff's Department deputy to die in the line of duty, according to records dating back to 1912.

Some of these fallen officers died in vehicle or motorcycle crashes. The last Orange County deputy shot to death in the line of duty was Bradley Riches, in 1999 in Lake Forest.

Now, with his name to be permanently enshrined on state, county and federal memorials for fallen officers, Essoe's legacy is set.

"Getting this recognition is a small thing, but it means that someone else recognizes what he went through," his son says. "He's finally being recognized for gallantry in battle - not just for getting shot."