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Public Pension & Law Enforcement Advocate; Law Enforcement News; Officer Down Memorials; Public Corruption News

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ere the TRUTH starts. Public Pension Reform. Law Enforcement News. Officer Down News. Collective Bargaining. Corruption. - See more at:
Where the TRUTH starts. Public Pension Reform. Law Enforcement News. Officer Down News. Collective Bargaining. Corruption. - See more at:

Officer Down

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

NEWS: (Suburban) Some Former Elmwood Park Residents May Have Submitted Fraudulent Votes

--In today's technological society you would think this type of activity would be on a down turn.
Add this to the general disgust with politics of today's everyday citizen just trying to get by and this type of story can be political dynamite.--

Story at MY FOX Chicago


FOX Chicago, BGA Investigation

Updated: Tuesday, 28 Feb 2012, 9:59 PM CST
Published : Monday, 27 Feb 2012, 7:40 PM CST
By Dane Placko, FOX Chicago News and the Better Government Association

Chicago - There's an old saying that we vote early and often in Chicago.

But in Elmwood Park, there’s a new twist. People are coming back to vote long after they've moved away.

FOX Chicago News and the Better Government Association were able to identify Frank Cupello in person because he put his picture on his real estate website, talking about how much his family enjoys living in Lake County.

 Cupello also owns a giant home in affluent Kildeer, Ill.

But how can a guy who has lived in Lake County for nearly two decades can get away with voting, year after year, in west suburban Elmwood Park - 26 miles from his Kildeer home.

Frank Cupello's parents, who live at the Elmwood Park address he's been voting from, didn't want to talk about it either.

Cook County Clerk David Orr said it was important that people vote where they live because that’s how elections are kept honest.

“And two,” Orr said, “so that you're voting for the people that represent you."

Orr said intentionally voting in the wrong place is a serious crime. It’s a felony in some cases, which could land false voters in prison.

But Cupello is just one of several people who FOX Chicago and the Better Government Association have found no longer live in Elmwood Park, but still regularly vote there, like Don Parenti.

Investigators at FOX sister station in Las Vegas tried to track him down at his Nevada home.

He wasn't there, but his wife admitted on the phone that they do spend almost all of their time in Vegas these days.

Yet the couple has continued voting in Elmwood Park elections by mail since 2004.

Laura Sutter bought a condo in a downtown Chicago building in 1996. Yet, Sutter is still voting out of her mom's house in Elmwood Park.

Michael R. Durkin still votes from his parents' address in Elmwood Park, where he occasionally spends the night, even though the bio on his law firm's web page said he resides in Chicago.

In a statement, Durkin argues that what's good enough for Rahm Emanuel is good enough for him.

"If leasing an apartment in another city or sleeping there (determined) legal residency,” Durkin said, “then Chicago would have a different mayor."

Orr said no way.

“It's not enough to go back to some place once a week,” Orr said. “They should not be voting in Elmwood Park.”

So why do they vote in Elmwood Park? All have ties to longtime Mayor Pete Silvestri.

Frank Cupello is a friend who has donated more than $2,000 to Silvestri's political campaign. Don Parenti of Las Vegas - is a former Elmwood Park trustee who also contributes.

Michael Durkin is Elmwood Park's village prosecutor, and his father's law firm gets $300,000 a year in village business. Laura Sutter is the daughter of longtime Elmwood Park village clerk Elsie Sutter.

The BGA's Andy Shaw said in a close election, it could change the outcome.

"When you vote in Elmwood Park and you don't live in Elmwood Park, you are basically neutralizing the vote of a taxpayer there,” Shaw said, “and that's wrong."

One more thing about Cupello: in addition to being a realtor, he's a cop.

Cupello works as an investigator with the Cook County State's Attorney's Office. This is the very office that investigates - you guessed it - voter fraud.

Guess he didn't want to talk.

The State's Attorney’s Office learned of Cupello's alleged vote fraud in October, but decided there wasn't enough evidence to pursue charges.

Once FOX Chicago and the BGA started asking questions, Anita Alvarez got involved. A spokesperson said they are serious allegations and Alvarez has ordered a full investigation.

As for Elmwood Park mayor Pete Silvestri, he said through a spokesman:

"It is disturbing to hear of reports such as these, and I hope that election authorities will take the necessary steps to ensure that these and all voters are properly registered to vote in the communities in which they reside."

PENSION: (National) State and Local Government Spending on Public Employee Retirement Systems

As states and cities continue to address the effects of the Great Recession, the cost of pension benefits for employees of state and local government remains a key point of discussion. On a nationwide basis, pension costs for state and local governments are roughly three percent of total spending (see Figure 1). Current pension spending levels, however, vary widely and are sufficient for some entities and insufficient for others.

In the wake of the 2008-09 market decline, over 40 states and many cities have taken steps to improve the financial condition of their retirement plans and to reduce costs. Although some lawmakers have considered closing existing pension plans to new hires, most determined that this would increase—rather than reduce—costs, particularly in the near-term. Instead, states and cities have adjusted employee and employer contribution levels, restructured benefits, or both. Ultimately, the degree of needed change in pension plan costs will depend largely on the funding history of the plan and the type and magnitude of recent reforms.

***Complete Report***


NEWS: (Suburban) Freeze! Park Ridge cops take ‘Polar Plunge’ for charity

--Great job for a great cause. Thank you to everyone who participated.--

Related story at: NEWS: (Suburban) Park Ridge police prepare for Polar Plunge

Story at Pioneer Press

Last Modified: Feb 28, 2012 06:34PM

The Park Ridge Police Department's Polar Patrol team splash in the waters of Lake Michigan during the Law Enforcement Torch Run Polar Plunge 2012 on Feb. 25. The event raised money for Special Olympics Illinois. | Michael Jarecki~For Sun-Times Media

It was far from ideal swimming weather, but the Lake Michigan shoreline in Evanston was packed with bathers Feb. 25 when Special Olympics Illinois hosted the Law Enforcement Torch Run Polar Plunge.

Several representatives from the Park Ridge Police Department, some joined by family members, waded through the icy waters off Northwestern University’s North Beach while raising more than $3,200 for Special Olympics.

“I prepared myself a little better than the year before,” acknowledged Park Ridge Police Officer Julie Genualdi. “The feet weren’t so bad because we put some toe heaters in our shoes. That was my strategy for this year.”

Genualdi’s daughter, Caitlyn Weldon, and niece, Samantha Witz, joined her for the brief, though still chilly, swim, as did Park Ridge Police Chief Frank Kaminski; Lt. Duane Mellema and his sons, Jake, 12, and Ethan, 14; Sev Meneshian, a financial planner for the Police Department; and Sgt. Ron Brandt, of the Niles Police Department.

“It was really fun. Very exciting,” Genualdi said.

Katie Grisham, director of Special Olympics Area 5, said 245 volunteers took the plunge, raising about $87,000. That was almost double the amount raised last year.

In addition to the Park Ridge Police Department’s Polar Patrol team, representatives from the Evanston, Forest Park, Bloomingdale and Illinois State Police Departments also took part in the Polar Plunge, as did a group of 70 people from Northwestern’s Kellog School of Management who raised more than $20,000 in donations, Grisham said.

NEWS:(Suburban) Excessive force lawsuit filed following Fermilab shooting

--The lawsuit has not been added to the online records yet. I will keep an eye for it.--

Related Story: NEWS: (Suburban) DuPage probes shooting by off-duty police officer at Fermilab

Story at Chicago Tribune

By Clifford Ward
Special to the Tribune
7:54 PM CST, February 28, 2012

A Cicero teenager filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday alleging that a West Chicagopolice officer used excessive force earlier this month when he fired on a car filled with unarmed young people and struck the teen.

The suit was filed by Maria Ruiz on behalf of her son, Juan Carlos Ruiz, 17, and by the five other people who were with him during the Feb. 18 incident, which ended with the shooting on the grounds of the nearby Fermilab in Batavia. The suit was filed against the unnamed officer and the City of West Chicago.

“This case is a situation where the officer was obviously involved in some sort of road rage when he took his actions,” Richard Dvorak, the attorney for the plaintiffs, said Tuesday.

According to the suit, Ruiz and his friends, who ranged in age from 17 to their middle 20s, were driving in West Chicago – Dvoark said they were coming home from a party -- when their green Honda was sideswiped by a black Jeep being driven by the officer on Illinois Route 59.

The officer, who authorities said was not on duty, then chased the partygoers to the Fermilab grounds. It was there, according to the DuPage County Sheriff’s police, the officer exited his vehicle and shot at the car.

One of the bullets came through the Honda’s trunk and struck Ruiz, who was in the back seat, the suit said. He was the only vehicle occupant who was physically injured, the suit said.

Ruiz was transported to a local hospital and initially listed in critical condition, though he has since been discharged and is recovering at home, Dvorak said.

Dvorak said the young people did not pose any threat to the officer, and were in fact driving away from him when the shooting took place.

The City of West Chicago, via spokesperson Rosemary Mackey, declined to comment on the suit.

The DuPage County sheriff’s investigation into the incident is ongoing, and the federal suit won’t affect that investigation, Paul Darrah, a spokesman for DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin, said Tuesday. To date, there have been no charges filed in connection with the shooting.

The officer has not yet been identified by authorities investigating the shooting.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

PENSION: (National) To Pay New York Pension Fund, Cities Borrow From It First

--I know all types of solutions are talked about but this one makes absolutely no sense at all.
How do they justify this? It is beyond me.
And here I thought Illinois politician mentality could not be beat.--

Story at New York Times

February 27, 2012

ALBANY — When New York State officials agreed to allow local governments to use an unusual borrowing plan to put off a portion of their pension obligations, fiscal watchdogs scoffed at the arrangement, calling it irresponsible and unwise.

And now, their fears are being realized: cities throughout the state, wealthy towns such as Southampton and East Hampton, counties like Nassau and Suffolk, and other public employers like the Westchester Medical Center and the New York Public Library are all managing their rising pension bills by borrowing from the very same $140 billion pension fund to which they owe money.

Across New York, state and local governments are borrowing $750 million this year to finance their contributions to the state pension system, and are likely to borrow at least $1 billion more over the next year. The number of municipalities and public institutions using this new borrowing mechanism to pay off their annual pension bills has tripled in a year.

The eagerness to borrow demonstrates that many major municipalities are struggling to meet their pension obligations, which have risen partly because of generous retirement packages for public employees, and partly because turbulence in the stock market has slowed the pension fund’s growth.

The state’s borrowing plan allows public employers to reduce their pension contributions in the short term in exchange for higher payments over the long term. Public pension funds around the country assume a certain rate of return every year and, despite the market gains over the last few years, are still straining to make up for steep investment losses incurred in the 2008 financial crisis, requiring governments to contribute more to keep pension systems afloat.

Supporters argue that the borrowing plan makes it possible for governments in New York to “smooth” their annual pension contributions to get through this prolonged period of market volatility.

Critics say it is a budgetary sleight-of-hand that simply kicks pension costs down the road.

“You’re undermining the long-term solvency of these funds and making the pension fund even more of a gamble than it already is,” said Josh Barro, a senior fellow and pension expert at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative research organization. The state, he said, is betting that the performance of the financial markets will improve over the next decade and bail the system out.

“If performance continues to be weak, then contribution rates will be even higher than the rates we’re trying to avoid now, and you’ll produce even more fiscal pain down the road,” he said.

Nationwide, the cost of public retiree benefits has soared in recent years, and states including California, Connecticut and Illinois have been borrowing to pay, or even deferring, their pension bills. Many states are worse off than New York. New Jersey is still paying off bonds issued in 1997 to close a hole in its pension system.

And governors and lawmakers across the country have been trying to take steps to reduce future pension costs, with limited success.

But New York appears to be unusual in allowing public employers to borrow from the state’s pension system to finance their annual contributions to that system.

The state’s borrowing mechanism, approved in 2010 under Gov. David A. Paterson, was backed by public sector unions and by the state comptroller’s office, which oversees the pension fund and prefers to call the borrowing a form of amortization, or paying a debt gradually, with interest. The public employers that borrow from the pension system essentially contribute less than they owe in a given year, and agree to repay the difference, with interest, over a decade.

Contributions to the pension system, which covers more than one million members, retirees and beneficiaries, are due annually from the state and municipal governments. As they struggle to pay their obligations under the current system, municipalities are borrowing $200 million this year, up from $45 million last year, the first year the borrowing plan was available, according to the state comptroller’s office.

“I don’t think any financial manager likes to see the can kicked down the road, and would prefer to see all costs paid for in the years that they are incurred,” said Tamara Wright, the comptroller of Southampton. Southampton, on the East End of Long Island, recently borrowed a fifth of its pension bill — $1.2 million of $6 million — by decision of the town board.

“I certainly am sensitive to the board’s concerns about the current economic times,” she said.

The state is borrowing too — $575 million in the current fiscal year, and $782 million in the next, under a budget proposed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

The state’s comptroller, Thomas P. DiNapoli, said in a statement, “While the state’s pension fund is one of the strongest performers in the country, costs have increased due to the Wall Street meltdown.” He added that “amortizing pension costs is an option for some local governments to manage cash flow and to budget for long-term pension costs in good and bad times.”

The comptroller’s office noted that only a part of the overall pension contributions owed by the state and municipalities was being borrowed. And it said the number of borrowers had risen partly because the borrowing plan only recently became available.

“It would not be fair to draw a characterization about statewide municipal finances from these numbers,” said Kevin Murray, an executive deputy in the comptroller’s office.

But it is clear that a number of major public employers are having trouble affording the state’s current pension system.

“Sharp increases in pension costs are unsustainable and are devastating state and local governments,” Robert Megna, Governor Cuomo’s budget director, said in a statement.

Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, is proposing changes that would require future state employees to share a greater portion of their pension costs, and would allow them to opt into a 401(k)-style retirement plan. The proposal is known as Tier VI because it would be added to five existing pension benefit categories.

The governor’s proposal has been met coldly by labor unions, as well as by many state lawmakers and Mr. DiNapoli, also a Democrat and an ally of the labor movement. The proposal is supported by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York as well as other municipal leaders, and by business groups.

“It’s the most significant rising cost that we have,” Scott Adair, the chief financial officer of Monroe County, said of pensions.

In Poughkeepsie, which is contributing $3.6 million into the state pension system this year and borrowing nearly $800,000, Mayor John C. Tkazyik, a Republican, said rising pension costs and new federal accounting requirements for retiree health coverage could have dire consequences.

“It could bankrupt the city,” Mr. Tkazyik said, adding that the city had cut its work force, to 367 from 418 employees, in four years as it struggled to compensate.

The New York Public Library is borrowing nearly $2.9 million of a $14.7 million pension bill this year. A library spokeswoman said the decision to borrow came at the urging of the city, which finances a majority of the library’s budget. The city has its own pension system, separate from the state, which has undergone its own fiscal stresses because of sharp contribution increases.

“After a strong recommendation from the city, the library decided to amortize its pension payments because of the cost savings to both the library and the city, which reimburses more than half of our pension costs,” said Angela Montefinise, the library spokeswoman.

But the Bloomberg administration played down its role.

“The library system decides how to manage their finances,” said Marc LaVorgna, a Bloomberg spokesman, adding, “The decision was made by the libraries.”

NEWS: (Suburban) Embattled North Chicago Police Chief Newsome retires

--This was only a matter of time with the situation being what it is right now in North Chicago.--

Story at Chicago Sun-Times

Last Modified: Feb 28, 2012 03:08AM

North Chicago Mayor Leon Rockingham announced Monday that embattled Police Chief Michael Newsome has retired.

Newsome, who was a 14-year veteran of the department when he was appointed by Rockingham in 2005, spent his last two months on the job under increasing pressure in the wake of the Nov. 13 death of Darrin “Dagwood” Hanna.

Hanna, 45, never recovered from injuries allegedly inflicted during his Nov. 6 arrest on a domestic battery charge. An outcry ensued and a stream of both new and old allegations of excessive police force emerged, some resulting in successful litigation against the city.

Newsome, 50, was placed on administrative leave with pay by Rockingham on Jan. 3, pending the outcome of multiple investigations into Hanna’s death and after four aldermen voted for his removal.

Newsome’s retirement was effective Feb. 24. In a letter to Rockingham, he said he was thankful for “the opportunity to serve and protect the citizens of North Chicago.”

“I have had the chance to make many meaningful relationships, both personal and professional,” he stated.

Rockingham called Newsome “a consummate law enforcement professional and a tremendous team player.”

“While I recognize that there has been a great deal of controversy in the last several months regarding issues of police use of force, I have known Mike Newsome to be a person committed to the protection and safety of all the residents of North Chicago and one who always acted in a manner he felt was best for the citizens, as well as members of the department,” Rockingham said in a prepared statement.

Gloria Carr of North Chicago, Hanna’s mother, who is pursuing a wrongful death suit against the city in federal court and who wants the officers involved in her son’s arrest charged with murder, is taking no satisfaction in Newsome’s retirement.

“In a way I’m sad he’s going because they used him,” Carr said. “He’s the scapegoat. Newsome to me is an OK person. He just looked the other way too often.”

Third Ward Ald. Valerie DeVost, a frequent critic of Rockingham’s administration, isn’t satisfied either.

“I don’t hold Newsome as responsible as Mayor Rockingham and Chuck Smith (city attorney),” she said. “They knew about all the lawsuits before they came to the City Council.”

Rockingham and Smith have countered that aldermen were supplied information on lawsuits in executive session.

DeVost has asked Smith to provide a record of every lawsuit filed against the city since 2005. In a related move, the council has resurrected an Audit Committee as a way to track pending litigation against the city.

“Newsome’s head was on the block, but the person who needs to step down is the leader of this community, who knew about the complaints when Newsome didn’t take care of them,” DeVost said.

Newsome’s replacement by interim Chief James Jackson, a retired Chicago police commander who took over the department the first week of February, provoked criticism that the city was paying two chief salaries. Jackson is earning $9,000 per month.

The city, which continues to wait for the results of independent investigations into Hanna’s death by the Lake County Coroner’s Office and Illinois State Police, is paying $100 an hour to retired State Police Col. Robert Johnson to conduct an internal investigation into the circumstances surrounding Hanna’s arrest. Johnson is also investigating complaints of police brutality by five others over an 18-month period beginning in mid-2010.

Newsome previously served as a shift commander and detective. He oversaw initiatives including installation of the city’s first surveillance cameras and the patrolling of three Navy housing subdivisions, an addition of about 1,000 homes.

During his tenure, according to Rockingham, the “crime index rate” in the city dropped.

Rockingham said Newsome “presided over a very difficult time when the city has been limited in resources.”

Sun-Times Media

PENSION: (Illinois) Retired teachers' insurance to lose state subsidy under Quinn plan

--I know first hand how it feels to have your family health insurance dropped with no notice and it SUCKS!!!
I wonder if Quinn will do just like the private CEO's of GE, AT&T, and many others did and just drop the coverage for 70,000?
Will the state try and help them get insurance or keep their insurance?
Governor Quinn, Mike Madigan, John Cullerton, and Tom Cross must have some big donations from members of the Commercial Club of Chicago for them to crew over former emplyees in such a manner.--

Story at State Journal-Register

The State Journal-Register

Gov. Pat Quinn wants to end the state’s contribution to the Teachers’ Retirement Insurance Program in the budget year that will start July 1.

The state was expected to contribute nearly $87 million to TRIP next year. It is unclear how that money will be made up – or whether retirees will have to pay more – if lawmakers go along with the idea.

That means Catherine Hammersley will be watching the state’s budget machinations closely this spring.

Hammersley, 60, a retired administrator with the Harrisburg School District, relies on the retired teachers program for her health-care coverage in retirement. It costs her about $184 a month.

“Our budget’s already being pinched with the cost of fuel going up and groceries and commodities,” Hammersley said.

Tucked away in the budget plan Quinn submitted to lawmakers last week is the administration’s proposal to end the state subsidy to both TRIP and to a similar, but much smaller program, covering retired community college employees. The state’s TRIP contribution in next year’s budget is supposed to be $86.6 million, while the contribution to the College Insurance Program was to be $4.1 million.

“Due to the state’s fiscal challenges created over decades of mismanagement, the state will no longer be using general revenue funds to fund CIP and TRIP,” said Kelly Kraft, spokeswoman for Quinn’s budget office.  “Downstate teachers and community colleges will still be able to buy into the state system to receive health insurance by making up the contributions.”

More than 70,000 covered

Just how those contributions will be made up is the question, since TRIP is funded through a variety of sources. In addition to the state contribution, schools contribute a percentage of their payroll to the program.  Active teachers also contribute based on their salaries, and the state contribution is supposed to match the amount paid by active teachers.

Retirees who are members of TRIP also pay premiums for the insurance. This year, a retired teacher pays a total of $170 to $650 a month for health insurance, depending on the type of coverage the retiree selects and whether he or she qualifies for Medicare, said Jim Bachman, executive director of the Illinois Retired Teachers Association.

Retirees’ dependents pay more for their TRIP coverage.

There are a total of 71,538 members of TRIP, including 61,188 retirees and 10,350 dependents.  There are about 90,000 retired educators in Illinois.

Bachman said about 5,000 TRIP members age 65 and over don’t qualify for Medicare, leaving them with only TRIP for their health coverage.

Monday, February 27, 2012

PENSION: (National) Guest Viewpoint: 401(k)s a dangerous move for N.Y. pensions

--Hmmm, a politician that makes sense? There's a nice change.
While this is from New York, the ideas apply all over.
401(k)'s are not meant to replace Defined Benefit Pensions, they are just to supplement.
They are nothing more than a way for employer's to walk away from their employees.--

Opinion at

5:21 PM, Feb. 24, 2012

Written by
Mayor Matthew T. Ryan
5:21 PM, Feb. 24, 2012

Binghamton's pension costs have increased significantly in the last decade, so you might expect me to support the 401(k)-style retirement plan now on the table in Albany. But I don't.

Even if a 401(k) plan were optional, it would be a dangerous move for our retirees, both economically and morally. Let me tell you why I feel so strongly about this issue.

401(k) plans were originally designed to supplement pensions, not replace them. Using a 401(k) in place of a defined benefit pension would undoubtedly undercut the financial security that our workers deserve in their old age. Instead of the reliable benefit of the pension system now in effect across our state, a 401(k) plan fluctuates at the whim of the stock market. While some retirees could hit the jackpot, the chances are higher that they would hit rock-bottom if the market struggles as it has since the great recession started in 2007.

In Binghamton and across our nation, many retirees with 401(k) plans have met this fate. Seniors are going back to work well into their 70s and 80s, turning to food stamps and food banks just to eat, and putting a bigger strain on public assistance, especially medical services.

Staying faithful to a defined- benefit pension is critical to strengthening our economy. Among New York's municipal employees, 77 percent stay in-state after retiring, generating an estimated $9.5 billion in economic activity and $1.3 billion in revenue from property taxes. In Broome County alone, our 6,500 state and local employee retirees receive more than $107 million in pension payments annually, and that plays an important role in supporting our local businesses, municipal services and quality of life. Turning to a 401(k) plan puts these economic pillars in danger exactly when we should be building on them.

Protecting public defined benefit plans from attacks by those advocating 401(k)s requires some myth-busting. While some allege that pensions are bloated, the average annual public pension among New York state and local workers is $19,000 when you exclude police and fire. Moreover, 76 percent of all retirees receive less than $30,000 a year, and less than one-half of 1 percent receive a pension over $100,000.

Very few of New York's retirees are getting wealthy, and defined-benefit pensions are essential for the vast majority of retirees just to get by. The anti-pension movement claims public employees should move from the defined-benefit model to 401(k)s because so much of the private sector has done so, but the reality is just the opposite: If we want to maintain basic living standards, we must prevent a race to the bottom in the plans we offer to our workers.

While I reject a 401(k) plan entirely, reforms are necessary. First, we need to build on the last pension tier's success in limiting the amount of overtime that counts toward one's pension, as certain employees still can use OT to inflate their benefits to unreasonable levels. Second, we must rein in six-figure pensions, even though they make up such a small portion of all worker pensions.

But most important, we must reform the system that creates uncertainty in pension costs: the stock market. Until we end the financial sector's casino gambling, the market and these costs will continue to swing wildly at everyone's expense.

Like other communities across upstate New York and beyond, Binghamton is doing everything it can to weather the ongoing recession, and we are basing this work on both pragmatism and principle. Despite rising costs, our current pension system is not broken. We must balance our state's short-term and long-term priorities, and I believe that a 401(k) plan clearly fails to achieve that balance for our retirees, working families and local economy. If we truly are going to be the most progressive state in the nation, then we must pass reforms that work for all New Yorkers.

Ryan is mayor of the City of Binghamton.

NEWS: (Suburban) McHenry sues gang members

--Right, wrong, or otherwise I love to see these lawsuits. Put these pieces of trash on notice.--

Story at Chicago Tribune

From left, Genaro Pena, Justin Pena, Spencer Ortiz, Alfredo Garcia-Castillo and Antonio Figueroa. (February 26, 2012)
Civil suit meant to curb gang violence

By Lawerence Synett
Chicago Tribune reporter
7:29 AM CST, February 27, 2012

McHenry County's top prosecutor has filed a civil lawsuit against alleged street gang members with lengthy criminal pasts in an attempt to curb gang violence and deter recruitment.

McHenry County State's Attorney Louis Bianchi and the city of Harvard filed the lawsuit earlier this month against five men they say are members of the same street gang. The lawsuit would bar the alleged gang members from associating with each other in public, among other restrictions.

Harvard "is kind of the epicenter of gang violence," Bianchi said. "We don't want to wait until someone gets seriously injured. It's time to target the people in an effort to target the gang."

The lawsuit stems from the 1993 Illinois Street Gang Terrorism Omnibus Prevention Act, which allows prosecutors to pursue civil cases — including monetary damages — against gang members. Similar initiatives have taken place in other Chicago-area counties.

Harvard residents Antonio M. Figueroa, Alfredo Garcia-Castillo, Justin Pena, Genaro Pena and Spencer M.L. Ortiz are named as defendants along with "other unnamed (gang) members," according to the lawsuit. The men are due in court June 15.

Prosecutors said the men, including those unnamed, engaged in a pattern of gang-related activity between 2000 and 2010. The lawsuit states that gang members also "committed forcible felonies, felonies, criminal defacement and damage to property and other criminal offense against others" during that time.

Gang associates have been an ongoing "menace" to Harvard for several years, said Donna Kelly, chief of the McHenry County State's Attorney's Civil Division. She previously served as a special prosecutor in cases against at least three of the men named in the lawsuit.

"This doesn't replace the criminal justice system," she said, "It's just another avenue to assist prosecutors in trying to thwart gang violence."

The lawsuit seeks a permanent injunction that would prevent gang members from "standing, sitting, walking, driving, gathering or appearing anywhere in public view with any other defendant or known (street gang) gang member."

It also would prohibit defendants from displaying gang signs or tattoos and from possessing anything that could be used as a weapon or to create gang-related graffiti outside of home or work, according to court documents.

Other gang members from throughout the county could be added to the lawsuit if they commit two gang-related criminal offenses within a five-year period.

"This is an effort to discourage recruitment and at the same time keep the community safe," Bianchi said. "Gangs in McHenry County are enough of a problem to warrant this type of lawsuit."

The lawsuit, filed Feb. 10, also seeks more than $50,000 for the City of Harvard for "the damages, impairment and harm ... caused by the acts of the Latin Kings and any of the named and unnamed defendants."

Harvard has its own local anti-gang ordinance, which allows officers to issue $400 fines to people who wear gang colors or flash gang signs, among other infractions.

"We take a zero-tolerance stance toward gangs in Harvard," police Chief Dan Kazy-Garey said. "Although gang violence has remained consistent, we like to think that we have been able to reduce it to some degree."

The Kane County State's Attorney's Office and the Elgin Police Department Gang Unit sued about 70 gang members in 2010, and this month Elgin police said they charged two men with unlawful contact with a gang member, the first arrests stemming from the lawsuit.

NEWS: (Suburban) Chicago gangs pushing into western suburbs

--I don't know if this is such a new trend. Most suburban town leaders across the U.S. put their heads in the sand when it comes to gangs.
They usually wait until it becomes to noticeable of a problem to just look the other way.
I like the idea of WEDGE and I was always advocating such a group when I was in our gang unit but it always came down to one town worrying that their officers would be spending to much time elsewhere.
It seems that WEDGE has been able to answer that problem from what I have seen.--

Story at Chicago Sun-Times

Staff Reporter/
Last Modified: Feb 27, 2012 08:18AM

Chicago gang members are invading the western suburbs.

Gangs have sent juveniles to Riverside to burglarize homes and steal TVs, computers, jewelry, cash and whatever else they could grab.

In Oak Park, River Forest and Forest Park, gang members recently painted graffiti on 30 different locations before they were nabbed.

And in Cicero, police busted a high-ranking Four Corner Hustlers member for possession of heroin.

“The Chicago Police are doing a really good job of pushing the crime west,” said Riverside Police Chief Tom Weitzel, chairman of a 10-suburb gang task force.

It was formed about five years ago when Berwyn, Brookfield, Cicero, Elmwood Park, Forest Park, North Riverside, Oak Park, River Forest, Riverside and Stickney began to see the “toothpaste” effect. Chicago Police were applying pressure to gangs and like a tube of toothpaste, they were getting squeezed to the suburbs.

Last year, Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy declared war on the Maniac Latin Disciples and the Spanish Cobras after MLDs allegedly killed two little girls and Cobras allegedly killed an off-duty Chicago cop.

“In the last year, things have really picked up,” Weitzel said. “We attribute that to the full-court press on gangs by the Chicago Police.”

Cook County Sheriff’s Supt. Frank Diaz, who runs the criminal intelligence unit in the jail, said another reason for the exodus of gangs to the suburbs is that more members are getting out of prison and being placed on “intensive gang probation.”

They’re prohibited from returning to their old neighborhoods and aren’t comfortable in rival gang territory in Chicago. So they relocate to the suburbs, where they’re safer and the cops don’t initially know them.

Weitzel said the demolition of Chicago public-housing units displaced gang members to the western suburbs.

And many Chicago gang members have chosen to drive to the suburbs to do “deals on wheels” because they’re afraid of having their drug transactions captured on Chicago’s public surveillance cameras, Diaz said.

The task force — called WEDGE for West Suburban Directed Gang Enforcement — made 105 felony arrests last year, compared to 49 in 2009. Its gang-related missions, everything from traffic stops to monitoring summer festivals, were up 66 percent last year compared to 2010, Weitzel said.

Before the task force was launched, the 10 suburbs didn’t readily share information, Weitzel said. Now the task force’s 22 officers have access to the other departments’ crime databases and communicate on the same radio frequencies.

The task force is asking for permission to communicate on Chicago Police Department radio frequencies when they enter Chicago for investigations, Weitzel said.

Task force members have been working with the U.S. Marshals Service to chase down fugitive gang members. They also team with the Illinois Department of Corrections to conduct home visits of parolees to see whether they’re following the conditions of their release, Weitzel said.

More and more, gang members and their extended families have resettled from Chicago to Riverside, a picturesque town of almost 9,000 residents, Weitzel said.

The village, founded in 1875, was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted — known as the father of landscape architecture.

Riverside calls itself the “Village in the Forest.”

Weitzel said the quiet village — like most of the other towns in the task force — was unprepared for the influx of gang members several years ago.

The village was forced to pass an ordinance requiring businesses to remove gang graffiti within seven days, Weitzel said. Even the bridge crossing the Des Plaines River near the police department is a regular target of such graffiti, Weitzel said.

But that’s not all.

In recent years, police have busted gang members selling dope outside Riverside Brookfield High School, but Weitzel said police have not seen that problem in the last six months.

Perhaps most disturbing was the burglary ring the task force busted, he said.

Chicago gang leaders sent juveniles to Riverside to knock on doors. If someone answered, they’d ask for “John” and would politely leave when the resident said John didn’t live there.

Then they would go to another house, and if someone didn’t answer the door, they’d kick it in and burglarize the place.

When they were caught, the juveniles admitted they were Chicago gang members and told police they didn’t care about getting arrested because they wouldn’t do any time behind bars.

They were right.

They were released and did the same thing in Forest Park, where they were re-arrested for burglary, Weitzel said.

“We asked them why they were coming to Riverside and they said it was an affluent community and they were getting better proceeds here,” he said.

Weitzel said the task force is now conducting long-term investigations, using court-authorized telephone overhears, to build cases to “keep these people out of here permanently.”

The Chicago Police Department recognizes “that across the country, gangs try to expand their presence and tend to gravitate to locations that they believe they can operate with less scrutiny — and the Chicagoland area is no different,” said Chicago Police spokeswoman Melissa Stratton.

“But simply pushing crime out — the bubble effect — is not what our goal is. We work relentlessly to address conditions in the areas that gangs operate in to increase the safety of communities across our city, and assist fellow law enforcement agencies with access to our CLEAR system and by holding gang information sharing meetings,” she said.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

OFFICER DOWN NEWS: (Michigan) Grand Rapids police chief: Repeated attempts could not keep officer Andrew Rusticus alive after heart attack

--Prior to working for Grand Rapids P.D. Officer Andrew Rusticus worked for Woodridge P.D. and served as an intern for Chicago P.D.. 
He was 29. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Officer Rusticus' family and to the Grand Rapids P.D.
Any memorial information will be posted when available.--

Story at

Sunday, February 26, 2012, 8:46 PM
 By Garret Ellison |

DORR — Friends, family and colleagues of Andrew Elliott Rusticus are in mourning this weekend after the 29-year-old Grand Rapids police officer died of an apparent heart attack while jogging on Saturday.

“It’s a tremendous loss,” said Grand Rapids Police Chief Kevin Belk. “We are just in absolute shock that someone this early in a very promising career was taken away at age 29.”

Belk said Rusticus went out for a jog on Saturday afternoon about 2 p.m., part of a training regimen for an upcoming canine handler position physical agility test with the department. About eight other officers were in competition for the open spot.

A neighbor coming home from running errands found Rusticus slumped on the edge of the road near his home on Pheasant Run Drive north of Dorr. The neighbor called 911, attempting to revive Rusticus until medical responders arrived.

Paramedics were able to revive Rusticus and transport him to Metro Health Hospital, but doctors could not keep his heart beating, Belk said.

He was pronounced dead at 7:08 p.m.

Preliminary indications point to a heart attack, said Belk. An autopsy will be performed to determine whether Rusticus, who was in peak physical condition, had an unknown heart condition.

The tragedy recalls the death of Wes Leonard, the Fennville high school basketball player who collapsed on the court and later died last year after making the game-winning shot to cap his team's perfect season.

“Obviously, at age 29, you certainly wouldn’t expect a heart issue,” said Belk.

Rusticus, who was off-duty, was the first death among the Grand Rapids Police Deptartment ranks since Officer Robert Kozminski (also 29) was shot and killed responding to a domestic dispute in July 2007. The most recent law enforcement fatality was the death of Walker Officer Trevor Slot, killed by bank robbers last October.

Grandville Police Officer Rodney Holmes, 39, also died of heart attack while off-duty in July 2009.
Rusticus was the nephew of retired Kent County Sheriff Deputy Edward Rusticus. His lifelong ambition was to become a police officer, said Lieutenant Wayne Wu, who worked with Rusticus.
“He interacted with people very well,” said Wu, who wore a black band across his badge — a sign of mourning. “He just had a very genuine way about him — very even tempered and patient.”
The news of Rusticus' death has prompted an outpouring of sympathy on the department's Facebook page.

Rusticis was a 2005 graduate of Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Ill., where he made the Dean’s List while earning a bachelor of arts in sociology and psychology,

Rusticus joined the Grand Rapids Police Department in April 2009 after working three and a half years with the Village of Woodridge Police Department in Illinois. In Dec. 2009, Rusticus was one of 20 officers laid off due to city budget cuts, but he was recalled in June 2010.

He was awarded for valor in Woodridge for arresting a suspect who shot at officers, given a lifesaving award for performing CPR on an infant and received two commendation awards for professional responses to criminal incidents.

He worked as a second-shift patrol officer on the city’s Southeast Side, said Belk.

“He was a great guy, described by everyone as very respectful of people, excellent at de-escalating situations — that certainly goes back to his degree in psychology; knowing how to deal with people in crisis.”

Belk said a tribute memorial service is being arranged for Rusticus.

“He was at work early every day, always had something positive to say,” he said. “He was a good friend of many, and they, and we, are certainly suffering today.”

He is survived by his wife, Michelle, and two daughters: Baylee Noel, 3, and Libby Grace, 3 months. Funeral arrangements are pending.

PENSION: (Illinois) Dismantling Illinois

--Gov. Bumblin' Stumblin' Quinn said a lot of things in his budget address. To bad many of them make no sense.
The man has no idea what he is doing or how to do it.
He will violate the stat'e constitution just because Michael Madigan tells him to.
We are in need of so many overhauls in this start that it seems impossible to figure where to start.
The place to start is at the beginning. Overhaul the politicians and then start overhauling the issues.--

Editorial at Chicago Tribune

Angry at Quinn's painful but needed cuts? Blame legislators and governors who recklessly overspent on public pensions and Medicaid.

February 23, 2012

The truth is that over the past 35 years, too many governors and members of the General Assembly have clung to budget fantasies rather than confronting hard realities, especially with respect to pension and Medicaid investments. Today, our rendezvous with reality has arrived. We must navigate our budget out of past decades of poor fiscal management, deferring bills to the future, and empty promises.

— Gov. Pat Quinn, Feb. 22, 2012

Gov. Quinn opened his annual budget speech Wednesday by admitting the miserable truth: Illinois government is overspent, overborrowed, overpromised. So he has no choice but to begin dismantling that government. With his proposed cuts, Quinn is showing Illinoisans the sorry state of their state.

We realize the human costs of closing redundant institutions and offices: Dismantling Illinois affects employees, their families and citizens. We also, though, realize the need for this downsizing. Expect cuts to overhead next year and in years after. The higher income tax you pay? In the next budget, virtually every penny of that $7 billion in new revenue goes to pension obligations.

Nor would Quinn's proposed cuts salvage Illinois: Pension funds still will be underfunded by more than $80 billion, retiree health care by perhaps $40 billion.

On Tuesday we wrote that you would know Quinn is serious about improving Illinois' finances if he cleared five hurdles in Wednesday's address. How did he do? Pretty well, to a point.

•Quinn said all the right things about stabilizing and strengthening the pension system. But he's leaving the tough work of negotiating reforms to a "working group" that is to report back by April 17.

•His budget balances precariously on his trust that legislators, who last year fought even modest Medicaid cuts, now will whack $2.7 billion from a program that serves one in five citizens. Again, no specifics from the governor — although he did note the Civic Federation's fear that three-fifths of those $35 billion in unpaid bills could be for Medicaid alone.

•The governor complained that prior lawmakers gave health benefits to themselves and to today's 82,000 retirees, but with 90 percent paying no premiums. Quinn aides say that this entitlement exists in state law as well as labor pacts; so legislators need to repeal the law before Quinn's people can bargain the point in union talks.

•This year Quinn didn't call for borrowing taxpayers further into indebtedness. At long last: Bravo!

•Quinn did propose new spending, which isn't our preference. But his aides say he would pay for it. For instance, agency cuts would offset new money for college grants and early-childhood education. We'll wait for the fine print.

The governor's core message was spot-on: Runaway pension and Medicaid costs are straitjacketing every other spending priority. We hope he'll now follow through. Recall that in the past he has abandoned his own demands on lawmakers for budget discipline.

This time, Quinn and legislative leaders have no choice but to deliver. The dismantling of Illinois has only just begun.

NEWS: (Chicago) Top cop asks for 350 officers from around state to help secure G-8

Story at Chicago Sun-Times

Last Modified: Feb 25, 2012 11:40PM


Police Supt. Garry McCarthy’s plans for enlisting police security for the G-8/NATO summits this spring is so hush-hush, Sneed hears it’s got statewide security agencies in a swivet.

“It’s almost March and the two summits are in May,” said a top security source. “What’s up?”

“There is no way Illinois agencies outside Cook County have the manpower to help Chicago without the numbers the New York Police Department could provide,” said another source.

McCarthy, who has yet to comment on whether he requested help from New York, “has status with them and they have a force of 30,000, twice the size of Chicago’s police force,” said another security source.

But some plans are under way:

◆Sneed has learned the Chicago Police Department has requested the help of 350 cops from police departments across the state, according to a recent email dispatched by the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System.

◆Assistance from Illinois State Police also has been requested, but Sneed hears only about 250 police officers could be spared.

So how many Chicago cops are needed?

◆It took 4,000 cops to handle the G-8 a few years back in Pittsburgh, which had a police force of less than 1,000 officers.

◆It took at least 2,000-plus cops from outside the Chicago area to help control crowds on election night 2008, when President-elect Barack Obama addressed an excited crowd at Grant Park.

◆Response: “We are assessing our needs as we plan, and that includes the use of in-state and out-of-state sworn personnel,” police spokesman Melissa Stratton said Saturday. “We are not limiting candidates to one state or agency. We don’t have the final footprint for the summits so we won’t be able to finalize the number of sworn personnel we will be utilizing from other agencies until closer to the event.”

◆Meanwhile: Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is this/close to President Barack Obama, was in Washington midweek to meet with Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano to discuss Chicago’s upcoming double summit and federal help.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

BREAKING OFFICER DOWN NEWS: Chicago officer falls ill on-duty, dies

***UPDATED FEB 26 @ 6:05pm***

--Our thoughts and prayers go out to the officer's family and to the Chicago Police Department.
When more information or memorial information is available it wll be posted.--

Story at Chicago Tribune

Veteran Chicago Police officer Preston Ross Jr. suffered a fatal heart attack Saturday while on duty at a CTA stop, the Cook County Medical Examiner said today.
Ross, 48, was in uniform and working on the CTA detail at the Grand Avenue Blue Line stop around 9 a.m. when he suffered the heart attack. Police News affairs said. He was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he died, police said.
Ross had been on the force for 25 years and received 17 awards from the department during his career, police said.
"On behalf of the entire Department, I offer my sincere condolences to Officer Ross' family, friends and colleagues," Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said in the statement. "We will keep them in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time."
The officer was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in "grave condition" and was declared dead there, Police News Affairs Officer Robert Perez said.
Police conducted an honor motorcade between Northwestern Memorial and the Cook County medical examiner's office this afternoon, police said.
Ross' aunt, Jackie Ross of Riverdale, said her nephew seemed happy when she spoke to him last month and she did not know of him suffering any health issues.
Ross described Preston Ross Jr. as a kind, outgoing and generous person who loved to barbecue.
"I've never seen him do anything in anger," said Ross, who has been married to Preston Ross’ uncle for 34 years. "I’ve never seen him angry, period. I’ve never seen him frown on anybody."
Ross added that whenever a family member or friend had a problem, Ross Jr. could be counted on to help out.

"He was a very sweet person," Ross said. "I was proud to say he was my nephew."

Staff report
2:35 PM CST, February 25, 2012

A 25-year Chicago Police veteran was believed to have suffered a heart attack while on duty this morning and died after being taken to a downtown hospital, police said.

The officer, Preston Ross Jr., 48, was on-duty at the Grand Avenue stop of the CTA Blue Line when he suffered some sort of medical emergency about 9 a.m., according to Police News Affairs.

Ross, who was assigned to the Morgan Park Police District, was in uniform and assigned to a CTA detail at the time, police said. He was believed to have suffered a heart attack, police News Affairs said in a statement.

"On behalf of the entire Department, I offer my sincere condolences to Officer Ross' family, friends and colleagues," Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said in the statement. "We will keep them in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time."

The officer was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in "grave condition" and was declared dead there, Police News Affairs Officer Robert Perez said.

Police conducted an honor motorcade between Northwestern Memorial and the Cook County medical examiner's office this afternoon, police said.

Ross had received 17 awards from the Police Department in his time on the force, according to News Affairs.

NEWS: (National) DA: Mass. sergeant shoots officer, kills self

--What is going on lately? These types of stories seem to be on the rise. It is very disconcerting.--

Story at PoliceOne

February 25, 2012

Authorities found Beverly police Officer Jason Lantych shot multiple times

Associated Press

This photo provided by the Massachusetts State Police shows Hamilton police Sgt. Kenneth Nagy. A Massachusetts district attorney says Nagy an off-duty sergeant shot a police officer from a nearby town, then returned to the scene and killed himself as authorities closed in. (AP Image)
BEVERLY, Mass. — An off-duty sergeant shot a police officer from a nearby town Friday night, then returned to the scene and killed himself as authorities closed in, the district attorney said.

Authorities responded to a Starbucks in Beverly after a 911 call at about 5:45 p.m. Friday and found Beverly police Officer Jason Lantych shot multiple times, Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said. Lantych is in serious condition and undergoing surgery, he said.

Off-duty Hamilton police Sgt. Ken Nagy shot Lantych and fled, the district attorney's office said. A warrant was issued for Nagy's arrest on a charge of assault with intent to murder, and authorities said he was believed to be armed and dangerous.

The 43-year-old Nagy returned to the Starbucks at about 10:30 p.m., and police there began to cordon off the scene. Nagy fatally shot himself in his car as officers approached him, Blodgett said.

Nagy and Lantych knew each other, but the motive for the shooting is unclear, the district attorney's office said. Beverly and Hamilton are towns about 5 miles apart in northeastern Massachusetts.

Nagy was promoted to sergeant last summer after 19 years of service, according to a July 3 story from the Hamilton-Wenham Chronicle. His wife, Katie, smiled as she pinned a badge on Nagy's uniform, and their two young sons clapped, the newspaper reported.

When asked his feelings about the promotion, Nagy told the newspaper, "It feels great. I worked hard over the 19 years to get here."

PENSION: (Suburban) DuPage candidates pledge to end board pensions

--I won't believe it until I see it.--

Story at Daily Herald

By Robert Sanchez

Most of the Republican hopefuls in the heavily contested DuPage County Board District 2 race say they won’t take a pension if they’re elected.

But three have signed an online pledge to eliminate the county board’s publicly funded pension plan. Those candidates — Mike Loftus, Rafael Rivadeneira and Zachary Wilson — agree that being a county board member is a part-time job that doesn’t warrant a $50,000-a-year salary and benefits.

“I’m speaking on behalf of constituents,” said Rivadeneira of Elmhurst. “They think it’s outrageous that part-time elected officials who voluntarily chose to the be elected officials demand $50,000 a year and a pension, plus health care benefits.”

Whether Rivadeneira, Wilson and Loftus can follow through with their promise remains to be seen.

They are among eight candidates seeking the GOP nomination for one of three District 2 seats on the county board during the March 20 primary. The five other Republican challengers are: Sean Noonan of Elmhurst; Elmhurst Mayor Pete DiCianni; Jim Long of Downers Grove; Charles Mueller of Elmhurst; and Oak Brook Trustee Elaine Zannis.

Thirteen current county board members are enrolled in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund. Board members become vested after eight years. After 20 years, board members are eligible to receive 80 percent of their final year’s salary.

During a Daily Herald endorsement interview this week, DiCianni was the only District 2 candidate who said he would sign up for the pension if he wins election to the county board.

DiCianni also says he would continue to serve as the mayor of Elmhurst but donate that position’s $8,400 annual pay back to the city or its charities. He would keep the entire DuPage board member salary.

“I think I’m well worth it because I’m a businessman who runs a multimillion-dollar company,” said DiCianni, founder and CEO of DiCianni Graphics, Inc. “It’s a half-billion-dollar budget that the county board oversees. This is not playtime.”

Noonan called the salary for board members “generous.” Still, he said $50,000 a year is appropriate for someone who has near-perfect meeting attendance and participates in board discussions.

Zannis said the pay for board members should be consistently reviewed and adjusted according to economic conditions. Long said he could support cutting the salary of board members to save taxpayers money.

Wilson and Loftus both said the salary for board members should be reduced every time they cut the pay of county employees. “When the elected officials ask the rank and file to take a cut in pay — and then don’t take one themselves — that’s failed leadership,” said Wilson, a Lombard trustee.

Loftus said he doesn’t buy the argument that the salary and benefits are needed to attract qualified people to run for county board. “I think the qualified people that have the heart to do it will step forward because they want to do it,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mueller said he hasn’t taken a position on the issue of board members’ pay.

The three GOP primary winners in District 2 will face Democrat Elizabeth “Liz” Chaplin of Downers Grove during the November general election.

District 2 includes all or parts of Addison, Clarendon Hills, Downers Grove, Elmhurst, Hinsdale, Lisle, Lombard, Naperville, Oak Brook, Oakbrook Terrace, Villa Park, Westmont and Woodridge.

NEWS: (Suburban) North Chicago suspends officer for hitting man

--Seems to be an epidemic of these reports from North Chicago lately. Wonder what is happening and if these are just cases of following the leader.--

Story at Chicago Tribune

Police have faced several excessive-force complaints

By Robert McCoppinChicago Tribune reporter
February 25, 2012

North Chicago has ordered the unpaid suspension of a police officer for hitting a man in custody — the first disciplinary action since a recent wave of excessive-force claims were made against police.

Interim police Chief James Jackson this week ordered that Officer Emir King be suspended for an incident that occurred in July 2010 but did not receive public attention until surveillance video of the episode was leaked and played at a City Council meeting in December.

City attorney Chuck Smith confirmed the pending suspension — though he would not disclose its length — and said King would have to sign a "last chance" agreement and attend anger-management class.

In the video, shot in a processing room at the police station, the Waukegan man in custody, Paul Smith, now 42, seems to be docile when King appears suddenly to strike him on the back of the head, pull him around the room by his neck and push him into the wall, where he drops to the ground, bleeding from his nose.

Smith later pleaded guilty to resisting arrest in exchange for one year conditional discharge. Like several other arrestees, he did not complain publicly about excessive force until after outrage over the death of Darrin Hanna, a 45-year-old North Chicago resident who died in November, a week after several officers intervened in an alleged domestic battery at his home.

"I didn't want to come forward because I was scared. ... I didn't want the cops coming after me," Smith told WGN-TV. "They need to stop it. They just can't go around beating people up."

He called for King to be fired.

Reached at the station, King said police regulations prevent him from talking about the case, adding, "I have quite a bit to say, but I can't."

King's arrest report states that he found Smith lying on the sidewalk, drunk and incoherent. When the officer took him to the booking room, Smith grabbed a metal rail and refused to release it and swore at King, the report said. King wrote that he "gave an arm strike to the left shoulder blade of Smith in an attempt to get him to release his arms," then tried to pin him against the wall "before he became more combative." But Smith struck and scraped his nose on a sanitizer dispenser on the wall, King wrote, and was in "an aggressive and drunken state."

North Chicago attorney Chuck Smith said the matter was given to internal affairs for review after the incident, but apparently nothing further was done until this month.

The initial arrest report indicates that King's supervisor, Sgt. Sal Secala, reviewed the video and determined the use of force was "necessary" because "it appears Officer King does have a problem with Mr. Smith listening to his directions."

But Chuck Smith, the city's attorney, said the suspension sends a clear message to the contrary. The handling of the matter is still under review by Robert Johnson, a former state police regional commander hired by the city to investigate Hanna's death and five other cases, including Paul Smith's.

"I expect everybody in the department would learn from" King's suspension, Chuck Smith said.

He said North Chicago takes all such allegations seriously.

Secala could not be reached for comment.

Illinois State Police and the Lake County coroner have been investigating Hanna's death but more than three months later have not released their findings.

In addition to the Hanna and Paul Smith cases, Johnson is also investigating those of Charles Smith, a man who underwent brain surgery after allegedly being beaten in his arrest; Walter Wrather, whose leg was broken after he was bitten by a police dog; Windell Gilliom, allegedly beaten; and Christopher Harper, who said he was shocked by a Taser outside a bar where he worked.

NEWS: (Illinois) Decorated trooper credited with saving woman: 'It's a blessing'

--Great job. Nice to see the good getting reported once in awhile.--

Story at Chicago Tribune

By Liam Ford and Peter Nickeas
Tribune reporters
9:39 PM CST, February 24, 2012

As his mother likes to joke, Trooper Zach Peters has a knack of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

And that's good.

For the second time in three years, Peters is being credited with saving a life after coming upon an accident.

"If you work long enough, you’re going to have those opportunities," said Peters, still coughing from the fumes and smoke he inhaled while rescuing a woman from a smoldering car on the Tri-State Tollway early this morning. “It’s a blessing that someone was able to be there shortly after the crash, and I’m just glad she’s going to be all right."

Peters, a 12-year veteran assigned to the Chicago District, was on patrol and getting onto I-80/294 at the Halsted toll plaza when he saw a silver Nissan smashed against a median around 2:15 a.m. “I saw a car facing sideways, between the concrete barricades, with smoke coming out from under the hood,” Peters said.

He notified dispatchers and then “got out of the car to see if there was anyone hurt.”

Peters walked up to the car and peered inside and saw the driver, a woman, “kind of facing sideways, with her legs pinned under the seat.” The woman appeared unconscious.

“I could feel the heat coming from the engine compartment,” but the doors were locked and he could not open the driver’s side door because of the damage. So he broke the window of the front passenger side door, Peters said. The car was filled with acrid smoke, apparently from the car’s battery which had exploded, Peters said.

“It was kind of hard to see once you got inside the car, and because of how much I was having to pull (to get her out), I was breathing kind of heavier,” Peters said.

Peters was able to pull the woman across the front seat and out of the car. Then a man who had stopped helped Peters carry the woman away from the car. The woman’s leg appeared broken and her knee dislocated. She was breathing but was “gurgling blood,” Peters said.

Another trooper arrived and, using his First Aid kit, the two troopers were fitting a neck-stabilizing collar on the woman when firefighters arrived, Peters said.

The woman, 34 and from Harvey, was taken to Ingalls Hospital in Harvey, then to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn. She was listed in serious condition, police said.

Peters suffered smoke inhalation and cuts to both hands and was treated at St. James Hospital in Olympia Fields, police said. Peters said his hands were OK but he was still having coughing fits.

East Hazel Crest Fire Capt. Kevin Vallow said Peters' actions likely saved the woman's life. "It could have burst into flames, it could have been much more dangerous than what it was," he said. "Thanks to the state trooper for pulling her out of the vehicle ... He saved a life."

In 2009, Peters and his partner, Trooper Dennis Krane, received lifesaving medals after they arrived at the scene of a hit-and-run accident on the Kennedy Expressway at Ontario and applied a tourniquet to a man's leg before paramedics arrived.

"The (emergency room) doctor at Northwestern advised the troopers' supervisor the victim would have died" if the bleeding had not been stopped, state police said.

In 2008, Peters received a Medal of Honor after he was fired at and struck by a stolen car. The trooper was walking toward the car, gun drawn, when someone inside fired a gun. The shot missed Peters, but the car sped off and hit him in the leg. Peters fired at the car but it did not stop, according to a citation from the state police on the award.

Peters said one of the reasons he pursued a police career after graduating college in 1997 was he wanted to save lives.

"Iit’s just the nature of police work," he said. “I very much was hoping to have a memorable career."

Friday, February 24, 2012

PENSION: (National) Private pensions in crisis: Where do we go from here?

Story at Employee Benefit News

By Lisa Gillespie
February 23, 2012

Private pension downfalls of recent years aren’t only plaguing private companies and employees, but the federal government, prompting a group of retirement policy experts to gather in Washington, D.C. yesterday to discuss possible solutions, including re-imagining what the defined benefit plan could look like.

The solutions ranged from borrowing the Netherlands system of a collective pool to an adjustable pension plan where investment performance and risk is shared by employers and employees.

Publicly traded companies face a combined pension shortfall of $458 billion, according to a recent report by the bank Credit Suisse. Many corporate pension plan sponsors face a significant increase in pension contributions and expenses in 2012, adversely affecting competitiveness, investment and job growth and possibly creating a further drag on corporate earnings and cash flow.

“The nation is caught in a retirement trap of its own making,” said Richard Shea, a senior partner with Covington & Burling’s employee benefits and executive compensation practice. “Existing arrangements are doing a good job in many cases, but we need more options to deal with those cases where the current system is failing us.”

From 1980 to 2008, the proportion of private wage and salary workers participating in DB pension plans fell from 38% to 20%. In contrast, the percentage of workers covered by a defined contribution pension plan has been increasing over time. From 1980 to 2008, the proportion of private wage and salary workers participating in only DC plans increased from 8% to 31%. The panel said the decrease of pension plans was largely to do an overly regulated market and volatility. The solution may lay in including DB features in DC plans.

“Traditional pension plans impose all of the risks on the employer, and 401(k) plans, while an important source of retirement savings, place all the risk on the employee,” said Karen Friedman, executive vice president and policy director for the Pension Rights Center. “Solutions that share and reduce those risks, and that provide better benefits throughout retirement will help to increase retirement security.”

The private retirement system hasn’t gotten much attention, largely due to the state and federal crisis with government-run retirement plans and the shortfalls it faces. One panelist suggested that instead of overhauling private pensions, Social Security could be strengthened.

“People aren’t putting in voluntarily; we need a system to make them put it in, something portable with a guaranteed benefit, realistic investment assumptions and that deals with longevity risk. For anyone, do we have something like that? We have something like that, but the benefit levels aren’t high enough, we don’t put enough money in,” said Damon Silvers, policy director and special counsel at AFL-CIO, referring to Social security. “It’s a lot simpler than most of what we’re talking about.”

But revising Social Security will not likely happen in this election season with pushes by the GOP to increase the age to receive benefits. Instead, one panelist suggested, private retirement funds should be amended to attract participants and employers, rather than push them away.

“The world of pensions has gotten to the point where it is sufficiently complicated that many businesses don’t want to deal with it at all. We in the government have made it complicated; we’ve repeatedly said that if you offer a pension plan you have to do this, this and this,” said Joshua Gotbaum of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. As requirements have been made tougher, businesses have moved from DB plans to DC plans. “If employers want to take burdens off employees they have to go through additional hoops, and the consequences of that is that they’re saying ‘I’ve had enough, I’m getting out.’”

The consequence of this and other economic factors is that one-fourth of Americans do not have a retirement plan, according to a member of the Senate HELP committee. Shea and other panel members are trying to shift the focus back on to corporate retirement plans.

“Private pension reform has to become part of the policy agenda, and a lot of the pension reforms in recent years have tinkered around the edges. At the end of the day most people go into retirement with little in the way of protection, which is why this has to be changed,” said Shea.

NEWS: (Joliet) Officer fired for allegedly beating woman while on a domestic call

Story at TribLocal

By Mary Owen TribLocal reporter
Today at 2:28 p.m.

A Joliet police officer has been fired after allegedly using excessive force while responding to a domestic dispute earlier this month at a motel.

Officer Thomas O’Connor, a four-year veteran of the Joliet Police Department, was alone when he responded to a call on Feb. 9 and is accused of beating a woman at the Star Inn in Joliet as he attempted to arrest her.

“He is not above the law,” said Joliet Police Chief Mike Trafton. “I have a duty to enforce the law and I also have a duty to protect the people of Joliet, whether you’re a cop or not a cop. I have to do the right thing.”

Trafton said O’Connor did not cooperate with an internal investigation, but there was sufficient evidence to warrant firing. The officer was placed on administrative duties immediately after the victim filed a complaint. An administrative hearing was held before Trafton made a decision to terminate O’Connor.

The internal investigation’s findings have been sent to a special prosecutor who will determine whether to file criminal charges. A Will County judge assigned the case to a special prosecutor after a request from the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office citing a conflict of interest.

O’Connor’s attorney, Jeff Tomczak, said his client made the right decision in a very volatile situation in attempting to take physical control of one of the combatants.

Tomczak plans to present the special prosecutor with evidence showing that O’Connor acted appropriately. For instance, he said, the officer received information via radio that one of the individuals in the motel dispute was involved in a past homicide and may have presented a serious threat.

“The evidence will show that he did what his training told him to do and that’s take control of one of the combatants before the situation escalated,” Tomczak said.

Tomczak said O’Connor’s firing could not be final based on his union contract with the department. He said there have been cases involving fired officers from police departments, including Joliet, who have been rehired when legal proceedings find the individual innocent.

NEWS: (Suburban) Park Ridge police prepare for Polar Plunge

--This is a great event for a great cause.
I did this a few years ago, it was a little colder but I loved it.
Good luck guys.--

Story at Pioneer Press


Last Modified: Feb 23, 2012 05:13AM
Some Park Ridge police officers are probably hoping that this winter’s unseasonably warm temperatures continue this weekend.

That’s because several members of the department, along with family members and some citizens, have volunteered to take part in the Law Enforcement Torch Run Polar Plunge in Lake Michigan, an activity that could get rather chilly if temperatures actually become polar-like.

About a dozen Park Ridge volunteers are expected to take the plunge Feb. 25 at Northwestern University’s North Beach in Evanston. The Polar Plunge is an annual event for law-enforcement agencies to raise money for Illinois Special Olympics’ Near West Suburban area.

“It’s cold, but it’s kind of refreshing,” acknowledged Park Ridge Police Chief Frank Kaminski, who will be among those jumping into Lake Michigan Saturday. “It gets you alive and moving.”

The Polar Plunge is one of several fundraisers hosted by the Park Ridge Police Department, as well as law-enforcement agencies across the state, to support Special Olympics. Last year Park Ridge Police raised more than $9,000 for the organization and a $10,000 goal has been set for 2012, Kaminski said.

Anyone interested in making a donation to Special Olympics in support of the officers should contact Officer Julie Genualdi or Lt. Duane Mellema, at (847) 318-5252.

NEWS: (Chicago) Judge: Jury will hear police 'code of silence' allegation in bar beating suit

Story at Chicago Tribune

By Jeremy Gorner
Tribune reporter
5:48 AM CST, February 24, 2012

Karolina Obrycka / Anthony Abbate
A federal jury will be allowed to hear a bartender’s allegation that Chicago police officers practiced a “code of silence” to protect a fellow officer caught on video brutally attacking her at the Northwest Side bar where she worked.

The ruling on Thursday by U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve will allow lawyers for Karolina Obrycka to make that case to jurors in a civil lawsuit against ex-cop Anthony Abbate and the city.

On Feb. 19, 2007, Obrycka was punched and kicked repeatedly by Abbate at Jesse Shortstop Inn, 5425 W. Belmont Ave.

The beating was captured on surveillance video at the bar. The video was later shown around the world.

In her ruling, St. Eve noted that veteran Grand Central District Officers Peter Masheimer and Jerry Knickrehm didn’t include in their final police report about the attack that Abbate was a police officer, the ruling states.

Shortly after the attack, Gary Ortiz, a friend of Abbate’s, went to the bar and told Obrycka that Abbate offered to pay for her medical bills if she didn’t file a complaint or lawsuit against him, St. Eve also noted in her ruling. The city admits that the action constitutes an attempted “bribe” by Ortiz.

St. Eve also noted that after the attack, Abbate, then a tactical unit officer in the North Side’s Lincoln police district, made numerous phone calls to other police officers, including his partner.

The ruling also cited the opinion of Lou Reiter, an expert on law enforcement procedures, who stated that during the time of the attack that a “code of silence” was present in the Chicago Police Department, and its disciplinary procedures allowed officers “to engage in misconduct with little fear of sanctions.”

Abbate was convicted in 2009 of felony aggravated battery for the attack and sentenced to two years of probation. He has since been fired from the department.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

R.I.P.: Trooper Tony Radulescu


Trooper Tony Radulescu
Washington State Patrol, Washington
End of Watch: Thursday, February 23, 2012

Bio & Incident Details

Age: 44
Tour: 16 years
Badge # Not available
Military veteran
Cause: Gunfire
Incident Date: 2/23/2012
Weapon: Gun; Unknown type
Suspect: Committed suicide

Trooper Tony Radulescu was shot and killed while making a traffic stop on State Route 16 at Anderson Hill Road, in Gorst, shortly before 1:00 am.

He had radioed in his location and the pickup truck's license plate and description to dispatchers. When dispatchers were unable to contact him for several minutes a Kitsap County sheriff's deputy was sent to check on his status and discovered him laying wounded outside of his patrol car. He was transported to St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma where he succumbed to his wounds a short time later.

The vehicle that Trooper Radulescu had stopped was found abandoned on a country road approximately three hours later. A SWAT team deployed to the registered owner's home and as they approached it the suspect committed suicide.

Trooper Radulescu was a military veteran and had served with the Washington State Patrol for 16 years.

Please contact the following agency to send condolences or to obtain funeral arrangements:

Chief John R. Batiste
Washington State Patrol
General Administration Bldg.
PO Box 42600
Olympia, WA 98504
Phone: (360) 596-4000

BREAKING OFFICER DOWN NEWS: Washington State Trooper Shot and Killed in Traffic Stop

--Our thoughts and prayers go out to the fallen officers family and to the Washington State Police.
As soon as memorial information is available it will be posted.--

***UPDATED 12:25pm***

Suspect in WSP trooper shooting found wounded

GORST, Wash. -- The suspect who may have shot and killed a Washington State Patrol trooper in Kitsap County has been found with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, said the Kitsap County Sheriff's Office, and is being transported Tacoma General Hospital.

"At 9:11 a.m., the Kitsap County Sheriff's SWAT team approached a house on Scofield Road in south Kitsap County, acting on a tip as to the possible location for the registered owner of the truck that we're looking for," said Kitsap County Sheriff's spokesman Ken Dickinson. "As they approached the house, they heard a single gunshot come from the area of the house. They approached and found a male subject with a self-inflicted gunshot wound injury."



Story at FOX NEWS Chicago

Search on for suspect

Published : Thursday, 23 Feb 2012, 7:52 AM CST

BREMERTON, Wash. (AP) - All available officers searched early Thursday for the person who shot and killed a Washington State Patrol trooper during a traffic stop about 20 miles west of Seattle across Puget Sound.

The trooper had stopped a pickup around 1 a.m. Thursday on Highway 16 near Gorst and radioed the location and license plate number, said Trooper Russ Winger.

When the trooper didn't respond to status checks, a Kitsap County sheriff's deputy went to the scene and found the wounded trooper. He was taken St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma where he was declared dead.

A few hours later, officers found the truck abandoned on a county road about two miles from the shooting scene.

Troopers, deputies and other officers searched the area for the driver using dogs and checking residences, Winger said. Residents were urged to stay inside and call 911 if they saw anything suspicious.

Investigators know who the truck is registered to, but it's unknown if that person is a suspect in the shooting, Winger said.

"We know we have a registered owner and that's all we know," he said.

The slain trooper is a veteran who worked out of Bremerton.

"He worked in the Kitsap area for quite some time," Winger said. "He was a co-worker of mine."

No other information was being released about him.

The last time the trooper was heard from was when he made the traffic stop.

"He routinely called the stop — license and location," Winger said. "He failed to answer status checks."

The deputy who arrived found the wounded trooper outside his patrol car.