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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: http://www.dukesblotter.com/#sthash.gzOejJCT.dpuf
Where the TRUTH starts. Public Pension Reform. Law Enforcement News. Officer Down News. Collective Bargaining. Corruption. - See more at: http://www.dukesblotter.com/#sthash.gzOejJCT.dpuf

Officer Down

Saturday, March 30, 2013

NEWS: Judge revokes bond of former police chief charged in corruption case

--This one just keeps getting better and better.--
Duke

Story at Chicago Sun-Times

BY ZACH BUCHHEIT
Staff Reporter
zbuchheit@suntimes.com
March 29, 2013

SPRINGFIELD — A judge revoked bond Friday for former Country Club Hills Police Chief Regina Evans after she was charged earlier this month for allegedly tampering with a witness and obstructing justice in her federal corruption case.

Evans had been held on a recognizance bond for her 2012 indictment of allegedly misusing more than half of a $1.25 million state job-training grant that went to a non-profit she controlled with her husband, Ronald Evans Jr., who is also under federal indictment.

But on March 15 Evans was jailed in Springfield after being charged with allegedly coaching a key witness in the fraud case, Ashley Simon, two days before Simon provided false testimony before a grand jury last month.

Simon allegedly admitted to federal investigators she had lied under Evans’ direction to the grand jury about $17,000 in state grant funds she withdrew from the bank and $5,000 of which she deposited into Evans’ personal bank account.

After meeting on Feb. 6 with the grand jury, Simon allegedly sent Evans a text message saying, “I just got out if you think it’s okay to call me. It went horrible.”

Simon — who was supposed to be a mentor for Evans’ purported charity, We Are Our Brother’s Keeper — was controversially hired in 2010 as a part-time Country Club Hills police officer, a post she still holds full time but is currently on leave due to pregnancy.

After allegedly admitting she had lied to the grand jury, Simon agreed with federal investigators to wear a wire and record Evans in her Chicago home on Feb. 14, when Evans allegedly continued to say things like, “Never let them change your mind. . . . . Stay strong and we’ll get through this.”

Several tapes of recorded conversations, hundreds of pages of text messages between Evans and Simon and the testimony from U.S. Postal Inspector Basil Demczak, who conducted most of the investigation, were enough for the court to conclude Friday that there was probable cause for the charges.

After more than three hours of hearing, Judge Byron Cudmore decided to revoke Evans’ bond.

Evans — shackled and dressed in a gray and white striped jumpsuit with her family in the audience — sat motionless before Cudmore as he declared Evans unfit to rejoin the community for fear she could tamper with other witnesses.

Arguing for Evans’ release on bond, her lawyer, Lawrence Beaumont, told the court that Simon had “basically showed up on [Evans’] doorstep and asked to be tampered with.”

“It’s not like she’s going from witness to witness to witness and saying, ‘change your story, lie or whatever,’” Beaumont said of his client.

Beaumont also informed the court that Evans’ mother, Essie McCoy, was willing to put up her homes in Chicago and Alabama for bond and that Pastor Shirley Hughes of the Inspirational Deliverance Center Church of God in Christ — where Evans has been a member since 2008 — was willing to act as third-party custodian.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Bass, who prosecuted on behalf of the government, argued Evans has a “corrupt state of mind” based on her recorded conversations with Simon.

“A new charge and a new arrest following a different arrest and charge is not some magic wand,” he said. “We’ve proven what she is likely to do, and that is to commit another offense.”

NEWS: West Chicago Police Detective Takes the Polar Plunge for Special Olympics Illinois

--AWESOME!!!!!! Thank you Detective Peterson and Taylor!!!!!!!
I did this event in 2010 with a team from my department (Northlake PD).
It was cold and it was fun.
Maybe next year we can put a team together for one the plunges.--
Duke

Story at Daily Herald

Exiting the cold water of Loon Lake in Silver Springs State Park, West Chicago Police Detective Robbi Peterson and his 9-year old daughter Taylor are all smiles as they complete the challenge of the Polar Plunge for Special Olympics Illinois and raise $600 to donate to the organization.

By Rosemary Mackey

West Chicago, Illinois: March 27, 2013 – Earlier this month, West Chicago Police Detective Robbi Peterson and his 9-year old daughter Taylor took the Polar Plunge, jumping into the icy cold water of Loon Lake in Silver Springs State Park outside of Yorkville, to kick start the West Chicago Police Department’s efforts in the annual Torch Run that benefits Special Olympics. They raised $600 alone in what is being called the “winter’s coolest event”.

The Polar Plunge is held in multiple communities throughout Illinois generally the 1st and 2nd week of March. This was the 10th year an event was held at Loon Lake, with just under 400 people participating and raising a total of $93,000. All across the state, nearly 6,700 warm-hearted participants also took the plunge and collectively raised more than $1.65 million for Special Olympics Illinois.

The Polar Plunge precedes the annual Torch Run which is generally held later in the spring. According to the Special Olympics Illinois website, the Law Enforcement Torch Run® is the single largest year-round fundraising event benefiting Special Olympics Illinois. The annual intrastate relay and its various fundraising projects have two goals: to raise money and to gain awareness for the athletes who participate in Special Olympics Illinois. The Law Enforcement Torch Run® has raised nearly $28 million over 27 years while increasing awareness of Special Olympics Illinois athletes and their accomplishments.

The West Chicago Police Department finds ways throughout the year to keep Special Olympics Illinois top of mind. Cop on the Top, another event typically held in May, finds members of the Police Department perched on the rooftop of a local Dunkin Donuts raising awareness and donations; and on July 13, 2013 an annual car show which will be open to all makes and models of cars will take place at Reed-Keppler Park from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. during Railroad Days. There will be 13 categories of judging and prizes to the top car in each category, in addition to raffles, giveaways and a DJ. The entry fee for each participating car is $15, with all proceeds going to Special Olympics Illinois.

Special Olympics Illinois is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization that raises funds through private means, such as donations and grants. Special Olympics Illinois is accredited by Special Olympics, Inc. which operates in all 50 states and in more than 180 countries. Illinois supports nearly 21,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities and more than 6,000 young athletes ages 2-7 with and without intellectual disabilities annually from communities throughout the state.

For more information, or to get involved, visit www.soill.org.

NEWS: Former Elgin cop’s federal lawsuit dismissed

--Not having all the inside facts make it difficult to comment.
But I am sure there are quite a few scars on both sides of the failed marriage as a result of this.--
Duke

Story at Daily Herald

By Harry Hitzeman

A federal lawsuit filed by a former Elgin police lieutenant, who retired a few years ago in the wake of his then police officer wife having an affair with a deputy chief, has been dismissed.

Greg Welter sued for wrongful termination and violation of his due process rights, but federal Judge Robert M. Dow Jr. dismissed that lawsuit Friday.

Mike Gehrman, assistant corporation counsel at the city of Elgin, said the city was pleased with the ruling.

The secretary for Charles Mudd, the attorney representing Welter in both lawsuits, said Mudd had no comment.

In August, Welter sued City Manager Sean Stegall, Corporation Counsel William Cogley, Police Chief Jeff Swoboda and James Barnes, an internal city investigator, after Welter resigned from the force.

Welter argued he was denied due process and forced to retire in August 2012. According to his lawsuit, city officials were told Welter had improperly used a state database to look up vehicle license numbers for private use and had notified the state police and Kane County State’s Attorney’s office.

Swoboda told Welter that if he resigned immediately, there would be no further investigation into possible criminal conduct and Welter would not risk losing his pension, according to court documents.

The city moved to have the suit dismissed and Dow agreed.

“Although an ‘involuntary resignation’ may form the basis of a due process claim, an employee’s decision to retire instead of facing adverse employment consequences, including employment termination, does not make that decision an involuntary one,” Dow wrote in part of his ruling.

Dow wrote that Welter was not threatened with actions in an effort to force him to resign because other authorities already had been contacted in the matter.

“The case law clearly establishes that this type of employer action — initiating an investigation and presenting potential outcomes to an employee — does not amount to unconstitutional coercive resignation,” the ruling stated.

The city also has been removed as a defendant in a federal lawsuit filed by Welter, who alleged his then-wife and former Deputy Chief Bob Beeter hacked into Welter’s email.

Welter and his real estate business partner, Debra Seitz, argued that their email accounts were hacked into by Beeter and Tamara Welter, an Elgin police sergeant who was having an affair with Beeter.

Both were suspended a month without pay for the affair and breaking department rules; they have not been charged with any criminal wrongdoing.

Tamara Welter also has been removed as a party in the suit, leaving only Beeter, who took a buyout from the Elgin Police Department in early 2012 due to budget cuts and is now police chief in Stockton, in far western Illinois. The two sides are next due in court May 28.

OFFICER DOWN NEWS: Funeral set for I.S.P. Trooper James Sauter

Funeral arrangements have been made for Illinois State Trooper James Sauter who was killed in the line of duty on Thursday in a tragic automobile accident on IL 294 at Willow Rd.
 

VISITATION:

Monday (April 1, 2013)
from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Moraine Valley Church
6300 W. 127th St
Palos Heights, IL

FUNERAL:

Tuesday at 11 a.m. at the same church.

Friday, March 29, 2013

NEWS: Strip club battles with Pa. police over security rights

Kamin filed a complaint in Common Pleas Court on Wednesday claiming that acting police Chief Regina McDonald's decision March 13 to prohibit off-duty officers from working at any adult-entertainment establishment violates the club's constitutional rights.

--I find this to be a very original and interesting argument.
Especially because of the uproar this same employment causes among the politicians and candidates in the Chicagoland area every year or so.
I think this can have national implications.--
Duke

Story at PoliceOne.com

The police chief prohibited off-duty officers from working at any adult-entertainment establishment doing security detail

By Adam Brandolph
Pittsburgh Tribune Review

PITTSBURGH — A Downtown strip club is seeking to bar Pittsburgh police from forbidding off-duty officers to work security details there.

Attorney Jonathan Kamin, who represents Blush, is scheduled to appear in court at 1:30 p.m. Thursday to seek an injunction to block the new policy.

Kamin filed a complaint in Common Pleas Court on Wednesday claiming that acting police Chief Regina McDonald's decision March 13 to prohibit off-duty officers from working at any adult-entertainment establishment violates the club's constitutional rights.

"She's saying our business is inappropriate and puts a bad light on the City of Pittsburgh police officers, and we think that couldn't be further from the truth," Kamin said. "The police chief has a duty, as an enforcer of the law, to enforce the law in an even-handed and appropriate manner."

Neither city solicitor Dan Regan nor McDonald returned calls for comment.

Michael LaPorte, president of Fraternal Order of Police Fort Pitt Lodge No. 1, said he disagreed with the policy change because it contradicts the union's agreement with the city.

"I don't think it's out of malice; it's just out of lack of knowledge," LaPorte said.

The FOP last week filed a grievance with the department over the change. McDonald has not responded, he said.

Kamin called Blush "a Pittsburgh landmark" visited by 250 people every weekday and 350 on weekend days. Blush has employed off-duty police officers for 48 years, and eliminating the additional security could have a "chilling effect," he said

"To say we're not entitled to hiring police because we're not a favored class of citizens is, I think, ridiculous," he said.

R.I.P.: Trooper James Sauter (ILLINOIS)

OFFICER DOWN MEMORIAL PAGE 


Trooper James Sauter
Illinois State Police, Illinois
End of Watch: Thursday, March 28, 2013


Bio & Incident Details

Age: 28
Tour: 5 years
Badge # 6095
Cause: Automobile accident
Incident Date: 3/28/2013
Weapon: Not available
Suspect: Not available

Trooper Sauter was killed when an semi-trailer truck struck his cruiser on Interstate 294 south of Willow Road shortly after 11:00 p.m. Trooper Sauter was stopped in the left shoulder of the south-bound lanes when the semi rear-ended his cruiser, causing both vehicles to burst into flames. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Trooper Sauter was a 5-year veteran of the Illinois State Police and is survived by his wife and family.

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

Director Hiram Grau
Illinois State Police
801 S 7th Street
P.O. Box 19461
Springfield, IL 62794
Phone: (217) 782-6637


Video and Story at ABC7 Chicago


video

March 29, 2013 (NORTHBROOK, Ill.) (WLS) -- A 28-year-old Illinois State trooper was killed in a Thursday night Tri-State Tollway crash after his squad car and a semi collided.

James Sauter was on duty in his Illinois State Police squad car after helping a motorist when his vehicle was rear-ended by a moving van at I-294 southbound at Willow Road. Both vehicles burst into flames. Sauter was pronounced dead at the scene Friday at 2:15 a.m.

Sauter had been a member of the Illinois State Police since June 29, 2008. Trooper Sauter had just completed a temporary assignment in Air Operations and was recently re-assigned to District 15 as a patrolman.

Trooper Sauter is survived by his wife, Elizabeth and family.

Sauter received a Lifesaving Medal while still a cadet in October of 2008 after coming across a motorcycle on its side on eastbound I-80. The ISP says Sauter grabbed his first responder bag and crossed over the lanes of traffic to assist a woman face down in a pool of blood. The ISP says Sauter cleared blood from the woman's airway, and she survived.

"Trooper Sauter left a legacy of courage, honor and duty," ISP Director Hiram Grau. "Our hearts are heavy with grief, but they are also strengthened by Trooper Sauter's brave calling and dedicated service."

The driver of the United Van Lines moving van Involved in the accident did not suffer any life-threatening injuries. He has been hospitalized as a precaution and is answering questions and undergoing tests that will be used in the investigation.

"Certainly his blood and alcohol will be tested," Grau said. "We don't have the results yet though."

Sauter's colleagues hung mourning flags and covered their badges in Sauter's honor.

"Trooper Sauter represented everything good about our department. Now, we need to be with the Sauter family and support his fellow officers and colleagues. I offer my sincere condolences to the entire Sauter family," said Grau. "I'm standing here with a heavy heart along with my fellow officers this morning to announce another tragic loss to our police family."

Sauter lived in Vernon Hills where trooper cars were standing guard by his home.

"I spent some time with his wife Liz this morning and as you can imagine, it is a very difficult time for her and her family," Grau said. "And his dad Donald, they are all devastated as we all are."

"We were just driving on I-294 going southbound. We actually got stopped by traffic. We saw a semi on fire; it was very frightening. We stopped here until they can clean up all the mess," said witness Gaby Magana.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

SCOTUS: SCOTUS rules on K-9 sniffs ...now what?

--While not being a favorable ruling for law enforcement it is not devastating.
Just puts the onus on the police to do a little more leg work.--
Duke

Story at PoliceOne.com

Doug Wyllie
PoliceOne Editor in Chief

The Supreme Court’s ruling in Florida v. Jardines means that the use of a drug dog to develop probable cause to obtain a warrant is not permissible in the home context.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court issued its decision in the case of Florida v. Jardines, which had called into question the use of a drug-sniffing police K-9 in the area surrounding a person’s home — commonly called “curtilage.”

Several SCOTUS decisions had previously held that a “sniff is not a search” when a detector dog sniffs the exterior of luggage or a vehicle, but in Jardines, the Court was faced with the question of whether or not the presence of a K-9 named “Franky” on Joelis Jardines’ front porch violated his legitimate expectation of privacy.

In what many law enforcement officials consider a setback, the Court sided with Jardines. Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in the majority opinion that “The government’s use of trained police dogs to investigate the home and its immediate surroundings is a ‘search’ within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.”

What Does the Ruling Mean?

The comments posted beneath yesterday’s AP news piece were many and varied, and it was almost immediately apparent that there was some confusion about the implications of the decision.

“I disagree with this ruling,” said one PoliceOne Member, “But it has been made. Now what?”

Good question.

PoliceOne Legal Columnist Joanne Eldridge explained that the facts (as they appear in the appellate record) suggest that what the police had at the time of the dog’s use was:

1.) An unverified tip about growing marijuana that was one month old, and
2.) No observed vehicles or activity based on a brief surveillance of the home.


“The warrant to search the home was obtained after the dog’s alert,” Edridge said, which served as a basis to establish probable cause.

“It seems clear that, without the dog’s alert, obtaining a warrant to search for drugs at that time was unlikely,” she added.

The “sniff” at issue occurred on the front porch of Jardines’ house, and the Court noted that the front porch has long been considered an area to which the activity of home life extends.

“That the officers learned what they learned only by physically intruding on Jardines’ property to gather evidence is enough to establish that a search occurred,” the Court stated.

Eldridge explained, “The Court’s holding means that the use of a drug dog to develop probable cause to obtain a warrant is not permissible in the home context. A warrant would need to be obtained before the dog could be used to conduct a search.”

Mere moments after the decision had been rendered, PoliceOne Legal Columnist Terry Dwyer said, “I haven’t read the full decision yet, but I’m not surprised by the result in light of the prior Court statement with regard to curtilage — the area around one’s home in which the reasonable expectation of privacy in the home extends.”

Dwyer pointed out that the factors in considering the extent of curtilage were laid out in U.S. v. Dunn in 1987.

“The dog sniff on the property is an intrusion onto Constitutionally protected space,” Dwyer said. “It would be a different situation if the same evidence could have been obtained outside the curtilage — then it’d be admissible — but here, there was an entry onto private property.”

Dwyer continued, “Justice Scalia’s writing the majority opinion — and siding as he did with the Florida Supreme Court — is not surprising in light of his 2001 opinion in Kyllo v. U.S. in which he also upheld the privacy of the home, and more recently in U.S. v. Jones in which he relied on the common law trespass test to find a Fourth Amendment violation in the placement of a GPS device on a vehicle without a valid warrant.”

In examining the Jardines case, the Court framed its inquiry in terms of whether the police intrusion was licensed or unlicensed — that is, whether they had either Jardines’ permission or the implicit license of visitors who may lawfully approach someone’s home.

Such visitors would be people like mail carriers, solicitors, Girl Scouts, Jehovah’s Witnesses, trick-or-treaters, or other similarly-situated strangers.

“Custom allows such approaches,” Eldridge explained. “What custom does not permit — and citizens do not implicitly consent to — is what the Court described as introducing a trained police dog to explore the area around the front door.”

Eldridge then quoted the Court directly, saying, “Here, the background social norms that invite a visitor to the front door do not invite him there to conduct a search.”

Last month, a unanimous Court struck down Florida’s effort to place strict regulations on the certifications and record-keeping of police drug dogs. In Florida v. Harris, the Court upheld a finding of probable cause in a warrantless vehicle search conducted after a drug dog’s alert.

Although the use of drug-sniffing dogs was approved in Harris, the Court’s holding in Jardines imposes a requirement that the police have probable cause to conduct a search before employing a dog in a search of the home or its curtilage.

NEWS: North Shore police departments target drivers on cell phones

--Being an 'occasional offender' (like me) is no excuse.
We need to pay more attention to driving and less to our devices and we need to teach our kids to do it better than us.--
Duke

Story at Pioneer Press

By KAREN BERKOWITZ
kberkowitz@pioneerlocal.com
March 27, 2013

HIGHLAND PARK — On April 1, Highland Park police will step up an enhanced enforcement zone targeting drivers violating the city’s ban on hand-held cell phone use.

The focused campaign to enforce distracted driving restrictions and educate drivers has been planned by Highland Park police in cooperation with four nearby jurisdictions with similar ordinances.

Police departments in Highland Park, Deerfield, Lake Forest, Waukegan and Winnetka are joining forces to enforce their own bans as well as a state law that prohibits use of hand-held cell phones in school speed zones and construction zones.

State law also prohibits text-messaging while driving and all cell phone use by motorists 18 years of age and younger.

The municipal ordinances restricting cell phone usage include exemptions for reporting police, fire and medical emergencies.

According to police, the use of a hand-held cell phone while driving greatly compromises public safety and increases the risk of a traffic crash.

Legislation is currently pending in the Illinois General Assembly that would ban use of hand-held cell phones while driving on a statewide basis, with certain exceptions. Ten states outside of Illinois currently restrict the use of handheld cell phones.

The Highland Park Police Department is encouraging its residents to contact their state legislators to communicate their interest in a statewide ban.

Highland Park police are planning similar enforcement initiatives to align with the end of the school year in June and before the start of the new school year in August.

NEWS: Oak Park officers shun CTA security detail

--Increase in number of officers needed but a cut to the hourly rate?
If I was in their union I would be doing some FOIA requests to get a hold of the actual contacts between the CTA and the Village.
While $30 per hour is a decent wage, past practice and contacts appear to show that officers received at least their regular hourly rate of pay.
I understand the need to maybe bring it to a flat rate for bookkeeping purposes but then it should have been at least in between $34 and $48 per hour.--
Duke

Story at Pioneer Press

BY BILL DWYER
wdwyer@pioneerlocal.com
March 25, 2013

OAK PARK — A reduction in hourly pay for off-duty security assignments on local CTA transit routes has resulted in a steep drop in the number of Oak Park officers volunteering for those six-hour shifts.

Under terms of a previous intergovernmental agreement between the village of Oak Park and the Chicago Transit Authority, officers were paid at their current straight time rate, which ranges from about $34 per hour to $48 per hour, depending on seniority and rank.

The new agreement, effective Jan. 6, calls for officers working the CTA Special Detail to be paid a flat $30 per hour.

Officers cover three CTA routes in Oak Park: the Green and Blue rail lines and the No. 91 Austin Boulevard bus.

According to documents received by Oak Leaves, the pay decrease is the result of an effort by Oak Park police management and the CTA to address an increase in 2012 crime on CTA property.

In a Dec. 17 memo, Police Chief Rick Tanksley told all sworn officers that “in consultation with CTA management” the department would provide both morning and afternoon coverage to counter what he called a “slight uptick” in crime.

But the CTA wasn’t paying more; the new agreement with Oak Park calls for a payment not to exceed $264,921 for this year. That’s the same as for the previous pact, approved in 2007.

In other words, by paying less per shift, the village wants to use the same amount of money to fund more shifts. Instead, however, those added morning shifts — and many others — are going unfilled.

Tanksley told his officers there would be additional morning shift coverage on the Green and Blue lines, and that the pay rate would be a flat $30 an hour, effective Jan. 6.

That is, Tanksley noted, is the same rate of pay for off-duty details elsewhere in the village

Evanston’s new agreement with the CTA, reached in November, pays $200,112 per year, at a flat reimbursement rate of $38 an hour.

The change in pay was reportedly the focus of a police union grievance meeting with Oak Park Village Manager Cara Pavlicek on Friday.

A police source familiar with the issue said the two sides have been trying since January to resolve the issue.

“I’m not going to comment on a grievance,” Pavlicek said Friday. She also declined to discuss the village’s new agreement with the CTA.

“I would if I had it in front of me,” she said.

She also said she was not familiar with Evanston’s deal with the CTA.

She referred all further questions to Tanksley or village spokesman David Powers.

Tanksley was not immediately available Monday, after being out of the office on Friday.

Monday afternoon, Village President David Pope said there were legal reasons for declining comment.

“Because this is the subject of a pending grievance, it is a personnel matter that no one from the village can discuss,” Pope said. “It’s not surprising to me that Cara and other staff indicated that they could not provide substantive comment at this time.”

The drop off in volunteer CTA coverage has been stark.

The final 28-day calendar under the old contract terms was for Dec. 3-Dec. 30; in that period, only the Dec. 24-25 shifts were uncovered. Of the remaining 26 days, 76 of 78 shifts were covered, with all three shifts covered 24 days. Only the Austin bus route was uncovered for two days.

Once the new contract took effect, the number of shifts covered plummeted.

Only four officers volunteered to cover a total of 13 of 84 afternoon shifts from Jan. 7 through Feb. 3. No officer signed up for morning shift work.

The situation improved slightly in February, with eight different officers covering 19 of 84 afternoon shifts, 16 on the Green Line, two on the Blue Line and one on the Austin bus route.

In February, the department ordered on-duty officers to cover the Green and Blue line trains for 90-minute periods in the afternoons.

On the latest calendar, covering March 4-March 26, nine of 23 days have gone uncovered, with just 18 of 69 shifts covered by four officers.

“We’re putting out the impression that (police) are out there, but they’re not,” said one officer, who requested anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the matter.

That officer also scoffed at the effectiveness of new morning shifts, saying, “The criminals are not out robbing people in the mornings, they’re robbing people in the evenings.”

Oak Park’s CTA agreement calls for police to maintain, among other things, “daily logs and statistics on CTA incidents, crimes, fires, arrests, etc.” A summary of those statistics are required to be forwarded to the CTA in a monthly report.

Oak Leaves filed a Freedom of Information request for those reports with the CTA on March 4. As of March 25, six working days past the legally extended deadline, the CTA has not released the requested information or otherwise responded as required under Illinois law.

The CTA Secondary Employment Detail has been in existence since 1990.

Prior to that, the task of providing CTA security took on-duty officers away from street patrols. Tanksley noted that benefit in a brief to the village board in October, saying the agreement allows “on-duty personnel (to) concentrate on patrol duties within their assigned beats.”

PENSION: While Systems Go Bust, Public Pension Elites Profit

--Most over the top pension recipients are either politically connected or were connected through the unions at the time they were working.
This is definitely not the majority in Illinois but the BGA has done an excellent job of bringing this problem to the open.
Although not as big as the politicians refusal to fund the pension funds for over 30 years these cases are a drag on the system just as well.
This needs to be prevented from happening in the future.--
Duke

Story at Better Government Association

Video at CBS2 Chicago

video

BGA’s new government retiree database of 400,000 reveals those getting big money.
By Andrew Schroedter/BGA
March 26, 2013 10:15 PM

Major public pension funds are teetering on the brink of financial disaster but it still pays to be a retired judge, state lawmaker, physician, union boss or suburban school district chief.

That’s among the major findings emerging from an in-depth examination of the Better Government Association’s new online public pension database, a searchable list of individual payments to more than 400,000 retirees of the state’s largest public-sector pensions including those in Illinois, Cook County and Chicago.

The BGA analysis found that 7,582, or roughly 2 percent of retirees throughout the state, reap public pensions of at least $100,000 a year. However, that small yet influential group sucks up a lot of cash – more than $922 million annually, or 7.6 percent of all yearly pension payouts, reveals the BGA database analysis of pension data ending in 2012.

In contrast, the bulk of pension payments, not including medical benefits, for most other rank-and-file city, county and state workers are more modest, ranging from $10,000 to $50,000 annually, according to the BGA analysis.

Why have public pensions fallen on hard financial times? There’s no shortage of reasons: Chronic under funding by the government, generous annual cost of living increases to retirees and overly ambitious investment gain projections by fund managers have dogged the funds for decades.

The result is that most major public-sector retirement funds in the city, county and state are now grappling with massive shortfalls and are running out of money to meet their obligations. Illinois’ unfunded pension liability is nearing $100 billion, while Cook County’s is almost $6 billion and Chicago’s is $26 billion, according to interviews and public records.

"Over decades we’ve allowed a gap to exist between what is promised and what can be paid," says state Sen. Daniel Biss, (D-Evanston), who is proposing state pension reform legislation. "That’s a painful problem."

Nevertheless, the pension checks keep going out the door. Among the findings gleaned from the new BGA pension database:

    The highest public employee pension in the state goes to Tapas Das Gupta, a cancer surgeon and professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His annual State Universities Retirement System (SURS) of Illinois pension is $426,885, according to public records.
    
    The next four highest pensions also go to physicians and medical professors who contributed to SURS: Edward Abraham ($414,709); Riad Barmada ($397,919); Mahmood Mafee ($370,140); and Herand Abcarian ($338,730).
    
    Union officials Liberato "Al" Naimoli and Dennis Gannon collect two of the highest City of Chicago pensions at $176,033 and $167,896 respectively. Naimoli, president of Cement Workers Union Local 76, and Gannon, former president of the Chicago Federation of Labor, took advantage of a loophole in the state pension code that allowed them to receive taxpayer-funded retirement benefits based on their higher union salaries. That loophole has since been closed.
    
    Henry Bangser has the most lucrative Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) of the State of Illinois pension at $269,531 a year. The former New Trier Township High School District 203 superintendent may not have ranked so high if not for the 20 percent pay hikes he received in three of the last four years before his 2006 retirement, spiking his pension payout.
    
    The highest Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) pension goes to Elizabeth Kutska, a former park district worker whose annual benefit of $250,446 was based on her much higher salary as head of Lisle-based Park District Risk Management Agency. PDRMA provides insurance to park districts throughout the state. It isn’t a governmental agency – it’s what known as an "intergovernmental cooperative" and therefore can participate in the state’s second largest retirement fund, according to IMRF and PDRMA officials.

(The BGA contacted every pensioner named in this story but the majority declined to be interviewed.)

The BGA also found a majority of the top pensions were concentrated in three funds -- the state's judges and General Assembly Retirement System has 542 retirees, or 74.2 percent of members collecting six-figure benefits, followed by SURS with 2,107, or 4.1 percent, and TRS with 3,503, or 3.8 percent, according to the analysis.

That’s a lot of money rolling out the door but observers say those and other big pensions are just one of the many challenges that must be addressed.


"It certainly doesn’t help financially, or with people’s perception," says Tim Blair, executive secretary of the pension systems for state workers, judges and General Assembly members. "But 1 percent of these folks aren’t driving the problem."

Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer (D-Chicago) says underfunding and generous cost of living increases deserve a greater share of the blame.

"Those are big numbers," says Gainer, chairman of the county’s pension committee. "But some of these are for people who are in the top of their field."

Yet, Blair and Gainer both acknowledge reforms are needed.

The BGA analysis found the total payout, not including health care costs, for the 16 largest pension systems throughout the state is more than $12.1 billion a year.

The output itself isn’t a problem, it’s the shortage of cash needed to cover the bills. The five state-funded pension systems, for example, have a funding ratio of 39 percent - a minimum of 80 percent is considered healthy - even though total payments to the funds more than doubled to $5.1 billion this fiscal year, from $2.4 billion in fiscal year 2009, according to the Governor's Office of Management and Budget.

Likewise, the City of Chicago projects pension payments will soar to $2.4 billion in 2017, from $692 million in 2012.

So far, the General Assembly and Gov. Pat Quinn haven’t found a solution to the burgeoning pension crisis and continue to search for answers during the current legislative session.

Quinn has repeatedly said the State of Illinois’ pension debts are growing by $17 million a day.

Broadly, the proposed reforms include higher employee contributions, raising the retirement age and reducing cost of living increases.

Opposing many of the prospective remedies are public-sector labor unions, whose members could see benefits trimmed. Labor leaders blame lawmakers for repeatedly paying too little, or nothing, toward government’s share of the pension obligations while workers religiously paid for their retirements.

Also, some groups are concerned that pension changes won’t stand up to a legal challenge since the Illinois Constitution protects state pension benefits.

Some changes have been made. In 2010 the state passed a pension law that provides reduced benefits for all state workers hired on or after Jan. 1, 2011.

Those reforms "make a big difference," says IMRF executive director Louis Kosiba. "The costs are coming down."

But the consensus is more must be done.

The BGA has been working to highlight the challenges facing the major taxpayer-funded pension systems including a report last year that documented TRS paid more $1.3 billion in fees to financial managers over the past decade yet reaped a small return on its investments—a mere 3.7 percent excluding cost of fees that was far below its 8.5 percent annual target return.

In addition to the online pension database, which will be upgraded and expanded to include more pension-related information, the BGA has a recently introduced an upgraded payroll database with information on the salaries of 500,000 government workers.

R.I.P.: Director Larry Johnson

OFFICER DOWN MEMORIAL PAGE 

Director Larry Johnson
Fifth Judicial District Drug Task Force, Arkansas
End of Watch: Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Bio & Incident Details

Age: Not available
Tour: Not available
Badge # Not available
Cause: Heart attack
Incident Date: 3/26/2013
Weapon: Person
Suspect: Apprehended

Director Larry Johnson suffered a fatal heart attack while involved in a foot pursuit with a parolee in Clarksville, Arkansas.

Director Johnson, along with other officers, had gone to the man's home to conduct a home visit. The subject fled on foot upon the officers' arrival. The subject was taken into custody and charged with fleeing from police.

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


Fifth Judicial District Drug Task Force
100 West Main, Fourth Floor
Russellville, AR 72802

R.I.P.: Lieutenant Osvaldo Albarati

OFFICER DOWN MEMORIAL PAGE 


Lieutenant Osvaldo Albarati
United States Department of Justice - Federal Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Government
End of Watch: Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Bio & Incident Details

Age: 39
Tour: 17 years
Badge # Not available
Cause: Gunfire
Location: Puerto Rico
Incident Date: 2/26/2013
Weapon: Gun; Unknown type
Suspect: At large

Lieutenant Osvaldo Albarati was shot and killed in what is believed to be retaliation for his investigations into cell phone smuggling at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico.

He had just left the MDC and was driving home when several gunmen opened fire on his vehicle on the De Diego Expressway, near Exit 13 in Bayamon. Another officer at the prison was arrested several days later on charges of smuggling contraband to several inmates serving life sentences. The inmates and the officer are suspected to be involved with Lieutenant Albarati's murder, although no charges have yet been filed.

Lieutenant Albarati had served with the Federal Bureau of Prisons for 11 years and was assigned to a special investigations unit. He had previously served with the Puerto Rico Police Department for six years. He is survived by his wife, son, and two daughters.

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

Director Charles E. Samuels Jr.
United States Department of Justice - Federal Bureau of Prisons
320 First Street, NW
Washington, DC 20534
Phone: (202) 307-3198

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

NEWS: Chicago police put more feet on street

--I think McCarthy thinks the TV show NY22 which was about his old town is a true story or something.
Putting rookies right out of training and into the frying pan is not a good idea, if you ask me.
Putting them on foot with seasoned officers that know the area, etc is a good idea but not on their own.
I hope I am wrong but this sounds like a tragedy in the making.--
Duke

Story at Chicago Tribune

By Jeremy Gorner
Tribune reporter
9:29 PM CDT, March 25, 2013

Rookie Chicago police officers have started to patrol on foot on some of the city's most dangerous blocks in a move that Superintendent Garry McCarthy said reinforces the department's "return to community policing."

After six months in the Police Academy and 12 weeks of training in the field, 24 newly minted officers have worked nights for a little more than a week in what McCarthy called an "impact zone" within the South Side's Gresham District, in crime-ridden neighborhoods that include Chatham and Auburn Gresham.

As more classes graduate from the academy this year and complete the field training, officers will be added to 19 other zones throughout the city where gang violence is rampant, McCarthy said.

"Where officers are in the vehicle, they can get around quicker, but where they're on foot, they can really lock down a location," McCarthy said Monday during a news conference at the Morgan Park District police station on the Far South Side.

The same group of new officers will be assigned to one particular impact zone instead of bouncing around to others, the superintendent said.

"One of the philosophies ... that we've adopted is what I like to call a return to community policing," McCarthy said. "And in this case, it's the same officers in the same zones every single night."

The strategy comes after the department this month doubled to 400 the number of officers allowed to work on their days off in those 20 zones to try to reduce violence. Those 20 zones represent only about 3 percent of Chicago's geographical area but have accounted for some 20 percent of the city's violence over the last three years, according to the department.

After a dramatic rise in violence during the first quarter of 2012 in part because of unseasonably warm weather, homicides and shootings have dropped sharply by comparison this year. Through Sunday, Chicago had recorded 69 slayings, down almost 35 percent from 106 in the same year-earlier period, department statistics show. Shootings also have dropped, by about 30 percent.

McCarthy said he hopes the foot patrols will eventually allow the department to reduce the amount of money being paid out in overtime.

The Fraternal Order of Police, the union that represents rank-and-file police officers, said the rookie cops will be working on the same blocks as more experienced officers who will be riding in squad cars. But foot patrols can pose a safety risk, FOP President Michael Shields said.

"I'd much prefer to see officers in very violent areas in a police car just for officer safety purposes," he said. "You always have to worry about officers being disarmed or approached from behind and disarmed, and the next thing you know the officer has his gun stripped from him."

But criminologist Arthur Lurigio said he knows of no evidence that officers face a greater risk patrolling dangerous blocks on foot than when riding in a squad car. Echoing McCarthy's comments, Lurigio said foot patrols can strengthen a police department's relationship with the community.

"Officers on the beat can gain a better sense of emerging crime and other social problems in the neighborhood," said Lurigio, a professor of psychology and criminal justice at Loyola University Chicago. "Foot patrols also help police forge more favorable, cooperative and productive working relationships with law-abiding residents and business owners."

Ald. Howard Brookins, a past critic of McCarthy's strategies whose 21st Ward covers the Gresham District, said he believes the foot patrols will bring more meaningful interaction with residents.

"Foot patrol officers tend to know the community and the hot spots," Brookins said after McCarthy's news conference.

NEWS: Agenda law complied with in varied ways in Franklin Park, Northlake

The amendment went into effect on Jan. 1. Mayor Jeff Sherwin of Northlake said he wasn’t aware of the amendment.

--I am not sure if I find this hilarious or horrifying. 
How does a mayor not know what laws are passed that affect the operation of his town?
Maybe the same one that forgets to lower the U.S. Flags to half staff in town on the proper days.--
Duke

Story at Pioneer Press

BY MARK LAWTON
mlawton@pioneerlocal.com
March 26, 2013 11:44AM

An amendment to the open meetings act has met with a mixed response from local governments.

In July 2012, Gov. Pat Quinn signed House Bill 4687 into law. The bill requires that the notice and agendas for public meetings be made continuously available to the public for 48 hours before the meeting. Government entities can post the notice and agenda on their websites to meet the requirement.

According to the governor’s office, the amendment was inspired by a court case involving a municipality that posted a paper agenda in a building that was locked on weekends.

The amendment went into effect on Jan. 1. Mayor Jeff Sherwin of Northlake said he wasn’t aware of the amendment.

In Northlake, a paper copy of the city council meeting agenda is posted in city hall on the Thursday before the Monday meeting. City hall, however, is closed part of Saturday and all of Sunday.

The city recently updated its website, which does include notice of upcoming city council meetings but does not include agendas.

“Now that we have a new website up, we can just throw it on the website,’ Sherwin said. “It’s not a big deal.”

Over in Leyden Township, board meetings are held on the second Tuesday of the month. Administrator Greg Ignoffo said the township is meeting the requirement with meeting agendas and notices.

“They are posted in the front window,” Ignoffo said.

Kristin McMurray suggested public meeting notices and agenda should also be posted on a website. McMurray is editor of the Sunshine Review, a nonprofit that promotes openness and transparency in government websites.

“Not having a website is inexcusable in this day and age,” McMurray said. “Information should not only be available but also accessible.”

Leyden Township has a limited website with only a single page. Ignoffo said he’s “hopeful” that in the next 60 days that will be expanded and eventually each township department will have its own page on the website.

In Franklin Park, agendas and notices of village trustee meetings are posted on the village website along with copies of the resolutions or laws to be voted on — something it started long before the amendment to the open meetings act was signed. The village also posts paper copies in village hall.

R.I.P.: K9 Mattie

OFFICER DOWN MEMORIAL PAGE 


K9 Mattie
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, California
End of Watch: Monday, March 25, 2013


Bio & Incident Details

Breed: Belgian Malinois
Age: Not available
Gender: Not available
Tour: Not available
Cause: Automobile accident
Incident Date: 3/25/2013
Weapon: Not available
Suspect: Not available

Sergeant Gilbert Cortez and K9 Mattie were killed in an automobile accident Route 79, near San Felipe Road, in San Diego County.

Sergeant Cortez was part of a convoy of state corrections K9 officers who were en route to inspect the La Cima Fire Camp in a rural part of the county. His marked vehicle veered off the roadway and overturned, killing K9 Mattie. Sergeant Cotez was transported to a local fire station but died before a helicopter could reach him.

K9 Mattie had served with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for 1-1/2 years.

Condolences may be sent to:

Secretary of Corrections Jeffrey A. Beard
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
PO Box 942883
Sacramento, CA 94283


Related Line of Duty Deaths

Sergeant Gilbert Cortez
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, California
End of Watch: Monday, March 25, 2013
Cause: Automobile accident

R.I.P.: Sergeant Gilbert Cortez

OFFICER DOWN MEMORIAL PAGE 

Sergeant Gilbert Cortez
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, California
End of Watch: Monday, March 25, 2013


Bio & Incident Details

Age: 46
Tour: 23 years
Badge # Not available
Cause: Automobile accident
Incident Date: 3/25/2013
Weapon: Not available
Suspect: Not available

Sergeant Gilbert Cortez and K9 Mattie were killed in an automobile accident Route 79, near San Felipe Road, in San Diego County.

Sergeant Cortez was part of a convoy of state corrections K9 officers who were en route to inspect the La Cima Fire Camp in a rural part of the county. His marked vehicle veered off the roadway and overturned, killing K9 Mattie. Sergeant Cotez was transported to a local fire station but died before a helicopter could reach him.

Sergeant Cortez had served with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for 23 years and was assigned to the Southern Regional K-9 Unit. He is survived by his wife, two children, and parents.

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

Secretary of Corrections Jeffrey A. Beard
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
PO Box 942883
Sacramento, CA 94283
Phone: (916) 445-4950



Related Line of Duty Deaths

K9 Mattie
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, California
End of Watch: Monday, March 25, 2013

Cause: Automobile accident

Monday, March 25, 2013

PENSION: Illinois hits a sorry milestone

 In stacks of $100 bills, that amount would weigh 10 tons. It's enough to buy Boeing Co. and Kraft Foods Group Inc. combined, with a few billion left over for dessert. In the second Austin Powers movie, Dr. Evil stole a nuclear weapon and demanded $100 billion from the whole world.

--Don't worry about a thing folks.
Governor Bumblin' Stumblin' Quinn, Mike Madigan, John Cullerton, and Tom Cross have everything under control.
Why do you think the state legislature went on vacation?--
Duke

Story at Crain's Chicago Business


By Paul Merrion
March 25, 2013

Sometime this month, Illinois probably exceeded $100 billion in pension debt, a sorry milestone in
the state's long slog to fiscal hell.

Illinois would be only the second state to reach the 12-digit mark. But California, the previous epic fail, has a much larger tax base and is on the mend.

Pension statistics tend to make eyes glaze over, and the $100 billion moment is an unofficial, back-of-the-envelope calculation. But it's an undeniably big and potentially symbolic number as state legislators wrestle with the shortfall in money owed to current and future retired teachers, judges, state workers and even lawmakers themselves.

“We've been saying, 'Hey, we have almost $100 billion in debt' “ for months, says Illinois Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Evanston, a leader in the pension reform effort. Nevertheless, “it's a hell of a number.”

In stacks of $100 bills, that amount would weigh 10 tons. It's enough to buy Boeing Co. and Kraft Foods Group Inc. combined, with a few billion left over for dessert. In the second Austin Powers movie, Dr. Evil stole a nuclear weapon and demanded $100 billion from the whole world.

More important, the ransom for the state's pension debt comes to $7,767 for every man, woman and child living in Illinois, or more than $21,100 per household.

The exact date for reaching $100 billion depends on how state retirement investment funds have performed, which won't be known until well after the end of the state's fiscal year on June 30. “Anytime the markets do well, we're going to do well,” says William Atwood, executive director of the Illinois State Board of Investments.

The rule of thumb used by Gov. Pat Quinn and others calling for reform is that the state's unfunded pension liabilities are growing by $17.1 million per day and will reach $100.8 billion by June 30. At that rate, the $100 billion threshold would be crossed in mid-May.

But that calculation assumes unfunded liabilities were $94.6 billion last June, based on actuarial asset values, which average investment gains or losses over several years. Based on the more commonly used fair market value of assets, the state's unfunded liabilities were $96.8 billion in mid-2012 and would have hit $100 billion in January with a growth rate of $17.1 million a day.

However, funds have been outperforming their actuarial growth rate, which means unfunded liabilities are growing less than $17.1 million a day. Split the difference between January and May and the $100 billion mark would be reached sometime in March. Of course, if the funds perform really well this year, there's a chance the mark would be pushed into the future.


The larger question is whether a $100 billion shortfall provides any more motivation than a $96.8 billion one.

“I don't think that number will shake the lethargy of the General Assembly,” says Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, who favors faster action on reform. “It becomes a statistic where it doesn't mean anything, it's just so big.”

Despite some progress, there's no endgame in sight. The Senate last week passed part of a reform package pushed by Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, but it rejected a bill sponsored by Mr. Biss, which mirrored reforms advancing in the House. On Thursday, the House passed a different bill addressing one piece of the puzzle.

The most immediate problem for Illinois is the debt's effect on the state's credit rating, which is approaching the lowest investment grade. First, it raises the cost of the $800 million the state plans to seek in the bond market next week. If it goes any lower, the state's bonds will be off limits for many large, institutional buyers that can't buy securities rated that low, which will drive up interest rates.

The state's pension and budget woes also are dragging down the credit ratings of the city of Chicago and state universities, which depend on a steady flow of state funds.

But the key measure of creditworthiness is not the size of a state's pension debt but the size of that debt relative to the state budget and the state economy.

Hitting $100 billion “isn't all that relevant,” says Ted Hampton, vice president and senior analyst at Moody's Investors Service, a New York credit rating agency that has downgraded the state four times in the last four years. But compared with the size of Illinois' budget and gross domestic product, “it makes the state an outlier among its peers.”

Rhode Island, for example, a state that enacted drastic reforms for its troubled system in 2011, saw its pension debt hit more than 50 percent of its annual state budget and nearly 9 percent of the state's gross domestic product. At $100 billion, Illinois pension debts stand at about twice annual state expenditures, including capital spending, and more than 15 percent of its annual economic output.

“In the last couple of years, we've seen the Legislature and the governor repeatedly fail to muster the political willpower to make meaningful changes,” Mr. Hampton says. “If the state fails to take meaningful steps to address this problem, we will take action.”

PENSION: Lawmakers say break won’t slow momentum for pension solution

--Why should we care if a bunch of part-time state legislators who get full-time pay and top notch free pension and health care leave and go on vacation after only a few weeks in session and the state sinking further and further into a financial abyss?
This is just "par for the course" not only in Illinois but our country in general. Just look at Washington D.C. They never miss a break so why should a state legislature?
As long as the politicians continue to make money from all their sweet deals they have going on why should they care about the rest of us?
Their not in any fear of losing their homes, EVER. Their kids all go to private schools. And their health care and pensions will be there regardless of what happens.
Enjoy your break.--
Duke

Story at Daily Herald

By Mike Riopell

SPRINGFIELD — When Illinois lawmakers walked out of the Capitol Friday for their last full weeks away before the end of their annual session, they left behind a building momentum on the effort to try to fix the state’s biggest financial problems.

But after months of furious debate, a cooling-off period might not hurt.

“We’ve been through a lot of work this month,” said state Rep. Darlene Senger, a Naperville Republican. “In order to recharge the batteries, I’m glad to have that break.”

At the end of last week, the Illinois House appeared to make a small crack in the gridlock over cutting public employees’ pensions. But shortly after doing so, lawmakers left for their districts. They now have two weeks to meet with suburban voters and talk about the issues they’ll decide — or not — in the sprint until their budget deadline May 31.

“It’s kind of nice to be back in our districts to reach people,” Senger said. “A lot of this is about how they feel.”

And until lawmakers return in April, they might work toward some consensus with the Senate.

“I don’t feel like the break will hurt us,” said state Rep. Elaine Nekritz, a Northbrook Democrat. “Because I think we’ve really done the heavy lifting right now. We can sort of regroup and maybe have some discussions with the Senate.”

Not everyone agrees. A handful of freshman suburban Democrats said they’d like to stay under the Capitol dome and work on the state’s budget issues. The voters don’t want them to stop, they say.

“I would rather stay here,” said state Sen. Melinda Bush, a Grayslake Democrat. “I’m not taking a break, I’ve got a full schedule at my district office.”

State Sen. Tom Cullerton, a Villa Park Democrat, said he feels similarly.

“Leaving on break when we can take one more day to work on it, one more day to get it done, is irresponsible,” Cullerton said. “There is a cost for us staying in Springfield, but it’s small compared to the cost of us leaving early.”

Similar concerns arose after lawmakers left Springfield in January without a pensions deal, but since then more and more proposals have arisen. Consensus still could be far off, but the discussions are more advanced now than they were last year.

“It won’t hurt momentum. The pressure the pension problem poses isn’t going away, it’s building,” said state Sen. Matt Murphy, a Palatine Republican. “Maybe (the break) will let people back out of their entrenched positions and see another way.

“Hope springs eternal, right?” he said.

The tussle over pensions and the state budget aren’t the only lingering issues. Lawmakers also haven’t resolved in what way to allow Illinoisans to conceal and carry a firearm.

A federal court has given them until early June to decide how to do it. They continue to debate where and when people should be allowed to carry a gun.

If they don’t set restrictions by their deadline, the law could allow nearly limitless legal rights to carry a gun in Illinois.

And the controversy over same-sex marriage remains as well. The Illinois Senate has approved it, but supporters in the Illinois House haven’t been able to overcome the objections of critics. The delay has led to at least some doubts they’ll find enough support this year.

The same doubts accompany the annual support to allow slot machines at Arlington Park and put new casinos in Lake County, Chicago and elsewhere.

Lawmakers like Sen. Terry Link, a Waukegan Democrat, are likely to push for approval again this year, but a path to victory in that battle has eluded supporters for more than a decade.

NEWS: Shooting victim seeks refuge at Bellwood church

--Except for the shooting part of the story it is very confusing with statements from the police chief and the director of public safety.
One spokesperson makes life easier.
After that, even though it is still cold, this is just the beginning for the 'Woods.--
Duke

Story at Chicago Tribune

By Jennifer Delgado and Rosemary Regina Sobol
Tribune reporters
4:24 PM CDT, March 24, 2013

A 21-year-old man was shot in the back and collapsed outside of a church where churchgoers found him this afternoon in west suburban Bellwood, police said.

Bellwood Chief of Police Rodney Boyd said police responded to a call of shots fired at Bellwood and Wilcox avenues at 1:59 p.m.

The victim was walking down the street in the 800 block of Bellwood Avenue when someone approached and shot him in the back, said Police Dir. of Public Safety Andre Harvey.

The victim ran around the corner and collapsed outside the Monroe Baptist Church at 3501 Monroe St. where churchgoers assisted him, Harvey said. Church services were going on at the time, Boyd said.

The victim, who Harvey said was "talking and conscious and alert," was taken to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, where he was being treated for at least one gunshot wound to the right side of his body, said Boyd.  Harvey said he'd been shot in the lower back.

"He did not lose consciousness," Harvey said.

Aketha Moore was dropping off food for one of the deacons at Monroe Baptist Church in Bellwood on Sunday afternoon when she heard a man screaming and saw him running toward her.

"He came to me for help," said Moore, of Bellwood. "He was crying for help."

Moore said the man was bleeding from the right side of his back. Quickly, she pounded on the brown church doors and called 911. Then, the man collapsed.

Moore, a nurse, applied pressure to the wound on the man's back using his clothes as they waited for paramedics to arrive. She said he was conscious when the ambulance took him away.

As they waited, he told her he didn't know who shot him, Moore said.

"It's really disturbing because we don't see things like that around here," she said. "For it to happen right in front of the church, it's really scary."

Boyd said it was too early to tell if the shooter was on foot or if there was more than one assailant.

A motive was not clear for the attack and the victim said he did not see the shooter, according to Harvey, who said at least one shell casing was found on Bellwood Avenue.

No arrests have been made, said Harvey.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

R.I.P.: Executive Director Tom Clements

OFFICER DOWN MEMORIAL PAGE 

Executive Director Tom Clements
Colorado Department of Corrections, Colorado
End of Watch: Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Bio & Incident Details

Age: 58
Tour: 33 years
Badge # Not available
Cause: Gunfire
Incident Date: 3/19/2013
Weapon: Handgun
Suspect: Shot and killed

Executive Director Tom Clements was assassinated at his home in Monument, Colorado, by a former inmate.

Two days earlier, the subject had murdered a pizza deliveryman in Denver, Colorado, and stole the man's uniform and pizza carrier. On the night that Director Clements was murdered, the subject had knocked on his door at approximately 8:30 pm. When Director Clements answered the door he was fatally shot before the subject fled the scene.

A deputy sheriff from the Montague County, Texas, Sheriff's Office attempted to stop the subject's car for a traffic violation two days later. The subject opened fire on the deputy, wounding him several times, before leading other officers on a chase into neighboring Wise County. During the ensuing shooting the subject was shot and fatally wounded. It was later determined that the subject was a member of a Colorado white supremacist gang known as the 211s.

Director Clements had served with the Colorado Department of Corrections for two years. He had previously served with the Missouri Department of Corrections for over 30 years, and had started his career as a probation officer. He is survived by his wife and two daughters.

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

Acting Executive Director
Colorado Department of Corrections
2862 South Circle Drive
Colorado Springs, CO 80906
Phone: (719) 226-4701

Friday, March 22, 2013

NEWS: Arrests up, serious crime down in Franklin Park in 2012

--Numbers are great. To bad there is no way to quantify the number of crimes prevented when the number of officer on the street is increased.
This is the unseen work that is done by police officers and often overlooked when people decide to hate on the police.
Keep up the good guys.--
Duke

Story at Pioneer Press

BY MARK LAWTON
mlawton@pioneerlocal.com
March 18, 2013 11:48PM

FRANKLIN PARK — The number of crimes in Franklin Park stayed more or less flat in 2012 though arrests were up from 2011.

That’s according to the 2012 annual report issued by the Franklin Park Police Department.

Total police calls went from 19,389 to 20,541. Index crimes, which are the most serious crimes, declined slightly, from 411 to 399.

Index crimes are murder, criminal sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault/battery, burglary, theft, vehicle theft and arson.

Police Chief Mike Witz said arrests increased in 2012 partially due to more witnesses and partially due to hiring two new officers.

“They’re excited and tend to increase your numbers,” Witz said. “Veterans get excited and want to show them how to make arrests.”

Police also caught more drunk drivers in 2012 — that tally was up to 70, from 40 arrests in 2011.

“One of our officers became a certified drug detention officer,” Witz said. “He goes through advanced classes. (Also) there are two new offices on the street.”

The number of people caught speeding, however, dropped almost in half over the last few years, from 977 in 2009 to 515 in 2012. Witz said that’s due to a decrease in officers in 2010.

“The priority went from traffic to patrol operations,” Witz said.

The number of overweight trucks caught by Franklin Park Police dropped from 89 in 2008 to 33 in 2012.

In 2012 police also brought back the village’s boot program. Drivers who owe on 10 or more citations may have their vehicle immobilized with a metal “boot” clamped around one of their wheels.

The clamp stays on until the fines are paid or a payment schedule is worked out.

While police booted only five vehicles in 2012, they brought in $7,725 and reached agreements for another $16,880. That’s partially due to reallocating officers but mostly due to the trucking firms.

“Trucking companies have begun to install meters on their trucks,” Witz said. “When the driver got into the vehicle in the past, he had no idea how much weight was in the vehicle.”

Perhaps the biggest news for Franklin Park Police in 2012 was breaking ground on a new police station. The 36,500-square-foot station is expected to be complete in August.

“It’s a safer work environment for our officers,” Witz said. “The firing range means we’re no longer at the mercy of other firing range facilities. There will be a meeting room and adjudication courtroom. There will be more work space for officers.”

The new station has drawn criticism from some residents — and two then-village trustees — who argue a new police station shouldn’t be a priority during a poor economy.

Village officials, in turn, argue that the poor economy reduced the cost of the site and that the current police building is in poor condition.

Franklin Park Police also obtained $985,000 in grants from the state last year toward the new police station site and another $133,000 for a mobile surveillance trailer.

The department also gained about $30,000 in forfeited money from drug cases, which it used to help buy two squad cars.

The total police budget for 2012 was $5.3 million. About 53 percent came from property taxes with the rest coming from tickets, or the village’s share of state tickets, as well as grants and smaller sources.

About three-fourths of that $5.3 million budget was spent on salaries.

NEWS: Outrage Grows After Wisconsin Police Officer Left Off Wall

--I have always been a supporter of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
I donate every year either under my name or Duke's Daily Blotter.
I find this matter reprehensible.
Officer Sebena was ON DUTY, IN UNIFORM, PERFORMING HER DUTIES when her psychopath husband found her and gunned her down in cold blood.
This is a very dangerous and slippery slope the NLEOMF is traveling by even bringing the validity of this death into question.
I think many law enforcement officers and private citizens will reconsider their future donations to the NLEOMF in light of this decision.
I know I will have to.
Please sign the online petition HERE--
Duke

Story at The Thin Blue Line

Wauwatosa Police Officer Jennifer Sebena
Officials of a national memorial for fallen law enforcement officers will wait until 2014 to make a final decision on whether to add Wauwatosa Police Officer Jennifer Sebena to its walls.

Read NLEOMF Statement (PDF)

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund made the decision Thursday after an

Jennifer's husband, Benjamin Sebena, 30, has pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect to first-degree intentional homicide. He is accused of shooting her to death Christmas Eve outside the Wauwatosa Fire Department station.

On Thursday, WTMJ-TV (Channel 4) reported that four corrections officers at the Milwaukee County Jail have been suspended and a fifth fired for allegedly providing Benjamin Sebena with preferential treatment. Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. is accusing the guards of insubordination, neglect of duty and fraternizing with Sebena.

WTMJ quoted unnamed sources who said Sebena's visitors would leave money on a second inmate's commissary, and that inmate would buy items for Sebena. The officers are accused of transferring the items to Sebena.

Lt. Cheri Schmitz, Officer Corrine Ehmke, Officer Michael Wilkinson and Officer Marlon Hannah were suspended, WTMJ reported. The fifth officer, Jeffrey Overholt, was fired immediately because he was still on probation. Clarke will seek the dismissal of the other four, WTMJ stated.

Word spread Wednesday that the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund had tentatively chosen not to include Jennifer Sebena on its memorial wall in Washington, D.C.

Jim Palmer, Wisconsin Professional Police Association executive director, said he was pleased that the memorial fund did not confirm its rejection, but added: "The national police memorial's action to further delay a final decision on the Jennifer Sebena controversy will do nothing to quell the anger that our state's officers feel about the disrespect the memorial has shown her."

The fund made its initial decision not to include Sebena because she was killed in an act of domestic violence, Palmer said.

Sebena was working an overtime shift when she did not respond to a call from dispatch at 4:24 a.m. Four minutes later, another officer located her squad car location using Global Positioning System information and found her body outside the back door of the fire station.

Gov. Scott Walker, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, Wauwatosa police Chief Barry Weber, Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association President Steven J. Riffel and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett joined Palmer in sending letters to Craig W. Floyd, the memorial fund's chairman and chief executive, imploring that Sebena be included.

"I strongly disagree that Officer Sebena's death was not in the line of duty. I strongly disagree with any suggestion that a line of duty death cannot result from an incident of domestic violence . . . Officer Sebena died in uniform, during her shift, while in the line of duty," Riffel wrote.

Riffel said Thursday that he stands by the letter, which represents his views and the views of the association that counts 400 police chiefs in its membership.

"I strongly believe this could have been addressed now. I don't know what's going to change between now and then," Riffle said.

Walker said in his letter that Sebena's death was "very personal to me," as it took place in the governor's own community and near both the home of a pastor and the high school attended by his youngest son.

"Officer Sebena was protecting the citizens of Wauwatosa on Dec. 24, 2012, when she was ambushed," Walker wrote. "It should not matter who committed the murder as the act was taken against a police officer on duty."

An online petition gathered more than 6,000 signatures throughout Wednesday and passed 11,000 by Thursday evening.

The memorial fund generally requires that an officer must have been "killed in the line of duty," meaning "a law enforcement officer has died as a direct and proximate result of a personal injury sustained in the line of duty."
The fund notes that deaths by natural causes are not included except when the medical condition arises out of exertion while on duty, such as running after a suspect or taking part in a search and rescue operation.

There is no explicit exception for domestic violence. The final decision, however, is left to the board of directors of the fund, a private nonprofit organization started in 1984. A case that has been denied can be resubmitted if additional information or documentation is supplied.
outpouring of support to recognize Sebena.

PENSION: Illinois House approves major pension reform bill

--This will just be the beginning of unconstitutional moves by the state legislator.
By the time these laws work their way through the courts most of these lawmakers will be long gone collecting their golden pensions and the future legislators and tax payers will be left to clean up another mess.--
Duke

Story at Chicago Tribune

By Ray Long and Rafael Guerrero
Tribune reporters
7:22 PM CDT, March 21, 2013

SPRINGFIELD — After years of debating how to deal with the most underfunded public employee pension system in the nation, the Illinois House voted Thursday to sharply curb automatic cost-of-living increases to retirees that helped drive up the state's retirement costs.

The House passage, sending the bill to the Senate, marked the most significant action taken by lawmakers to slow the growth in taxpayer-funded pensions for retired state workers, lawmakers, university employees, and suburban and downstate teachers.

The 66-50 vote was a rare display of bipartisan cooperation between Republicans and ruling Democrats.

Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, who sponsored the measure, said it was needed to demonstrate "shared sacrifice" after taxpayers saw their income taxes increase and recipients of state services were hit by funding cuts.

"This is another sacrifice that we all have to make in the spirit of shared sacrifice in order to right our state's fiscal ship and get us headed in the right direction," Nekritz said. "This will not solve the problem, but it will put us on a trajectory where we actually can solve the problem."

Dan Montgomery, president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, called the vote "disastrous" because teachers, who generally don't get Social Security, would see a decrease in purchasing power. Montgomery also dismissed estimates of savings with the legislation because the bill is "blatantly unconstitutional" and will be thrown out in court, meaning the state will "save nothing."

The measure would affect current and future state retirees, except judges, and is estimated to save as much as $100 billion in taxpayer dollars over 30 years owed to the pension systems and to immediately cut the unfunded liability by as much as $20 billion. But its fate remains questionable in the Senate.

Senators a day earlier defeated a comprehensive pension overhaul plan while approving only a more limited proposal affecting teachers outside Chicago. Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, has contended that elements of the House-passed plan are unconstitutional.

Ron Holmes, a Cullerton spokesman, said the Senate vote Wednesday rejecting a large-scale pension reform bill "demonstrated that we simply don't have the votes for legislation to impose unilateral changes to pension benefits."

Still, the move by the House may have marked the beginning of a political sea change in dealing with the state's $97 billion unfunded pension liability — an issue that many lawmakers have long avoided. The worsening pension problem has resulted in downgrades of the state's credit rating and forced more and more tax dollars each year to be earmarked for ever-increasing retirement costs at the expense of funding for education and other social services.

Gov. Pat Quinn issued a statement complimenting the House and saying the Senate's action indicated that there is support for major change in both chambers.

"There's much work to do, but I'm pleased to see progress being made," Quinn said. "I will continue working with the leaders and members of both houses and both parties to get comprehensive pension reform legislation on my desk so that I can sign it into law."

Under the House measure, the state would end one of its most generous retirement perks — an automatic 3 percent annual cost-of-living increase on pensions, which compounds every year.

Instead, the measure would limit a cost-of-living increase to the first $25,000 of a retiree's pension income — ending the compounding effect that had ballooned pension payments to workers in their later years. It also would require a worker to be retired for at least five years, or turn age 67, to be eligible for the smaller cost-of-living increase.

House lawmakers have previously approved separate measures that would raise the retirement age for public workers to receive a pension to 67 and that would cap the amount of income upon which pensions are based. The Senate has not considered those measures.

Nekritz said the issue of curbing compounded cost-of-living increases was "the most difficult component part" of solving the pension mess.

House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, called the cost-of-living increases the big driver of pension costs. Still, Madigan indicated he might try to tie the three House-passed pension provisions together into one package with additional changes and send it to the Senate in an effort to pressure the upper chamber to act.

Among other elements that have been in play are increasing contributions from worker paychecks and putting in a guarantee that the state would provide proper levels of funding — an attempt to avoid the shortchanging that caused the current crisis.

The Illinois Constitution prohibits public employee pensions from being "diminished or impaired."

Cullerton has maintained that to be found constitutional, any changes in pension benefits, such as those that have passed the House, cannot be made without offering something in exchange. His smaller-scale plan that passed the Senate would require working teachers to settle for a smaller cost-of-living increase or lose access to teacher health insurance.

House Republican leader Tom Cross of Oswego said the House passage of the cost-of-living curbs might force senators to rethink their opposition to comprehensive benefit changes.

"Anytime one chamber passes something of this significance, it changes the dynamic. ... I think it sends a strong message over to the Senate that it can be done, it needs to be done," Cross said.