A new database of New Yorkers deemed too mentally unstable to carry firearms has grown to 34,500 names, a figure that has raised concerns among mental health advocates that too many people have been categorized as dangerous, the New York Times reports. The database, established after the 2012 mass shooting in Newtown, Ct., is the result of the Safe Act. It is an expansive package of gun control measures pushed through by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The law compels licensed mental health professionals in New York to report to the authorities any patient “likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to self or others.”
The number of entries in the database highlights the difficulty of the balancing act between public safety and the right to bear arms when it comes to people with mental health issues. “That seems extraordinarily high to me,” said Sam Tsemberis, a former director of New York City’s involuntary hospitalization program for homeless and dangerous people. “Assumed dangerousness is a far cry from actual dangerousness.” Similar laws in other states have been questioned by gun rights proponents, who worry that people who posed no threat would have their rights infringed. Mental health advocates have also argued that the laws unnecessarily stigmatized people with mental illnesses. Even if just one dangerous person had a gun taken away, “that’s a good thing,” said Brian Malte of the Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police use a secretive surveillance system that collects information from cellphones and wireless...
Facebook wants assurances from the Drug Enforcement Administration that it's not operating any more fake profile pages in investigations, the Associated Press reports. Facebook's chief security officer, Joe Sullivan, told DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart that law enforcement agencies need to follow the same rules about being truthful on Facebook as civilian users. Those rules include a ban on lying about who you are.
The letter responded a New York woman's federal lawsuit contending that a DEA agent created a fake online persona using her name and photographs stored on her cellphone. "Facebook has long made clear that law enforcement authorities are subject to these policies," Sullivan wrote. "We regard DEA's conduct to be a knowing and serious breach of Facebook's terms and policies." The Justice Department said that fake profile pages "is not a widespread practice among our federal law enforcement agencies."
Oct. 22, 1989, 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling was kidnapped by a masked, armed man in Minnesota. In the 25 years since that Sunday night, Jerry and Patty Wetterling have tirelessly fought to protect children from a similar fate, says the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Patty helped change the landscape of missing children, from sex offender registries to police training. The share of missing children recovered has grown from 62 percent in 1990 to 97 percent today, says the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, where Patty is board chair.
Their fight for others still includes their hope for Jacob. They’ve done hundreds of interviews to drum up information. They’ve searched for answers alongside investigators who have vetted some 50,000 leads — tips, connections and even false confessions. The Wetterlings fear they never will know what happened. “It’s an unfathomable benchmark,” says Patty. “For the first time, probably, I’m stumped.” From 2009 to 2013, more than 160 children were found who had been missing for 11 to 20 years. Another 42 had been missing for more than 20 years. “We at the National Center never give up hope,” says CEO John Ryan.
Frank Lyga, a veteran Los Angeles police detective took the floor at a training class for fellow officers and let loose an expletive-laden rant, says the Los Angeles Times. He recalled his fatal 1997 shooting of a fellow officer, an incident that sparked racial tensions within the department because Lyga is white and the slain officer was black. "I could have killed a whole truckload of them, and I would have been happy doing it," Lyga recounted telling an attorney representing the officer's family.
Police Chief Charlie Beck must choose whether to follow a disciplinary panel's recommendation to fire the detective or reduce his punishment and let him keep his job. The decision presents the chief with one of his biggest tests since his August reappointment to a second five-year term and is likely to reignite criticism of how he handles officers' discipline. Black civil rights advocates have called on Beck to fire Lyga, saying that the narcotics detective's comments were racist and sexist and should not be tolerated. Lyga's supporters say he is genuinely remorseful, and say Beck rejected another panel's call to fire a well-connected officer who was caught uttering a racial slur. "This is a police chief's nightmare," said Merrick Bobb, a policing oversight expert. Lyga's comments, he said, were particularly troubling because they were made in a teaching setting, where he was presented as a role model.
Virginia searchers have found human remains that could be those of a University of Virginia sophomore who has been missing since Sept. 13, the Associated Press reports. Forensic tests are needed to confirm whether the remains are those of Hannah Graham, said Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo. The remains were found on an abandoned property in southern Albemarle County by a search team from the Chesterfield County Sheriff's Office.
Thousands of volunteers have searched for the 18-year-old Graham in the weeks since her disappearance. Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr., 32, has been charged with abduction with intent to defile Graham. A week after Graham went missing, Longo described Matthew in detail without naming him, saying investigators wanted to talk to the "person of interest" and had searched his apartment because he was the last person to see her. Matthew then showed up at police headquarters, asked for a lawyer, and then sped away. He was arrested a few days later in Galveston, Tx.
Darren Wilson, the police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., two months ago, told investigators he was pinned in his vehicle and in fear for his life as he struggled over his gun with Brown, reports the New York Times. Wilson said that during the scuffle, Brown reached for the gun. It was fired twice in the car, say FBI forensic tests.
Wilson said Brown punched and scratched him repeatedly, leaving swelling on his face and cuts on his neck. This account of Wilson's testimony to investigators does not explain why, after he emerged from his vehicle, he fired at Brown multiple times. It contradicts some witness accounts, and it will not calm those who have been demanding to know why an unarmed man was shot six times. Brown's death continues to fuel anger and protests.
Joe Colucci of Dallas admits he was arrogant; egotistical; controlling; unwilling to deal with emotions; and abusive. The 52-year-old divorced father of two tells the Dallas Morning News he’s not that man any more. Colucci speaks out about domestic violence, not only during October, National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but all year, from the rare perspective of a former abuser. “The message I want to put out there?” he asks. “Men can certainly change. Is it common? I don’t think so. Is it possible? Absolutely. I’m sitting here as an example of that.”
Colucci says he changed after twice going through a Batterer Intervention and Prevention Program (BIPP). Treatment for batterers began in the 1970s. An estimated 1,500 to 2,500 BIPP classes are held across the U.S., says a 2009 report by the Family Violence Prevention Fund and the National Institute of Justice. Most clients are ordered to attend by a judge. Colucci enrolled at the request of his then-fiancée. Experts are divided on whether BIPP works because success is difficult to define and data hard to come by. Colucci says while BIPP alone can’t solve the problem of domestic violence, it provides a good starting point if someone wants to stop being abusive.
The sentence of life in prison without parole for Michael Dunn, an armed white man who killed unarmed black teenager Jordan Davis during an argument over loud hip-hop music in Jacksonville, Fl., “demonstrates that our justice system works,” said Judge Russell Healey, the Christian Science Monitor reports. The shooting fueled a debate over a new breed of self-defense laws, adopted in nearly half the states, which make it easier for armed individuals to kill in self-defense in public places. The judge said stand your ground has been misunderstood and suggested that Dunn’s actions “exemplifies that our society seems to have lost its way. … We should remember that there’s nothing wrong with retreating and deescalating the situation.”
Law Prof. Donald Jones of the University of Miami says the case fits into a broader cultural debate about the worth of young black men, an issue that has exploded into rowdy protests in Ferguson, Mo., after the police shooting of teenager Michael Brown on Aug. 9. “I think, had Michael Dunn been acquitted, it would have sent a signal to other people that it’s hunting season, that society will not take seriously and will not value the lives of certain kinds of blacks,” says Jones
"With respect to wrongful conviction cases, I have inherited a mess," Brooklyn, N.Y., District Attorney Kenneth Thompson tells NPR. "I am currently investigating over 100 claims of wrongful convictions. Those numbers are staggering. And that's why I created the conviction review unit, and was able to convince a very prominent, well-respected law professor, Ron Sullivan, who's a law professor at Harvard Law School, to come down to Brooklyn and run my unit."
Last week, David McCallum walked free in Brooklyn nearly 30 years after he'd been wrongly convicted of a murder. He was 16 years old in 1986 when he was imprisoned with William Stuckey. Thompson said there was no evidence linking David McCallum or Willie Stuckey to the murder of Nathan Blenner other than their confessions. The confessions were very short and they contained false-fed facts. The prosecutor said the hardest thing he had to to was "to sit down with the Blenner family and to let them know that the two defendants whom they believed for 29 years were responsible for the abduction, robbery and murder of their son and brother were wrongfully convicted was extremely difficult. And I pledged to them that I would do all I could to pursue the leads that we do have because we have leads to try to hold the people who killed him responsible."