Seattle police wasted more than $1 million on overtime pay last year, allowing officers to collect extra salary on the same day they took vacation and in one case collect 31.5 hours of overtime in a 24-hour period, said an internal watchdog reported quoted by the Seattle Times. Overall, the spending produced “little of value,” concluded Pierce Murphy, the director of the department’s Office of Professional Accountability (OPA). Much of the overtime was linked to the department’s efforts to comply with a 2012 settlement with the U.S. Justice Department to curb excessive force and biased policing, though no training plan related to the agreement had yet been submitted to a federal monitor overseeing reforms. The lax oversight occurred in the Education and Training Section, which was under intense pressure to incorporate the department’s now-defunct "20/20" reform plan.
The plan, so named because it called for 20 changes in 20 months, was promoted by then-Mayor Mike McGinn and former Police Chief John Diaz to address issues raised by the Justice Department. As a result, the department exceeded its overtime budget for the training section by more than $1 million because of inadequate “systems and procedures to ensure that overtime hours reported were actually worked and properly approved,” the report said. Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole, who took over the department June 23, pledged yesterday to take immediate steps to correct problems.
The U.S. Justice Department has issued $124 million in community policing hiring grants that will fund nearly 950 officers at 215 law enforcement agencies across the nation. "These targeted investments will help to address acute needs – such as high rates of violent crime – funding 75 percent of the salary and benefits of every newly-hired or re-hired officer for three full years,” said Attorney General Eric Holder.
Ronald Davis, head of the DOJ COPS Office, joined in the announcement as the federal fiscal year ended today. The program provides up to 75 percent of the approved entry-level salaries and fringe benefits of full-time officers for 36 months, with a minimum 25 percent local cash match requirement and a maximum federal share of $125,000 per officer position. The COPS Office says it has funded more than 125,000 officers serving over 13,000 state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies, since it began 20 years ago under the 1994 federal crime law. More than 700,000 people have received training under the program and COPS has spent $14 billion on hiring, technology, training, and technical assistance.
Demands for answers and promises of technology breakthroughs bounced across Washington as the nation's air traffic control system continued its gradual recovery from the fire at an Aurora, Il., radar facility that has grounded thousands of flights since Friday, the Chicago Tribune reports. Experts commended the Federal Aviation Administration for launching an investigation into the alleged act of arson, but some threw cold water on claims that a next-generation, satellite-based radar system could stifle another rogue attack. "NextGen is new technology replacing old technology. If someone is determined to take out NextGen, they will be able to take out NextGen," said Sid McGuirk of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fl.
The myriad technologies involved in NextGen could take many years to implement nationwide, in part because the FAA neither perfected the emerging system nor persuaded the airlines to invest in it. A veteran FAA staffer who has worked at airport towers and radar facilities in the Chicago area said, "To think that traffic would still flow seamlessly (if a key cog were missing), we all know that that is not going to happen."
Facing a possible epidemic of campus sexual assault, some colleges have cracked down on binge drinking, others have reined in fraternities, and still others are training incoming students not to be passive bystanders when they see signs of trouble, says the New York Times. The most talked-about new approach is to require mutual “affirmative consent,” and not just passive acquiescence, before any sexual contact--so-called "yes means yes" policies. California has raised the stakes becoming the first state to require every college to have a consent policy or lose state financial aid.
While advocates are nodding approval, experts and college administrators they have no idea if it will work any better than the other ways. In fact, they say, at a time when politicians from President Obama on down are calling attention to campus sexual assaults, responses are hampered by a lack of data about what works, leaving colleges to rely on instinct and anecdote. “In a lot of places, there is little to no evidence behind the measures being taken,” said Jane Stapleton of Prevention Innovations at the University of New Hampshire. “That doesn’t mean they won’t work. It means we don’t know.” Under the new California law colleges must require “affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity,” which can be verbal or communicated through actions. Consent to one kind of contact cannot be taken to mean consent to another.
The crime statistics being released by colleges nationwide tomorrow are so misleading that they give students and parents a false sense of security, says the Columbus Dispatch. Even the U.S. Department of Education official who oversees compliance with a federal law requiring that the statistics be posted on Oct. 1 each year admits they are inaccurate. Jim Moore said most schools comply with the law but some purposely underreport crimes to protect their images; others have made honest mistakes in attempting to comply.
Weaknesses in the law allow for thousands of off-campus crimes involving students to go unreported, and the Education Department does little to monitor or enforce compliance with the law even when colleges report numbers that seem questionable. The White House and some in Congress have noticed and are pushing for changes, including increased sanctions. The law, known as the Clery Act, was enacted in 1991 to alert students to dangers on campus, but it often fails at its core mission, a joint investigation by the Dispatch and the Student Press Law Center found.
The man who jumped the White House fence and sprinted through the front door made it much farther into the building than...
To get cash to her son in prison, Pat Taylor of Tennessee uses a debit card through JPay Inc., a private company in Florida that handles all deposits into inmates’ accounts. To send him $50, Taylor must pay $6.95 to JPay. The fee can be as high as 35 percent. In other states, JPay’s fees approach 45 percent, reports the Center for Public Integrity. After the fee, the state takes out another 15 percent of her money for court fees and a mandatory savings account, which Eddie will receive on release in 2021, minus the interest, which goes to the state. “They’re punishing the families, not the inmates,” Taylor says. JPay and other prison bankers collect tens of millions of dollars per year from inmate families in fees for basic financial services.
To make payments, some forego medical care, skip utility bills and limit contact with their imprisoned relatives. Inmates earn as little as 12 cents per hour in many places, wages that have not increased for decades. The prices they pay for goods to meet their basic needs continue to increase. By erecting a virtual tollbooth at the prison gate, JPay has become a critical financial conduit for an opaque constellation of vendors that profit from millions of poor families with incarcerated loved ones. The costs imposed by JPay, phone companies, prison store operators and corrections agencies make it far more difficult for poor families to escape poverty so long as they have a loved one in the system.
A Florida drug informant known as “the Princess” was awarded $1.14 million by a federal judge to cover care for the multiple sclerosis she attributes to a traumatic kidnapping. The judge reasoned the disease could be traced to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s failing its duty, McClatchy Newspapers reports. “DEA not only failed to protect (the Princess), but acted with reckless disregard for her safety in light of its intelligence indicating how at risk she was,” said U.S. Court of Federal Claims Judge Mary Ellen Coster Williams.
In a decision issued under seal Aug. 30, and published in a redacted form last Friday, Williams concluded “the Princess’ abduction was a substantial causal factor in the onset of her multiple sclerosis.” Severe stress, doctors testified, can trigger the crippling disease. “The Princess was in normal physical condition before her kidnapping,” Williams wrote, adding that “during her three-month captivity, however, the Princess began to experience severe impairments." The Justice Department may appeal. It has argued the Princess was subject to many other sources of stress besides the kidnapping, including, Williams noted, “a past abusive husband, a daughter battling drug addiction, divorces, and a failing business.”
As colleges face more scrutiny over how they handle reports of sexual assaults, students, counselors and experts say part of the problem is a glaring need for more education on the subject, the Wall Street Journal reports. A recent report by a U.S. senate subcommittee said colleges are failing to educate students, faculty, staff and even police about sexual assault. It said one-third of 440 school surveyed failed to provide training on what constitutes sexual assault to those who adjudicate cases.
The U.S. Justice Department says 1 in 5 undergraduate women will have experienced sexual assault by graduation but only 5 percent report rapes to law enforcement. "There's a cognitive dissonance," says Rose Carlyle of Bay Area Women Against Rape. While most young people understand the "idea of consent," she says, "as soon as you talk about nonconsensual sex, they're trying to find a loophole."
A national motherhood group is jumping into the fray over whether a Northern Kentucky city is illegally discriminating against a pregnant police officer by not allowing her to work a light duty assignment, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. MomsRising.org, which claims 1 million members, has collected more than 10,000 petitions urging the city to change its policy, which will be hand-delivered today to the Florence Government Center.
City officials have said very little about the matter because the officer, Lyndi Trischler, has filed a federal discrimination complaint over the policy. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is looking into the matter. At issue is whether Trischler, who is due to give birth to her second child in early October, should be permitted to work a modified duty assignment until she delivers. After receiving a light duty assignment for her first pregnancy last year, she had made the same request for her second pregnancy this year but was denied.