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How St. Petersburg Mayor Went Off The List To Find New Police Chief

A day after St. Petersburg, Fl., Mayor Rick Kriseman interviewed his top four candidates for police chief last month and introduced them to the community in a public meet-and-greet, he got on a plane to Dallas. He was  unsettled, unconvinced that any was the right fit, says the Tampa Bay Times. At a conference that weekend, Kriseman sought advice from other mayors. They all had the same message: Don't settle. Don't be afraid to scrap the list.

Over the next several days, Kriseman put out feelers for chiefs he might want to recruit. One, it turned out, was close to home: Clearwater, Fl., Police Chief Anthony "Tony" Holloway. Kriseman cold called him, and liked him immediately. Two weeks later, they met at a diner outside both their cities. Kriseman said he asked Holloway the same questions he'd asked the others. This time, he liked everything he heard. "I came away very impressed and convinced this was the guy," Kriseman said yesterday, a few hours after officially announcing Holloway as the new chief. "The more I thought about it, the more convinced I was." Praise poured in for Holloway, 52.

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Could High Court Cellphone Ruling Curtail Federal Post-9/11 Surveillance?

Privacy rights advocates hope the Supreme Court's unanimous ruling last month on cellphone privacy will have a broad impact on the clash between privacy and technology, perhaps leading to decisions striking down the government's post-9/11 surveillance of Americans' telephone records, says USA Today. The justices' 9-0 ruling that police need a warrant to search a cellphone was arguably the most significant of the 2013-14 term. Unlike cases decided by 5-4 margins, Chief Justice John Roberts' cellphone opinion was notable for "the emphatic, emphatic message from the court that digital is different," says Jeffrey Fisher, the Stanford University law professor who successfully argued one of the two cellphone cases, Riley v. California.

Now the question is: How different? Different enough to topple a 35-year-old court precedent that denied privacy protection to telephone records shared with third parties? Different enough to call into question the use of drones, surveillance cameras and other forms of high-tech snooping? Different enough to jeopardize national security operations? Theodore Simon, incoming president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, foresees "a sea change in how one would look at future cases that in any way involve searches and seizures, and where there is the possibility of the revelation of significant personal data."

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Some TX Defendants Draw Detective Checking Their Poverty Claims

Some criminal defendants requesting a court-appointed lawyer in Waco, Texas' McLennan County have received something very different: a visit from a detective, reports the Texas Tribune. Last November, the county assigned sheriff’s detective Eric Carrizales to investigate whether defendants requesting a lawyer are really as poor as they say they are. Local officials praised the unusual idea as a way to save the county money by rooting out false claims by people who can afford to hire a private attorney.

The scheme has drawn criticism from criminal defense advocates, who warn that low-income defendants are being intimidated into waiving their right to a lawyer. “It’s savings at the expense of defendants' rights,” said Andrea Marsh of the Texas Fair Defense Project, a nonprofit organization that focuses on improving the public defense system. “Defendants are not pursuing counsel because they don’t want to let an investigator into their house.” The issue highlights the challenges facing Texas’ county-based approach to meeting the constitutional obligation of providing lawyers to those who can’t afford one. Texas ranked among the bottom five states in per-capita spending on indigent defense in 2008, according to the National Legal Aid and Defender Association.

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Decriminalization Of Sex Work Could Sharply Decrease HIV Infections: Study

The decriminalization of sex work could significantly decrease global HIV infections among female sex workers, leading to a reduction of at least a third in three countries examined by researchers, says a new study reported by the Washington Post. In a paper presented today at the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia, researchers who studied HIV among female sex workers in Canada, India and Kenya concluded that infections could be reduced by 33 to 46 percent in those countries.

“Across all settings, decriminalization of sex work could have the largest impact on the HIV epidemic among sex workers over just 10 years,” said Kate Shannon, an associate professor of medicine at the University of British Columbia, the study's lead author. “Governments and policymakers can no longer ignore the evidence.”

 

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Las Vegas Officer-Involved Shootings Up; It May Not Be A Trend

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department has seen a spike in officer-involved shootings, saying situations that police respond to are more likely to turn violent, reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “We’ve seen an unprecedented amount of suspects shoot at our officers this year,” Las Vegas police Sgt. John Sheahan said. Most shootings started as a routine call that escalated quickly after their officers arrived. The most notable police shooting of this year, Jerad and Amanda Miller’s June ambush that killed officers Alyn Beck and Igor Soldo, occurred while the two officers were taking their lunch break at a pizza restaurant.

So far, 28 police officers have been killed by firearms in the U.S. this year, a 65 percent rise over the 17 last year, says the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. The numbers don’t necessarily reflect a national trend. “These things happen, and sometimes they happen in clusters,” said David Klinger of the University of Missouri-St. Louis and a former Los Angeles police officer. Last year was a historically low year for officer shooting deaths, with 31 nationally. Eventually, the numbers are “going to bump back up,” Klinger said. “The numbers are still far lower than they were in the 1970s,". Nearly 140 officers died by gunfire each year in the early part of that decade.

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Did White House Ignore Report Last Summer Warning Of Texas Border Crisis?

Nearly a year before President Obama declared a humanitarian crisis on the border, a team of experts arrived in Brownsville, Tx., and discovered a makeshift transportation depot for a deluge of foreign children, the Washington Post reports. Thirty Border Patrol agents were assigned to drive the children to off-site showers, wash their clothes and make them sandwiches. As soon as those children were put in temporary shelters, more arrived. An average of 66 were apprehended each day and more than 24,000 cycled through Texas patrol stations in 2013. In a report to the Department of Homeland Security, the team from the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) raised alarms about the federal government’s capacity to manage a situation that was expected to grow worse.

The report was among warning signs conveyed to the Obama administration over the past two years as a surge of Central American minors crossed into south Texas illegally. More than 57,000 have entered the U.S. this year, swamping federal resources and catching the government unprepared. The administration did too little to heed  warnings, said former government officials, outside experts and immigrant advocates, leading to an inadequate response that contributed to this summer’s escalating crisis. Federal officials viewed the situation as a “local problem,” said Victor Manjarrez, a former Border Patrol station chief who led the study. Cecilia Muñoz, Obama’s domestic policy adviser, said the “trend was more like a hockey stick, going up and up and up. Nobody could have predicted the scale of the increase we saw this year. The minute we saw it, we responded in an aggressive way.”

 

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In St. Louis, Criminals Pay For A New Police Department Headquarters

The St. Louis Police Department has moved into a new headquarters that was paid for with $2.7 million in criminal asset forfeiture funds, says the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Its old headquarters, dating from the 1920s, would have cost at least $70 million to modernize.

The renovation cost $10.1 million, paid for with $7 million from a 2007 bond issue, a $3 million donation from the St. Louis Police Foundation, private contributions and criminal asset forfeiture funds. Most of the office furniture was donated by local businesses. “It cost more for us to live in the past than it did to invest in the future,” Police Chief Sam Dotson said during a ribbon cutting ceremony Saturday. “Asset forfeiture money means money we seized from criminal enterprises. So in this case, crime really did pay for the metropolitan police department.”

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Cheap, Potent Meth, Heroin Killing More People In San Diego Area

Cheap and potent methamphetamine and heroin is hitting San Diego County streets, and the surge is continuing to claim more lives, reports U-T San Diego. Meth killed 190 last year, an all-time high; there were 89 deaths from heroin. Law enforcement officials are fighting against the pure volume of the drugs coming north, especially the meth being manufactured for next to nothing in Mexico’s “superlabs,” then smuggled by cartels and smaller entrepreneurial organizations across the border.

“The organizations have access to virtually any drug out there,” said Drug Enforcement Administration agent Gary Hill. “They are trying to be user-friendly distributors.” Authorities have hit back hard, ramping up seizures, coordinating with counterparts in a variety of task forces and going after traffickers. “Every seizure we make, that means less drugs on the street,” he said. “But we are fighting addiction. If someone is not ready to go into treatment, there’s not much we can do about that.” U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy, in announcing the takedown of a San Diego-based meth-trafficking ring this year, called the resurgence of meth “a tremendous public health crisis.”

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"Frenzy Of Callers" Reported In FL As Medical Marijuana Business Starts

Fifty Florida nurseries are eligible to compete to become one of five regional growers of medical marijuana. That has fueled a frenzy of callers looking to partner with an eligible nursery in what will become Florida’s newest legal crop, a limited, low-THC form of marijuana for medical purposes, the Miami Herald reports. It will be used for patients with seizures, severe and persistent muscle spasms and cancer. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized use of some medical marijuana. Florida joined the group with the passage of the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act this year.

The new law allows five medical marijuana dispensaries to cultivate marijuana low in tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the chemical that provides a euphoric high, but high in cannabidiol, or CBD, which can calm seizures. The plants will be processed into an oil form and taken orally. The law and speculation about Amendment 2, a proposed constitutional referendum set for a statewide vote in November that would expand the uses of medical marijuana in Florida, are attracting a slew of companies looking to do business in the state. They come brandishing cash and expertise, the tools they say will guarantee success in the expanding field.

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TCR at a Glance

Merging Family and Drug Courts

new & notable July 25, 2014

London's court for parents who abuse drugs and alcohol uses specially-trained judges and multi-disciplinary teams, according to a report ...

Five Things About Deterrence

new & notable July 24, 2014

A National Institute of Justice flyer argues that the certainty of punishment, rather than severity, deters crime

The ‘War’ Against Whistleblowers

July 19, 2014

Hackers and free speech activists gather in New York to denounce what they call unprecedented government efforts to prosecute leakers