PoliceOne Daily News
Man arrested after punching police horse outside football stadium
Thu, 18 Jan 2018 12:00:00 GMT
Texas launches 'move over' campaign to protect first responders on roads
Thu, 18 Jan 2018 12:00:00 GMT

By Erica Pauda Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

AUSTIN, Texas — Hoping to avoid crashes involving emergency vehicles, the Texas Department of Public Safety is informing the public of its "move over" campaign.

Emergency vehicles include patrol units, vehicles with the Texas Department of Transportation, EMS and tow trucks, DPS Sgt. John Gonzalez told the A-J on Tuesday.

"In the coming weeks, troopers will be enforcing the 'move over' law," he said, "and that's why we're campaigning and warning the motorists that if they see activated lights on these vehicles that they should either move over or slow down. We want to, out of respect, encourage people to practice this."

Gonzalez said penalties vary for violations of the state law requiring drivers to move over a lane if there are emergency vehicles on the side of the road. He said penalties can be up to $200 for a written citation, $500 if property is damaged and possibly charges or an arrest for any injuries as the result of a crash.

"In the recent months and years, we've seen many trooper vehicles crashed into because people don't slow down or move over," said Gonzalez.

He said if there are cases when people are attempting to move into the right lane if seeing emergency lights activated, that drivers who can't move over a lane should slow down to 20 mph less than the speed limit.

"Again, this is a law," said Gonzalez, "and this is to protect the first responders and those folks that are working on the shoulder of the roadway or off the roadway, helping the local community to help those first and protect them."

#MoveOver for them. #MoveOver for their families. If you see emergency personnel on the side of the road, #MoveOver and give them plenty of space to work. pic.twitter.com/VUhiKkeFdA

— NHTSA (@NHTSAgov) January 17, 2018

He said the law aims to help first responders do their jobs and avoid being involved in a crash.

"We're just encouraging people to practice defense driving, be vigilant," he said. "Pay attention to those types of laws that are out there on the roadway for their protection, as well as our protection."

Copyright 2018 Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

SC detective shot during domestic violence call dies
Thu, 18 Jan 2018 03:18:19 GMT
NY police agencies get grant for video interrogation recordings
Thu, 18 Jan 2018 00:00:29 GMT


ALBANY, N.Y. — More than two dozen law enforcement agencies across New York will be receiving grants to update or purchase recording equipment for video interrogation systems.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that more than $650,000 in grants for the 28 local law enforcement agencies - including four in the Rochester area.

Once a new law takes effect on April 1, failing to record interrogations in applicable cases could result a recorded confession being inadmissible as evidence. This only applies to interrogations at police stations, correctional facilities, prosecutor's offices, and similar holding areas.

Full Story: Four local police agencies receive NY grant money for video interrogation recordings

Brother of slain boy becomes Ill. officer
Wed, 17 Jan 2018 23:19:08 GMT

Denise Crosby The Beacon-News, Aurora, Ill.

AURORA, Ill. — Early Monday morning, the Aurora City Council chamber was filled with proud family and supportive friends as 10 young men, standing ramrod straight in their dark suits and ties, were sworn in as Aurora's newest police officers.

Cellphones clicked. Cameras rolled. Parents beamed. And only hugs outnumbered the handshakes going around the room.

But most of the attention, certainly from the media, was focused on the second young man who took this oath on a snowy Martin Luther King Jr. Day … for no one knew more personally than he did the impact a police badge can have on a family and a community.

Jason Contreras was only 3 years old when in November 1996 his older brother Nico was shot and killed while asleep in his bed at their grandmother's house.

If you know even the basic outline of Aurora's ugly history with gang violence, you probably recognize the name of little Nico. And you likely are familiar with his sweet face, as well, for this 6-year-old child's senseless murder became a rallying cry that set off a wave of anti-gang activism in the community.

While Jason was barely old enough to remember the night his brother was slain or the immediate aftermath, he spent the next two decades as a member of a close-knit family as determined to seek justice for Nico as the police department and prosecutors who eventually got convictions for the two men responsible.

Elias Diaz — who authorities say planned the shooting and drove the getaway car — was found guilty in 2008 and sentenced to 60 years in prison. Mark Downs, who fired the gun into the bedroom — reportedly Nico's uncle was the target, whom they believed was a rival gang member — was convicted in 2009 and received a 70-year sentence.

The murder not only became an integral part of Aurora's dark history and road to redemption, it also came to define much of this family's story — as they became involved with law enforcement, clergy and other activists trying to stem the tide of gang violence that had ripped apart the community. So it's no wonder there were so many family members gathered in the council chamber to watch this young man being sworn in as an Aurora police officer.

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We welcomed ten new police officers to the Aurora Police family today during a swearing-in ceremony at City Hall. The...

Posted by Aurora Police Department on Monday, January 15, 2018

And there is little surprise why this celebration — including those hugs, smiles and tears — was also for a little boy who, only in death, had a chance to make his mark in the world.

Jason's mother, Sandi Saltijeral, admitted she was "scared out of my mind," when Jason announced his senior year of high school he wanted to become a police officer. But trying to change his mind was futile, she said, because when "Jason makes up his mind to do something," there is no talking him out of it.

"And I know how much he wants to make a difference,how much he wants to help people," said Saltijeral, who moved to Chicago several years ago but remains tightly connected to the Aurora community.

There is "no doubt" Jason gravitated to law enforcement because of Nico, said his father, Javier Contreras. Jason was a Plano High School student when the men accused of his brother's murder came to trial. After graduating with a degree in law enforcement from Western Illinois University, he joined the Plano Police Department in the fall of 2016. But his goal, the family told me, was always to be part of Aurora's force, which had played such a vital role in his life.

"Becoming an Aurora cop means a lot to him and to all of us," Contreras said. "It is coming full circle for the family."

In addition to loved ones, there were plenty of city and county officials on hand who played an active role in the Nico case, including two Kane County assistant state's attorneys who have been working on it since the killers were arrested and who continue to deal with the ongoing appeals process.

"Something good came out of something really bad," noted Sal LoPiccolo, a 29-year veteran prosecutor who got to know Jason and the family as they faithfully attended all court proceedings through the years, and have had to endure so many emotions as appeals have snaked through the system.

His colleague agreed. "This was a horrible crime," said Mark Stajdohar, who has been a prosecutor for 17 years and admits he's grown particularly close to the family. "And seeing this (ceremony) helps."

As police liaison for the county's state's attorney's office, Linda Hagemann has also become personally involved. And as the longtime victims advocate gave Jason's mother a congratulatory hug, she reminded Saltijeral of the powerful impact her slain son has had on so many people in this community.

"Nico," she said, "will always have a special place in our hearts."

Now that his little brother is a member of the Aurora police force, the family could not be more proud.

"Jason knows who he is," said his beaming grandmother, Mary Saltijeral. "And I do not worry, for God will watch over him."

©2018 The Beacon-News (Aurora, Ill.)

Mass. officer honored for going beyond call of duty
Wed, 17 Jan 2018 20:28:20 GMT

By PoliceOne Staff

RANDOLPH, Mass. — For one Massachusetts officer, being a cop means helping others, whether he is on or off duty.

WCVB reports that Officer Kevin Gilbert recently received a commendation for being the “living embodiment of service and selflessness” by the Randolph PD. The department said Gilbert typically scours social media and news headlines to learn about people who are in need that he can help.

Gilbert’s selfless actions include helping people at home and in places as far away as Georgia and Tennessee. The officer sends out care packages to sick children in hospitals, and even helps the families of the children by providing toys and gift cards for gas.

Another example of positive policing: Randolph PD Officer Kevin Gilbert receives Commendation from Chief for selflessness beyond the call of duty. His story at 5:30. #wcvb pic.twitter.com/lktbqW9xZm

— Nichole Berlie (@NicholeBerlie) January 10, 2018

"As a police officer, making an arrest is one thing in the course of our duties, but by sending a letter and gift with a police patch to a sick child in the hospital, you can do the most with that," Gilbert said.

Sgt. Douglas Morgan recalls the time Gilbert helped a single mother who was caught shoplifting from a store. Morgan said the mother stole because money was tight and she was trying to provide for her daughter. So, Gilbert went into the store and paid for enough food to last the family until the mother received her next Social Security check.

Gilbert said his generosity comes from his parents, but he also made it clear that he isn’t the only selfless officer.

"I'm certainly not the only officer in our department who does it, but it's always nice to be able to help whenever we can," he said.

Randolph Police Officer Kevin Gilbert Recognized for Selfless Efforts Beyond the Call of… https://t.co/QVHUtgfMt3 pic.twitter.com/PDjTf6drOo

— Randolph Police Dept (@RandolphPD) January 9, 2018

Officer buys new wheelchair for homeless man
Wed, 17 Jan 2018 20:20:22 GMT

By PoliceOne Staff

MIAMI — When a homeless man couldn’t get his wheelchair to open, a Miami officer opened her own wallet to help solve his problem.

WPLG reports that Officer Anna Lazcano is a member of the Miami PD’s Homeless Outreach team. The team consists of Miami officers who check on the homeless and offer them assistance and shelter.

Last week, Rafael Alvarez flagged down Lazcano for some help. When the officer learned that his wheelchair was broken, she bought the disabled man a new one, ABC News reports.

Alvarez, who moved to Miami from Cuba in 1980, worked as a roofer until he had to quit for medical reasons, including a leg amputation from diabetes. He and his wife became homeless when Medicare didn’t cover all of their bills.

"Regardless of where they are from, where they ended up and what they're doing with their life, it's just helping the community. It is what we're all about,” Lazcano said.


Why police training must balance the body and the brain
Wed, 17 Jan 2018 19:25:53 GMT
Lt. Dan Marcou
Lawyer: Charges possible in connection with Vegas shooting
Wed, 17 Jan 2018 18:18:34 GMT
University police chief combats sexual assaults with apps, relationships
Wed, 17 Jan 2018 18:11:35 GMT
Author: Lt. Dan Marcou

By George Morris The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.

BATON ROUGE, La. — You can't open the newspaper or flip on the TV without hearing about another A-lister brought down by charges of sexual assault or harassment.

But Joycelyn Johnson has been combating sexual assault since long before it became a hot-button issue.

It started when she was on foot patrol in the Southern University Police Department, and continues now that she's chief.

Her work has been noticed, and not just on campus.

Johnson was honored last year regionally by HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) Law Enforcement Executives and Administrators and locally by the Baton Rouge Chapter of The Links for innovations she has brought to Southern police, particularly those combating sexual assault on campus.

When Johnson, 49, joined the force in 1999, she walked the night shift, keeping an eye on several dormitories.

“Walking around meeting students, talking to them, just getting to know them is when I started learning about these types of crimes going on, and they just don’t report,” Johnson said. “So, after getting to know students and listening to some of the things that were going on, that had happened to them or friends, I had decided to do something.”

In 2002, she received approval from then-Chief Dale Flowers to contact other police departments and implement a domestic violence awareness and prevention program at Southern. She began by creating self-defense classes, safety awareness efforts and letting students know about health and counseling services. Later, Flowers approved her request to offer a rape and sexual abuse awareness and prevention program and to provide a private office where victims could feel more comfortable.

Since the campus population constantly changes, the need to get the word out is constant. In the early going, that included a pamphlet Johnson created titled “Keeping Jags Safe.” As time passed, smartphones have become nearly universal.

“One morning I was riding around campus, and from the Mini-Dome to inside the campus, the kids walked to go to class, and everybody pretty much had a phone in their hand either looking down or not paying attention,” Johnson said. “I said I need to do something to get their attention while they’re on the phone.”

That inspired her to pursue development of the Jags Safe app, which was introduced in 2015 while Johnson was Southern’s interim police chief. Developed by 911 Cellular, the app enables Southern students and faculty to contact the campus police department, request an escort to their vehicle, track the location of the campus shuttle and anonymously report crimes or other problems on campus, including photos or videos. It also has emergency information, a campus map and other safety features.

About 2,900 Southern students and faculty members have downloaded the app, Johnson said, and they’re not afraid to use it to alert Southern police. Not all of those contacts are emergencies, but she views anything that connects students to the campus police as a positive.

“They tell us all kinds of things,” Johnson said. “The funniest one: ‘Can you please tell the kids upstairs to stop stomping? I’m trying to sleep.’”

This is not to say there aren’t more serious issues, including the ones that caught Johnson’s attention as a patrol officer. Sexual assault remains a subject that victims are reluctant to speak about to authorities, the chief said. Rape accusations are rare. When they have occurred, Johnson said she has done whatever is necessary, including providing rides to the District Attorney’s Office for accusers who needed transportation.

A Baton Rouge native and 1986 Capitol High School graduate, Johnson is the first woman to be Southern’s permanent police chief. Capt. Sandra Knighten, one of her mentors, was the first female interim chief.

Since becoming chief, Johnson said she has encouraged officers to “adopt” dorms so the students will get to know them.

“It’s very important,” she said. “As a student, it was important for me to have relationships within the campus community because I needed help. When I was a student, I didn’t know one campus police officer. I would see them, but I didn’t know their name.”

©2018 The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.