Posts Tagged ‘Florida’

Threatening to commit mass shootings

September 3, 2019

This article reports over 40 people arrested around the country over the last month for threatening to commit mass shootings or bombings, most after tips from the public. Common themes included right-wing ideology and threats against schools, Walmarts, and Planned Parenthood. The nature of the cases ranged from “vague social media threats from juveniles that set parents on edge to well-developed plots from people who had access to weapons and appeared to authorities to have been planning a mass murder.”

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Making discipline consistent and fair

May 20, 2019

Studies show that many police officers don’t think discipline is fair in their agencies. At the same time, a substantial portion of the public believes police are not held accountable for misconduct. In this paper, Darrel Stephens identifies 5 factors that can be used to make fair and consistent disciplinary decisions. Moreover, “Putting these factors in writing and sharing them with the department and community helps take some of the mystery out of the discipline decision making process and highlights the complexity of the job police officers are asked to do.”

Elder fraud

March 8, 2019

U.S. authorities announced a year-long “largest-ever” elder fraud crackdown resulting in criminal and civil charges against 260 defendants for defrauding more than 2 million victims out of $750 million, as reported here. The total annual loss to elder Americans is estimated at $3 billion. The investigation was aided by Europol and police in several individual countries, with “alleged fraudsters charged criminally and extradited from Canada, the Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Jamaica and Poland.” An additional 600 U.S.-based “money mules” who helped transfer funds were identified, most receiving warning letters rather than charges because they didn’t realize they were facilitating scams.

Bike fatalities up

February 11, 2019

Bike fatalities in 2016 were the highest since 1990, with 835 deaths, according to this article. One contributing factor could be the 50% increase over time in the number of people commuting to work on bicycles. Interestingly, though, several cities with the highest rates of biking to work — Portland, Minneapolis, DC, San Francisco, Seattle — had among the lowest fatality rates. The highest bike fatality rates were in Oklahoma City, San Antonio, and Jacksonville.

50 extremism-related murders in 2018

January 25, 2019

There were at least 50 U.S. murders linked to extremism in 2018, making it the 4th deadliest year for domestic terrorism since 1970, and all the perpetrators “had ties to at least one right-wing extremist movement,” according to this article. Firearms caused 42 of the deaths, and just 5 shooting sprees accounted for 38 of the murders. The Anti-Defamation League reports that, over the last 10 years, “73.3 percent of all extremist-related fatalities can be linked to domestic right-wing extremists, while 23.4 percent can be attributed to Islamic extremists.”

Rapid DNA in action

January 22, 2019

This article reports early adoption of Rapid DNA technology in Bensalem, Pennsylvania and a few other sites around the country. The equipment requires little training and returns results in 90 minutes. Scientists are generally satisfied with the accuracy of matches from cheek swabs but consider crime scene DNA much more complicated to process and interpret. A current limitation is that most machines only link to local databases, not the FBI’s national CODIS system. Critics worry that the technology will tempt police to collect DNA from anyone they deem suspicious, leading to an ever-larger DNA database susceptible to misuse.

NORAD tracking UFO

December 24, 2018

This website tracks an airborne globe-circling craft that reappears each year around this time. One Nordic touch-down documented here. Lights and music phenomena here.

Parkland shooting review

November 22, 2018

This article reports on the commission looking into police response to the February 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. The Broward Sheriff’s on-scene commander has resigned and a sergeant has been placed on restricted administrative assignment. Both reportedly failed to take prompt action in the active-shooter situation. Additional deputies on the scene “were reported to have taken cover while Coral Springs officers ran into the building.”

Back to a sheriff in Miami-Dade

November 9, 2018

Miami-Dade County did away with its elected sheriff position in the 1960s following a scandal, replacing it with a county police department run by an appointed chief of police. But Florida voters on Tuesday approved a ballot measure that will require every county to have an elected sheriff, according to this article. The transition, which will involve 4,400 police staff, likely won’t occur until 2024, giving officials time to plan and guaranteeing lots of political maneuvering in the next few years leading up to the first sheriff election.

GEDmatch.com

October 21, 2018

This article tells the story of GEDmatch.com, the free genealogical web site that has been used to identify suspects based on familial DNA in 15 murder and sexual assault cold cases since April, starting with the Golden State Killer. The site was started by a retired businessman looking into his own family tree, with technical help from a transportation engineer. Before April, users were mainly people looking into their own genealogy, including adoptees hoping to identify their biological parents. A recent study concluded that “Within three years, the DNA of nearly every American of Northern European descent — the primary users of the site — will be identifiable through cousins in GEDmatch’s database.”