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Archive for October, 2015

A Brief Chat With Tom Brandon, Head of ATF, on Gun Violence and the Need For More Staffing

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

CHICAGO — Tom Brandon, head of ATF, wonders at time when gun violence is such a pressing issue in America,  why the agency isn’t getting more funding for additional agents.

He says with an additional 200 agents “we could really make a huge difference.”

Brandon became an ATF agent in 1989. In 2011, he was named deputy director and on April 1, he became the acting director. Because the White House has decided not to name him the permanent director, his title, by law, changed this week to deputy director, even though he’ll still be the top agent and carry out the duties of the director.  Why?

It’s called Washington politics. Politico reports that the White House doesn’t want to expend political capital trying to get an ATF director confirmed on the Hill — something that has always been a battle. That being said, a law states that Brandon can’t hold the title of interim director for more than 210 days.

Brandon, who attended the annual International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Chicago this past week, sat down with Allan Lengel of ticklethewire.com for a brief chat about gun violence and the agency’s mission.

Weekend Series on Crime History: A Documentary on J. Edgar Hoover

Arizona Republic: CBP’s Decision to Back Out of Job Fair Was ‘Dumb’

Border Patrol agents reads the Miranda rights to a Mexican national arrested for transporting drugs.By Editorial Board
Arizona Republic 

When it comes to dumb, divisive stunts, the case of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the University of California-Irvine deserves special recognition.

It’s about intolerance, political correctness on steroids and plain old-fashioned selfishness.

Here’s what happened:

UC Irvine planned to include the Border Patrol in a career fair. The agency offers decent-paying, professional jobs that some students might have been interested in pursuing.

But other students freaked. They collected more than 650 signatures on a petition saying the Border Patrol’s presence on campus was a “blatant disregard to undocumented students’ safety and well-being.”

The student body president said allowing the agents on campus for the job fair would send a message “that undocumented students are not welcome.”

The school has about 500 undocumented students – and, sure, some of them might have avoided the Border Patrol booth.

That’s how it goes in the marketplace of ideas. Any campus bristling with opposing viewpoints will have something going on that some students find unappealing. But you don’t ban cheeseburgers to protect the feelings of the vegetarians.

Besides, the Border Patrol was looking for recruits, not people to apprehend.

James B. Comey Not Afraid to Tackle Controversial Issues, Unlike His Predecessors

FBI Director James Comey

FBI Director James Comey

By Michael S. Schmidt
New York Times

As a federal prosecutor in two of the country’s most violent cities in the 1980s and 1990s, James B. Comey pioneered some of law enforcement’s most aggressive tactics that put gang members behind bars for long sentences, and he believes, saved many lives.

But as F.B.I. director for the past two years, Mr. Comey has witnessed a major rethinking of that period, much of it by the Justice Department and the White House. President Obama and other administration officials have described law enforcement efforts from the time as “mass incarceration.”

In a speech last Friday in Chicago, Mr. Comey challenged that interpretation, suggesting it “distorts an important reality” of what the authorities have achieved in the past 25 years to bring down the crime rate. “Pulling up those many weeds, as painful as that was,” he said, “allowed churches, schools, community groups and parents to plant seeds that have grown into healthy neighborhoods. Neighborhoods that are free and alive in 2014 in ways that were unimaginable 25 years ago. We cannot lose sight of that.”

He also made another fairly provocative claim, saying that the recent intense focus on police brutality may have made police officers less aggressive and led to an increase in crime. He seemed to be lending his credibility — and the F.B.I.’s — to the idea that the increased attention on the police has affected officers and emboldened criminals without citing any data to back up his assertion.

Mr. Comey did not tell the Justice Department or the White House what he was planning to say in the speech, but the reaction to it was immediate. Justice Department officials were puzzled, as they did not recall Mr. Comey’s ever raising such issues during their deliberations. The deputy attorney general, Sally Q. Yates, pressed Mr. Comey to explain his views. And, Mr. Comey was criticized by civil rights groups and the head of one of the largest police unions in the country.

White House officials were irritated as they saw it as an effort to undermine their criminal justice reform efforts. They later said publicly that there was no evidence to back up Mr. Comey’s claim about the rise in violence. On Thursday, the president met with Mr. Comey in the Oval Office to discuss his views. The White House declined to describe the conversation.

Mr. Comey’s statements — particularly the ones about the chilling effect that scrutiny has had on law enforcement — have been seized on by Republicans, including some who have distorted them. “You know, the F.B.I. director, the president’s appointed F.B.I. director, has said this week that because of a lack of support from politicians like the president of the United States, that police officers are afraid to get out of their cars; that they’re afraid to enforce the law,” said Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey at the Republican presidential debate on Wednesday. “And he says — the president’s appointee — that crime is going up because of this.”

To read more click here. 

Secret Recordings Reveal Subway’s Jared Fogle Expressing Sexual Interest in Children

jared fogle

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Secret recordings have surfaced of former Subway spokesman Jared Fogle expressing sexual interest in children.

Aired on the daytime talk show “Dr. Phil,” the records captured Fogle talking about his desire for children.

“Early middle school is probably the best,” Fogle said in the recordings verified by CBS News. 

The recordings were captured by a former friend, Rochelle Herman-Walrond.

“I like all ages. That’s the thing I mean. It depends…who is ready for what. You know, who’s going to give you the glance,” he said in one of the recording.

In August, Fogle was indicted in on child porn and child sex charges.

Boston Globe: FBI Director James Comey Damaged Credibility As Crime-Fighter

FBI Director James Comey in Chicago delivering speech at the International Association of Chiefs of Police. (ticklethewire.com photo)

FBI Director James Comey in Chicago delivering speech at the International Association of Chiefs of Police. (ticklethewire.com photo)

By Editorial Board
Boston Globe

Over the last week, FBI Director James Comey has done serious damage to his credibility as the nation’s top crime-fighter. To repeat an old saw, he has figuratively shot himself in both feet, with two ill-considered speeches on the so-called post-Ferguson world where police hold back because of fears of smartphone-wielding citizens. His comments have drawn fierce criticism from civil libertarians, law enforcement analysts, and the White House itself – and rightly so.

The “age of viral videos” has fundamentally altered policing, Comey told an audience at the University of Chicago Law School. “In today’s YouTube world, are officers reluctant to get out of their cars and do the work that controls violent crime? . . . I don’t know whether this explains it entirely, but I do have a strong sense that some part of the explanation is a chill wind blowing through American law enforcement over the last year. And that wind is surely changing behavior.” Then, in case no one had gotten the message, he upped the ante at the International Association of Chiefs of Police a few days later, feeding the misguided notion that an outbreak of constitutionally protected community scrutiny has fueled a crime wave.

But Comey’s Cassandra act is not supported by statistics. In fact, the data don’t suggest that there is a long-term spike in violent crime in the United States, according to James Alan Fox, a professor of criminology, law, and public policy at Northeastern University. In Seattle, police chief Kathleen O’Toole says crime is down this year and told the New York Times: “There’s never been as much scrutiny on police officers as there is now. We should embrace it.”

To read more click here. 

Investigation: Homeland Security Missed Clear Warning Signs Before ICE Agent Shot Supervisor

homeland2department-of-homeland-security-logo-300x300By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Homeland Security missed clear warning signs of an ICE agent’s tendency to be violent before he opened fire on a supervisor and then was fatally shot in February 2012, the Associated Press reports, citing an internal investigation.

Ezequiel Garcia, 45, briefly had his gun and badge revoked by Homeland Security, which returned the weapon after a cursory review.

Before the shooting inside the Long Beach offices of Homeland Security Investigations, a supervisor objected to the agency from returning gun because of concerns over Garcia’s violent tendencies.

Garcia shot the regional second-in-command, Kevin Kozak, who suffered serious injuries.

Another supervisor shot and killed Garcia.

“The review revealed missed opportunities for intervention that, had they been pursued, may have prevented the tragic result,” the report said. Still, the report said “no reasonable person could have predicted” the shooting.

Woo and Rocha declined to speak to the AP through a government spokesman.

Other Stories of Interest

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert Pleads Guilty to Lying to FBI

Dennis Hastert

Dennis Hastert

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert could spend six months or more in prison after pleading guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Chicago to lying to the FBI.

The Associated Press reports that Hastert struck a plea deal with federal prosecutors, who agreed to recommend he serve no more than six months in prison.

But a judge could still go beyond the plea agreement and send the Illinois Republican to prison for up to five years.

The plea deal also meant prosecutors would drop a banking violation charge.

Hastert was accused of handing $100,000 to an anonymous person to keep past misconduct quiet.