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Archive for October 27th, 2015

President Obama Addresses The International Association of Chiefs of Police in Chicago

ATF Acting Director Tom Brandon to the Troops: ‘My Title is Changing, My Duties Are Not’

Thomas Brandon

Thomas Brandon

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Tom Brandon, will no longer be the acting director of ATF as of Wednesday.  He’ll be deputy director.

But Brandon wants the troops to know: “My title is changing, my duties are not.”

By law, Brandon can’t hold that interim title of acting director for longer than 210 days. It runs out on midnight Oct. 27. That means on Wednesday,  Brandon will still run the agency, but ATF will not officially have a director. He’ll be the deputy director.

Politico explained recently that the Obama administration, which is coming an end, has no plans to name Brandon or anyone else as a permanent director for the agency. It doesn’t want to expend political capital on what would be a tough battle.  Getting a confirmation on the Hill for any director for ATF is always very challenging, with the NRA often leading the opposition.

Going without a director for extended periods of time can lessen the stature of an agency in the eyes of Congress, and it can also be demoralizing to workers, who may feel that the White House doesn’t consider them a high priority.

Of course, that all comes at a time President Barack Obama is pushing to crack down on guns. ATF’s area of expertise is guns and enforcing the nation’s gun laws. He’s expected to deliver a speech and touch on guns Tuesday afternoon at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Chicago, where Brandon has been for the past several days.

On Monday, Brandon fired off an email to ATF workers, entitled: “My title is changing; my authorities aren’t.”

Here what Brandon wrote:

Since April 1 of this year, I’ve had the honor of serving as your “acting director.” During this time, no one was nominated to be the ATF Director.  Consequently, under a law called the Vacancies Act, I revert back to being your Deputy Director on Wednesday, 10/28/15. Moreover, fromWednesday forward, there can be no ATF Director or Acting ATF Director until a new president enters office (1/20/17). Therefore, until that time, the deputy director position is the top (head) position within our Bureau.
So what does that mean for you and me?  Well for now, I remain the head of ATF, and I promise to do my best to represent you well. You men and women, coupled with our vital public safety mission, are why I haven’t retired. I have had a lifetime of good time on this job. Sure there are moments when I have my professional challenges, just like all of you, and I want to punch out. But after I collect myself and take time to reflect, I realize that I am one of the luckiest guys in the world. I have a job I love. I work with people I love. And I have been able to “produce and provide” for my family . . . who I love beyond words. So, regardless of official title, Brigadier General Ron Turk (who will remain my partner and the # 2 person in charge of ATF) and I, along with the executive team, will continue to make sure we lead our Bureau down the right path with sufficient resources.
You fine men and women should continue to do what you do: focus on your specific mission, step on the gas, and go home safe to your loved ones at the end of the day. And after you do that, take time to count your blessings. And I hope working at ATF is one of them.

The Continuing Rapid Rise of Seizures and Overdose Fatalities Involving Fentanyl

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) issued an alert this week about the continuing rapid rise of seizures and overdose fatalities involving fentanyl. As reported in this column last June, fentanyl is a fast-acting opioid , 50-100 times stronger than morphine, that is now being used by sellers to mix with heroin in order to increase the “high.” The problem is that the substance is so much more potent that users often do not know of this increase and have a greater risk of suffering a fatal overdose.

The danger posed by this development has risen dramatically in the last three years, and the increase in 2014 was at epidemic levels. DEA has responded with ramping up enforcement activity. Seizures have gone from 618 in 2012, 949 in 2013, to a staggering 4,585 in 2014. These seizures are concentrated in ten states, with Ohio having the highest number of seizures (1,245), followed by Massachusetts (630), and Pennsylvania (419).

Most of this rise has been from illegal manufacturing operations rather than diversion of pharmaceutically produced drugs, according to a report by the DEA Office of Diversion Control. The alert was reported in this week’s Medscape Medical News.

The CDC asked law enforcement to participate in expanded surveillance and record-keeping programs, along with medical examiners and emergency rooms, to report these seizures to local public health departments. It also warned law enforcement officers to take special safety precautions to avoid exposure to the drug either through skin contact or by inadvertently inhaling it.

Parker: The Continuing Rapid Rise of Seizures and Overdose Fatalities Involving Fentanyl

Ross Parker

Ross Parker

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office.

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) issued an alert this week about the continuing rapid rise of seizures and overdose fatalities involving fentanyl. As reported in this column last June, fentanyl is a fast-acting opioid , 50-100 times stronger than morphine, that is now being used by sellers to mix with heroin in order to increase the “high.” The problem is that the substance is so much more potent that users often do not know of this increase and have a greater risk of suffering a fatal overdose.

The danger posed by this development has risen dramatically in the last three years, and the increase in 2014 was at epidemic levels. DEA has responded with ramping up enforcement activity. Seizures have gone from 618 in 2012, 949 in 2013, to a staggering 4,585 in 2014. These seizures are concentrated in ten states, with Ohio having the highest number of seizures (1,245), followed by Massachusetts (630), and Pennsylvania (419).

Most of this rise has been from illegal manufacturing operations rather than diversion of pharmaceutically produced drugs, according to a report by the DEA Office of Diversion Control. The alert was reported in this week’s Medscape Medical News.

The CDC asked law enforcement to participate in expanded surveillance and record-keeping programs, along with medical examiners and emergency rooms, to report these seizures to local public health departments. It also warned law enforcement officers to take special safety precautions to avoid exposure to the drug either through skin contact or by inadvertently inhaling it.

White House Disagrees with FBI Director That Increased Police Scrutiny Causing Spike in Crimes

crime sceneBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The White House disagreed with FBI Director James Comey’s assertion that increased police scrutiny may have led to a rise in violent crimes in some cities, the New York Times reports. 

“The evidence we have seen so far doesn’t support the contention that law enforcement officials are shirking their responsibilities,” the White House press secretary, Josh Earnest, said in response to a question about Mr. Comey at his daily briefing. “In fact, you hear law enforcement leaders across the country indicating that that’s not what’s taking place.”

On Friday, Comey said officers are more reluctant to address problems directly with people on the street because of fears that their actions would be caught on video.

Comey said law enforcement leaders told him this was the case.

“I spoke to officers privately in one big city precinct who described being surrounded by young people with mobile phone cameras held high, taunting them the moment they get out of their cars,” Mr. Comey said. “They told me, ‘We feel like we’re under siege and we don’t feel much like getting out of our cars.’ ”

High-Level Sources Told Secret Service Director about Leak of Rep. Chaffetz’s Personnel File

Joseph Clancy

Joseph Clancy

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy knew about the improper leaking of Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s personnel file at least a week before the information became public, the Inspector General of the Homeland Security found.

CNN reports that Clancy was not being truthful when he said he heard a “rumor”that is “not credible” about the leak just before it became public in late May.

But the Inspector General said that at least three top-level sources told Clancy about the leak before it became public. Those officials were the Secret Service deputy director, a deputy assistant director and former directors.

Initially, Clancy denied knowing anything about the leak of Chaffetz’s file, which included information when he unsuccessfully applied for a job at the agency.

“We are unable to determine, because he has no memory of it, the degree to which Director Clancy understood how widely the information was being disseminated within the Secret Service, or whether he understood that the discussion about Chairman Chaffetz was being fueled and confirmed by dozens of agents improperly accessing a protected file,” the inspector general’s office said.

It added, “We do know that Director Clancy was told of the information from three different sources. We also know that no agency-wide affirmative steps were taken to stop access to the record until after the information was reported in the media.”

FBI Wildly Undercounts Number of Police Officers Killed in High-Speed Chases

police lightsBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Although the USA Today has tallied more than 370 police officers who were killed  in high-speed chases since 1980, the FBI put the number of fatalities at just 24.

The USA Today arrived at the number by analyzing U.S. Department of Transportation records.

The newspaper also found that chases are the fifth-leading cause of death among police.

The USA Today found:

The undercount is one of the most extreme examples of the federal government’s inability to accurately track violent deaths, and has led the FBI to minimize the danger of police chasing motorists, often at high speeds and in dangerous conditions, at a time when many police departments are restricting or considering restricting vehicle pursuits.

“The fact that these numbers have been undercounted further emphasizes the magnitude of the problem and the need for sensible restrictions on pursuit driving,” said Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, a think tank on law-enforcement issues. “This is important for the safety of officers and citizens alike.”

The FBI responded by saying it plans to improve how it counts the number of officers killed in high-speed chases.

Homeland Security Deputy Director to Visit Birthplace of Cuba to Help Ease Tensions

Alejandrom Mayorkas

Alejandrom Mayorkas

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The second-ranking Homeland Security official will visit his hometown in Cuba to help ease tensions with the U.S., the Los Angeles Times reports. 

Alejandro Mayorkas, Homeland Security deputy secretary, was 6 months old when his family fled Havana and moved to Miami.

For the first time, he is returning for a three-day visit intended on restoring diplomatic relations.

It’s part of a larger effort by President Obama to ease restrictions on U.S. travel and investment in Cuba as Congress considers dropping the decade-long trade embargo.

Myorkas said his father longed to visit Cuba.

“He always dreamed of returning with his children and sharing Cuba with them,” Mayorkas said in an interview, his eyes beginning to tear up. “It was always my hope and intention to return with him, so this visit will be quite emotional.”