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Tag: Baltimore

DOJ Threatens to Withhold Crime-Fighting Help to 4 Cities over Immigration Policies

ICE agents, via ICE.

ICE agents, via ICE.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department is stepping up pressure on four cities to cooperate with immigration enforcement, threatening to stop providing federal help to crack down on crime.

To continue receiving crime-fighting assistance, San Bernardino, Stockton, Baltimore and Albuquerque must help federal agents with inmates who are undocumented immigrants.

But the Los Angeles Times says the threat “appeared poorly thought out” because neither of the four cities operate a jail, and two have no sanctuary policies. 

The Justice Department didn’t respond to the Times’ questions about the selection of the four cities.

FBI: Seattle Cop Smuggled Massive Amounts of Marijuana to Baltimore

Photo of marijuana by Steve Neavling.

Photo of marijuana by Steve Neavling.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI busted a Seattle police officer who authorities say helped smuggling hundreds of pounds of marijuana to Baltimore.

Alex Chapackdee, a 17-year veteran of the force, was arrested and was among four men charged with conspiring to distribute marijuana, the Associated Press reports. The 44-year-old office is the brother-in-;aw of the group’s alleged ringleader.

“While (it is) always disturbing to investigate one of our own, I am proud of the detectives and commanders who worked diligently on this case,” Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole said in a written statement. “Officer Chapackdee’s conduct is disgraceful and disappointing. While he will have his due process in the courts, I hope these charges demonstrate to our community that SPD will not tolerate corrupt behavior in our ranks.”

According to the FBI, Chapackdee drove marijuana from Seattle to Baltimore in his recreational vehicle several times last fall. The FBI said he deposited nearly $20,000 in cash into his bank account.

Chapackdee, who is on unpaid leave, also is accused of accepting $10,000 a month from his brother-in-law to alert him to any law enforcement investigations and to keep an eye on marijuana grow operations,

Chapackdee’s attorney, David Gehrke, declined to comment on the allegations but said the charges have been difficult for him and his family, which includes a wife and four children.

“This is a huge fall from grace, an embarrassment,” Gehrke said.

The investigation was prompted by a confidential source.

ATF Searches for Suspect Who Stole More Than a Dozen Firearms from Delaware Gun Store

atf badgeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Federal agents are trying to identify a suspect who stole more than a dozen firearm from a Delaware gun shop.

The biggest concern is that the 13 handguns and rifle could end up in the hands of criminals in Baltimore, WJZ reports. The suspected broke into the gun shop and stole the weapons, setting off a manhunt.

“The ATF’s number one priority is to keep illegal firearms from winding up in the hands of criminals so that’s our goal today to make sure that we act as quickly as possible,” says ATF Special Agent David Cheplak.

The ATF is offering a $10,000 reward for information that leads to the suspect’s arrest.

“The majority of the violence we’re seeing here in Baltimore is being committed with firearms that are illegally obtained,” Cheplak said.

Other Stories of Interest

Baltimore Seeks Help with Its Skyrocketing Murder Rate

police tapeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Baltimore surpassed 100 murders so far this year, the quickest the city has reached that mark in two decades.

Now Mayor Catherine Pugh is asking for the FBI to help crack down on violence and help solve open homicide cases, the Baltimore Business Journal reports.  

Hoping to explore all options, the mayor said she expects the FBI to respond to her formal request for help by the end of the week.

“We just want more assistance by our FBI partners,” she said. “The conversation has been around what additional assistance they can provide. We believe there could be more people on the street. In terms of technology we’ve done some things … but there’s some more technology out there that the city has not had access to.”
It’s not yet clear what kind of help the FBI would offer, but Pugh said she’ll take any assistance she can get.

Justice Department May Weaken Police Reform Agreements

police lightsBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department plans to review reform agreements with troubled police forces nationwide to determine if the consent decrees will sacrifice the Trump administration’s goals of establishing law and order.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the agreements between local police forces and the DOJ’s civil rights division will be reviewed by his top two deputies, the Washington Post reports. 

“The Attorney General and the new leadership in the Department are actively developing strategies to support the thousands of law enforcement agencies across the country that seek to prevent crime and protect the public,” Justice officials said in a memo. “The Department is working to ensure that those initiatives effectively dovetail with robust enforcement of federal laws designed to preserve and protect civil rights.”

The move comes after the Justice Department asked a federal judge to postpone a hearing on police reform agreements with the Baltimore Police Department for up to 90 days.

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh opposed the extension request, saying the consent decree was a helpful tool in reforming the police department, Reuters reports. 

“Much has been done to begin the process of building faith between the police department and the community it seeks to serve. Any interruption in moving forward may have the effect of eroding the trust that we are working hard to establish,” she said. 

The agreement was reached in January following the death two years previously of Freddie Gray, a black man killed while in police custody.

The Justice Department wants to determine whether the consent decree inhibits the enforcement of law and order.

“The Department has determined that permitting it more time to examine the consent decree proposed in this case in light of these initiatives will help ensure that the best result is achieved for the people of the City,” they wrote, asking for a hearing set for Thursday to be postponed until June.

NTSB Investigates Bus Crash That Killed 6, Injured 10 in Baltimore

An MTA bus

An MTA bus

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating a deadly crash in Baltimore that occurred after a school bus veered into oncoming traffic and struck a Maryland Transit Administration bus.

Six people were killed and 10 were injured Tuesday morning, the Baltimore Sun reports.

Four passengers and both bus drivers were killed in the crash, and an additional two passengers were in critical condition.

The school bus was not carrying any students.

“It literally looks like a bomb exploded in the bus,” police spokesman T.J. Smith said. “It’s catastrophic damage.”

Investigators are trying to determine what caused the bus driver to veer into the opposite lane. They plan to interview a school bus aide who sustained minor injuries in the crash.

The school bus driver was a 67-year-old man. 

Other Stories of Interest

Gordon Johnson, a 21-Year-Veteran of the FBI, Takes Helm at Bureau’s Baltimore Division

FBI's Baltimore Division.

FBI’s Baltimore Division.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Gordon Johnson, who has worked with the FBI since 1995, has been named special agent in charge of the Baltimore Division.

FBI Director James B. Comey announced the appointment this month of Johnson, who most recently served as deputy assistant director of the Counterintelligence Division at FBI headquarters.

Gary Johnson

After entering the FBI in 1995, Johnson was first assigned to the New York Field Office, investigating national security issues.

Johnson has held numerous leadership positions, including in the Counterintelligence Division and Baltimore Division, a senior representative to the U.S. Cyber Command at the NSA, as special assistant to the FBI’s associate deputy director and as the acting special agent in charge of the Norfolk Division.

The FBI said Johnson will take the helm in Baltimore at the beginning of October.

FBI: Murders Surged in U.S. in 2015, While Violent Crime Rose Nearly 4%

screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-7-18-08-am

Via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Murders surged 10% in 2015 over the previous year, while violent crime rose nearly 4% in the same time period, according to the FBI’s annual crime report.

The increase comes after two years of declines in violent crime in the U.S.

Still, violent crime rates remain much lower than two decades ago.

“The report shows that there was an overall increase in violent crime last year, making clear what each of us already knows: that we still have so much work to do,” Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said Monday in Little Rock, the Washington Post reports. “Violent crime endangers lives, destroys families and paralyzes neighborhoods … In some ways, violence affects all of us — and so all of us have a responsibility to end it.”

The largest increases in homicide came in Chicago, Baltimore and Washington D.C.

“But the report also reminds us of the progress that we are making,” Lynch said. “It shows that in many communities, crime has remained stable or even decreased from the historic lows reported in 2014. And it is important to remember that while crime did increase overall last year, 2015 still represented the third-lowest year for violent crime in the past two decades.”