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Tag: St. Louis

FBI Appoints New Special Agent in Charge of St. Louis Division

St. Louis Field Office, via FBI

St. Louis Field Office, via FBI

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Richard Quinn, a 20-year veteran of the FBI, will become the new special agent in charge of the bureau’s St. Louis division in mid-November.

The FBI announced Tuesday that Quinn will replace former Special Agent in Charge William Woods, who retired in September.

Former Special Agent in Charge William Woods

Former Special Agent in Charge William Woods

Quinn, who most recently served as the chief of the Media and Investigative Publicity Section in the Office of Public Affairs, began his career as a special agent in 1997. His first assignment was at the New York Field Office, where he investigated terrorism and foreign counterintelligence as a member of the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Quinn also held leadership positions in the Counterterrorism Division at FBI Headquarters and in the Chicago and Philadelphia Field Offices.

DEA Survivor Benefit Fund Helps Son of Deceased Task Force Cop Become St. Louis County Officer

sbf-dea-badge-web

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

In November 1993, St. Louis Police officer Stephen Strehl, 35, was killed in a helicopter crash during a training operation in Jefferson County with the DEA. He was a passenger and a member of the DEA task force.

On Dec. 13, Strehl’s son Joseph Strehl graduated from the St. Louis County and Municipal Police Academy at the Maritz Center in Fenton, Missouri, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He was two at the time of his father’s death.

In the audience was his mother and almost  two dozen DEA agents, known as Group 32. Some of the agents knew the elder Strehl and others “only knew the stories of Steve Strehl,”  DEA analyst Tony Wagner, who once supervised Strehl as the lieutenant of the city’s narcotics division, tells the newspaper.

Part of the story is also that the DEA Survivors Benefit Fund ended up helping Joseph Strehl pay for his education after his father’s passing.

In 2014, Joseph wrote:

My dad was a police officer for the city of St. Louis when he was killed in the line of duty while attached to a DEA task force back in 1993. His death happened 6 days before my third birthday and having grown up without a father early on in my life was especially hard on me seeing friends spending time with their dads and having them come to school events like field trips and sporting events. It wasn’t until 9 years later when my mom remarried and my brothers had a father figure in our lives.

When it came time to start applying for colleges in high school, I began to wonder how I would pay for my education like most of my friends. I had asked my parents what I had to do so I could attend a university in the state when my mom told me that I wouldn’t deal with financial aid. She then showed me the DEA’s Survivors Benefit Fund and what the organization does along with explaining to me that my education was covered due to the fact that my dad had been a task force officer.

I am very grateful to the Survivor’s Benefit Fund for making it possible for me, as a student, not to have to worry about how I will pay for my education. With my tuition and book costs covered by the SBF, I can concentrate solely on my classes and earning good grades along with not having to worry about loans or other debt when I graduate from college.

I miss my dad every day and I know that there isn’t anything in the world that can bring him back but with the Survivor’s Benefit Fund we can always remember that there are good people willing to help out families like mine when they lose a loved one. As a junior attending Missouri State University studying Criminology hoping to someday make it to grad school, I wanted to thank everyone at the SBF and supporters for giving me the opportunity to advance my education and future endeavors.

 

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Residents Endangered by Botched ATF Sting

atf badgeBy Editorial Board
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

A fake tattoo parlor in St. Louis set up down the street from the Boys and Girls Club, and use of a confidential informer with a troubled criminal history, help explain how the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives placed some of the city’s most vulnerable residents at risk — and seriously undermined its own integrity in the process.

St. Louis was part of the ATF’s Operation Hustle City, in which agents and police set up the Ink Pimp tattoo parlor at 2806 North Grand Boulevard in January 2013. Agents posed as outlaw bikers looking to buy guns to ship to California or Mexico, and serve as drug cash couriers.

All this occurred in the same area where hundreds of kids regularly attended classes and events on a campus that promised a safe environment. What were ATF agents and their bosses thinking? This appalling example of disregard deals another blow to citizen confidence in law enforcement at a time when federal agencies should be helping to restore public trust.

The Justice Department released a highly critical report last week of undercover ATF storefront operations aimed at getting illegal guns and drugs off the streets in St. Louis and four other cities. The report criticized the operations for inadequate oversight, accountability, training and planning, but did not recommend ending them.

The report said ATF should consolidate its expertise in running storefront operations and not proceed with such stings until agency directors agree they are properly designed and executed.

An agency that has existed in one form or another since 1886 shouldn’t need to be told to properly design and execute operations, especially ones that endanger the very lives of citizens they are supposed to protect. Having issued new directives to the ATF, the Justice Department will need to monitor for implementation.

Other Stories of Interest

FBI-Assembled ‘Hybrid Task Force’ to Tackle Violent Crime in St. Louis

st. louis mapBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

This isn’t your normal task force.

In fact, the FBI is calling it the Hybrid Task Force, and its goal is to pursue drug dealers and violent criminals, KMOX reports. 

“The task force has two focuses,” St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said. “One is an interdiction piece that long term investigation to try and interrupt some of the drugs that are coming to town. And the other is a more rapid response to violence.”

Dotson credited the FBI for assembling the resources to make the team possible.

The members come from an impressive array of agencies – FBI, DEA, ATF, U.S. Attorney’s Office and several local prosecutors.

The task force all be formally introduced on July 20.

Justice Department Blasts Police for Violating Rights During Ferguson Protests

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The Justice Department blasted the police response to the Ferguson protests and riots, saying police violated free-speech rights, antagonized and intimidated crowds with military-style tactics and protected officers from being held accountable, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

The police were accused of “vague and arbitrary” orders to force protesters to move, which “violated citizens’ right to assembly and free speech,” according to a DOJ reported to be issued soon.

“Had law enforcement released information on the officer-involved shooting in a timely manner and continued the information flow as it became available, community distrust and media skepticism would most likely have been lessened,” according to the document.

The report also said police sometimes indiscriminately used tear gas.

The DOJ also suggested that police stop using dogs for crowd control because it antagonized and scared protesters.

The full report, which is still being finalized, contains about 45 “findings” with recommendations for improvements.

Other Stories of Interest


St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Justice Department Needs to Help Restore Order in Ferguson

Michael Brown

By St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Editorial Board

The story of Ferguson has been told in pictures.

First was the body of 18-year-old Michael Brown, face down on Canfield Drive in a pool of blood, killed by Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson. That picture went viral, shared wildly on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram by a legion of people growing angrier by the minute as his body lay in the street forfour and a half hours.

That anger bubbled up into the streets, mostly along West Florissant Avenue, where chanting and protests and the tears of a mourning mother were the pictures of the moment.

Then came the militarized police response, SWAT teams in riot gear, sniper rifles and tear gas, cops with dogs keeping young black protesters at bay. A patriotically dressed young black man tossing a tear gas canister back at police in an iconic display of anger and freedom.

St. Louisans reacted in horror to the violent images sent around in those mid-August days and nights. Eventually, an uneasy peace came and the narrative changed. There were regular, organized protests. New coalitions between clergy and young people, between university students and civil rights activists. There was a push for positive change in a community that needs it.

Everything changed, we hope temporarily, on Monday night.

After Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch announced that the grand jury in St. Louis County would not indict Officer Wilson in Mr. Brown’s death, weeks of tension and rage built upon decades of institutional oppression boiled over.

The world saw Ferguson burn, and the reality was as bad as it looked on late-night cable television. A dead man was found in a car near Canfield Drive. More than two dozen businesses were burned. Bullets and rocks were flying. Some hit their targets.

It was the Failure in Ferguson, and by the next morning, everybody was looking for somebody to blame. There were plenty of candidates.

To read more click here.

Justice Department Lacks Evidence to Warrant Civil Rights Charges Against Ferguson Cop

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Not enough evidence exists to bring civil rights charges against the white police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, investigators for the Justice Department said.

The Washington Post reports that the Justice Department is reluctant to acknowledge the lack of evidence because of high tensions in the greater St. Louis area.

Justice Department spokesman Brian Fallon maintains the case is still open.

“This is an irresponsible report by The Washington Post that is based on idle speculation,” Fallon said in a statement.

But the Post interviewed other law enforcement officials who said it was not premature to conclude the investigation is ending.

“The evidence we have makes federal civil rights charges unlikely,” one said.

 

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: DOJ Investigation Must Go Beyond Ferguson

By St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Editorial Board

A few numbers indicate a civil rights investigation of the Ferguson Police Department is long overdue. On Thursday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the Department of Justice will begin such an inquiry. This is an important and positive step forward, but we suspect when he gets into the numbers, and examines the reality of North St. Louis County, Ferguson will play but a small role in a larger investigation.

First, those numbers:

• As we noted Aug. 10, the day after 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, blacks in Ferguson were 37 percent more likely to be pulled over in 2013 than whites, as a percentage of their respective populations. Those black drivers who were pulled over were twice as likely to be searched for contraband, such as drugs, than white drivers, even though police found contraband, percentage-wise, more often in the cars of white drivers.

• In a city that is two-thirds black, only three of its 53 police officers are black.

• And this, from a recent report from Arch City Defenders: “Despite Ferguson’s relative poverty, fines and court fees comprise the second largest source of revenue for the city, a total of $2,635,400. In 2013, the Ferguson Municipal Court disposed of 24,532 warrants and 12,018 cases, or about 3 warrants and 1.5 cases per household.”

None of these things, on their own, are proof positive of institutional racism or civil rights violations. But together, they help paint a picture that explains why tens of thousands of African-Americans in the St. Louis region have taken to the streets in anger, not just over the shooting of a black teenager by a white police officer, but over years of being subject to different rules when dealing with the justice system partly, if not mostly, because of the color of their skin.

To read more click here.