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  • Bodycam footage shows Fla. LEO dragged by suspect's car

    Richard Tribou Orlando Sentinel

    ORLANDO, Fla. — Orlando Police released body cam footage of an officer being dragged by suspect’s car that hit speeds of up to 60 mph, according to a report on ClickOrlando.com.

    The report said OPD Officer Sean Murphy had pulled over Zavier Askew, 25, on May 9 near College Drive and Willie Mays Parkway east of downtown Orlando. The officer found remains of marijuana in the car and asked Askew to exit the vehicle. At one point, Askew runs back into the car and drives off with Office Murphy halfway out the car window.

    The body cam footage seen on ClickOrlando shows the moment Askew jumps into the driver’s seat and races off with Murphy’s legs out the window.

    “Dude, you’re killing me. Stop, stop. This is attempted murder,” you can hear Officer Murphy’s voice saying in the video.

    The report said Askew hit another car on a dead-end road where the chase ended with Askew hitting another car and Officer Murphy nearly avoiding getting pinned. Askew was arrested and charged with

    attempted first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer and other charges. He remains at the Orange County Jail.

    ———

    ©2019 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.)


  • Can a bad word be a good tactic?

    Lt. Dan Marcou
    Author: Lt. Dan Marcou

    Can the use of bad words sometimes be a good tactic?

    As a rule, I have taught officers to develop verbalization discipline to ensure they look like the professionals they are. However sometimes a bad situation can result in a spontaneous leak of “bad” words. Other times officers might even choose to use undeleted expletives.

    Let’s discuss the issue of police profanity.

    The Spontaneous Leak

    There are moments in law enforcement when you see things happen right in front of you that are so dynamic and unexpected, they rip the emotions raw. You might blurt out words in a seemingly Tourette’s-like manner.

    For example, I was pursuing a stolen vehicle years ago at over 90 mph on a four-lane highway with a grass median between the northbound two lanes and the southbound two lanes. I could see up ahead a state trooper approaching with lights on, when suddenly the officer swung across the median and set up a stationery roadblock in the path of the stolen car.

    The young trooper miscalculated the driver’s propensity to comply and instead of stopping as he was required by law to do, the criminal barreled into the occupied squad at a speed of 93 mph, demolishing both vehicles. I believe the short prayer I prayed was, “HOLY SH-T!” To my surprise both the trooper and the criminal sustained only minor injuries.

    Rehearsal to Avoid the Spontaneous Leak

    Although such words are not considered the language of the professional, they may spontaneously spurt out during the sudden onset of violent, unexpected events.

    In the case of use of force, however, you can prevent such spontaneous leaks from occurring by rehearsing effective combat communication.

    For example, when you practice your strikes, shout: “Back.”

    When you practice your decentralizations (take downs), shout: “Down.”

    When you practice your control holds, communicate: “Police, relax, you’re under arrest. Stop resisting.”

    When you practice deployment of your TASER, shout: “TASER! TASER! TASER!

    When you are about to deploy your impact munition, shout: “Bean bag! Bean bag! Bean bag!”

    If you have trained to say these things during anticipated stressful events, then during street applications these are the words that will come out rather than, “Stop resisting or I’ll break your f----ing arm, you a---hole.” These untrained words will negatively color an otherwise defensible use of force. By using these words, you are loading the defendant’s legal gun, which will later be pointed right at you.

    I have always said that we can shoot someone and that can be defensible but calling someone an a—hole, even if the suspect’s photo appears next to the word in the street officer’s dictionary, is not readily defensible.

    The Problem with Rough Words

    Any use of force is scrutinized. Therefore, for the sake of the officer who uses a level of force that allows them to win on the street, you want all aspects of that force to be defensible, even the verbalization. If you call someone a mother-f--ker just before you use justifiable force on them, that one word will most certainly be used to cast doubt on your use of force, whether you strike them with a punch, a baton, or a bullet.

    The Blue-on-Blue Problem

    There is another problem with overuse of the street vernacular, especially when you have a weapon directed at a suspect and you are in plain clothes. To any responding uniform officer not fully briefed on what is occurring, your street vernacular may lead to a blue on blue shooting. The uniformed officer will undoubtedly at some point say, “He didn’t sound like a cop.”

    Rehearse the Verbal Take Down of the High-Risk Suspect

    If you rehearse the verbalization you will use when taking a high-risk suspect down at gun point (while you are utilizing cover), even if you are not dressed like a cop, you will “sound like a cop.”

    In other words, if “Police, don’t move!” followed by “Put your arms out, palms up, and don’t move!” are your first choice of words to use in such a situation, practice those words so they professionally roll off the tongue. By practicing these words, they will be there for you when you need them.

    Another problem with adlibbing is that during a truly dangerous event your brain will be distracted from the business of trying to keep you alive. When you are pointing your duty weapon at a suspect with a gun in his belt or even worse in his hand you need to be practiced, focused and precise.

    The Deliberate, Last Resort Tactical Cuss

    Most police policies declare deadly force should only be used as a last resort. If an officer gets to a point where a suspect is armed, non-compliant and the officer is barely, as they say, to the “left of bang,” that officer might reasonably believe one last attempt at verbalization may include a deliberate life-saving tactical cuss.

    An officer on the verge of shooting may reasonably decide to try to save a suspect’s life by one last desperate command, “Drop the gun now or I will FUCKING shoot you!” These words said with the right combination of sincerity and urgency might just prevent an officer-involved shooting. You could call this a last resort tactical cuss.

    Conclusion

    It is easy to say you will try to eliminate your use of language that on its face seems unprofessional and difficult to defend; however, to suggest that every expletive must or even can be deleted in the world we police in is unrealistic.


  • Philadelphia police seize $1B of cocaine from ship

    null
    Author: Lt. Dan Marcou

    By Jeremy Roebuck The Philadelphia Inquirer

    PHILADELPHIA — Federal authorities on Tuesday seized more than 16 tons of cocaine from a cargo ship docked at the Port of Philadelphia — a massive haul whose estimated worth of more than $1 billion made it one of the largest cocaine busts in the nation’s history.

    Two members of the ship’s crew, including its second mate, were charged with violations of federal maritime drug trafficking laws. According to court filings, both men confessed to helping haul dozens of bales of cocaine aboard from at least 14 smaller boats that approached the vessel while plying waters to and from Peru.

    The investigation appeared to be far from over. Investigators from at least six city, state and federal agencies — including U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Homeland Security Investigations — continued to scour the ship Tuesday night, while authorities said others could be charged in the coming days.

    “This is one of the largest seizures in United States history,” U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain said in a tweet. “This amount of cocaine could kill millions — MILLIONS — of people.”

    It was unclear Tuesday when investigators discovered the drugs aboard the MSC Gayane, which according to shipping records docked around 5 a.m. Monday in the port’s Packer Avenue Marine Terminal, near the Walt Whitman Bridge. It had arrived after a monthslong journey with stops in Peru, Colombia, Panama and the Bahamas.

    A port employee who was not authorized to discuss the matter said investigators boarded the ship with drug-sniffing dogs sometime before 7 p.m. Monday and eventually discovered the cocaine, hidden in bags and housed among legitimate cargo in seven shipping containers bound for the U.S. and Europe.

    Coast Guard officials swabbed members of the crew for cocaine residue and found it on the hands and arms of the second mate, Ivan Durasevic, according to his arrest affidavit.

    Durasevic told investigators that he had been recruited by the ship’s chief officer, who was unnamed in the document, to help at least two other crew members and four people wearing ski masks haul bales of cocaine aboard the Gayane from smaller ships that approached it shortly after it left Peru. He was paid $50,000 for his effort, he said.

    The second crew member charged Tuesday, Fonofaavae Tiasaga, blamed Durasevic for recruiting him into the smuggling effort. He told investigators that the second mate had paid him 50,000 euro to clandestinely load cocaine on one of the ship’s previous trips, according to his arrest affidavit.

    On the Gayane’s current voyage, Tiasaga said, he was approached by Durasevic as well as the chief mate, an electrician, and an engineer — all of whom independently sought his aid in sneaking separate loads of cocaine aboard.

    He described six boats, each carrying cocaine, that rendezvoused at different times with the Gayane under cover of darkness as it voyaged south from Panama to Peru. On the way back north, eight boats approached the cargo ship at night to unload their illicit cargo, the affidavit states.

    Durasevic and Tiasaga remained in custody Tuesday night after appearing in federal court in Philadelphia during the afternoon. Detention hearings for both men are scheduled for later this week.

    The Gayane will remain moored in Philadelphia until given the all-clear by investigators. The cargo vessel is owned by Mediterranean Shipping Co., a Geneva-based firm with operations in several U.S. cities.

    In a statement posted on its website Tuesday, the company said it was taking the seizure “very seriously.”

    “Unfortunately, shipping and logistics companies are from time to time affected by trafficking problems,” it read. “MSC has a longstanding history of cooperating with U.S. federal law enforcement agencies to help disrupt illegal narcotics trafficking.”

    Tuesday’s seizure breaks a record set just three months ago, when customs agents reported another unprecedented cocaine seizure — 1,815 pounds worth an estimated $38 million and the largest in the Philadelphia port’s history — on a cargo ship carrying natural rubber from Guatemala and bound for the Netherlands. No arrests have been reported in that case.

    The Philadelphia busts come amid a series of large cocaine seizures across the Northeast. New York saw its largest in a quarter-century in March with $77 million worth of the drug seized from a cargo ship in the Port of New York and New Jersey.

    In fiscal year 2018, agents seized an average of 4,657 pounds of narcotics per day, U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported on its website.

    A report issued last year by the Drug Enforcement Administration said that cocaine’s “availability and use in the United States continued to rise between 2016 and 2017,” and that customs agents seized more cocaine in 2017 than any year since at least 2010.

    ———

    ©2019 The Philadelphia Inquirer


  • Wash. PD announces $20K bonus incentive program to attract lateral LEOs

    Author: Lt. Dan Marcou

    By PoliceOne Staff

    EVERETT, Wash. — A Washington police department is offering an additional financial incentive to bring in more lateral officers.

    Starting in June, hired state lateral police officers can receive a $20,000 bonus from the Everett Police Department. The bonus will be paid in installments, beginning on the officer’s hire date and ending when the officer completes probation.

    The incentive program is an effort to attract officers from within the state of Washington because hiring, training and relocating takes less time than with a new recruit and allows the officers to get out into the community quicker.

    The department currently has five vacant officer positions with additional vacancies anticipated this summer due to retirements. The department hopes to fill the openings and have a fully-staffed team within the next six to 12 months.


  • Sheriff suspended after Parkland shooting continues to fight for job

    null
    Author: Lt. Dan Marcou

    Associated Press

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' decision to suspend the sheriff who oversaw the response to the Parkland school shooting was a knee-jerk reaction based on politics, not facts, a lawyer said Tuesday as a Senate hearing began on whether to uphold the suspension.

    The lawyer for suspended Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel portrayed DeSantis as using the deaths of 17 students and staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School for political gain, saying DeSantis was promising to remove Israel even before the governor was elected in November.

    "This is sad, to have politicized the lives of children and adults who were lost to a terrorist at Marjory Stoneman Douglas," said Benedict Kuehne. "Before any facts were laid bare, (DeSantis) began the mantra that Sheriff Israel must go, almost a political mantra."

    The hearing was being held before former state Rep. Dudley Goodlette, who was appointed by Senate President Bill Galvano to hear facts in the case and make a recommendation on whether Israel should be removed from office. The full Senate will later decide Israel's fate.

    DeSantis suspended Israel three days after taking office in January, saying the response to the Parkland massacre showed incompetence and neglect of duty. Israel said neither was true.

    "I've been called some names in my time, but on my 63 years on earth... I have never been called incompetent and I have never been called negligent," Israel said. "I know these hearings are about taking my livelihood away from me, but incompetent and negligent? No sir."

    A lawyer for DeSantis said the suspension was justified, and that the department was unprepared for another mass shooting 13 months prior to Parkland that left five people dead.

    The chaos that broke out after a shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood airport on Jan. 6, 2017, Nicholas Primrose said, was due to Israel's failure "to adequately prepare his deputies for an active duty situation in one of the fastest growing airports in the United States."

    "Confusion, unclear command orders and a lack of training resulted in unnecessary chaos and injuries to more individuals, which can only be described as an abysmal response."

    Israel said that his department had trained for an active shooter situation at the airport, and that other than the five people who died, he wouldn't change a thing about that day.

    "I don't get offended very easily, but to hear (Primrose) this morning say there was confusion and chaos at the airport, of course there was confusion and chaos at the airport. There were 20,000 people running haphazardly, people didn't know where gunshots were coming from, there were people hiding under cars," Israel said. "I'm so proud of the fact that after we arrived only one person was injured, and not seriously."

    Primrose also said Israel should be held responsible for the actions of former Deputy Scot Peterson, a school resource officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas who failed to enter the school after former student Nikolas Cruz began firing inside. Peterson was charged earlier this month with 11 criminal counts for failing to confront Cruz.

    "Any failure of Deputy Peterson is also a failure of Scott Israel," Primrose said. "It's baffling that Scott Israel accepts zero responsibility for the admissions and neglect of the deputies he appoints."

    Kuehne said Peterson had received training for active shooter situations and there is nothing in his personnel file that indicated he would fail to act. He also noted that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, overseen by DeSantis and the independently elected Cabinet, doesn't require active shooter training for local law enforcement. He said DeSantis has had nearly half a year to demand that the department set standards for active shooter training and hasn't done so. DeSantis decided to suspend Israel before the department completed an investigation into law enforcement's response to the Parkland shooting, Kuehne added.

    Israel will continue testifying Wednesday.


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