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DEA Issues Public Safety Alert on Sharp Increase in Fake Prescription Pills Containing Fentanyl and Meth

DEA Warns that International and Domestic Criminal Drug Networks are Flooding the United States with Lethal Counterfeit Pills

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Drug Enforcement Administration has issued a Public Safety Alert warning Americans of the alarming increase in the lethality and availability of fake prescription pills containing fentanyl and methamphetamine. DEA’s Public Safety Alert, the first in six years, seeks to raise public awareness of a significant nationwide surge in counterfeit pills that are mass-produced by criminal drug networks in labs, deceptively marketed as legitimate prescription pills, and are killing unsuspecting Americans at an unprecedented rate.

These counterfeit pills have been seized by DEA in every U.S. state in unprecedented quantities. More than 9.5 million counterfeit pills were seized so far this year, which is more than the last two years combined. DEA laboratory testing reveals a dramatic rise in the number of counterfeit pills containing at least two milligrams of fentanyl, which is considered a lethal dose. A deadly dose of fentanyl is small enough to fit on the tip of a pencil.   

Counterfeit pills are illegally manufactured by criminal drug networks and are made to look like real prescription opioid medications such as oxycodone (Oxycontin®, Percocet®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), and alprazolam (Xanax®); or stimulants like amphetamines (Adderall®). Fake prescription pills are widely accessible and often sold on social media and e-commerce platforms – making them available to anyone with a smartphone, including minors.

“The United States is facing an unprecedented crisis of overdose deaths fueled by illegally manufactured fentanyl and methamphetamine,” said Anne Milgram, Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration. “Counterfeit pills that contain these dangerous and extremely addictive drugs are more lethal and more accessible than ever before. In fact, DEA lab analyses reveal that two out of every five fake pills with fentanyl contain a potentially lethal dose. DEA is focusing resources on taking down the violent drug traffickers causing the greatest harm and posing the greatest threat to the safety and health of Americans. Today, we are alerting the public to this danger so that people have the information they need to protect themselves and their children.”

The vast majority of counterfeit pills brought into the United States are produced in Mexico, and China is supplying chemicals for the manufacturing of fentanyl in Mexico.

The drug overdose crisis in the United States is a serious public safety threat with rates currently reaching the highest level in history. Drug traffickers are using fake pills to exploit the opioid crisis and prescription drug misuse in the United States, bringing overdose deaths and violence to American communities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 93,000 people died of a drug overdose in the United States last year. Fentanyl, the synthetic opioid most commonly found in counterfeit pills, is the primary driver of this alarming increase in overdose deaths. Drug poisonings involving methamphetamine, increasingly found to be pressed into counterfeit pills, also continue to rise as illegal pills containing methamphetamine become more widespread.  

Drug trafficking is also inextricably linked to violence. This year alone, DEA seized more than 2700 firearms in connection with drug trafficking investigations – a 30 percent increase since 2019. DEA remains steadfast in its mission to protect our communities, enforce U.S. drug laws, and bring to justice the foreign and domestic criminals sourcing, producing, and distributing illicit drugs, including counterfeit pills.

This alert does not apply to legitimate pharmaceutical medications prescribed by medical professionals and dispensed by licensed pharmacists. The legitimate prescription supply chain is not impacted. Anyone filling a prescription at a licensed pharmacy can be confident that the medications they receive are safe when taken as directed by a medical professional.

The issuance of today’s Public Safety Alert coincides with the launch of DEA’s One Pill Can Kill Public Awareness Campaign to educate the public of the dangers of counterfeit pills. DEA urges all Americans to be vigilant and aware of the dangers of counterfeit pills, and to take only medications prescribed by a medical professional and dispensed by a licensed pharmacist. DEA warns that pills purchased outside of a licensed pharmacy are illegal, dangerous, and potentially lethal. For more information, visit https://www.dea.gov/onepill or scan the QR code below.

OPCK QR Code

Armed in America: It’s Not Easy Being a Retired Cop

A bouquet of flowers, left by mourners, lays near the site of Wednesday’s mass shooting, in Thousand Oaks, Calif., Friday, Nov. 9, 2018. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

 

Story By Lt. Dan Marcou for Police1.com

How would you feel if someone you had great respect for declared they were not comfortable with you being armed? This is how it happened to me.

THE NEW DOCTOR

On November 7, 2018, I went for my yearly physical. I was scheduled with a new doctor because my old doctor was retiring.  When I arrived at the hospital clinic I gave absolutely no thought to the fact I was armed. After all these years that would be like giving thought to the fact that I was wearing socks. Because my doctor was new, I told him I was retired law enforcement and showed him my identification and authorization to carry concealed

Unimpressed, he explained I had three options to choose from before he would start the physical:

  1. He could call security and I could turn my weapon over to them and retrieve it later.
  2. I could go out to my car and deposit my weapon there and return for the check-up.
  3. I could leave and reschedule the appointment.

After he said it was “policy,” I initially planned on taking door number two, but then the doctor unnecessarily added, “I’m not comfortable with you being armed.”

Those words hit me in the gut like a sock full of quarters swung by an Olympic hammer thrower. I left without having my physical exam feeling an intense sadness to the point of being physically ill. I had once commanded the SWAT team and been named SWAT Officer of the Year in Wisconsin. Now I was just an old guy and before the doctor took one look at me or asked me one question, he declared he was “not comfortable” with me being armed.

“Ouch!” It hurts my heart to think of it.

You see I had been entering this hospital armed for 40 years, mostly when the hospital needed assistance. In one case I may have saved some lives. A suspect entered the emergency room with a shotgun to kill his significant other, and I was in a position to flank him and render him unconscious with a lateral vascular neck restraint. No shots were fired and no one was hurt.

That struggle on the hospital’s behalf and countless others were long forgotten along with my years of extensive training and experience. Besides the intense sadness I felt upon hearing the doctor’s words I thought to myself, “It’s sure not easy being an old sheepdog.”

THE DAY OF THE BORDERLINE SHOOTING ATTACK

By coincidence, later that same day my resolve to continue carrying was rekindled. A man entered the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, California, armed with a semi-automatic .45 caliber pistol. He proceeded to kill 12 during this attack.

The first victim in the shooting was a man providing unarmed security for the bar. With no way to defend himself, he died at his post. Another victim in the Borderline attack had survived the Las Vegas Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting, proving that not only can this sort of lightning strike twice, but also that there is no inoculation against these killers.

Sgt. Ron Helus of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office courageously entered the Borderline while the shooting was in progress and was mortally wounded just minutes after he had concluded a phone call to his wife by saying, “I love you.”

Rest in peace brother.

CONTINUALLY DISARMED

The doctor’s words to me shine a light on a problem we face dealing with active shooters. No matter how much training, experience and proven good judgment a person possesses, some people will never be comfortable with anyone being armed.

There are countless “security” measures and signs in place to disarm people like you and me because few people are willing to recognize that having more armed, honorable gunfighters around is part of the solution to the problem of active shooters.

Requiring someone of my background and skills to disarm before entering hospitals, courthouses, restaurants, malls, schools, airports, stadiums and theaters is absolutely ludicrous. This requirement is made in spite of the fact that these locations have been prime targets of active shooters.

IT WOULD BE EASIER NOT TO BE A SHEEPDOG

Speaking from experience it would be easier to lock my Glock away in storage than to carry it every day as I do. It takes a commitment. You see anyone who carries concealed is at times:

  • Chastised by friends or family for carrying when it was “unnecessary.”
  • Required to dress a certain way to properly conceal the weapon every minute of the day.
  • Required to maintain their skills (if retired) and pay a fee to qualify every year.
  • Met with signs barring them from entering many facilities while armed. Before entering any of these places they are expected to discreetly abandon their weapon somehow, somewhere and leave it unattended, risking its loss by theft.

Sadly, even in these dangerous times, too many talented and honorable sheepdogs choose to stop carrying because it becomes a hassle to be a sheepdog 24-7.

PART OF THE SOLUTION, NOT PART OF THE PROBLEM

Not everyone who chooses to carry concealed is a “gun nut or a “bitter clinger.” They carry concealed because of an innate sense that it is their calling to protect those who can’t protect themselves.

Once a killer starts shooting, the people in the killer’s line of fire will not care if those armed sheepdogs are:

  • Police officers, arriving quickly.
  • Armed teachers.
  • Armed judges or prosecutors.
  • Armed business owners.
  • Armed pilots.
  • Armed security. (Unarmed security is hardly even a speed bump for the active shooter.)
  • Armed off-duty officers.
  • Armed retired officers.
  • Armed first responders or firefighters.
  • Armed politicians.
  • Armed citizens.

The Thousand Oaks shooting is one more example of a time when an armed, honorable gunfighter on the premises could have made a difference. It makes me wonder how many people who could legally carry concealed left their firearms at home and went to the Borderline that night because someone was “not comfortable” with them being armed.

“Ouch!” It breaks my heart to think of it.

Reducing Homelessness: Police Collaboration with Transitional Shelters May Be Key

Transitional shelters are used as a means of getting people, who are truly ready, off the streets. (PIxabay)

 

Story By Mike Hale for Police1.com

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates there are more than half a million people in the United States experiencing homelessness.

Homelessness is a complicated issue with no easy solutions; however, transitional shelters coupled with collaboration among key stakeholders could be a solution for communities.

TRANSITIONAL SHELTERS

Transitional shelters are used as a means of getting people, who are truly ready, off the streets. Once the person is in the shelter, they must learn how to live in a house again before having the opportunity to be transitioned into longer-term housing.

One form of shelter is a transitional shelter with a “low-barrier” concept that specifically addresses those hard-to-reach persons who are resistant to shelters due to traditional barriers to entry such as intoxication, drug addiction, pet ownership, being in the company of significant others, medical issues and mental health matters.

When law enforcement is part of the collaboration in these shelter systems, there is the potential for better outcomes because the police can work with homeless populations and advocates to encourage those hard-to-reach or reluctant persons to accept a referral into a shelter. The police can help facilitate homeless individuals to be matched with available transitional shelters. With their daily interaction with the homeless, police officers who are intimately familiar with a transitional shelter’s amenities can start the referral process at the point of contact with persons experiencing homelessness. Officers’ efforts can sell the idea of sheltering and make it more appealing by describing programs, positive outcomes and success stories that may help – even for shelter-resistant individuals.

Some organizations or communities might think these ideas are good but don’t know where to start. One city’s experience can help guide those who want to consider transitional housing and can serve as an example of how partnerships were formed and what is possible with a goal in mind.

CASE STUDY: BAKERSFIELD, CALIFORNIA

The City of Bakersfield, California, purchased land and partnered with a private shelter organization to develop one of the first low-barrier and transitional shelters in the region, the Mercy House – Brundage Lane Navigation Center (BLNC). The BLNC was opened in October 2020, funded almost entirely by local government. It includes partnerships with on-site staffing from Kern County Mental Health and the county hospital, Kern Medical.

Within one month of the BLNC being open, it served 61 persons and housed four individuals who were ready to leave life on the streets.

The shelter offers job training with a culinary program and has partnered with a local restaurant to provide jobs for those who complete the training. Residents are provided free transportation to and from job sites, job training, resume services and interview preparation. They also can obtain clothing suitable for job interviews at no cost and have access to employment opportunities through the street ambassador program where homeless persons provide cleaning services in the community, ranging from picking up debris to cleaning with high-pressure washers.

Additional opportunities exist through a state partnership with the shelter and the city to clean freeway embankments. The city helps facilitate these opportunities by providing transportation, supervision and logistics.

The BLNC’s guiding philosophy is straightforward – get more people off the street into housing through the transitional shelter process, and for those individuals to become productive members of society.

THE IMPACT OF THE BLNC

With the COVID pandemic in 2020 and the BLNC being a new shelter, the first-year data is likely skewed; however, data does show a positive correlation to the use of a low-barrier and transitional shelter philosophy.

According to the Bakersfield Police Department’s Crime Analysis Unit data, compared to two other shelters that have been in existence since the 1950s and early 1990s, the BLNC had fewer police calls for service to the shelter thus far in 2021. Overall call volumes for the new shelter from January 2021 to June 2021 are 64% lower compared to Bakersfield’s oldest shelters, and 22% lower than one of the shelters in operation since the 1990s.

To continue this success, officers need to be familiar with the local shelter programs and systems so they can advocate on behalf of the shelter to encourage people to participate in programs like job training, employment opportunities and other related programs that ultimately help get people off the streets.

For the BLNC to continue with positive outcomes, staff should market its success through local media, public officials and the community. The BLNC should also continue looking for partnership opportunities to build a more robust transitional shelter that makes the transition easier for patrons and more appealing for people to consider use of the shelter.

ADDRESSING MENTAL HEALTH

Mental health is an important in-house option for a full-circle transitional shelter. Many homeless persons are impacted by mental health issues and require services, especially in a shelter setting. Persons who have mental health issues require consistent care through counseling, medication and other programs.

Progressive transitional shelters, such as the BLNC and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, recommend the use of on-site mental health and medical care workers to keep individuals in the shelter for those needs, hopefully alleviating the concerns of neighbors who fear added police calls related to persons moving in and out of the shelter property. With mental health care on-site through a partnership with local county government, private shelters can keep most services in-house, thus keeping persons in the shelter and reducing the impact on police and the adjoining neighbors.

Shelters like Santa Ana’s Homeless Multi-Service Center, which utilizes a county-contracted mental health service program, offer evaluation, individual services and group services. This approach means a shelter can begin to transition someone with mental health issues, and the in-house process can triage and immediately begin mental healthcare, keeping the resident in the shelter while undergoing treatment.

In May 2019, I toured the 40 Prado Homeless Services Center in San Luis Obispo, California. During the tour, several staff members presented information about their program, including the fact that their transitional shelter requires patrons to take care of the facility through shelter programs, and patrons receive on-the-job training related to cleaning the shelter, basic responsibilities, and maintenance. The hope is that the individuals are less likely to be part of the problems in the community or to participate in quality-of-life crimes that police are tasked with handling.

When shelters utilize a low-barrier philosophy and, at the same time, create an environment built for success and patron responsibility, the likelihood of positive outcomes increases.

Bakersfield city staff conducted many community meetings to include business owners in the planned shelter. Although there were many concerns with the shelter, city staff, in conjunction with key stakeholders, worked to develop best practices based on visits to many shelters in California. This was designed to help with gaining support from the community and especially nearby businesses to reduce resistance or quell not-in-my-backyard conversations.

CONCLUSION

Although there is a need for law enforcement to focus on issues that are strictly police matters, homeless issues and related crimes will inevitably be handled by law enforcement as first responders. If there are relationships between shelter collaboratives and law enforcement, they can have a true impact on homelessness and the associated issues most communities have yet to resolve.

About the author

Mike Hale is the acting assistant chief of police for the Bakersfield (California) Police Department. He has a bachelor’s degree in organizational management and a master’s degree in public policy administration and is a California POST Command College graduate.

EDITOR’S NOTE

This article is based on research conducted as a part of the CA POST Command College. It is a futures study of a particular emerging issue of relevance to law enforcement. Its purpose is not to predict the future; rather, to project a variety of possible scenarios useful for planning and action in anticipation of the emerging landscape facing policing organizations.

Ford Mustang Mach-E Passes Mich. State Police Test — 1st All-Electric Vehicle to do So

Ford’s 2021 Mustang Mach-E has become the first all-electric pursuit-rated vehicle for law enforcement. The automaker said this “grueling” test proves the car is “tough enough for even the most challenging jobs.”

 

By Phoebe Wall Howard Detroit Free Press in Police1.com

An all-electric police pilot vehicle based on the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E SUV just became the first all-electric vehicle to pass Michigan State Police testing that included acceleration, top speed, braking and high-speed pursuit and emergency response handling, the company announced Friday.

Tests by the Michigan State Police and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department establish standards that law enforcement agencies all over the country use to evaluate vehicles.

“The fact that the Mustang Mach-E successfully stood up to the grueling Michigan State Police evaluation demonstrates that Ford can build electric vehicles that are capable, tough and reliable enough for even the most challenging jobs,” Ted Cannis, CEO of Ford Pro, the automaker’s commercial division, said in a statement.

Ford Pro submitted the all-electric police pilot vehicle for testing in the Michigan State Police 2022 model year evaluation this month. The company issued a media alert at the time that it was seeking review and approval.

Ford CEO Jim Farley tweeted Friday, “The #MustangMachE just became the first all-electric vehicle to pass the rigorous vehicle evaluation tests by the Michigan State Police. Another real-world application for EVs to help law enforcement agencies reduce their fuel usage and CO2 emissions, plus it’s freaking FAST.”

While all-electric vehicles built by various automakers have demonstrated that a vehicle with an electric powertrain can deliver strong performance, Ford wanted to submit its latest Mustang for the rigorous police testing program so that the vehicle may be officially certified and available for purchase by law enforcement agencies.

Test results are to be published on the Michigan State Police website later this fall.

“Ford will use the pilot program testing as a benchmark while it continues to explore purpose-built electric police vehicles in the future,” Ford said in a release Sept. 17. “Law enforcement demand for all-electric vehicles is growing worldwide.”

It’s all part of a global commitment to get to zero emissions.

BUILDING COP CARS IS BIG BUSINESS

Police vehicles are a key market for Ford.

The Dearborn automaker has long established itself in the law enforcement community as a trusted supplier of police cars and SUVs, which generate significant revenue for the automaker.

Ford provides about two-thirds of police vehicles in the U.S.

The Police Interceptor, a modified Ford Explorer, is perhaps the most high-profile current vehicle. It has been clocked at 150 mph during official testing.

The 2021 Ford F-150 Police Responder, a pursuit-rated pickup based on the F-150 design, reaches 120 mph with more control when cornering, the company announced in March.

Technology in the pickup is designed to aid police officers, allowing them to “carry more speed when cornering — a rare benefit in a pickup truck,” the company said last spring.

NEW COMMERCIAL PUSH

This latest announcement comes from Ford Pro, a separate global vehicle services and distribution business within Ford that’s leading the company’s push to deliver products and services for commercial and government customers.

“We’re creating a one-stop shop to help those customers increase uptime and productivity while reducing complexity and the total cost of ownership,” Farley said in a statement in May.

The Ford Pro vehicle lineup includes the all-electric 2022 E-Transit van and the all-electric 2022 F-150 Lightning Pro pickup. Ford did not provide a timeframe for when it might plan to build Mustang Mach-E style vehicles for police use.

Sign Up Now for ‘High in Plain Sight’ Training

YOU CAN’T STOP WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW.

TALL COP JERMAINE GALLOWAY PROVIDES THE TOOLS, RESOURCES AND TRAINING TO COMBAT SUBSTANCE ABUSE.

Tall Cop Says Stop™ was created by Officer Jermaine Galloway, an Idaho law enforcement officer since 1997. Regarded as one of America’s top experts in various drug and alcohol trends, he has specialized in underage drinking and drug enforcement for more than 15 years.

Since 2009, Officer Galloway has won four national awards and one international award for his work. In addition to his numerous talks at conferences and other events, he has personally trained more than 105,000 people nationwide.

Officer Galloway’s many years of experience have taught him one thing above all else. In his words, “You can’t stop what you don’t know™.”

Perry County will be hosting the training in October.

The training is for law enforcement, probation officers, school administration, treatment providers, and counselors. This session is unique, in that it provides over 120 visual aids for attendees to hold and become familiar with. In today’s culture, everything is person-specific and has different meanings to different individuals. For each person to help prevent youth and adult substance abuse, you MUST know what is going on in your community. These new trends are very popular and it is important for all who are involved in prevention, education, treatment, or enforcement to understand these sweeping changes in the drug culture.

TOPICS COVERED IN THE TRAINING

This training covers alcohol and drug clothing, alcoholic energy drinks, alcopops, alcohol and drug concealment methods and containers, drug paraphernalia, drug related music and groups, logos, stickers, new technology, youth party tendencies, party games, non-traditional alcoholic beverages, social networking sites, synthetic drugs, OTC drugs, inhalants, concentrates, E-cigarettes, and popular party drugs.

 

Instructor/Trainer: Officer Jermaine Galloway “Tall Cop Says Stop”

Class Cost: $25.00 per person

Registration Required – Class Limited to 150 Attendees

Class Date / Times

9:00 am- 3:00 pm

Tuesday, October 12, 2021 

Location: Robinson Event Center Address: 2411 Walters Lane, Perryville, MO 63775

For more information on the program, visit www.tallcopsaysstop.com

For more information, contact Deputy Auston Turner at  aturner@perrycountymo.us

Judges Consider Whether Zoom Testimony is ‘Face-to-Face’ Confrontation

 

The Missouri Supreme Court heard a case on Sept. 15 that could determine if a witness’ Zoom testimony violated the defendant’s rights to face-to-face confrontation and cross-examination. 

Fourteen law professors submitted an amicus brief out of concern for what this case means for state and federal courts.

Eight of those professors work at Saint Louis University School of Law, including Professor of Law Chad Flanders, who wrote the brief in support of Rodney A. Smith’s case.

“In any event, the best reading of the relevant constitutional provisions (both state and federal) is that face-to-face confrontation is the default, and virtual confrontation the carefully limited exception,” Flanders wrote. “If courts permit video testimony in some contexts, even in criminal contexts, there is good reason (given the uncertainty of the technology) to put limits on when remote testimony can be used, and how it should be used.”

Two professors from Washington University in St. Louis also were included in the brief. But the case’s interest reached beyond Missouri. Law schools from Notre Dame University, University of South Carolina and George Washington University each had a professor listed as an amici.

The professors recommended that the court at the very least should provide guidance that an in-person cross-examination should occur before a remote testimony takes place.

Smith was charged with having sex with his girlfriend’s 16-year-old daughter, who was 15 years old when the abuse began. For a 2019 trial, prosecutors sought to include testimony of the lab technicians who had processed DNA testing from the 16-year-old’s sexual assault examination.

Because the subpoena for the technician Eric Hall initially was sent to the police department while he was on paternity leave, and it was against the department’s policy to let him testify while on leave, the prosecutors initially reported to the St. Louis Circuit Court that Hall was unavailable. Hall later volunteered to testify via Zoom.

St. Louis Circuit Judge Clinton R. Wright later allowed Hall to testify via a live two-way Zoom video call shown on a television in the courtroom, though Smith objected. According to an earlier ruling in the Court of Appeals Eastern District, Hall’s testimony was the only testimony at trial that linked Smith’s swabs to DNA found in the sexual assault examination.

Smith’s motion for a new trial was denied, and Smith appealed on grounds that the court denied his right to confront witnesses face to face with the defendant and the jury, and he also was not able to cross-examine Hall in person prior to his testimony.

After finding Smith guilty on two counts of statutory rape, the Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District transferred the case to the Missouri Supreme Court on April 27 to present the Zoom conference issue at the state level.

Before the Missouri Supreme Court, public defender Nina McDonnell said that the size of the TV used in the Zoom conference was not included in the findings of fact, and that this is another concern because courtrooms have varying sizes available.

“We don’t know how big the screens are. If you go to the different circuits throughout Missouri, St. Louis County might be wildly different from what may be found in St. Francois County,” McDonnell said.

She said that important elements of confrontation like physical appearance were missing because of the choice of a Zoom call. McDonnell also said that the Missouri Supreme Court previously has held that common law exceptions were the only reason that a witness could not testify in court in front of the accused.

Chief Justice Paul C. Wilson did not seem to agree.

“Unless the 19th Century version of Zoom was available, I can’t imagine that you can fairly attribute to that ruling that we were saying that wasn’t presence for purposes of confrontation,” Wilson said. “Either we’re writing on a blank slate or we’re not.”

McDonnell also referenced the last year and a half where court proceedings were fully remote.

“It seems obvious that we wanted to get back in court because something is lost,” she said. “Otherwise why have these grand buildings? Why have the splendor and the solemnity of the proceeding happen in court? I mean if it’s simply that it’s inconvenient for somebody to be in court, then we will be having trials over Zoom.”

Attorney Kristen Johnson from the Missouri Attorney General’s office represented the state and was not available for comment. Because Hall could see Smith and vice versa, she argued that his rights were not disturbed.

Since the issue was not brought up before the initial trial, the trial judge did not have a hearing to determine necessity, availability or whether the technology was adequate. So an off-the-record conversation occurred where the court considered what remedies would be possible to continue the trial.

“That’s why this wasn’t done on the record, because the state believed they had remedied the situation without having to seek continuance or delay the trial, which is material here because the defendant had invoked his right to a speedy trial and was very insistent on it,” Johnson said.

Johnson added that there were several on-the-record discussions between the trial court and the discussions about the workaround to permit the trial to continue. 

The case is State v. Smith, SC99086. 

While the Nation was Bashing Cops, Missouri Establishes Police Officer ‘Bill of Rights’

Story from lawofficer.com

While the nation and its progressive leaders were busy bashing the police and defunding their agencies following the death of George Floyd, Missouri went in the other direction.

In May, Missouri lawmakers passed a “law enforcement bill of rights” that gives officers necessary legal protections and closes files to allegations of police misconduct.

Gov. Mike Parson signed the new bill of rights it into law in July. The police officer protections were largely overshadowed in press coverage by other provisions of the lengthy 172-page bill, most notably language punishing cities that reduced their police budgets, Newsbreak.com reported.

Antagonists of the provisions, which were written by a lawyer for the police unions, are annoyed since other states and municipalities around the country are moving in the opposite direction.

Brian Millikan, the police attorney who wrote the bill, said, “Police officers are held to a higher standard, from just about any other job I can think of, and that’s fine—I don’t have any problem with that. But at the same time, because they’re so highly scrutinized, there should be a set of due process procedures in place to make sure it’s fair.”

In April 2021, Maryland became the first state to repeal its law enforcement officer bill of rights, The Washington Post reported.

By contrast, Missouri was the only state to adopt a peace officer bill of rights following Floyd’s 2020 death, according legislative records compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures .

According to Newsbreak.com, some of the provisions of the bill of rights include:

  • 24-hour notice prior to any interview or interrogation.
  • A police officer accused of misconduct would be informed in writing of the nature of the allegation.
  • The person complaining must submit an affidavit with personally identifying information that outlines the allegations.
  • The affidavit is disclosed to the officer, even if the person complaining is a fellow officer.
  • The officer in question is also informed of the name, rank and command of the officers conducting the investigation.
  • Prior to an interrogation, police officers accused of misconduct and their attorneys would have the opportunity to review any audio or video in the possession of the agency.
  • The officer may only be questioned or interviewed while on duty and may not be questioned by more than two investigators.
  • The officer may not be “threatened, harassed, or promised rewards to induce them into answering any question.”

Although accused police officers can be compelled to give a statement to their employer, that statement cannot be used against them in any criminal case brought against the officer—a result of the Supreme Court ruling in Garrity v. New Jersey (1967).

Furthermore, employers would be required to “defend and indemnify law enforcement officers from and against civil claims made against them in their official and individual capacities if the alleged conduct arose in the course and scope of their obligations and duties as law enforcement officers.”

Conversely, employers would not have to defend an employee “in the event the law enforcement officer is convicted of, or pleads guilty to, criminal charges arising out of the same conduct.”

Millikan, a former police officer in the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and attorney for multiple Missouri police unions, says it doesn’t give officers “special privileges” but ensures “due process.”

Every department has different rules and procedures, he added, and the new law “basically just uniforms it across the state.”

Allegations of police misconduct would be closed to Sunshine Law requests, except by court order or lawful subpoena. Millikan explained the rationale behind the law, Newsbreak.com reported.

“It’s no different than any other employment record; employment records are considered personnel matters. That’s not just for police officers, but that’s for really anybody,” Millikan said. “The reason for that is what you do at your job is really not meant for public consumption.”

It’s noteworthy that Gov. Parson is a veteran who served six years in the U.S. Army and also served more than 22 years in law enforcement, including 12 years as the sheriff of Polk County prior to entering state politics.

 

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How We Can Mitigate the Risk of Police Officer Suicides

By Dr. Jarrod Sadulski  Faculty Member, Criminal Justice for America Military University EDGE Faculty

 

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and it is important to focus our attention on the risk of suicide for police officers. Police stress accumulates over time and if it is not properly managed, that stress will cause physical and mental problems. For instance, many police officers suffer from cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, prolonged exposure to stress hormones such as cortisol, obesity, alcoholism, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The most devastating consequence of unmitigated stress for police officers is suicide. Often, a suicide may occur due to an important loss. The loss may include spousal separation or divorce, financial problems, job-related health problems or a loss of support from their workplace.

Several Factors Can Lead to Police Officer Suicides

Chronic exposure to traumatic events such as deaths or violent crime scenes can cause an officer to have suicidal thoughts. Similarly, self-blame over mistakes made in the field that led to the death of a fellow officer or citizens may also cause an officer to contemplate suicide.

Undiagnosed or unaddressed mental health problems are additional factors that contribute to police suicides. These problems are exacerbated by the stigma that exists in law enforcement over seeking mental health services. Police officers commonly fear that what they tell a counselor about a mental health problem could have a permanent impact on their careers.

In addition, there is the stress of the coronavirus pandemic and the law enforcement perception that the public does not support their work. Those factors can also have an adverse impact on an officer’s mental health.

Police Officer Suicides Are Typically Patrol Officers with Over 15 Years of Service

As of September 2021, there have been 99 police officers who have taken their own lives. According to Blue H.E.L.P., the average years of service of police officers who commit suicide is 15.6 years. Patrol officers are a substantially higher risk of suicide, compared to sergeants or lieutenants.

These statistics make sense because patrol officers typically experience the most exposure to traumatic events in the field. In fact, 2019 saw a record number of police officer suicides in the United States. In 2019, 228 current or former police officers took their lives that year, while 172 officers committed suicide in 2018.

The Role of Police Agencies and Coworkers in Preventing Officer Suicides

Nothing is more devastating to a police agency than the loss of an officer, whether that death occurs on the job or as a result of a suicide. Agencies have a very important role to play in mitigating officer suicide.

A shift in police culture is needed. Ideally, police culture should be more supportive of police officers who are struggling to cope after experiencing traumatic events and are seeking counseling.

In addition to taking action when an officer experiences trauma or stressful events that could lead to suicidal thoughts, agencies must take more steps to support their officers’ mental health. Providing the option to transition into specialized units and creating new work opportunities within the agency are helpful ways to disrupt the cumulative stress that can occur from remaining on road patrol. Another tactic is to have tools and resources available that lead to mental health support services.

Supervisors should also regularly monitor and talk with their subordinates if they notice an officer undergoing stress or see indicators that an officer may have suicidal thoughts. Special attention should be paid to police officers who display significant changes in their behavior, attitude, or work ethic following traumatic events in the field or in their personal lives.

To monitor for mental health issues, supervisors should ask questions during annual or semi-annual employee reviews.  For instance, a supervisor could ask how the subordinate is managing stress and also have a discussion with the office to determine if there are indicators of mental health problems.

Coworkers also have a vital role in monitoring mental health problems in other police officers. Peer support programs within police agencies can be an effective way for officers to confide in their peers, discuss their struggles and find practical solutions.

More attention needs to remains on the issue of police officer suicides. In time, we can hopefully prevent this problem from growing.  

 

About the Author

Dr. Jarrod Sadulski is an associate criminal justice professor in the School of Security and Global Studies and has over two decades in the field of homeland security. His expertise includes human trafficking, maritime security and narcotics trafficking trends. Jarrod recently conducted in-country research in Central and South America on human trafficking and current trends in human and narcotics trafficking. Jarrod can be reached through his website at www.Sadulski.com for more information.

Applying Science to the Art of Detection Canines: Surface Area and Concealment of Targets

By Battelle Staff Members: K. Good, N. Knebel, S. Lawhon, L. Siers, D. Winkel for Working Dog Magazine workingdogmagazine.com


When establishing training scenarios, it is common to vary the amount (i.e., mass) of target used. One session may involve several ounces of the target material, while the next session involves several pounds. Although this is good practice, it has resulted in narrowed thinking: Many canine trainers and handlers think solely about target mass when attempting to vary odor intensity. In reality, surface area and concealment of the target are much more important factors.

During olfaction, canines are detecting the gaseous molecules and/or microscopic particles that are released from the surface of the target. If environmental factors (e.g., room temperature) are held constant, the larger the surface area of a given substance, the greater the number of molecules/particles being released. Consider, for example, a drinking glass filled with water. Evaporation occurs only from the surface of water exposed to air. When sitting on your kitchen counter, that glass of water will take weeks to evaporate. If that same glass is spilled onto your kitchen floor, however, the surface area of the resulting puddle is many times that of the water in the glass. As a result, that same amount of water evaporates overnight. In the context of explosives detection work, one pound of black powder in an open bottle has significantly less odor than that same mass of powder distributed across several scent bags.

Furthermore, for detection to occur, those molecules or particles released from the surface of the target need to be physically transported to an area the dog will sniff. The distance and degree of obstruction of the path to the dog’s nose will have a marked impact on odor intensity. As these factors increase (e.g., deeper hides and/or forms of additional containment), odor intensity is reduced. This reduction occurs because the molecules/particles are diluted by the (larger) encompassing volume of air, and some are even “lost” due to chemical or physical interactions with surrounding surfaces.

Understanding the role of surface area and concealment is valuable, as it allows handlers and trainers to better manipulate standard targets and common training exercises to expose their canines to a greater range of target odor intensities, ultimately better preparing the team for the infinite number of scenarios they may encounter operationally.

Read the full content on https://issuu.com/workingdogmagazine/docs/scent_detection

New Study: Grip Strength and Shooting Performance

Researchers recommend agencies examine the adoption of pistols with lower trigger pull weights to mitigate grip strength-related shooting issues. Missouri Department of Conservation Photo.

 

By Lewis “Von” Kliem, MCJ, JD, LLM Originally published on the Force Science Institute websiteRepublished in Police1 with permission.

A new study led by Ph.D. student Andrew Brown [1] examined the effects of grip strength and gender on shooting performance. [2]

Brown and fellow researchers sought to verify independent studies showing that grip strength was directly related to a person’s ability to manage aim, recoil and trigger pull. These skills are widely recognized as some of the key components of superior shooting performance.

This latest study was designed to replicate previous research relative to grip strength and to identify what range of strength might be required to achieve shooting test standards. The resulting data was used to examine the relationship between grip strength, gender and shooting scores.

SHAKING HANDS

According to the researchers, a standard-issue 9 mm pistol might have between 4lbs-6lbs of trigger pull weight. A double-action-only pistol might be closer to 9lbs-12lbs. Still, trigger pull weight can depend on the type of gun, the hammer mechanism (e.g., single-action vs. double action), and whether mechanical adjustments have been made. As a rule of thumb, the amount of pressure required to pull a trigger and fire a round (“trigger pull weight”) is roughly equivalent to a firm handshake.

Researchers explained the influence of trigger pull weight: “Trigger pull weight appears to impact shooting performance as triggers that are too heavy [for the individual shooter] seem to activate additional muscles in the hand.” They continued: “If the trigger pull of a firearm exceeds the force of a handshake, isolation of the index finger becomes difficult, causing the hand to engage in the use of additional muscles to complete the task of pulling the trigger. The overcompensation of unnecessary muscles, in turn, negatively affects shooting performance through involuntary hand movements.”

The questions remained, how much strength is needed to avoid these grip-related issues and pass a standard police pistol course, and will an officer’s gender predict negative shooting performance related to grip strength?

THE STUDY

Researchers had 118 active police officers, ranging in age from 22-62, conduct a standardized police pistol qualification using a double-action-only pistol with a trigger pull weight of between 8lbs-12lbs.

Before attempting to qualify, the participants completed a demographic questionnaire to document their age, rank, gender and years of police service. Researchers then measured and recorded the participants’ dominant hand maximum grip strength.

After their grip strength was measured, participants performed the police pistol qualification with stationary targets between 10 and 82 feet. The results of the tests were analyzed and compared to the grip strength measurements and officer demographics.

THE RESULTS

Male officers in this study had, on average, higher qualification scores than the female officers: 21.9 % of the female officers in this study failed the qualification compared to 8.1% of the male officers. Researchers theorized that insufficient grip strength would negatively impact shooting performance, and that female officers would, on average, have lower grip strength than male officers. Both theories were supported by the research results.

First, researchers determined that grip strength in the range of 80lbs and 125lbs was needed to score approximately 85% and 90% on the pistol qualification test. The average grip strength for the female officers in the study was 77.5lbs, while the average for the men was 121.5lbs.

Seventy-eight percent of the females and 92% of the males passed the qualification test (22% and 8% failed respectively). Researchers observed that, for every pound below the average grip strength required to score between 85% and 90%, the odds of an officer failing the pistol qualification increased by 2%.

DISCUSSION

Shooting performance is influenced by a variety of factors, and it appears that grip strength is certainly one of them. Andrew Brown provided the following observations: “In our study, higher rates of failure appeared to be correlated with lower grip strength. Agencies should consider minimum grip requirements based on the issued duty pistol trigger weight. Although grip strength issues might disproportionately impact female officers, strength training may help to mitigate grip-related deficiencies regardless of the officer’s gender.”

A recent article reported that NYPD is moving toward lighter trigger pull weights for their recruits. This move is consistent with Brown’s recommendation that agencies “examine the adoption of pistols with lower trigger pull weights to mitigate grip strength-related shooting issues.”

Dr. Bill Lewinski, executive director of the Force Science Institute, supports Brown’s recommendations and was encouraged by the NYPD’s move to a lighter trigger pull weight: “We often hear that higher trigger pull weights can provide increased decision-making time for officers. The research does not support that position. Even the heavier triggers can have a travel time as quick as 6/100 to 8/100 of a second. If the decision to pull the trigger has already been made, the travel time of the trigger isn’t going to result in sufficient time to change your mind and stop that action.”

MITIGATING UNINTENDED DISCHARGES

Dr. Lewinski addressed another concern that often accompanies lower trigger pull weights: “Agencies are always looking for ways to reduce the number of unintentional discharges, and trigger pull weights should always be a part of that discussion.”

Lewinski cautioned, “Researchers have observed officers unintentionally and non-consciously touch the trigger of their firearm while they were engaged in vigorous physical movements during a simulated high-threat robbery scenario. About 6% of those officers unintentionally applied sufficient pressure to pull a 12 lbs. trigger weight. More importantly, nearly 20% unintentionally applied enough pressure to fire a gun with a 5 lbs. trigger pull weight.” [3]

Dr. Lewinski reiterated what remains the most important consideration for avoiding unintended discharges, “In our research, we saw that around 31% of the unintended discharges involved striker-fired weapons. Of those, well over half of the unintended discharges were the result of intentionally pulling the trigger before clearing the chamber during disassembly [i.e., field stripping the weapon]. To mitigate unintentional trigger pulls and subsequent discharges, including cases that involve muscle co-activation, startle response, or routine weapon handling, keeping the finger outside of the trigger well is a critical safety protocol regardless of the trigger pull weight.”      

REFERENCES

1. Andrew Brown is a Ph.D. student in Psychology at Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, He has a B.A. and M.A. in Psychology.

2. Andrew Brown was joined by fellow researchers and Ph.D. candidates Simon Baldwin and Brittany Blaskovits, as well as Dr. Craig Bennell, Ph.D. in Psychology. 

3. See Heim C, Schmidtbleicher D, Niebergall E. (2006a). The risk of involuntary firearms discharge. Human Factors, 48(3), 413-421.

About the author

With nearly 30 years in the criminal justice profession, Lewis “Von” Kliem, MCJ, JD, LLM, worked as a civilian police officer, attorney, educator and author. Von is the executive editor of Force Science News and co-owner of Von Kliem Consulting, LLC, where he trains and consults on constitutional policing, use of force analysis, crisis communications and trauma-informed interviewing.  

 

The Force Science Institute (FSI) is comprised of a team of physicians, lawyers, psychologists, scientists, police trainers and law enforcement subject matter experts dedicated to the advancement of knowledge and training in criminal justice matters.

FSI conducts sophisticated scientific research studies into human behavior documenting the physical and mental dynamics associated with the societal demands of the peace-keeping function, including high-pressure situations and use-of-force incidents. Its findings apply to citizen-involved uses of force, as well as impacting investigations of officer-involved force applications. FSI research when applied to training enhances officer performance and public safety.