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Parker: President Obama Talks on NPR about “The Wire” and Crime

Ross Parker

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

If you haven’t viewed the NPR video of President Obama’s conversation with David Simon, the creator of the HBO series “The Wire,” on the subjects of drugs, criminal justice policies and law enforcement, it is worth watching. 

The President lauded the series as one of the greatest pieces of art in the last two decades, a view expressed by many in law enforcement of all possible perspectives.  The show follows the lives of drug dealers, school kids, teachers, and police officers in the worst sections of drug infested Baltimore.

Much of the discussion, I thought, had a lot of merit. The nation’s declining rate of violent crime arrests and increasingly long sentences for all levels of drug convictions, causes and effects, posed some insightful discussion. Both men recognized the effectiveness on public safety resulting from a shift in city police resources from street level arrests to more complex investigations of more culpable traffickers. Neither pointed out, however, the contribution and support for this trend from federal law enforcement.

The President did recognize the challenges for law enforcement, the dangers police face, and the need to engage prosecutors and the public, along with law enforcement, in discussions about the “environmental factors,” like the role of schools, counselors, mental health resources, and job availability to change the life directions of convicted drug dealers.

Other topics, however, activated my “squirm” factor.

The President noted the Attorney General’s efforts to convert USAOs away from thinking about effective prosecutions based on the length of the sentences obtained toward achieving justice in cases. He is apparently accomplishing this goal “administratively,” but it needs new legislation to compel this objective of re-orienting federal prosecutors.

Jeez, here I thought that this was what the overwhelming percentage of USAs and AUSAs have long been accomplishing in adherence to, but also sometimes in spite of, the policy dictates and requirements of Washington along with the array of crime and sentence legislation passed by a demagogic Congress to burnish their image as crime fighters.

The other issue was the lack of any mention of the need to support the priorities and resources of federal law enforcement, which has aimed to accomplish many of the exact changes in policy direction highlighted by the discussion.

For my money until the money issue popped up in state and federal governments, the absence of any political and policy discussion of important criminal justice and law enforcement issues has been deafening. As has the absence of political will and leadership to promote ways to evolve and innovate in this area, in tandem with adequately supporting the every-day responsibilities to enforce the law.

This complaint is aimed not only, or perhaps even primarily, at the Executive Branch, but can be shared with the Congress, as well as state governments. Perhaps most of all, the issue has unfortunately simply slid off the public and political wave length in the last decade. Think about how often you heard candidates discuss crime and law enforcement in their campaign speeches.

I know this is preaching to the choir for many ticklethewire.com readers and quibbling and unproductive finger pointing for others. The fact is that there is much to applaud in the President raising these subjects for discussion on the public agenda even in this limited forum. His reasons for optimism for a wider discussion in the future are encouraging for us all.

Weekend Series on Crime History: Sammy the Bull

Scandal in Oregon? U.S. Attorney Placed on Leave Pending Investigation, Local Paper Reports

Amanda Marshall/ DOJ photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Oregon’s U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall may have troubles of her own to deal with.

The Willamette Weekly, Portland’s alternative newspaper, reports that the Justice Department placed Marshall on leave earlier this month pending an investigation of allegations that she stalked one of her male prosecutors.

The paper reports that the stalking allegedly involved text messages and emails, which would provide documentary evidence of her behavior. Neither Marshall nor the subordinate responded for comment to the paper, which wrote that it was unclear the nature of their relationship.

Marshall told The Oregonian newspaper that she stepping aside temporarily because “I’ve been having health issues for months. I can’t serve right now.”

Marshall was nominated for the position by President Obama in 2010 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2011.

To read more click here.

Secret Service Has Strict, New Policy Limiting When Agents Can Drive After Drinking

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Secret Service is implementing a new policy that bars agents and other employees from driving government cars within 10 hours of drinking alcohol, The Washington Post reports. 

The policy comes after the embarrassing discovery that two agents allegedly interrupted a bomb-threat investigation scene at the White House earlier this month.

The new rules also came a day before Secret Service Director Joseph P. Clancy testified before a House committee.

“Secret Service employees are responsible for conducting themselves in a manner that reflects the highest standards of the United States Government and must maintain an appropriate state of awareness and mission preparedness,” says the Monday memo to staff.

Anyone who violates the policy will be “subject to the full range of available disciplinary and adverse actions up to and including removal from employment,” the memo read.

Other Stories of Interest


Army National Guard Specialist Accused of Plotting Attack for ISIS Terrorists

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An Army National guard specialist is accused of trying to join ISIS overseas while his cousin planned to attack a U.S. military insulation.

Huffington Post reports that 22-year-old was arrested by the FBI on Wednesday while authorities say he was en route to join the extremists overseas.

His cousin Jonas Edmonds, 29, was arrested at his home in Chicago and planned to target the U.S. military facility where his cousin trained.

It wasn’t immediately clear where the facility was.

The cousins are U.S. citizens and are charged with conspiring to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization.

Border Patrol Agent Indicted on 19 Counts Related to Hidden Camera in Station Bathroom

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Border Patrol supervisor accused of hiding a camera in the women’s bathroom at an agency station in California was indicted Thursday on 19 counts.

The indictment alleges that Armando Gonzalez, 46, “with intent, did capture an image of a private area of an individual without their consent … and knowingly did so under circumstances in which the individual had a reasonable expectation of privacy,” from July 19, 2013, until Jan. 9 at the Chula Vista station, the U-T San Diego reports.

Gonzalez was arrested earlier this month and pleaded not guilty to related charges.

The motion-activated camera was found Jan. 9, and Gonzalez claimed he installed it because he suspected an employee was using illegal drugs.

The indictment states otherwise: “No such drug investigation was ongoing.”

Indiana Man Dies Year After FBI Seized Incredible Collection of Exotic Artifacts

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An Indiana man who amassed an incredible collection of exotic artifacts and became the subject of an FBI investigation last year has died.

Don Miller, 91, died Sunday, nearly a year after the FBI seized thousands of artifacts from all over the world, The Indy Star reports. 

The case has been shrouded in mystery since, and no charges or lawsuits were ever filed against Miller.

Even now, the FBI is declining to discuss the case.

But experts say his death could result in a headache for those sorting out which of the artifacts were legally acquired.

“Even just figuring out which ones are illegally possessed in the United States is an enormous task when he’s purchased them over so many years, so you can see why this is such a difficult problem to solve,” said David B. Smith, a Virginia-based attorney with a background in asset forfeiture.

“Without his help, it’s just going to be enormously difficult to figure out which ones he legitimately purchased, which are legal and which ones aren’t,” Smith said. “It’s a huge problem.”

 

Report: DEA Agents Had ‘Sex Parties’ With Prostitutes Hired By Drug Cartels

By Sari Horwitz
The Washington Post

WASHINGTON — Drug Enforcement Administration agents allegedly had “sex parties” with prostitutes hired by local drug cartels overseas over a period of several years, according to a report released Thursday by the Justice Department’s watchdog.

The report does not specify the country where the parties occurred, but a law enforcement official familiar with the matter identified it as Colombia.

Seven of the 10 DEA agents alleged to have participated in the gatherings — most of which took place at “quarters” leased by the U.S. government — admitted to having attended the parties, the report found. They received suspensions of two to 10 days.

To read more click here.