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Longtime FBI Agent Confirmed to Become Police Chief in Mississippi

By Steve Neavling

A 26-year veteran of the FBI is about to become a police chief in Mississippi. 

The Tupelo City Council on Tuesday voted to confirm Mayor Todd Jordan’s nomination of John Quaka to serve as the city’s top cop. 

“Twenty-six years of law enforcement, not one negative comment from anyone I’ve talked to that I’ve reached out to or people have reached out to me,” Jordan told WTVA-TV. “I think his clean record speaks for itself.”

Quaka will be in charge of an $11 million police budget, which includes about 120 employees. 

Councilwoman Rosie Jones urged Quaka to increase diversity within the police department. 

“I’m all about diversity and treating everyone fairly,” Quaka said “I told the search committee that there’s a lot of things the (FBI) does not do right. But what they do right is diversity. Everyone is treated the same. That’s what I bring.”

Quaka will replace Police Chief Bart Aguirre, who retired over the summer. 

Quaka joined the FBI in 1995, when he served in the Los Angeles Division. He then worked out of the Greenville office and the Tupelo office. He now works in the Oxford office and has been a Tupelo residents for 20 years. 


Senate Confirms Tucson Police Chief Magnus to Lead CBP

Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus is confirmed to lead CBP.

By Steve Neavling

The Senate on Tuesday approved President Biden’s nomination of Chris Magnus to lead U.S. Customs and Border Protection. 

The Senate voted 50-47 to confirm the nomination, making Magnus the first openly gay CBP commissioner and the first confirmed leader of the agency since 2019. 

Magnus, 61, has served as Tucson’s police chief since 2016 and has been a vocal critic of some of Trump’s immigration policies. He’s also supported the Black Lives Matter movement. 

“It’s clear to me that Chief Magnus is going to handle this job with hard work and a sense of decency. He shares the view that enforcing our immigration laws and treating people humanely are not mutually exclusive,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore, said after Magnus’ confirmation hearing, The Arizona Republic reports.

Magnus has a tough job ahead of him as the nation grapples with a border problem and the separation of migrant children from their families. 

During the confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee last month, Magnus sought to assuage some Republicans by signaling support for two of former President Trump’s most controversial policies. He said he would consider finishing some of the border wall that the Biden administration has stopped and indicated he supported the Trump-era public health order that authorizes the rapid removal of migrants and asylum-seekers without an immigration hearing. 

Biden’s ATF nominee David Chipman floundered in the Senate after every Republican and Angus King, an independent from Maine, refused to support him.


Capitol Police Exodus Followed Jan. 6 Insurrection

Alex Gakos/Shutterstock.com

By Steve Neavling

Since the Jan. 6 riot in Washington D.C., about 130 Capitol Police officers have left their jobs, a Senate panel was told Tuesday. 

There are now more than 230 vacancies in the roughly 2,000-officer force. 

“They are down significantly (in) officers and they need to bring … folks on that can augment that,” Michael Bolton, the inspector general for Capitol Police, told the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, USA Today reports.

The Capitol riot left about 140 officers injured, and five have died since. Two of the deaths were Capitol Police officers, including Brian Sicknick, who died from a stroke the following day, and Howard Liebengood, who committed suicide days later.

While Bolton said morale has improved since the riot, he said there are concerns about overtime and recruiting. 

A House task force in April recommended hiring 854 officers, including 350 to reduce an alarming increase in overtime. 

Congress still hasn’t decided on funding for the department. 

“This work is crucial to securing the work of the Capitol,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., who heads the committee, said. 


Vast Majority of TSA, CBP Employees Are Now in Compliance with Vaccine Mandate

By Steve Neavling

An increasing number of Border Patrol agents and TSA employees are getting vaccinated in compliance with President Biden’s executive order, according to updated data. 

As of Nov. 30, 96% of Homeland Security employees were in compliance. 

About 88% of employees are fully vaccinated, and 89% have received at least one dose. About 7% have “reasonable accommodation requests” and don’t have to get vaccinated, according to the data. 

“The health and safety of our workforce – and the American people that we serve – is of the utmost importance,” Homeland Security Deputy Secretary John Tien said in a statement. “Importantly, we have achieved this level of compliance without any interruption to the critical missions and services we provide the American people: from border and aviation security, to maritime search and rescue, to cybersecurity and the protection of critical infrastructure, just to name a few.  I am so grateful to our dedicated workforce, who have stepped up and done their part to get us there.”  

About 98% of CBP employees are in compliance, and 87% are vaccinated. An additional 11% are exempt. 

In the TSA, 93% are in compliance, with 86% vaccinated and 7% exempt. 

In November, some Republican lawmakers were calling for Border Patrol agents to be exempt from the executive order, saying national security is at stake. At the time, about 77% of agents were fully vaccinated.

Data by Homeland Security

TSA’s 2022 Calendar Featuring Its Adorable Dogs Is Available for Free Download

The TSA’s Hhilbert is named in honor of Army Corp. Thomas Layton Hilbert, who died in Iraq on Sept. 7, 2007.

By Steve Neavling

You can now download the TSA’s 2022 calendar for free.

The calendar features the agency’s dogs, which are used to screen passengers and luggage. Each month features a different dog, along with his or her name, breed, birthdate, airport and favorite treat and toy. 

In March, for example, is Hhibert, an adorable 10-year-old Labrador retriever from Dallas/Forth Worth International Airport. His favorite treat is Puppuccino. 

“He loves all toys, but especially loves a ball, which he will carry around like Linus did with his blanket in the Peanuts cartoons,” the description reads. 

Hhilbert is named in honor of Army Corp. Thomas Layton Hilbert, who died in Iraq on Sept. 7, 2007. 

On the cover is Alona, who was voted cutest TSA canine in August.

The TSA has more than 1,000 canines paired with handlers. 

About three years ago, the TSA began using more floppy-eared dogs to engage with people in airports. An internal TSA review found that pointy-eared dogs were sometimes scaring airline passengers, especially children.


Disgraced Former FBI Agent John Connolly Gets Full Pension After Prison Release

John Connolly

By Steve Neavling

Disgraced former FBI Agent Connolly has returned Massachusetts with a full pension. 

Connolly, 81, who was granted a medical release from prison, was eligible for a pension under the Hiss Act of 1954, which allows federal employees to keep their retirement benefits even if they are convicted of serious crimes, except for espionage and treason, The Boston Herald reports.

Mary Callahan, whose husband was killed by mobster James “Whitey” Bulger’s gang, couldn’t believe it. 

“Unbelievable,” Callahan told The Herald. 

“They’re always covering their asses,” she added Friday night. “I’ve called the FBI countless times trying to get my husband’s gold Rolex back and all his papers. They’re taking care of their own guy but I can’t afford a lawyer to fight them.”

Connolly was sentenced to 40 years behind bars for working with Bulger. 

His lawyer Peter Mullane said the former FBI agent has “two serious illnesses.”

“He has multiple melanomas and pretty bad diabetes,” Mullane. 

While working for the FBI’s Boston Field Office in the 1970s, Connolly recruited Bulger as an informant. Connolly was convicted of second-degree murder for participating in a plot to kill a Florida businessman in 1982 at the urging of Bulger, who was killed in a West Virginia prison in 2018. 


Border Patrol Agent Dies in Line of Duty

By Steve Neavling

A Border Patrol agent from the Tucson Sector has died in the line of duty. 

Supervisory Patrol Agent Martin Barrios died on Nov. 29, the agency announced Friday. 

“The entire USBP family mourns the loss of Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Martin Barrios,” U.S. Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz tweeted Friday. “Please keep his family, friends and colleagues in your thoughts.”

Details of Barrios’ death weren’t immediately clear. 

John R. Modlin, chief patrol agent of the Tucson Border Control Sector, added on Twitter, “Our thoughts and prayers are with his loved ones. We will always remember his service.”

Barrios joined Border Patrol in April 2013 after serving in the Navy.   

To honor Barrios, Arizona Governor Doug Duceuy ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff.


Weekend Series on Crime History: How the Mob Tried to Control Las Vegas