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Archive for December, 2015

Justice Department Suspends Assets Forfeiture Program for Local Police

frozen-cash2By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A controversial program that allows local police to seize and keep cash and property from people who were never charged or convicted of a crime is ending, the Justice Department announced Monday.

Federal forfeiture policies were long considered unfair by defense attorneys because police were allowed to keep up to 80% of the assets they seized, even when no charges were filed, the Washington Post reports.

The Justice Department announced it’s suspending the program due to budget cuts.

“While we had hoped to minimize any adverse impact on state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners, the Department is deferring for the time being any equitable sharing payments from the Program,” M. Kendall Day, chief of the asset forfeiture and money laundering section, wrote in a letter to state and local law enforcement agencies.

Some in the criminal justice community charged that police were pursuing cases because of profits.

“This is a significant deal,” said Lee McGrath, legislative counsel at the Institute for Justice, in an interview with the Washington Post. “Local law enforcement responds to incentives. And it’s clear that one of the biggest incentives is the relative payout from federal versus state forfeiture. And this announcement by the DOJ changes the playing field for which law state and local [law enforcement] is going to prefer.”

TSA May Soon Stop Accepting Airline Passengers’ Driver’s Licenses in Some State

airport-people-walkingBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Airline passengers in some states may soon need more than a driver’s license to board a plane, the New York Times reports. 

Homeland Security officials want states to begin complying with a decade-old law that requires them to comply with federal standards when issuing driver’s licenses.

That means airline passengers will need another type of government-issued identification if their states don’t provide driver’s licenses that comply with federal standards established after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Some states that aren’t in compliance still have some type of enhanced driver’s license available that has been deemed appropriate for now.

Applicants for federally compliant licenses must prove their identity, immigration status and Social Security number, among other information.

Other Stories of Interest

A Chat With U.S. District Court Judge Terrence G. Berg About Being Shot During Attempted Robbery at His Detroit Home


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — Terrence G. Berg is a mild-mannered, thoughtful guy who knows plenty about crime.

Before being appointed by President Barack Obama as a federal judge in 2012, he was a federal prosecutor and acting U.S. attorney in Detroit.

In March, he got a first-hand account of what it’s like to be a crime victim. While on his front porch in the University District in northwest Detroit, two men approached and told him they wanted to gain entry to his home. His wife and son were inside.

Berg resisted. One of the men pulled out a gun and shot him in the knee. Both then fled. The case went unsolved until this month when the shooter was charged.

Berg is walking again after undergoing surgeries, though his knee tightens up on him if he sits too long. He works out to stay fit. But the avid jogger isn’t sure he’ll ever jog again.

Berg sat down the other day with Allan Lengel to talk about the ordeal and its impac

FBI Closes 1964 Civil Rights Case with No Charges Against Former Sheriff’s Deputy

fbi-logBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

For more than 50 years, Frank Andrews’s family never got justice.

He was shot and killed by an Alabama sheriff’s deputy in 1964 outside of a house known for selling illegal alcohol.

Now the FBI has closed the case and decided against charging the former deputy, Quinnie Donald, The Associated Press reports. 

The FBI determined no charges were warranted.

“I’m proud that they closed it, but I don’t like bringing it up,” Donald said quietly during an interview at his home earlier this month. “I regret that it happened.”

Donald said he was using an unfamiliar pistol and that it fired at the slightest touch when he said he saw Andrews reach for his pocket as if he were trying to pull a knife, the AP wrote.

The Justice Department reopened the case in 2008 but federal agents were never able to gather enough evidence.

New Jersey to Use Cyber Canine to Sniff Out Thumb Drives, Hard Drives And Cell Phones

dog-detroitBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

This is not your ordinary canine.

The FBI is New Jersey is planning to soon crack down on cyber crime with a special dog that will be able to sniff out thumb drives, hard drives and cell phones, NJ 101.5 reports. 

“It’ll be an extremely versatile dog, it’ll be used in almost any type of investigation where we intend to search out or collect digital media,” said New Jersey FBI Special Agent Celeste Danzi.

“He or she will be able to identify these items and find them if they’re hidden or disguised as a pen or even a tiny chip,” she said. “It could be as small as a fingernail, anything that memory can be stored in, the dog will be able to scent or alert on.”

The FBI has bought the dog but it first must undergo about five months of training.

Federal Crackdown on Pain Meds Turning Legitimate Patients into Victims

pain medsBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Patients with a legitimate need for pain medication are having a hard time getting their drugs because of a crackdown on opioid addiction, Al Jazeera reports. 

Since the 2013 crackdown began, more pharmacists are refusing to fill valid prescriptions for controlled substances, even to people with a legitimate need.

“But federal drug policy has done the most damage. For the past five years, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has been orchestrating a high-stakes proxy war between physicians and pharmacists, creating tens of thousands of so-called ‘opioid refugees’ in the process,” Al Jazeera wrote.

Among those hardest hit are poor, minority and elderly people who have a legitimate need for pain meds.

Al Jazeera called it the “equivalent of medical redlining.”

Blaze That Tore Through Mosque in Houston Was Intentionally Set, Officials Said

Detroit fire lightsBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Christmas Day fire at a mosque in Texas was intentionally set, investigators told The Source.

The two-alarm blaze tore the Savory Mosque in Houston at 2:45 p.m., causing significant damage.

No injuries were reported because about 200 people left the mosque about an hour before the arson fire.

The investigation is being handled by the ATF, FBI and Houston police.

Other Stories of Interest

Weekend Series on Crime: The TV Series ‘The FBI’