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Forbes: Don’t Expect Much from FBI Director’s Call for Better Police Shooting Data

police lightsBy Mathew Feeney
Forbes Contributor 

Despite widespread media coverage of police shootings, no one knows for sure how many Americans are killed by police officers each year. That’s why FBI director James Comey’s announcement this week that the FBI plans to collect more data related to police shootings was initially encouraging to policy analysts like me. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Comey’s proposal will provide accurate numbers.

The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program does include data on the number of police officers killed on the job and the number of “justifiable homicides” committed by officers, but this information is not very helpful because the FBI relies on law enforcement agencies to voluntarily hand over the information. Perhaps unsurprisingly, not every police department complies.

Those departments that do report data, however are asked to report police shootings which take place in their jurisdiction. As the Wall Street Journal pointed out in December last year, some California Highway Patrol shootings may not be accurately reported because the shootings take place in a location under another department’s jurisdiction. The report showed that the inefficiencies in the reporting for the UCR program results in hundreds of police killings being left uncounted.

Regrettably, Comey seems to be doing little to provide law enforcement agencies with incentives to volunteer more accurate use-of-force data. Given the United States’ federalist system, the FBI cannot currently demand that law enforcement agencies hand over data on use-of-force incidents.

While government data on police killings is poor, two newspapers are keeping track of such incidents this year. The Washington Post is collecting information on police shootings (741 so far this year) and The Guardian is tracking all police killings (875 so far this year). For the time being, it looks as if the best source for police killings in the United States will be non-government projects like these.

Hillary Clinton Retains Security Clearance Despite FBI Inquiry into Handling of Classified Information

hillary-clintonBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Although the FBI is investigating Hillary Clinton’s handling of sensitive government information on her private email account, she still has security clearance to access classified information, McClatchy reports. 

National security experts said it’s common practice to remove that clearance during an investigation.

“Whether you’re a member of the military, a high-ranking executive branch official or anybody else with a security clearance, people should be treated equally,” said Grassley, R-Iowa. “If rank-and-file military and intelligence community employees have their clearances suspended during security investigations, then senior officials should not get any special exemptions.”

The State Department has revealed that Clinton sent or received at least 200 e-mails containing classified information through her private system.

“If this were a normal employee, it would be entirely routine to temporarily suspend their access pending investigation,” said Bradley Moss, a Washington lawyer who handles national security information.

Deliberations Begin in Trial of 2 Charged in Killing Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry

Brian Terry

Brian Terry

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A jury began deliberations in the trial of two men accused of killing a Border Patrol agent during a shootout in the Arizona desert in 2010, The Star Tribune reports. 

The case wrapped up Wednesday in a federal court in Tucson.

Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry encountered the robbers of drug dealers and was killed in a shootout.

Prosecutors charged Jesus Leonel Sanchez-Meza, also known as Lionel Portillo-Meza, and Ivan Soto-Barraza in the killing.

Prosecutor Todd Wallace Robinson told jurors that evidence, which includes DNA, fingerprints and confessions, proves the defendants are guilty of all nine counts, which includes first-degree murder.

“It doesn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt. It proves it beyond any doubt whatsoever,” Robinson said in a closing statement.

IG: Secret Service Leaked Private File to Embarrass Congressman Who Criticized Agency

Secret-Service-BadgeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An internal government investigation has found that the Secret Service leaked a private file of a congressman in an attempt to embarrass him, the USA Today reports.

A senior Secret Service official gave the green light to release Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s 2003 application to the agency, according to a report by Homeland Security Inspector General John Roth.

The official was Assistant Director Ed Lowery, who -emailed a colleague about the application, saying that “some information that he might find embarrassing needs to get out. Just to be fair.”

The Secret Service has apologized.

Chaffetz was a critic of the agency, and his application filed said that other better qualified applicants existed.

Detroit U.S. Attorney’s Office Takes Time Out to Celebrate Its 200th Anniversary

l-r from the top: Ross Parker; Judge Gerald Rosen; The crowd; U.S. Attorney McQuade

l-r From the top: Ross Parker; Judge Gerald Rosen; The crowd; U.S. Attorney McQuade

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT —  Federal court, more often than not, is a pretty serious place.

But on Wednesday, judges, prosecutors, attorneys, courthouse staff and members of the media gathered on the first floor of the U.S. District Courthouse in downtown Detroit to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The crowd included some former U.S. Attorneys: Saul Green and Jeff Collins and Judges Terrence Berg and Stephen Murphy. Some of the federal judges included chief Judge Gerald Rosen, Judge Paul Borman and Judge Bernard Friedman.

U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade delivered some remarks, calling the U.S. Attorney’s Office the best law firm in the state. Ross Parker, a former chief of the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and a columnist for ticklethewire.com, gave a talk about the history of the office.

Parker is the author of the book “Carving Out the Rule of Law: The History of the United States Attorney’s Office e in Eastern Michigan 1815–2008.″

Former Border Patrol Agent Found Guilty of Shooting Estranged Wife’s Boyfriend

el paso map istock

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A former Border Patrol agent accused of shooting his estranged wife’s boyfriend in El Paso was found guilty Tuesday of attempted capital murder and one count of continuos family violence, the Associated Press reports.

Alberto Montelongo, 41, is expected to be sentenced today and faces up to 99 years in prison.

Police said Montelongo shot his wife’s boyfriend in the head after getting into an altercation with the couple.

The man survived, and Montelongo took him and his wife hostage, prompting a standoff with El Paso police.

Marine Who Shot at Border Patrol Agents Turned Gun on Himself

Border PatrolBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A 38-year-old U.S. Marine who shot at Border Patrol agents in northern Michigan died turning the gun on himself, MLlive.com reports. 

Aaron Andrew Furness, 38, shot at Border Patrol agents on Drummond Island on Sept. 24 before agents returned fire.

About eight hours later, authorities found him dead in a remote cabin on the island.

Agents were investigating the area after finding a pickup in a ditch.

As they approached a cabin, they were fired upon.

“That’s the big question that we may never know the answer: What prompted him to do that?” state Police Lt. David Hopper said.

President Obama Praises Embattled Secret Service After Long Week

secret-service-3By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

It was as long, exhausting week for the Secret Service.

The embattled agency was responsible for helping protect Pope Francis and Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit to the U.S.

President Obama praised the agency for “flawlessly” doing its job, the Washington Post reports. 

“When something goes wrong, when there’s a fence jumper, everybody reports on it,” Obama said. “The Secret Service had to manage the Pope’s visit, President Xi’s visit, and a hundred something world leaders in an unprecedented fashion during the course of the last several days. And they did so flawlessly.”