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FBI Study: Steep Rise in Mass Shootings as More People Die; Shootings Often End Before Police Arrive

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A new study by the FBI reveals that mass shootings are on the rise and killing more people.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the study found 160 “active-shooter” events from 2000 to 2013.

The study defines an “active shooter” as “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area.”

The average number of active-shooter incidents in a year was 16.4 between 2006 and 2013, a steep rise from an average 6.4 a year from 2000 to 2006.

In those periods, 486 people were killed and 557 wounded.

Interestingly, the study found that the shootings often lasted less than two minutes and two-thirds ended before police arrived.

“Many active shooters have a real or perceived deeply held personal grievance, and the only remedy that they can perceive for that grievance is an act of catastrophic violence against a person or an institution,” said FBI behavioral analysis expert Andre Simons.

Will Investigators Find Pennsylvania Fugitive Frein? Survivalists Have Record of Eluding Authorities

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

When it comes to capturing survivalist fugitives, law enforcement has a spotty record, Reuters reports.

So when Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett pledged to quickly capture Eric Matthew Frein, who is accused of gunning down two state troopers, some experts were naturally skeptical.

Law enforcement officials believe Frein is hiding in the Pocono Mountains after he’s been added to the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted List.”

Turns out, a third of the fugitives on that list “are avid outdoorsmen with skills to hide for years – if not a lifetime – in the wilderness,” Reuters wrote.

“He may have an elaborate plan that had multiple caches and multiple hides and be set up for a number of years. It doesn’t look like he just did it on a whim,” said Pat Patten, who owns Tactical Woodland Operations School in Franklin, North Carolina, which trains police to catch fugitives in the outdoors.

The FBI, for example, is still on the hunt for a skilled hunter, William Bradford Bishop Jr., who disappeared nearly 40 years ago, after the beating deaths of his wife, mother and three sons in Maryland.

Inspector General Report: FBI’s Half-Billion-Dollar Computer System Is Rife with Problems

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI spent a half-billion-dollars on a Sentinel computerized file system, but the system is rife with problems, Newsweek reports.

Officials insisted the Sentinel would be completed by the end of 2009 for $425 million. But a report by the Justice Department Inspector General found mismanagement, cost overruns and technical problems that have raised the price by another $100 million, Newsweek wrote.

Sentinel replaced the bureau’s antiquated Automatic Case Support System, known as ACS.

Despite the problems, the Inspector General report found that a majority of FBI employees surveyed agreed that “Sentinel has had an overall positive impact on the FBI’s operations, making the FBI better able to carry out its mission, and better able to share information.”

Still, the report found many problems.

The FBI, for example, said the system’s search function was working properly.

“Yet we found that only 42 percent of the respondents to our survey who used Sentinel’s search functionality often received the results they needed,” the IG reported

Employees: Byzantine Oversight of Homeland Security is Crushing Morale, Hindering Work

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Homeland Security has so much congressional oversight that it’s damaging morale and making the work more difficult, the Washington Post reports.

Consider the number of committees and subcommittees that oversee DHS – more than 90, which exceeds the number that has jurisdiction over the Defense Department by nearly three fold.

“It makes no sense at all,” said Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), a homeland security committee member, who attributed the structure to a “petty fight for power” between committees reluctant to give up their piece of DHS.

When the department was created in 2002, 22 autonomous federal agencies were combined.

“It makes it very difficult for the department,’’ said King, who sees “no movement” in Congress to change the situation. “The amount of time that goes into preparing for a congressional hearing is immense. It’s like this hydra-headed monster they have to deal with.’’

Police Who Want to Use Federal Cell Phone Surveillance Required to Keep Technology quiet

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI has prohibited local and state police from discussing the capabilities of surveillance technology that enables law enforcement to eavesdrop on cell phone calls, the Washington Post reports.

A letter obtained under the Freedom of Information Act shows that the FBI requires police departments to sign a “non-disclosure agreement” before buying the equipment.

The so-called cell site simulators trick phones into routing their calls through surveillance, the Washington Post wrote.

The FBI said the disclosure of the technology could make it possible for criminals to avoid or detect the surveillance.

“The FBI routinely asserts the law enforcement sensitive privilege over cell site simulator equipment because discussion of the capabilities and use of the equipment in court would allow criminal defendants, criminal enterprises, or foreign powers, should they gain access to the items, to determine the FBI’s techniques, procedures, limitations, and capabilities in this area,” said an affidavit by an FBI official in April.

FBI, Homeland Security Warn of ISIS-Inspired Attacks in U.S. Following Airstrikes in Syria

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI and Homeland Security are warning that ISIS-inspired Americans or visitors may try to launch a domestic attack in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes against extremists in Syria, CBS News reports.

The agencies issued bulletins that urged law enforcement to “be vigilant.” ISIS and other terrorist groups have been recruiting Americans. Attorney General Eric Holder said the U.S. needs a new approach.

“It will be focused on people who have terrorist connections and come up with new ways in which information is shared between INTERPOL members that, frankly, don’t exist now,” he said. “We have red notices that we use for people who are charged with crimes. But we’re gonna come up with a new kind of notice that deals with people who are suspected of engaging in terrorist activities.”

Federal Prison Population Drops for First Time in Decades Under AG Holder

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

For the first time in several decades, the federal inmate population has decreased, the Associated Press reports.

The Justice Department revealed that roughly 4,800 fewer inmates were incarcerated last year than the year before.

Attorney General Eric Holder said he anticipates the inmate population to be about 250,000 next week, which is the end of the budget cycle.

“This is nothing less than historic,” Holder said, addressing a conference at the New York University School of Law that was hosted by the Brennan Center for Justice. “To put these numbers in perspective, 10,000 inmates is the rough equivalent of the combined populations of six federal prisons, each filled to capacity.”

Holder has been working to reduce the prison population, saying its costly and contains too many nonviolent offenders.

6 Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputies Sentenced Up to 41 Months in Prison for Interfering with Civil Rights Investigation

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Six deputies for the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department were sentenced Wednesday to up to 41 months in prison for interfering with a federal civil rights investigation at a jail.

The federal judge told the defendants that they lacked “courage to do what is right” and showed no remorse.

The sentencing follows a federal jury’s determination that the defendants tried to influence witnesses, threatened an FBI agent with arrest and hid an FBI informant from investigators.

“Blind obedience to a corrupt culture has serious consequences,” United States District Judge Percy Anderson told the defendants before sentencing.

The defendants were:

  • Gregory Thompson, 54, a now-retired lieutenant who oversaw LASD’s Operation Safe Jails Program, who was ordered to serve 37 months in prison and to pay a $7,500 fine;
  • Lieutenant Stephen Leavins, 52, who was assigned to the LASD’s Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau, who received a 41-month prison sentence;
  • Gerard Smith, 42, a deputy who was assigned to the Operation Safe Jails Program, who was ordered to serve 21 months in prison;
  • Mickey Manzo, 34, a deputy who was assigned to the Operation Safe Jails Program, who received a 24-month sentence;
  • Scott Craig, 50, a sergeant who was assigned to the Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau, who was sentenced to 33 months; and
  • Maricela Long, 46, a sergeant who assigned to the Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau, who received a sentence of two years in federal prison.

“Interference with a federal investigation cannot be tolerated,” said Bill Lewis, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “The sentences imposed today allow us to move forward toward an environment of mutual trust and the common goal of delivering justice to victims of crime. I look forward to continued collaboration with our trusted partners at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.”