Sunday, February 19, 2012

5 Cool New Technologies Helping Cops Fight Crime

Technological advancements have led to new products which police are using all over the country to fight crime.  Police television shows have introduced many of us to cool new gadgets but while the TV shows are make believe, the real world also offers many new and interesting bits of information.  Here's just a few of them:

The Robotic Camera:  When its too dangerous to have a police officer go check out a scene, the police can just send in a remote control car with a camera that can be used to check out what is happening.  In the old days the police would send in a police dog, but that could cause the dog to be killed.  The robotic camera can be used outside, such as to be sent underneath a vehicle to see if a bomb has been placed underneath.  Or inside such as when the police want to make sure that nobody is waiting for them inside a house when they try to serve a search warrant.  The robotic cameras cost about $9,000 and their use is spreading.

Gunshot Detectors:  The Nassau County Police Department in New York is using a system which tells them where shots have been fired.  This is especially useful in high crime neighborhoods where by the time police arrive at the scene of a report of "shots fired" the shooter is often long gone and the police have to conduct a difficult and lengthy investigation to find out where the shots were fired.  With this system police can place sensors in a given neighborhood and when shots are fired it will pinpoint exactly where the shots came from.  The service costs between $40,000 to $60,000 a year per square mile and is used in only a limited number of places.

Tablets:  The days of officers filling out paperwork and writing down statements are going away.  An IPad allows an officer to do almost anything they used to do sitting at their desk on a little tablet computer which they could use almost anywhere.  Tablet computers, such as the IPad, are being used all over the country and one can expect that their use by police officers will continue to grow.

Flying Police Drones:  We are all aware of the use of unmanned drones by the U.S. Military to carry out strikes against terrorists in the Middle East.  Now drones are being used by police departments to fly over high crime neighborhoods to provide an "eye in the sky" for local police departments.  An unmanned drone is simply a remote control aerial device equipped with a camera which allows police to look at what is happening overhead with little, or no danger, to police officers.  They run on regular gasoline and can hover overhead like a helicopter.  They can cost $250,000 and are usually operated by licensed pilots.  They cannot be used during bad weather and are the subject of growing criticism by civil rights advocates who fear that the expanding use of flying police drones could have serious privacy implications.

GPS Pursuit Darts:  We have all seen movies and television shows which depict exciting police chases which can be violent and deadly.  In the real world, police chases can often lead to death and serious injury to innocent civilians.  Now this new device eliminates the need to engage in a high speed pursuit of a vehicle. A device, attached to a police car, can now shoot, with compressed air, a dart which will stick to the vehicle which is escaping.  This dart is usually shot when the chase first starts.  Once it attaches to the vehicle, the police can discontinue the chase and the vehicle can be monitored from a safe distance as its movement is being monitored from a computer.  This device is relatively new and its effectiveness is still being evaluated.  In addition, the legality of the use of GPS devices is still being hashed out by the courts.  We recently reported about a United States Supreme Court decision which ruled that the police must obtain a warrant before placing a GPS tracking device on a vehicle.

These are just a few of the devices which are changing the way police are doing their job.  Some of the devices being used are devices that all of us are using, like tablet computers, while others are devices that are being used by the U.S. Military, like flying drones.

The source of this article is Todd R. Weiss in an article which appeared in Computerworld.

For more information about the Chicago criminal defense attorneys at Legal Defenders, P.C., visit us at or call us anytime at 1-800-228-7295.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Senate to Consider Televising Supreme Court Proceedings

The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved a bill that would televise proceedings in the Supreme Court.  The Bipartisan measure was approved 11 to 7.  A similar measure was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee last year but failed to become law.  The bill now goes to the full Senate for its consideration.  The bill would require that all cases before the Supreme Court are to be televised except that when a majority of the Justices vote to prohibit cameras if the parties due process rights would be violated by televising the proceedings.  The chief sponsors of  the bill are Senator Richard Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, and Senator Charles Grassley, a Republican from Iowa.

For more information about the Chicago criminal defense attorneys at Legal Defenders, P.C., visit us at or call us anytime at 1-800-228-7295.

Court of Appeals Delivers Rare Harsh Criticism of Bureau of Prisons

In a rare move, the 7th Circuit Court of appeals delivered harsh criticism to the United States Bureau of Prisons for their decision to house an inmate in the same prison where his father had died many years earlier.  The case involves former Chicago Police officer John Ambrose.  Ambrose was convicted of leaking sensitive details about a cooperating witness to the mob.  The cooperating witness was Nick Calabrese.  Calabrese, a "made" member of the mob, was cooperating with federal officials giving them details about several unsolved murders.  Calabrese came to Chicago in 2003 and 2004.  Ambrose was assigned to provide security for Calabrese.  Ambrose was convicted of providing details about Calabrese's cooperation with federal law enforcement officials to the mob.  He was sentenced to four years in federal prison.  In 2006, the FBI came up with a ruse to get Ambrose to go to the FBI headquarters so they could take his gun away from him out of fear that he would commit suicide when he was confronted by the FBI with what he had done.  The Bureau of Prisons sent Ambrose to the same Texas prison that his father had died in many years earlier.  Ambrose's father was also a former Chicago Police Officer.  The Court of Appeals criticized the decision of the Bureau of Prisons for putting Ambrose in the same prison where he would be forced to overlook the same track that his father had died on and pointed out that the federal government should not be in the business of torturing people.  The Court of Appeals urged the Bureau of Prisons to reconsider their decision to put Ambrose in that prison.

For more information about the Chicago criminal defense attorneys at Legal Defenders, P.C., visit us at or call us anytime at 1-800-228-7295.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Supreme Court Halts Ohio Execution

The Supreme Court, without comment, refused to allow the State of Ohio to proceed with the scheduled execution of Charles Lorraine.  The Supreme Court's decision calls into question a dozen Ohio executions scheduled over the next two years.  The Supreme Court's decision allows a temporary delay in capital punishment in Ohio to stay in place.  The death penalty system in Ohio remains constitutional but they are unable to carry it out because of issues concerning how they carry out executions.  There are concerns that the State of Ohio continues to deviate too often from its written rules on how to carry out lethal injections.  In January, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that federal courts must monitor every Ohio execution "because the State cannot be trusted to fulfill its otherwise lawful duty to execute inmates sentenced to death."  Wednesday's decision by the Supreme Court affirms a decision by U.S. District Court Judge Gregory Frost that criticized Ohio for failing to adhere strictly to its policies.  During an execution last fall, he criticized Ohio for switching the official responsible for announcing the start and finish times of the execution and for not properly documenting that the inmates medical chart was reviewed.  Lorraine was convicted of murdering an elderly couple of stabbing them repeatedly and then burglarizing their house in 1986.  The State of Ohio has delayed the execution of another inmate scheduled for September 22 who has been convicted of an arson.  It is likely that other inmates awaiting execution will also ask for delays until this issue is resolved.

For more information about the Chicago criminal defense attorneys at Legal Defenders, P.C., visit us at or call us anytime at 1-800-228-7295.

Harvey Sued For Untested Rape Kit

A 25 year old woman who was raped when she was 11 years old has sued the Village of Harvey because her rape kit went untested for 10 years.  The 25 year old woman was raped in 1997 when she was 11 years old.  In 2007 a raid of the Harvey Police Department was carried out by the Cook County Sheriff's Office and the Cook County State's Attorney's Office.  More than 200 untested rape kits were recovered.  Rape kits contain the evidence collected after a sexual assault.  In 1997 Harvey police interviewed Robert Buchanan, a former Cook County corrections officer, because he was suspected of raping the girl in her home.  The interview was carried out by detectives from the Harvey Police Department.  A rape kit was collected from the victim and Buchanan was released without charges.  The rape kit was never tested and was one of the 200 rape kits recovered in the 2007 raid.  Last year DNA was collected from Buchanan which matched the DNA in the rape kit.  Buchanan was arrested and charged with the rape.  The victim currently lives out of state and is suffering from suppressed memories and actively receiving therapy.  The lawsuit is alleging that Harvey failed to protect the victim's rights under the Illinois Domestic Violence Act, alleging intentional infliction of emotional distress, willful and wanton negligence and fraudulent concealment.

For more information about the Chicago criminal defense attorneys at Legal Defenders, P.C., visit us at or call us anytime at 1-800-228-7295.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Bill Proposed To Require Police Track Taser Use

An Illinois legislator has proposed a bill that would require that police report every time they use a Taser on a civilian.  This move has been spurred by numerous media stories documenting the explosion in the use of Taser weapons by police officers.  The idea behind the proposed legislation is that officers may be caused to think twice before using a Taser.  Some suburban police departments are on pace to use their Taser weapons twice as often as they did last year.  In 2011 Chicago police reported that they used their Tasers 853 times.  This represents a five fold increase over 2008.  The Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police and other police officer groups are opposed to the legislation.  This measure is the first measure which attempts to track the use of Tasers by police officers.

For more information about the Chicago criminal defense attorneys at Legal Defenders, P.C., visit us or call us anytime at 1-800-228-7295.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Chicago Murder Rate Lowest in 40 Years

Chicago police recently announced that Chicago's murder rate has plunged to the lowest in 40 years.  In spite of this good news, the police have announced an initiative that specifically targets 2 districts in Chicago that account for roughly 25% of the murders in Chicago.  In the 7th and 11th Districts, Harrison and Englewood, roughly 25% of the shootings and murders occurred in those 2 districts.  During the first 2 weeks of 2012, roughly 33% of the shootings and murders occurred in those 2 districts.  These 2 districts are clearly the most dangerous districts in Chicago when examining violent crime rates.  The police have announced an initiative that will specifically target those 2 districts.  More than 100 police officers will be redeployed to Englewood and Harrison in May with an eye towards concentrating on illegal drug activity, vice activity, increased traffic stops and increased foot patrols.  This strategy is in line with recent efforts by the Chicago Police to target specific neighborhoods in an effort to combat crime.  It should be noted that this policy is at odds with statements recently made by Cook County Board President Toni Perwinkle who has stated that police should lay off low level non-violent offenders who put a strain on cash-strapped Cook County.

For more information about the Chicago criminal defense attorneys at Legal Defenders, P.C., visit us at or call us anytime at 1-800-228-7295.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Mississippi Pardon of Repeat DUI Offender Raises Serious Questions

While everyone is focusing on Governor Haley Barbour's pardons of several convicted murderers in Mississippi, nobody is talking about one particular pardon which in many ways is more disturbing.  In January of this year, outgoing Mississippi Governor, Haley Barbour, issued a pardon to a repeat DUI offender while he was sitting in jail awaiting possible DUI charges for an accident that killed an 18 year old girl. The case of Harry Bostick is beyond disturbing.  Bostick is a retired IRS Investigator.  Bostick had been convicted of his third DUI arrest in one year in March of 2009.  For the third DUI, Bostick had been sentenced to one year of house arrest and 4 years in a Mississippi drug court program.  This is a drug and alcohol program with strict requirements that Bostick must follow.  Last summer, while he was still in the program, Bostick began applying for a pardon from Governor Barbour.  Many high profile individuals in Mississippi wrote letters in support of Bostick's pardon, including a letter from a retired U.S. Attorney.  The letters detailed the death of his teenage son in a house fire, and his divorce.  The letters talked about how he had changed his life and was not using alcohol anymore.  On September 30, the Mississippi Parole Board, on a 3 to 2 vote, recommended that Bostick be pardoned.  On October 7, according to the Mississippi State Police, Bostick was driving under the influence of alcohol when he slammed into the side of a car driven by 18 year old Charity Smith.  Charity was killed and her older sister suffered serious injuries.  In January, Barbour granted Bostick's pardon, while Bostick was sitting in jail on a probation violation and authorities were investigating the latest accident and considering what to charge Bostick with. Nobody has been able to explain how nobody knew about the current case.  Apparently nobody bothered to do a final check to see if anything new had happened.  Barbour is blaming the Parole Board, the Parole Board is blaming the Governor's office.  In the meantime, Charity's mother is left to mourn and try to make sense of the heartbreaking loss of her 18 year old daughter.  An 18 year old girl who was saving her money to go to college and get her business degree.  Those dreams have now vanished while the man who extinguished this young life is a free man, having been pardoned by the Governor of the State of Mississippi, absolved of his crimes.

Clearly, something is terribly wrong in Mississippi.

For more information about the Chicago criminal defense attorneys at Legal Defenders, P.C., visit us at or call us anytime at 1-800-228-7295.

Illinois Supreme Court To Test Cameras In Trial Courts

Last week the Illinois Supreme Court announced that they will allow a test program that will allow for the use of cameras in trial courts in Illinois.  The media has been allowed to record proceedings in the Supreme Court and the Appellate Courts since 1983, but until now, recording has been outlawed in the state's 23 circuit courts.  The pilot program will allow the media to use still and video cameras to record criminal and civil proceedings.  Illinois is currently one of fourteen states that ban cameras in trial courts.  Cameras are also banned in all federal district courts as well.  This pilot program will be on an experimental and limited basis.  Cameras inside courtrooms could add an entirely new element to cases that was not even a consideration in Illinois.  This week the Illinois Supreme Court announced that the pilot program will take place in Northwestern Illinois.  The counties include, Henry, Mercer, Rock Island and Whiteside.  The county is the 14th Judicial Circuit.  Iowa, which is just across the Mississippi River, has allowed cameras in their courtrooms since 1979.  Yesterday the first proceeding allowing the use of cameras occurred in Rock Island County.

For more information about the Chicago criminal defense attorneys at Legal Defenders, P.C., visit us at or call us anytime at 1-800-228-7295.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Cook County Board Revisiting Immigration Hold Requests

The Cook County Board has agreed to hold hearings to reconsider whether to continue to hold defendants that have immigration holds on them in Cook County Jail.  In September, 2010, Cook County Commissioners voted to stop honoring requests from federal Immigration officials to hold suspected illegal immigrants while the federal government checked on their immigration status.  One of the reasons given by Board members for voting to not honor the requests was because this policy was putting defendants charged with minor criminal offenses at risk of being deported.  I also suspect that another reason was that the cost of holding these suspected illegal immigrants in jail until immigration officials picked them up was too much for Cook County.  However, a few weeks ago a defendant was released from custody after he was charged with killing a pedestrian in the Logan Square neighborhood.  The Defendant has since fled and ICE had put an immigration hold on him.  This story has caused the Cook County Board to revisit this move and has now agreed to hold hearings.  Board members have requested imput from the Office of the Cook County State’s Attorney and from the Cook County Sheriff.  One of the Board members has introduced a measure that would reinstate the policy of complying with federal immigration holds but only in cases involving violence and drugs or if the defendant is listed in a federal terrorist watch list.  The President of the Cook County Board is seeking to expand the inquiry to include a thorough review of how bond is set for all criminal defendants, regardless of immigration status.  Both the Office of the Cook County State’s Attorney and the Cook County Sheriff indicated that they look forward to participate in any future hearings.

For more information about the Chicago criminal defense attorneys at Legal Defenders, P.C., visit us at or call us anytime at 1-800-228-7295.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Federal Report Faults County for Misusing Police Camera Funds

The Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security has released a report that is highly critical of Cook County officials for their misuse of federal funds that put faulty cameras in countless police squad cars.  Cook County had been given $45 million to implement “Project Shield.”  The idea behind “Project Shield” was to equip first responders with wireless cameras so they could quickly transmit images, messages and data in case of an emergency.  138 squad cars were equipped with wireless cameras that did not work and prevented the deployment of air bags in police cars.  Each camera cost $65,000.  In addition, Cook County paid $190,000 to Johnson Controls to make sure that the cameras worked.  Shortly after they were installed Chicago police informed suburban police agencies to not use the cameras.  The report found that the program was “ill-conceived, poorly designed and badly executed program that put the lives of emergency responders in danger.”  The report further found that Cook County officials did not adequately plan or manage the project to make sure that the equipment worked properly and could be operated in an emergency situation.  Many of the towns that were part of the program ended up returning the equipment and stopped participating in the project.

For more information about the Chicago criminal defense attorneys at Legal Defenders, P.C., visit us at or call us anytime at 1-800-228-7295.

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