|Issue of the Day Archive for the ‘Crime’ Category|
The elderly are the fastest growing segment of our society, and they are a large part of the country’s economy. So crime, especially financial crime, is a growing concern for the Department of Justice since seniors are targeted with alarming frequency and too often successful. Problems with data gathering on such crimes stems from legal definitions of “elderly”, the lack of a national repository of crime statistics like the FBI Uniform Crime Reports or the National Victimization survey specific to elder financial abuse, and the fact that fraud is under reported. A 1998 report conducted by the National Center for on Elder Abuse states that nearly one third of all elder abuse cases included financial exploitation. Also, a study by the US Senate Special Committee on Aging reported $40 billion in losses to telemarketing fraud.
The Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) has invested $2 million nationwide to create a program called the Triad, which partners with law enforcement and senior citizens to reduce crime and the fear of crime. Currently the rate of all types of crime against the elderly is at 2.5 victims per 1,000 persons 65 years old or older. The two highest type of crimes are simple assault and personal theft.
Professor of Race Relations Arrested over Misunderstanding
Published Tuesday, July 21st, 2009 by Lacey Loftin
The distinguished Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. — director of Harvard’s W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research — was arrested after police investigated claims that he was trying to break into a house, his own as it turns out. The Professor, who is African-American, has written many books and hosted a public TV series on race relations. Supporters of the professor say this is an incident of racial profiling. Lawrence D. Bobo, the W.E.B Du Bois Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard, said he hopes Cambridge Police will drop charges against Gates and use the incident to review training and screening procedures it has in place.
A study conducted by the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Justice Statistics between 2002 and 2005 tracked the rates of routine traffic stops in an effort to map Racial Profiling in the US. The data suggested that there was an even chance—between 8.1 – 9.2% of drivers—among White, Black and Hispanic drivers that they would be stopped by police during 2002 and 2005. Yet, of the white drivers stopped, only 3.5 – 3.6% of them were searched in 2002 and 2005; Black and Hispanic drivers who were stopped were searched 10.2-11.4% and 9.5 – 8.8% between 2002 and 2005 respectively.
Street Safe is a project that hopes to build upon the once successful program called the Boston Miracle, which reduced youth violence in the late 1990’s. SafeStreet is made up of 13 men — half of which are previous offenders — with a five-year mission and $20 million initiative aiming to prove that ex-convicts know best how to work the streets and protect kids from what they call “the life” or gang life. Many of the 13-year-olds children (gangs routinely target boys as young as 12 to carry drugs and guns) who are now a part of the program would have had to choose between making the best of their athletic and academic potential or follow their friends, brothers, and fathers into “the life.” Boston Police are also on board with the program as they arrange games between youth and police in an effort to promote community policing and cut gang influence.
According to the Department of Justice, the overall percent of homicides in the US involving guns by victims’ age skyrockets from birth to 18 years. After the peak, the range of deaths slowly decreases till age 89 where there is a spike in gunshot victimhood. The number of offenders in their teens — 14-17 — has returned to a previous held range of 1500 offenders annually from a height in 1994 of 4000 homicide offenders.
The Sub-Prime Mortgage Crisis of 2007 has lead to ever increasing reports of mortgage fraud. Mortgage fraud, divided between fraud for property and fraud for profit, is the material misrepresentation relied upon by underwriters or lenders to fund, purchase or insure a loan. Fraud for property is typically for a primary residence and involves a single loan; fraud for profit involves multiple loans and elaborate schemes to gain money from unlawful sales. Gross misrepresentation concerning appraisals and loan documents are common in fraud for profit schemes. The FBI states that there is no centralized reporting system for mortgage fraud complaints or investigations, collaboration among regulatory, industrial and law enforcement agencies are used to assess the current fraud climate. Experts agree that the increase in fraud is in direct correlation to the distressed housing market.
Mortgage fraud filings from financial institutions increased 36% to 63,713 during FY2008 compared to 46,717 filings in FY2007. The total dollar loss attributed to mortgage fraud is unknown; however, at least 63% of all pending FBI mortgage fraud investigations during FY2008 involved dollar losses totaling more than $1.4 billion. Top states include California, Florida, Georgia and Illinois. Currently, the first six months of 2009 has seen 33,291 incidents of fraud and losses, exceeding the same period of 2008 by $208 million.
Governor Hopes to Avoid Regretable Deaths in the Future
Published Thursday, June 11th, 2009 by Lacey Loftin
Governor David A. Paterson of New York has stated that he would convene a task force to study shootings of police officers by friendly fire. This comes after the killing of a police officer by friendly fire in Harlem last week. One of the issues the task force will explore will be whether such shootings had disproportionately affected Black and Latino officers. The NY Police Department had also compiled a list of 10 officers killed in such shootings since 1930’s, which included 5 who were White, four who were Black and one who was Hispanic. In light of the shooting, refresher training commenced and a memorandum was circulated regarding steps the department is taking to combat friendly fire. Included in the memo are studies that explore whether police handguns and/or equipment could be fitted with officer proximity identification devices.
Officers falling in the line of duty have been one of the many statistics followed by the Federal Bureau of Investigations Uniform Crime Reports. The number of those killed annually by handguns and other types of guns has leveled off to mid 50s since 1998. The most dangerous of situations in which the officers are killed include arrest, ambush, making traffic stops and disturbance calls. Between 1998 and 2007, 22 officers were killed in the line of duty as a result of firendly fire by either crossfire, mistaken for the subject or by a firearm mishap.
Repeal of Tiahrt Amendment Called for by Coalition
Published Tuesday, May 19th, 2009 by Lacey Loftin
Much debate is going on in the gun and policing worlds regarding the need to repeal the 2004 Tiahrt Amendment, which was one of the agenda items President Obama discussed in his Senate and Presidential campaigns. The restriction placed on police from the Tiahrt Amendment prevents the federal government from requiring gun dealers to conduct inventory inspections to see if guns they possess are lost or stolen. Also, the President’s budget retains the rule regarding the destruction of federal background checks, which are required for gun buyers within 24 hours. Major proponents for the repeal include the National Public Safety Coalition, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, headed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City who believes that these restrictions limit law enforcement of gun sales and crime.
The use of firearms to commit murder actually rose from 9385 murders in 2004 to 10086 in 2007. Separated by type of gun, murders by handguns has been reduced and replaced by other types of guns such as assault rifles. After a short decline, law enforcement deaths have risen from the use of both handguns and assault rifles. Nonfatal firearms incidents are also on the rise again after a steady decline. Crimes committed with firearms besides murder remained at a steady level since the creation of the Brady Laws; this includes crimes committed while under the age of 18—the age at which many states allow at least rifle purchase.
Gun Crime in Schools a Challange for Secretary of Education
Published Wednesday, April 29th, 2009 by Lacey Loftin
During the lead up to the primary in 2007, President Obama had challenged the government, the gun lobby and the public to do more to stop gun violence. In Chicago, where he gave the fiery speech, 32 Chicago school children had been killed in the previous year by firearms. As of today, 33 Chicago public school children have been cut down this year so far. The President had then called for better enforcement of existing gun laws, tighter background checks on gun buyers and a permanent assault-weapons (e.g., AK-47s) ban, which expired 5 years ago. Coincidentally, the new Secretary of Education was the former head of Chicago Public Schools, of which he stated that gun violence was his biggest challenge. These remarks by Secretary Arne Duncan come after the administration’s shift from methods like metal detectors to counseling and community building in order to combat school violence.
By 2007, there were over 10,000 people killed in the US by handguns, this is actually down from 10,225 in 2006. Violent crime committed with a firearm has reduced and remained relatively flat over the last decade. During the 2006-2007 school year, the number of those killed in school amounted to 32. By the 2007-2008 school year, the number reduced below 20 for the first time since 2002 to 16 deaths. Yet, students who reportedly carried a handgun on school campus reduced steadily from 11.8 to 6.1% from 1993 to 2003. Therefore, there were fewer guns on campuses but more deaths.
From Mexico City, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that decades of US anti-narcotics policies have been a failure and have contributed to the explosion of drug violence that has flooded Mexico and threatens the US southwest. This is a surprising turn of events, as past politicians have blamed Mexico for not doing enough to staunch the traffic of illegal drug trafficking. The Obama administration has announced it is seeking $66 million in new funding for extra helicopters for the Mexican Police. Clinton also stated that equipment promised under the Merida Initiative, a 3 year $1.4 billion package of anti-drug assistance to Mexico and Central America, will be a top priority. This meeting will precede the visit by the Secretary of Homeland Security, the US Attorney General, and later President Obama ahead of the Summit of the Americas in April.
Secretary Clinton also stated that “neither interdiction nor reducing demand have been successful.” The arrest for illicit drug abuse violations has reached nearly 2 million a year; that is 1.9 million adults and 100,000 juveniles arrested. 84.9% of teens state that they have ready access Marijuana, 46.7% for cocaine, 38.8% for crack and 27.4% for Heroin. Of those surveyed, the teens that have used Cocaine in the last 30 days remain steady at 1.9-2% and for those who have used in the last year also remains steady between 4.4-5.2%.
Stimulus Act Funds Fight Against Domestic Violence
Published Thursday, March 5th, 2009 by Lacey Loftin
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 has appropriated $4 billion for Department of Justice funding to enhance state, local, and tribal law enforcement efforts relating to domestic violence, including the hiring of new police officers to combat violence against women and internet crimes against children. The Act will appropriate $225,000,000 in violence against women funding administered by the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW), including $175,000,000 to grants to combat violence against women, as authorized by part T of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, and $50,000,000 to OVW’s Transitional Housing Program. This funding is in addition to any other funding that Congress may appropriate for Fiscal Year 2009.
According to the Department of Justice, domestic violence is defined as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. For both men and women, physical assault is the most common type of victimization followed far behind by rape and stalking. A stand out statistic is that American Indians/Alaska natives, both men and women, experienced more violence per capita by far than any other race. The current statistics on domestic violence and crime have been decreasing steadily since 1994 to remain at 4.7 million households experiencing the crime in 2004 and 2005.
Attorney General Eric Holder announced the arrest of 750 individuals on narcotics-related charges and the seizure of more than 23 tons of narcotics in a multi-agency investigation known as Xcellerator. This announcement comes on the heels of the State Department warning college students to use caution when entering the spring break Mecca. The warning spoke of “the greatest increase in violence” occurring on the U.S.-Mexico border and thus advises use of caution. The state department’s web site also stresses that alcohol is “involved in the vast majority of arrests, accidents, violent crimes, rapes, and deaths suffered by American students on Spring Break.” Vacationers are also alerted that drug use, purchase, or possession can lead to jail “without bail for up to a year before a case is tried.”
According to the FBI, the number of adults in the prison system per capita has remained steady over the years as the rate remains consistent with the population. By far the largest number of arrests comes from drug arrests for both adults and juveniles. The drug arrests for adults has seen a sharp increase over the last decade with a slight decrease last year. For juvenile drug arrests, the reverse has occurred: the decade-long doubled rate has returned to its previous rate of an average 100,000 a year. As for the drugs of choice, adults and juveniles choose most commonly marijuana, cocaine and alcohol.