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LAPPL supports familial DNA searches in the national database

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 08/11/2010 @ 02:55 PM

When the LAPD requested a state check of familial DNA in the “Grim Sleeper” case, it was fortunate that the match occurred in California. If the suspect’s son had been arrested and jailed in, say, Nevada - or any of the many other states that currently don’t permit the use of familial DNA searches - finding a match, and therefore making an arrest, would have been unlikely. For this reason, the LAPPL advocates allowing the FBI to conduct familial DNA searches via the national DNA database.

To this end, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., has smartly introduced the Utilizing DNA Technology to Solve Cold Cases Act of 2010 that instructs the FBI to create a mechanism for conducting familial searches of the national DNA database while providing appropriate privacy protections.

"The ‘Grim Sleeper’ was a case that spanned nearly 25 years of investigation and claimed the lives of 11 innocent victims," said LAPD Chief Charlie Beck. "It was not until we attempted to use familial DNA that our investigators got the clue they needed. Familial DNA testing proved to be an invaluable tool that assisted our detectives in the apprehension of the ‘Grim Sleeper’ murder suspect, and the ability to utilize the national database would strengthen that tool even further."

On July 30, the bill was referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary. It deserves speedy consideration and enactment. Many cold cases in Los Angeles and throughout the United States will stand a better chance of being solved, and give many affected families closure, once this common-sense legislation becomes law.

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Suspects still at large after senseless killing of SEIU 721 regional director’s son, Matthew Butcher; $50,000 reward offered

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 08/10/2010 @ 03:47 PM

We are pleased to see the City offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the remaining suspects in the execution-style murder of a clerk at an Echo Park medical marijuana shop. Raymond Lemone Easter, 27, is accused of murdering Matthew Butcher, 27, who was shot and killed on June 24 after three suspects stormed the Higher Path Holistic Care Collective on Sunset Boulevard.

After ransacking the business and stealing money and marijuana, the robbers shot a store worker, Matthew and a security guard. Matthew died from his injuries and the guard is in recovery. Another suspect in the case, Daniel Hinton, 31, was arrested and charged with murder and attempted murder. Police are also looking for information about the third suspect and driver of a getaway car.

Matthew was the son of Julie Butcher, regional director for SEIU 721, the Southern California Public Service Workers Union, which represents many city employees, including LAPD civilian personnel. The LAPPL Board of Directors joins Julie’s many friends and colleagues throughout the city in expressing its profound sympathies for the senseless death of her son. We are also determined to do all things possible to bring the killers to justice.

Anyone with information in the case is asked to call LAPD's Robbery Homicide Division Detectives Dennis English or James King at (213) 486-6890. During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7.

Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Tipsters may also contact Crime Stoppers by texting “LAPD” plus their message to 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads). Additionally, you may submit your tip online via the Crime Stoppers website.

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Putting a difficult decade in perspective

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 08/06/2010 @ 02:37 PM

A recent Los Angeles Times headline summed up a decade that all of us in law enforcement hope will never be repeated, when they wrote, “It was a terrifying time.” On Wednesday’s front-page story, veteran crime reporters Scott Gold and Andrew Blankstein recount a 10-year period beginning in 1984 when the LAPD was recording a violent crime every eight minutes and people could be killed with impunity. The article is a recommended reading for everyone – police officers and citizens alike.

To put the era in perspective, in 1984 Los Angeles police investigated 757 murders, 240% more than they investigated in 2009, and 51,247 violent crimes, 216% more than they investigated in 2009, according to the Times story. And they had to do it with 2,000 fewer officers than today’s force. In South L.A. and the surrounding neighborhoods, LAPD detectives estimate that more than 100 women, almost all African American, were killed during that 10-year period. Some of the cases have been solved; others remain open. Detectives say many are tied to five serial killers operating in the area.

The story describes how police work and the LAPD are much different from 20 years ago. For one, today’s LAPD uses tools which weren’t available then, such as the Three-Strikes law, gang injunctions, DNA technology and new communications capabilities. All of that has been a factor in turning around what seemed like a hopeless situation at the time. This is not to suggest everything is rosy in policing L.A. Every day brings new challenges and threats. Today, we are having to work with fewer resources than in recent years due to the city budget crisis.

If you were a police officer in that era (1984-1993), stop and reflect on how much has changed since that most difficult decade -- to the benefit of our quality of work life, the Department and the City. If you are a relative newcomer to L.A. city policing, read the Gold-Blankstein article for an appreciation and better understanding of what law enforcement was like in those days and how far we’ve come.

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Forty-four events planned in L.A. for Tuesday’s National Night Out

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 08/02/2010 @ 01:15 PM

The LAPPL is pleased to see the LAPD going all out to support the 27th Annual National Night Out on Tuesday, August 3. A variety of special community events, such as block parties, cookouts and peace marches, are among the 44 events planned across the city. Click here to download a listing of all the events from the LAPPL website, or here to see events in your area.

National Night Out is part of a year-long community building campaign designed to:

  • Heighten crime and drug prevention awareness
  • Generate support for, and participation in, local anticrime programs
  • Strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships
  • Send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back

Last year's National Night Out campaign involved citizens, law enforcement agencies, civic groups, businesses, neighborhood organizations and local officials from over 15,000 communities from all 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities and military bases worldwide. In all, over 36 million people participated in National Night Out 2009.

The LAPPL urges its members and friends to attend one or more events this year to show your support for this worthwhile and productive annual tradition.

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LAPD’s community outreach to youth is a national model

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 07/21/2010 @ 04:05 PM

LAPD, once again, is setting the standard – this time for community outreach to youths through its highly acclaimed LAPD Cadets Program. One of the highlights of the program is the Youth Leadership Day, which is spearheaded by Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger. On July 13, more than 1,200 cadets attended the third annual event to discover the rewards of public service by spending a full day as a partner with a member of the Department's leadership team.

It was a memorable day for everyone, as witnessed by a great video posted at www.LAPDcadets.com. The day’s activities began with a keynote address from Chief Charlie Beck, who praised the cadets’ commitment to becoming the next generation of leaders. Throughout the day, youth participants had the opportunity to tour various LAPD facilities across the City, as well as observe presentations by SWAT, Dive Team and the Bomb Squad. Special thanks go to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Capitol Records, ABC 7 and NBC 4 for also opening their doors to these young leaders.

During this year’s enhanced program, the LAPD also presented scores of academic scholarships (which exceeded $10,000), laptop computers and other awards to students who distinguished themselves by academic performance and community service.

Youth Leadership Day is a great example of how LAPD is enhancing its youth initiatives to encourage young people to make the right choices, while making our neighborhoods safer.

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A recipe for disaster: Three weapons, body armor and two strikes

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 07/20/2010 @ 03:59 PM

It began as a “routine” traffic stop on Interstate 580 in the Bay Area. On Saturday night two CHP officers spotted a white 2006 Toyota Tundra speeding and weaving across lane markers. As one of the officers approached the vehicle, the driver opened fire. A call for backup brought eight more CHP officers to the scene, who upon arrival returned fire for about 15 minutes. The suspect, Bryon Christopher Williams, was seriously wounded. Two CHP officers, who were treated for injuries caused from shattered glass, were later released from a hospital.

As more details emerge (reported in today's Oakland Tribune), authorities believe Williams, facing a third strike, may have been planning a violent crime spree even more serious than the gunfight with the CHP officers. Police said Williams was wearing body armor and was armed with a high-powered hunting rifle, a pistol and a shotgun at the time of the stop. Inside the suspect's truck, police also found a suspicious object that prompted investigators to call a bomb squad. The object was detonated Sunday without incident as I-580 was closed in both directions for several hours.

Williams, who’s had a long and violent criminal history, has been out of prison three years on federal parole. Adding to the potential charges the suspect faces is a new state law - one championed by LAPPL and other law enforcement organizations - that restricts the possession of body armor by violent felons in California.

We commend the CHP officers for their expertise and professionalism in removing a dangerous suspect from society. We are grateful that all of the officers involved are OK and can return to full duty following normal administrative reviews. There is little doubt that they likely prevented a major tragedy with the potential magnitude of which we are only now beginning to fully comprehend.

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The virtue of old-fashioned police work in a new era of policing

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 07/09/2010 @ 12:00 PM

"This will change the way policing is done in the United States.”

That’s how Chief Beck characterized the arrest of Grim Sleeper suspect Lonnie Franklin Jr., on 10 counts of murder and other charges in killings in Los Angeles between 1985 and 2007. It marked the first time in the nation that familial DNA had been used to break such a high-profile case and that fact made it an even bigger news story around the world.

We agree with the Chief’s assessment of the significance of this long-awaited arrest. And we’re sure he will agree with us that this case is very much about old-fashioned undercover police work and the determination of LAPD officers and detectives to never close a case until an arrest is made and a criminal is brought to justice – even if it takes 25 years.

The arrest in the Grim Sleeper case came after an LAPD undercover officer, pretending to be a waiter, collected tableware, napkins, glasses and pizza crust at a restaurant where the suspect dined, according to multiple news reports. That enabled LAPD detectives and California Department of Justice officials to get the conclusive DNA match that led to Franklin’s stunning arrest.

As details of what led to the arrest emerged on Thursday, the father of one victim admitted he thought police had given up ever making an arrest. "It shows today that the long arm of the law still prevailed," said Porter Alexander, father of victim Monique Alexander.

Advocates of familial searches believe more crimes will be solved in which there is DNA evidence. Indeed, LAPD detectives are reexamining at least 30 unsolved killings of women in South Los Angeles to determine if they can link any of them to the man accused of being the Grim Sleeper serial killer.

To all the LAPD officers, detectives and command staff who tirelessly worked this perplexing and often frustrating case over the past quarter century, the arrest was a very satisfying and even exhilarating moment. It brought a sense of huge relief and a degree of closure to the victims’ families and communities. Much work remains to be done in preparing the evidence for prosecution and conviction.

For now, we savor this moment of outstanding interagency cooperation, effective application of cutting edge technology, and - above all - the dedication and perseverance of the justifiably proud men and women of America’s premier police force.

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A troubling trend at mid-year

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 07/08/2010 @ 09:50 AM

Official FBI mid-year statistics are yet to be released, but it is clear that law enforcement officer deaths in the United States are up sharply compared with the same period last year. The Officer Down Memorial Page pegs the number of LEO in-the-line-of-duty deaths at mid-year at 90. That number represents a 30 percent increase over the 69 LEO deaths in the line of duty at the same point last year. Sadly, California leads the nation with nine of the 90 line-of-duty deaths.

PoliceOne.com, meanwhile, reports that a disturbing trend from 2009 is continuing this year with four more single incident/multiple officer killings so far this year, including one shocking case in California: On Feb. 25, Fresno County Deputy Joel Wahlenmaier was shot and killed as he and another deputy assisted the California Fire Marshall’s office in serving an arson warrant. As they approached the suspect’s mobile home, he fired a rifle at the deputies, killing Deputy Wahlenmaier and wounding his partner. Officer Javier Bejar of nearby Reedly, Calif. Police Department responded to an “officer needs assistance” call and was shot and critically wounded immediately upon his arrival. He succumbed to those injuries four days later, on March 1.

As we pause to reflect on the tragic statistics, we remember each officer who made the ultimate sacrifice, while upholding their duty. We are also painfully aware that throughout our nation, law enforcement agencies are being asked more of with less resources. This frustrating fact puts all of us in law enforcement at greater risk. Clearly, there has never been a time where it was more important to stay vigilant and stay safe.

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