Law & Order

Ways to Connect

The lines were stark outside the courthouse.

A bustling street in downtown Brooklyn, N.Y., separated two groups. Each was fenced in by stone-faced police officers and steel barricades: an Asian-American community divided by Tuesday's sentencing of 28-year-old Peter Liang, the son of Chinese immigrants.

Thousands of people live in roughly 50 square blocks of Los Angeles known as Skid Row. Many are homeless and live on the street, while others live in shelters or short-term hotels.

Two Tennessee lawmakers are calling for a federal investigation into the arrest of at least five elementary school children.

According to the Daily News Journal in Murfreesboro, the children, who ranged in age from 6 to 10, were handcuffed and taken to a juvenile detention center because they failed to stop a fight that happened away from school property.

The trials of six Baltimore police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray were supposed to have been over by now. It was a year ago Tuesday that the 25-year-old black man died of a severe neck injury sustained in custody.

His death touched off violent protests, and — in a stunning announcement just days later — criminal charges.

State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby said she had heard protesters' calls for "no justice, no peace."

But so far, there's been one hung jury, lots of legal maneuvering and delays.

Gabrielle Ware / GPB

For the first time in 16 years the Savannah Chatham Metropolitan Police Dept. is now at full staff. Police Chief Joseph Lumpkin made the announcement Wednesday standing beside the  department's newest members.

The fully realized force comes as Savannah faces a murder rate nearly three times what it was last year, its worst year for homicides since 1991.

Georgia Department of Corrections

The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles has denied death row inmate Kenneth Fults’ plea for clemency. The board announced its decision Monday evening.

The 48-year-old is scheduled to die by lethal injection Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson.

Fults was convicted of the 1996 murder of his neighbor, Cathy Bounds, during a robbery attempt at her Spalding County home. He pleaded guilty, and a jury sentenced him to death. 

Savannah has close to three times as many homicides so far this year compared to this same time in 2015.

The Savannah Metro Police department says cutting down on gun related crimes is a priority but the local court system is making it hard for them to do their jobs.

Police Chief Joseph Lumpkin said if convicted felons with guns aren’t kept behind bars, they will offend again.

When the FBI tried to force Apple to unlock an iPhone last month, it was a battle of titans. There were high-powered lawyers and dueling public relations strategies. But when police encounter a privacy technology run by volunteers, things can be a little different.

For a brief span Sunday, the "C" in CHP stood for Chihuahua. That's because a black dog led what police describe as a high-speed pursuit over the Bay Bridge between San Francisco and Oakland, before being placed in official custody.

The dog's only identifying tag — black, with a silver human skull — served to cement his status as a hardcore animal who's not wowed by authority. His flight from the law was captured on a dashboard camera and posted to social media in what quickly became a well-liked video.

A Bibb County judge's tough-talk to at-risk children has gone viral. As of Friday evening, roughly 150,000 people have viewed the 10-minute discussion by Superior Court Judge Verda Colvin to about 20 kids in a Bibb County courtroom. GPB Macon's Michael Caputo spoke with Judge Colvin about her motivation to give the difficult speech to these children.

Michael Caputo: So what program brought you in these 20 or so kids together in that courtroom a couple of days ago. 

The CIA "inadvertently left" explosive material on a school bus after a training exercise with local law enforcement in Loudoun County, Va., the agency and the country sheriff's office say.

For all the talk in the last couple of years about reforming police, there are limits to what the government can do. But there may be another way, and it involves insurance companies.

John Rappaport, an assistant law professor at the University of Chicago, says he spent years studying police reform before it dawned on him to ask a basic question: What were the insurance companies doing?

"I just went on to Google and started searching and was just instantly amazed with the stuff I was finding," Rappaport says.

Grant Blankenship / GPB

Bill Fickling sat on his front porch in the Ingleside neighborhood of Macon.

 

He pointed beyond the cherry blossom trees, well-known to those who live in the city. Through the woods is a house.

 

“The burglars were actually using that as a hide out, apparently that house is vacant,” said Fickling.

Georgia Department of Corrections

UPDATE:

The Supreme Court of Georgia denied Bishop's request for a stay of execution Thursday afternoon.

The State Board of Pardons and Paroles has denied death row inmate Joshua Bishop's plea for clemency. The 41-year-old's execution is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson.

The FBI says it has gotten into the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters in California, so prosecutors have dropped their case trying to compel Apple to do it. But the controversy is far from over. Local prosecutors across the country have iPhones that they would like to unlock, and they want to know if the FBI will use its master key to help.

Last week's terrorist attacks in Brussels have police in the U.S. reviewing their own preparedness, especially for the threat of multiple, coordinated attacks.

One question that often comes up is radio communications. In America, unlike Europe, most police radio chatter is on open frequencies.

During the Dec. 2 terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif., for instance, the general public was able to follow the drama of the manhunt by listening to police radio communications that were being streamed online.

Grant Blankenship / GPB

 

    

 

The scene in the small courtroom inside the Bibb County Law Enforcement center was a familiar one.

 

On a day scheduled for first court appearance, there was one charge on the docket. A murder.

Crime Crackdown Gets Fugitives Off The Streets

Mar 24, 2016
Office of Public Affairs

 

More than 140 people are in custody after a multi-agency crackdown on violent crime in Savannah.

Savannah was among a dozen cities targeted.

The U.S. Marshals service along with Savannah police, and the Chatham County Sheriff's Office arrested 144 suspects including 14 wanted for murder.

 

Savannah was among the government's so-called 12 "focus cities." It had 53 murders last year, the highest since 1991.

 

Grant Blankenship / GPB

When it comes to guns, Marciarea Torney-Daramanu is sure of one thing.

“With my kids now? When they get of age to own a gun I will make sure they are trained to use a gun,” she said.

She didn’t always feel this way. On a rainy day she shows me into her kitchen in her home in the Bloomfield neighborhood of Macon. She points to a magnet on her refrigerator.

“This is my son right here,” Marciarea said.

The photo is Stacy K. Johnson, Jr., Marciarea’s son. He’s holding his children.

“He’s the one that got killed right there,” she said.

Grant Blankenship/GPB

 

 

All life is like this. All life is a trade off. This is just a field of gray, there's no black or white.

Michael Hayden wants college students, tomorrow’s leaders, to know just that. Hayden ran the NSA from 1999 to 2005 and the CIA from 2006 to 2009. Today he includes among his responsibilities teaching at George Mason University. Before a lecture at Mercer University in Macon, GA, Hayden shared the core of what he wants students to know.  His words follow.

Crime, Cops & Community: Residents Take Action

Mar 21, 2016
Gabrielle Ware / Georgia Public Broadcasting

Savannah has a lot to boast about. Georgia’s first city attracts millions of tourists each year.

But those who live in Savannah know it has a darker side. With 53 murders last year, the city saw its highest number of homicides since the early 1990s.

Editor's Note: This article has been updated to reflect the news that the federal judge has granted the government's request for a delay in the case, giving the FBI time to test a new method of cracking the iPhone without Apple's help.

Ketevan Kardava / AP

At least 26 people are dead and more than 100 wounded, after explosions struck Brussels during the Tuesday morning rush hour, Belgian officials say. Two blasts hit the international airport; another struck a metro station. Belgium has issued a Level 4 alert, denoting "serious and imminent attack."

Crime, Cops & Community: Battling Public Distrust

Mar 20, 2016
Savannah Chatham Metropolitan Police Department

Savannah has one of the highest murder rates in Georgia. And last year that number went up by nearly 70 percent. But a spike in crime doesn't happen overnight. City leaders blame years of corruption in the police department. They say it’s bred public distrust. Now they’re working to get it back.

The number of pedestrian deaths has risen in Georgia.  

The state Office of Highway Safety confirms that last year the number of people hit and killed by cars increased by 21 percent from 2014. Office Director Harris Blackwood: 

'We had a terrible year last year,' said Harris Blackwood, the director of the Office of Highway Safety. 'There's no other way to describe it. We went back to levels we hadn't seen since 2008'

Chatham County Sheriff's Office

Chatham County voters this month will choose a sheriff to finish out the term of Al St. Lawrence, who died last year. Five candidates entered the March 1 special election. The top two vote-getters - Roy Harris and John Wilcher - will meet in a runoff March 29. GPB’s Emily Jones sat down with both candidates.

Roy Harris served as Chief Deputy under Sheriff St Lawrence, and has been interim sheriff since November.

For more than a century, mug shots have helped police catch criminals. Those photos of a person's face and profile trace their roots to Paris in the late 19th century.

Now, some of the earliest mug shots ever taken are on display at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The black-and-white photos were once on the cutting edge of how police identified suspects.

They were taken by a French criminologist named Alphonse Bertillon, and his techniques set the template that police use today.

Rise Of The Modern Mug Shot

Grant Blankenship / GPB

Anthony Ponder has been cutting hair for most of his life. He has also spent a lot of time in prison. Ponder lost his equipment the last time he was incarcerated. A pair of Macon churches have set him up with gear again. In return he is cutting hair on Sunday mornings for other men who like him are getting back on their feet.

"I was told that my father was a barber. My father got killed when I was seven years old but I often heard that he was a barber. Maybe that stuck in my head that I wanted to be like my father.”

One day after congressional lawmakers grilled the FBI chief and Apple's top lawyer about government's access to encrypted data, another smaller, less spotlighted panel convened on Capitol Hill — to tackle the question of the government's warrantless geolocation tracking.

Apple's legal battle with the FBI over iPhone encryption continues: A federal magistrate, at the FBI's request, has ordered the tech giant to write software to help investigators circumvent iPhone security features to access a phone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters. Apple is fighting the order, calling it dangerous, illegal and unconstitutional.

Today was the deadline for amicus briefs, or "friend of the court" filings in the case.

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