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News Scan

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Two CA Police Officers Shot and Killed, Suspect in Custody:  The father of the man accused of fatally shooting two Palm Springs police officers over the weekend said that his son was "acting crazy" and wanted to shoot police.  The AP reports that John Felix, 26, was arrested early Sunday following a lengthy standoff, during which he shot and killed officers Jose "Gil" Gilbert Vega, 63, and Lesley Zerebny, 27, and wounded and third officer.  The officers had gone to the home Felix shared with his parents in response to a domestic disturbance call.  Vega was a 35-year veteran of the force with eight children who planned to retire this December, and Zerebny, who had been with the department for 18 months, had just returned to work from maternity leave after giving birth to a daughter four months ago.  Felix is a gang member who was previously sentenced to four years in prison in a failed murder plot in 2009.  He was initially charged with attempted murder but pleaded down to assault with a firearm.  He will be formally charged on Tuesday with first-degree murder and other felonies.  Whether or not prosecutors will seek the death penalty against him will be decided within two weeks.  The last time an on-duty uniformed police officer was killed in Palm Springs was 54 years ago.

Officers Warned Against Opioid Field Tests:
  Police departments across the country are warning their officers of the dangers of opioid filed tests and advising officers to let the state police lab handle synesthetic drug samples in order to promote officer safety.  Tom Howell Jr. of the Washington Times reports that law enforcement leaders in several states have ordered their officers to cease field-testing suspected heroin on drug calls, fearing they will be accidentally exposed to synthetic fentanyl and carfentanil, two drugs fueling the overdose epidemic.  The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which also notified police officers about the dangerous drugs and advised against field testing, says that even minor inhalation or skin contact with synthetic opioids can be toxic, causing disorientation, breathing problems and clammy skin.  In one incident, two New Jersey detectives thought their bodies were "shutting down" after a bag of fentanyl puffed in their faces.  Last month, almost a dozen Connecticut SWAT team members had be to hospitalized after a flash bang device they set off during a drug raid sent heroin and fentanyl into the air.  Fentanyl, which is competing with heroin on the streets, is a synthetic drug that is 50 times more powerful than heroin.  Carfentanil, which is used as an animal tranquilizer, is 10,000 times more powerful than morphine and 100 times more so than fentabyl.  The drugs are entering the U.S. through Mexico and via mail from overseas labs, and are appealing to drug dealers that see them as profitable because of cheaper manufacturing. 

As the Election Nears, Californians Consider Prop 57:  With the November ballot just weeks away, California voters are faced with a decision to approve or reject an initiative intent on softening the state's tough-on-crime laws, for the third time in four years.  Tracey Kaplan of the Bay Area News Group has this article discussing Proposition 57, which we at CJLF call Gov. Jerry Brown's "Jailbreak" initiative, would allow prisoners to qualify parole years earlier.  Proponents argue that Prop. 57 will restore fairness in the criminal justice system, ease prison overcrowding and costs, and give inmates a second chance.  Opponents, however, warn that the measure will allow the early release of dangerous criminals whose crimes are not technically classified as violent under state law, such as rape of an unconscious person.  Opponents anticipate the measure will increase crime, just as other sentence-reducing and early release measures like AB 109 (realignment), Prop. 36 and Prop. 47 already have.  "It's a good reason not to go further down the same road," said CJLF legal director Kent Scheidegger.

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I knew officer Vega professionally. He was a wonderful person a great police officer. My heart goes out to his family and the entire PSPD.

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