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Two MD Officers Shot and Killed:  Two Maryland sheriff's deputies were fatally shot Wednesday afternoon during an incident that began in a crowded restaurant, and the shooter was also killed.  Justin Jouvenal and Dana Hedgpeth of the Washington Post report that Deputy Patrick Dailey, a 30-year veteran of the Harford County Sheriff's Department, and Senior Deputy Mark Logsdon, with the office for 16 years, were shot and killed by David Brian Evans, who was being sought by Dailey for an arrest warrant from Florida for assaulting a police officer there.  Dailey approached Evans in the crowded restaurant and was shot "almost immediately" in the head.  Evans fled to the parking lot and got into his vehicle, where he fired shots at Logsdon, among the first on the scene, striking him.  Logsdon managed to return at least three rounds while other deputies arriving on the scene also opened fire, killing Evans.  Last year, three Maryland officers were lost in the line of duty; nationwide, 124 officers died in the line of duty, 42 of whom were shot.  The gunman's son alleges his father suffered emotional problems.

ND Officer Not Expected to Survive After Being Shot:  A Fargo police officer sustained a "non-survivable" wound Wednesday evening during an 11-hour standoff with a domestic violence suspect, who also died.  Fox News reports that the incident began around 7 p.m. when a 911 call was placed by an individual who said his father had possibly fired a gun at his mother, and 33-year-old Officer Jason Moszer responded to the scene.  The suspect, who had barricaded himself inside the home, fired multiple shots out of the house, hitting Moszer.  The suspect was discovered dead early Thursday in his home from a gunshot wound, though police have not yet determined if it was self-inflicted or from officers engaging him.  No one else is believed to have been injured.

U.S. Cartel Violence Victims Suing Banks:  U.S. victims and family members of cartel violence have filed a lawsuit against banking leader HSBC and its multiple subsidiaries, claiming that these financial institutions "have provided material support to Mexican drug cartels by allowing them to launder billions of dollars leading to their explosive growth."  Ildefonso Ortiz of Breitbart reports that the lawsuit states that in the process of money laundering, which involves concealing drug money to make it appear as though it came from a legitimate business, the HSBC knowingly provided material support to drug cartels while making a profit.  Since the 1980s and 1990s, when drug trafficking routes shifted toward Mexico, the Mexican cartels have steadily developed into multinational criminal organizations and "mobilized into sophisticated international networks."


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CA High Court Upholds Death Sentence:  The California Supreme Court upheld the death penalty of a Stockton quadruple murderer. Bob Egelko of the SF Chronicle reports that Louis James People, 53, killed four people over the course of two months in 1997 using a stolen gun in each of the shootings.  This past Thursday, the High Court rejected People's arguments that at the time of the murders, his reasoning and self-control were impaired due to methamphetamine use.  The justices also rejected his claim that his trial was unfair and his confession was unlawfully coerced during an interrogation session. Justice Goodwin Liu determined that during the interrogation, People's was given numerous breaks, food and drink, and was repeatedly offered the chance to speak with a lawyer, which he declined.  The ruling was 7-0.

TX Cop-Killer Found Incompetent to Stand Trial:  The man accused of shooting a Houston sheriff's deputy to death last year has been found mentally unstable to stand trial for capital murder. KPRC 2 reports that a psychological evaluation was completed Monday, in which state experts agreed that 31-year-old Shannon Miles was mentally unstable when he shot Deputy Darren Goforth 15 times while he was filling his patrol car with gas.  Miles will remain at the Harris County jail until a vacant space is available at the state mental hospital, which could take months, though once he receives treatment and has his competency restored, his trial can move forward.  Miles was indicted by a grand jury in November for killing Goforth, allegedly in retaliation of law enforcement officers.  He faces a possible death sentence.

Baby Girl Fatally Shot in her CribA one-year-old Compton girl was fatally shot Tuesday night while lying in her crib, and authorities suspect the bullets were likely meant for her father.  Nicole Santa Cruz, Cindy Chang and Matt Hamilton of the L.A. Times report that law enforcement are searching for two suspects her were seen driving up to baby Autumn Johnson's residence and firing into a converted garage where she lived with her parents.  Authorities are unsure of an ongoing gang rivalry in the notoriously violent area of Los Angeles County, but believe Autumn's 24-year-old father, an admitted member of a local street gang, was the intended target of the shooting.  Compton residents are shocked to hear of the girl's death, but admit that it's neither surprising nor uncommon for young children to get caught in the cross hairs of gang violence.  In the last six months, the city has seen 475 violent crimes, eight of which were homicides.

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CA Man Gets Death Penalty:  A California man was sentenced to death Friday for the 2012 shooting deaths of four people outside a Northridge boarding home.  Debbie L. Sklar of My News LA reports that 34-year-old Ka Pasasouk was convicted in November on four counts of first-degree murder for the Dec. 2, 2012 murders of four people while "fueled by drugs and alcohol." He was allegedly seeking revenge on one of the victims, whom he'd had an altercation with months earlier, and killed the other three victims in an effort to eliminate witnesses.  Pasasouk was also convicted on one count each of attempted murder, being a felon in possession of a firearm and assault with a semiautomatic firearm, for confronting other people nearby prior to the shooting.  Almost a year before the incident, in Jan. 2012, Pasasouk was released from prison under Realignment.

ISIS Attacks Expected to Worsen:  The Pentagon's head of military intelligence told a security conference Monday that he expects the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group to pick up "the pace and lethality" of attacks in 2016 in order to expand its operations.  Rudy Takala of the Washington Examiner reports that Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart said that he expects ISIS to expand operations in Egypt in particular, but also parts of Africa and Asia as well, including Mali, Tunisia, Somalia, Bangladesh and Indonesia.  According to Stewart, ISIS attacks will worsen "because it seeks to unleash violent actions and to provoke a harsh reactions from the West, thereby feeding its distorted narrative."

Ferguson to Vote on Justice Dept's Agreement: 
City council members in Ferguson, Mo., are set to vote Tuesday on an agreement with the Justice Department to overhaul the police and court systems, which has the potential to financially cripple the city.  Andrea Noble of the Washington Times reports that the consent decree follows months of negotiations between city leaders and the Justice Department, which produced a scathing report after the 2014 fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, calling out the Ferguson Police Department for exhibiting racial inequalities.  The decree includes reforms to the city's police department, such as training Ferguson officers to "recognize unconscious racial stereotyping," requiring more stringent accounting of police use-of-force incidents and limiting court fines and jail time for minor offenses.  The agreement is estimated to cost city officials $3.7 million in the first year; the city operated with a budget of $14.5 million and a budget deficit of $2.8 million this fiscal year.  The city could face legal actions if it refuses to comply.

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Chicago Shootings Continue to Soar:  Over the weekend, two people were killed and 24 others were wounded in shootings across Chicago, with homicides in the troubled city in the first eight days of February, falling just four short of last February's total.  The Chicago Tribune reports that between Sunday afternoon and Monday morning alone, one man was killed and at least 10 others were wounded in shooting incidents.  The city has seen 16 homicides since the start of the month and 73 since the start of the year, with 330 people shot since Jan. 1, more than double from the same period last year.

NJ Law Prevents Some Retired Cops from CCW Permits:  A New Jersey gun law is preventing some retired police officers from being granted permits to carry concealed weapons.  Fox News reports that since the law doesn't specifically address whether retired public university police officers are permitted to obtain a permit, "there seems to be some discrepancy in whether [state] university police are viewed as working for state agency."  John Kotchkowski and Robert Dunsmuir, two retired University of New Jersey police sergeants, were denied right-to-carry permits, stemming from the 1997 law that was enacted after the murder of a police chief who was killed when he attempted to stop a carjacking.  Kotchkowski says that the denial of a right-to-carry permit makes him feel as if the law is saying that he "wasn't a real cop."  Last month, a judge refused to grant Kotchkowski a permit on appeal, and Dunsmuir's appeal is to be heard in March.

S.F. Hands Illegal Over to ICE, Igniting Furor:  After San Francisco police officers actually complied with federal immigration authorities, handing over an illegal immigrant wanted for deportation, they are being criticized for violating the city's "sanctuary city" policy that bars law enforcement from detaining people for immigration authorities unless they are wanted for a serious crime.  William Bigelow of Breitbart reports that the controversy surrounds 31-year-old Pedro Figueroa-Zarceno, an illegal immigrant who failed to appear at an immigration hearing in San Antonio in 2005 and then was arrested in 2012 for drunk driving and remained in the U.S.  When he reported his car stolen to San Francisco police in November 2015, a background check that found he had missed the hearing ten years earlier triggered a warrant for his arrest, and he was taken into custody the following month when he came to the station to obtain his vehicle, and was subsequently handed over U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).  However, he was released from jail last Wednesday after San Francisco police were slammed for violating the city's 2013 "Due Process for All" ordinance.  ICE spokesman James Schwab asserted that Figueroa-Zarceno was one of the "at-large foreign nationals who meet the agency's enforcement priorities, including convicted criminals and other individuals who pose a potential threat to public safety."  The case is currently being reviewed.

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New York Police Officers Shot:  Two NYPD Officers patrolling a public housing project in the Bronx were shot Thursday night.  Fox News reports  that a male and female officer, whose names have not be released, were shot when they encountered two people in a seventh-floor stairwell in the complex by a man who was later found dead by an apparently self-inflicted wound.  Both officers are expected to recover from their injuries.  In January another officer was shot and injured in the Bronx when he responded to reports of a street fight.   

CA Sex Offender on Probation Arrested For Rapes:   A registered sex offender free on probation in Whittier California as been arrested for sexually assaulting two teen-aged girls.  ABC7 reports that  28-year-old Richie Corvera abducted a 15-year-old girl in a high school parking lot last Friday and assaulted her at a nearby motel.  A day earlier in the same parking lot Corvera lured a 14-year-old girl into his car and assaulted her in a motel.  Police believe that there may be additional victims.  Thank goodness California is addressing its over-incarceration problem by keeping low-level offenders like Corvera on the streets under light supervision.      

Ninth Circuit Voids AZ Death Sentence:  A divided panel of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned the death sentence of a brutal Tuscon murderer.  Madison Alder of Cronkite News reports that the Court's two-judge majority lead by Judge Stephen Reinhardt announced that all of the lower courts which had reviewed and rejected murderer Robert Douglas Smith's claim that he was intellectually disabled during the murder were wrong, and that a low IQ test in 1964 proved that Smith was too retarded to have been responsible for the kidnapping, rape and grisly murder of 29-year-old hitchhiker Sandy Owen.  Subsequent tests found that Smith had a near normal IQ.  After raping her twice, Smith initially tried unsuccessfully to strangle Owen to death,  then held her down while an accomplice stabbed her several times, which also failed to kill her.  Smith then tried to break the woman's neck.  She was finally killed after they crushed her head with a rock. 

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Death Penalty Sought Against CA Baby Killer:  The district attorney for Santa Clara County is seeking the death penalty against a San Jose man.  Tracey Kaplan of the San Jose Mercury News reports that District Attorney Jeff Rosen will seek the death penalty against 42-year-old Alejandro Benitez, charged with murder in the commission of a dangerous felony, stemming from forcing a 16-month-old boy into a sex act "so brutal that it tore up his lips and throat before suffocating him."  Benitez has pleaded not guilty, and his lawyer argues that because of a recent National Registry of Exonerations report showing that five inmates sentenced to death were exonerated last year -- though none of them were in California -- means that Rosen's decision "validates a deeply flawed system."  Other death penalty opponents argue that the extra costs incurred from a death penalty trial is reason enough to ban capital punishment and not seek it against Benitez.  CJLF legal director Kent Scheidegger, however, praised Rosen's decision, saying that no money is wasted "if it's one of the worst of the worst crimes," adding, "That's what a DA should do."

Cartels Using Kids to Divert BP Agents:  A Border Patrol union official testified before a House Judiciary subcommittee panel Thursday, revealing that drug cartels are bringing unaccompanied children to the Rio Grande valley in order to distract border security officials from smugglers and drug traffickers.  Joel Gehrke of the Washington Examiner reports that Brandon Judd, a National Border Patrol Council official, told the subcommittee that drug cartels have contributed to the influx of unaccompanied minors from Central America that has grown steadily since 2011 by driving them to the middle of the desert, where the children then cross over the Rio Grande and surrender to Border Patrol.  This tactic "completely tied up our manpower and allowed the cartels to smuggle whatever they wanted across out border," said Judd.  He also noted that with every new policy adopted, such as Department of Homeland Security's recently reinstated policy requiring Border Patrol officials to release more of the immigrants they arrest, gives the cartels a new loophole to exploit.

License Reader Company Stirs Controversy in TX:  A controversial issue is arising out of Texas, as a tech company is requesting a 25% cut of debt collected from the "deadbeats and scofflaws" tracked down by its license plate-tracking system.  Perry Chiaramonte of Fox News reports that the tracking database, developed by Vigilant Solutions, captures license plate information and converts it into a computer-readable file that tags the plate number and a time stamp before being placed into the database, much like GPS technology.  The system has been scrutinized for both its possible infringement on Fourth Amendment rights and the way in which it has transformed Texas police agencies into employees of Vigilant, as they must pay the 25% cut in order to keep the equipment the company provides.  Dave Maass of the Electronic Frontier Foundation is challenging the system as an invasion of privacy and abuse of public safety protocols.

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GA Executes its Oldest Death Row Inmate:  The oldest inmate on Georgia's death row was executed by lethal injection early Wednesday for the decades-old murder of a convenience store manager in suburban Atlanta.  Kate Brumback of the AP reports that 72-year-old Brandon Astor Jones asked the U.S. Supreme Court justices to block his execution citing two reasons:  his challenge of the state's lethal injection secrecy law, which keeps confidential those involved in an execution, and that his death sentence was disproportionate to the crime.  His requests for stay were denied Tuesday evening.  In 1979, Jones and another man, Van Roosevelt Solomon, shot and killed store manager Roger Tackett in the course of a robbery.  Solomon was executed by electric chair in 1985.

FL Delays Execution, Works on New System:  In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Hurst v. Florida last month that found flaws in Florida's death penalty system, the state's highest court delayed the execution of a condemned murderer on Tuesday, just one week before he was scheduled to die.  Steve Bousquet of the Miami Herald reports that in January, the U.S. Supreme Court held  Florida's sentencing procedure improper because it allows judges to reach different decisions than juries, with juries playing "only an advisory role in recommending death."   Florida's Legislature is considering different approaches to correct the problem.  The inmate at the center of Tuesday's decision, Michael Lambrix, 55, was sentenced to death for the 1983 slayings of two people, though the jury's death recommendation was not unanimous for either murder.  His attorney argues that the ruling should apply to all 388 death row inmates, but the Florida Attorney General's office says it should not apply to already-decided cases.

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Feds Plan to Cut Border Monitoring:  U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plans to reduce aerial surveillance on the Texas-Mexico border by roughly 50% compared to recent years.  Julian Aguilar of the Texas Tribune reports that the request comes as Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reports new surges of illegal immigrants crossing the border: between October and December 2015 in the Rio Grande Valley, 10,560 unaccompanied minors from Central America illegally crossed the border, a 115 percent increase from the year prior. Central American family units entering Texas increased by 170 percent to 14,336.  In the El Paso sector, 1,030 unaccompanied minors surged at the border, an increase of nearly 300 percent.  On top of the flow of more migrants from Central America, 28,400 Cubans recently entered Texas through CBP's Laredo office, fleeing Cuba to the U.S. after the Obama administration announced plans in 2014 to re-establish ties with the country.  Gov. Greg Abbott says that given the recent flow of migrants along the southern border, more, not less, surveillance and security resources are needed.

Facebook Bans Sale of Guns:  Following Friday's announcement that Facebook will ban users from facilitating the sale of guns, parts and ammunition on the popular social media website, the White House is not saying whether the decision stemmed from pressure from the Obama administration.  Nicole Duran of the Washington Examiner reports that the administration admitted to meeting with Facebook to address the loophole but refused to comment on whether this action came from any specific request.  Licensed dealers have been granted an exception to post and present their inventory online but are now required to have the transaction occur elsewhere, not on the website.

Lifelong Sex Offender GPS Monitoring Upheld:  The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 3-0 decision, ruled Friday that requiring a convicted sex offender to be fitted with a GPS anklet for life does not violate the constitutional ban on retroactive punishment, despite the law being passed after a the offender's conviction.  Andrew Blake of the Washington Times reports that the decision overturned a federal judge's ruling that it was unconstitutional to make 72-year-old Wisconsin child sex offender Michael Belleau, who was civilly committed to a secure treatment center in 2004, wear an electronic monitoring bracelet when he was released from civil commitment in 2010, two years after the requirement was put on the books.  Belleau's 2012 lawsuit argued that the requirement was unconstitutional since it retroactively punished him for conduct made criminal "after the fact" and amounted to unreasonable search and seizure.  However, the appellate panel said last week that the requirement "is not punishment; it is prevention," noting that the objective is to protect children rather than punish sex offenders.

L.A. County Accidentally Freed Murder Suspect:  A paperwork error has resulted in the erroneous release of a murder suspect from the Los Angeles County jail over the weekend.  Joseph Serna of the LA Times reports that 37-year-old Steve Lawrence Wright, accused of a 2011 gang-related murder, was sentenced last week to five days in jail for a contempt of court conviction he received while awaiting trial, for which he had to attend court.  When transferred back to the Inmate Reception Center from court, the docket number for his contempt of court case was accidentally put in the box where his murder case should have gone, making it appear that he was due for release on Saturday instead of being held without bond pending trial.  His Saturday afternoon release went unnoticed until 9:30 p.m. that evening.  In 2013, 24 inmates were mistakenly released early after being processed by the Inmate Reception Center, dropping to 21 in 2014 and six last year.


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Record Number of Chicago Homicides in January:  In the first month of 2016, Chicago recorded the highest number of homicides since 2000.  Aamen Madhani of USA Today reports that the city recorded 51 homicides in January of this year, compared to 29 in 2015 and 20 in 2014.  Additionally, 241 shooting incidents were recorded, more than double the 119 recorded last January.  The police department maintains that gang conflict and retaliatory violence are the main drivers of the spike in homicides, though they acknowledge that the increased scrutiny the department faces in the wake of the court-ordered release of a video showing the fatal shooting of a black teenager, as well as a decrease in investigative stops following the implementation of new rules on Jan.1, have also played a role.

Legislation Introduced to Combat Drug Epidemic:  An Ohio senator, in response to the heroin and prescription drug epidemic sweeping Ohio and the nation, is calling for the passage of new legislation that aims to curb addiction.  Curt Mills of the Washington Examiner reports that Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, warned during the weekly Republican address that heroin and prescription drug overdoses have surpassed car accidents as the number one cause of injury-related deaths in the country.  First responders at an Ohio fire department say that they currently respond to more overdoses than fires.  Portman's bill, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, would focus on prevention and education, and aid in the funding of recovery programs.  Lawmakers in several states across the country, from Utah to North Dakota, have introduced similar legislation after seeing a dramatic increase in overdoses related to heroin and prescription drugs in their communities.

GOP Chairman Presses DOJ on Sanctuary Cities:  Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas, warns Attorney General Loretta Lynch that if she does nothing to prevent sanctuary cities from receiving federal law enforcement grants, he will take it upon himself to act.  Caroline May of Breitbart reports that Culberson has called on Lynch to change the grant process for Department of Justice regarding sanctuary cities which that fail to comply with federal immigration authorities.  Culberson plans to block funding for those jurisdictions in future appropriations bills and budgets if the Attorney General does not make the changes. In 2014, over 300 sanctuary cities in the U.S. released more than 9,000 criminal aliens that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was seeking to deport.  In the following months, more than 2,300 of those released went on to commit new crimes.

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TX Cop Killer Executed:  A Texas man who was convicted in the 2007 murder of a Texas Parks and Wildlife Game Warden was executed Wednesday.  Bob Price of Breitbart reports that 35-year-old James Garrett Freeman was sentenced to death by lethal injection for killing 34-year-old Game Warden Justin Hurst.  Hurst had spotted Freeman hunting at night from his truck when a high-speed chase ensued, ending when Freeman emerged from his disabled vehicle and mercilessly fired several rounds from a .357 Sig caliber pistol and an AK-47 at Hurst and other officers.Hurst, a 12-year veteran of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, was the 18th Texas game warden killed in the line of duty since the position was created in 1895. Freeman is the second person to be executed in the state this year.

Criminals, not Cops, Most Threaten Black Lives:  A report by the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research contradicts claims made by the Black Lives Matter movement, finding that a higher percentage of whites and Hispanics are killed by police and the bigger threat to blacks comes from violent criminals within their own communities.  Jose R. Gonzalez of CNS News reports that Manhattan senior fellow Heather Mac Donald found that four percent of black homicide victims are killed by police compared with 12 percent of white and Hispanic victims, while the number of blacks killed by other blacks is 90 percent.  The report concludes that the BLM movement "has been a counterproductive distraction from the real violence facing black communities: violence from criminals, not the police."

Jail Teacher Arrested for Helping Inmates Escape:  A jail teacher has been arrested for allegedly assisting three inmates escape from a California jail last week.  Gillian Flaccus and Robert Jablon of the AP report that 44-year-old English as a second language teacher Nooshafarin Ravaghi, part of the inmate program since 2014, is believed to have developed a relationship with the probable mastermind of the breakout, 37-year-old Hussein Nayeri, and provided him and two other inmates, 43-year-old Bac Duong and 20-year-old Jonathan Tieu, with Google maps to plot an escape route from the Orange County jail.  Whether her role may have been deeper is still being investigated, including whether she provided tools the inmates used to cut through the metal gate and rebar.  All three inmates were awaiting trial for violent crimes, such as torture and murder, when they managed an elaborate escape in which they crawled through plumbing tunnels, reached an unguarded section of the roof and rappelled down with bed linens.  One of them, Duong, was ordered deported to Vietnam in 1998, but never was. Update:  Duong has turned himself in.  The other two escapees are still at large.

Gov. Brown's Plan Will Affect Plea Bargaining:  Legal experts say that California Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed plan to give more inmates a chance for early release will likely diminish prosecutors' leverage in negotiating plea bargains.  Maura Dolan and Marisa Gerber of the LA Times report that a provision in Brown's proposal would allow for a parole hearing after inmates complete their sentences for their base crime, regardless of the inmate serving consecutive sentences or having sentencing enhancements, which will result in some loss of power for prosecutors in negotiating plea deals with defendants.  CJLF legal director Kent Scheidegger agrees with other legal experts that the plan is "dismantling a system that was carefully put together over time," and fears the defense bar may even try to use the measure to gut the three-strikes law.  "When we have a huge crime problem, we do something about it," he said.  "And when crime rates drop, people forget about it and we go back to old fallacies."  

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Hundreds of Illegals Smuggled in just 3 Months:  Since the start of the 2016 fiscal year, which began on Oct. 1, 2015, over 200 illegal immigrants have been discovered in car trunks, tractor trailers or in other dangerous situations at the hands of Mexican cartels, in an attempt to evade inspection checkpoints in the Rio Grande Valley.  Ildefonso Ortiz of Breitbart reports that in 2014, a shift in human smuggling routes transformed the Rio Grande Valley into the main corridor used by the Gulf Cartel to smuggle thousands of illegal immigrants from Central America into Texas.  The U.S. Border Patrol says that the involvement of cartels in human smuggling and trafficking puts the lives of immigrants and the public in "extreme danger." 

Hundreds of DHS Badges, Guns, Cell Phones Lost or Stolen:  Inventory reports have exposed that, in the span of 31 months between 2012 and 2015, hundreds of badges, credentials, cell phones and guns belonging to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) employees have been lost or stolen.  Adam Shaw of Fox News reports that the information, obtained by a Colorado-based online news site via a Freedom of Information Act request, show that over 1,300 badges, 165 firearms and 589 cell phones were lost or stolen; most of the credentials belonged to Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) employees, while lost or stolen guns mostly belonged to CBP as well.  The revelation raises serious concerns over national security and the danger posed to the U.S. if the missing items get into the wrong hands.

Traffickers Shipping Weed Out of CO:  Law enforcement officials say that illegal drug traffickers are exploiting Colorado's legal marijuana marketplace, growing weed among the state's sanctioned pot warehouses and farms before secretly shipping it to other states for significant profit.  The AP reports that in one case, the owner of a skydiving company made millions when he sold hundreds of pounds of Colorado pot in Minnesota after transporting it via his planes.  Another case involved a Denver man who sent more than 100 pot-filled FedEx packages to Buffalo, New York, where the shipment was divvied up among drug dealers and sold.  While tourists who buy retail pot and attempt to bring it to their out-of-state residences also adds to the problem, it's the larger-scale traffickers who move to the state specifically to grow the drug and ship it to more lucrative markets that is concerning authorities.  These cases confirm the fears by marijuana opponents that the state's "much-watched experiment in legal pot would invite more illegal trafficking to other states where the drug is strictly forbidden."

More People Murdered Last Year than in 2014:  Homicides rose nearly 17 percent in America's 50 largest cities last year, the greatest increase in lethal violence since 1990.  Max Ehrenfreund and Denise Lu of the Washington Post report that an analysis by Wonkblog of preliminary crime data found that approximately 770 more people were killed in major cities in 2015 than in 2014, marking the worst annual change in a quarter century and the first interruption in a steady decline in homicides.  Experts say it's too early to know what is to blame for the surge, whether it's the Ferguson effect, the exploding heroin epidemic, reduced police department budgets or soft-on-crime reforms that have led to the decline in less convicts behind bars.

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CA Jailers Move to Improve Anti-Escape Measures:  As the manhunt intensifies for the three inmates who escaped an Orange County jail Friday, sheriff's officials at the nine jails in the Inland Empire region of Southern California hope to learn how the prisoners managed the daring breakout to help improve the security of their own lockups.  Brian Rokos of the Press Enterprise reports that to prevent escapes, some facilities have constructed better fences, situated a deputy at the front gate to greet all arrivals and now escort all inmates to various locations inside the jails, including the low-level offenders who were previously allowed to walk freely.  Jail officials point to AB 109, passed in 2011 to ease prison overcrowding, as part of the problem since there are now more dangerous felons serving longer sentences in county jails throughout the state, giving them more time to plot an escape.  "We knew our facilities were not ready for this kind of inmate," said Shannon Dicus, deputy chief for corrections in San Bernardino County. 

New Orleans Officer Shot, Suspect Charged: A New Orleans sheriff's deputy was shot five times on Tuesday serving a warrant with federal drug agents. The AP reports that 35-year-old Deputy Stephen Arnold was in critical condition following the five shots, one of which entered his neck, and immediately rushed into surgery. It is unclear whether or not he has sustained neurological damage. The suspect, 26-year-old Jarvis Hardy, was taken into custody and charged with attempted first degree murder and narcotics violations.  

Homeless Camp Shooting Leaves 2 Dead:  A Tuesday night shooting at a Seattle homeless encampment known as "The Jungle" ended in the deaths of two homeless people and the wounding of three others.  Lisa Baumann of the AP reports that the particular encampment "has been unmanageable and out of control for decades," said Mayor Ed Murray, who declared a state of emergency regarding homelessness in November and now wonders if he acted too late.  Police are currently tracking down two persons of interest in the case and believe the shooting was "very targeted," assuring the public that it is not in any immediate danger.

Gov. Brown Doubles Down on Sentencing Reform:  Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown is to announce a ballot measure on Wednesday that would overhaul the state's current sentencing laws, likely reducing the length of time some felons serve in prison.  David Siders of the Sac Bee reports that Brown says he hopes to return to greater discretion in sentencing, moving away from the state's determinate sentencing system that he helped create in his previous years as governor.  When Brown took office in 2011, he enacted AB 109, also known as prison realignment, which resulted in the early release of thousands of felons, and last year, he vetoed several crime-related bills, including one focused on date rape, reasoning that "multiplication and particularization of criminal behavior" would make the state's criminal code more complex.  Brown's pro-criminal approach to criminal justice reform has and will continue to benefit felons like this one with a history of domestic violence charges, who was out on parole when he assaulted his estranged wife and injured her two-year-old child in the process.

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Air Force OKs Guns on Base:  In the aftermath of the July 2015 shooting at a Tennessee recruiting station and reserve center that claimed five lives, the Air Force informed commanding officers around the nation that they may authorize personnel under their supervision to carry a concealed firearm, even off-duty and out of uniform. Perry Chiaramonte of Fox News reports that in the past, the U.S. military reserved the right to permit open and concealed carry, but has shown discretion in allowing soldiers to carry on base.  Following Muhammad Youseef Abdulazeez's shooting rampage last July that killed four Marines and a Navy sailor in Chattanooga, the Air Force decided to review active-shooter incidents in the United States.  President of the Crime Prevention Research Center John Lott expressed support of the decision, stating, "Concealed handgun permit holders have stopped dozens of what would have clearly been mass public shootings." 

High Court Scraps Mandatory LWOP Sentences for Juveniles:  In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled Monday that prisoners who were sentenced to life without parole as teenagers must be able to seek parole once they are adults.  Andrew Blake of the Washington Times reports that the decision, stemming from an earlier decision handed down by the high court in 2012, was made in response to a challenge brought by 69-year-old Henry Montgomery, who was sentenced to life in prison without parole when he was 17 years of age for the 1963 killing of a Louisiana sheriff's deputy.  The Supreme Court's ruling that mandatory life imprisonment for minors violates the U.S. Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment means that Montgomery and as many as 1,500 others are now able to petition for release.

ISIS Running a Fake Document Industry:  A French official said Monday that the Islamic State (ISIS) has managed to set up a "true industry of fake passports," sparking national security concerns in Europe and the United States.  Rudy Takala of the Washington Examiner reports that French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said that the terror group has seized passports in Iraq, Syria and Libya, and suggested establishing a task force in Greece to prevent migrants from using forged documents to enter the European Union.  Following November's terrorist attacks in Paris that killed hundreds, it was discovered that at least two of the perpetrators entered Europe through Greece posing as refugees.  The news is especially worrying to Homeland Security officials in the U.S., who are doubtful of the Obama administration's assurance that its plan to accept 70,000 refugees this coming year will post minimal security risk.

FL Man Planned to Radicalize, Murder Boss:  A Florida man intent on becoming radicalized allegedly plotted a killing spree following a "day of allegiance."  Fox News reports that 20-year-old Enrique Dominguez told a co-worker earlier this month that he'd purchased a shotgun to murder his boss and then showed the co-worker ISIS execution videos.  In a search of his home, investigators found a bag with a clown mask, duct tape, plastic wrap, gloves and two large knives.  He was arrested Friday and charged with aggravated assault, however, will only need to post $5,000 bond and remain on house arrest while awaiting trial.

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DNA Bloodtest Predicts Suspects' Age:  Forensic biomedical scientists at the University of Leuven in Belgium have developed a unique test of blood samples that has the ability to predict the age of an individual within a four-year range.  Jim Drury of the Global Post reports that lead researcher Bram Bekaert and his team advanced a test that examines a set of four age-associated DNA methylation markers, testing them against hundreds of blood samples from crime victims whose age was known and correlating the chronological age.  The results determined individuals' age in the blood samples with a margin of error of 3.75 years across the age range.  A similar test was conducted on a smaller sample of teeth in which the team determined an individual's age with a margin of error of 4.86 years.  The two tests will play a critical role in narrowing down and identifying suspects in both active and cold criminal cases.

Three Violent Criminals Escape from CA Jail:  Authorities are scrambling to locate three violent criminals that escaped a Southern California maximum-security jail on Friday, marking the first escape at the jail in over 20 years.  The AP reports that Jonathan Tieu, 20; Bac Duong, 43, and Hossein Nayeri, 37, were all awaiting trial for violent crimes in unrelated cases at Central Men's Jail in Santa Ana when they disappeared from a dormitory shared by 65 other inmates shortly after an early morning headcount.  The escape is described as elaborate and sophisticated and went unnoticed for 16 hours.  The escapees include Tieu, facing charges of murder, attempted murder and shooting at an inhabited dwelling; Nayeri, charged with kidnapping, torture, aggravated mayhem and burglary; and Duong, who faces charges of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, shooting at an inhabited dwelling and being an ex-felon in possession of a firearm.  A probe is underway to determine if the men received any help from inside or outside the jail.

International Flight Passengers Skip Customs:  For the second confirmed time in recent months, passengers arriving at JFK Airport on an international flight were cleared to exit without first going through Customs and Border Protection checkpoints.  Victoria Bekiempis and Denis Slattery of the NY Daily News report that travelers on American Airlines Flight 1223 from Cancun, Mexico, were allowed to leave the airport without airline and security officials checking their bags or passports.  One passenger even approached a TSA agent to inform them what happened, but was told he was free to go.  Hours later, the passenger, and presumably others, were contacted and told to return to the airport to compete the customs process.  A similar incident occurred in November involving another American Airlines flight from Cancun, just two days after ISIS released a video threatening New York City with a terrorist attack.  The oversights confirm concerns that terrorists could slip into the United States undetected.  In a statement, the airline admitted to the security blunder but provided no information as to what they were doing to address it.

NM Gets Tough on Crime:  As states around the country ditch tough-on-crime measures, for more lenient sentencing refroms, New Mexico lawmakers are taking the opposite approach.  Morgan Lee and Mary Hudetz of CNS News report that legislators and Gov. Susana Martinez are behind 20 pieces of proposed legislation aimed at cracking down on criminals and extending prison terms for violent career felons, repeat DWI offenders, parole jumpers and crimes related to child pornography.  The package also includes a mandatory-minimum sentencing measure, expansion of the state's three-strikes law, making the targeted killing of a police officer a hate crime and adding a constitutional amendment to overhaul bail rules in the state.  Multiple polls across the state show that for the first time since the financial crisis, crime has overtaken the economy as the top concern among New Mexico residents. 

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New CA Execution Method under Scrutiny:  As California begins to discuss its new execution method after years of debate and stagnation, death penalty opponents are lashing out at reforms they argue amounts to "human experimentation."  Howard Mintz of the San Jose Mercury News reports that back in November, state prison officials proposed a new lethal injection procedure, moving from a three-drug cocktail to just one lethal drug, and now the anti-death penalty crowd is arguing that the state is risking experimentation on its condemned inmates because two of the four drug options have never been used in executions.  Death penalty supporters, however, counter-argue that opposing groups, such as the ACLU, are putting up "invalid roadblocks" to executions in an effort to thwart them.  A public hearing will be heard Friday to air the new procedure and, at some point, a San Francisco federal judge is expected to consider its legality.

Parolee Arrested for Murder:  A Colorado parolee facing charges of murder was touted as a model of success by a state parole administrator just 16 days before the fatal stabbing of a homeless man.  Kirk Mitchell of the Denver Post reports that 44-year-old Calvin Johnson faces one count of first-degree murder in the New Year's Day death of 50-year-old Teodoro Leon III, who was stabbed 10 times in the head, face, torso and back.  A few weeks before the murder, on Dec. 16, deputy director of parole Alison Morgan discussed Johnson's success overcoming troubles linked to mental illness with the Joint Judiciary Committee, saying of his progress, "all of this is working, really very successfully."

Police and Sheriffs Team up in Chicago Gang Fight:  The Chicago Police Department and the Cook County Sheriff's Office announced Wednesday that they are teaming up to combat gangs and remove illegal guns from the streets.  Jeremy Gorner of the Chicago Tribune reports that though the partnership is nothing new, it will be more coordinated than before, targeting gangs in some of the most violent districts in the city and aided by interim police Superintendent John Escalante and Sheriff Tom Dart.  The partnership is to continue through the end of January and will then shift focus to other police districts in February.  The city is off to a violent start this year; as of Tuesday, 190 people have been shot across the city, more than double than the year earlier, which saw only 78 shooting victims by this time.  Homicides have risen this year as well, with 29 so far compared with 16 the year prior.

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