Protest … Ad Absurdum

Today mourners prepare for the funeral of slain NYPD officer Rafel Ramos (the funeral for officer Wen Jian Liu will be later).  New York mayor Bill DeBlasio has asked that “peaceful protest” against the police be postponed until after the funerals.  Some protesters have shown restraint, others continue to verbally attack the police.

We all have a right to engage in non-violent protest.  This right is guaranteed by the First Amendment.  The problem is that many of these “protesters” are not engaging in peaceful protest, contrary to assertions made by Mayor DeBlasio.  The New Criterion’s James Pierson highlights some of the recent incidents:

On the evening of December 13, several hundred supporters of the movement marched across the Brooklyn Bridge toward Manhattan for the purpose of staging protests at City Hall and other locations in the City.  During that march across the walkway of the Bridge, one protestor picked up a garbage can and tried to throw it out on to the adjacent roadway and into the path of automobile traffic.  Two police officers intervened to stop the man and to place him under arrest.  At this moment, at least six other protestors came to the aid of their comrade, knocking the officers to the ground and then kicking and slugging them into submission. One officer suffered a broken nose in the melee. The assailants escaped into the night, but not before several witnesses used smart phones to film the attack.  Police also recovered the backpack of the man who started the incident by trying to throw the garbage can on to the roadway.

“What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want it? Now.”

This is not peaceful.  This is not non-violent.  While not as egregious as recent events in Missouri, this does not further the cause of those who want to see an end to needless death at the hands of our police. (While rare, this does occur.)  This certainly does not aid in improving race relations in this country.  Improvement occurred in the 1960’s because white Americans were horrified to see peaceful protesters viciously attacked.  Then came the era of the “Race Pimp”.  Where Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, John Lewis, and countless others were heroes to a movement, we now see hustlers attempt to portray criminals like Michael Brown as “innocent victims”.  In some  (rare) instances they may be victims.  They are not innocent.  In some (rare) instances police are racist thugs; but those instances are rare.

Our police deserve better.  We deserve better.  The African-American community deserves better.  As long as the Al Sharpton’s of the world attempt to control the narrative (and the black community allows them to) real injustice will not receive the attention it deserves.

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Pile-up on Bob Culver (Part II)

UPDATE BELOW

Salisbury mayor Jim Ireton is the most partisan Democrat in Wicomico County.  A self-described “free government cheese eating liberal”, Ireton’s politics serve as a secular religion to his lapsed Catholicism.  Little wonder that Ireton chose to flip-flop on an important local issue and somehow blame new Wicomico County Executive (and Republican) Bob Culver.

On the record multiple times opposing the continued employment of firefighters hired through a federal SAFER grant.  It should be noted that when the council agreed to take the grant, Ireton attacked several members (most notably former councilwoman Debbie Campbell).  The council was reluctant because the predicted the precise problem which has now arisen.  But now an evil Republican has replaced Ireton’s fellow Democrat and political ally Rick Pollit.

The result?  Ireton has reluctantly agreed to rehire the firefighters but has made their long term employment contingent on more money from the county.  If I were a Salisbury taxpayer Ireton’s argument might be appealing.  If I lived in one of the rural fire districts I would be frightened by Ireton’s lack of concern for his fellow county residents.

Ireton maintains that Salisbury answers the lion’s share of calls.  True.  The Salisbury Fire District is the most populous, and most dense, fire district.  Common sense dictates that they will receive the highest number of calls for service.  Ireton believes that Salisbury is being treated unfairly in this matter.  As mayor of Salisbury he has a point.  As a citizen of Wicomico County he believes that his neighbors should burn rather than cut into his believed fair share of the county’s available money for fire departments.

Go down the road to Powellville.  To the best of my knowledge this is the least populous, and least dense, fire district.  Yet, to serve their area of the county still requires a fire house and equipment.  If you looked at each fire department on a cost per call basis you would see that Powellville’s costs are much higher than Salisbury’s.  Should the citizens of Wicomico allow the most rural portions of the county to burn in order to appease Mr. Ireton’s sense of financial fairness?

Should we be surprised that Ireton waited until after the election, and his political ally lost, before attempting to make political hay out of this predicted situation?  Of course not.  Ireton has used similar tactics from the day he was sworn in as mayor.  To date the voters of Salisbury have rewarded him.  As long as they do, he will continue to put politics above policy.

Fortunately for the citizens of Wicomico County, Bob Culver hasn’t provided any indication that he will be bullied by people like Ireton.  Let’s hope he continues to stand firm.

 

UPDATE:

In Sunday’s Daily Times some of Ireton’s behavior was confirmed.  Rick Hoppes, Ireton’s hand-picked fire chief, had promised council members that money would be found in the budget to keep the firefighters on staff when the SAFER grant money ran out.  DT reporter Jeremy Cox asked councilman Tim Spies, who was one of the members who voted for the SAFER grant, about Ireton’s “surprise” that council didn’t understand that the positions were temporary.

“I could swear that the (fire) chief said if we wanted to keep those people, he would find it in the budget somewhere,” the councilman said.

For those of us who attended that council meeting it is hard to forget.  Ireton was doing everything possible to goad the council into not accepting the grant monies.  At the same time he and Hoppes were telling them that the grant was essential to the public safety and that future funds would be found to keep the 11 new firefighters on the payroll after the grant expired.

Now the city election is over.  Ireton was re-elected.  Debbie Campbell was not.  Whose fault is it that the city can’t keep those individuals in the fire department?  Bob Culver, of course.  If he doesn’t pony up more cash for Salisbury then Ireton will blame his woes on the evil Republican county executive and county council.

 

Pile-up on Bob Culver (Part I)

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Maciarello Wants Police Oversight Board

SALISBURY, MD – Wicomico County State’s Attorney Matt Maciarello proposed civilian oversight boards for both the Salisbury Police Department and the Wicomico County Sheriff’s office according to a report by Daily Times reporter Jeremy Cox.  Maciarello also proposed that both SPD officers and WCSO deputies wear body cameras.  Details of Maciarello’s proposal are not currently available.

As with all such proposals, the devil is in the details.  The Salisbury city council and mayor could easily pass legislation to institute a civilian oversight board and require officers to wear body cameras.  The wisdom of such proposals can be debated.  However, neither Maciarello nor the Wicomico County government have the authority to institute such proposals.  The county government funds the Sheriff’s office with local tax dollars.  It cannot dictate to Sheriff Mike Lewis how he chooses to operate his office.  Unless the state plans on passing such a law OR Wicomico County plans on creating a county police department, such proposals are nothing more than suggestions.

In the Daily Times’ account, the subheadline reads:

Maciarello’s push represents the most tangible action taken so far after a string of violent —sometimes fatal — interactions between police and citizens in Wicomico

This hardly represents “tangible” action as Maciarello lacks the authority to do anything but hold a press conference regarding this matter.

photo courtesy of the Daily Times

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Politics, Not Leadership, Reigns in SBY

SALISBURY, MD – Last week we outlined Salisbury mayor Jim Ireton’s actions regarding the $1.4 million FEMA grant for the fire department.  In Jimmy Ireton’s world, scoring cheap political points far outweighed public safety.  One week has passed.  We are one week closer to next spring’s city elections.  Ireton is pulling another cheap political stunt.

This week we are told that Ireton is seeking to raise the annual salaries of Salisbury police officers by approximately $4,000.  Is he really?  Sadly, NO.  Instead, the brave, hard working men and women of the Salisbury PD are being used as so many political footballs.

While Ireton and councilwoman Laura Mitchell bask in the Obamaesque glow of the Democrat National Convention and help to cement their places as Salisbury’s liberals-in-chief, Ireton is attempting to play games with the lives of Salisbury’s police officers and the safety of its citizens.  By refusing to provide the RESPONSIBLE members of the city council with basic information such as the city’s year end cash position and how much money was returned to surplus at the end of FY 2012, Ireton is again attempting to goad the council members into voting against this latest proposal.  WHY?  To score political points on Jimmy’s ROAD TO RE-ELECTION!

Citizens should ask a couple of questions questions:

[Read more…]

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Ireton Prefers to Fiddle While Salisbury Burns

One thing has been made crystal clear during this whole episode, in Jimmy Ireton’s world politics will always trump public safety … or good public policy.

SALISBURY, MD – There are some things you will not read in the Daily Times.  You will never read a factual article that criticizes Wicomico’s Board of Education.  You will never read that the world’s weather runs in short and long term cycles and the notion of “climate change” is a myth.  You also won’t read about Salisbury mayor Jim Ireton’s fits at Salisbury council meetings or the true actions of certain council members.

While Salisbury firefighters, and the town’s citizenry, may have been happy to see the Salisbury council accept a $1.4 million federal grant to hire additional firefighters, one person was VERY disappointed – Mayor Jim Ireton.  Repeated attempts to goad the council majority into voting no failed.  Ireton’s claims that the council was “holding this money hostage” fell on deaf ears.  A 4-0 vote for acceptance would have been a 5-0 vote if Ireton had CHOSEN to act his age rather than perform like a two year old.

One thing was crystal clear Monday night; Jim Ireton believes that scoring cheap political points FAR exceeds the safety of the citizens of Salisbury.

If the twelve additional firefighters were so desperately needed, why has Ireton failed to request the additional firefighters in any of his budgets?  Why were firefighters and police officers furloughed?  If this grant was so important, why did Ireton REFUSE to allow the fire department to apply for it until THREE DAYS before the application deadline?

None of these questions will be asked by the mainstream media.  Ireton will never have to answer them.  Why?  Because attacking council members like Debbie Campbell is far more important than solving the city’s problems.

WHY DID CAMPBELL VOTE NO?

[Read more…]

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Salisbury Council Votes for Fire Grant

SALISBURY, MD – At Monday’s city council meeting citizens were treated to all of the drama which has made Salisbury famous (or infamous?).  The meeting began with councilwoman Laura Mitchell’s expected grandstanding; it moved through a normal course of legislative business; and culminated with not one, but three trademark Jimmy Ireton hissy fits.  In the end, the city council accepted a federal grant of $1.4 million to allow the city hire 12 additional firefighters.

Read the details later today in the DelMarVa Observer.  For a fictional account, we suggest this morning’s online edition of the Daily Times.  It appears that new city report Jeremy Cox is a budding short story writer.

photo courtesy of WMDT

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Firing of Sussex Deputy Upheld

GEORGETOWN, DE – The Sussex County Board of Personnel has unanimously upheld the firing of Sheriff’s deputy Ishmael Torres.  By a 3-0 vote the board agreed that County Administrator Todd Lawson had acted properly in dismissing Torres for the filing of questionable overtime requests.

Supporters of Sheriff Jeff Christopher have argued that the dismissal of Torres was politically motivated.  Christopher has filed suit against the county and state of Delaware in response to their position that Christopher and his deputies are not law enforcement officers and lack the legal authority to make arrests.

photos courtesy of the Cape Gazette

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Coast Guard Victim of Another Hoax

CAPE MAY, NJ – The U.S. Coast Guard appears to be the victim of a second hoax in a week after it dispatched a search and rescue team to search for a vessel after receiving a distress call.

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Bill To Restrict Sheriff’s Powers Passes Delaware House

CHRISTOPHER FILES SUIT IN SUPERIOR COURT

DOVER, DE – The Delaware House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday designed to codify the duties of a county sheriff and his or her deputies, including that they do not have the legal authority to make arrests or investigate crimes.  The bill, HB 325,  passed by a vote of 36 – 2 with one abstention.  Rep. John Atkins (D-41) and Rep. Gerald Hocker (R-38) were the two votes against the bill.

On Wednesday Sussex County Sheriff Jeff Christopher filed lawsuit in Superior Court requesting a declaratory judgment that he and his deputies do have arrest and investigative powers under Delaware’s constitution and that he is the chief law enforcement offer of Sussex County.

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Talbot Citizens Oppose Property Tax Increase

EASTON, MD – Talbot County taxpayers jammed into the Bradley meeting room of the Talbot County Courthouse and overflowed into halls Tuesday afternoon to express their opposition to breaking the county’s revenue cap.  Approximately 100 people also turned out for the second public hearing, which was held at Easton High School.

According to the Star Democrat’s Chris Knauss, most citizens supported councilman Tom Duncan’s plan, which increases the income tax rate to 2.6% and takes additional money from the county’s reserves rather than increase property tax rates.  Citizens also spoke out against the county’s proposal to cut funding to fire companies by $75,000.

An increase in tax revenues is required due to recently enacted state legislation which requires the county to fund maintenance of effort (MOE) for the county’s schools or risk having their income tax revenue confiscated.

photo courtesy of the Star Democrat

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College Party Turns Ugly

SALISBURY, MD – A large party turned nasty Saturday night as police and Sheriff’s deputies were forced to use pepper spray on a large crowd at the Cedar Crossing housing complex north of Onley Road in Salisbury.  Police were dispatched to control a disorderly crowd of approximately 1,500 college-aged persons.  While police attempted to disperse the crowd, some individuals began to throw bottles and cans at the officers.

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Traffic Accident Blocking Snow Hill Road at Nutter’s Crossing

SALISBURY, MD – People heading in either direction on MD Route 12 (Snow Hill Road) should expect delays due to a traffic accident just west of the entrance to the Nutter’s Crossing subdivision.  The two car crash occurred just before 7:30 AM this morning.  While only the east-bound lane is blocked, traffic heading into Salisbury is blocked due to debris from the crash.

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Traffic Accident Blocking Snow Hill Road at Nutter’s Crossing

SALISBURY, MD – People heading in either direction on MD Route 12 (Snow Hill Road) should expect delays due to a traffic accident just west of the entrance to the Nutter’s Crossing subdivision.  The two car crash occurred just before 7:30 AM this morning.  While only the east-bound lane is blocked, traffic heading into Salisbury is blocked due to debris from the crash.

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Off-Duty Police Officer Commits Suicide After Chase on Route 50

EASTON, MD – An off-duty Montgomery County police officer ended his own life after a traffic stop and police chase which ended near the Easton airport.  The Star Democrat reports that Jed R. Bylsma, 30, of Gettysburg, PA was stopped by a Maryland state trooper near Skipton Creek early Monday morning.  The trooper suspected that Bylsma was driving under the influence.  When he returned to his car to call for back-up, Bylsma fled the scene, heading east on US 50.

Maryland State Police deployed stop sticks near the Easton Airport.  Bylsma’s car came to a stop in a ditch.  The police found Bylsma in his car, dead from an apparent gunshot wound to the head.

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Wicomico Sheriff Wants Speed Cameras for Money, Not Child Safety

SALISBURY, MD – On Tuesday morning the Wicomico County Council will decide whether or not to approve speed zones for eight (8) schools and whether to allow speed cameras at four (4) additional schools.  On the surface it looks like Wicomico Sheriff Mike Lewis is looking out for the kids.  With all respect to Sheriff Lewis, this plan has nothing to do with safety and EVERYTHING to do with $$$$$$$.

It’s hard to blame Lewis.  County Executive Rick Pollitt has been chipping away at the Sheriff’s budget for years.  Sources in the GOB claim that Pollitt’s FY 2013 budget will cut an additional $200,000 from the Sheriff’s office, while (coincidentally) adding the same amount to the BOE’s budget.  If we expect Sheriff Lewis to continue providing an adequate level of coverage he needs to make up the funding somewhere.  Speed cameras seem to be the solution du jour.

Looking at the Sheriff’s proposed speed zones, we can see that the areas seem to focus as much on adjacent streets and subdivisions as it does the roads passing directly by the schools.  Why?  IF, as the Sheriff has claimed all along, this proposal is about school safety, why are he looking for permission to place speed cameras on roads not directly running by schools?  The simple answer is “because he can”.  State law permits the Sheriff’s office to define a speed zone as anywhere within 1/2 mile of a school.

That’s what is ALLOWED.  That doesn’t mean the council has to approve the zones outlined by the Sheriff’s office.  Restricting speed zones to roads which run by a school or where children are forced to cross makes sense (if you believe in speed cameras) makes sense.  It also adds a LITTLE credence that this is about safety rather than dollars.

Regardless, we would appreciate a little honesty.  Speed cameras are a revenue source.  They are NOT a tool to increase the safety of school zones.  If they were, they would be tripped at much lower speeds than 12 miles OVER the limit.

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School Bus Burns in Kent County

CHESTERTOWN, MD – Nine school children are in the hospital after a 12 year old student ignited a marine flare on board a bus in Kent County this morning.  The Office of the State Fire Marshal stated that the act “may not have been malicious”.  The Fire Marshal and the Criminal Investigative Division of the Maryland State Police are jointly investigating the incident.

Two students were transported by Kent County EMS, two students were transported by a Queen Anne’s County ambulance, and five students were transported by a Kent County Public Schools bus. The most common complaints were smoke inhalation and "nervousness," according to one emergency medical responder at the scene. A hospital spokesman said the injuries were not life-threatening.

Bouch said seven students were taken to the hospital with minor smoke inhalation; they were treated at Chester River and released.

The bus was transporting students from the Rock Hall area to Kent County Middle School.

photo courtesy of the Star Democrat

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EMS Personnel Attacked in Accomack

HALLWOOD, VA – An EMS crew dispatched to a traffic accident on US 13 near Hallwood was attacked by an accident victim early Sunday morning.  Bradley Colas, 23, of Virginia Beach became irritated with EMS workers who attempted to assist him after he ran off the road and struck a tree.  Colas began fighting with the EMS personnel and stabbed two of them.  Colas then pulled out a gun and began shooting.

The EMS personnel managed to subdue Colas, who was taken to Shore Memorial Hospital in Nassawadox.  Colas is being held in custody at the hospital and is under observation.

SOURCEWBOC

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Baltimore Police Will Not Check Residency Status

BALTIMORE, MD – Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has signed an executive order which prohibits police inquiring into the citizenship or residency status of individuals.  This is in response to an announcement by the the U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement division that it will begin checking into the immigration status of all persons booked in Baltimore area jails.

Maryland is estimated to have the 10th highest illegal immigrant population in the nation.

READ MORE…

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Delaware AG – Sheriff’s Deputies Cannot Make Arrests

GEORGETOWN, DE – Let’s try this one more time – the Sheriff’s Office of Sussex County is not empowered to make arrests.  This ruling recently came down from the office of Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden.

After numerous court decisions and opinions from multiple AG’s, Sussex County Sheriff Jeff Christopher still maintains that he and his deputies have the same police powers as do policemen.

While readers on the Maryland and Virginia Eastern Shore may believe this is strange – the Sheriff’s office is a primary law enforcer in these 11 counties – across the Bay, in both states, the Sheriff is usually limited to serving court papers and (sometimes) running the jail.

READ MORE…

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At Least 65 Ground Zero Police Have Died of Cancer

NEW YORK – The NYPD Patrolman’s Benevolent Association (PBA) has released a new study that shows at least 65 police officers who worked at Ground Zero have died of cancer.  The report turns up pressure on New York mayor Michael Bloomberg to release cancer data to the federal government.

FOXNews reports that a decision will come in March whether to include cancer in a list of ailments caused by 9/11 and covered by the Zadroga Act — named after an NYPD officer whose death was attributed to toxic chemicals at Ground Zero.

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Trappe Ends Speed Camera Contract

TRAPPE, MD – The town of Trappe has ended its experiment with speed cameras.  At Wednesday night’s meeting the town council decided to cancel its contract with RedSpeed USA.

Several reasons were cited for discontinuing the program.  Chief among theses was the state’s refusal to allow the town to place speed cameras in school zones near White Marsh Elementary school and St. Paul’s pre-school.  Both school zones are near state roads and require approval by the State Highway Administration (SHA).  Despite a traffic survey which showed cars travelling through the area at speeds in excess of 70 miles per hour, the SHA has refused to allow the cameras in those areas.

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Northampton Sheriff Credits Staff in Making County “Safest It Can Be”

EASTVILLE, VA – Northampton County Sheriff David L. Doughty, Jr. is beginning his first full term.  His number one goal is to make Northampton County “the safest it can be” for its citizens.  In tackling that goal, he credits his deputies and staff.

photo courtesy of the Eastern Shore News

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Much Ado About Hoppes

SALISBURY, MD – Newly appointed Salisbury city attorney Mark Tilghman will step out of the frying pan and into the fire at today’s city council work session.  The Daily Times reports that the first order of controversial business is whether or not Acting Fire Chief Rick Hoppes can be appointed by Mayor Jim Ireton without a competitive search.  In any other town, this would be a simple task.

The city’s personnel manual does not require such a search.  Council president Terry Cohen cites “decades of past practice”.  While past practice is advisory, and tradition should be respected, it does not trump law or city regulation.

If the council wants to veto Hoppes’ appointment there is an easier, and far more credible route.  During the last search, where former chief Jeff Simpson was hired, Hoppes applied for the job and was deemed unqualified (he failed failed to meet some of the specific requirements set by the Ireton administration).  If Hoppes was unqualified then, why is he qualified now?

If these requirements are not specified in the city’s personnel manual, then Ireton has a right to waive them.  The city council is equally entitled to demand an explanation.  That is “advice and consent”.  However, to demand a national search when there is no such requirement simply makes Ireton’s past claims that the council majority is attempting to usurp his office appear credible.

While this author, and the DelMarVa Observer, have been generally supportive of council members Cohen, Debbie Campbell, and Tim Spies, we hold the rule of law to be of far greater import than agreeing with politicians, or even friendship.  The council majority would be well advised to think twice before they leap into areas that violate the spirit, and possibly the letter, of the city’s charter.

Tilghman should also be careful when hopping around this minefield.  He is already beginning his tenure from a weakened position.  If he is going to uphold Cohen’s stance, he needs to be able to cite CLEAR and CONVINCING legal precedent.  His reasoning must be understandable to the average citizen.  Any attempt at legal bootstrapping will be viewed by the public as the same type of behavior of which former city solicitor Paul Wilber was accused of by his detractors.

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Baby Delivered in Toll Plaza

WILMINGTON, DE – New Castle County paramedics and three Delaware River and Bay Authority police officers delivered a baby at the toll plaza of the Delaware Memorial Bridge Saturday morning.  A 28 year old woman was a passenger in car crossing into Delaware when she went into active labor.  Paramedics were called.  Because her labor progressed so quickly, the child was delivered there.  Both mother and child were transported to Christiana Hospital for evaluation.

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Supreme Court Ruling Impacts Eastern Shore Watermen

ANNAPOLIS, MD – On Monday the US Supreme Court issued a ruling which prohibits police officers from installing tracking devices without a warrant.  While the specific case was about tracking GPS devices on suspects automobile, the ruling impacts Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) police and their ability to place tracking devices on watermen’s boats.  The high court has ruled that installation of such devices without a warrant constitutes a warrantless search and trespass.

Maryland senator Richard Colburn (R-37) and Delegate Mike Smigiel (R-36) had already introduced a bill in the legislature to ban the practice without a warrant after several Dorchester County watermen discovered tracking devices on their vessels.  While DNR Secretary John Griffin claims that his officers had obtained a judge’s approval, he has refused to release the name of the judge who approved the searches or even what county the warrants came from.

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New Ambulance Delivered to Tangier

TANGIER ISLAND, VA – The Tangier Volunteer Fire Company has just taken delivery of a new ambulance to serve the small island community in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay.  In addition to the 2012 Demers ambulance, the fire company’s pump truck was returned.  It had been sent to Ocean City for repairs.

photo courtesy of the Daily Times

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Wachapreague Requests Aid for Dredging Access to Harbor

WACHAPREAGUE, VA – The Town of Wachapreague is requesting help from the Accomack County Board of Supervisors in lobbying to have areas offshore of the town dredged.  Shoaling offshore is a safety hazard, preventing local waterman access to the town’s harbor as well as preventing the US Coast Guard station the ability to respond to problems during low tide conditions.

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McDonnell “Not Inclined” to Support Pro-Gun Bill for Colleges

RICHMOND, VA – Virginia governor Bob McDonnell stated Tuesday that he was “not inclined” to support legislation barring Virginia colleges from banning concealed firearms on their campuses.

“I think it’s unlikely a bill like that would pass and I think at this point I would probably be unlikely to sign it,” McDonnell said during an interview in his office.

“There is some legitimate debate about whether an armed citizenry can stop problems, whether it’s on a college campus or any other venue, but I’d have to see what the law looks like,” McDonnell said. “I would not be inclined to support that kind of legislation.”

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Tour Bus Crashes in Worcester County

12 HOSPITALIZED

WHALEYVILLE, MD – A Holloway Tours bus struck the back of a Honda Civic while travelling east on Route 610 near Whaleyville on Tuesday.  Roger Hornsby, 67, was the bus’s driver.

Twelve (12) persons were taken to Atlantic General Hospital and treated for non-life threatening injuries.

photo courtesy of the Wilmington News-Journal

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Passers-By Save Children in Icy River

SALT LAKE CITY, UT – A group of up to nine passers-by plunged into an icy river, righted a car, and rescued three trapped children and their father.  One boy was not breathing when pulled from the car, but was revived using CPR.  All four passengers survived the watery accident.

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McDermott Proposes Charging Minor Offenses via Citation

POCOMOKE CITY, MD – Maryland Delegate Mike McDermott (R-38B) is proposing legislation in the coming legislative session that would permit police officers to write minor, non-violent offenses on citations rather than having to arrest the suspect and appear before a court commissioner.   McDermott’s proposal would allow police officers to spend more time on the street and should not negatively impact public safety.

"When people are charged criminally they have to be taken before a court commissioner before they are released and that takes officers off the streets for a lot of minor offenses," said McDermott. "It can take three or four hours and if it’s a small or even a medium size department, like we have on the Shore, that’s a long time to lose an officer off the streets."

"This is a nonpartisan public safety bill," said McDermott. "This is a time when agencies are facing a lot of budget issues and anything we can do to keep police officers on the streets for the big crimes is good for the public."

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Americans Buy Record Number of Guns

LOS ANGELES – In the days leading up to Christmas, Americans bought a record number of guns.  In December over 1.5 million “insta-checks” were performed by the FBI; almost 500,000 in the six (6) days before Christmas.  On December 23rd alone, over 100,000 requests were made to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

The National Rifle Association said people are concerned about self-defense in a time when the numbers of police officers are declining.  One theory posits that Americans are buying guns now under the belief that more restrictive firearms laws will be passed in the future.

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Accomack County Enacts New Fire Company Funding Policies

ACCOMAC, VA – The Accomack County Board of Supervisors has enacted new policies in how it disperses approximately $1.2 million in annual funding to the county’s 14 volunteer fire companies.  This legislation stems from information brought to the board’s attention earlier this year by Supervisor Robert Crockett.

Under the new guidelines, county funds may only be used for activities directly related to providing firefighting or EMS services.  County dollars cannot be used for fundraising or social events, charitable donations or re-imbursement of in-kind contributions.

The new policies also mandate tighter financial controls on the fire companies.  All county funds must now be deposited in FDIC-insured accounts.  Funds may be invested only in FDIC-insured CD’s, US Treasury bills, notes, or bonds, or in US Government Agency securities.  Fire companies will also have to submit a financial report to the county each year by September 30th.

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Too Many Police in Ocean City?

It seems that the taxpayers of Ocean City are paying for a little too much police protection.  Judging from Brian Shane’s article in this morning’s Daily Times, OCPD chief Bernadette DiPino has way too much money to spend and too many officers on the payroll.

How can we say that?

It’s simple.  If DiPino has enough personnel at her disposal to call veterinarians in THREE STATES to track down a bill, when NO CRIME has been committed, it’s pretty obvious that the Ocean City Police don’t have enough to do.

It’s possible that police officers were taken off of real duty, investigating real crimes.  If that is the case, DiPino should be dismissed immediately.  If there are enough officers on the town’s payroll to go on DiPino’s snipe hunt, without sacrificing public safety for the citizens of Ocean City, her budget needs to be trimmed.

We should note that we are not claiming that former OCPD officer Earl Campbell’s claims are all true.  Our knowledge of the situation is based solely on what has been published in the Daily Times and SbyNEWS.

While Mr. Campbell does not appear to be under any legal obligation to produce copies of the bills for his dog’s surgery, he does have a moral obligation to do so.  Campbell stirred up this hornets’ nest.  If he cannot produce proof that he paid for the dog’s surgery, his credibility is shot and the public should be made aware of that.  However, IF Campbell does produce proof to the Ocean City town council, they should severely discipline Chief DiPino.  Proof from Campbell is also proof that DiPino misused taxpayer dollars by investigating something that is not within her jurisdiction.  It is also evidence that DiPino is attempting to persecute and discredit Campbell to draw attention away from other charges that have been leveled during the course of this brouhaha.

For his sake, and the sake of the public, we encourage Mr. Campbell to produce proof.  I’m sure that Chief DiPino hopes he does not.

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Worcester Commissioners FINALLY Ask for Stoplight at US 113 / MD 12

SNOW HILL, MD – 43 seems to be the magic number.  That is the number of fatalities along US 113 between Snow Hill and the Delaware line over the last 15 years.  After last week’s fatal crash at the intersection of US 113 and MD 12, the Worcester County Commissioners are finally asking the county’s legislative delegation to have the state install a stop light at the intersection.

Worcester Commissioner Virgil Shockley has been asking for a stop light for years.  However, it was only after the death of 62 year old Hancle Stull last Friday that the Worcester Commissioners agreed to ask the State Highway Administration to install a stop light.

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Editor’s Note – One of the victims killed at this intersection was a friend of DelMarVa Observer Managing Editor G. A. Harrison.

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Some Baltimore County Police Officers Retire with $500,000 Payouts

PAYOUTS IN ADDITION TO PENSIONS

TOWSON, MD – Under a program called the Deferred Retirement Option Programs (DROP), several Baltimore County Police Officers retired this year with lump sum payments of over $500,000.  In addition, the officers will receive pensions of over $150,000 per year.  Three majors retired this year and received the half million dollar payouts.  In addition, four captains and two lieutenants retired with payouts of over $400,000.

One police major retired on June 1st with a lump sum payment of $525,000.  In addition, the officer received more than $101,000 in unused vacation and comp time.  The payout of over $600,000 was in addition to an annual pension of over $158,000.

The County Council approved DROP in 2004. Police officers with 27 years of experience and firefighters with 32 years were eligible. The optional program was part of an agreement reached in 2001 by then-County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger’s administration and public safety unions. …

… Union officials emphasize that while the numbers are high, the beneficiaries are getting reduced pension benefits.

Michael Day, president of the Baltimore County Professional Fire Fighters Association, said the program has helped retain veterans.

"It kept people around longer," he said. "These dollar figures that the individuals are finally collecting is money that was due to them anyway."

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Hinckley Wants More Time Outside

WASHINGTON – It’s 30 years after John Hinckley attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan.  For years Hinckley, who was found to be legally insane, has been allowed to spend a few days at a time away from St. Elizabeth’s Hospital at his mother’s home in Virginia.  Now Hinckley’s lawyers are petitioning the court longer visits … of 2 – 4 weeks.

Government lawyers oppose the plan, calling it "premature and ill conceived." They say Hinckley is "a man capable of great violence" and that he is not "sufficiently well to alleviate the concern that this violence may be repeated."

But Hinckley’s lawyer, Barry Levine, has said there is no evidence Hinckley is a danger to himself or to others. Earlier this year, he called the government’s court filing opposing expanded privileges "shameful fear-mongering without any factual basis."

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Sussex County Clamps Down on Sheriff

GEORGETOWN, DE – Despite an opinion from the Delaware Attorney General’s office and a 2000 Delaware Supreme Court ruling, Sussex County Sheriff Jeff Christopher has instructed his deputies to make traffic stops and make arrests.  The Sussex County government is concerned that such actions open the county up for liability that will not be covered by the county’s insurance policies.

Christopher claims that Delaware’s constitution defines a sheriff as a “peace officer” with the power to arrest.  “I intend to fulfill my campaign promises, and the law that they are attempting to use against me I will use it back against them,” Christopher said.

Christopher argues that the actions of the county government are retaliation for his filing charges against Sussex councilman Vance Phillips.

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Salisbury Police Seek Help in Identifying Club Azul Brawlers

SALISBURY, MD – If you are able to identify any of the individuals involved in last week’s brawl at Club Azul in downtown Salisbury, the Salisbury Police would like your help.

If you have any information, please contact the Salisbury Police Department at 410-548-3165.  If the video does not display in your browser, please CLICK HERE.

Video courtesy of WMDT-TV

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US 301 / Rt. 304 Intersection Re-opening Delayed Until Monday

CENTREVILLE, MD – The new J-turn intersection at US 301 and MD Rt. 304 has been delayed until Monday.  The new intersection was supposed to open yesterday, but bad weather has delayed the final task – painting .

graphic courtesy of the Star-Democrat

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Murder Suspect Walks Because DA “Forgot” to Indict

RICHMOND, TX – A 26 year old Texas man walked out of jail a free man because the District Attorney forgot to indict the suspect within 90 days of his arrest.  Richard Mendoza is accused of killing his friend, Christopher Daigle, 17, while on a hunting trip.  Fort Bend County District Attorney John Healey has taken full responsibility for the incident.

This does not mean that Mendoza will not be tried for his alleged crime.  However, because he was not indicted within the specified period, he cannot be kept in custody pending his trial.

photo courtesy of FOXNews – Houston

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BREAKING NEWS – HazMat Team at Easton’s Shore Memorial Hospital

EASTON, MD – WBOC-TV is reporting that there is a hazardous materials incident at Shore Memorial Hospital in Easton.  While originally reporting that the hospital was being evacuated, Talbot county officials state that the hospital is open, but that the emergency room is closed due to a “suspicious smell”.

UPDATE:  WBOC reports that the situation was caused by a computer battery exploding at around 4:30 AM.  Talbot County Emergency Service officials are telling residents that if the have a medical emergency they should go to Dorchester General Hospital in Cambridge or Kent & Queen Anne’s Hospital in Chestertown.

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Paramedics Refuse Guide Dog

BALTIMORE, MD – A 62 year old blind man has filed a complaint with the US Department of Justice after Baltimore paramedics refused to allow his guide dog to accompany him after the man was struck by a car.

Curtis Graham, Jr., of West Baltimore, was walking to the November 11th Veterans Day parade when he was struck by a car.  Baltimore paramedics responded and refused to allow Indo, Graham’s 2 year old guide dog, into the ambulance.

"They refused to take a service animal who I need very much," said Graham, who suffered minor injuries. "He is my eyes."

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Virginia May End State Background Checks on Gun Purchases

RICHMOND, VA – The nation’s first criminal background check program for firearm purchases may be eliminated.  Gun rights advocates argue that Virginia’s program is redundant given that a federal “insta-check” program, administered by the FBI, has been in place since 1998.  Gun control groups oppose the measure.

The fate of the 22 year old program could be determined in this year’s General Assembly session.

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Suspect Mistakenly Granted Bail

UPPER MARLBORO, MD – Prince George’s County Police are asking the public’s help in locating a suspect.  Frederick Scott, 24, has been charged with the March, 2011 murder of 30 year old Phillip Watson.  Scott was apprehended in Las Vegas and extradited to Maryland where he was held on remand.  According to police, a clerical error led to Scott being granted bail and released earlier this month.

from the Baltimore Sun

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Speed Cameras Approved in Denton

DENTON, MD – The Denton Town Council has unanimously approved the use of speed cameras near schools within the town limits.  Under the ordinance speed cameras may be placed within one half mile of Denton Elementary School, Lockerman Middle School and Wesleyan Christian School.

Under the terms of the ordinance, any vehicle registered driving over the posted speed limit will be issued a citation carrying a $40 fine.  If the fine is paid, the citation will not appear on the driver’s MVA record.

The speed cameras will operated from 6 AM – 8 PM Monday through Friday.  Signs will be posted warning motorists of the use of speed cameras.

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Somerset Corrections Officer Charged with Sexual Misconduct

WESTOVER, MD – The Daily Times reports that a Somerset County Corrections Officer has been charged with sexual misconduct with a female inmate.  Roland Vernon Bozman, 24, was served with a criminal summons according to the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office.

Bozman, of Princess Anne, has left the employment of the Detention Center according to Somerset County Administrator Doug Taylor.

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SHA Completes Crosswalk at Site of Fatal Accident

EASTON, MD – Three months after 13 year old Avery Monique Bechtel was struck by a car and killed, a crosswalk at Easton Parkway and Marlboro Road is complete.  Bechtel, of St. Michaels, was struck by a car at the intersection around 9 PM on August 12th.

State Highway Administration (SHA) crews completed work on the crosswalk this week.  Work continues on a network of sidewalks along Marlboro Road.  Remco Properties, LLC, the developers of the Waterside Village shopping complex has also agreed to extend their sidewalk network.

photo courtesy of the Star Democrat

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New York Clears Park of Protesters

NEW YORK – New York City police arrested 70 protesters as they cleared Zucotti Park of “Occupy Wall Street” protesters early this morning.  The move was taken so that sanitation workers could clean the park.

Police arrived just after midnight and informed the protesters that they would have to temporarily vacate the park so that crews could clean.  The city had determined that the park had become a health and fire hazard after weeks of occupation by the protesters.

photo courtesy of ABC News

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Easton Considers Speed Cameras

EASTON, MD – At Monday evening’s Police Board meeting, the Easton Town Council gave preliminary approval to installing speed cameras in school zones within the town of Easton.

Kelley Allen of the Star-Democrat reports:

None of the councilmembers objected to the idea, which Easton Police Chief David Spencer proposed at a police board Monday night. Spencer mentioned the August death of Avery Monique Bechtel, 13, who died after a car struck her when she tried to cross Easton’s parkway, and emphasized the need to keep children safe on Easton’s roads. …

… Spencer proposed using cameras from RedSpeed USA, an Illinois-based company with an office in Annapolis. RedSpeed offers moveable cameras for school zones that snap pictures of people driving 12 mph or more above posted speed limits, who are then mailed tickets.

The town gets about $25 from each $40 ticket issued and paid.

If the Town Council gives final approval, the cameras could be in place next year.

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