Saturday, December 31, 2005

The origin of the feature film, COME FRIDAY…





CLick On the pictures to see full size versions.

Long ago there was a young lady I had the hots for in a big way (Yes, I know that hots is not a word). She was pretty, incredibly bright, and had some real elegance about her. She had a love for children and basic kindness that you don’t often see in someone her age. I met her parents and could understand she came from a much more stable home than mine. I was raised by a single, welfare mom and suddenly found myself way out-classed. For whatever reasons things did not workout they way I had hoped. Sadly for me, we went on our separate ways. From time to time I’d run into this lady in various places where our job had taken us. Whenever this happened my heart would skip a beat or two.

I left my hometown Chicago, and moved to Arizona where I founded my detective agency. As a private eye and soon a TV news producer too, my career took me to the highest profile criminal events in Arizona and throughout the country. There’s no question that I’m an adrenalin junkie and must always be where the action is happening.

After investigating on behalf of the criminal defense (successfully I might add) for two well-known Hollywood stars facing bogus allegations, I began yearning to work in the happening entertainment industry. These days, I’ve been spending a lot of time in L.A.

Along with attending Tom Todoroff ’s acting classes, I took a “speed” filmmaker’s course from Dov S.S. Simmons at his Hollywood Film Institute in Santa Monica. This was to get a real understanding of the business, from acquiring a script to counting your money long after the last showing in theatres. In the class, Dov covered an area where I had already had some experience. That was about buying and selling film option rights involving people inside fascinating, real events. A film company had made such a deal with me in the preceding post. Essentially, I got some money for doing absolutely nothing!

Writing or obtaining a good script is the beginning to all filmmaking. You must start with a terrific story. I’ve never been a fan of novels but I enjoy non-fiction. I wrote some other scripts that I now call training exercises.

I belatedly heard some really heartbreaking news from Chicago that I could not just shake off. It caused me to go on a quest that began as the film treatment you will now see. This has since evolved into a feature film script.

Having a film script in L.A is like having a snowflake in a blizzard. Unsold scripts are everywhere. If you don’t have a top-notch Hollywood literary agent committed to getting your script made into a film you better have investors standing by. Right now I have neither. Producers I have, like Ex-New York, “French Connection” cop, turned film producer, Sonny Grosso who loves this story.

Today is the 33rd anniversary of the most newsworthy event that’s part of this chronicle. Maybe 2006 will bring about the film production of this story, that’s my wish for the New Year. The really worthwhile part of the story is, Ann Leybourne Erwin Biebel.


(A side note here. I could not think of a proper title for this film. The wife of former Chicago police sergeant, Andy Murcia gave me this title. Andy’s wife is the beautiful stage, film, Golden Globe and Emmy Award wining star, Ann Jillian.)

COME FRIDAY
Sometimes justice just happens...

Treatment by Paul Huebl © 2003 WGA Registration Number # 929072

The year, 1972 gave us a lot of history. President Richard Nixon was embroiled in a major scandal that began when a security guard discovered a burglary at the Watergate Hotel complex, FBI director, J. Edgar Hoover died, the new video game craze was "Pong," Arab terrorists attacked at the Munich Olympics and murdered 11 Israeli athletes, an assassination attempt left former Alabama Governor and Presidential candidate, George Wallace confined to a wheel chair, and police everywhere were still reeling from a series of very liberal criminal law decisions that came down from the US Supreme Court. African Americans were still being called Negroes or colored by politically correct Americans.

There was an uneasy truce between the mostly White Chicago police officers and the Black Panther Party after a deadly four-year period that resulted in the deaths of nearly 40 officers and scores of Black militants. The fallout of the 1968 Democratic National Convention riots was still being litigated in various courts. DNA profiles were not yet an available tool for solving crimes.

Early that year, on the Near North Side of Chicago, police were desperately searching for a single criminal responsible for a series of rapes. In 1972, this was called a crime pattern. The term "serial" had not yet been coined in connection with crime. This is a story about what we would call today, a serial rapist.

This is also an incredible story of two strangers, truly opposite, who were about to collide like speeding freight trains in the night, in an unlikely chain of events not seen before, or since in the history of the Chicago Police Department.

The rapist was Robert Ellis, a 34-year-old, African American who had an unremarkable appearance aside from his receding hairline. This ex-convict and career criminal’s rapes were always brutal and at the point of a knife or gun. Ellis would often don a surgical mask to hide his identity. Ellis's victims came from the pages of Vogue and Playboy magazines. Only the most beautiful and fashionable young women were his targets. He would take them on the streets or in their apartments. His crimes occurred nearly always on Friday nights. Perhaps because of superstitions that brought him to a Haitian psychic. In any event, the Chicago media dubbed him, The Friday Night Rapist.

One of Ellis's intended victims was Diana Craig, a gorgeous, shapely young brunette woman who caused heads to turn wherever she went. She was a professional fashion model who drove a BMW. Diana lived in an apartment above an artist's studio and garden on North LaSalle Street in Chicago. This was only an attempted crime, because Diana was able to wage a heroic fight against Ellis despite his having a gun and because she got help from her downstairs neighbor. Theodore DiVaquelin, an openly gay Frenchman, responded to Diana's screams and also fought with Ellis as he fled from Diana's apartment. Ellis narrowly escaped capture by responding police officers.

Hugh Heffner's Playboy mansion was only a couple of blocks away at 1340 North State Parkway (that was before he moved his entire Playboy Empire to L.A.). Another of Ellis's victims was one of Playboy magazine's more beautiful centerfolds that year.

Finally one Friday night, Paul Ropple, who was the youngest homicide detective in the history of the Chicago Police Department, observed Ellis sneaking around some bushes in the 1200 block of North State Parkway. Ropple noticed that Ellis resembled the composite drawing he had of the rapist and was the same height and weight reported by the victims. Ropple arrested Ellis and immediately began the process for a police identification line-up. Some of the victims were able to point Ellis out with certainty. Ellis denied the accusations, but probable cause of guilt existed and Ellis was to face the charges in court. The North Side Friday night rape pattern finally ended.

Months went by as the Court system prepared to try Ellis for his crimes. In all, Chicago police had brought forward nine victims that could identify Ellis as their attacker. A young public defender, Ron Himel, was appointed by the court to represent Ellis. As in all criminal cases the defense attorney has to accept his client's claims of innocence and file whatever pretrial motions to get the charges dismissed or at least reduced.

One day Ron Himel looked at the police line up photographs and discovered that the only person in the line up with a receding hairline was his client, Robert Ellis. A new Supreme Court ruling handed down at the time seemed clear, that police line-ups were to have people in them that resembled their suspect. The detectives putting this line up together never thought this case would hinge only on the identifications. This line up was now going to face a test in court.

In this case the police had no fingerprints or other conclusive evidence. Hair was collected in this investigation, but scientists had recently debunked hair as not being any more unique than being human and it's particular racial origin. Today a DNA profile made from a single hair would be conclusive and damning evidence. The identification of Ellis by his victims was the only evidence to tie him to the crimes.

Himel filed his motion to suppress the identification on the grounds that the police line-ups were unfair and denied his client due process. If somehow the court suppressed the identifications, Robert Ellis would be freed. Himel's motion was the talk of the courthouse and prosecutors and cops scrambled to figure out another way to keep Ellis behind bars. It all exploded one morning as Judge Louis B. Garippo granted Himel's motion. Since there was no additional evidence, Ellis was to be freed.

The Cook County State's Attorney, Edward V. Hanrahan got wind of the development and raced up to Judge Garippo's court chambers. The screaming could be heard down the long marble halls. Hanrahan's threats, demands and begging fell on deaf ears. Garippo was so incensed that he then recused from hearing any more of the case and sent it to the presiding Judge, Joe Power. The case was transferred to Judge Earl Strayhorn, who then ordered Ellis released.

An angry young prosecutor, Tony Corsentino waited for Ellis as he left the Cook County Jail. Ellis found himself repeatedly slapped in a most humiliating manner by this prosecutor on his way to freedom in the jail parking lot.

There was an attractive and delightful young woman that lived in the heart of the neighborhood of Ellis's crimes, 25 year-old, Ann Leybourne. Ann was just informed she was to be hired as a Chicago policewoman after taking a civil service examination with 7,000 other women, placing number six on the hiring list with a near-perfect score. Ann had burned out on her job as caseworker for the Cook County Department of Public Aid after a string of tragic events. Abused by the very people she was sent to help while trying to cope in an organization where no one seemed to care. Ann resigned from her position and moved forward to her new job at the police department.

In 1972, Policewomen in Chicago did not patrol the streets. They baby sat for the tender aged children that belonged to crime victims or that was under that care of someone arrested. They would search female suspects and assist the department with juvenile offenders. All policewomen were assigned to the Youth Division.

The 1972 the regulation uniform for a Chicago policewoman was a light blue blouse, a dark blue straight (and tight) skirt with a matching jacket, a beret with a small round shield. She would wear hose with high heels, and a large black leather purse that contained a regulation .38 special revolver, handcuffs and at least six extra rounds of ammunition. One her left breast area, was the Chicago police star, and on the right, a brass name tag that contained her last name. Her left shoulder sported a Chicago police cloth patch and her right shoulder contained the Chicago flag. But for the police star and patches you would think this was the uniform of an airline stewardess of that era.

As of 1972 no policewoman had ever been shot, let alone killed in the line of duty. Outside of one policewoman's isolated domestic dispute, shootings were unknown. This was a safe and well-paying job for any woman to have.

Ann began her training at the Chicago Police Academy on O'Brien Street. She excelled in every class subject but one, firearms training. Ann could not qualify with the revolver. Bullets would fly but the safest place downrange was Ann's target. Ann's heart was not in this aspect of her new job. The supervising range master, Sergeant Roy Swanson pulled recruit Leybourne aside. Unlike like the men Swanny (as his friends would call him) trained, he treated these young women with much more patience and understanding. Ann told Swanny that she hated guns and never expected to ever use one outside of the range. Swanny explained to Ann that she had to qualify or she may lose her new job. Swanny's suggestion was that Ann practice at a gun range during her off duty time in order to graduate from the academy and stay employed. Ann's did what she was told and passed her qualification by one point. Ann survived her 9th week to be sworn and receive her police star. This was not graduation but a turning point, Ann would have many weeks to complete in order to graduate and receive her first regular duty assignment as a policewoman.

View policewomen in Swanny's class here: http://crimefilenews.blogspot.com/2005/12/in-another-time-in-another-world.html

When any Chicago police recruit received his or her police star they are reminded that they are required to carry that and the service revolver at all times whether on or off duty. Ann considered this a bother. The gun did not seem to work with cocktail dresses should she have a night out. The kinds of purses she owned would make this rule a challenge. Ann did not want to create a problem for herself and followed the program.

Ann and a long time friend, Patrick Burke got invited to a New Year's party. After the party, around 2:00 A.M., Ann brought Patrick to his North side apartment, and then drove herself home. As she got out of her car, at her apartment building, after locking it and turning around she found a strange Black man with a gun pointed at her. Ann would soon learn she just met Robert Ellis, who was recently freed by a broken criminal justice system.

Ellis forced Ann to kneel on the passenger floor of her own car while he drove her car to the Cabrini Green public housing project. Ellis ordered Ann to perform oral sex on him as he drove. Ann stalled, not complying with the demand as she nearly forgot she was a policewoman or that she had a gun. Ann was able to convince Ellis to take his gun away from her head, this while she fumbled with her left had for her own gun. She pointed her gun at Ellis's stomach and was unable to pull the trigger with her left hand. Her left trigger finger was just not strong enough. Ann then remembered that if she could pull the hammer back, cocking the gun, it would be very easy to pull the trigger. Afraid that Ellis would hear her gun being cocked Ann waited until the Ellis drove up a slight bump to the Cabrni Green driveway. The bump muffled the sound of the gun. Ann repositioned her gun at Ellis and pulled the trigger. The gun fired striking Ellis in the mid-section, but the fight with him was far from over. Ellis was able to knock Ann's gun from her hand to the floor and Ann struggled with him until she was able to get Ellis's gun from under his leg. Ann shot Ellis 3 more times, with his own gun. Robert Ellis died behind the steering wheel of Ann's car.

Ann was convinced her new career was finished since she shot someone even before she had graduated from the academy. Nothing could be further from the truth as she found herself showered with awards from the department, the mayor (Richard J. Daley), and various civic organizations. One award she received was a curious looking trophy that was presented by Sergeant Roy Swanson. It was a police marksmanship trophy with a gold sculpture of a policeman pointing his gun. The policeman was wrapped in a little skirt made from blue construction paper. The award was engraved, "To Annie Leybourne, our number one gal, from the Chicago police range masters." In 1972, there were no shooting trophies made for policewomen.

The North side rape crime pattern ended, this time for good with the death of Robert Ellis. The young public defender, Ronald Himel went on to become a full Circuit Court Of Cook County Judge, retiring last year. The young prosecutor, Tony Corsentino went into semi-retirement as a public, juvenile lawyer. Tony was killed in 2004 during a swimming accident at a private lake in Pekin, Illinois. Ann went on to finish her career, retiring as a sergeant, and moved to Florida with her second husband, Detective Sergeant Jim Biebel. Her daughter, Sarah Erwin went on to college. Within a year Ann contracted pancreatic cancer. Ann would put up another valiant fight for her life. This time Ann lost at age 53.
A note: Annie is remembered not for her extraordinary survival of an encounter with Robert Ellis, but rather for whom she was, and the people who are much richer for knowing her, people like me, Paul Huebl.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Whatcha ya gonna do, shoot me NIGGER?

There's a video link at the bottom of this story...

At the request of Phoenix Gazette reporter, J.W. Brown, I reluctantly agreed to examine a court file of a murder case she covered where a jury just convicted a young man. She told me that there was a lot more to the story and that she felt things were very wrong. She also told me self-defense was the defense. In case you don’t know, I’m a licensed private detective.

The following day, I requested the file from the court clerk and expected to get a typical murder case file that would be several volumes thick. To my surprise they handed over the thinnest murder file I’ve yet to see. It had only contained 20 or so pages! That was a clear sign that the assigned public defender had not challenged much of anything throughout the two-day trial. I would learn later that she thought that an acquittal was a sure thing. It should have been. Based on the conviction, if this defendant got the lightest sentence that Judge Ron Reinstein could possibly hand out, this defendant would serve all of a 20-year sentence.

I began with a through background investigation on the convicted man, Ronnie Barlow and the dead man, Robert Lockwood. Barlow had no criminal record but I learned that Lockwood was on three different felony probations for different serious crimes. That was in and of itself highly unusual in Arizona where justice is known to both swift and very punitive. I also learned that Lockwood was the son of a Maricopa County judge.

This case began when Barlow left a Mesa hospital at midnight where he worked the afternoon shift. Barlow was a forklift operator. Barlow began the commute on his bicycle home. This proved to be somewhat of a challenge in this all White city. Yes, Barlow was Black. The goofy, red-necked White kids would yell racial insults and sometimes run Barlow off the road. One night several months earlier Barlow was beaten by two men in what we today call a hate crime.

Arizona in a longstanding tradition allows all but felons to strap on a loaded gun in public. Barlow was afraid and obtained a Davis P-380 pistol for self-protection should he someday run out of options. Barlow’s decision would later save his life.

Four thugs were drinking and riding around in a car when they spotted Barlow peddling home. They shouted racial slurs out the window and ran him of the road in the darkness of a strip mall. They piled out of the car and Lockwood was threatening Barlow with a bottle. Barlow did the smart thing and drew his gun ordering them to back off. The last words said by Lockwood as he swung the bottle at Barlow was, “Whacha ya gonna do, shoot me NIGGER?” They should have inscribed those words on Lockwood’s tombstone in that Flagstaff cemetery.

Robert Lockwood’s father was assigned to a Mesa court. That city’s police department investigated the case. I read enough. It was time to go and meet Ronnie Barlow. On the way into the jail I bought a couple of sodas and Snickers candy bars. I proceeded to the attorney’s visitation area where the visit took place. That candy bar and soda were real treats for this lad who had spent a year in the jail waiting for his day in court.

I told Barlow my view of the case and that I thought I could help him even after he had already been convicted. He volunteered to tell me what I already knew. Barlow did not have a dime to his name and could not pay me. I took the case anyway.

I spent the next ten days talking with jurors and gathering sworn affidavits from people that knew Lockwood and actually observed him assaulting others for no reason or simple racial hatred.

My next trip took me to an interesting group of men, The Arizona Constitutional Rights Committee. This was a somewhat militant group of angry White gun-rights activists. Their purpose was to defeat any infringements to the Right To Keep and Bear Arms. There were at least one hundred of them in this sweltering hot July meeting.

That night, I asked the ACRC to speak for five minutes. I got them really riled up over the injustice of the Barlow case. They were chomping at the bit for the opportunity to help out. I told them, “Just one thing more… Ronnie Barlow is Black.” You should have heard the groans in the room. I told the group that I heard their groans but I had a tough question for them. Raising my voice I said, “If you guys won’t help protect this Black kid’s self-defense and gun rights, who the Hell is going to protect yours?” That did the trick they were all on their feet clapping.

I asked them to picket the courthouse during high noon. I told them we needed picket signs and despite the 110-degree heat everyone must wear a tie and look sharp. They offered up a sign making party the following night. They made lots of great signs.

I had two very talented friends in television news that I knew would exploit this unknown case and event to make a great story. It was my turn to buy them lunch. Yeah, while we’re eating our hot dogs (Yes, hot dogs! I was paying!), the full color autopsy photos were out in full view on our table while we dined.

The following day the largest demonstration that has ever taken place before or since in Maricopa County courthouse history. One hundred, angry White men, and one Black man picketed the courthouse for an hour under the hot, noon sun. Things were rapidly changing, the former United States Attorney for Las Vegas, Booker Evans who was now practicing law in Phoenix and his law firm stepped up to represent Barlow. The judge at the sentencing hearing reduced the jury’s verdict to manslaughter trimming 15 years of the penalty. The fight continued lasting two years but we succeeded in getting Barlow out of prison.

Today Barlow is married, with children and has had a long time, steady job as a Roto-Rooter man. Reporter J.W. Brown is now the media flak for the Maricopa County Superior Court. William Lajeuness is a national correspondent for FOX NEWS in L.A. Jim Lemay today is a suit (executive) at CNN in Atlanta.

Sit back and enjoy the video…

Thursday, December 29, 2005

COPS! In India...

Yes I was trying to buy a little shack to call home. I had to pass this one though because there was no plumbing or electricity in the whole place. I found out this was really a tomb! Actually this is the seldom photographed rear of the Taj Mahal from across the river. Be sure to click on all the photos so you can see the big picture!

Okay, I confess that I really don't like Indian food. Thank God for TGIF. This was my fine dining. No you can't order any beef here!

Here's the maharaja returning to his 80 wives and 200 concubines after a tough battle. My driver has a cell phone! I captured six hours of video with that Canon XL1S camera this trip.



This was my second trip to India. There was no question I'd spend a little time with the cops. The good news was that a bail bondsman was close by. The bondsman set me up with the local fixer and they let me go home! Actually these were the railroad cops I met on a train ride from Delhi to Amritsar.


Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Making feature films and TV series based on Chicago Cops

There can be no better place to mine stories and events than The Chicago Police Department. We’ve had so many disappointments come along in that regard.

There was the two television seasons of Michael Mann’s Crime Story, written by former Area Six Robbery sergeant, Chuck Adamson that starred former Area Six Burglary dick, Dennis Farina. I loved the series until it became more about Las Vegas and the mob than our city and cops.

The truth really was that Las Vegas was controlled by the mob operating out of our old First Ward Democratic organization with the help of too many exempt rank officers.

Dennis Farina got his acting start in community theatre on Chicago’s North Side. I’m not sure of all the details of just how it came to be, but two great careers happened. I met Farina when I did a substitute shift, working a security gig for Goldblatt’s Department Store at Lawrence and Broadway in the mid 1970’s. Other than that I never worked with him again.

I know Farina has a brother who was and is a lawyer. The Farina family was well entrenched in Chicago history. Dennis attended St. Michael’s High School in an earlier class than mine. That’s where Brother Ringcamp kept us in line with his little red paddle. A sometime-employed single mom raised me, and she was unable to continue paying my tuition. I soon found myself with all the pagan kids at Senn High School.

Just as I left Chicago, film director Michael Mann was in the process of making the movie Thief. Mann was smart enough to capture the talents of various cops that included Farina and Adamson. There was a fabulous scene in Thief that had to have only come from our boys. That was the safe cracking scene where they used the burning bar.

This was back when our burglary dicks were putting on those impressive burning bar demonstrations for beat coppers all over the city. This was so we’d know if one of these highly specialized jobs was pulled on our beat. The visual sight of the burning bar was made for this Michael Mann project.

Adamson’s portrayal of a corrupt Chicago police sergeant was right on the money. Farina’s thuggish character grunted his way though the dialog and was less memorable. Adamson took the writer’s route and is now semi-retired in Oregon. Farina went on to become a very believable, world-class actor that we all admire. I hope he can snag a great part in the right major Motion picture and someday take home that Oscar.

My route took me to Phoenix where I began to do criminal investigations for lawyers representing people charged with crimes from very serious to capitol. The experience and training in Chicago gave me great tools I used to uncover the truth.

One day I found myself retained to assist the CBS news affiliate in Phoenix. I was recruited by, reporter William Lajeunesse and producer Jim Lemay. From then on, half of the work I did was TV news. Soon I found myself retained by network organizations working on huge stories like the Oklahoma bombing and the UNABOM man, Ted Kazinski. Little did I know that this phase of my life would take me to L.A. to dabble in acting, scriptwriting and film producing.

On another day I was stopped on the courthouse steps in Phoenix, by a newspaper reporter I knew fairly well. She complained to me about a murder case she had just covered in court. This is uncharacteristic for reporters to be personally concerned about justice gone wrong. Gazette reporter J.W. Brown was justified in her suspicions that someone had been wrongfully convicted.

Some poor Black kid with no criminal history was railroaded for a justifiable homicide into a murder conviction. This kid was waiting to be sentenced. The minimum punishment he would receive was 20 years in the jug. I’ll save the details of this murder story for another blog installment the near future.

The long and short of this defense investigation was success and soon I got a call from Scripps Howard Productions, CEO, David Percelay in Santa Monica. He wanted to buy my rights to the story and make a film. Actor Brian Dennehy who made at least two other films with Percelay wanted to play my part! They, paid me for my option, put the project into development, obtained a completed script and suddenly things fell apart.

Scripps Howard made a corporate decision to stop making films! My project and some 20 other went up for sale. Not one at a time, but all at once. That sale took years and my deal went down the drain. Dennehy, who I met, went on to do plays like the one that garnered him a Tony Award for Death Of A Salesman and lots of other projects.

Now going back to the subject, I wanted to convert some of the real stories I lived into films and television series. It’s just not an easy accomplishment. Right now, I have two films and a series in development. What that really means is these things are not moving. There’s not a filmmaker alive that has not been where I am today.

Joseph Wambaugh, the LAPD cop, turned writer and film producer was twisting the arm of every suit in Hollywood to make a feature film about the kidnapping and murder of detective Ian Campbell in a Bakersfield onion field. Nobody would green light this great story.

A frustrated, Wambaugh went to his fellow cops both active and retired and somehow got them to make a risky investment in his dream film. The rest was history; The Onion Field was a box office success that was snubbed for an Oscar by the same Hollywood suits that would not accept the project to begin with. The cops who invested all did well on their returns. Actor, James Woods stole the show as the seedy killer, Gregory Powell. He really deserved an Oscar for sure.

My dream picture, Come Friday is in such a state right now. I only need about five million bucks and I can make the first and only film ever made about a true story of a heroic sworn officer of the Chicago Police Department.

I will wait until the start of the New Year to unveil Come Friday complete with photographs.

So you want to become an actor, writer or filmmaker? You’re going first learn how to thrive on rejection, despair and depression. Is it worth it, you ask? YES!

My recurring nightmare...

I’m asleep in my own bed in Marina Del Rey CA., when I hear knocking and pounding on my door. I go to the door and two uniformed sergeants from the Chicago Police Department with drawn guns take me into custody. They demand to know were my uniforms and gun belt are located. I tell them and they escort me to that closet. They order me to put it all on. One grabs my old hat and puts a shield on it. My heart starts pounding. As I button my shirt and find that both my protective vest and shirt along with the pants shrunk a little while hanging in the closet. Next I put on my jacket the other sergeant puts that new ugly design police star on my jacket. Next they take me to an airplane where they have other kidnapped former and retired coppers, there were some on board I used to know.

Soon we're standing roll call at 54 West Hubbard, in the old Mass Transit Unit squad room. An inspector is present. He tells us what a sorry bunch we are and the Watch Commander says it’s time to go to work.

I walk to the Grand Avenue subway, and down to the platform where I get on a North bound train. I’m depressed and am asking myself, why me? I get off at Clark and Division and walk to that really seedy, Cedar Hotel on Rush Street. I check in, go to my room and fall back to sleep.

I guess I’d rather be acting, producing and writing these days.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Letting airline passengers keep sharp items on planes…

This was always acceptable until that awful day on 9/11, when simple box cutters in the wrong hands facilitated the carnage. Were the box cutters responsible or the faulty attitude and policies of the FAA and the airlines? The FAA’s old “plan” was to have the flight crews and passengers always give the hijackers everything they wanted. Personally, I never thought that idea made any sense at all.

The responsibility for the administration for security on airplanes has still NEVER been turned over to law enforcement professionals. Instead that duty is that of civilian patronage hacks in the FAA and the new TSA.

Two of the four hijacked planes on 9/11 had unarmed, off duty trained police officers on board. They stood by helpless and perished with everyone else. Had these officers their side arms, 9/11 would have been just another day on those two planes. Of course that stupid policy not to interfere with hijackers or their demands should have been replaced by the judgment, training and experience of the cops themselves and the flight crew.

There is a cheap easy fix that’s been long overlooked that needs to get placed on the table of anti-terrorism ideas. It’s long past the time to allow all of the certified, trained and armed police officers in our country to fly standby for free, if they agree to fly with their side arms. The cost would be minimal and the flying public would be a lot safer.

Until the mid 1970s cops could carry their service guns with little regulation and no problems ever surfaced because of the old policy.

The control of security of our airlines must be turned over to a law enforcement agency like the U.S. Marshal’s Service. The new Federal Air Marshals should be reporting to professional law enforcement officials instead of patronage hacks.

also read http://crimefilenews.blogspot.com/2005/12/airline-security-in-america.html

My friends at Second City Cop are talking too. http://secondcitycop.blogspot.com

Monday, December 26, 2005

Who is that kid?

Why can't I be 28 again? It's not fair! I want to do those last thirty years over again!

Taking care of business...

This was shot with my little Rolli 35s camera one Summer day day in 1978 0r 79 during the disturbances in Marquette Park over Frank Colin and the Nazis. Notice the ribbon on the officer's arm that's has this hapless mope by the hair. That's so he's recognized as the police by his counterparts. Be sure to click on the picture and fully expand it.

In another time, in another World...



Oh, to go back when men were men and women were women...
Notice how these ladies have paper targets on the floor so they don't get cold or dirty little knees.

I'm looking for old photos like these of policewomen. If you can send them to Crimefile you'd be a hero to me. These pictures came from reteired Range Master, Sgt Roy Swanson. Roy's still alive and sharp as ever.

An update: Thanks to retired policewoman/police officer, Maggie McCarthy who is pictured here in the class of 18 Feb '74 (she is the 4th policewoman from the right) I can now put names to some of the faces. From right to left, Cindy Kane, Susan Luther and Roseanne Fitzgerald. The other male range officer is the late, Jim Tracy.

Be sure to click on the pictures and fully expand them.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas


I remember working every Christmas of my life when I was a cop. I never really minded it because it was always an easy day.

One such Christmas, We received a disturbance call and responded to a rat hole apartment building on Chicago's Roosevelt Road. We came in expecting trouble but found no disturbance. The problem was that the mom and dad of the house could not operate their brand new Polaroid camera.

The apartment was modest, but clean and tidy with fresh cake and cookies on the table. Our mom and dad were both unable to read the camera instruction book. There were five kids with their presents that needed to get their pictures taken next to their Christmas tree. That was a quick fix. Before we left we took pictures of the whole family all smiling and happy.

One thing more, there was a cross and the wall with a picture of Jesus Christ. In the middle of poverty there were some lucky children being raised by two parents that had some dignity and pride. That made my Christmas a little more enjoyable.

Crime, Guns and Video Tape wishes all our readers a wonderful Holiday Season!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Why media covers disasters, violence and misery.









This post is somewhat of a response to my brothers at Second City Cop. http://secondcitycop.blogspot.com/2005/12/final-thought-on-stupid-stuff.html Some over there have questioned the gathering and posting of the photos of the Southwest Airlines crash at Midway airport. No, the posted pictures are not in any way offensive. However the posting of the pictures with officers posing, on the Internet was a questionable career move. Let's move on to my response here...

First of all, humans are curious about monumental events in the lives of people living in our world. It's natural to want to see and learn what went wrong that took or affected people's lives. We created and supported news organizations from the first day the Gutenberg press first rolled over newsprint. That has not changed since. Of course with the changes to technology, still-cameras, radio, film and today video cameras have entered our lives. They are all here to stay, quite simply because society demands their presence. The multi-billion dollar media outfits will be around as long as there are people.

There will always be attempts by forces to prevent others from seeing, learning or experiencing human events. They are the forces of censorship that want to control what we see and think. When we started this country our founders saw value in a free press and the flow of information we passed back and forth to each other. They made that protection the very first right in our Bill of Rights.

Nobody has a right to degrade or humiliate people in tragic events. The correct, and charitable thing to do is show basic respect for our fellow man. We rightfully question the media about whether they're exploiting a disaster or simply gathering images and information that the public wants to and has a right to see. There is no easy answer but the guidance given to us by the founders seems to be correct. Let them gather the news in peace.

As for cops keeping their own files and images, it's their choice and right to do just that. I really wish I kept so much more of that stuff that I could put into books or screenplays in my life after law enforcement. I was at the scene of countless homicides, major crimes, court proceedings, autopsies and alike. Cases like deaf, mute Donald Lang who killed two west side hookers; John Wayne Gacy's deeds and many long forgotten but not less important events were in my life.

I was one of the very first responding officers to 400 West Touhy Ave right next the Chicago Police Canine Center at O'Hare Airport on May 25th, 1979 15:15 hours. That was when and where American Airlines, flight 191 crashed. My partner and I were on days and only to be held over in order to bag bodies and dismembered parts until 04:00 hours the next morning. We saw most of the 273 souls close up and personal. There was a mix of officers, from the Cook County Sheriff's police who had jurisdiction on that county island, Chicago Police, Cook County Forest Preserve Police along with some Illinois State Troopers. The FBI, NTSB and FAA had people there too.

Along with who needed to be there were the tourists. A newly elected Mayor, Jane Byrne was gingerly walking among the corpses in her not so sensible shoes with the newly appointed police Superintendent, Richard Brzeczek at her side. Blond haired, blue eyed, Assistant States Attorney Terry Sullivan was wandering around and to this day I still don't have a clue what official function he had at the crash site. So was a Black postal inspector who claimed he was looking for mail.

I won't call him a tourist because he had a legitimate job to do, but I damn near arrested pushy, WMAQ newsman Dick Kay. Kay would not get his big cubic feet off the crash debris and stay out of our way. I did not care that he and his crew filmed the site; I just wanted him to back up about 50 or 100 feet. He finally got the message and began to retreat as I was removing my handcuffs from their case.

We broke into teams of three. One would do paper, another would take pictures and one would bag. We pounded stakes into the ground where we removed the remains and give the stake and body bag corresponding numbers.

I personally bagged the cockpit crew. I remember seeing the name, Lux marked by a blue ballpoint pen on the inside of an American Airline Hart, Scfaffner & Marx uniform jacket. That was Pilot Walter Lux's jacket. I remember how difficult it was to untangle him and the co-pilot from the many miles of cockpit instrument wire that surrounded them.

Many of us coped with our gallows humor especially when our food finally arrived. They brought us 2000 pieces of Brown's extra crispy fried chicken. Imagine eating your fried chicken being surrounded by so many badly burned corpses.

When our supervisors released us our cars were surrounded by hundreds of others since we got their first. We simply left our keys in the ignitions and those cars just sat there for days.

It took an entire week for the smell of burning jet fuel to leave my sinuses. My uniform was destroyed along with a brand new pair of shoes that were cut to ribbons by shreds of aircraft aluminum.

Ask yourself what the real benefit of having a disaster shown to the world by the media? If the people fortunate enough not to be involved know and see images of the event, they may become sympathetic and want to aid the victims. Imagine if there was no front row coverage of the carnage of the 9/11 attack or Hurricane Katrina? How would the Red Cross and other outfits get the support they need to help the victims? How would we know a criminal justice system has problems when murderers and rapists are released on early paroles? By simply going back to the original press coverage we soon learn the crime was brutal and disgusting.

There is no harm in documenting or sharing misery, death and destruction with our fellow human beings. We're all in this together and none of us are getting out alive.

An update:
Humor is not lost on my friends at Second City Cop. They have found additional pictires of our lady copper mugging in front of major events.
http://secondcitycop.blogspot.com/2005/12/more-photographed-stupidity.html
Here is a video about the crash of AA Flight 191

Unauthorized Southwest Airlines Midway Airport Photos






Here are a bunch of photos of this accident. There are no victims, no blood just a real view of this accident that took the life of a little boy getting ready to have Christmas. It's sad, it's tragic and it's also news.

There is a big controversy over these photos and the Chicago cops that took them. I just don't see why anyone is disturbed about these photos. The accident was disturbing but aren't they always?

Here she is getting face time in other tragic events: http://secondcitycop.blogspot.com/2006/01/one-month-anniversary.html

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Thank God for porn mongers…

Pornography has been around at least as long as the first artisans learned how to replicate man’s sexual activities through various media. Then came governments and their religious influences and such depictions were outlawed.

The American Revolution came along and soon after, the First Amendment to our Constitution was enacted. Of course our Constitution never slowed down politicians seeking regulate those rights and save all our souls in the process. Laws against pornography were established in every state.

Then one day, Cleveland Heights, Ohio theatre manager, Nico Jacobellis was pinched and later convicted for two counts of possessing and exhibiting an obscene film French film called "Les Amants". Defense lawyers took Jacobellis’ convictions all the way to the United States Supreme Court where they were overturned.

Jacobellis’ case was the one where in 1964, the late, Justice Potter Stewart famously tried to explain "hard-core" pornography, or what is obscene, by saying, "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced, but I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that."

The floodgates were opened and anything but kiddieporn became big business. A few decades later our Internet grew quickly and created many new millionaires out of people who sold their bedroom images and films throughout cyberspace.

The reason we can now transmit and receive clear images and great sound over our computers is through the generous contributions of our porn mongers. It was the smut peddlers who financed the research and development to fill the needs of porn loving consumers.

I’d venture to say without porn mongers we still be using our computers to play the game Pong.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Smile, you're on Ghettocam!

During the month of October I returned to Chicago to do some filming for a promotional DVD. I had to capture some video for a segment at Cabrni Green. It was fun observing the local, young, male population nervously watching BIG BROTHER.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The End Of The Line...

Stanley “Tookie” Williams, a street thug, convicted mass murderer and Crips street gang founder lies dead. I don’t in any way condone his lifestyle, deeds or reputation. Williams was not a friend of mine and I don’t mourn him.

Is he innocent of the four murders that put him in this box? With our broken justice system that’s really possible. I just don’t know. Frankly the track record of overturned death verdicts speaks for itself. My guess is that he’s responsible for some really despicable acts while he roamed the streets of Los Angeles. The problem is that he was convicted of four horrible murders. What he may have done is not the concern of our criminal justice system.

The real issue here is can any government be trusted with the power to kill its own people? Sooner or later every government on Earth has or will abuse this kind of maximum authority. The death penalty is a bad idea.

I don’t think I will ever be able to convince people that the death penalty is wrong and should be stopped. Can we at least raise the standard of proof above that hard to define, “beyond a reasonable doubt” when we execute our fellow citizens? How about requiring proof beyond any doubt?

What we have now is a system where a small amount of circumstantial evidence and the word of a government snitch is all that’s needed to convict and kill someone.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Leaving the scene of a self-defense shooting.



Monday, December 19, 2005 12:55 A.M. Hollywood.
UPDATED JANUARY 20, 2006...
Officers from the Hollywood Division of the L.A.P.D arrested 51 year-old taxi driver, Alexander Terminassian for Attempted Murder in connection with the shooting of a, 28 year-old would-be passenger outside the Frolic Room nightclub.

According to police the cab driver was attacked by the unnamed man, who spat at, chased and began striking the cab driver who fled for his safety to the back seat of yet another taxi. The cab driver was then dragged out of the taxi and that's when he drew a handgun in an attempt to stop the attack. Despite the presence of the gun the thug continued striking Terminassian who fired his gun wounding the man.

The wounded assailant was transported to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center for treatment of an upper body gunshot wound. Terminassian fled the scene fearing for his safety and later arrested at his home by police.

Police further said that the taxi driver refused the wounded man service after he became too afraid to take him to his destination.

The only real question for me is about the disparity of size and ability to use force between the five foot, seven inch tall, 175-pound cab driver and the wounded goon who was nearly half the cabby’s age.

There was apparently no dispute that the attack was both furious and unrelenting. The question for the authorities and perhaps later for a jury is whether or not use of the gun constituted excessive force. Other issues will be raised later such as the pending examination of the blood drawn from the wounded man for alcohol and drugs.

Okay, I’ve taken sides here and suggest the thug fully deserved his fate. If the cab driver was incapable of resisting the attack and reasonably believed he’d suffer death, disfigurement or other serious injury his shooting was JUSTIFIED.

The cab driver possessed a firearm, which is his right in America, provided he’s not a felon, or otherwise prohibited firearm possessor.

Cab drivers and convenience store clerks are inarguably the first and second most often murdered and assaulted workers in America. Being a cop or fireman are much safer occupations by comparison. I would submit that Terminassian should not face prosecution for any simple gun possession charges because of the NECESSITY DEFENSE. This defense is what excuses a person who commits an offense because he reasonably believes it was necessary to save his own life.

Now lets talk about leaving the scene of a justifiable shooting. When we’re involved in an auto accident we must stop, render aid and exchange information about identity and perhaps insurance. I’ve always had problems with those laws because they violate the text and spirit of the right against self-incrimination.

When it comes to a self-defense shooting there are no laws that require calling or waiting for a police investigation. On the contrary there is a rock solid Constitutional protection that makes it clear you don’t have to talk to the police when you’re under investigation.

Can the cab driver leave the scene? I say fleeing may save his life because of potential retaliation from any of the thug’s friends that come to the scene, or the wounded man may launch yet another attack. Getting to safety should be your primary concern under these circumstances.

When the police come, and they probably will, what’s next? This is the easy part. You recite four simple words, “I want a lawyer.” Does that ever happen? Very rarely, because the average person starts chirping away to police like a magpie. Too often it’s laced with some exaggeration or outright lies. That will guarantee you're going to be sleeping away from home for a while as a guest of your local Sheriff.

Silence is golden especially if you’ve not tampered with physical evidence. No jury can ever be told you did not cooperate with police by refusal to tell them what happened. If you do talk to police there’s nothing you can ever say that will make them let you go once you’re in their custody. Cops don’t win Brownie Points for letting people go where there’s a chance that a jury will get to decide the case.

The common police practice of cleaning up the losers and arresting the winners is what can be expected. That’s the reality of what happens on the street.

The only sound choice to make along with shutting up it to jump into the lap of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. If the case can stay out of court the legal fees are really small by comparison to a trial.

January 10, 2006, an update:
The thug was released from the hospital and is recovering. At this point, the charges against the cabby remain at one count ofattempted murder and one count of assault with a firearm. The Los Angeles DA asked for and got bail set at $1.53 million dollars against the cab driver. A bail hearing is set for January 11, 2006 in Superior Court, Division 30 located at 210 Temple Street in Los Angeles.

January 12, 2006, an update:
In the case of People v Alexander Terminassian (BA295118), bail has been lowered to $1 million and a private lawyer, Steven Bash of Beverly Hills, is handling the defense. I spoke to Bash who was able to tell me that Terminassian has no criminal record and works as many as three jobs to make ends meet.

The next court date for this matter is the Preliminary Hearing now set for January 27, 2006 @ 8:30 am, in Division 35 located at 210 Temple Street, in Los Angeles.

Steven Bash and Associates 8383 Wilshire Blvd Suite 634, Beverly Hills, CA 90211-2405
Phone Number (323) 782-0101 Fax Number (323) 782-0407

According to LA DA spokeswoman, Sandi Gibbons, the allged victim is, Marco Cifuentes.

The LAPD report indicates that the Marco Cifuntes admits to drinking two 24 oz bottles of beer and some wine before the altercation. After being shot Cifuntes ran accross the street to another bar.

An update:
It seems our thug has a criminal record for similar conduct here's the data provided by the L.A. County Superior Court:
Result of query on Monday, January 16, 2006 7:25:35 PM
Last Name: Cifuentes
First Name: Marco
Filing Date Range: 10/10/1985-01/16/2006

Name: CIFUENTES , MARCO
Case Number LAA4CR02632-01
Filed At Central Arraignment Court
Filing Date 08/13/2004
Limited Jurisdiction
Count Charge Code Charge Description** Disposition Disposition Date
01 422.6(A) PC THREATEN/FORCE FOR BELIEFS Guilty/Convicted
09/13/2004
02 242 PC BATTERY Dismissed or Not Prosecuted
09/13/2004
03 594(A) PC VANDALISM Dismissed or Not Prosecuted
09/13/2004
04 11357(B) H&S POSS UND 1 OZ MARIJ Dismissed or Not Prosecuted
09/13/2004

Update January 20, 2006: We are learning that the thug in this case, Marco Cifuentes goes by other names: Marcos Cuculi, Marco Cocul, Marcos Cuco and Marco Fuentes. At this juncture we don’t know who he really is. We also believe he is using someone else's Social Security number as his own.

Cifuentes has given the police various Los Angeles addresses for himself. None of them were valid:
5455 Barton St. 90029
1157 1/2 N. Western Ave. #1 90029
202 Fountain Ave. #26 90029
300 Bonnie Brae 90026
1570 Gordon St. 90028
1817 Gordon St. 90029
59391 Carlton Way 90028

In 1994, Cifuentes was arrested by LAPD Hollywood Division officers:
Det. J Thacker # 23454
Burdine #31960
Oropeza #36283.

The LAPD police report was filed under, DR # was 04-06-11884.

In March of 2004, Cifuenties was charged with:
01 422.6(A) PC THREATEN/FORCE FOR BELIEFS (This is a HATE crime)
02 242 PC BATTERY
03 594(A) PC VANDALISM
04 11357(B) H&S POSS UND 1 OZ MARIJUANA

The victim in the case is a man by the name of ALY SHALABY ABDELRAHIM, 47 years of age.

Cifuentes was allowed to plead guilty to the single hate crime count and in return the other charges were dropped. He was also ordered to pay $600.00 restitution to the victim and attend a mandatory course at the Museum of Tolerance on March 11, 2005 as part of his probation. Cifuentes was also required to do 400 hours of work with Caltrans as a result of his conviction. He has still not completed that requirement. So far Marco Cifuenties has been hauled back into court for violating the terms of his probation just last week. That violation has nothing to do with the new HATE crime against the taxi driver. Independent witnesses told police that Cifuentes had used racial slurs against the cabbie during the assault prior to being shot.

If anyone knows of other crimes committed by Marco Cifuenties you’re requested to call attorney, Steve Bash or leave an e-mail here with your name and phone number. All calls or e-mails will be kept confidential.

Chicago’s City News Bureau shuts down.


This was every bit a Chicago institution. It was a wire service for Chicago's news organizations that kept track primarily of cop and fire stories. This outfit was staffed for the most part by young college kids learning the ways of Walter Winchell and Mike Royko. The Trubune shut down this renouned talent incubator for good.

I hope some new organization can rise out of the ashes of City News and flourish as another training ground. I remember when the City News, news bunnies would come into my district station and pump me for information about some low rent homicide or stick up. They were cute kids.

If I was in Chicago right now, I'd want to start a new cable news program. I'd call it, The Local Wire. It would be only local news, all the time. No weather, business or sports. It would be the Police Blotter on steroids. Only the gritty local scandals, murders and bizzare tales would make air.

I'd want to start with 20 three-man crews for all of Cook County. Cop, court, and fire stories would be broadcast 24 hours a day. No fancy TV news sets for the anchors, just the look of the station house set of the old TV series Barney Miller.

I'd recruit a core group of reporters from the ranks of cops, lawyers and firemen. Of course there would be lots of those eager beaver, college kids too.

The stories would run longer, with lots of extra details left out of conventional TV news reporting.

If only I had the budget of a small country to do it with...

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Nancy Grace is a disgrace.

Avenging Angel you say? Some believe she’s a threat to the concept of fair trials for the accused.

Underneath the gentle appearance of a TV news reporter/anchor, Nancy Grace is really just an advocate. An advocate for the conviction of anyone and everyone accused of a crime that’s unlucky enough to get the unwanted attention of Grace.

Legitimate news media organizations have been fighting to get cameras into our courts as long as cameras have been in existence. The argument for cameras is to insure fairness and an accurate depiction of events in the court. Reporting the facts of a trial is a simple straightforward issue you’d think. It’s not simple anymore.

One day O.J. Simpson was involved in a legendary slow speed chase on L.A.’s 405 Freeway. Before that now famous Ford Bronco driven by Al Cowling turned on that Sunset Boulevard exit to Brentwood, new broadcasting careers were being born. Along with the new TV personalities, came the hordes of pundits with wide ranging opinions.

Soon O.J. found himself in a jail cell being held without bond and being shuttled back and forth to L.A. courtrooms. A media circus the likes of which nobody has seen before began. The media’s non-stop, wall-to-wall bantering of theories, legal arguments, and racial issues clouded the trial for a man’s life.

Did we get the real evidence? Perhaps we got some, but what we really got was an overload of evidence pollution instead. The pundit-filters were working overtime, telling the ignorant public what the “evidence” was.

In the middle of all this were the TV news organizations fighting for ratings. That’s a simple equation since sensationalism brings viewers. Viewers bring advertisers and their bags of cash. The best way to bring in the viewers is with some of the more outrageous pundits.

All the minds were made up based on the information and misinformation somewhere out there in space. The vast majority of the pundits, using that extraterrestrial evidence, pronounced Simpson guilty. Next came the TV trial, certainly the Big Top event of the century. What the American public got out of the TV reporting during the trial was 25% straight information and 75% pundit excretion.

Now let’s get back to Nancy Grace. Grace never saw an innocent defendant in her life. She blows hot air as her nostrils flair with the sarcastic and nasty delivery of misinformation. The criminal defense lawyers I know can’t really compete with Grace’s insidious influencing of jurors. Yes, most jurors are human and disregard judge’s orders to stay away from news reports of these trials. The irrelevant and immaterial information prosecutors can’t get in front of a jury in a courtroom; Grace can feed them over the boob tube.

Nancy Grace damages the basic and fundamental rights Americans have to a fair trial. I don’t think Grace should be allowed to keep her license to practice law under those circumstances.

As long as television clouds ongoing trials with the concept of Trial By Pundit, you can expect to see fewer cameras in our courtrooms.

Update 12/19/05
I just put the words, "Nancy Grace is a disgrace" into into a Google search. I found out that I’m not alone in my low opinion of this vile wench. Page after page appeared with even less flattering comments then my own.This is real proof that controversy may bring better TV ratings.

A check of the ratings for her show indicated she was at the low end for viewers. Maybe there is a God after all and Grace will vanish into thin air just like Natalie Holloway.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Hey Hollywood! Where are the DVDs?

With the explosion of DVD sets from long gone TV series where I the ones for the shows I liked the best?

Where’s that fabulous realistic TV series, Police Story, produced by Joe Wambaugh? How come I can’t get that fun, operatic, TV series, Cop Rock, produced by Steven Bochco? Will I ever see a boxed set of The Fugitive, produced by Quinn Martin?

I can’t help but see a sea of lost revenue for the producers and actors of this lost art.

Largest Gun Show On Earth Is Coming!



The press is always invited, but not the public. This show is for industry professionals with credentials.

February 9-12, 2006 Las Vegas Convention Center • Las Vegas, Nevada

www.shotshow.org

Friday, December 16, 2005

Airline Security in America


The key to this issue is just where are the security measures taking place, in America. That’s right, in the land of the not so free, and the home of the not so brave.

Our founding fathers fought and died so they could give us the freedom and liberty that we are so afraid of enjoying. We fought wars so we would not have tyranny and the search checkpoints like the nations we waged war against. In the name of security, we’ve since given up our Liberty.

Today millions of Americans line up like sheep when we enter government buildings, airports, bus, train and even mass transit subways. We allow the unlawful invasion of our privacy, papers and body by the likes of rent-a-cops.

Instead of the courts protecting our freedoms the judges charged with that duty jumped on the bandwagon to engage in this vile practice themselves in their own courthouses.

The airlines and the FAA were and are a danger to Americans. They created unenforceable weapon free zones that facilitated the horrible events of 9/11. They disarmed the thousands of well trained, off duty local and state police officers that regularly fly in these planes. They will never be able to plug all the holes in the system to violent attacks and they know it.

Despite their crackdown on old ladies knitting needles and children we are no safer then we were before. Of course taxpayer’s money was thrown everywhere by our politicians making their incumbency a sure thing with the help of the new government contractor’s political contributions.

The government needed a fix for the airlines that were hemorrhaging passengers. Was that because passengers were afraid to fly for fear of terrorists? Was it because of people like me looking to avoid the degrading contact with low paid, poorly educated, arrogant, little airport Nazis?

The “fix’ was the TSA. That sounded impressive until you find out that the upper management is not made up of law enforcement professionals but by patronage hacks. You see the TSA is not even a law enforcement agency. These civilian hacks have a force of Federal Air Marshals under their supervision.

Instead of simply turning over the police work to cops, the very same bureaucrats that brought us to 9/11 created and are now in charge of the new, TSA.

To cover their ineptitude the TSA learned to classify otherwise public information to hide nearly all of their failings.

Let’s examine some jewels of the TSA. The, “no fly” list come to mind. That’s a database that contains names, lots of names. I guess these experts somehow believe that terrorists would always use their own names when making airline reservations. There is no major city in the United States where you can’t get convincing looking identification documents for a small price. If you have the know how of any college freshman you can even make your own

The low wattage, rent-a-cops or the airline employees screening passengers don’t even know what they’re looking at or looking for when they examine those ID’s that passengers flash.

As for improvised weapons TSA has not learned anything from our own jails and prisons. Without giving a primer on weapon making the average jailbird after he’s searched can quickly make weapons much deadlier that the box cutters used on 9/11.

The searching and bomb sniffing at our airports is nothing more than a lot of really expensive smoke and mirrors.

Instead of keeping weapons off planes they need to figure ways of getting more real trained cops on planes instead of the federal air marshals that lack street crime experience that real cops have. That means that they should encourage cops to fly armed.

Pilots are trusted with a multimillion-dollar aircraft and thousands of lives. We need to train and arm all of them. The pilots that don’t want to participate can go flip hamburgers somewhere.
We need to have the Supreme Court revisit the Fourth Amendment and give us back or right against these unlawful and unreasonable searches.
An update:
12/25/05
At appears that many rank and file TSA screeners have serious concerns about the management at the TSA. Some of them contribute to a web site which you will find here: Screeners Central http://www.tsa-screeners.com/

A BLAST from the past!

















I remember the day Chicago Police Superintendent Leroy Martin and three aldermen ordered the arrest of a painting hanging inside The Art Institute of Chicago. That's right, a painting! It seems that the real beauty of this "art" was somehow lost on these Black officials while gazing on the work by, senior student David K. Nelson.

The subject of the painting was the late Mayor of Chicago, Harold Washington. Yup, he's the same guy who served 30 days in the Cook County Jail for income Tax Evasion in the 1960s. I think the other candidates for mayor wanted to hang a sign on the jail, "Washington slept here." during the election canpaign.

Rumor had it that Harold was Gay and got some unwanted help with his Gay Pride issues from Mr. Nelson. Needless to say the painting pled NOT GUILTY and somehow managed to beat the rap. I think Greylord lawyer, Dean Wolfson somehow fixed the case for the painting. I wonder where that artistic item hangs today.

The post script to this story is that the litigation got out of hand with the City of Chicago's foolishness and this stunt cost the taxpayers more than a million bucks.

Check out http://www.ncac.org/artlaw/op-nel.html

Legendary record producer Phil Spector's legal troubles


That 1960’s rock & roll record producer is soon to face a Los Angeles jury for charges that he murdered his evening date, Lana Clarkson. She died from a single gunshot wound to her face.

This case has a familiar odor about it. That of cops and prosecutors getting famous by accusing the famous. One thing for sure whatever the prosecutors can’t get into evidence in a court of law they will get to the jury through media reports of every kind.

The questions are simple the answers are not. I have several that so far have not been answered.

Who owns the gun that made the fatal injury? We know that Spector has a small gun collection and the gun in question came from elsewhere.

What was the psychological condition of Ms. Clarkson? We know that she was using illegal drugs and was under the influence of alcohol too.

Is this prosecution really about another civil action to follow the criminal case? We know Clarkson's family is standing by ready to loot Spector’s estate with a civil verdict if they can get one.

Is it fair to bring up allegations made decades ago that were never substantiated enough to merit prosecution when they happened? Does the jury really need to hear from Spector’s disgruntled old girlfriends and such? How is a criminal complaint from ancient history going to prove just how Clarkson died?

This case revolves around the alleged excited utterances supposedly made by Spector to a limo driver and cops who had over-reacted and tasered Spector moments before. Did they even get these remarks correct? Were they just trying to justify their use of a new law enforcement toy by making a killer out of Spector? I find under these kinds of circumstances people never get these kinds of quotes straight.

If there’s an event involving two people and the physical evidence cannot reconstruct the event why do we waste time and expense of a trial, when we don’t have an eyewitness or a confession?

I say its time to leave Phil Spector alone.

12/17/05
Update: TMZ.com reported that Spector has dismissed his pending lawsuit against his former criminal attorney Robert Shapiro.Shapiro took a one million dollar retainer to defend Spector in the murder case. That representation somehow went sour and Spector hired flamboyant, mob lawyer Bruce Cutler to take over the case. Cutler is not licensed in California so he had to associate-counsel with Los Angeles Lawyer, Roger Jay Rosen. Shapiro refused to return Spector’s money, which is the basis for the lawsuit.

The problem was and is that Spector’s criminal defense communications with Shapiro were in danger of being exposed to prosecutors. Spector had no choice but to dismiss his case for now. Spector is still free to re-file his lawsuit after the murder case is over.

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