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Posts Tagged ‘Police’

A Little Boy Lost — Murdered And Dismembered

In behavior, children, cities, Crime, domestic life, family, news, parenting, urban life, US on July 14, 2011 at 3:28 pm
13th Avenue in Borough Park

Borough Park, Brooklyn, scene of the murder. Image via Wikipedia

It takes a lot to shock New York, but the city and its suburbs are gasping today in shock, horror and fear at this week’s death and dismemberment of Leiby Kletzky, an eight-year-old boy kidnapped while walking home — for the first time — from day camp.

From today’s New York Times:

The funeral for the boy swelled to capacity before its scheduled start time at 8:30, prompting many of the thousands who could not get in to gather behind police barricades, crowding neighborhood streets as they waited to pay their respects to the young boy, Leiby Kletzky, whose remains were discovered earlier in the day. Throngs of police officers and members of a local security patrol group, the shomrim, kept order as a steady stream of visitors poured into the courtyard, adjacent to a school between 16th and 17th Avenues, within two blocks of where the boy lived. One of the shomrim volunteers estimated close to 8,000 people were in attendance.

That the alleged killer is a fellow Jew, that it happened within the confines of Borough Park, a heavily Jewish Brooklyn neighborhood where many small children live, has made the horror even worse.

The murder is terrifying for every parent, every child, everyone — and I have no kids — who deeply values trust, kindness, the benevolent stranger who will, when you are wandering and scared, help you.

Not kill you.

This story hit me hard because I have, many times, placed my trust — as a woman, alone, often in foreign countries — in strangers. I have gotten into their cars and trucks, have accepted spontaneous invitations into their homes, stayed in their apartments and houses. In not one instance, ever, was I scared, threatened, propositioned, aggressed.

I made friends, ate some great meals, had wonderful adventures. In Palermo, 26, alone, I met two men in the vegetable market, the Vucciria, like me out taking photos. When I ran out of film (these were the 80s) one gave me a roll, a generous gesture when color film overseas was costly. Astor and Nini invited me to their apartment for lunch. I was alone, female, carrying Nikon cameras. A total mark.

I went. Lunch was amazing: fun, a few others for company, and then they dropped me off at the TV station where I had an interview later that day.

It could have ended very badly. It did not.

The problem every parent faces, and each of us must negotiate — at every age — is when, where and how much (if?) to trust someone we do not know, have recently met and whose motives appear kind and helpful.

They can be evil. They can be a predator.

I know this, too, having become, home in New York, the victim of a con man, a convicted felon who brought me a pot of homemade soup, who showered me with affection and lavish praises…all in order to gain access to my credit cards, finances and who knows what else.

The police and DA laughed at my naievete, shrugged off the fact he’d committed six felonies in the time I knew him (from opening my mail to using my credit card to forging my signtaure) — and left me with the sad, dark and undeniable knowledge that monsters do live among us.

A Taste Of Random Violence: Scary, Sudden, Unexpected

In behavior, cities on March 25, 2010 at 8:10 am
USA 2006 (October 4th) New York, New York City

GCT's interior, where it happened. Image by Paraflyer via Flickr

I picked my sweetie up last night at 7:00 p.m., coming off the commuter train from Manhattan.

Unusually, he said, “I have something I need to tell you. Let’s sit for a minute.”

He had been walking through Grand Central Station, (also called Grand Central Terminal) to catch the 6:20. GCT at rush hour, if you haven’t experienced it, is a very crowded place, people rushing, running, slipping across the weathered floors, skittering crazily down the steps to get to their train on time.

It’s become a lot worse in the past year because so many people, selfishly, stare into their Blackberries or Ipods or Itouches or phones while they walk — imperiously expecting you to see them coming and, as if they were royalty, step aside.

Tonight, my sweetie, a man of medium height wearing a pale winter jacket, barely brushed a stranger’s left sleeve as he walked past. The man, a Caucasian, middle-aged, casually dressed, not visibly drunk or high — recoiled with a hugely exaggerated motion. When my partner tried to politely move past, the man leaned into his path, then stepped in very, very close and, shouting at the top of his lungs, said: “Don’t push me!!!”

My partner, a Buddhist who has been in many tense news situations as a photographer, including a war zone, said calmly but firmly, “I didn’t push you.”

The man was, he said, so close he could have spat into his gaping maw as he shouted even louder, with scared bystanders watching: “Yes, you did!” Then ran away.

After a 40-minute ride, my partner was shaken and still deafened. The event was so quick, there was no time to call police — GCT is filled with them, and with uniformed soldiers with sidearms. Where were they?

I, too have been the victim of sudden, vicious verbal violence, both in public in New York, and when I worked retail here, which sped up my decision to quit that work.

In both instances, he and I could tell that our attackers were quite probably mentally ill,  Who knows the real source of his volcanic rage — his marriage ending? A terrible diagnosis? Being out of work for years?

As much as we feel compassion for people so tortured by their own demons, these encounters are truly terrifying and left us both shaken for a while afterward. Both of us were badly bullied by strangers when we were younger, which has left its own deep scars.

Whoever the next target is, I hope it’s not you.

Ottawa Rocked By Rookie Cop's Killing, Its First In 26 Years: Former RCMP Officer Charged

In Crime on December 29, 2009 at 4:58 pm
Mounties (female)

Image by Mrs Logic via Flickr

This is one weird story — a former RCMP officer charged with killing an Ottawa police officer.

The policeman, only three years on the force, was Eric Czapnik, a Polish immigrant, and the alleged assailant, Kevin Gregson, who is said to have stabbed him outside a hospital at 4:30 a.m., is a former officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, formerly working in Regina, Saskatchewan. The young officer was ambushed and stabbed, with no apparent motive, while sitting in his police vehicle.

Ottawa, a normally calm and placid city, Canada’s capital, where people skate to work along the Rideau Canal, is stunned by its first cop-killing since 1983.

Reports The Globe and Mail:

The slaying sent shock waves through the 1,800-plus uniformed and civilian members of the Ottawa Police Service, which had not lost an officer in the line of duty in more than a quarter-century.

Constable Czapnik was a Poland-born immigrant and father who had been with the force for just three years.

He was stabbed in the neck, a police source said.

The two officers had apparently never met before and no motive in the slaying was immediately apparent.

Mr. Gregson was a Saskatchewan-based RCMP officer who pleaded guilty to uttering a death threat and pulling a knife on a Mormon church official in Regina in 2006, court records show.

He received a conditional discharge after pleading guilty in a Regina court.

Mr. Gencher described his client as “associated with the RCMP.”

He was expected to appear at Ottawa’s downtown Elgin Street courthouse later Tuesday or possibly Wednesday.

“The officer was at the hospital on an unrelated call when the incident occurred,” said Constable Alain Boucher.

Female Firearms Expert Took First Shot at Fort Hood Attacker

In Crime, women, politics on November 6, 2009 at 6:22 pm
Female Police Officer

Women cops rule... by thivierr via Flickr

A civilian woman police officer — and firearms expert — saved the day by being the first to fire at Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, reports The New York Times:

As she pulled up to the center, the officer, Kimberly Munley, spotted the gunman, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, brandishing a pistol and chasing a wounded soldier outside the building, said Chuck Medley, the director of emergency services at the base.

Sergeant Munley bolted from her car and shot at Major Hasan. He turned toward her and began to fire. She ran toward him, continuing to fire, and both she and the gunmen went down with several bullet wounds, Mr. Medley said.

Whether Sergeant Munley was solely responsible for taking down Major Hassan or whether he was also hit by gunfire from another responder is still unclear, but she was the first to fire at him.

Sergeant Munley, who is 34, is an expert in firearms and a member of the SWAT team for the civilian police department on the base, officials said.

I interviewed several women like Munley — well-trained law enforcement and military professionals, highly competent with firearms, prepared to do whatever is necessary under fire — for my book about American women and guns. Despite popular fantasy to the contrary, many women are exceptionally accurate shooters and steely enough to handle the job even when injured; Munley was shot three times and is the hospital in stable condition.

On 9/11, a woman cop helped to keep former NYC mayor Rudolph Giuliani alive — his bodyguard of nine years and a 28-year NYPD veteran, Patty Varone. She told me her astonishing story and it leads off my book chapter called “In The Line of Fire.”

Tough, brave, well-trained women shooters are everywhere. Luckily, Munley was driving past Fort Hood yesterday and jumped into action.

Why Women Need The Gift Of Fear. Yale Student Dead – Who's Next?

In Crime, women on September 15, 2009 at 10:12 am
A photo of murdered Yale graduate student Annie Le that was released by the FBI

A photo of murdered Yale graduate student Annie Le that was released by the FBI

While suburban parents are freaking out about whether or not to allow their kids to walk to school, the big news story now on this coast, and making national news, is the discovery of the body of Annie Le, a 24-year-old Yale grad student who was to have been married this past weekend — but was instead found dead, her body stuffed inside a wall of the lab. A fellow grad student told The New York Times it  requires three levels of security to get into the basement of the lab building, including two swipes of a security card.

The prime suspect is a lab technician who had an unrequited crush on her, according to the New Haven Independent, someone who had access to the lab but who is not a fellow student. While the standard narrative now unfolds of  a “promising life cut short”, her $160,000 in scholarships and her academic dedication, a young woman’s murder, at Yale or anywhere, raises larger questions for every woman and the women, of all ages, she cares about.

How, where and when — if? — can a woman protect herself from harm? It’s an issue we don’t talk about much, in a serious way, because it’s deeply frightening and can make you feel powerless and overwhelmed. Danger feels random, when for more than 90 percent of women, it’s not. They are usually killed by someone they know, and usually a man with whom they have or have had a relationship. When some men can’t have the woman they want, they claim the ultimate prize instead — her life.

I learned a lot about violence against women, hearing things I wish I hadn’t, and hadn’t known men can do, when I spoke to women around the country for my book on women and guns. One woman was shot point-blank in her own suburban California driveway, her husband shot dead beside her because he only had $8 in his wallet, not enough to satisfy the criminal who followed them home. Today, a trained counselor, she helps other women cope with trauma. Hers was a random attack, but it’s usually a man who decides he owns you — no matter how the woman feels about this — and is going to have you, or else.

Here’s my wish for every woman, of any age. Don’t trust appearances. You need three security cards to get into the basement lab which makes you feel safe and secure. Right? Who’s in there with you? Are you alone? How quickly and easily can you get out? I don’t advocate paranoia; none of us can live like that all the time. But I do advocate thinking and acting like a member of the Secret Service, men and women exquisitely trained to observe their surroundings in detail, to watch faces and body language, to anticipate danger before it happens and figure out how they can, or will, avoid it.

I say this from personal, brutal, terrifying experience. A convicted felon came into my life 10 years ago. I was lonely, broke, struggling, low on confidence. Vulnerable. He had — I would only discover after four months’ dating him and hiring a private detective, a former NYPD cop — served time in Illinois, made the front page of all the Chicago papers for his crimes there, even appeared on American Journal, an early reality TV show.  After I realized what he was and bought the tape of his television appearance and showed it to my Dad, he had one immediate reaction: “He’s so little!” The criminal was; maybe 5’6″, with hands and teeth almost childishly small.  His most powerful weapon? He didn’t look threatening.

He opened my mail, stole a credit card, used it, forging my signature….a total of six felonies by the time he was done with me. The local police and the DA refused to take my case. No one was going to gallop to my rescue. No one. All those years of believing in authority and their right and ability to help me. Gone. I changed my locks and phone numbers and all my bank accounts. I did not date for four months. I did not let a man I did not know very well cross the threshold of my front door for 12 months. I was terrified to answer the phone for months, slept at a friend’s house for a week or two, learned how to drive while looking to see if someone was following me.

This will sound unreal, but the felon gave me a present. It’s a book called The Gift of Fear which contains  an entire page listing male behaviors that, to many women, look social, friendly, even flirtatious or kind. They are also time-tested and highly efficient ways to win a woman’s trust, then commit a crime against her. It’s written by a security expert and I think every woman of every age should read it. It would have saved me an enormous amount of time, money, heartache and terror. It would have, the felon knew, saved me from him.

Maybe it could have saved Annie Le.

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