Who Will Find Your Child?

By Danny Domingo

Murder Victim Michelle Le

Murder Victim Michelle Le

I write to you as a proud member of the “misinformed” according to the statement by Rich Robinson on behalf of Sheriff Laurie Smith.

 

Once again a representative of Sheriff Laurie Smith makes a statement on record saying she CANNOT assist the civilian search effort for Sierra Lamar. Rich Robinson says “the Sheriff will do nothing to prejudice the case against the suspect.” He goes on to say, “She cannot comment and her uninformed opponents know it.”

 

I was asked the other day to explain just how I believe Sheriff Smith has stonewalled the civilian search for Sierra Lamar. BTW, one of the definitions of stonewall is “to behave in an obstructive manner as by withholding information.” I was also asked to explain how other law enforcement jurisdictions have responded to a KlaasKids organized search effort as opposed to how Sheriff Laurie Smith has responded. I need only to go back to the Hayward search for Michelle Le as a perfect example.

 

Within a few days after the KlaasKids Organization entered the search for Michelle Le our search leaders were given the following information by the detectives assigned to the case. We were advised that cell phone pings from Michelle Le’s phone showed that her phone went from the area of Kaiser Hospital in Hayward to the Sunol Valley. The phone stayed in the Sunol Valley for less than an hour before returning to the area of Kaiser Hospital. We were given much more information but the above information proved crucial to finding Michelle Le. For those of you unfamiliar with the Michelle Le case, the suspect killed her in the parking garage of the Kaiser Hospital in Hayward and then hid the victim’s body in a field in the Sunol Valley. The KlaasKids search focused on the Sunol Valley because that is where Hayward PD Investigators told us they believed her body would be found. Our civilian search team found Michelle Le in Sunol Valley on September 17, 2011.

 

Can someone please tell me how the Michelle Le case was prejudiced in any way by the fact that the Hayward Police Department assisted the civilian search effort?

 

It was the goal of the Hayward Police Department to find Michelle Le and they were willing to use ALL available resources to accomplish that goal. It is a terrible injustice to Sierra Lamar and her family that the Sheriff Laurie Smith is not willing to do the same. Let’s face the facts here. If Michelle Le had disappeared in Santa Clara County, Sheriff Smith would not have shared the information about the cell phone pings with the civilian search team and Michelle Le would still be missing.

 

Voters of Santa Clara County should know this. If your child turns up missing Sheriff Smith will NOT pull out all the stops to find your child. How scary is that?

 

But wait, I have more Mr. Robinson. And each time Sheriff Smith or her representatives bring up how she CAN’T help the civilian search I will give you more examples of how other law enforcement agencies have done exactly what Sheriff Smith says she CAN’T do. And there are many examples. Believe me. And just as important, I still cannot find a single case, nationwide, that was jeopardized, prejudiced, nor evidence excluded, as a result of any law enforcement agency assisting a civilian search team.

 

“Sheriff Smith says she will not prejudice the case against the suspect.” It sounds like she is more concerned about the suspect’s rights than the victim’s rights.

 

Yes, Mr. Robinson, one of us truly is misinformed. We’ll let the voters of Santa Clara County decide which one of us that is.

Fake Abduction Video

This video has zero educational value. It is a variation of cell phone snatch & grab where an unsuspecting citizen has their cell phone snatched out of their hands. However, cell phone snatch & grab videos warn people of the dangers of using a smart phone in public and being unaware of your surroundings. Wearing a ski mask to snatch and grab a little child out of a park provides no similar benefits. There are no viable benefits to this prank unless they are suggesting that we shouldn’t take children to parks, or that they should be on leashes like dogs. It is a stunt that simply fosters fear in those who witnessed the event and instill outrage in those who view the YouTube video.

Fake abduction videos can have value if they are done correctly. If the environment is controlled and the authorities and adults involved are totally up to speed on what is happening. For instance, a mother watching her child being lured away from a safe place to look for a puppy, in exchange for money or candy, or any of a number of lures can send a powerful lesson that children are vulnerable to the manipulations of a determined predator. However, this second rate scare tactic is nothing more than the irresponsible and immature antics of a couple of no taste pranksters.

 

Why I Endorsed Kevin Jensen for Santa Clara County Sheriff

Sheriff Laurie Smith & Sierra LaMar

Sheriff Laurie Smith & Sierra LaMar

I wish to add my name to the growing list of law enforcement fraternal organizations, business leaders who are supporting Kevin Jensen’s candidacy for Sheriff of Santa Clara County. Although I am not a resident of Santa Clara County I have had opportunities to interact with Sheriff Laurie Smith and firmly believe that the citizens of Santa Clara County deserve a new direction and new leadership in the public safety arena.

 

During the days and months following the disappearance of Sierra LaMar I worked with her family and a large volunteer force to organize and establish the Sierra Search Center. Many thousands of individuals have volunteered time and tens of thousands of hours have been donated to assist with the search for Sierra LaMar. The Sierra Search Center, now run by Sierra’s family and a core group of volunteers, has now entered its third year.

 

Throughout the process of searching for Sierra we reached out to the Sheriff Smith on many occasions requesting passive information that would not impact the case, but might assist our efforts to better focus on viable search areas. Unfortunately, despite the fact that her office no longer dispatches SAR teams to look for Sierra LaMar, Sheriff Laurie Smith has ignored all of our requests.

 

I have been involved in organizing civilian search efforts since my daughter Polly was kidnapped in 1993. None of the numerous searches that we have engaged have ever been stonewalled by the jurisdictional law enforcement like the search for Sierra LaMar.

 

Sierra LaMar remains missing and Santa Clara County needs a new Sheriff. Join me in supporting the candidacy of Kevin Jensen for Santa Clara County Sheriff.

 

Response from Sheriff Smith’s campaign political consultant:

“It is sad that Mr. Klass is so thoroughly misinformed on this subject. No individual has done more to protect the public from the suspect or followed up more leads in the search for Sierra LaMarr. It is unfortunate that Mr. Klass is being used for political purposes in this way. This continues to be an ongoing investigation and the Sheriff will do nothing to prejudice the case against the suspect. She cannot comment and her uninformed opponents know it. That said, as a Mother, she will not rest until Sierra is found and the perpetrator brought to justice.”

 

My response to their response:

I’ve never met Kevin Jensen and I didn’t endorse him for Santa Clara Sheriff for political or personal reasons. I endorsed Mr. Jensen because he seems supremely qualified, and the current Sheriff Laurie Smith did not assist our volunteer search for Sierra LaMar. This is one of the few times in my 20 years of organizing volunteer searches that our efforts were totally stonewalled by the jurisdictional law enforcement agency.

 

The Sheriff’s response says that I am misinformed, but I would like to point out that they misspelled my name (Klaas, not Klass) and Sierra’s name (LaMar, not LaMarr). This leads me to believe that they are uninformed!

When A Victim Has No Voice

By Danny Domingo

I’ve spent the past hour reading blogs about the shortcomings of Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith.  In my minimal experience with only one Santa Clara County Sheriff’s investigation I would have to agree that the criticism is warranted.

 

Sierra LaMar

Sierra LaMar

My name is Danny Domingo and I am a retired police veteran of an east bay Police Department.  I have also volunteered with the KlaasKids Organization since 2000.  Currently I am embedded with the search for Sierra Lamar and have volunteered my time in this worthwhile effort for the past two years.  The Sierra Lamar search is the fourth high profile search in which I have been involved since meeting Marc Klaas in 1999.  The Sierra Lamar search is also the ONLY ONE of the four searches in which I’ve been involved where the local law enforcement jurisdiction has refused to assist the civilian search effort.  Instead, Sheriff Smith and her media representatives have stated multiple times, in one way or another that they wish they could discuss the case with the civilian search leaders but they CAN’T.  Allow me to make this point very clear.  The leaders of the search for Sierra Lamar have never asked Sheriff Smith or her representatives to discuss the case with us.  What we have asked for is assistance in identifying viable search areas.

 

In the first days, weeks and months of the search effort we asked Sheriff Smith and her Search and Rescue leaders to share the areas where they’ve searched so that the civilian team could leap frog those areas thereby searching a larger area in a shorter period of time.  The requests led to empty promises of assistance from the Sheriff.  Finally, in October 2013, nineteen months after Sierra Lamar disappeared; civilian search leaders finally received a map outlining search areas covered by county Search & Rescue teams.  Nineteen months during which body decomposition, animal destruction and weather conditions have taken its toll on any evidence which might have been recovered.

 

Xiana Fairchild

Xiana Fairchild

In my personal estimation, Sheriff Smith has hampered the search effort for Sierra Lamar.  A couple of examples if I may; 1) for several months in the beginning of the search Sheriff Smith refused to disclose that all of the clothing connected with Sierra Lamar had been recovered.  Hence, civilian search teams spent countless hours searching for, logging and documenting an exorbitant amount of female clothing found during searches.  All of this documentation was then turned over to the Sheriff’s Office.  Hundreds of hours could have been saved by a simple statement by the Sheriff’s Office saying, “We are not looking for any outstanding clothing.”  Yet, Sheriff Smith forced her investigators to remain mum about any information at all.  2) The civilian search leaders have asked the Sheriff Investigators to assist the civilian search effort by suggesting areas in which the suspect and his friends might have frequented so that searches could be conducted in those areas.  These requests have been met with no response by the Sheriff or her investigators.  3) There are rumors of the existence of a video surveillance photograph taken of the suspect showing his clothing in a particular state of disarray taken on the date of Sierra’s disappearance and the existence of medical records indicating the suspect was treated for a particular condition days after the disappearance of Sierra Lamar.  A simple confirmation or denial of these two rumors could do a lot to steer this search in a particular direction.  Once again, the requests were met with no response.  Having been an investigator for 16 of the 25 years I served in law enforcement, I fail to see how assistance in any of the above would jeopardize this case.

 

Murder Victim Michelle Le

Murder Victim Michelle Le

I have been researching missing person cases since the disappearance of my own niece, Xiana Fairchild in December 1999.  I have documented numerous cases in which missing persons have been located by civilian search teams.  In that same research I’ve yet to find a single case in which prosecution was compromised by the acts of a civilian search team member.  Conversely, I have a long list of cases in which SAR team members missed a body only to have the body discovered by a civilian or a civilian search team member at a later date.  The most recent example of this is the case of Michelle Le who was discovered by a KlaasKids search team in an area that had been searched by SAR teams up to three previous times.

 

The case against Antolin Garcia has all the appearances of being a very difficult case to win.  It is not a secret that juries find it difficult to convict the defendant in a capital case in which there is no body.  Is there any question in anyone’s mind that the best chances of finding a body now rests with the civilian search team?  Why then does Sheriff Smith and her investigators, to this very day, still refuse to assist the civilian search effort.

 

If Sheriff Smith or her investigators had a loved one missing they would want as many boots on the ground as possible as quickly as possible.  Perhaps the rules are different when the missing is not one of their own.

 

I don’t even live in Santa Clara County but I will be making a donation to the campaign of anybody running against Sheriff Laurie Smith.  It is time for a change in philosophy.

National Victim Rights Week

Victims 9

Today National Victim’s Rights Week was acknowledged on the West Steps of the State Capitol in Sacramento. Crime Victims United sponsored an event, so there were plenty of speeches and participating politicians included Governor Jerry Brown. However, it was the victims and murder victim family members who really stood out because each and every one interrupted their lives in order to take a stand for victim’s rights, acknowledge their lost loved ones, and lobby their legislators for effective public safety policy and legislation.

Victims Prayer

Victims Prayer

The importance of being personally involved in the political process cannot be overstated. I’ve been doing it since 1993, when my daughter was murdered by a violent offender with an extensive criminal history. In those days, there were very few legislative fall back positions for children who were being victimized. Call me a cynic, but I truly believe that was because kids don’t vote and politicians don’t have to look them in the eye. Therefore they didn’t have a real voice.

Victims 4

Things have changed enormously since then as the result of a series of tragic crimes and effective children’s advocates. We have Amber Alerts, Megan’s Law, law enforcement missing child protocols, and greater awareness and education surrounding child safety and child welfare issues.

Crime Victim's Harriet Salarno, Lexie Ashford, and Nina Salarno-Ashford

Crime Victim’s Harriet Salarno, Lexie Ashford, and Nina Salarno-Ashford

When I refer to being involved in the political process I’m not talking about the process as practiced in the houses of government that results in political perp walks on the 11:00 p.m. News. I don’t mean politicians like U.S. Congressman Mark Foley who left Washington D.C. in disgrace after he was found soliciting young boys serving as Congressional pages. I don’t mean pious hypocrites like Leland Yee, who I saw walking the halls of California’s Capitol on the day he got arrested, however I don’t think he’d been arrested yet because he wasn’t wearing handcuffs. I don’t mean corrupt politicians like state Senator’s Ronald Calderon and Roderick Wright who yesterday joined Yee in having their names and online archives disappear from the Senate website yesterday.

Sweet Polly...Never Forgotten!

Sweet Polly…Never Forgotten!

In 1995, I joined Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, a coalition of prosecutors, police chiefs and crime victims lobbying for prevention funding for at-risk children. In 1995 the federal government was funding quality pre-school and after school activities for 10,000 children, but today, in large part because of people like you and me who became personally involved in the political process that number has grown to 1,000,000.

John

John

I don’t mean the ideological political process that paralyzes legislative bodies throughout the United States. People have differences, but can usually find common ground on the issues that are important to us, particularly if those issues regard the well-being of our kids. However, ideological politics has paralyzed the legislative process so that nothing meaningful ever gets done.

With 3-Strikes guru Mike Reynolds

With 3-Strikes guru Mike Reynolds

Let me give you an example that perfectly illustrates how popular and common sense policy concepts that cannot get a vote in the legislature can become law when people become involved. In 2011 I spent a lot of time here at the Capitol with Chris Kelly, Suzanne DiNubile and others lobbying for legislation requiring registered sex offenders to include Internet identifiers like email address and social networking handles. We watched as two separate bills died in committee. In 2012 that concept became an integral component of Prop. 35. Under Daphne Phung’s vision and leadership Prop. 35 passed by the widest margin of any initiative in California history with more than 81% of the vote.

Victims 6

Today I went to the Capitol because National Victim’s Rights week is April 6-12. It represents an opportunity for people like me to remind our elected officials what’s really important. I’ve always felt that their primary duty is public safety, but the isolation and insulation of this building confuses them and sometimes they need to be reminded what is important and who they serve.

No more victims

No more victims

Right now there is a disturbing trend in the Capitol that is putting us all at risk. Many of the accomplishments that cut California’s crime rate in half 20-years ago is being undone by the legislators in this very building. Governor Brown’s realignment policy has dumped tens of thousands of violent criminals onto our streets. The repeal of 3-strikes will allow thousands of lifers to go free. Failure to enforce Jessica’s Law has allowed an untold number of registered sex offenders to abscond. A law written by Senator Lee will allow remorseless killers to be released back into society, and finally Governor Brown’s decision to parole more than twice as many lifers than his three predecessors combined.

Color Guard

Without people like us making our views known to our elected officials we will find ourselves in dire straits. Because we live in dynamic communities that change and evolve and sometimes can be hazardous, while they live in marble lined halls where your hands don’t get dirty and your farts don’t smell. Sometimes they just need to be reminded that people matter, that showing the courage to do the right thing is more important than toeing the line for rigid ideology, or making decisions based on personal gain.

Leland Yee and the Hypocrisy of Crime

Leland YeeIn 2012 California State Senator Leland Yee, who appeared before San Francisco Superior Court in shackles this morning, accomplished one of his long term legislative goals with the passage of Senate Bill 9. This law gives a second chance to most killers who were under the age of 18 at the time of their crime and sentenced to life without parole. They can ask the court for a new sentencing hearing. At that hearing, they will have the chance of getting a new sentence with the possibility of parole.

 

The Senator spoke eloquently about the resilience of youth when he said, “Young people have an incredible capacity for rehabilitation. Sentencing them to life without parole is tantamount to simply throwing them away, without acknowledging their ability to grow, change, and become productive members of society.” What the Senator failed to mention is that unrepentant killers, who were sentenced to life without parole by a jury of their peers would be released back onto our streets with few if any controls on their future behavior.

 

“Young people often make mistakes, and sometimes those mistakes have terrible consequences,” said Yee.” Yes Senator, lives are lost, families are destroyed, and many will never recover, but to define cold blooded murder as a mistake is to misunderstand the consequences of the one crime whose outcome is finality. Mistakes can be reconciled, and oftentimes they can be resolved, but murder is different. There is no taking back, there is no resolution, there is only the terrible reality that a person who was loved, cherished and valued has been sent to a violent and early grave.

 

The Senator said that, “We cannot write any child off for the rest of their lives. We must at least give them the chance to atone and seek forgiveness for what they’ve done.” Well, this may very well be true, but why do we have to release them from prison in order for them to seek atonement and forgiveness? Aren’t these acts of compassion, thought and emotion? Aren’t atonement and forgiveness more easily earned through acts of self-sacrifice and isn’t self-sacrifice more easily achieved through introspection? The Senator is very quick to forgive the killer as he forgets the victim.

 

Now it all begins to make sense. Charges against Senator Yee included conspiracy to deal firearms without a license and to illegally import firearms. Perhaps is eloquence on behalf of teen killers was simply protecting his real constituents, the gang banger’s who use illegal high caliber weapons to wreak havoc on our fellow citizens.

.

 

I have a friend whose wife was murdered by a teen-aged psychopath who wanted to know what it felt like to “murder somebody.” After he was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole he swore that if he ever got out of prison he would murder the rest of this victim’s family. Senator Yee’s SB 9 will give him an opportunity to do just that.

 

Thank you for your service Senator Leland Yee.

Victim Advocates Visit Capitol to Seek Legislative Support for At-Risk Youth

By Meghan Moroney

003Members of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, national anti-crime organization of police chiefs, sheriffs, district attorneys and victim advocates with 400 members in California and close to 5,000 members nationwide, visited the Capitol today to urge legislators and administration officials to support evidence-based programs proven to keep children in school and away from crime.

 

Marc Klaas and Krystine Dinh of The KlaasKids Foundation, and Dr. Griffin Dix of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, joined other Fight Crime: Invest in Kids California members in meetings with over 20 key policymakers and administration officials.

 

“Getting kids prepared for success in school, and then keeping them in the classroom and on track to graduate are two of the most effective ways to keep our streets and communities safe,” said Fight Crime: Invest in Kids California State Director Brian Lee. “We’re fortunate to have so many law enforcement leaders and victim advocates as members who recognize this and work to support policies and funding for programs that help keep kids off the streets and away from crime.”

 

Members of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids California called on legislators from both sides of the aisle to increase state funding for programs scientifically proven to steer kids away from crime, such as high-quality early education and dropout prevention strategies that address truancy and chronic absence. It is estimated that a 10-percentage-point increase in high school graduation rates would reduce violent crimes by 20 percent, and could prevent 400 murders and 20,000 aggravated assaults.
Research shows that kids who receive high-quality early education and care are more likely to graduate from high school and less likely to ever become involved in crime. Fight Crime: Invest in Kids California members asked lawmakers to support SB 837, a bill authored by Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg that would make early education available to all 4-year-olds by expanding the state’s transitional kindergarten program.

 

Fight Crime: Invest in Kids California members also asked lawmakers to support AB 1866 (Bocanegra), which would help identify early warning signs for dropout by tracking school attendance in CALPADS, the state’s longitudinal student data system. California in one of just four states that does not tracked individualized school attendance.

 

For kids already involved in the juvenile justice system, intensive family therapies, such as Functional Family Therapy (FFT) and Multisystemic Therapy (MST), have been shown to cut re-arrests by as much as 50 percent. The Mentally Ill Offender Crime Reduction (MIOCR) program used to support these evidenced-based therapy programs, yet funding for the program was eliminated several years ago. Members of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids California encouraged policymakers to support SB 1054 (Steinberg) which would restore the MIOCR program and provide $50 million for MIOCR grants, evenly divided between juveniles and adults.

Missing: What To Do If Your Child Disappears!

KlaasDVD

Your child is missing. You are confused, even panicked. What do you do? Every case is different and the timeline escalation listed below is dependent upon your unique situation. Pick and choose carefully, but remember: Never Give Up Hope!

 

  1. Take a few minutes to collect your thoughts. Could your child be hiding or with other family members of friends?  This is a good time to conduct a cursory search and contact relevant parties.
  2. If you have a missing child smart phone app (Polly’s Guardian Angel) you should activate a missing alert. Among other things this will immediately alert others application holders in your immediate vicinity.
  3. Immediately call (911) and all other local law enforcement agencies. This should include the city police or county sheriff, and the State Police. If you have one, present your child’s Sentry KIDS Bio-document to the responding officer. Insist that they enter the information into the National Crime Information Computer (NCIC) at once.
  4. If predatory abduction is a real possibility notify the Federal Bureau of Investigation. FBI experience and resources are unsurpassed in law enforcement.
  5. Create a local media (TV Stations, Radio Stations, and Newspapers) contact list. Notify all local media assignment desks. You are your missing child’s best advocate so work with the Media – keep in mind that the public’s awareness about your missing child could be expedited if you share pictures, videos and other details.
  6. Create a social media campaign to inform the public about your missing child. Create a Facebook page that includes photos, videos, articles and links to television segments. If these elements do not yet exist they can be easily inserted after the fact. Also, create a Twitter feed that directs the public to your other social media profiles. This is the fastest and least expensive way to get the word out.
  7. Contact the KlaasKids Foundation’ Search Center for Missing Children.  Our services are free of charge. Our center will assist you with flyer creation, distribution and creating an action plan.
  8. If you have a home (landline) phone make sure that it is staffed and is being traced at all times. Do not turn off your cell phone: even when charging.
  9. Find a printer. Volunteers will help you to post flyers in highly visible areas.
  10. Your best chance of recovery is to encourage a coordinated response effort by law enforcement; media; your child find agency; and volunteers.
  11. Take care to preserve your physical well-being. Seek emotional and psychological support from your church or social service agencies. Make sure that you sleep and eat regularly. Refrain from alcohol or other mind altering substances.
  12. Remember – Never Give up Hope!

Child Safety in the 21st Century

Child Safety

Introduction

The Internet has changed the rules. Back in the day, children had to beware of predators lurking in alleys, dark stairwells, in and around parks and schoolyards. Those concerns still exist, but the Internet has emboldened a new generation of cyber-perverts who rely upon anonymity and subterfuge to engage their evil intentions.

 

While the vast majority of people were marveling at the potential and benefits of the Internet, a small subset of individuals were pursuing the dark side of cyber space: networking with each other and empowering amoral behavior; re-invigorating the near dormant child pornography industry; and lurking behind false profiles as they attempted to lure, groom, and victimize our children. The very predators who could not penetrate our dead bolts, alarm systems, guard dogs or personal armories had found a back alley into our living rooms under the camouflage of binary code and new world technology.

 

The problem has become so alarming that an instant message stating that, “I am a twelve-year-old-boy home alone and I want to have sex with you,” is enough to launch and deliver a convoy of white and blue collar pedophiles willing to risk everything to satisfy uncontrollable  urges. While we basked in a false sense of security the family living room became the predator’s new playground.

 

Strangers Are Not the Problem

Stranger danger is a misleading concept from a time when we did not understand child victimization. In fact, the vast majority of children are harmed by somebody they know: a teacher, clergy member, family friend or even a family member.

Do

  1. Always check with your parents before you go anywhere. – This is especially important if you don’t have a cell phone. Parents need to have access to their kids in case of emergencies, missed curfews, or other unforetold circumstances.
  2. Always be with at least one other person when you are outside. – There is strength in numbers. This is also called the buddy system. You look out for your buddy, and your buddy looks out for you.
  3. Trust your feelings. – This is called instinct. Sometimes, we all get a feeling that something is not as it should be.
  4. If something feels wrong, put distance between yourself and whatever is making you feel uneasy. – Acting on your instinct is ingrained in animals as well as humans. Instinct is a primal reaction to circumstance. It is not based upon experience.
  5. Strangers can help kids in danger. – The vast majority of so called strangers would gladly help a child in distress. Kids can always approach a woman or group of women. Even other kids will protect you if you are in need of protection. The same thing goes with men, but unfortunately, they tend to be the problem.

Don’t

  1. Accept invitations from or cultivate relationships with adults without checking with you parents first. – Stick with age appropriate relationships. Adults who forge special friendships with kids are suspect.  We know that people with unhealthy designs on children will go to extremes to gain unsupervised access to children in their volunteerism or career choices.
  2. Open the door to anyone when you are home alone. – A young child isolated and alone is no match for a determined predator or anyone else who wishes harm.
  3. Tell anyone that you are home alone. – Keep all doors and windows locked. Only answer phone calls from family members and check-in with your parents on a regular basis.
  4. Play in isolated areas. – Avoid alleys, dark stairwells, and other places that isolate or may trap you.

 

The Internet Is Here to Stay

The Internet affords tremendous benefits and enables monumental abuses. If we are going to ensure that the World Wide Web does not become a virtual Wild Wild West we have to aggressively engage those who would abuse it.  But, by linking arms and working toward a common goal, we can ensure that our kid’s online experience is empowering, positive and safe.

Do

  1. Have fun with the Internet – experiment, email, chat, surf, research, play games, and create social networking profiles so that you can communicate with your friends. Just be careful about doing so.
  2. Trust your parents – Talk to them about your Internet experience, follow their rules, and allow them to monitor your online activities.
  3. Inform your parents if you see violent or pornographic images – These may be illegal images, and are certainly not intended for the eyes of children.
  4. Stay on public, monitored, child friendly rooms if you are using instant messaging or entering chat rooms. – Predators have the advantage because they are anonymous on the Internet. Remember, not everybody is who they say they are.

Don’t

  1. Share personal information. – Your identity, your address, school, phone number, passwords, etc. should never be shared with people that you don’t know in real life. Predators and rogue marketers can use this information against you.
  2. Make your social networking profiles public. – By sharing social networking profiles only with your friends you are ensuring the integrity of your friends and the validity of their profiles.
  3. Don’t reply to or start a conversation with people you don’t know. – Don’t accept gifts from them or agree to meet with them.
  4. It is a terrible idea to open email attachments from people that you do not know. – They may contain viruses or malware.
  5. Plagiarize – It is cheating to copy other people’s ideas and pass them off as your own.

 

Summary

There is no silver bullet that will end crimes against children. Legislation alone will never fully protect children on the street, in their bedrooms or online. Law enforcement does not have the resources to simultaneously and constantly patrol every community, and online decoy stings will never totally eradicate the black heart of a predator. By itself street surveillance and Internet technology cannot contain evil intention. Education and awareness, in the classroom or at home, will only go so far toward protecting kids, because kids are vulnerable by nature of who they are.

 

It is our responsibility as adults to take the steps necessary to protect our kids. We can accomplish that goal by organizing our neighborhoods to protect our children and our property. Support legislators that understand the importance of punishing violent criminals and providing resources for at risk children. Volunteer with and donate to organizations that are dedicated to ensuring that children are provided with opportunities to thrive and prosper. Utilize technology solutions and Internet tools designed to assist you in protecting children from inherent danger. Be a good citizen and report suspicious individuals and circumstances to the police. Show your children areas to avoid like alleys and dark stairwells, and show them the best routes to and from school. Finally, remember that we cannot put the burden of child safety on the shoulders of the children.

Public Safety Continues to Deteriorate Under Realignment

By Criminal Justice Legal Foundation

Libra Tatt2When Realignment took effect in October 2011, many in law enforcement warned of the unavoidable consequences to public safety it would cause.  As the impact of shifting the responsibility for thousands of felons from the state to California counties began to play out, newspapers and television reporters have focused on the issue.  In recent weeks, news reports continue to paint a picture of innocent people fighting for their lives and property against criminals on the street because of Realignment.  The Sacramento-based Criminal Justice Legal Foundation has been compiling reports of crimes committed by criminals free under Realignment for over two years.

 

On February 18, a Central California  woman was luckily able to fight off a criminal who had broken into her home just hours after being released from county jail after conviction for a similar assault.  Patty Guerra of the Modesto Bee reports that 18-year-old Aaron Modisett-Hollie was arrested last December on charges of kidnapping, assault with the intent to commit felony mayhem or rape, and false imprisonment.  He was convicted on the assault charge and sentenced under Realignment to a year in county jail.  The judge reduced the sentence to 89 days after he factored in time served and good behavior credits.  But due to jail overcrowding caused by Realignment, Modisett-Hollie was released on Monday, February 17, after only seven days.

 Aaron Modisett-Hollie

Aaron Modisett-Hollie

According to investigators, hours after his release, Modisette-Hollie saw the woman in her front yard as he wandered her neighborhood and waited until she went back inside her house.  He then broke in through a window and reportedly threw the woman to the floor, but she used a shard of glass from the window to stab him several times.  Injured, he fled the scene and was later arrested.  Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson said that the crime was a direct consequence of Realignment, “We house the worst of the worst and we’re forced to release the best of the worst, all due to realignment and jail bed capacity,” he said.  Christianson mentioned that even before Realignment went into effect, his department was struggling with jail overcrowding, and this legislation has only exacerbated the problem.

 

On January 2, Raymond Moreno was arrested in Long Beach and later convicted on charges that include a violation of a gang injunction and being an ex-felon in possession of a loaded firearm, burglary tools and drug paraphernalia.  Prior to Realignment, these charges and Moreno’s prior record would have made him eligible for state prison.  Under Realignment he was sentenced to 180 days in jail and released on February 8 due to jail overcrowding.  On February 9, Long Beach Police report that Moreno approached an unsuspecting victim sitting in a vehicle in the area of 15th Street and Chestnut Avenue and attempted a carjacking, but the victim was able to escape and report the crime.  Moreno was later arrested.  Jonathan Van Dyke of the Long Beach Grunion Gazette Newspaper reports that Moreno is one of many convicted felons whose criminal history represents the dark side of Realignment.  The Long Beach Police Department reports that during 2013, there were more than 800 arrests from Realignment offenders.  Two were for murder, ten were for assault with a deadly weapon, and the rest were a host of other serious felonies.

 Erik Dean Boettcher

Erik Dean Boettcher

A February 20 story by Melissa Pinion-Whitt of the San Bernardino Sun reports that police in Riverside have arrested 34-year-old Erik Dean Boettcher, who was free on probation under Realignment.  Authorities say he abducted and sexually assaulted an 11-year-old girl who ran away from home.  On February 14, the victim told police of the attack and officers were able to arrest Boettcher days later.  Investigators say he picked the girl up and drove her to a secluded area where he sexually assaulted her before driving her to a motel where he gave her drugs and proceeded to sexually assault her again.  He is currently being held in county jail without bail.

 

Residents of the Northern California city of Fairfield are being victimized by increasing rates of robberies and violent crimes.  The city’s police captain believes a big contributor to the increase is Realignment.  On February 14, Ian Thompson of the Daily Republic reported that along with increases in violent crimes, the city has also been afflicted with a 43% increase in arson, a 25% increase in auto theft, and a 10% increase in burglary.  City police have partnered with county sheriff’s officers to keep tabs on felons that have been released from state custody, noting that the large majority of people arrested last year were individuals released under Realignment.

 

These stories and new reports indicating that probation officers in Los Angeles, tasked under Realignment with keeping track of thousands of sex offenders, are being overwhelmed and cannot respond to alerts from GPS monitors that have been cut off or otherwise disabled, should be a serious concern to the Governor and the California Legislature.

 

“But Governor Brown’s response has been to set a new record for granting parole to life sentenced murderers, rapists and kidnappers and cut a deal with federal judges to weaken California’s Three Strikes law so that more habitual felons can be released early from state prison,” said Foundation President Michael Rushford.  “How many law-abiding Californians have to become crime victims before those supposedly representing them in Sacramento take action to change this terrible law,” he added.