Category Archives: Law Enforcement

Items pertaining to law enforcement

It’s All Fun and Games…

Jeff Downer  It’s all fun and games until the local wildlife shows up.  Another lesson in how truth is stranger than fiction

It seems a Virginia bail agent located a bond jumper in a parking lot resulting in the fugitive ramming the agent’s car and running into a nearby woods.  The agent followed whereupon the fugitive beat the tar out of him with a stick.

A police K-9 unit  arrived next on the scene and was promptly …wait…not yet…wait…here it comes…bitten by a rabid groundhog!  Bettcha didn’t see that one coming.

After having its handler shoot the demented rodent the undeterred K-9 unit relentlessly pursued its prey out onto Interstate 95 where the the fugitive was hit by a car.  Miraculously the fugitive survived playing on the freeway and was eventually booked into the local jail.

I don’t know about you, but my thinking here is that the only winner here was the dog and that’s only if his shots were up to date.  In any case I think there is a movie in this story.  Perhaps a tear jerker family film about tragedy striking gentle woodland creatures.  Call it something like Groundbi.  Maybe a horror flick would be better.  They could call that one: Groundhog Apocalypse:  They Can See Your Shadow!.

Via: WUSA9

Posted in Bail, Bondsman, Fugitive, Law Enforcement, Smiles. Tagged with , .

Got a Warrant? The Net Widens

Jeff Downer   When a police vehicle comes up behind you while driving, have you ever wondered if the officer is checking your license plate number?  In Indiana the answer may be both yes and no.   Yes, your license plate is being researched – but not by the officer.  It is the police car doing the check.

The Indiana State Police have begun using automated license plate readers mounted on some of their patrol cars.  The readers record and check all license plate numbers that are encountered.  If any issues are detected, the reader will alert the officer and provide a picture of the vehicle of interest.

These plate readers are doing more than just checking driver and vehicle license statuses.  They are also tapping into criminal justice databases including ones for warrants and sex offender registries.  Having a valid drivers license will not keep one safe from being pulled over if they have a warrant.  The officer will be alerted about that as well.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this technology.  As it matures and become more widely adopted the scope will become staggering.  Imagine a network of every law enforcement vehicle with access to all state’s driving and warrants records and NCIC to boot.  The biggest problem could very well be in trying to manage an immense flow of information while out patrolling on the streets.

Posted in Crime, Law Enforcement, Warrant.

Airport Arrest on Warrant Issued in 1979

Jeff Downer  The Cook County Sheriff’s Department arrested fugitive Ata Yousef El Ammouri at O’Hare International Airport recently on a warrant charging him with murder.

Ammouri was originally arrested and charged in 1979 for the slaying of Joe Harris after Harris allegedly stole a can of Miller Lite from Ammouri’s neighborhood store.  After posting a $100,000 bail bond, Ammouri then fled the the country resulting the court issuing a failure to appear warrant.

Flash forward 34 years to the present when Ammouri, traveling from Jordan to Tennessee to attend a graduation ceremony, is arrested while changing planes in Chicago by Cook County Sheriff’s Deputies  It was no coincidence they were there when he got off the plane.  They knew he was coming.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart credited local and federal cooperation in sharing knowledge and making the apprehension possible.  The federal agencies who had been working with the Sheriff”s personnel included the State Department and Homeland Security.

This story resonated with me because I so often encounter questions about traveling with outstanding warrants.  In a post 9/11 world full databases and lists designed to raise red flags of course there is a very real chance of being arrested on a warrant.   Even if the fugitive has been half a world away and 34 years distant.

There is one more thing.  This time Ammouri was held without bond.

Posted in Bail Bonds, Fugitive, International, Law Enforcement, Warrant. Tagged with , .

Using Someone Else’s Name When Arrested

Jeff Downer  There are those who believe there is some benefit to using someone else’s name or an alias when being arrested. The fact is that any benefit is short lived at best and creates even more long term problems in this age of extensive integrated automated fingerprint identification (IAFIS) database networks and post 9/11 diligence.

How?  The most important thing to bear in mind is that within the criminal justice system, people are literally numbers, not names.  These numbers are associated with fingerprints, pictures and other unique physical identifiers of the person actually arrested and become part of nationwide computer databases.  Whatever alias name or names that are used simply become notations attached to those identifying numbers.

Using multiple names is no different than changing one’s hairstyle or getting a new tattoo.  Besides, having more than one legitimate name is hardly unusual within the criminal justice system, consider those folks who have maiden and married names.  Their identification number still doesn’t change when they marry.

Then there are the long term problems that arise with using different folk’s identities.  Now the system can earmark that person as deceptive and, as such, untrustworthy.   This earmark can have negative repercussions when setting bail and determination of a sentence.  This stigma can remain beyond the initial instance of using an alias.  Also there are the hassles which must be sorted out for any friend or family member whose name may have been used (usually by obtaining a certified document they not the individual associated with that case).

The fact is you cannot escape yourself by using an alias.

Posted in Bail, Fugitive, Law Enforcement. Tagged with , .

International Bail Bond Scams

Jeff Downer  There has been a widespread scam involving the posting of bail bonds overseas that I would like to alert folks about, particularly grandparents.  This scam is not new but it doesn’t seem to be going away so I thought it is worth making sure folks were aware of it.

The premise of the scam is straightforward:

  • A grandparent receives a call from someone pretending to be a grandchild and/or a person acting on their behalf.
  • A false story is spun about the grandchild traveling to another country (usually Latin America), being arrested and needing bail money wired overseas.
  • That time is of the essence is emphasized to create a sense of frenzied urgency.
  • The grandparents are also urged not to contact the grandchild’s parents to avoid further family drama.

The steps to defeat the scammers are just common sense and easy to implement:

  • Don’t get flustered.  Take some time to think the situation over.
  • Ask specific questions when contacted to verify that it is indeed the grandchild in question
  • Try to call or contact the grandchild directly as well as other family members to determine what the true situation is.
  • Ask law enforcement to verify the story.

Here two news media accounts of how international bail scammers were thwarted in Massachusetts and Maine.  In one case it was simple as as calling the grandchild at home.

Finally, the FBI has issued a bulletin describing the scam and outlining what to do when contacted by potential scammers and what actions to take if you are already a victim.

Posted in Bail, Bail Bonds, International, Jail, Law Enforcement. Tagged with , .

Bounty Hunters and Professionalism

Jeff Downer  As a bail professional I often find myself despairing over a never ending series of bounty hunter themed reality television programs hitting the airwaves.   During these programs, television production values and contrived scenarios trump depictions of responsibly conducted fugitive recovery operations.  Chief among these TV bounty hunters is Duane Chapman, better known as “Dog the Bounty Hunter”.

Mr. Chapman first gained fame by seizing fugitive cosmetics heir Andrew Luster in Mexico.  Mr Luster had fled to Mexico while facing trial in California.  Since bounty hunting is illegal in Mexico, Mr. Chapman was arrested while attempting to return Mr. Luster to the US.  Eventually Mr. Chapman posted bail and proceeded to flee the Mexican authorities, becoming a fugitive himself; an embarrassing status he maintained for years before eventually outlasting Mexico’s statue of limitations and having the case dropped.

In contrast to Mr. Chapman’s Mexican experience, I recently came across an account of Jim Elliot, a fugitive recovery agent from Utah, who helped organize a successful fugitive recovery effort in Mexico which involved both the Mexican and American law enforcement communities.

As I read the account and watched the accompanying video I could not help but be impressed by the professional and effective approach Mr. Elliot employed as opposed to the Keystone Cops style adventure of Mr. Chapman.  Mr. Elliot was even able to accompany Mexican police as they made the rather exciting fugitive apprehension instead of being arrested himself.  The complete news account may be found here.

If you find yourself watching bounty hunter television shows, please keep in mind that it is just TV and remember that it is recovery agents like Jim Elliot who are the ones keeping it real.

Posted in Bounty Hunter, Fugitive, International, Law Enforcement, Recovery Agent.

Travel with Outstanding Warrants

Jeff Downer  I spend a fair amount of time reading and participating in criminal justice blogs and forums.  A common concern seems to be about traveling with outstanding arrest warrants.  People want to know if they are liable to be arrested on these warrants while passing through airports and other ports of call.

The answer is arrest on an outstanding warrant is a distinct possibility.  Consider the plight of the mother who was arrested on a warrant while  disembarking from a Disney cruise with her family in Port Canaveral, FL (“Book her Mickey!”).

It seems that she had been arrested for stealing a pack of cigarettes at Walmart when she was 18.  She had failed to pay $85 in court costs and a warrant had been issued some 22 years earlier.

She remained in custody without bail for several days until she could transferred to the originating jurisdiction of the warrant and take care of the matter.

If you do have a warrant, traveler beware.

Posted in Bail, Fugitive, International, Law Enforcement. Tagged with , .

Magic Kingdom Mischief

Jeff Downer   Just ran across this account of a (thankfully) minor traffic incident involving an undercover police officer and a Disneyland employee in Anaheim, CA.  It seems that local law enforcement was conducting an undercover operation at the intersection of Disneyland Drive at Magic Way.

What could have instigated an law enforcement investigation at that location?  Mickey pimping Minnie?  Snow White selling blow?  Mouseketeers wearing gang colors?

I can only imagine Deputy Donald Duck reading them their rights.

Posted in Bail, Law Enforcement, Smiles.

Robbery 101

Police chase  Jeff Downer There are certain immutable laws of the universe: gravity, thermodynamics and leaving the getaway car running.

Posted in Bail, Law Enforcement, Smiles. Tagged with , .