News release from Tennessee Bureau of Investigation:
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation today released two annual reports that compile crime statistics reported by individual law enforcement agencies through the Tennessee Incident Based Reporting System analyzing the number of reported hate crimes and law enforcement officers killed or assaulted in 2012.
The “Tennessee Hate Crime 2012” report shows a significant increase in the number of bias motivated offenses reported by law enforcement; however, that increase can be attributed to one agency reporting inflated numbers in the category of unknown bias that should have marked as bias- none. The most up-to-date statistics should be reflected atwww.tncrimeonline.com.
Law enforcement officers killed or assaulted (LEOKA) in 2012 increased more than 3% from the previous year. In 2011, 1,826 LEOKA offenses were reported compared with 1,883 in 2012. LEOKA 2012 Highlights
Of the 229 Tennessee agencies who reported LEOKA incidents for 2012, only one, the Memphis Police Department, reported an officer who was feloniously killed in the line of duty.
A total of 1,705 LEOKA incidents were cleared resulting in a 90 percent clearance rate. Eighty-nine percent of those incidents were cleared by arrest.
The most frequently reported weapon type used was personal weapons (hand, fists, feet) at 64 percent.
Firearms were reported being used in offenses committed against officers in nearly 10 percent of the incidents.
Full copies of these reports can be downloaded from the TBI website here. Additional information and updated statistics can be acquired at www.tncrimeonline.com.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A bill seeking to require anyone recording or taking photos of livestock abuse to turn images over to law enforcement within 48 hours was approved in the House on Wednesday with the bare vote minimum needed.
The chamber voted 50-43 to approve the measure sponsored by Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, after defeating several proposed amendments and an extensive debate that at times featured lawmakers making animal noises.
Bills must gain at least 50 votes in the 99-member chamber to pass. The measure now heads to Gov. Bill Haslam, who said earlier this week that he didn’t know enough about the measure to say whether he would sign it into law.
Animal protection activists like the Humane Society of the United States have said the bill would have a chilling effect on whistleblowers and prevent undercover operations from establishing a pattern of abuse.
In 2011, the Humane Society secretly filmed video inside a Tennessee Walking Horse stable showing trainers applying caustic substances to the horses’ legs and beating them to make them stand.
Trainer Jackie McConnell, whose stable was in Senate sponsor Dolores Gresham’s West Tennessee district, pleaded guilty in federal court in September.
The Senate version passed 22-9 on Tuesday.
Rep. Vance Dennis, R-Savannah, objected to the bill during the Wednesday debate, calling it unenforceable and “Orwellian.”
“If you walk down the street and see someone commit a murder and you don’t report it, that’s not a crime,” he said, “but under your bill, if you see and record animal abuse and don’t report it, that is a crime.”
Among the failed amendments proposed on Wednesday was one that would have broadened it to require anyone observing animal abuse to report it and not limiting the reporting requirements to a person intentionally recording or photographing the abuse.
Rep. Susan Lynn, R-Mt. Juliet, tried to amend the bill to specify that news reporters would be protected from prosecution.
“We don’t punish the people who gather the information on the crime, we punish the people who commit the crime,” Lynn said.
Legislators out to stop what they see as “vigilante” attacks on the livestock industry are pushing for enactment of a bill that critics see as an attack on constitutional freedom of speech.
The bill (SB1248) would require anyone observing abuse of livestock to promptly turn over all “unedited photographs, digital images or video” related to the abuse to law enforcement authorities. Under the current Senate version, this would have to occur within 48 hours of when the recording was made or, if the recording was made on a weekend, on the next weekday.
Violators would be guilty of a “class C” misdemeanor, penalized by a maximum fine of $500.
“This is a Catch-22 bill,” said Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, when the proposal (SB1248) came up on the Senate floor last week, referring to the Joseph Heller novel on a paradoxical situation.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A proposal that would allow school districts to hire retired law enforcement officers for security advanced in the Legislature on Wednesday after being approved by the governor.
The legislation sponsored by Republican Rep. Eric Watson of Cleveland passed the House Civil Justice Committee on a voice vote before being approved 5-2 by the Senate Education Committee.
The proposal is different from the original version, which would have allowed school teachers and faculty with handgun carry permits to be armed at school. Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has said he’s against such a proposal and others like it being considered this session.
However, a representative from the governor’s office said Wednesday that the governor is OK with the bill that’s advancing.
The proposal would allow schools to hire retired law enforcement officers after they meet certain requirements, such as completing a school policing course. Total raining could require over 400 hours.
By Kristin Hall, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee lawmakers are preparing to take up a measure that seeks to restrict police agencies in the state from using unmanned drones and the sponsor is someone with experience piloting the planes.
It’s a hot topic both in Congress and on the state levels as the technology has rapidly outpaced regulations on the use of remotely piloted aircraft domestically. Currently, Tennessee law enforcement agencies are using drones rarely.
A House civil justice subcommittee on Wednesday pushed a vote on the proposal to next week. Rep. James “Micah” Van Huss, R-Jonesborough, is the sponsor.
The military has relied heavily on drones overseas, which Van Huss experienced firsthand as a former active duty Marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is currently in the Marine Corps Reserves.
“I have actually piloted a drone myself in the Marine Corps,” he said. “Not one of those $7 million drones, but technically a surveillance drone.”
He said the technology has been a valuable tool on the battlefield, but he doesn’t want to see it used to target Americans.
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) — Two officers with the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office have resigned after separate DUI arrests.
According to The Daily News Journal (http://on.dnj.com/14OPnSY ), one of the officers was also charged with misdemeanor possession of a weapon while under the influence. He is 41-year-old Ronnie Pugh, who was a detention officer with the sheriff’s department. Pugh was arrested Saturday by a state trooper.
The arrest warrant on Sgt. Trent Thomas Givens states a Rutherford County deputy saw the 37-year-old Givens driving is vehicle through people’s yards early Monday. He performed poorly on field sobriety tests and smelled of alcohol.
Both men resigned from the department after their arrests on suspicion of DUI.
Pugh has also been suspended as a volunteer firefighter with the Rutherford County Fire and Rescue Department
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) — Republican state Rep. Joe Carr of Murfreesboro called a press conference Wednesday to announce he will pursue legislation to make it a crime in Tennessee for federal agents to enforce any effort to ban firearms or ammunition.
Carr said the measure would also require the state’s attorney general to defend any Tennessean prosecuted for violating the potential federal gun violations.
“We’re tired of political antics, cheap props of using children as bait to gin up emotional attachment for an issue that quite honestly doesn’t solve the problem,” Carr said.
(Gov. Bill Haslam’s office had not yet seen the legislation and had no immediate comment, a spokesman said.
Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester condemned the measure as “self-serving” for Carr, who is exploring a challenge to Republican U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais next year.
“In Tennessee, we are facing real problems with gun violence, poverty and persistent joblessness,” he said. “We don’t need Carr’s extreme sideshow.”
More than 100 Tennessee sheriffs and police chiefs, including Knoxville’s Chief David Rausch, have declared their opposition to legislation that would allow the sale of wine in grocery stores.
Raush and several other law enforcement officers, part of a “Tennessee Law Enforcement for Strong Alcohol Laws” coalition, declared at a Legislative Plaza news conference that they see wine sales in groceries and supermarkets as weakening control over alcohol sales and causing an expansion of underage drinking.
Rausch said the concept is a “no brainer.” Knoxville police often run “sting” operations with state Alcoholic Beverage Commission agents on liquor stores, currently the only place wine is sold in Tennessee, and “rarely do we find them doing anything wrong” by selling to underage youths.
He said convenience stores, which now can sell only beer, are much more likely to have clerks caught in “sting” operations. Other officers amplified the point with Madison County Sheriff David Woolfork saying grocery stores often hire underage clerks willing to “wink and nod” for beer sales to underage friends and the practice would be amplified if wine is sold.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that a Tennessee law passed last year that targets online sex ads violates free speech rights.
The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/136AxGB) cited an opinion written by Judge John T. Nixon that says the law is written in a way that infringes on freedom of speech and interstate commerce laws. The purpose of the law is to protect children from sex trafficking.
The issue went to court when Backpage.com filed a lawsuit alleging the new regulation violated the First Amendment and other federal protections. Backpage.com publishes millions of ads each month, including those that sell adult services, and said it would be impossible to screen every ad posted to its site and the law hurt its business.
Nixon granted the company’s request for a temporary restraining order against the law.
Antoinette Welch, assistant district attorney in Nashville, said websites like Backpage are used in a majority of sex trafficking case prosecuted by the district attorney general’s office.
“The websites are helping to promote something illegal, and children and women are being sold on their sites,” Welch said. “They should be held responsible, fined at the very least.
Nearly two years ago Tennessee marked down more than 2,000 reported methamphetamine labs amid cries for reform, crackdowns and a revised approach. But today the state stands ready to log almost as many labs by year’s end, reports the News Sentinel. Despite new laws and a new system for tracking the drug’s main ingredient, law enforcement officials around the state say they’re little better off than before.
“It’s about the same,” said Anderson County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Jim Leinart, who oversees drug investigations in the county that leads Tennessee for meth lab seizures for the year. “Our problem is still the shake-and-bake (method). It’s still mostly users making their own. Our numbers go up and down.”
Anderson County reported 115 meth labs as of October, according to statistics from the Tennessee Methamphetamine Task Force — more than any other county this year. Hamilton County came in second with 67 reports, and Shelby third with 61 reports.
…State officials have tracked sales of pseudoephedrine, the basic ingredient in most meth recipes, for the past seven years. Calls for change led the state to sign on in 2011 to the MethCheck electronic database, also known as the National Pseudeophedrine Log Exchange, or NPLEx.
The database, managed by technology provider Appriss and funded by pharmaceutical companies, tracks sales in 24 states and boasts the ability to track sales electronically in real-time.
Supporters say the system blocked sales of more than 26,000 boxes of pseudoephedrine pills in Tennessee in its first six months alone.
But law enforcement officials say MethCheck hasn’t lived up to its billing. They complain of a system that too often stalls, crashes or spits out data in unreadable formats.