iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Six NFL head coaching jobs opened up as the regular season wrapped up, and nearly all have been filled less than two weeks into the playoffs.

The Los Angeles Rams made history, hiring the NFL’s youngest head coach. 30-year-old Sean McVay has agreed to become the Rams’ next head coach. He was the Redskins offensive coordinator last season.

The Chargers and Rams will be sharing a city next year, and Los Angeles’ newest team has a first time head coach. Former Bills interim head coach Anthony Lynn is tasked with leading the Chargers as they move from San Diego to L-A.

Lynn was considered a favorite for the Bills opening, but that job will go to Sean McDermott, who is the former Panthers defensive coordinator. It is also his first head coaching job.

Doug Marrone takes over for the Jacksonville Jaguars, replacing Gus Bradley. Marrone previously served as the Bills head coach for two seasons. Former Giants head coach Tom Coughlin was also hired by the organization and will be their Executive Vice President.

And just two years removed from a Super Bowl victory, the Denver Broncos hired first time head coach Vance Joseph, who was previously the Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator. He will take over for Gary Kubiak (koo-bee-ack), who recently retired due to health concerns.

The one team yet to fill their head coaching vacancy: the San Francisco 49ers. Rumors have swirled who will replace Chip Kelly. It could be a coordinator from one of the remaining playoff teams, but it’s unclear if the 49ers are hoping to find a head coach before the NFL postseason is finished.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A tweet posted by the city of Biloxi, Mississippi, Friday night referred to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as “Great Americans Day” — in an apparent attempt to also honor the birth of Confederate general Robert E. Lee.

“Non-emergency municipal offices in Biloxi will be closed on Monday in observance of Great Americans Day,” read the tweet.

A backlash immediately ensued, with thousands of angry individuals taking to the city’s social media accounts to question why the Gulf Coast city didn’t refer to Monday as the federally-observed holiday named in honor of the iconic civil rights leader.

The city later edited a similarly-worded Facebook post, to describe “Great Americans Day” as “a state-named holiday.”

But that assertion isn’t exactly the case: The list of state holidays on the government of Mississippi’s website does not list either Martin Luther King, Jr. Day nor “Great Americans Day.” It does, however, cite the state’s observance of both King and Lee’s birthdays on the third Monday of January — without explicitly naming the day.

In fact, the genesis of “Great Americans Day” appears to stem from the municipal level. ABC affiliate WLOX reports that the name change was introduced to city council on Dec. 23, 1985, and approved on Dec. 31, 1985.

The city of Biloxi echoed that sentiment in a written statement following the backlash:

“Biloxi Mayor Andrew ‘FoFo’ Gilich, responding to a flurry of comments about a city tweet today referring to Monday as ‘Great Americans Day,’ believes the Biloxi City Council on Tuesday should take steps to update the city’s Code of Ordinances to reflect the official federal name of the holiday, ‘Birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,’ commonly known as ‘Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day,” read the statement.

Gilich says in the statement, “In my opinion that is the appropriate step to take, for the holiday to have the same name as the federal holiday. This city’s longstanding support of our annual MLK celebrations speaks volumes about our support for this holiday. In fact, we’ve always celebrated this day as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.”

The city’s statement also acknowledges that the city council did indeed pass a motion to honor other notable Americans. “The issue arose this afternoon when the city tweeted a one-line sentence that said non-emergency city offices would be closed on Monday ‘in observance of Great Americans Day,” reads the statement.

It continues, “The name has since been traced back to a City Council on Dec. 23, 1985 to proclaim the third Monday of every January ‘to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as well as other great Americans who have made important contributions to the birth, growth and evolution of this country.'”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Here are the latest scores and winners:

Philadelphia 102 Charlotte 93
Toronto 132 Brooklyn 113
Memphis 110 Houston 105
Minnesota 96 Oklahoma City 86
Milwaukee 116 Miami 108
Boston 103 Atlanta 101
Orlando 115 Portland 109
Cleveland 120 Sacramento 108
Utah 110 Detroit 77

Toronto 4 N-Y Rangers 2
Washington 6 Chicago 0
Carolina 5 Buffalo 2
N-Y Islanders 5 Florida 2
Columbus 3 Tampa Bay 1
New Jersey 2 Calgary 1
Arizona 4 Winnipeg 3

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — “Those children were sold, and they simply tried to sanitize it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the definition of evil”, said Sen. Claire McCaskill, glaring at the five company executives sitting in front of her.

Jan. 10 was a day of reckoning on Capitol Hill for the controversial classified site, as the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations released a new report saying that Backpage had knowingly facilitated underage trafficking on its site by actively editing ads posted in the “adult services” section. The website’s top executives were subpoenaed to attend a hearing where the Subcommittee, led by Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and McCaskill, D-Missouri, laid out their findings, which were based on over a million pages of internal company documents.

For parents Tom and Nacole, this was a day they dreamed would come. Their daughter, who ABC News is calling “Natalie,” was repeatedly sold for sex on when she was only 15 years old.

“They took everything from my little girl,” said Tom, who asked that ABC News not use his family’s surname. Tom and Nacole traveled halfway across the country to testify at this Senate hearing, hoping that sharing their story may lead to Backpage being held accountable.

Based in Dallas, is a basic classifieds ad website where people can sell cars, furniture and other items, but the vast majority of their revenue comes from their racy adult section, with categories like “escorts” and “body rubs” — technically legal services that law enforcement describes as a thinly veiled code for prostitution.

For over a year, ABC News “Nightline” has been conducting an investigation into the problem of underage sex trafficking through ads on and the efforts to stop it. “Nightline” first met Tom, Nacole and their daughter Natalie last spring. Natalie ran away from home at age 15, and ended up falling into the hands of a pimp. She says she was forced into prostitution over 100 times, and believes that made it possible for her pimp to sell her for sex over and over again.

“It’s simple. It’s too simple” she said. “[Backpage] asks if you’re eighteen or older. I mean a simple yes click was about as far as that went.”

The U.S. Senate has been investigating underage trafficking on Backpage for years and this week, the hearing marked a major breakthrough.

The Subcommittee found that Backpage wasn’t just hosting adult ads people posted on their site, it was actively editing them — erasing words that would indicate underage trafficking. Through their automatic word filtering system, the site would erase terms like “Lolita, “Little Girl” and even “Amber Alert” from ads posted in the ‘adult’ section. They would then post the “cleaned up” ads to the site anyway.

“The fact that these terms were stripped out through this screening process does not mean that that girls age was magically changed,” Sen. Portman told Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer during the hearing. “In fact, what you have done, of course, is to cover up the fact that many underage girls were sold on your site, making it harder for law enforcement, parents and committed aid groups to find those kids who need help.”

One by one, Ferrer, co-founders Jim Larkin and Mike Lacey, and other Backpage executives refused to testify at the hearing. On their social media accounts, Backpage called the Senate investigation a violation of their First Amendment rights.

Backpage’s argument is based on a law called the Communications Decency Act, or CDA. The law protects all internet hosting companies, including Backpage, from being held legally responsible for what users post on their websites.

“[The law] protects freedom of speech on the internet,” explained ABC News senior legal correspondent Sunny Hostin. “If you have someone selling a stolen car on your website and you don’t know that the car is stolen, you are not responsible for the selling of a stolen vehicle.”

In the past, many underage girls who say they were trafficked on Backpage have tried suing the site. But so far, nearly every lawsuit has been dismissed under the CDA. However, many believe the Senate’s findings could mean that Backpage would no longer be protected by this law because they engaged in actively changing content.

“I think it potentially means liability,” Hostin said. “When you proactively, and actively decide to filter out certain terms, that’s a game changer because you’re talking about active participation.”

Just hours before the hearing, Backpage shut down its entire adult services section, replacing the pages with a banner saying, “The government has unconstitutionally censored this content.”

“In terms of their action last night to shut down their adult section… obviously that was a vindication of our report. And it was not censorship. No one told them to do that,” Portman told “Nightline.”

Backpage has repeatedly claimed that they are part of the solution, not the problem. The company told ABC News in a previous statement that it employs moderators who diligently screen ads to stop underage trafficking on its site. They added that they have voluntarily undertaken a multi-tiered “policing system to prohibit and report attempts at human exploitation and the advertisement of prostitution” that screens for words and phrases that might “suggest illegal activity.”

The company also said it actively cooperates with law enforcement and reports suspicious ads to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, or NCMEC.

In 2012, their attorney Liz McDougall told “Nightline,” that “online human trafficking exists… and the best tools to fight it are online, and is currently one of the very best tools to fight it.”

But NCMEC Senior Counsel Yiota Souras takes issue with Backpage’s claim. “I don’t think you can be in the business of providing basically an online bazaar for escort ads that includes the purchase and sale of children for sex, and say that you are online to help fight the problem” she said.

Backpage, which was owned by Village Voice media until 2012, was sold to an “unnamed Dutch holding company” in December 2014, according to news articles at the time. It was later revealed that this mysterious holding company was owned by Ferrer. “Nightline” discovered that he seemed to be running several similar websites from Amsterdam, like and “Nightline” also discovered he was running a site called “Cracker” that was extremely similar to Backpage and available almost everywhere except the United States.

Ferrer has declined “Nightline’s” repeated requests for interview, and when we tracked Ferrer to a classified ad industry conference in Amsterdam last year, he again refused to speak with us.

One former Backpage employee agreed to speak with “Nightline” under the condition that her identity not be revealed. Her account echoed the testimony of other employees interviewed for the Senate report. Her job was to moderate ads to make sure they didn’t contain pictures or certain terms indicating prostitution or underage trafficking.

“The way they described the job as a moderating is that we would be monitoring ads that came through the site for our adult content section,” she said. “The ads were basically, ‘Hey come have a good time with honey… ‘no rain coats,’ would be code word for ‘no condoms… ‘in town for one night only, come see me.’”

“And these ads would be so cheap that they would post them constantly,” she continued. “So if the ad did get deleted, they would take $5 and post five more ads of the same one. So it becomes really frustrating because you know you just deleted this ad and 10 minutes later, you’re seeing it again.”

At the Senate hearing, both Tom and Nacole took the witness stand to tell their story. “I can only tell you that when we finally got Natalie back for good, months later, the young girl we found wasn’t the same Natalie that had left our home months earlier,” Nacole testified.

“In my mind, it’s simple” Tom said. “What happened to my daughter on is criminal.”

At the hearing, Souras told “Nightline” that the hearing was “a game changer.” “I think it lays bare [Backpage’s] level of knowledge about what they were dealing with. And how they chose to deal with criminal acts– the selling of children for sex,” she said.

As far as Backpage’s self-imposed shutdown, Souras is skeptical. “Who knows what that means, who knows if they’ll be back up tomorrow,” she said.

In fact, “Nightline” discovered that very quickly after Backpage’s adult section was shuttered, ads began springing up in the ‘men seeking women’ dating section of the site that looked very similar to the ads that were usually posted in the escort section.

Some sex trafficking groups have spoken out against Backpage’s shutdown. Dr, Lois Lee, the founder and president of Children of the Night, said in a statement that Backpage “was a critical investigative took depended on by America’s vice detectives and agents in the field to locate and recover missing children.”

Other groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation take exception to the Senate going after the website’s hosting operations, saying the “invasive inquiry into’s editorial practices… creates an intense chilling effect… for any website operator seeking to define their own… moderation procedures for the third-party content they host.”

Legal questions may still be up for debate. The Senate Subcommittee is considering referring the case to the Department of Justice.

“Even under current law, I believe that this evidence of illegality should lead to a successful prosecution,” Sen. Portman said.

Last October, the California Attorney General charged Carl Ferrer, James Larkin, and Mike Lacey with pimping — charges which were later dismissed due to the Communications Decency Act. They have now filed new charges against Backpage, citing new evidence. The site’s attorneys say they will fight these charges.

As for Tom, Nacole, and their daughter Natalie, they’re also waiting for their day in court. Natalie is part of a civil lawsuit against Backpage, one that focuses on the claim that Backpage was editing ads. Her lawyers hope that the revelations in the new Senate report could help them to win her case.

After the hearing, Tom told “Nightline” their fight against Backpage is far from over. “Not until they’re indicted and go to jail,” he said.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Courtesy Rice Family(CLEVELAND) — Three Cleveland police officers are facing administrative charges following an internal investigation into the death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was shot and killed by police while carrying a toy gun in November 2014.

The charges were brought against Cleveland police officers Timothy Loehmann, Frank Garmback and William Cunningham, who were all on the scene when Rice was shot, city officials said in a press conference Friday afternoon. The city’s Quality Control Office, Integrity Control Section and Critical Incident Review Committee reviewed the case and recommended administrative charges, the mayor’s office said in a press release.

In December 2015, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson announced that the review would be conducted, saying, “People are upset, and legitimately and rightfully so.”

Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams reviewed the findings of the report and referred them to the Department of Public Safety for a final determination on the appropriate disciplinary action.

DPS Director Michael McGrath will hold disciplinary hearings for the three officers, who face discipline ranging from 11 days suspension to termination, according to the mayor’s office.

The DPS Quality Control Office also conducted an investigation into the hiring of Loehmann, specifically his application documents, the mayor’s office said. Administrative charges against a fourth officer are expected, according to the mayor’s office.

In November 2014, Loehmann shot Rice as he was holding a toy gun at a Cleveland playground. The boy’s sister ran to the gazebo where he was shot in a state of panic, and Cunningham and Garmback restrained her before handcuffing her and placing her in the back of the patrol car, according to a report by the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office.

“It was Officer Cunningham’s idea to place her in the back of the car since she would not calm down,” the report from the prosecutor’s office stated.

An Ohio grand jury declined to indict Loehmann or his partner, Garmback, in the boy’s death. The prosecutor at the time, Timothy McGinty, who recommended no charges be filed, said Loehmann “had reason to fear for his life” and that it was “indisputable” from video evidence that Rice was reaching for the gun, though he called the shooting a “tragedy.”

The City of Cleveland settled a $6 million wrongful death suit by the boy’s family in the case, although there was no admission of wrongdoing.

After the shooting, Loehmann and Garmback had been placed on restricted duties, which is a paid administrative position, the president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association told ABC News in 2015. The group did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

It is not clear whether Cunningham was placed on restricted duties after the shooting.

The Critical Incident Review Committee was created in February 2016 to “conduct a thorough review administrative review of the actions of all employees and officers involved” in the incident, according to a press release from the city of Cleveland. It consists of members of the Cleveland Division of Police Command Staff, Integrity Control Section and Training Section, along with members of the City of Cleveland Law Department.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

iStock/Thinkstock(SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.) — A Scottsdale, Arizona former medic who helped a trooper ambushed during a traffic stop said a Good Samaritan who shot and killed the officer’s assailant “did what we had to do.”

A dramatic scene unfolded during the confrontation when the Good Samaritan told the assailant to stop assaulting the officer and then shot and killed the attacker, according to police.

The Department of Public Safety identified Friday the officer as 27-year veteran state Trooper Ed Andersson.

The medic, Brian Schober, is the man heard calling for help on the trooper’s radio, saying “Officer down. … Officer down.”

“I am glad that he was there and did what he did,” Schober said about the Good Samaritan.

According to the Department of Public Safety, the incident started around 4 a.m. when Andersson responded to a call about gunfire in the area.

Department Director Ralph Milstead said the driver had called police to report being shot at while driving along Interstate 10.

As the trooper arrived in the general vicinity where the caller had reported being shot at, the trooper spotted a rollover car wreck, where a woman had been ejected. She was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

It was unclear if the person who fired at the vehicle is the suspect who shot the trooper.

As Andersson was blocking off lanes and setting up flares, the assailant shot the trooper in the chest and then proceeded to physically attack him, Milstead said. Police said they believe that the man who shot and assaulted the trooper was the driver of the vehicle that crashed.

A Good Samaritan who noticed the altercation pulled over and asked the officer whether he needed help, to which he said yes. According to authorities Friday, the Good Samaritan’s fiance also called 911. The motorist then retrieved a gun from his car and fatally shot the suspect.

Authorities said Friday that Andersson underwent surgery Thursday and was doing well. They also said the motorist who shot the suspect did not want to be interviewed by the media.

“My trooper would not be alive without his assistance,” Milstead said of the motorist.

Schober told ABC News recently that he knew right away something was wrong when he saw the trooper’s car on the side of the highway and said the Good Samaritan had waved him over.

“I got out of my car and assessed the situation,” he said.

He said the Good Samaritan’s fiance helped him administer first aid to the officer. He said he also called for help using the trooper’s radio.

“I didn’t know what was going to happen,” he said. “We did what we had to do. … God put us at the right place at the right time.”

Schober said there was no doubt the Good Samaritan saved the trooper’s life. According to Schober, the suspect was bashing the trooper’s head into the concrete, leaving him with severe cuts on the back and side of his head.

Officials had not yet confirmed the suspect’s identity or the deceased occupant of the vehicle, Milstead added.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

ABC News(JACKSONVILLE, Fla.) — Authorities have found and identified a woman in South Carolina who was abducted from a Florida hospital more than 18 years ago as a newborn baby.

The woman, named Kamiyah Mobley at birth, was kidnapped on July 10, 1998, just hours after she was born at a Jacksonville hospital, according to Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams.

She was abducted by a woman, now identified as Gloria Williams, who had posed as a nurse and told Mobley’s mother that the baby had a fever and she needed to take her away, Mike Williams said at a news conference Friday.

Gloria Williams, now 51, was able to walk out of the hospital with Mobley and was never caught — until now. She has been arrested and charged with kidnapping, officials said at the news conference.

Mobley grew up in Walterboro, South Carolina, thinking that Gloria Williams was her biological mother, according to the sheriff. He said that she now appears to be a normal 18-year-old woman in good health.

The sheriff added that Mobley has been living under a different name for the past 18 years. Officials are not releasing her current name in the interest of reducing any further trauma.

Mobley began to suspect a few months ago that she may have been involved in the reported 1998 abduction case, the sheriff said. She recently submitted a DNA sample to authorities and the sample came back positive this past Thursday night, he said.

Mobley’s biological mother, father, grandmother and a couple of close family friends have been notified and they are extremely excited, the sheriff said.

Craig Aiken, Mobley’s biological father, told ABC News Friday he has spoken with Mobley over the phone and on Skype, along with her biological mother.

“It was like the end of a nightmare,” Aiken said. “I can’t even explain it.”

Aiken said that he and Mobley’s biological mother would celebrate her birthday every year and would imagine “how it would be if she were here” and “what we would do if she came came back.”

He added that he expects Mobley to visit her place of birth very soon and that the they would take it “day by day” to slowly “transition back to a happy family.”

Mobley’s biological grandmother, Velma Aiken, told ABC News that the family cried “tears of joy” when they were informed by police that her granddaughter had been found. Velma Aiken said it felt like they had known each other all along.

Although she was “bitter and empty” toward Williams for “stealing” her “grandbaby,” Velma Aiken said she is grateful that Williams was “willing to raise her right.”

Williams was charged with kidnapping at a bond hearing on Friday in South Carolina. Bail was denied and another bond hearing will be held once she is extradited to Jacksonville, Florida, according to the sheriff’s office.

Mobley, who identified herself as “Alexis” in court, began to cry when her mother was denied bond. She told Williams that she is “praying for her.”

“Mama, I love you,” she said.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

iStock/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) — Federal investigators have determined that the Chicago Police Department has violated the constitutional rights of citizens for years in numerous ways, such as using excessive force, permitting racially discriminatory conduct and shooting individuals who posed no immediate threats, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Friday.

“One of my highest priorities as attorney general has been to ensure that every American enjoys police protection that is lawful, responsive and transparent,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement Friday in announcing the findings. “Sadly, our thorough investigation into the Chicago Police Department found that far too many residents of this proud city have not received that kind of policing.”

After a year-long probe into the city’s 12,000-officer police force, which began in December 2015 after the release of a dashcam video of a white officer’s shooting a black teen, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the North District of Illinois released on Friday a scathing 161-page report that details their findings of “systemic deficiencies” in training and accountability that investigators say have led to a pattern or practice of using force in violation of the Constitution.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois said “these findings are not new” and should come as no surprise to Chicago residents.

After the report’s release, officials from the Justice Department and the city of Chicago said Friday they have signed an agreement in principle to work together, with community input, to create a federal court-enforceable consent decree addressing the deficiencies uncovered during the investigation. An independent monitor, who has yet to be chosen, will oversee compliance with the consent decree, according to the Justice Department.

“While the Chicago Police Department has made real progress and achieved meaningful reforms, the incidents described in this report are sobering to all of us,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel told reporters Friday. “Police misconduct will not be tolerated anywhere in this city and those who break the rules will be held accountable for their actions.”

Here are some highlights from the report:

CPD Uses Deadly Force in Violation of Constitution

According to the report, federal investigators found that the Chicago Police Department engaged in a pattern or practice of using force that is unreasonable and unconstitutional, including the following: shooting at fleeing suspects who presented no immediate threat; shooting at vehicles without justification; using less-lethal force, including Tasers, against people who pose no threat; using force to retaliate against and punish individuals; and using excessive force against juveniles.

“This pattern is largely attributable to systemic deficiencies within CPD and the City,” the report stated, citing, among other shortcomings, the department’s historical failure to train its officers in de-escalation and failure to conduct meaningful investigations of uses of force.

For instance, federal investigators observed police academy training on deadly force that consisted of a video made decades ago, which the report said was inconsistent with both current law and the Chicago Police Department’s own policies.

“The impact of this poor training was apparent when we interviewed recruits who recently graduated from the Academy: only one in six recruits we spoke with came close to properly articulating the legal standard for use of force,” the report stated. “Post-Academy field training is equally flawed.”

The deficiencies in officer training are exacerbated by the lack of adequate supervision provided to officers in the field, the report said.

The Majority of Cases Are Not Investigated

The report found the city of Chicago fails to investigate the majority of cases it is required to by law, including misconduct allegations filed against police officers. The ones that are investigated, “with rare exception, suffer from entrenched investigative deficiencies and biased techniques,” and discipline taken against the accused officers is “haphazard,” “unpredictable” and “does little to deter misconduct,” according to the report.

Federal investigators, who reviewed hundreds of investigative files, found that civilian and officer witnesses – and even the accused officers – are frequently not interviewed during an investigation. The city investigators also frequently failed to collect basic evidence and have allowed union representatives and attorneys to “coach officers in the middle of recorded interviews — with official protocols actually prohibiting investigators from preventing this, or even referring to it on tape,” the report stated.

The report also detailed a lack of transparency regarding officer misconduct complaints, saying the “complainants themselves are often kept in the dark about the status of their cases” and the city investigators do not provide periodic updates to individuals complaining of officer misconduct.

“Several complainants told us that they were left unaware of what was happening with their complaint for months, or even years – and some never heard back at all,” the report stated.

CPD ‘Tolerated Racially Discriminatory Conduct’

The report called on the city of Chicago to address “serious concerns” about systemic deficiencies within the police department that disproportionately affect black and Latino communities. According to the report, statistics show the Chicago Police Department uses force almost 10 times more often against blacks than against whites.

“CPD’s pattern or practice of unreasonable force and systemic deficiencies fall heaviest on the predominantly black and Latino neighborhoods on the South and West Sides of Chicago, which are also experiencing higher crime,” the report stated. “As a result, residents in black neighborhoods suffer more of the harms caused by breakdowns in uses of force, training, supervision, accountability and community policing.”

According to the report, the Chicago Police Department “tolerated racially discriminatory conduct” that federal investigators say contributes to its pattern of unreasonable force. Federal investigators reviewed the police department’s complaint database, which showed 980 police misconduct complaints coded as discriminatory verbal abuse on the basis of race or ethnicity from 2011 to March 2016. Just 13 of those complaints, or 1.3 percent, were sustained, generally when there was audio, video or other irrefutable evidence, the report said.

Federal investigators found 354 complaints for the use of the word “n—–“ or one of its variations. Only four, or 1.1 percent, of these complaints were sustained, according to the report.

Federal investigators also found that some officers expressed discriminatory views and intolerance with regard to race, religion, gender and national origin in public social media forums. Meanwhile, the police department failed to take sufficient steps to prevent or appropriately respond to this issue, the report said.

The report urged the city to restore its police-community trust by addressing both discriminatory conduct and the disproportionality of illegal and unconstitutional patterns of force on minority communities.

“We have serious concerns about the prevalence of racially discriminatory conduct by some CPD officers and the degree to which that conduct is tolerated and in some respects caused by deficiencies in CPD’s systems of training, supervision and accountability,” the report stated.

CPD’s Promotions System Viewed as Political and Unfair

According to the report, officers in the Chicago Police Department can be promoted to detective, sergeant or lieutenant based on test scores or evaluation of other merit-based criteria. Legal challenges of discriminatory impact and allegations of improper exam procedures have prompted several significant reforms to the department’s promotions system. However, the report said, federal investigators spoke to officers who continued to express skepticism.

“One of the major complaints from officers we interviewed is that CPD’s promotions system lacks transparency regarding the nomination and qualification process for merit promotions. This has led many officers to believe that merit promotions are a reward for cronyism, rather than a recognition of excellence that was overlooked by the testing process,” the report stated.

“Many of the officers we spoke with — minority and non-minority alike — told us that they feel merit promotions are not truly based on ‘merit,’ but rather the ‘clout’ you hold in the Department or ‘who you know.’”

The report continues: “In reality, there are documented instructions and guidance for merit promotion nominators and decision makers, but this information is not widely known.”

Insufficient Support for Officer Wellness and Safety

The federal investigation found that the acute stress and pressure Chicago police officers face each day weigh heavily on them. For instance, the report found that the rising levels of gun violence in Chicago neighborhoods where the relationship between officers and the communities they serve is strained, making it difficult to police effectively.

“Our investigation found that these stressors can, and do, play out in harmful ways for CPD officers,” the report stated. “CPD deals with officer alcoholism, domestic violence and suicide. And as explained elsewhere in this Report, CPD officers engage in a pattern or practice of using force that is unjustified, disproportionate and otherwise excessive.”

The report continued: “Although the pressure CPD officers are under is by no means an excuse for violating the constitutional rights of the citizens they serve, high levels of unaddressed stress can compromise officer well-being and impact an officer’s demeanor and judgment, which in turn impacts how that officer interacts with the public.”

The report said Chicago officers need greater support from both the police department’s leadership as well as the city, adding that both parties “should think meaningfully about how to better address the stressors” these offices face.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Federal Railroad Administration(WASHINGTON) — The Department of Transportation kicked off a new railroad crossing safety campaign on Friday with a striking new video.

The ad, a collaborative effort between the Federal Railroad Administration and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, shows a freight train traveling through the outskirts of a city before crashing into the side of an SUV. The engineer appears to apply the brakes, but it cannot slow down quickly enough. The train travels some distance as the vehicle is violently dragged along the tracks.

The ad’s title is “Stop. Trains Can’t.”

According to the FRA, it takes a freight train traveling at 55 mph one mile to come to a complete stop even with the emergency brake applied.

By law, a train always has the right of way.

“This is an old problem, but one that can be solved. Nearly all deaths at crossings are preventable,” said FRA administrator Sarah E. Feinberg in a press release.

According to federal data, a person or vehicle is hit by a train in the United States approximately every three hours.

“Too many people are still taking unnecessary risks and needlessly paying with their lives,” according to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “These deaths are preventable, and this ad campaign is a reminder for everyone that ignoring signage at railroad crossings or attempting to race or beat a train can have deadly consequences.”

The Department of Transportation is spending $7 million to run the ad, which targets males between the ages of 18 and 49 in the areas where railroad crossing accidents are particularly problematic.

The ads will run in California, Illinois, Texas, Louisiana, Indiana, Ohio, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Mississippi, New Jersey, Arkansas and Arizona.

In April, the FRA listed the most troublesome railroad crossings in the United States. Using data from the last 10 years, four of the five crossings with the most incidents are in Arizona.

There have been 24 incidents since 2006 at this Phoenix crossing. None of the incidents were fatal.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

iStock/Thinkstock(ORLANDO, Fla.) — A driver went to great lengths just to avoid paying a $1.25 toll in Orlando, Florida, according to the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP).

Before going through an E-Pass toll booth on Wednesday, Joshua Concepcion West, 27, allegedly used a remote control to drop down a black screen that covered his license plate, said Sgt. Kim Montes, a public affairs officer for the FHP.

West did not realize a state trooper in a marked FHP car was right behind him when he deployed the screen, Montes told ABC News Friday.

The trooper immediately pulled him over and arrested him after they passed through the toll booth, Montes said.

During the arrest, the trooper discovered that West had “an unusual license plate holder,” according to an arrest report obtained by ABC News Friday.

The holder has a black screen that comes down and conceals the license plate when triggered by a remote, the arrest report said. When triggered a second time, the screen comes back up and exposes the plate again.

West was arrested on charges of petit theft, a misdemeanor, and cheating or gross fraud, a felony, the arrest report said.

“The petit theft was for stealing from the state by not paying the toll, and the felony charge was for concealing his tag,” Montes told ABC News.

West’s vehicle has been impounded and is currently being kept at an FHP yard as evidence, Montes said.

A representative of the Orange County Clerk of Courts told ABC News Friday that West has not yet obtained a lawyer nor entered a plea to the charges against him. West could not be reached for comment by ABC News.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →