Texas Sheriffs Today
Mar. 1, 2013

Texas tightens rules on shooting from helicopters
The Associated Press via ABC News
Nearly four months after a Texas state trooper in a helicopter fired on a pickup speeding along the U.S.-Mexico border, killing two Guatemalan immigrants, state officials said that troopers now are forbidden from aerial shooting unless they're under fire. Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw announced the policy change while facing questions from lawmakers about the deadly high-speed pursuit near La Joya in October. McCraw continued to defend that shooting, even while rolling out new rules that would now forbid it.More

Appeals court issues acquittal in dog-scent murder case
The Texas Tribune
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals issued an acquittal in the case of Megan Winfrey, 24, who has been behind bars since 2007 in a murder case in which her conviction was based almost entirely on evidence from dog-scent lineups. Winfrey, along with her father, Richard Winfrey, and her brother Richard Winfrey Jr. were charged with the 2004 murder of school janitor Murray Burr in Coldspring. Richard Winfrey Jr. was acquitted by a jury in 2009. Richard Winfrey Sr. was convicted in 2007, but the Court of Appeals acquitted him in 2009, ruling that the dog-scent evidence was insufficient for his conviction. The court's decision in Megan Winfrey's case was based largely on the one it issued when it acquitted her father, finding that the state's evidence against her was insufficient.More

Supreme Court weighs DNA 'fingerprinting'
The Washington Post
The Supreme Court is debating whether Maryland's decision to collect DNA samples from people arrested for serious crimes represents an unconstitutional invasion of privacy or a crime-solving breakthrough with the potential to be the "fingerprinting of the 21st century." Either way, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said, the case is "perhaps the most important criminal procedure case that this court has heard in decades."More

Documentary honoring fallen officers mandatory for Texas academy classes
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
A Wisconsin police officer shows off bullet fragments that were surgically removed from his body after a shootout with a sex offender. A small boy remembers how an officer he didn't know bought him a cookie at McDonald's and seconds later the officer was fatally shot in the head. The anecdotes vary in a 90-minute documentary, "Heroes Behind the Badge," but each is a harrowing story of law enforcement officers who were injured or killed on duty. The film, which is mandatory for all Texas police academy classes, is scheduled for its first Dallas/Fort Worth screening Saturday in Watauga.More

Man who admitted to aiming laser pointer at Dallas police helicopter pleads guilty
The Dallas Morning News
The 22-year-old man who told officers he shined a laser-pointer at the Dallas Police Department's helicopter just "to see how far it would go" has admitted it yet again — this time, to federal prosecutors, according to court documents.More

East Texas law enforcement changes active shooter policy
KLTV-TV
Traditionally, potential victims have been told to either flee or hide during an active shooting situation. But now, police training videos are encouraging a third option. It's a major shift in law enforcement policy — fighting back as a final line of defense — and it's one that East Texas law enforcement and school districts are considering with care.More

Texas Rangers launch Web page for statewide cold cases
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
A new Texas Department of Public Safety website is breathing life into unsolved cold cases across the state. The website contains information on 68 unsolved cases dating back to 1978.More

Dallas FBI office creates new crisis response team
WFAA-TV
Investigators from law enforcement agencies across Texas swarmed into Kaufman County when they got the call: County prosecutor Mark Hasse had been killed as he was walking to the courthouse. It was a difficult assignment, and it was the first assignment for the Dallas Critical Incident Response Team, a new part of the FBI. The DCIRT can be activated for something like the Kaufman investigation, or when a local department needs expertise or backup on a major case, officials said.More

Lyon County, Nev., Sheriff's Office looks to technology to help solve cold cases
Reno Gazette-Journal
One day a couple of weeks ago, someone came up to Lyon County, Nev., sheriff's investigator Al McNeil with information relating to a homicide that happened in Fernley on Jan. 9, 2000. All of a sudden, a case that McNeil had never even heard about became one of the top priorities on his desk. Often, it's that type of information, unexpected and out of the blue, that provides the critical lead that breaks open a long-unsolved case. While many old cases remain unsolved, technological advances in the past few years have given investigators in the Lyon County Sheriff's Office opportunities to take new looks at old cases.More

Man who admitted to aiming laser pointer at Dallas police helicopter pleads guilty
The Dallas Morning News
The 22-year-old man who told officers he shined a laser-pointer at the Dallas Police Department's helicopter just "to see how far it would go" has admitted it yet again — this time, to federal prosecutors, according to court documents. Kenneth Santodomingo now faces up to five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. The 22-year-old is the first North Texan prosecuted under a law President Barack Obama signed Feb. 14, 2012, which says it's a federal offense for a person to "knowingly aim the beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States."More

NYPD and Microsoft build high tech crime fighting 'dashboard'
The Associated Press via Fox News
An emergency call comes in about a possible bomb in lower Manhattan and an alert pops up on computer screens at the New York Police Department, instantly showing officers an interactive map of the neighborhood, footage from nearby security cameras, whether there are high radiation levels and whether any other threats have been made against the city. In a click, police know exactly what they're getting into. Such a hypothetical scenario may seem like something out of a futuristic crime drama, but the technology is real, developed in a partnership between America's largest police department and Microsoft Corp., and the latest version has been quietly in use for about a year.More

West Virginia deputies push body armor bill
Charleston Daily Mail
Top law enforcement officials in West Virginia are urging lawmakers to pass a bill requiring counties to provide their deputies with body armor as soon as they are certified officers. The message was driven home when the West Virginia Sheriff's Association presented Roane Deputy John Westfall with a purple heart for the injuries he sustained in a gunfight with Luke Baber, the 22-year-old Oak Hill man who shot and killed two State Police troopers in August. Westfall also was awarded a Combat Cross for his actions that night. The tragedy that claimed the lives of State Police Cpl. Marshall Bailey and Trooper Eric Workman and left Westfall injured was the spark that started the push, said Rudi Raynes-Kidder, executive director of the Sheriff's Association.More

Seminole County, Fla., sheriff's helicopters get a clearer view
WFTV-TV
The Seminole, Fla., County sheriff's helicopters just got high-tech upgrades. A new high-definition camera system gives the pilot a clearer view of what's happening while in the air. That allows the crew in the air to better direct deputies on the ground. Pilots said that now, in addition to clearer pictures, they are able to point the camera at a target, like a home or street, and the exact location pops up on a screen in the cockpit. The image is not only clearer with the new technology, but they also have 10 times more zoom capability, allowing them to get closer to targets and identify suspects faster and more accurately. Seminole County is one of just two law enforcement agencies in the state with the upgrade.More