TIME Crime

Sheriffs Are Lonely Holdouts as Police Body Cameras Grow in Use

Deputies-Body Cameras
Nick Ut—AP A body camera is displayed at a news conference at the Sheriff's Headquarters in the Monterey Park section of Los Angeles on Sept. 22, 2014.

Some cite costs, others question their effectiveness

In Illinois, only four of the state’s 102 sheriffs have adopted body cameras. In Florida, just two of its 66 sheriffs have implemented them. And in other states across the country, many other sheriffs are hesitating before outfitting their officers with a technology that other departments and police chiefs are widely embracing.

As law enforcement agencies increasingly purchase body cameras as a way to build trust with the citizens they police—and provide transparency following several recent high-profile police-related deaths—sheriffs are emerging as one of the lone hold-outs. More than 7,000 of the 18,000 police departments around the U.S., which includes sheriffs’ departments, have adopted cameras, but only a fraction of the 3,000 sheriffs agencies have done so.

Vievu, a body camera manufacturer that counts more than 4,000 police agencies as clients, says only 100 of its customers are sheriffs, while TASER International, which includes 3,000 police department clients, says only about 360 are sheriffs. Cost is the main issue for many, especially for those who maintain a small force with a handful of officers. In states where public records are easily obtained, privacy issues are a concern. Some are waiting for their legislatures to decide on statewide body cam policies, while others have simply come out wholly opposed to their effectiveness.

Sheriffs generally serve a broader constituency than police chiefs, and often reside over rural areas that don’t have the same demographics or internal patterns of racial segregation as the big metropolitan areas that have tended to adopt cameras in lock-step. And because they’re directly elected, sheriffs don’t have to answer to a mayor or city council members, who may be feeling political pressure from the community to adopt cameras.

“They’re far more difficult to influence, far less pressured because they can always make an appeal directly to the public, whereas a police chief can’t do that,” says Dennis Kearney, a John Jay School of Criminal Justice professor. “They can resist better than a police chief can, and they’re going to feel probably a good deal more support and less criticism from the populations they serve because they’re elected.”

Sheriff Ricky Adam of Hancock County, Miss., says the costs associated with the cameras and the storage required to keep hours of video data are too much for his department, which includes just 50 deputies.

“We haven’t been able to buy a new patrol car going on four years,” Adam says. “I don’t know how I possibly have the money to spend on cameras.”

Many Illinois sheriffs are waiting to see whether Gov. Bruce Rauner will sign legislation to clarify the state’s dual-party law, which requires two-party consent for any recording. Greg Sullivan, executive director of the Illinois Sheriffs Association, says his organization has been working with lawmakers to determine when a suspect can be recorded, whether it can be done without verbal consent, and whether the cameras can be turned on and off while officers are on patrol.

Similarly, sheriffs in Florida have had to grapple with the state’s public records laws, often considered the most transparent in the country. In May, the governor signed into law a measure that would exempt body camera footage from public records requests involving recordings inside someone’s home, in a hospital or at the location of a medical emergency.

A number of sheriffs have simply decided the cameras aren’t necessary. Late last year, Beaufort County Sheriff P.J. Tanner in South Carolina wrote a public letter saying video would catch “good people on their worst days” and invade their privacy. It would also “unnecessarily expose investigative crime scene techniques,” he said, while citizens would be more reluctant to speak with deputies about problems if they’re on camera.

“Our sheriffs are very independent thinkers,” says John Thompson, deputy executive director of the National Sheriffs Association. “They don’t have to answer to any one individual.”

While TASER’s Smith says only a small part of their business is from sheriffs, he’s seen a recent uptick in interest thanks to what he believes is heightened focus on body cams and public pressure. And Thompson says a number of sheriffs he’s talked to are interested in adopting them, but many are waiting for more data to show their effectiveness.

“The majority who I’ve spoken to, they say it’s a good idea and they’re going to look into it,” Thompson says. “But we can’t get into this knee-jerk reaction that everybody has to have them. Not one shoe fits all.”

TIME NFL

The Giants’ Jason Pierre-Paul Injured His Hand in a July 4 Fireworks Accident

NFL: Green Bay Packers at New York Giants
Reuters/USA Today Sports—Brad Penner New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul runs back an interception against the Green Bay Packers for a touchdown during the fourth quarter of a game at MetLife Stadium on November 17, 2013.

The injury will likely not prove "career threatening" however

Jason Pierre-Paul, defensive end for the New York Giants, reportedly injured his hand while lighting fireworks at his Florida home on the night of July 4.

The NFL confirmed the incident on Sunday evening, noting that it could “potentially impact Pierre-Paul’s future with the Giants,” but Dan Graziano and Adam Schefter at ESPN later tweeted that his injuries — burns on his palm and three fingers, and possible nerve damage — likely will not prove “career threatening” and that the “prognosis is not terrible.”

On Sunday afternoon, as reports of the accident began making the rounds, Deadspin posted a string of tweets from Pierre-Paul’s neighbors documenting a “whole Uhaul van of fireworks” parked outside of his house. Pierre-Paul himself had posted a video to Instagram of himself and his infant son near to what appears to be the van.

Pierre-Paul, who turned 26 earlier this year, has played for the Giants since 2010, when he joined the team as the fifteenth overall pick in the NFL draft. His “prodigal talent,” as ESPN described it in 2009, when he was at the University of South Florida, has been an asset to the Giants’ defensive line, in spite of the team’s shaky record overall in the past few years.

TIME Crime

Another Black Church Burns in the South, the 8th in 10 Days

#WhoIsBurningBlackChurches trended on Twitter throughout the week

Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church, a prominent African-American church in Greeleyville, S.C., caught fire late Tuesday. It is the eighth black church in the Southern U.S. to burn in 10 days.

Greeleyville, about 60 miles northwest of Charleston, S.C., has seen similar fires before, the Charleston Post and Courier reports. Mount Zion was burned to the ground by the KKK in 1995, part of a string of 30 fires in black churches that spanned two years.

An investigation into the fire’s cause will begin after it is safely extinguished, chief of the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division Mark Keel told the Post and Courier. He noted that the thunderstorm that pounded the town of 375 on Tuesday evening could have ignited the church. Meteorologist Pete Mohlin of the National Weather Service told the paper that there was a lot of lightning in the area around 7 p.m., but he could not say if it had caused the fire.

Parishioners across the South are surveying the damage that a string of similar fires has caused this week, the Southern Poverty Law Center reports, starting in Knoxville, Tenn., on June 21 and moving to Macon, Ga., and Gibson County, in Tennessee, on June 23; Charlotte, N.C., on June 24; Elyria, Ohio, on June 25; and Tallahassee, Fla., and Warrenville, S.C., on June 26.

Three of those fires have been ruled arson, one was determined to be caused by a falling branch and faulty wiring, and the others remain under investigation. Several have been blamed preliminarily on lightning; weather in the South this week has been turbulent.

State senator Cezar McKnight was on the scene as the fire continued to burn at 10 p.m. “South Carolina has been through a lot the last two weeks, and we’ve made the best of a terrible situation,” he said. “I would hate for this to be something somebody did on purpose to try to poison the love and fellowship.”

The Post and Courier recalled that then President Bill Clinton visited Mount Zion after it was rebuilt following the 1995 attack. His remarks at its dedication have resonance still:

“The men and women of Mount Zion have shown us the meaning of these words by refusing to be defeated and by building up this new church. Others have come together with you,” Clinton said on June 12, 1996. “The pastor told me he got contributions from all over the world to help to rebuild this church. In just a few days we’ll have a joyful noise coming out of this church … I want to ask every citizen, as we stand on this hallowed ground together, to help to rebuild our churches, to restore hope, to show the forces of hatred they cannot win.”

[Post and Courier]

TIME Florida

Boys Rush Into Burning Mobile Home to Help Rescue 5 People

"I'm just thinking, 'Stay calm, keep your mind straight, stay focused on what you're doing'"

Two boys have been credited with helping to save five people from a burning mobile home on Tuesday.

Isiah Francis, 10, and Jeremiah Grimes, 11, called 911 and then rushed into the residence in Orange County, Florida, NBC station WESH reported.

“It felt like 150 degrees in there. I’m just thinking, ‘Stay calm, keep your mind straight, stay focused on what you’re doing,'” Grimes told the station.

The boys found and rescued two babies, aged eight months and one, Orange County Fire officials told WESH.

Two other children, a five and a two-year-old, were injured in the blaze and are…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Retirement

This Is the Worst City to Retire In

FRANCE-ELDERLY
Philippe Huguen—AFP/Getty Images An elderly couple walks in le Touquet, northern France, on September 8 ,2013

Retirees should look to Arizona instead

If you want to retire well, set out for Arizona. According to a new Bankrate survey out Monday, the Grand Canyon state is home to three of the country’s best cities for retirees, ranked by metrics like cost of living, weather, crime rate, health care, taxes, walkability and the well-being of seniors living in the area.

“It’s just a great place for a low-maintenance, outdoor type of lifestyle,” Chris Kahn, a Bankrate analyst, told USA Today. “Your dollar is going to stretch further in Arizona.”

But where’s the worst place to call it quits? That’s New York City.

The survey’s full results for the best places to retire are as follows:

1. Phoenix metro area, including Mesa and Scottsdale

2. Arlington/Alexandria, Virginia.

3. Prescott, Arizona

4. Tucson, Arizona

5. Des Moines, Iowa

6. Denver, Colorado

7. Austin, Texas

8. Cape Coral, Florida

9. Colorado Springs, Colorado

10. Franklin, Tennessee

Meanwhile, the worst cities for retirees include the Big Apple; Little Rock, Ark.; New Haven, Conn.; and Buffalo, N.Y.

TIME Scott Walker

Scott Walker Suggests He May Sit Out Florida Primary

Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks during a meeting with area Republicans on April 19, 2015, in Derry, N.H.
Jim Cole—AP Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks during a meeting with area Republicans on April 19, 2015, in Derry, N.H.

The not-yet-declared candidate may take a state off the map.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker hasn’t even officially declared his presidential candidacy but he’s already considering sitting out at least one state.

In an interview with conservative radio host Laura Ingraham Tuesday, Walker said he may allow Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush duke it out for support in their home state.

“If we chose to get in, I don’t think there’s a state out there we wouldn’t play in, other than maybe Florida, where Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio are,” Walker said, suggesting that the expensive contest could equalize the money gap between himself and the better-funded Bush.

“Some of the polls essentially tied and they’re going to eat up a good amount of that financial advantage that Gov. Bush is going to have,” he added, noting that incumbent Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s re-election campaign spent about $100 million in 2014. “A good chunk of that will be going up to the Florida primary.”

Walker is scheduled to attend a cattle-call hosted by Scott next week in Orlando.

In 2012, Florida’s primary was fourth in the calendar, held on Jan. 31, and proved to a pivotal moment in the campaign for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, cementing him as the far-and-away front-runner for the nomination. In 2016, the state’s primary will be held much later in the cycle, on March 15, the first day under Republican National Committee rules that a state can award its delegates on a winner-take-all basis.

Just months ago Walker was referring to himself as the race’s front-runner. Asked about being signaled out by President Obama in a recent speech, Walker said, “Well, it suggests maybe we’re the frontrunner.”

TIME Accident

3 Children Injured in Bounce House Sent Flying by Waterspout

Accidents in inflatable houses have become increasingly common

Three children were injured Monday in Florida when the bounce house they were in was lifted into the air by a waterspout and carried several feet.

The bounce house, which had been secured to a basketball court, flew above a tree line and across four lanes of traffic, according to police in Fort Lauderdale. The children were dumped out of the bounce house onto the sand shortly after it was airborne. Police later confirmed that two of the children had been released from the hospital with minor fractures while the third was being held overnight for observation. The bounce house had been provided for public use as part of a city Memorial Day event and was properly secured, police said.

MORE: Bounce-House Injuries Become an ‘Epidemic’

Bounce-house injuries among children have grown increasingly frequent in recent decades, as it’s become easier for anyone to buy and set up the inflatable structures. In 2010, about 31 kids per day were sent to the emergency room in the U.S. for inflatable-bouncer-related injuries in the U.S.

TIME Crime

Florida Man Falls Asleep While Robbing a House

The victim woke up to find him sleeping on her couch

A burglar from Sarasota, Fla., reportedly fell asleep while breaking into a home over the weekend.

A woman who lived in the house told Sarasota police officers she woke up around 7:20 a.m. on Saturday to find 29-year-old Timothy Bontrager sleeping on her sofa, reports WTSP.

When she asked what he was doing in her house, Bontrager reportedly apologized. After telling him she was going to call the police, the burglar started walking around the living room and left the house, making off with her wallet, driver’s license, credit cards and personal checks.

Bontrager, who was picked up by police walking along a nearby road, has been charged with felony burglary of an occupied dwelling.

[WTSP]

TIME Crime

George Zimmerman Involved in Florida Shooting, Police Say

Reportedly suffered a minor gunshot wound

George Zimmerman, the onetime neighborhood watchman acquitted of the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager in 2013, was involved in another shooting incident Monday, according to Florida police.

Lake Mary police chief Steve Bracknell said the incident involved two men in Lake Mary, local TV station WESH reports. Zimmerman’s condition is unknown, but police at the scene said he appeared to sustain a minor wound.

Police spokeswoman Bianca Gillett told CNN the shooting appeared to be a road rage-related incident, but TIME was unsuccessful in reaching Gillett to confirm Zimmerman’s involvement.

The Florida resident fatally shot Trayvon Martin, a black 17-year-old, in February 2012 after an apparent altercation. The shooting and subsequent trial sparked a national debate about racial profiling that acted as a precursor to recent protests over police brutality of young African American men.

He was arrested in January after being accused of assault by his girlfriend. The charges were dropped after she recanted her story.

[WESH]

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