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Extra Extra Monday: LAPD turns violent crimes into minor offenses, Florida police bend rules on sex stings
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LAPD misclassified nearly 1,200 violent crimes as minor offenses | Los Angeles Times
The LAPD misclassified nearly 1,200 violent crimes during a one-year span ending in September 2013, including hundreds of stabbings, beatings and robberies, a Times investigation found.
The incidents were recorded as minor offenses and as a result did not appear in the LAPD's published statistics on serious crime that officials and the public use to judge the department's performance.
Nearly all the misclassified crimes were actually aggravated assaults. If those incidents had been recorded correctly, the total aggravated assaults for the 12-month period would have been almost 14% higher than the official figure, The Times found.
ProPublica investigated the hidden cost of tobacco settlement bonds – debt sold by states to get upfront cash from the landmark 1998 settlement with Big Tobacco. The investigation uncovered that, using a high-risk security known as a capital appreciation bond, states, territories and counties cut deals that collectively promised to repay $64 billion on just $3 billion in upfront money – cash that is unlikely to materialize, and is likely to cause financial headaches to the governments involved as they decide whether to simply let the bonds go bad, or throw investors a lifeline.
Officers bend rules to boost sex sting arrest totals | WTSP-Tampa Bay
Targeting sex offenders has become one of law enforcement’s top priorities, but a WTSP-TV investigation found Central Florida’s frequent “To Catch a Predator”-style stings were prioritizing good press conferences over good policing. Instead of targeting real predators, detectives went out of their way to trick law-abiding men into breaking the law. And despite a well-known sheriff’s refusal to turn over public records, this two-part investigation exposed the culture he created of disregard for the law and due process.
Medical mediation rarely provides closure for families | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Of the 302 claims filed with the state Medical Mediations Panels in 2012 and 2013, more than 60% end up listed as "expired," meaning they died because of procedural or scheduling problems. Only 67 — or 22% — actually went to a hearing, and only two of those were resolved at their hearings, according to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel review of panel records.
Patent office filters out worst telework abuses in report to its watchdog | The Washington Post
When it came time last summer for the patent office to turn over the findings to its outside watchdog, the most damaging revelations had disappeared. The report sent to Commerce Department Inspector General Todd Zinser concluded that it was impossible to know if the whistleblowers’ allegations of systemic abuses were true.
The original findings, by contrast, raise “fundamental issues” with the business model of the patent office, which oversees an essential function of U.S. commerce, said Zinser, who was provided a copy of the original by a patent official.
Crime victims have little help getting their due from the system | Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting
In Maine, victims are nearly alone in navigating a confusing and understaffed restitution system that purports to make them “whole.” In interviews with 10 Maine crime victims, victims like Descoteaux told the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting they get limited notification from the state about restitution, have no way to dispute a sentence that either sets too little or no restitution and end up with false promises of restitution.
Council water use rises amid drought | San Diego U-T
While governments at every level were warning consumers to conserve water due to severe drought conditions across California, most San Diego City Council members have been using more water than they did last year.
In fact, use by elected officials roughly mirrored that of the general population, which is up about 10 percent this year over last, according to the San Diego County Water Authority.
The elected officials also tended to use somewhat less than the typical household, according to customer records collected by U-T Watchdog under the state public records act.