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Sunday, August 2, 2015

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From the Blotter

Weekend crime shows slight increase following second home game

By Kyle Campbell          Last updated: 09/12/11 10:11pm         

Crime in East Lansing saw a slight increase this past weekend from the first weekend of the semester.

Calls for service went up from 311 the weekend of Sept. 2-4 to 325 the weekend of Sept. 9-11.

Most of the reported calls during the weekends were traffic related, with more than 170 each week, but there was increase in subject checks from 19 to 41.

Arrests went up slightly from 31 to 39, but noise complaints increased substantially from 19 to 41.

Not out of the ordinary for a football weekend, the majority of appearance citations both weekends were for minor in possession of alcohol and open intoxicant with a total of 36 during Sept. 2-4 and a total of 45 this past weekend.

The number of minor in possession arrests did not change much increasing from 7 to 11, but the number of operating while intoxicated arrests increased from 1 to 9.

The number of minor in possession citations issued on campus increased from 21 between Sept. 2-3 to 31 between Sept. 9-10.

Police officials speculated that the fewer citations during the weekend of Sept. 2-4 was because of a number of students leaving town for the long weekend.

Community college implements drug testing policy

By Kyle Campbell          Last updated: 09/08/11 9:51pm         

College students partaking of drugs, alcohol and other illicit substances is no new concept.

Four drug-related citations were reported on campus by the MSU Police Department between Sept. 4-6 — and that’s in the middle of a school week.

Schools across the country have made efforts to counter drug use on campus by distributing literature and offering other anti-drug initiatives, but one community college in central Missouri is taking things a step further.

Linn State Technical College in Linn, Mo., implemented a new policy for its incoming students Wednesday.

All first-year students must take a drug test, screening for 11 substances including marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and oxycodone before starting classes.

Being a community college, students who took time off from school and are returning this semester also are required to partake in the screening.

Students who fail are put on a 45 day probation and then tested again. Each tests costs $50, which is charged to the students.

EL weekend crimes drop compared to previous year

By Kyle Campbell          Last updated: 09/06/11 9:18pm         

As many students left town because of the extended Labor Day weekend, the East Lansing Police Department saw a notable drop in weekend crimes throughout the city compared to the Fall Welcome, which took place the week prior.

Despite the city playing host to the first football game of the 2011 season — a night game no less — the department recorded fewer arrests, citations, noise complaints and calls for service.

Calls for service, which totaled 405 during welcome weekend, dropped to 311 this past weekend.
Statistics are taken between 5 p.m. Friday and 7 a.m. Monday, so they do not include arrests made during tailgate prior to Friday’s game.

Noise complaints dropped from 61 to 19, appearance citations dropped from 303 to 51 and arrests dropped from 71 to 31.

In a previous interview, East Lansing police Capt. Kim Johnson said the department increased patrols during welcome week because of the influx of students and the high volume of parties. Therefore, many arrests and citations were self-initiated.

Despite the extra day, Labor Day weekend usually brings a decline in activity because many students leave town, East Lansing police Sgt. Mark Vande Wouwer said in a previous interview.

During this past weekend, 18 citations were given out and seven arrests were made for minor in possession of alcohol, 18 citations were given for open intoxicant and nine arrests were made for operating while intoxicated and operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Because so many people left town for the long weekend, many student-occupied houses and apartments were susceptible home invasions and burglaries. Seven calls were made reporting burglaries, and eight calls were made reporting various other types of larcenies.

One individual — a minor from Lansing — was arrested for allegedly trying to break into a home on M.A.C. Avenue.

Violent acts spark discourse on concealed weapons

By Kyle Campbell          Last updated: 02/27/11 9:16pm         

After a number of violent, off-campus incidents including two shootings at Crossing Place Apartments and a stabbing on the 100-block of Spartan Street some students are calling for the removal of MSU’s gun-free zone.

Though the incidents took place off campus and therefore would not be affected by the gun-free zone on campus, some believe if the victims of these acts of violence — particularly in the stabbing incident — were licensed to carry a concealed weapon, or CCW, they could have prevented the stabbing.

Since 2000, Michigan has allowed licensed gun owners with CCW permits to carry their guns with them in public with the exception of certain public places, schools being included on that list.

Regardless of whether MSU students have CCW permits or not, students are not allowed to carry a gun on university grounds, MSU police Sgt. Florene McGlothian-Taylor said.

Michigan Sen. Mike Green, R-Mayville, introduced a bill in January that would, if signed into law, repeal gun-free zones.

Proponents of the bill believe if law-abiding citizens are able to carry weapons on them they can protect themselves and deter criminals.

MSU is not the only college campus going through this debate.

According to an article from The Associated Press, Texas is in the process of passing a bill that would allow licensed university students and professors to carry concealed handguns with them while on campus and in classes.

Some people, including University of Texas president William Powers, are opposed to this bill, arguing the mix of students, guns and campus parties could prove to be a dangerous mix.

MSU students who are licensed gun owners — and therefore at least 21 years old — can bring their weapons with them to school, but must register and store them with the MSU Department of Police and Public Safety. This is meant for students who wish to bring hunting rifles with them so they can hunt in designated areas, McGlothian-Taylor said.

Officials look to university text message alert systems in emergency situation

By Kyle Campbell          Last updated: 02/16/11 7:21pm         

A number of on-campus and student-related shootings have been occurring at colleges and universities throughout the country. All of them are saddening and, in many ways, upsetting. But none are quite like the shooting that took place at Middle Tennessee State University, or MTSU, in Murfreesboro, Tenn., on Monday morning.

A 20-year-old male MTSU student, Justin Macklin, got into an argument with 20-year-old Austin Morrow of Murfreesboro that morning for unknown reasons. According to the police report, the argument escalated and Macklin drew a revolver and shot it at the ground in front of Morrow.

The bullet ricocheted of the ground and struck Morrow in the thumb.
Most reports stated that Macklin fled the scene, trying to blend in with the crowd around him. Some reports had Morrow pursuing Macklin, chasing him into the Business and Aerospace Building.

Most students on campus were notified via the university text message alert system and the Business and Aerospace Building was cleared as soon as Macklin was identified.

MSU has a similar emergency alert system that notifies students if there is an active shooter on campus or in the case of other eminent dangers such as sever weather or chemical spills, said MSU police Inspector Bill Wardwell, who is in charge of the system.

MSU’s system is based on an opt-in basis and there are more than 14,500 cell phone numbers currently registered, Wardwell said.

“We have tried making some notifications through phone calls but that is a lot more difficult,” he said. “One person might get a phone call within 10 minutes another person might not get it for another two hours. We usually rely on the e-mail system if its a lesser incident, lesser meaning it is not an eminent threat.”

Upon searching the building MTSU police found a bag containing a .32-caliber revolver, a shirt and two small bags of marijuana. Macklin was arrested without incident when he left the building.

Campus paramedics tended to Morrow’s injured digit on the spot, and officials said he would not need further medical attention.

Macklin has been charged with carrying a weapon on school grounds, aggravated assault and reckless endangerment. He was released from the Rutherford County jail on $18,500 bond.

MSU forensic program tests DNA on detonated explosives

By Kyle Campbell          Last updated: 02/10/11 10:46pm         

Solving historical cold cases, putting bad guys in jail and identifying dead bodies. It’s safe to say David Foran, the director of the forensic science program at MSU, is the bomb at what he does.

Now, Foran is adding a new area of study to his program’s already dynamite lineup — getting DNA off improvised explosive devices. Should be a blast.

Improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, more commonly are referred to as roadside bombs, and they are the homemade explosives that have been used in Vietnam, Northern Ireland, Lebanon and most recently, Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as by some guerrilla combat forces.

“That’s one of the our big projects right now,” Foran said. “That has a lot of interest because improvised explosive devices are such a big deal both in this country and overseas so the military is very interested in it as well.”

Foran and his graduate students, with the help of the Michigan State Police Bomb Squad, mock-assemble, handle and detonate their own IEDs.

They then examine the remains to see if they can find traces of DNA of the people who touched the devices.

Though the forensic program occasionally will assist local crime labs in their work, the bulk of what Foran and his students work on is research such as this — research the crime labs aren’t capable conducting.

Projects such as this are more applied than most disciplines of biology, but Foran said that’s what makes the program interesting.
“We do a lot of stuff, so we’re not studying that one gene,” Foran said. “We’re studying all different types of stuff — bones and dirt and bombs and whatever else.”

Law enforcement agencies adjust policies after national incidents of school violence

By Kyle Campbell          Last updated: 02/06/11 8:37pm         

While MSU students and staff were enjoying a pleasant day in the snow, 400 miles away, Northern Michigan University was closed down too — but for a much different reason.

An unidentified threat to the university in the form of an online blog post shut down the entire city of Marquette, Mich., last week.

Although nothing similar has happened in recent history at MSU, East Lansing police Capt. Tom Johnstone said in the years since the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado, police departments across the country have been increasingly sensitive to these kinds of threats.

Prior to the Columbine shooting, law enforcement agencies would try to contain smaller areas specific to the threat, but now the standard procedure is to notify the entire public as promptly and as thoroughly as possible once the threat is made.

This becomes particularly important when dealing with areas where people are highly concentrated, especially schools.

“The precautionary measures that we would take are far beyond what we would do even 10 years ago,” Johnstone said. “It may inconvenience (people), but our bottom line is safety.”

Because of the higher frequency of these incidents, almost all police departments have changed their training methods so officers know how to handle these situations properly, Johnstone said.

Johnstone said two East Lansing schools recently have received similar threats of violence and the police department’s response was to contain all students inside the school buildings.

“(There was) a lot of communication going back and forth between the officers at the two different schools, the investigators working on the two cases and we were slow pulling off our protective layer,” he said. “If you think about a school, once we lock all the kids inside and surround it with cops, the safest place to be is probably in that school.”

By keeping the school on lockdown, the police are better able to control the environment, Johnstone said.

“We all have to be on the same page for how we operate,” he said.

NC State student makes $250,000 selling pot, pays the price for talking big

By Kyle Campbell          Last updated: 02/03/11 2:38pm         

For most students, making $250,000 in a year a couple years down the line after graduation is a great career goal. But 22-year-old Robert Harrell Bass Jr. made that much in a year while he still was an undergrad at North Carolina State University — selling pot.

Clearly it worked pretty well for him, that is, until he had an unexpected run-in with an Oklahoma state trooper.

According to a report by the Raleigh, N.C., “News & Observer,” Bass was pulled over while driving a rented white 2010 Dodge Caravan with 26 pounds of marijuana on Jan. 8. Bass told the police he had wired $70,000 to someone in Humboldt, Calif., for the marijuana. Then, he and a friend flew out to pick it up.

Bass’s friend — identified only as “Ben Van” — flew back to Raleigh leaving Bass to transport their latest shipment by himself.

The officer told Bass he faced drug trafficking charges and set his bail at about $25,000, to which Bass boasted he had that much money in cash in his apartment in Raleigh. Bass then went on to claim that he had made a quarter million dollars selling weed to North Carolina State University students.

The Raleigh police promptly searched his apartment and a silver, 2001 Toyota Camry parked outside the home. The police reported the confiscation of $26,123 in cash, nearly 60 grams of marijuana, various drug paraphernalia, a desktop computer, bank bags and notebooks.

According to a report by ABC Local News in Raleigh, Bass still is being held in a Sallisaw, Okla., jail and his bond now stands at $150,000.

Brothel law stirs up trouble at Northwestern University

By Kyle Campbell          Last updated: 01/31/11 11:37pm         

The city of Evanston, Ill., recently decided not to implement a zoning restriction that would have made the area a lot more friendly for family businesses — that is if the family business happens to be a brothel.

According to a report by the Northwestern University’s student newspaper, the “The Daily Northwestern,” Evanston officials said they will be implementing a zoning restriction that forbids more than three unrelated people of the same gender from living in the same house.

Often referred to as the “brothel law,” it states the city can fine homeowners and landlords $100 each day they are in violation of the restriction following a 30-day warning period.

Good news for family singing troupes, bad news for any brothels out there and, go figure, a large amount of college students.
The announcement of this law was met very inhospitably by Northwestern students.

Northwestern’s Associated Student Government circulated a petition against the rule, as did an independent online group. The latter accumulated more than 1,900 student signatures. More than 500 students flooded a town hall meeting held in Evanston, enough students that some were refused entrance because of space restrictions.

The rule always has been part of the Evanston City Code under the definition of a “family,” however, it recently has been brought up because permanent residents of the city complained about excessive amounts of noise and littering stemming from off-campus student parties.

The mayor of Evanston came up with another solution to the problem — let the kids drink on campus.

In response to one student’s e-mailed plea for the city to reconsider using the rule, Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl responded, “Perhaps you might consider talking with the NU administration about allowing drinking on campus. Then, all partying would not have to take place in the neighborhoods.”

As shocking as it might sound, the university did not go that route.

After meeting with Northwestern’s President Morton Schapiro a few days later, city officials repealed their decision to implement the “brothel law.”

The rule, however, still is on the books.

Swearing in the streets might have consequences under Michigan law

By Kyle Campbell          Last updated: 01/22/11 1:02pm         

The streets of Pennsylvania just got a little bit safer for sailors,road-ragers and potty-mouths of all sorts.

According to a recent report by Pennsylvania State University’s student newspaper, “The Daily Collegian,” citizens caught swearing in public are no longer subject to citation if profanity is isolated.

Essentially they’re entitled to a free pass for their first curse, but anything beyond that is a ground for legal reprimanding.

You might be questioning how is this an improvement and rightfully so.

After all, this is America right? We do have a little thing called the Bill of Rights, do we not?

Actually, it’s not quite that simple. A Luzerne County, Pa. woman found that out the hard way last year. After being run off the road by a motorcyclist, the woman proclaimed her frustration by allegedly calling the motorcyclist an “asshole.”

A local police officer caught the obscenity and issued the woman a
ticket for disorderly conduct. Rash as it might seem, this was completely within the Pennsylvania state laws.

But don’t you Michiganders get all high and mighty about those
backward Pennsylvanians; the Great Lakes state has its own set of
scrutinizing conduct laws, East Lansing police Capt. Tom Johnstone

“There are laws on the books about (swearing), they’re rarely
enforced,” Johnstone said, “They’re very old laws on the book about swearing in front of children and it’s pretty unique.”

However, the foul-mouthed heathens of East Lansing need not fear.

Johnstone said he only knows of one or two incidents of the law being enforced in the state and neither were in East Lansing. The
implementation of this law is generally reserved for extreme cases
rather than singular curses, he said.

“The one (case) that comes to mind is there was some guy canoeing up north on a river and drinking and constantly yelling and swearing on and on in front of a whole bunch of other people on the river and(authorities) finally cited the guy for the law violation” Johnstone said.

“So there is something on the books. Does (East Lansing) have
something? No.”

And although simply uttering a lone obscenity probably won’t get you in trouble in E.L., the East Lansing Police Department does sometimes see swearing as an indication that other misconduct might occur, Johnstone said.

Officers will approach individuals — particularly those under the
influence — who are boisterously using obscenities and request that they stop, Johnstone said. However if they behavior continues or escalates, an arrest or citation might be in order, he said.

“It’d be kind of an extreme scenario and it’s kind of intervention to stop the next level or the assault or fight from happening,” Johnstone said. “Usually when you hear people challenging each other to a street battle, it’s not the best of language.”

East Lansing does, however, have its fair share of conduct restricting laws, including sections which ban actions such as peeping in windows, begging on the streets, swimming in the nude or accosting, molesting or otherwise annoying by touching or word of mouth among others.

The majority of people engaging in these activities — at least those doing it excessively — are often those who have been drinking or using drugs, Johnstone said.

“That’s the same kind of guy, as an example, that’s walking down the street pulling the branches off trees and slapping the street signs and gets in some verbal altercation with other people yelling and screaming,” he said. “That attracts the officer’s attention and so they could cite the guy and because these are misdemeanors, if the officer witnesses they can actually make a physical arrest.”