Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Bill Baer Delivers Remarks at Forum on Law Enforcement Recruitment in the 21st Century

Washington, DC
United States
~ Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Thank you, Ron [Davis], for that introduction and for inviting me to join you for today’s conversations on how to increase and maintain diversity in our nation’s police and sheriff’s departments.

Echoing Neil’s earlier remarks on behalf of the administration, I would like to begin by recognizing the COPS Office (Office of Community Oriented Policing Services) for their tireless work in supporting the implementation of the recommendations of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, including those focused on achieving diversity in law enforcement recruitment.  The COPS Office has an extensive history of working with the field to advance public safety through community policing, including resources that have provided practical approaches for creating positive, productive relations with all members of the multi-racial, multi-ethnic public.

And on behalf of the Attorney General (AG) and Deputy Attorney General, I want to express deep gratitude and appreciation for the incredibly hard work done by everyone in this room – law enforcement, community leaders and advocates and civil rights organizations – to build lasting collaborative relationships between local police and the public.  We recognize your vital efforts to ensure that all components of a community – including both the public and peace officers – treat one another fairly and justly, and are invested in maintaining public safety in an atmosphere of mutual respect.

And I’m sure that everyone here today recognizes the importance of having a police department or sheriff’s office that reflects the diversity of their community, and how that plays an important part in building trust and strengthening relationships.

In fact, many of you have no doubt heard Dallas Police Chief David Brown’s impassioned plea to the public inviting them to be a part of the solution when he called on them to apply to be police officers.  And, although it is too early to know the results of that call and whether it will produce a diverse pool of candidates, the Dallas Police Department has received 812 applications since Chief Brown made his call to service following the devastating shooting of five Dallas officers by a gunman on July 7.

But the bigger question, of course, is – how do we get there?  How do we get our police departments to truly reflect the communities they serve?  What changes do we need to make to our recruitment practices in the 21st century, especially in terms of attracting young adults to a career in law enforcement?  And how can we be more creative in our approach to recruitment and employ the public, business and civic communities to help?

Of course, there are no one-size-fit-all solutions, but I offer some examples of creative efforts undertaken by some law enforcement agencies and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to address these important issues.

Recently, for example, to address a difficulty in recruiting for its highway patrol officer, particularly for female candidates, the Kansas Highway Patrol began a social media campaign targeted at female recruitment by actively engaging in tweeting as part of recruitment.  The agency released the Twitter hashtag #GirlCopsAreAwesome [external link] and sent out tweets of female troopers with the caption “heroes don’t wear capes, we become troopers.”

Here at the DOJ, the federal law enforcement components have developed targeted recruitment programs, including those aimed at pipeline development, including at historically black colleges and universities and Hispanic-serving institutions to broaden applicant pools.  Additionally, the AG’s Diversity Management Advisory Council (which includes the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) Acting Administrator and senior leader from FBI) has implicit bias draft curriculum for managers and supervisors that includes implicit bias information related to recruitment, hiring, retention, professional development and promotion.

In addition, I’d like to highlight that the COPS Office offers several publications and guides on best practices related to recruiting, to offer suggestions for ensuring that agencies cast a wide net in hiring to obtain maximum pools of diverse candidates – diversity of all kinds: socio-economic, gender, cultural – as well which factors to consider to attract the best possible candidates.

These aren’t easy questions to address, of course, but I’m certain that the different perspectives and ideas of everyone in this room will help to build a roadmap that leads the way to increased diversity in our nation’s law enforcement agencies.  So with that, I’ll close now and let this important work get underway.

And once again, on behalf of the Department of Justice, thank you for attending and for all that you do to bring about positive change for your communities.

Florida Man Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison for Operating Extensive Prostitution Enterprise

Highly Profitable Scheme Prostituted Foreign Nationals and South Florida Residents

Miguel A. Hernandez, 50, of Miami Beach, Florida, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for operating a prostitution enterprise that profited from the prostitution of multiple women, including both foreign nationals and Miami-area residents, for his financial gain.

Hernandez pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Marcia G. Cooke of the Southern District of Florida on May 11, 2016, to four counts of using a facility of interstate commerce to promote an unlawful activity and four counts of importing and attempting to import an alien for prostitution purposes.

According to documents filed in the case and evidence presented in court, Hernandez began operating a highly profitable prostitution enterprise known as “International Playmates” from a hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 2010.  Hernandez and others, including his brother and co-defendant, Eduardo Hernandez, recruited many of the women who worked for him from other countries, including Spain, Colombia, Venezuela and other Central and Latin American countries.  To facilitate the operation, Hernandez and his associates reserved and paid for plane tickets for foreign nationals to enter the United States, completed immigration paperwork, coached foreign nationals on what to say to customs officials when entering the United States and picked foreign nationals up at the airport.  Hernandez openly advertised his business on the Internet and deposited the cash proceeds into multiple bank accounts.

As part of Hernandez’s enterprise, he engaged numerous individuals in the scheme, including overseas recruiters to identify more women; drivers to transport women to dates with prostitution clients; a website technician to advertise the enterprise’s services; various female associates to help manage the enterprise; and Eduardo Hernandez to aid in operation of the scheme.  According to documents filed in the case and evidence presented in court, Hernandez used physical force on at least two occasions against two different women, both Spanish nationals, and prostituted at least three minors for his profit.

“The Civil Rights Division commends our federal partners for their steadfast commitment to combating human trafficking and related crimes,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.  “This case is a testament to our shared goal of bringing traffickers to justice and vindicating the rights of vulnerable women and girls exploited for financial profit.”

“This case is just one example of the Anti-Trafficking Coordintion Teams’ steadfast dedication to the prosecution of those who exploit others for personal financial gain,” said U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida.  “The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida commends the collective commitment from our law enforcement partners to protect the most vulnerable members of our communities from victimization.”

“Human trafficking is one of the most despicable crimes we investigate,” said Special Agent in Charge Mark Selby of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Miami.  “HSI is committed to stopping the exploitation of those who are powerless to defend themselves, and bringing to justice those who would wantonly disregard these victims’ dignity for their own personal enrichment.  We will continue to work with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to make sure that individuals involved in this crime are brought to justice.”

“Diplomatic Security’s global presence enables our agency to serve as a liaison between U.S. and foreign law enforcement counterparts, assisting both in their efforts to stop human trafficking,” said Director Bill A. Miller of the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS).  “Today’s sentencing demonstrates how our unique placement at more than 275 diplomatic missions positions us well to stem the tide of human trafficking and target the criminals who prey on these victims.”

Hernandez was previously convicted and sentenced to confinement in Spain for immigration fraud offenses in violation of Spanish law, but fled to the United States before serving his sentence.  Eduardo Hernandez pleaded guilty for his role in the enterprise on May 3, 2016, and was sentenced to 10 months’ imprisonment last week.

The case was investigated by HSI and DSS, with assistance from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Olivia S. Choe and Jonathan Kobrinski of the Southern District of Florida and Trial Attorney Matthew T. Grady of the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit.

The Southern District of Florida is one of six Phase I Pilot Anti-Trafficking Coordination Teams (ACTeams) convened through an interagency collaboration of the Departments of Justice, Labor and Homeland Security to develop high-impact federal human trafficking investigations and prosecutions involving forced labor, international sex trafficking and sex trafficking of adults by force, fraud and coercion.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

U.S. Marshals Build New Office in Farmington

Albuquerque, NM - The United States Marshal Service in New Mexico is getting a new building in Farmington. Though the Marshals Service has had Deputies assigned permanently in Farmington for six years they will now have a building to call home. The new building will allow the Marshals service expanded capabilities and resources for its law enforcement partners in the four corners area. The work on the office began this month and is scheduled to be completed in January of 2017.

United States Marshal Conrad E. Candelaria stated “the USMS office in Farmington will further enhance the capabilities in fulfilling the primary directive of service to the federal judiciary that will coincide with servicing the entire 4-Corners in New Mexico in pursing dangerous and violent fugitives. It is important to recognize, in no small the measure the support received from New Mexico’s Congressional delegation for ensuring the funding for this much needed Office so that the community can be better served”.