Today is Texas Independence Day. On March 2nd, 1836, Texas declared independence from Mexico. In honor of Texas Independence Day, we hoisted the Texas flag here at the house, cooked a pot of Texas Red last night, and drank a couple of Shiners. You might say we’re just a little proud of being born in Texas, but we thank our lucky Lone Star that Texas joined the United States of America. You can learn more about the brief history of Texas independence here.
I’ve generally considered Texas Tribune to be a decent and reliable source of news in Texas, and from time to time we re-publish their stories. We have even at times considered going non-profit to follow their model. But they've been getting some criticism for taking money from big donors who have an interest in avoiding bad coverage. The criticisms there do cause me to reflect on our own operation and how we might avoid that kind of bias. Even if you take money completely out of the equation, it is easy to find yourself thinking twice before publishing something derogatory about a newsmaker who provides you with access and information.
We recently had a big conversation on the City of Lewisville Facebook group regarding license plate recognition systems, and specifically the storage of data in them. Councilman Neil Ferguson wrote a response, which we posted here. I wanted to share with you the article from the Electronic Frontier Foundation about the national database. I would just say that I’m wary about there being too much storage of that information, and the potential for abuse. The information collected definitely is useful in law enforcement; I don’t dispute that. It loses utility the longer you keep it. At some point, the usefulness crosses below a point where it outweighs the potential for abuse. I don’t know where that point is, but I hope that Lewisville Police Department and others will keep that in mind when determining how much data to keep.
This is some interesting drama: Denton Mayor Mark Burroughs bought a condo in Dallas for some reason, and is involved in a lawsuit because he refuses to return a $175,000 piece of art that was in the unit. He bought the unit as-is, and without an inspection, but is holding the art hostage over what he considers to be defects in the unit.
As you know, the Lewisville City Council as well as surrounding cities took steps to reduce the availability of e-cigarettes to minors. This NPR article discusses the rationale (or lack thereof) for banning their usage. For what it’s worth, I don’t feel there is enough evidence of harm from second-hand vapor to justify any bans. But property owners are free to do as they wish for their own establishments.
Here is something that gets me: We left-leaning folks genuinely believe in the process of science, and we think science should not only be taught in schools, but should shape public policy. We poke fun at idiots like Joe Barton, and the people who want to teach creationism as if it’s a scientific theory with equal footing as evolution. Yet, so many of our lefties also are willing to set aside discernment and jump on all sorts of bandwagons where the science is either non-existent, or has been totally ignored. A lot of folks are familiar with the Facebook page “I Fu**ing Love Science”, but do you know about “I fu**ing hate pseudoscience”? I recommend that everyone who professes to love science follow both - especially the latter.
Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson lives on a luxury estate in Denton County near Bartonville. He has joined a lawsuit against the Cross Timbers Water Supply Corp., which is building a water tower near his home. The lawsuit claims it will be an eyesore and hurt his property value, which is the main BS argument. What had gas drilling opponents fuming, and asserting hypocrisy was the suit’s assertion that the tower could be used to supply drilling operations, and that would result in a lot of truck traffic. Here is an open letter to Tillerson from a former oil company executive who now fights against the industry’s practice of “fracking” or hydraulic fracture stimulation.
Flower Mound will not have a city election this year because none of their candidates drew opponents. This could work to the disadvantage of Flower Mound candidates in the LISD races. Those candidates usually have an advantage because of Flower Mound’s high voter turnout.
“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Excuse me if I’m appalled at the negative reaction to this sculpture by some folks who think Jesus wouldn’t be a ‘vagrant’.
The big international story right now comes out of Ukraine, where citizens ousted the Russian-affiliated leader, and Russian troops have now occupied Crimea. President Obama warned that there would be a price for Russia’s actions there. Here is a map that can help you understand the situation, and here is an article that explains some of the history behind Ukraine, Russia, and Crimea. It’s not a clear-cut situation of Russia invading because they just want it. Russia clearly has some interests to protect, but we should be concerned about the unilateral nature of their actions. I’m not sure their motives are entirely summed up by what they have stated. Nevertheless, the US has confronted them about it, and when two nuclear superpowers have words like, it concerns me greatly.
After a beautiful sunny Saturday, temperatures are expected to drop quickly in the early hours Sunday morning, and frozen precipitation will fall on North Texas. North Texas is under a WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY Sunday from 3 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Most of the region will likely see some freezing rain and/or sleet Sunday and Sunday evening. Accumulations are more likely north and northwest of a line from Killeen to Palestine. Total ice accumulations are expected to be less than a tenth of an inch. Total sleet accumulations are expected to be less than half an inch. Sleet accumulations closer to half an inch are more likely to occur within isolated afternoon thunderstorms. The highest accumulations within the region are expected in areas east and northeast of a Gainesville to Canton line. If higher accumulations are expected in this area, a winter storm warning may be needed.
The greatest impacts due to sleet and ice on Sunday will occur north of a Breckenridge to DFW to Emory line. Hazardous travel conditions are expected in this area. Many bridges, overpasses, and secondary roads will likely be icy and some main roads may also become icy. In addition, any sleet will also result in hazardous road conditions. South of this area but north of a Comanche to Palestine line, ice and sleet will likely cause bridges and overpasses to ice. Roadways will largely remain free of ice, but slick spots will likely still form on roadways. Travel could become hazardous. Across our far southern counties, some freezing rain or sleet may occur that could result in slick spots on bridges and overpasses. Roadways are expected to remain free of ice.
There is uncertainty about the extent of Sunday's winter weather and the potential impacts. Here is what we know as well as some unknowns that could alter the eventual impacts.
An arctic cold front will move through North and Central Texas on Sunday with temperatures falling rapidly behind the front. The front should move through the DFW metroplex before daybreak, through Waco before mid morning, and through Killeen and Temple before 11 AM.
The man who robbed pharmacies in Lewisville and Flower Mound at gunpoint last August could have received up to 20 years in prison, but instead was sentenced to 10 years deferred adjudication and probation. But the robber, Daniel Khan of Lewisville, who was just 22 years old at the time of the crime, will not be on the streets soon, and will have to adhere to some pretty strict terms of probation, or risk going to prison.
On August 13th, Khan robbed a CVS pharmacy in Lewisville - not for money, but for drugs. Again on August 25th, Khan held up a Walgreens in Flower Mound, demanding oxycodone and other drugs. A witness provided Flower Mound police with a license plate, and he was arrested at his home on Vista View in Lewisville. Chilling surveillance video from the Lewisville robbery showed a nervous Khan waving the handgun around.
We wanted to understand why the perpetrator of a crime that could have turned out so badly could end up with just probation in the case, so we reached out to attorney Richard Gladden, who practices criminal law in Denton. Gladden wasn’t involved in this case, but has some experience with cases of this nature.
Gladden reviewed the plea bargain agreements and the orders we obtained in the case, and explained that in exchange for a guilty plea, Judge Margaret Barnes ordered deferred adjudication in the case, which effectively sets a bargain that if Khan can meet the terms of a stringent probation for 10 years, the 2nd degree felony charges would be dropped, and Khan could avoid prison. The deal was likely offered due to him having little or no criminal history, and because his crime was related to a drug problem. The probation terms include participation in an SAFP (Substance Abuse Felony Punishment) program.
The Lewisville Police Department provided the following updates in the Chief's Weekly Update for the week of 2/17/2014 - 2/23/2014:
Bicycle Officers Make Drug Arrest On Tuesday, February 18th, Officers Martinez and Clements were patrolling a parking lot in the 2100 block of South State Highway 121 (Business). The officers observed two people sitting in a parked car and approached the car on foot to investigate. Officer Martinez shined his flashlight in the car and observed a plastic baggie with what appeared to be “crack” cocaine in the lap of the driver. The officers removed the occupants and conducted a search. Officers completed a field test of the substance that they recovered from the plastic baggie on the driver’s lap. It tested positive for the presence of cocaine. The driver was arrested for manufacture/delivery of a controlled substance in penalty group one (over 1 gram, but under 4 grams).
Fleeing Driver Arrested for DWI and Evading Detention On Saturday, February 22nd, at approximately 1:30 a.m., Officer Montoya was monitoring northbound traffic on Interstate 35E. Officer Montoya, who was stopped off of the roadway, observed a vehicle approaching him from behind. It appeared as though the approaching vehicle was going to hit his car but it swerved away from Montoya’s patrol car as it passed. Officer Montoya checked the vehicle’s speed on radar at 73 in a 60 mph zone. Officer Montoya followed the vehicle and observed several driving factors that would indicate the driver was possibly intoxicated. The vehicle exited the highway at Fox Avenue and Officer Montoya attempted to stop the driver. The driver continued driving for some distance, ultimately stopping in the 400 block of High School Drive. The driver got out of the vehicle and refused to comply with the officer’s commands. He then fled on foot from the officer. Officer Montoya did not give chase as there were other people in the car. Officers set up a perimeter and searched for the fleeing driver. Sergeant Porter located the suspect and he was arrested after being identified by Officer Montoya. The driver had a suspended driver’s license and a warrant for another DWI. He was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated and evading detention.
Burglary Suspect Identified by DNA On April 12, 2011, a citizen reported a burglary of their home in the 1500 block of Juniper Lane. The victim called officers back the next day after discovering blood evidence in their home that had been previously overlooked. Criminal Investigations Section Sergeant Mike Wragg and Crime Scene Technician Veronica Simpson responded to the residence and collected the blood evidence. The evidence was then sent to the crime lab for analysis and entry into CODIS.
On January 14, 2014, the Lewisville Police Department received a confirmation that this burglary case had the same suspect as two offenses in Denton. During the third week of February, we received notice from the crime lab that a suspect has been identified. The case has been assigned to Detective Hinson who is currently working with investigators from the Denton Police Department to locate and apprehend the suspect.
Warrant Roundup Beginning March 1st, 2014, the Lewisville Police Department will participate in the Great Texas Warrant Roundup. Over 250 police agencies will make an effort to arrest people with outstanding warrants for various offenses. If you've received a traffic ticket and not taken care of it, you may have a warrant out for your arrest, and you could be picked up at home or at work. Check this list to see if you have an active warrant for your arrest. If you do, then you need to contact the Lewisville Municipal Court as soon as possible to make arrangements to pay your fine.
Want to see the Dallas Stars play for just $10 per ticket? Want to help provide scholarships for graduating seniors this year? The LHS PTSA has a deal for you. Please visit http://bit.ly/1aIoBSz to buy your tickets before Friday, February 28th, and they will mail them to you. Hope we see you there! Grab them quick before they run out.
Lewisville Police squad car fitted with license plate cameras.(Photo by Steve Southwell)
by R Neil Ferguson
A current discussion via the City of Lewisville’s Facebook page centers around the question of license plate data retention from police car plate scanners. Current retention is 731 days (just shy of two years). The LTJ Editor, Steve Southwell, had posted this comment to the Facebook page: “Tell me what a reasonable time period is. 2 years is not. 14 days should be plenty for police to determine whether a crime has been committed. Really, what use would it be to know that 6 months ago, the car involved in a crime was seen driving down Main Street, along with thousands of others? I wouldn't be in favor of keeping that 99.8% of data for innocent folks sitting around waiting to be hacked into. If they want to store "hits" longer than the minimum, I could live with that.”
I intend to answer that question. I will begin with some real and some likely scenarios.
A particular car is used in a string of crimes over many months: rape, robbery, gang activity, car theft ring, name something. This is not an uncommon scenario. Prior police reports have a general description, but you only have to watch TV news to see how those can vary. Some people aren't even sure if it was blue, black or dark green, much less the make, model and year. But a general description is logged in hopes that a future match may occur. This has always been part of good, old-fashioned police work.
However, none of the information is sufficiently adequate to immediately identify the specific vehicle at the time of each crime. A newly-committed crime, this one within the last two weeks, does include a license plate. There is reason to believe the MO matches that of previous crimes, but that is not sufficient evidence for a charge.
Lewisville ISD Place 6 Trustee Mike McDaniel withdrew from his bid for re-election Tuesday, LTJ has confirmed.
McDaniel is currently serving his third term. He served on the School Board from 1998 - 2004, and was elected again in 2011.
McDaniel explained that his daughter, who is training to become a teacher, is currently doing her student-teaching in Frisco ISD, and she would like to come home after graduation and work in Lewisville ISD.
Because of state nepotism laws, McDaniel says that even if he were to quit today, it would be two years before his daughter can apply with the district. If he were to win another term, it would be at least five years.
"We would love to have her closer to home," explained McDaniel.
So, at least for the moment, Kristi Hassett will be running unopposed for the place 6 seat, unless another candidate files before the filing period closes.
Lewisville Police Department provided the following information in the Police Chief's Weekly Update:
Resident Catches Burglars On Wednesday, February 12th, a resident in the 1100 block of Meriwood Drive arrived at his residence and found two suspects inside. They appeared to be in the process of burglarizing his home. The suspects fled the home and police were called. Before officers arrived, the resident located a third suspect hiding in a bedroom closet. The resident held that suspect until police arrived. Upon their arrival, officers arrested the suspect for burglary of a habitation.
Detectives Gibbins and Fisher were assigned to investigate the offense. The victim recognized the suspects as clients at his place of business. That afternoon, the detectives made contact with two additional suspects that were also arrested for burglary of a habitation. Most of the stolen property has been recovered and released to the victim. Detectives continue to investigate the crime.
Stolen Vehicle Recovered after Pursuit During the early morning hours on Thursday, February 13th, a resident in the 1100 block of Elmwood heard someone breaking into his van. The suspects fled when the owner turned on the lights inside of his residence. Officers were contacted and they began checking the area for the suspects. Officer Slavens noticed a van and a car driving in the neighborhood. Officer Slavens relayed this information to Officer Stilwell, who was also in the area.
Officer Stilwell located and attempted to stop the van; however, the driver of the van refused to stop and a short pursuit ensued. Officer Stilwell discontinued the pursuit and soon found the van abandoned in the neighborhood. Officers determined that this van had been stolen. It is believed that the occupants were likely responsible for trying to steal the other van on Elmwood. Officers were not able to locate the suspects after they fled. This case remains under investigation.