Posted by Curt on 29 December, 2005 at 4:42 pm. 1 comment.


See the below posts if you are not familiar with the murder of Joe Pokorny:

Trooper Killed In Pennsylvania

Update On The Murder Of Trooper Joseph Pokorny
Trooper Joe Pokorny Laid To Rest

There has been a few new details about the murder of Trooper Pokorny (see the end of this post) plus two articles recently detailed some of the problems that must be dealt with, the number of parolee’s on the lose in Penn. and the communication problems associated with the police in that State.

PITTSBURGH – The shooting death of a state trooper is raising questions about the state’s supervision of parolees and the alleged use of parole to free up jail beds.

State prison guards want to know if the man charged in the Dec. 12 traffic-stop death of Cpl. Joseph Pokorny was released from prison to ease crowded conditions.

And two men questioned in the case are among about 1,700 former state inmate in violation of their parole for not reporting to parole officers – who have average caseloads of more than 70 parolees each.

Leslie D. Mollett, 30, of Pittsburgh, spent more than a year in the State Correctional Institution-Fayette on drug charges before he was released last month.

“The inmates do the proper head nodding and answer the right questions and they’re out on the street,” said Don McNany, president of the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association in Harrisburg. The union plans to review Mollett’s release as part of a larger review of parole decisions, he said.

[…]Parolees Jack Maurice Woods, 23, and Tyrone Bullock, 40, both of the Pittsburgh area, were among seven men questioned by police in Pokorny’s death. They remained in custody Monday for allegedly walking away from Allegheny County halfway houses months before, police said.

They provided information that led police to charge Mollett in Pokorny’s death, officials said.

All told, about 28,800 people are on parole in Pennsylvania, supervised by 403 parole officers.

About 7,700 of those have failed to report to their parole officers – leading about 6,000 to be sent back to county jails or other facilities.

This article details some of the problems associated with that area’s communication system for Police:

At Allegheny County’s 911 center, no one monitors state police transmissions. Dispatchers there already have their hands full dealing with calls for 90 or so local police departments.

The same is true at the police station in Carnegie, the town where state police Cpl. Joseph R. Pokorny was killed outside a hotel during a traffic stop. Carnegie police operate on a radio frequency different from the state’s.

So when Cpl. Pokorny, who was riding alone, notified his dispatcher about 2 a.m. on Dec. 12 that he was tailing a car at high speed, the only ones who were listening were his dispatcher, fellow troopers and any police scanner enthusiasts up at that hour tuned to the state police channel.

Potential backup was nearby — a Carnegie officer on routine patrol in the area. But state police never asked Carnegie — or any other local police departments — for help, although they could have done so through Allegheny County 911. Technology there allows the emergency operations center to patch different departments together regardless of their radio frequencies.

“All we need to know is a chase exists, or all somebody has to do is request, ‘I want to talk to Wilkinsburg, I want to talk to Penn Hills, I want to talk to Carnegie,’ and we can make that happen,” Allegheny County Emergency Services Chief Robert Full said.

[…]The Carnegie officer arrived too late to help. He stumbled upon Cpl. Pokorny’s body after, police say, the driver of the car the corporal was chasing shot and killed him with his own weapon.It will always be an unanswered question whether Cpl. Pokorny’s life could have been saved if circumstances were different.

What if he were riding with a partner — something he was not required to do, unlike the troopers under his command during the midnight shift who have to double up?

What if the corporal had drawn his gun — something District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. said he never did?

And what if state police had notified Carnegie police and surrounding departments of the chase on the Parkway West?

“In this case, maybe disaster could have been averted if it had been standard protocol to notify the municipal officers of an impending stop,” Green Tree Police Chief Robert Cifrulak said. “Unless it’s standard protocol, if it isn’t the routine, then when is it done?”

[…]At a news conference this week, Mr. Zappala said he was disturbed that communications problems have not been solved despite repeated efforts over the past few years by his office and Allegheny County Chiefs of Police Association.

[…]The communications problem — a national issue brought into focus during the terrorist attacks of Sept., 11, 2001, when various emergency responders had problems communicating — was mentioned in a 2003 letter to Chief Full from the police chiefs association.

Referring to a 2002 visit to Western Pennsylvania by President Bush, the letter noted that “the Secret Service, Pennsylvania State Police, Pittsburgh Police and Municipal Police did not have the ability to communicate directly with each other by radio.”

[…]Communications aside, Cpl. Pokorny was particularly vulnerable — not only because he patrolled alone, but because state police have few troopers on duty during the overnight shift to cover a large territory and back one another up.

[…]On Dec. 12, at least one of those units responded to a crash on the Parkway East in Wilkinsburg at 1:26 a.m. It could not be determined how long those troopers were tied up at that incident. Cpl. Pokorny alerted his dispatcher at 1:56 a.m. that he was pursuing a vehicle miles away. Trooper Mungo could not determine where the other state police unit on duty was at the time.

[…]In traveling alone, Cpl. Pokorny did nothing unusual compared with his brethren in other police departments across the nation. In Pittsburgh’s most dangerous neighborhoods, officers as well as supervisors often drive alone. However, Cpl. Pokorny was treated differently within the state police because of his rank.

Troopers must ride with partners on the midnight shift under department rules. But supervisors have an option.

“We ride by ourselves all the time,” said state police Maj. Frank H. Monaco, who oversees three troops, including the one to which Cpl. Pokorny was assigned.

Had the corporal been killed at 11 p.m., when troopers ride alone, or during the middle of the day, would it have changed anything, Maj. Monaco asked rhetorically.

“If you want to second guess, you could say he shouldn’t have made the stop. He shouldn’t have come to work that day,” Maj. Monaco said.

He called Cpl. Pokorny aggressive, courageous, experienced and fit — someone who likely thought he could deal with the situation.

“The reality is he made a stop and thought he could handle it, and if anybody could have handled it, it would’ve been him,” Maj. Monaco said.

Finally this article deals with the inherent danger involved in traffic stops:

Pulling someone over for a traffic violation might seem routine, but it can be one of the most dangerous parts of a police officer’s job.

For Cpl. Joseph Pokorny, a 22-year veteran of the Pennsylvania State Police, it was deadly. Pokorny, 45, of Moon, was shot and killed outside a Carnegie hotel Dec. 12 after struggling with a motorist who had been speeding.

Over the past decade, 96 police officers were slain while performing traffic stops in the U.S., FBI statistics show.

Only two other situations led to more murders of police officers from 1995 to 2004: 157 police were killed trying to arrest someone for robbery or other crimes, and 105 were ambushed.

“You don’t believe that somebody who is out speeding is going to kill you,” said Trooper Arthur Pittman, who teaches defensive tactics at the New York State Police Academy.

Pokorny got out of his patrol car and approached Leslie Mollett, 31, of Knoxville, after the car Mollett was driving skidded to a stop on a berm outside the Extended StayAmerica hotel, according to a police affidavit.

One of the passengers told police Pokorny tried to frisk Mollett against the trunk of the car and Mollett resisted. Another passenger said that when Mollett argued with the trooper, Pokorny tried to put Mollett’s hands against the car and the two grappled. Pokorny sprayed Mollett with mace.

Both passengers told police they ran, and heard gunfire moments later. Pokorny was shot in the chest and head.

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