TIMELINES 10/10/13

NFL to prohibit off-duty cops from bringing weapons into stadiums
The NFL recently instituted a new rule prohibiting off-duty police from carrying guns into any NFL facility, including stadiums. The restriction, which Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association President Jeff Follmer called “disappointing,” was announced via an internal Cleveland Police Department memo. It will only apply to off-duty officers, who will be denied entry if they are carrying a gun. Officers working NFL games in an official capacity will still be permitted to carry weapons. The ban is not the first new stadium safety regulation approved this year. In response to the Boston Marathon bombing, the NFL also implemented a “clear bag policy” prohibiting most large handbags and backpacks in favor of clear plastic bags with visible contents.

U.S. set to stop military assistance to Egypt
Due in large part to the ousting of U.S. backed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, the Obama Administration is likely to significantly cut back on non-essential military aid to Egypt. The move, which has not been officially announced but will likely occur within the next few days, is a tactic to place pressure on Egypt’s military, which took power from Morsi in a coup after continued civil unrest and accusations of violence against protesters. U.S. officials explained an end to aid is meant to communicate frustration with the slow progress toward new elections. Originating as part of the 1970 peace agreement between Egypt and Israel, the military aid has largely been used to purchase U.S.-built military equipment. However, it has proven in the past to be a critical investment in stabilizing the region and its withdrawal could alter the nation’s relationship with the Jewish state. Morsi took power after his predecessor, Hosni Mubarak, was removed from power by large-scale protests. However, much to the discontent of moderate activists, he accomplished this partly by courting the Muslim Brotherhood, the major conservative Islamic party in the country. His subsequent ousting also brought a military crackdown against the Brotherhood’s members and the dissolution of the party.

NYPD officer arrested in motorcycle attack case
An NYPD detective was arrested on Tuesday for participating in a September 29attack on the driver of an SUV on a Manhattan highway. Wojciech Braszczok an undercover NYPD officer, turned himself in on Tuesday, where he was charged with criminal mischief and riot charges related to an attack on SUV driver Alexian Lien. Braszczok, was off-duty when he joined the motorcycle rally, which grew violent when Lien bumped one of the motorcyclists, prompting the others to attack his car. In response, Lien drove away, running over one member of the group as he did. The group pursued him, striking the car’s side and windows before pulling him out through the driver-side window in traffic and beating him. The attack, which was captured on a helmet-mounted camera, also involved Braszczok, who was shown striking the SUV before the physical attack on Lien. Along with the criminal charges, NYPD’s Internal Affairs is also looking into the incident to determine if the failure to report the incident until three days later was proper due to Braszczok’s undercover status.

School bus crashes into tree in West Haverstraw
A bus transporting children back from school on October 8 struck a tree in West Haverstraw, resulting in minor damage to the bus but no injuries to the driver or children. The accident occurred when the bus driver was travelling was turning onto Samsondale Avenue from Railroad Avenue. In an effort to avoid a car, the driver swerved the bus into the tree. After police responded and ensured there were no injuries, a second bus was brought to return the children to their homes. The driver of the bus is not expected to be charged in connection to the crash.

Technical problems hamper Obamacare health insurance exchange, in spite of prior warnings
One week after the federal website where patients can examine Obamacare’s options for insurance plans opened, it is still running at diminished capacity and blocking out prospective applicants, despite warnings the system was not ready for Obamacare’s release. A slew of Obama administration supporters and industry experts explained technical flaws and slowdowns were certain to hamper registration, especially considering the significant turnout anticipated and received during the first week of registration. 8.6 million people logged on within the first three days nationwide and 40,000 New Yorkers have already signed up for health insurance. Though Obama officials explained to critics that high volumes of applicants were likely to cause at least some issues, frequent complaints reflected an opinion that the site was not ready for launch. According to healthcare consultant Robert Laszewski, many insurers were “pulling out their hair” in frustration due to technical issues on the healthcare website. Obama officials explained technicians are addressing the site with 24/7 fixes and it is expected that all prospective applicants will be able to sign up by January 1.

Vacate order issued on Clarkstown-based religious school
An order to vacate was issued to Nanuet-based Congregation Lizensk last week, prohibiting their use of sections of the private religious school which had been deemed unsafe. In a decision by Supreme Court Justice Margaret Garvey, the 180 student school on Central Avenue in Nanuet was deemed to be in violation of safety regulations and posed a threat to students. Fire inspectors cited the school for a number of safety violations including missing sheetrock, exposed and improper wiring, fire sprinkler issues and both state and local violations related to fire doors and other fire suppression equipment. According to Rockland County Illegal Housing Task Force Chairman John Kryger, the violations have been present for six months. Kruger added the neglect may be criminal and that the Task Force was working with the District Attorney’s office, state and local officials to determine where the state penal code may be used to prosecute the violations.

Spring Valley man arrested charged with driving children while drunk
Ramapo police arrested and charged a man in Chestnut Ridge on October 5 for not only driving drunk, but doing so with children in his car. Police pulled over Octavio Romero-Cortes, 44 of Spring Valley, as he was driving his 2001 Saturn north on Saddle River Road. After stopping Romero-Cortes, they discovered he was driving two children under the age of 15, an aggravating factor in a DUI case under New York’s “Leandra’s Law.” Romero-Cortes was arrested and charged with aggravated DWI for driving with a child less than 15 years old, a class E felony, and endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor. He was also arrested and charged with a number of other DWI and traffic misdemeanors and infractions including failure to submit to a breath screening test, driving without a license and operating a motor vehicle without headlights on.

Motorcycle crash claims the life of Nanuet man
A Nanuet man was killed on October 6 when he lost control of his motorcycle and crashed in Chestnut Ridge. Daniel K. Mercado, 25, was travelling along North Highland Avenue when he lost control of his 2001 Kawasaki along a bend in the road at around 3:30 a.m. Residents found him seriously injured after he crashed into a flower pot and mail box, providing aid until Orangetown and Ramapo police arrived. Soon thereafter, Mercado was taken by Faist Volunteer Ambulance to Good Samaritan Hospital, where he was pronounced dead from head trauma. According to residents, the section of road Mercado was killed on is problematic due to drivers travelling fast in spite of its narrow, winding layout. This is the second fatal bike crash in Rockland within a month. Earlier in September, New Jersey resident Julio Gamio was killed after veering off road and hitting a wall.

Empire Casino to open new expansion
The Empire casino in Yonkers is set to open a $50 million expansion on Friday, October 11 at 2 p.m., adding 66,000 square feet to its existing property. Included in the expansion are 30,000 square feet of new gaming space, a new casino entrance and a slew of new bars and restaurants. Among the new eateries are a pinch American Grill, a Ducasse Studio featuring 100 craft beers from New York microbreweries, a Dan Rooney Sports Pub, and an Alley 810 cocktail lounge, complete with bowling. Also featured during the opening celebrations will be a private tasting reception with Chef Alain Ducasse.

Metro North resumes regular train service
After almost two weeks, Metro North’s New Haven Line resumed service on Monday, ending frustrating cancellations and delays for commuters. The shutdown caused by the failure of a backup power line which was meant to support the shut down main line during the construction of a new substation. After repairs and regular tests to the backup line, the trains have returned to full power and began running at full capacity without restrictions on Monday. Before returning to full service, most normal weekend service was present before then, but delays and restrictions were still present until the line fully opened for the work week. Credits will be available for weekly ticketholders who wish to be reimbursed for the weeks between September 25 to October 7 and monthly ticketholders for September and October.

Heroin overdoses spike in Westchester
A 25-year-old Mahopac man died in Carmel on Sunday in an apparent heroin overdose, the latest of four cases involving young men from Mahopac and a signal of a possible epidemic. According to Carmel Police Chief Michael Johnson, the repeated cases, the first three of which were non-fatal, could indicate a “bad batch” of heroin. Before this, three men in their twenties were treated for heroin overdoses, though they survived. Johnson went on to say police were tracking the source of the drug, which might be evidenced by stamps dealers typically place on bags to identify their particular “brand.” The recent overdoses came only a few months after another spate of overdoses in late 2012 which claimed the lives of four users. Heroin use among teens has risen in the Lower Hudson Valley due to its relatively low price compared to prescription opiates.

Colorado conservatives looking to break off from the state
11 Colorado counties have evidently given up on the state’s increasingly liberal policies and are holding votes in November to determine whether they should break away from the more metropolitan areas to form their own state. The largely rural, conservative counties have often been at odds with the southern section of the state, where cities such as Denver and Aspen are thought to be responsible for the recent turn toward more liberal policies on issues such as cannabis legalization, gun ownership and illegal immigration. The state’s shift in political alignment was strongly evidenced by its decision to support Barack Obama in the 2012 elections in spite of large turnouts in the northern counties for Romney. However, a drive for statehood only began to take up significant traction when new gun control laws passed in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, prompting the recall of two Democratic lawmakers. If the counties do vote to break away, they must still obtain the state and Congress’ vote allowing them to leave.

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