Tag Archives: whatsapp

Miami officers fired for ‘jokes’ about target practice in primarily black neighborhoods

Three police officers were fired for making comments on a group chat about using Miami’s primarily black neighborhoods for target practice.

Officers Kevin Bergnes, Miguel Valdes and Bruce Alcin were fired on Dec. 23, after an internal affairs investigation concluded that they violated department policies, said the Miami Herald, citing documents it obtained.

The remarks angered local civil rights activists keeping tabs on a department that is currently scrutinized by the U.S. Department of Justice for a pattern of excessive force.

“It’s indicative of the casual conversations and comments that young and even more seasoned police officers are used to making without a lot of repercussions,” said Julia Dawson, an activist who has been part of law enforcement oversight panels in Miami.

The Miami police department confirmed that officers Bergnes, Valdes and Alcin were fired, but did not explain the reasons behind the dismissals.

In a statement, Chief Rodolfo Llanes said an internal affairs investigation found the officers’ actions “inconsistent with the mission and values of our department.”

Attorney Stephan Lopez, who represents the three officers, told The Associated Press that his clients were joking and that the comments were taken out of context. He said Alcin is African-American and Valdes has a black grandfather.

“They wanted to make an example out of this. But they made an example of the wrong people,” Lopez said. “These guys didn’t shoot anybody. They were clearly joking around. They are kids. You don’t terminate them the day before Christmas Eve.”

The incident happened June 30, when the three officers responded to other rookie colleagues’ questions about shooting ranges in a WhatsApp chat they often used to communicate, the paper said. According to documents obtained by the Herald, the officers-in-training shared department information on that thread.

It said the documents show Bergnes sarcastically suggested the friend looking for a shooting range try a Bank of America, adding “they’ll even give you some cash.” He then suggested Model City — the police district that includes Liberty City and handles the bulk of the city’s shootings — as another location.

Valdes suggested a particular intersection in the Overtown community, according to the paper. It added that Alcin followed up, saying Valdes “wouldn’t understand” until he’s worked there.

The next day, an officer warned them that their words were offensive even though she didn’t think they were racist. “Your words can come back to bite you,” she allegedly wrote.

A sergeant learned of the conversation and ordered one officer to apologize. He also wrote a memo to a lieutenant about the matter, according to the Herald. Internal affairs began an investigation and concluded on Dec. 19 that they broke social media, courtesy and responsibility rules, the paper said.

Lopez, the attorney, said it’s too early to say whether he will file a lawsuit for wrongful termination or negotiate to get their jobs back. The officers were still on probation after being sworn in earlier this year.

Javier Ortiz, president of the police union, said he didn’t agree with the “joking texts” but that it wasn’t enough for dismissal. He said the city manager would “rather focus on text messages than the senseless killings and violent crime.”

The incident came months after the city of Miami agreed to go under supervision of the U.S. Justice Department to reform its policing after a series of police shootings from 2008 to 2011. The agreement followed a report that questioned 33 police shootings, including seven black men and teenagers who were killed in a short time.

 

App update: New apps for 2015

Uber, Facebook, Instagram — sure, they’ve been all the rage, but with 2015 arriving we’re all ready for something fresh. From ride-hailing to photo sharing, here are a few up-and coming apps and startups to watch in in the new year. Which will be the breakout hit?

TELL A STORY

Instagram, which is owned by Facebook Inc., now has 300 million users – more than Twitter. Scrolling through its snapshot feeds gives users a quick glimpse into the lives of friends and strangers. (At least the parts that include empty beaches, cappuccinos with perfect foam hearts and smiling babies in clean clothes.) Its simplicity is part of its appeal. But what if you want to tell a longer story?

Enter Storehouse, a mobile app that promises to let you share “your stories, as they happen.” Instead of sharing one-off photos, Storehouse lets users combine photos, videos and words to share anything from a detailed recipe, to travel memories or a first-person documentary on the Yakuza. Storehouse was founded by Mark Kawano, who previously worked at Apple as a User Experience Evangelist, helping developers design iOS and Mac apps.

“Writers always had a great platform for blogging,” Kawano said recently. “But that hasn’t happened with photographers yet.” Other photo apps, he said, are basically just status updates in a visual form. Storehouse hopes to change that.

HAIL A RIDE

If you haven’t heard of Uber, you must never leave your house or watch the news. Many people also are familiar with Uber’s smaller rival Lyft, which burnishes its kinder, gentler image by slapping huge pink mustaches on the front of its cars. But more companies are queuing up to squire you around town.

In 10 cities in the U.S., including San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago and Los Angeles, you can order up a Sidecar. The service differentiates itself by letting passengers input their destinations when they book rides and sort drivers based on price, shortest ETA and favorites. In Los Angeles, there’s also Opoli, which lets drivers bid for your ride so you can decide which one to go with. You can pick your vehicle too, and make a reservation. Unlike many other app-based car services, Opoli also allows its drivers to work for competitors. Opoli doesn’t take a commission on a fare; its drivers pay a subscription fee to use the service.

COOK A MEAL

Food-ordering apps such as Seamless have made it easy to order in. And if you want to venture outside, OpenTable and smaller competitors such as Reserve help you quickly book a table with their smartphone apps. But if you’d rather give your loved ones the personal touch, new DIY services will provide carefully measured ingredients and detailed recipes for even the clumsiest of cooks.

Sites such as HelloFresh, Plated and Blue Apron deliver weekly boxes of raw ingredients – even including spices and, at least in the case of HelloFresh, water. The only things you’re assumed to have in your pantry are salt, pepper, oil and possibly butter. An upcoming “family plan” box for Blue Apron, for example, features chicken under a “brick” with rosemary, roast potatoes and broccolini; New England-style shrimp rolls with warm potato and kale salad; fresh pappardelle Bolognese with romaine, celery and apple salad and two-cheese pizza with iceberg chopped salad. The meals are quick to prepare, so if you’re tired of takeout and live in their delivery location, these services could spice up your diet. Or maybe help with that “eat-healthy” New Year’s resolution?

CHIT CHAT

You’ve heard of WhatsApp, the nearly-free messaging app that Facebook paid $22 billion for this year. And there’s Facebook’s own messaging tool, which was the year’s most-downloaded app (likely because you had to download it if you wanted to message people using Facebook).

That’s all so 2014. Why message people you know when you could instead check out Ethan, a messaging app that lets you do just one thing – message a guy named Ethan. He “may message you time to time” but cautions that he “can’t respond when he’s asleep.” Nothing if not honest, Ethan doesn’t want you to message him in an emergency, and will advise you not to fall in love with him. But want to plan a dinner-and-movie night? No problem. “Should I get Italian or Chinese for dinner?” (Answer: Italian) and “Gonna watch a movie on Netflix, what should I go for?” (Answer: “The Room.”)

PUT THAT PHONE DOWN

If your New Year’s resolution is to stop being so rude with your phone and talk to your friends face-to-face every once in a while, there’s an app for you, too. It’s called Moment, and it tracks how much you use your iPhone and iPad each day (sorry, no Android version yet).

If you are trying to cut back on your screen habit, you can set daily limits and the app will notify you when you exceed them. Moment Family, meanwhile, lets you monitor your whole family’s phone use – by looking at your phone.