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Who decides how to describe suspects?

A reader e-mailed me today asking why he rarely sees descriptions of suspects in our crime stories.

He was referring to this story, in which several gunmen carjacked, abducted and robbed a Plantation couple. Several web readers also posted comments raising the issue of why we didn't write more information about the assailants, who are still on the loose.

Here's the answer: When the police release detailed suspect descriptions, we print them. When the descriptions are vague and incomplete, we choose not to run that info.

Here's the reasoning, from The Miami Herald's Stylebook: "When describing a person sought by law enforcement officials ... there should be other identifying information [besides race or ethnicity]. Indeed, we should be pressing for the fullest possible identification from police. If the police information is limited, we ought to provide our readers with what we know in that context.

"Do not, for instance, simply report: Police were searching for a Hispanic man about six feet tall in connection with the robbery.

"And include as much other descriptive detail as possible: Police were searching for a man described by witnesses as Hispanic, in his teens, six feet tall, wearing an Oakland A's baseball cap and a dark jacket.

"The overall rule: If the race or ethnicity stands alone as the identifying element, avoid using it."

In the case about the armed carjacking, police only described the suspects in terms of race and an age range. It wouldn't serve much purpose to tell readers police are looking for a black man in his 20s. After all, that description fits tens of thousands of people in South Florida.

Compare that to this story from today about a man who rammed his car into a Kmart and stole jewelry. Police gave us a detailed description of who they're looking for, and we printed all of it, including the suspect's race.

Posted by Evan Benn at 05:54 PM on August 20, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Deputy's killer: America's most wanted

Amr True-crime program America's Most Wanted is airing a segment Saturday night on the shooting death of BSO Sgt. Chris Reyka. 

The goal: To drum up more tips and leads on the week-old homicide investigation.

The show airs at 9 p.m. on Channel 7, but a detailed rundown of the Reyka segment is already on the AMW website

Posted by Evan Benn at 01:46 PM on August 18, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Car seat safety

Anyone who is in the market for a baby car seat knows just how overwhelming shopping for one can be.

Should you buy a rear-facing one or the kind that faces forward? What about the weight limits? And the harness systems?

Carseat The most important thing to know is that using one is a MUST. It's the law in Florida and every other state.

Every year thousands of babies and children are killed in car crashes, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Using car safety seats and seat belts correctly can help you prevent that from happening.

Here are some tips from the AAP: 

- Always use a car safety seat, starting with your  baby's first trip home from the hospital.

- Never place a child in a rear-facing seat in the front seat of a car.

- All children 13 and younger should sit in the backseat of a car, where they are safest.

Because the seats are sometimes complicated to install, there are several licensed safety seat inspection sites throughout Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

Among them: the Broward County Health Department, Miami Children's Hospital and Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Take the time to get the car seat installed by a professional. It could be a lifesaver later on.

Posted by Jennifer Mooney Piedra at 04:55 PM on August 17, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Mom seeks closure of son's unsolved murder

Adriansmith Annie Crafton just wants answers.

Seven years ago this past Wednesday, Crafton's son - 21-year-old Adrian Antone Smith - was gunned down while walking near his Lauderhill home.

The murder remains unsolved.

Smith, a graduate of Plantation High, was a "good boy" who never got in trouble, his mother said.

He loved watching the New York Giants football games. His favorite TV show was Family Guy. And he enjoyed pork chops and ribs.

"I miss him so much," his mother said.

To celebrate his life, she is having a barbecue at her Lauderhill home from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday. The public is welcome, she said. The address is: 921 NW 34 Way.

If anyone has information on Smith's murder, please call Broward Sheriff's Office homicide Sgt. Glenn Bukata at 954-321-4210 or Broward Crime Stoppers, anonymously, at 954-493-8477. A $1,000 reward is being offered.

Posted by Jennifer Mooney Piedra at 04:24 PM on August 17, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Join the police academy

Badge_2Well, kind of.

Ever wonder what it's like to be a police officer? You might want to check out your local Citizen's Police Academy.

CPAs typically meet once a week for about 12 weeks. Participants watch K-9 demonstrations, learn how to dust for fingerprints and chat with detectives about their jobs. They also get to ride along with an officer during his or her regular shift.

Right now, two Broward departments are registering.

The Coral Springs Citizen's Police Academy -- which is open only to residents of Coral Springs -- starts on Sept. 19. If you're interested, you can contact Joanne Lavoro at 954-346-1232 or Nereida Milenkovic at 954-346-1278.

In Hollywood, classes begin Sept. 5 and are open to residents and nonresidents of Hollywood. For more information, call the Hollywood Police Department's public affairs unit at 954-967-4314.

You can also find out more about the programs in Pembroke Pines and on Miami Beach online.

Posted by Kathleen McGrory at 09:29 AM on August 17, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

He's the top trooper

Clip_image002 The Florida Highway Patrol today named Edward P. Pope its Trooper of the Year for 2007.

It's been a good year for Pope, a four-year FHP veteran, who was named Trooper of the Month an unprecedented three times in a row.

Pope's bosses said he exhibited bravery and exceptional police work this year by saving someone's life after an attempted suicide and rescuing two people from a submerged vehicle, among other acts. They praised his "hard work, relentless efforts, excellent investigative skills and his performance above and beyond the call of duty."

Pope, who was recognized by Gov. Charlie Crist this week at the Capitol, works in Charlotte County. 

Posted by Evan Benn at 09:10 PM on August 14, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Teaching babies to swim

Swim South Florida's high rate of pediatric drownings and near-drownings has been well documented on this blog.

The YMCA of Greater Miami noticed and sent us an update on a new swim-lesson program they're hosting with the purpose of reducing child drownings.

A grant from The Children's Trust is allowing the YMCA to offer the Infant Swimming Resource program at its Downrite Park center and eventually in Homestead.

The program is designed for infants from six months to children up to four. The comprehensive lessons build kids' confidence and teaches them how to swim and how to react in case of a water emergency.

It also teaches parents about their roles in water safety -- an element that Miami-Dade's fire rescue officials applauded.

"It's a wonderful idea, especially if it educates parents about the importance of supervision," Lt. Eddy Ballester said. "Even if kids know how to swim, they should always be supervised by an adult around water."

The Safe Start swimming lessons run from 8 to 10 a.m. and from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Financial assistance is available.

For more information, call 305-357-4000 ext. 145, or visit the YMCA's website and click on Safe Start. To learn more about Infant Swimming Resource, click here

Posted by Evan Benn at 05:22 PM on August 14, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

It's not delivery, it's ... a setup

Pizza_guy A pizza guy (not the one on the left) was robbed and shot tonight while trying to deliver a pie in Northwest Miami-Dade.

Police didn't say what company he worked for. Let's hope for his sake it's somewhere with a good workers compensation package.

Posted by Evan Benn at 11:06 PM on August 13, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Slow Sunday

Among the shootings, fires, car accidents and falling skydivers we covered today, one call came over the police scanner that really caught our attention in a jiffy.

Around 3 p.m., a report came in about a hijacked cargo plane about to make a landing at Miami International. Whoa.

I made a quick call to airport spokesman Marc Henderson. His cellphone message said he was on the other line. I hung up and hit redial. Henderson picked up on the first ring.

"All I know so far is the plane might have a possible cracked windshield," he said. "I can't confirm anything else."

The plane landed about five minutes later and was directed to a secure area where authorites could check it out. I called back Henderson to find out what the deal was.

The plane and its crew were fine, he said -- no cracked windshield, no hijackers. A good thing. On to the next story.

Posted by Evan Benn at 08:36 PM on August 12, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Attorney defends alleged renter-scammer

Joel00_del_dade_ho_2 A lawyer for a man charged with illegally renting a town home to a couple says his client is a victim of a “misunderstanding.”

Hialeah police say Joel Del Rosario took a $2,400 payment for a three-bedroom, two-bathroom town home at an under-construction housing community in Hialeah. The home was actually an empty model used to show prospective buyers, police say.

Defense attorney Ed Martinez says Hialeah detectives “jumped the gun” in arresting Del Rosario, 25, and Daniel Argilagos,, 35. The story appeared on the front of Tuesday’s Herald Metro section.

Martinez didn’t elaborate on why it was a misunderstanding. Argilagos is represented by Raul Perez Ceballos. Both defendants have pleaded not guilty.

Posted by David Ovalle at 06:23 PM on August 10, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

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