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Coast Guard seeks source of hoax distress calls off Florida


The Coast Guard wants to find the source of what authorities say are hoax distress calls coming from Florida’s Gulf Coast. Coast Guard crews in St. Petersburg say they’ve regularly received fake calls for help along southwest Florida over the last year. Officials say most calls came from the Cape Coral area. The Coast Guard says the calls were made on a radio channel designated for distress calls.

Charles “Marty” Russell, who leads the Coast Guard Investigative Service office in St. Petersburg, said hoax calls threaten the safety of responding crews and boaters who legitimately need help.

Penalties for making false distress calls include six years in prison and criminal fines.

Delaware police agencies try to recruit more minorities

Delaware Police Agencies Try To Recruit More MinoritiesBuy Photo

Tamara Simeon, a senior at Delaware State University from Orange, New Jersey, hands her completed application to Stanley Jiminez, of the Delaware State Police, at the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) 10th annual law enforcement career fair, held Tuesday on the DSU campus.(Photo: JERRY SMITH/THE NEWS JOURNAL)Buy Photo

Tamara Simeon knew she wanted to pursue a career in law enforcement not long after she started attending Delaware State University. Her only decision after deciding to change her major to criminal justice was which agency s uniform she wanted to wear. The senior from Orange, New Jersey, made that decision this week and filled out an application with the Delaware State Police at a career fair held on the Dover campus.

When I first came to DSU, I wanted to be a lawyer, she said. But then I became a security guard here and now I see which direction I want to go. My mentor convinced me to be a state trooper.

WIth a number of high-profile shootings of minority victims by white officers in recent years, there has been an extra effort to make sure police agencies reflect the racial and ethnic makeup of their communities. But with the backlash against officers in many of these cases, it has not bee easy to recruit. Simeon was one of the many students the 42 federal, state and local agencies were trying to attract during the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives 10th annual law enforcement career fair. And while the career fair has been an event put on to recruit anyone interested in law enforcement, it was held on the DSU campus to focus on the recruitment of minority officers, something many law enforcement agencies have had difficulty doing.

Delaware Police Agencies Try To Recruit More MinoritiesBuy Photo

Col. Nathaniel McQueen Jr. of the Delaware State Police talks to troopers during the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) 10th annual law enforcement career fair, held Tuesday on the DSU campus. (Photo: JERRY SMITH/THE NEWS JOURNAL)

Delaware State Police Col. Nathaniel McQueen Jr. talked about his department s recruitment efforts.

Everybody struggles with recruiting, McQueen said. Our agency is still not reflective of the community we serve, but we continue to strive to be. It helps in terms of the relationship we have with our communities. The DSP has 716 sworn officers, with about 86 percent (612) being white and 14 percent (114) minority. Of the 612 white patrol officers, 81 are women. There are just nine minority female troopers. According to the U.S. Census Bureau s latest American Community survey, 69.4 percent of Delaware s population is white.

That gap leaves a lot of room for improvement and is something McQueen would like to see closed. He said the DSP has been revamping its recruiting strategies to focus on minorities and younger people.

STORY: Gang member found guilty of 2 of 3 killings[1]

STORY: End of Delaware firefighter parade sparks outrage[2]

The agency recently released a new recruiting video to coincide with its 92nd Trooper Recruitment Drive. The DSP video[3] features many young women and minorities talking about the core values of the agency. McQueen hopes it will resonate with minorities.

We want to be more reflective of our communities, so we are focusing our efforts on a younger, broader audience, he said. We re trying to reach the younger recruits by using different media. We ve brought in a grad student to help us make those needed changes. In Dover, the police department nearly mirrors that of the DSP in terms of the percentage of minority officers. Of the 97 sworn officers (of an authorized force of 101), 81 percent are white, while 19 percent are minorities. The department has four white females. A spokesman for that department said while recruiting in general has become a challenge for police agencies across the country, the department is trying new ways to advertise opportunities that have provided the agency with a deep pool of applicants.

There has been an increased effort in minority recruitment over the last several years, said Master Cpl. Mark Hoffman, public information officer for Dover police. We have developed partnerships or participated in career information fairs with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, Delaware State University and other colleges and universities.

Hoffman said his department has also significantly increased its presence at community events, meetings and town hall-style sessions to continue to build positive relationships with the entire community, including minorities.

By participating in such activities and building those trustful relationships, we hope to draw applicants as those citizens become educated about the police department and develop those relationships with members of our agency, he said. Hoffman said the goal of any police department is to be reflective of the community in which it serves. However, he said the department is limited by the number of positions that become available in any given year and the number of applicants that are able to complete the process (physical and written tests, board interview, background investigations), regardless of who they are.

Delaware Police Agencies Try To Recruit More Minorities

Members of the 97th Wilmington Police Academy graduating class salute during a Feb. 10 ceremony at Chase Center On The Riverfront in Wilmington. (Photo: Saquan Stimpson, SAQUAN STIMPSON/SPECIAL TO WITN22)

In comparison, Wilmington has a long way to go for its police force to be representative of the community. While minorities make up 65.5 percent of the population, there are only 30.6 percent on the force. The trend could be changing in Wilmington, however. In February, 18 men and women took their oaths to become Wilmington’s newest police officers. Of the 18 new officers from the 97th Wilmington Police Academy, seven are female, eight are African-Americans and three are Hispanic. It was one of the most diverse classes in years.

While no national standards exist outlining specific levels of diversity, the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies does require accredited agencies to take specific measures ensuring their workforce mirrors that of their jurisdictions. McQueen and Hoffman said their respective agencies are using those measures to try to make each representative of their communities. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, America s police departments have become more diverse since the late 1980s.

The study showed about 504,000 sworn police officers were employed in local U.S. police departments in 2013, the most recent year for which data were available.

In 2013, more than a quarter (27 percent) of officers were racial or ethnic minorities, up from 23 percent in 2000 and 12 percent were black, equal to their share of all U.S. adults. Another 12 percent of full-time officers were Hispanic, compared with 15 percent of U.S. adults in 2013.

Reach Jerry Smith at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @JerrySmithTNJ.

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  1. ^ Gang member found guilty of 2 of 3 killings (
  2. ^ End of Delaware firefighter parade sparks outrage (
  3. ^ DSP video (

North Carolina vs. Kentucky 2017 live stream: Time, TV schedule and how to watch NCAA tournament online

The North Carolina Tar Heels[1] and Kentucky Wildcats[2] will play for the right to go to the Final Four on Sunday. They re the last teams standing in the NCAA tournament[3] s South region, and they ll meet at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tenn. The Tar Heels are a 2.5-point favorite in a game that looks close to a tossup. If you like college basketball at all, you re probably going to like this game. John Calipari s UK and Roy Williams UNC have been two of the best programs of this era. The same was true of these teams long before their current coaches arrived and will probably be true long after they leave. The Cats and Heels will never want for elite talent, and when two teams with so many good players meet, it s usually fun. Everything about these teams suggests we re in for a close game. Both are great across the board, with few weaknesses on either side. They both have future NBA players taking most of their shots, and while neither is a great shooting team, both have found ways to succeed on offense. The key for UNC is its national-best offensive rebounding, and for Kentucky, it s a combination of good ball security and managing to be good at everything, if not elite at anything. Again, there aren t glaring flaws for either team.

This is a rematch. The two teams met on a neutral court in Las Vegas on Dec. 17, and UK won a three-point thriller. Guard Malik Monk stole the show by scoring 47 points on 18-of-28 shooting, including eight made three-pointers. Monk s not going to score 47 again, but if he and De Aaron Fox can both knock down shots, it ll mean a lot. Even more important for Kentucky is defensive rebounding. Bam Adebayo and Derek Willis[4] will have to do a top-notch job boxing out and preventing UNC s Kennedy Meeks, Isaiah Hicks[5], and others from crashing the offensive glass. The Heels rebound better than 40 percent of their missed shots for the season, which affords them some margin for error when they aren t shooting well. Cutting off that lifeline would be critical. I have no idea how this game s going to go. The teams are so close in overall quality that making a prediction is a fool s errand, other than to say it s going to be great. This isn t the sort of college basketball game any of us want to miss, if we can avoid it.

Here s the schedule and viewing information:

Time: 5:05 p.m. ET


Streaming: March Madness Live[6] via CBS All-Access[7], Amazon Fire TV[8], Amazon Fire tablets[9], iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch[10], Roku[11], and Microsoft Windows 10 mobile, desktop and Xbox One[12].


  1. ^ North Carolina Tar Heels (
  2. ^ Kentucky Wildcats (
  3. ^ NCAA tournament (
  4. ^ Derek Willis (
  5. ^ Isaiah Hicks (
  6. ^ March Madness Live (
  7. ^ CBS All-Access (
  8. ^ Amazon Fire TV (
  9. ^ Amazon Fire tablets (
  10. ^ iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch (
  11. ^ Roku (
  12. ^ Microsoft Windows 10 mobile, desktop and Xbox One (