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The Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office is dedicated to providing accurate information to the public and media. If you are a member of the working media and would like an interview with the State Attorney, or you need information on a case, would like to talk to a specific assistant state attorney or are looking for an expert in a certain area of prosecution, please contact our public information officers Ed Griffith, Terry Chavez or Lissette Valdes-Valle.

ED GRIFFITH Public Information Officer PHONE: 305-547-0535

LISSETTE VALDES-VALLE Hispanic Media Relations Public Information Officer PHONE: 305-547-0535

TERRY CHAVEZ Hispanic Media Relations Public Information Officer PHONE: 305-547-0535

Below you'll find recent news releases issued by this office.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Human Trafficking Unit Successfully Convicts First Known Case Charged Under The New Human Trafficking Statute

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle announced today that prosecutors in her Human Trafficking Unit have successfully prosecuted what is believed to be the first criminal court case in Florida to be charged pursuant to the recently enacted Human Trafficking statute.

Assistant State Attorneys Jane Anderson and Anna-Bo Emmanuel convicted David Salomon on one count of Human Trafficking involving the commercial sexual exploitation of a minor.

The jury trial lasted two days and Salomon was convicted after three hours of deliberation. Salomon is a habitual felony offender and is facing Life in Prison for this crime. Sentencing is set before Circuit Court Judge Rodney Smith on January 30, 2014.

This case originated during a City of Miami undercover police operation targeting prostitution in the area of Biscayne Boulevard and N.E. 79th Street. A young girl who solicited two undercover officers for prostitution turned out to have been just 15 years old. Another officer, acting as an “eyeball,” noticed defendant Salomon communicating with the young girl by hand signals and cell phone. The defendant appeared to be directing her to potential customers driving by and warning her of police presence. The defendant was arrested and Search Warrants were secured for both of their cell phones. The forensic examination of the cell phones exposed the full nature of their relationship. Text messages revealed that the defendant was acting as her pimp as she was being commercially sexually exploited on the streets of Miami. Unfortunately, the young victim has been missing since July 2013 and could not be located to testify at the trial.

“David Salomon is exactly the type of predatory individual my Human Trafficking Task Force has targeted and will continue to target. His 15 year old victim lost her innocence forever by becoming nothing more than his personal cash machine,” commented Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. “Fortunately, the City of Miami Police Department, the investigators and prosecutors from my Human Trafficking Task Force, and the expertise of the attorneys in my Cyber Crimes Unit, were able to compile sufficient evidence to gain a conviction in this difficult case.”

Friday, November 15, 2013



Miami (November 13, 2013)  With the mailing of absentee ballots for the forthcoming runoff  elections, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle wanted to remind voters to work to protect the sanctity of their ballot.  Some individuals may approach you with some highly questionable propositions regarding your absentee ballot, which you should have already received or which you are about to receive.

If you received an absentee ballot that you did not request, there may be something else involved.  Call my Absentee Ballot Task Force at 305-547-3300 and speak with my staff.  Such a small step may help avoid potential election improprieties.

If someone offers to fill out your ballot for you, get their name and ask them who are they working for but politely refuse their assistance.  Then call my Absentee Ballot Task Force at 305-547-3300.

If someone (a non-family member) offers to mail your ballot for you, they are committing a crime. Again, get their name and ask them who are they working for but politely refuse their assistance.  In Miami-Dade County, the ballot postage is already prepaid.  Let the U.S. Postal service safely transmit your ballot.  In that way, no one can alter your vote or make a decision for you.  Then call my Absentee Ballot Task Force at 305-547-3300.

If anyone offers you money for your vote, they are committing a crime. Again, get their name and ask them who are they working for but politely refuse their assistance.  Then call my Absentee Ballot Task Force at 305-547-3300.

“Your vote is your choice,” commentated State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.  “Don’t let anyone take that choice away from you with a nod or a wink or a promise.  Too many people have struggled too long to put that ballot in your hand.  As you vote with an eye to the future, remember those who have sacrificed their blood to put that vote in your hand.  Handle it carefully and vote with pride.”

Monday, October 21, 2013

Educator Ernesto Perez Charged

                   Unacknowledged Prior Criminal Conviction Leads to Charges

Miami (October 18, 2013)  At the conclusion of a Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) investigation, Dade Medical College President Ernesto Perez has been charged by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office with felony and misdemeanor crimes relating to his actions undertaken to expunge a criminal arrest and relating to his appointment and re-appointment to the Commission on Independent Education.  In both these circumstances Ernesto Perez, also known as Rhett O’Neil, failed to acknowledge his 1990 criminal arrest for the charge of a Second Degree, Sexual Assault of a Child, his pleading “no contest” to the Misdemeanor crimes of  Battery and Exposing Genitals to Child, his conviction by a Wisconsin court and his 180 day jail sentence.

Specifics, outlined in the arrest warrant, deal with the following events:

On February 27, 2012, Perez completed an FDLE, Application for Certification of Eligibility to expunge a Miami area arrest.  As part of the expungement process, Perez submitted a sworn and notarized “Affidavit in Support to Expunge” to the Court of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida in September 2012, stating that he had never been adjudicated guilty of a criminal offense or a comparable ordinance violation.  Based upon this sworn affidavit, the Court of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit issued an order expunging Perez’ 2002 arrest on October 16, 2012.

In July of 2013, FDLE conducted a review of Ernesto Armando Perez’ 2009, 2011, and 2012 “Senate Confirmation Questionnaires.” These notarized documents were signed by Perez for appointment and re-appointment consideration to the Commission on Independent Education. On these documents, Perez failed to disclose his arrest and conviction in the State of Wisconsin.

As a result, Ernesto Armando Perez is charged with:

1 Count Expungement/False Information On Sworn Statement                  (3rd Degree Felony)
2 Counts Perjury Not In Official Proceeding                                    (1st Degree Misdemeanors)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Couple Arrested in County Overbilling Scheme

As the result of a joint investigation by the Miami-Dade Office of the Inspector General and the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office, two individuals have been arrested in a vendor overbilling scheme.

 Arrested today were:

Jorge Isaac Maquilon (President/Director & sole owner Decomax Corporation & Emporium Supplies  Corporation)
And his wife Ivy Evans-Maquilon (former employee of the Miami International Airport Hotel)

Mrs. Ivy Evans-Maquilon , a member of the management team running the Miami Dade County-owned hotel at Miami international Airport, developed a scheme which bypassed the existing financial controls and allowed her to enrich herself, her husband Jorge Isaac Maquilon and another employee of the Miami Dade County owned hotel.

The fraud manipulated the existing management agreement which, when properly utilized, had the hotel owner, Miami Dade County, reimburse the contracted hotel operators for normal operating expenses.  Under the management agreement, expenses over $1000 required three competitive bids to secure the best price for Miami Dade County.  This process was manipulated  through the use of fake bids to make it appear that companies owned by Ms. Ivy Evans-Maquilon’s husband, Jorge Isaac Maquilon (Decomax and Emporium Supplies) were the best supply source.  To further facilitate this scheme, Ivy Evans-Maquilon kept her relationship to Jorge Isaac Maquilon less visible by only using her unmarried name (Ivy Evans) in her official hotel capacity.  

The investigation started in 2010 when the Inspector General’s Office was informed that the Miami International Airport Hotel had apparently been over paying anywhere from 3 to 5 times the purchase price for wallpaper Miami-Dade County already had in stock from a previous March 2009 hotel renovation.

During this investigation, it was discovered that the overbilling supplier, Decomax, was owned by Jorge Isaac Maquilon and that required competitive bids were faked.  The investigation then revealed additional frauds relating to the purchases of maintenance supplies from Emporium Supplies Corporation, another Jorge Isaac Maquilon company. Some of these supplies were never delivered and others were purchased and highly inflated prices.   This fraud required the cooperation of the hotel maintenance supervisor, Nestor Aznar who profited from the scheme but who pleaded guilty and is now cooperating in the investigation.

Jorge Isaac Maquilon and Ivy Evans-Maquilon are both charged with:

1 Count Organize Scheme To Defraud              1st Degree Felony
1 Count Grand Theft                                             1st Degree Felony
1 Count Grand Theft                                             2nd Degree Felony

"The greatest horror for any business is to learn that a trusted employee has committed a theft.  Miami Dade County’s business of running an airport hotel relied entirely on having a competent management team in place.  Sadly, that competency appears to have been lacking,” commented State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.  “This detailed investigation by the Office of the Inspector General and the Dade State Attorney's Office unraveled some complicated financial shenanigans and supplied the evidence necessary to build our strong criminal case."

In commenting on the arrest, Interim Inspector General Patra Liu stated, “The Miami International Airport is not an open pocketbook to benefit some dishonest employee or vendor.  The Miami-Dade County OIG, with our law enforcement partners at the State Attorney’s Office, remain fully committed to rooting out fraud at all levels of county government.  I believe that Evans-Maquilon and Maquilon have gotten that message.”

Thursday, April 25, 2013

State Attorney and Staff Recognized During National Crime Victims' Rights Week

As part of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week which runs from April 22 through April 26, 2013, Miami-Dade County State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle received the “Justice For All” award for her efforts on behalf of Human Trafficking victims during the annual ceremony held to commemorate innocent victims of crime.

Assistant State Attorneys Reid Rubin, Christine Zahralban, and Laura Adams, along with Victim Witness Counselors Idalma Gurruchaga and Diane A. Santana, and Senior Trial Coordinator Debbie Gromosaik, were honored for their tireless work and recent successful prosecutions of the remaining defendants who brutally raped and murdered Ana Maria Angel and tortured her boyfriend Nelson Portobanco in what became known as the South Beach Murder Case. State Attorney’s Office Administrator Sandra Lawrence also was recognized during the event with the Florida Network Victim Witness Services Training Award.

State Attorney Fernandez Rundle was the Keynote Speaker at the luncheon event which took place on April 22nd at the Coral Gables Country Club. Many local community leaders, law enforcement personnel, victim advocates and survivors gathered together to celebrate the 29th anniversary commemorating the federal Victims of Crime Act.

“Victims of crime are always the primary concern in all of our cases. My prosecutors and support staff are committed to work tirelessly to ensure that victims' voices will never be silent", commented State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. "Our community is deeply indebted to every individual who has worked on behalf of victims and dedicated so many years of service to those who have fallen victim to crime."

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Ex Program Head Convicted in Theft

Charles Leon Cutler, former Chief Executive Officer of Veteran’s Employment Transition Services, Inc., was convicted early Saturday morning by a Miami-Dade County jury of stealing grant money from both the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County. A joint investigation by the Office of the Inspector General and Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s Office revealed that Cutler had diverted funds for his own personal use originally intended to benefit military veterans and the unemployed.

Mr. Cutler was originally arrested in March of 2010 after an 18 month investigation led to the filing of two felony counts of Grand Theft.  The City of Miami Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) funds were stolen after a grant restructuring required the return of any unused funds be returned to the CRA.  Rather than transferring the funds, Cutler wrote $4,000 in checks to himself and over $2,000 in checks to friends and family, which he disguised as legitimate expenses. When CRA officials detected the theft and demanded reimbursement, Cutler immediately, diverted over $6,000 from a Miami-Dade County Office of Community and Economic Development grant by falsely certifying employee salaries and diverting part of the proceeds to repay the CRA.   Additionally, Cutler withdrew almost $4,000 in OCED funds from ATM machines for his own personal use. Cutler, 60, was taken into custody following the verdict and faces up to 5 years prison time for each of the two counts.

Cutler is still awaiting trial for allegedly stealing another $13,000 in Miami-Dade County grant money intended to fund a 2008 veteran’s summit.

“The people of Miami-Dade County determined that Mr. Cutler violated the trust placed in him when he put money intended for veterans and the poor into his own pocket,” commented State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.  “Citizens of this community will not tolerate such actions.  I applaud the jury for their work and I applaud the staff of the Miami-Dade Office of the Inspector General for their successful investigative activities on this case.

In commenting on the investigation, Inspector General Christopher Mazzella noted that Cutler’s brazen actions enriched himself at the expense of veterans and unemployed citizens in our community.  “Whenever funds are stolen from programs intended to train those in need of jobs in our community, it is not just the unemployed, but our community at large that suffers.”

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Statement From Katherine Fernandez Rundle Regarding Today's Michael Hernandez Opinion

Today’s Third District Court of Appeals decision which requires a new sentencing hearing for
Michael Hernandez does not impact the jury’s finding of guilt for the first degree murder of

fourteen year old Jaime Gough. We are currently reviewing that decision to understand its impact
on this case and future cases.

This decision forces the Gough family to relive the brutal murder of their son Jaime while a new
sentencing hearing will allow Hernandez’ attorneys to present evidence in an effort to lessen his

sentence. However, and as we always do, we must honor the directions of our Appellate Courts as
we begin preparing for this hearing whenever it is scheduled by the Court.

Statement From State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle Regarding Dennis Escobar Trial

The preservation of democracy and our nation rests on the foundation of public order and the
rule of law. Nothing attacks these pillars like the murder of a law enforcement officer entrusted

with protecting our citizenry. This crime strikes at the very core of the American identity.

For a quarter of a century we have labored to hold responsible the individuals we believe caused
the death of Miami Police Officer Victor Estefan. Officer Estefan died a hero protecting our

community. Our hearts go out to Officer Estefan’s widow, family members, friends, and the
entire law enforcement community who have stood by our side for all of these years.

Now, with the declaration of a mistrial in the prosecution of Dennis Escobar for Officer Estefan ‘s
murder, I wish to make it clear that the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office has every intention of

retrying this case.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Statement From State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle Regarding Geralyn Graham

During her very brief life, Rilya Wilson was too often abused and forgotten. No child should ever be treated as she was.

We have spent a decade on a journey to secure true justice for Rilya and to ensure that her pain and suffering is never forgotten. We are relieved that through our efforts the person responsible for Rilya’s death already faces a significant penalty.

However, the murder of a child is such a terrible crime that we intend to continue to seek justice for Rilya Wilson.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

New Human Trafficking Unit Successfully Prosecutes First Sex Trafficking Case

Miami – February 27, 2013
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle has announced that her newly created Human Trafficking Unit has successfully prosecuted its first criminal court case.
Assistant State Attorneys Jane Anderson and Wei Xiang prosecuted Robert Burton on charges of Deriving Support by Prostitution, Domestic Violence Battery by Strangulation, Interference with Custody, and Kidnapping.
Burton, who had no prior convictions, faced 7 Years State Prison to Life. Circuit Court Judge Judge Marisa Tinkler-Mendez sentenced him to 15 Years State Prison on February 26, 2013. This was the first criminal court case to come out of the State Attorney’s new Human Trafficking Unit.
The case originally came in to the Human Trafficking Unit as a Misdemeanor Domestic Violence case. Assistant State Attorney Wei Xiang had been assigned to handle it as a misdemeanor Domestic Violence Battery case. The victim came in and spoke to prosecutor Xiang for two hours about her life for the past ten years: the beatings, the prostitution, the strangulation, the psychological manipulation, and the use of her two children with Burton as a means of control. Assistant State Attorney Xiang brought the case to his colleague, Assistant State Attorney Jane Anderson of our Human Trafficking Unit, and together they continued to work with the victim for a year and a half to build the case.
At the end of January, Circuit Court Judge Bronwyn Miller held an evidentiary Williams Rule Hearing. After listening to the victim’s testimony, Judge Miller ruled that the State would be able to present evidence that the defendant had beaten, strangled and prostituted the victim for the last ten years. As Judge Miller stated, “Everything comes in, everything.” The trial took place before Judge Tinkler-Mendez and Burton was represented by criminal defense attorney Larry Handfield.
The victim testified for six hours during the trial. The jury came back in just twenty minutes with a guilty verdict. The victim was in court to hear their decision.
At sentencing, the Court heard from the victim and the defendant, as well as argument from the State and Defense. When pronouncing Burton’s sentence, Judge Tinkler-Mendez stated that the defendant had committed “modern day slavery” and that he had made the victim a “broken person” through his “torment and indoctrination.”
She called the defendant “narcissistic” stating that he continued to place blame on others even though it was his actions that caused the victim to become broken and his actions that have made his children potentially permanently damaged.
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle declared that to effectively combat Human Trafficking, one has to develop a sensitivity to the nuances of the crime.
“Knowledge and understanding are the sharpest, most dependable tools in the fight against Human Trafficking,” commented State Attorney Fernandez Rundle. “The more we know and understand, the better we can effectively combat these awful crimes. Human Trafficking frequently uses many of the control techniques we often see in domestic violence situations, particularly the use of affection coupled with violence bordering on torture.”

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Sworn in for a Record Fifth Term as State Attorney

Katherine Fernandez Rundle will be sworn in for a record fifth term as Miami-Dade County’s State Attorney tomorrow, Friday, February 15, 2013.

Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara J. Pariente will administer the oath to State Attorney Fernandez Rundle and her 300 prosecutors at the investiture ceremony which will take place at Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Auditorium, 300 N.E. 2nd Avenue, Building 1, Second Floor, beginning at 3:30 PM.

Notables who will take center stage alongside the State Attorney include United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Wilfredo Ferrer, Miami Dade College President, Eduardo J. PadrĂ³n, Circuit Court Judge Bertila Soto, Chief Judge for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit, former United States Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Jorge Plasencia, Chairman of the Board of the National Council of La Raza, City of Miami Gardens Police Chief and current President of the Chiefs of Police Matthew Boyd, and Reverend Carl Johnson, Pastor of the 93rd Street Baptist Church, Women of Tomorrow Founder and television personality Jennifer Valoppi will moderate the event.

“I feel exceptionally proud and honored to be embarking on a new term as Dade’s chief prosecutor,” commented State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. “The faith that the voters have overwhelmingly shown in me is surpassed only by my desire to make my community a safer place to live and raise our families.”

Media is welcome to attend the ceremony.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Clarification of Existing Legal Standards Regarding Police Firing Standards and Criminal Prosecutions

The recent firing by the City of Miami Police Department Officer Reynaldo Goyos, the shooting officer in the February 10, 2011 death of Travis McNeil, appears to have caused great media confusion regarding the use of the word “unjustified” in the administrative firing of the officer and its relationship to the criminal investigation of the officer’s actions on that night.  I hope, by providing this clarification, to help eliminate any confusion about the different standards of proof required under civil administrative law (relating to the firing of a police offer or a government employee) and the standard of proof required of prosecutors to convict someone of a crime, deprive them of their freedom and potentially even to deprive them of their life.
A police department in order to prevail in a discipline case need only prove the violation by preponderance of the evidence or at most, in very limited instances by clear and convincing guilt. The standard of proof for the State in a prosecution is of course the highest standard in the law, beyond and to the exclusion of all reasonable doubt.
As was made clear in the memorandum that we issued regarding the shooting of the late Mr. McNeil, in reviewing police use of deadly force, we determine whether the police action was legally justified under the criminal laws of our state.  We do not engage in an examination of police procedures, protocols, or patterns and practices.  This latter analysis does not fall within the scope of our role as state prosecutors. Civil or administrative remedies for suspected violations of police procedures, protocols, or patterns and practices exist in other forums outside of the state criminal justice system.
        We have been legally prohibited from considering police procedures or protocols since the early 1990’s Lozano v. State, 584 So.2d 19 (1991) 16 Fla. L. Weekly D1673).  In the trial of City of Miami Police Officer William Lozano who was prosecuted and convicted of manslaughterfor  the 1989 deaths of motorcycle driver Clement Lloyd, 23, and his passenger, Allan Blanchard, 25, during a police chase (the last Florida conviction of a police officer for actions taken during a police involved shooting), we introduced, over the defendant’s objections, evidence relating to violations of police department rules in order to buttress our prosecution theory. The admission of this evidence was later held to be error by Third District Court of Appeals and in part caused the reversal of the conviction.

Specifically, the appellate court recognized that:
[A] police department may lawfully impose upon its police officers a regulation concerning the use of deadly force which is more stringent than the law imposes upon police officers for criminal or civil liability, and while such regulation would not affect the standard by which the officers' criminal or civil liability is measured, the violation of such regulation would properly subject the offending member to appropriate disciplinary action within the department.  Lozano v. State, 584 So. 2d 19, 24 (Fla. 3d DCA 1991), citing Chastain v. Civil Service Board of Orlando, 327 So. 2d 327 (Fla. 4th DCA 1976).
The law in Florida is thus clear.  Police departments may use rule violations to discipline, but these rule violations are irrelevant to a determination of criminal liability and prosecutors may not rely on them for supporting criminal charges.</< p> This difference is further echoed by a recent Facebook posting by former Opa Locka Police Chief and former Miami-Dade Police Lieutenant James B. Wright  who wrote:

Violating departmental policy and what the law terms as justifiable homicide are two different matters. Florida State Statute 776.05 says that, in part, The officer is justified in the use of force which he/ she reasonably believes to be necessary to defend himself or herself or another from bodily harm. When the officer is mistaken, but still had a 'belief' based upon reason, his actions would be justified.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

International Human Trafficking Awareness Community Forum

In observance of International Human Trafficking Awareness Month, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle hosted her Second Annual Community Forum on Wednesday, January 30, 2013, entitled “Human Trafficking: Building the Infrastructure to Combat Modern Day Slavery”.

According to the United Nations, at any given time throughout the world there are millions of people unwillingly involved in forced labor and the illicit sex trade. Although Human Trafficking is often portrayed as a broad national or international problem, the reality is that many of the victims of Human Trafficking reside within our communities. It is estimated that the Human Trafficking industry earns some $32 billion dollars annually worldwide.
“Knowledge and understanding are the sharpest, most dependable tools in the fight against human trafficking,” commented Miami-Dade-State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. “The more we know and understand, the better we can effectively combat these awful crimes. This forum brings community leaders, service providers and local, state and national law enforcement agencies together to propose solutions in our continuing mission to curb a crime that affects so many young and promising lives.”

The forum, held at the main Office of the State Attorney in Miami, was the brainchild of State Attorney Fernandez Rundle and is aimed at tackling instances of Human Trafficking in Miami-Dade County and South Florida. Through better awareness and legislation, it is the State Attorney’s hope that the victims of Human Trafficking can be more readily identified and the perpetrators prosecuted.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Pair Taken into Custody in Housing for Homeless Scam

A joint investigation by the Miami Dade Police Department Public Corruption Investigations Bureau, the Public Corruption Unit of the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office with the assistance of United States Department of Housing & Urban Development, Office of Inspector General has led to the arrest of two individuals in a “cash for housing” scheme which let individuals willing to pay reside in housing created to help the homeless. 
Carlos Enrique Vazquez, a current City of Miami Homeless Assistance Program Outreach employee, and Odalys Lovett Delisle, an associate of Mr. Vasquez received a $5,000 fee to falsely qualify an individual to allow her to live in transitional housing intended to help Miami-Dade’s homeless population.  According to investigators, Mr. Vazquez told the individual that once he got her into the housing program, she could remain in the program for life rather than just the 3 months for which the program was designed.  Ms. Delisle met directly with the individual and received the payment on Mr. Vazquez’ behalf.
Carlos Enrique Vazquez  and Odalys Lovett Delisle are both charged with:  Official Misconduct ; Unlawful Compensation; and Bribery.
“The real victims of this fraud are needy homeless individuals who lose out on housing while some greedy individuals put money in their own pockets,” commentated State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. “I know that I speak for our entire law enforcement community when I say that this will stop”