Friday, October 29

Eight arrested and charged with prostitution after Danbury police conduct undercover sweep

The Special Investigations Division of the Danbury Police Department conducted an undercover sweep on Thursday, Oct. 28, which resulted in the arrest of eight individuals who are being charged with prostitution.

After numerous complaints of prostitution on Spring, New, Stevens, and Beaver streets in Danbury, Conn., the police department finally decided to execute the sweep.

Jodi Davenport, 25, of Mendes Road in Danbury; Kathleen Richdale, 35, of Ventura Avenue in Danbury; Tanya Perry, 41, of Crest Avenue in Waterbury; and Shaun Reed Critelli, 28, of West Wooster Street in Danbury, were charged with prostitution.

Becky Teck, 38, of North Nabby Road in Danbury; Patricia Bastan, 28, of Spring Street in Danbury; Sydney Darton-Ritchie, 25, of Aaron Samuels Boulevard in Danbury; and Jennifer Turlay, 27, of Dorsett Lane in Brookfield, were charged with prostitution as well as possession of drug paraphernalia.

When I first heard about the sweep and arrests, my initial thought was: It's about time. For years, people have joked around about the prostitution on Spring Street and it almost seemed like no one, not even the police, really cared that it was going on.
I have seen the prostitutes on Stevens Street and I have seen prostitutes on Spring Street, and there is no doubt in my mind that police have seen them as what took so long?

Saturday, October 23

The benefits and dangers of Observational Learning

When a person picks up a behavior by observing another person demonstrating that particular behavior, they are learning through observation. Observational learning is a cognitive learning theory that acknowledges the thoughts, feelings, and expectations in people’s minds that influence them to act out behaviors they have seen others do.

In order for a person to learn through observation, they must first pay attention to whomever or whatever is demonstrating the behavior they wish to learn. Paying attention may be hard for some people, whether due to lack of interest or disabilities such as ADD/ADHD, but studies have found that when models have certain characteristic that appeal to the observer, the chances of a person fully paying attention increases.

For example, if a student who hates science is in a chemistry class where the teacher has to demonstrate how to conduct a lab experiment, the likelihood of that student paying attention to the demonstration is greater if the student finds the teacher attractive rather than unattractive. Also, when a model has characteristics that remind an observer of his or herself, the chance of a person paying attention is more likely than if the demonstrator had no similarities as the person observing them.

Memory is the second element of observational learning. In order for a person to act out what they witness someone else do, they must retain the memory of what they observed. Imitation, the third element in observational learning, is close linked to memory. After watching a model’s behavior and storing what they saw in their mind, the person must then be able to mimic what the model did.

Photos from Bandura's observational learning experiment.
The last element in observational learning is motivation. A person must have a desire to perform what they learned, and this is where consequences come into play. Albert Bandura conducted an experiment where children watched someone beat up a doll.

In one condition, the model was rewarded for their aggressive behavior toward the doll; in the other condition, the model was punished for the same behavior. The children who witnessed the model being rewarded unfalteringly beat up the doll when placed in a room with it. On the other hand, the children who saw the model receive punishment for beating up the doll did not lash out on the toy when it was given to them.

Bandura’s experiments showed that a person is more motivated to imitate an observed behavior when there is an expectation of a reward for that behavior, thus those that are successful are the most powerful figures for imitation, not those that fail or are punished.

“The Sad Romance of Cutting and Burning,” in article in Psychology Today, explored “self-injurious behaviors that young people pick up from their friends or from the cultural zeitgeist” (Leibow), which include the use of drugs, eating disorders, and self-mutilation to deal with intense emotions, numbness and boredom, or to facilitate socialization.

Destructive behaviors like these are picked up by many young people after seeing such behaviors being glamorized in movies, magazines, movies, and books. Leibow mentions “too-rich-for-their-own-good celebrities” and “drug-martyred musicians and actors,” whom I consider to be the best examples of such negative role models.

Among these celebrities, musicians, and actors include: Kurt Cobain, the famous lead singer of Nirvana who overdosed on heroin; Amy Winehouse, a famous singer-songwriter who is notorious for her drug and alcohol abuse; and Lindsay Lohan, a famous actress who is known for her multiple drug rehabilitation visits.

Popular culture has endowed self-inflicted suffering with a perverse glamour that has made such behaviors “misery chic” (Leibow). Although these imitated behaviors begin voluntarily, the equated creative misery, martyrdom, and nobility they seem to possess is why they can easily change from being voluntary to habitual, which can then develop into an out-of-control addiction.

Lindsay Lohan.
Self-destructive behaviors seem to have captivated our American culture, and the constant media hype of celebrities’ drug addictions, suspected eating disorders, and reckless partying is what drives people to continue emulating the behaviors exposed to them by the media. Those who look up to such celebrities, see their behaviors as passionate, creative, and meaningful, when in reality “they are utterly derivative, and unoriginal [with] no meaning beyond the self” (Leibow).

People who have eating disorders, addictions, etc who did not develop their tendencies by imitating those who are famous know the reality of the behavioral effects. Starving, cutting, and just harming one’s self in general is a lifestyle that is filled with anything but true happiness.

Even those who developed self-destructive habits or addictions after imitating those in the media could also vouch to say that what most people see as a unique, appealing, and exiting lifestyle is not actually all that is cracked up to be. 
“Regardless of how [one’s] self-injurious behaviors began, they [can] quickly take on a life of their own [and] cease to become an expression of pain and become a self-perpetuating source of pain” (Leibow).

Kurt Cobain died of a heroin overdose in 1994.
For example, if a man idolized Kurt Cobain and began using heroin just as the singer had, he can become addicted to the drug, thus causing extra difficulty, stress, and problems for himself and others in his life. When an addict’s life gets to this point, the only escape he sees is the drug that started all the chaos in the first place, thus creating a never-ending, miserable cycle where “the “cure” for the illness becomes the illness [itself]” (Leibow).

The observational learning of such unhealthy behaviors in America is culturally determined. Since the development of drug/alcohol addiction, eating disorders, and self-mutilation can quickly develop into chronic practices, it is important for people to realize how harmful these behaviors are and how damaging they can become to one's life.

Although it can be difficult for people to avoid exposure to behaviors that are constantly exhibited in magazines, movies, books, and on television, there are some suggestions to help a person prevent themselves from developing self-damaging behaviors that could potentially grow into life-changing habits or addictions, such as: avoiding people who practice self-damaging behaviors, especially if they (the people as well as the behavior) seem appealing, and being skeptical of glamorization of booze, drugs, and self-degradation.

The way people learn through observation as well as the kinds of things they learn is quite interesting. What I have learned has opened my eyes to see that observational learning can be a beneficial method of acquiring knowledge and useful skills, but can also be a personally destructive and life-changing technique.

Joe Budden - "Mood Muzik 4" (mixtape)

The much anticipated leak from one of the most underrated rappers alive.

Wednesday, October 20

Wear Purple Day: a fight to end intolerance

Today, Oct. 20, marks a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender spirit day in which people are encouraged to wear purple "to bring awareness to, and put an end to intolerance in honor of the 6 boys who committed suicide in recent weeks/months due to homophobic abuse at home and in schools" (Wear Purple Day).

From the Sydney Star Observer.
According to the Wear Purple Day event on Facebook, at least 245,145 people have decided to show their support. Purple is the chosen color for today's event because it represents spirit on the LGBT flag and spirit is exactly what people are being encouraged to have.

Some of the individuals being honored today that have taken their own lives due to homophobic bullying in recent months include: 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, 13-year-old Asher Brown, 13-year-old Seth Walsh, 19-year-old Raymond Chase, 19-year-old Zach Harrington, 15-year-old Justin Aaberg, and 15-year-old Billy Lucas.

The recent string of suicides committed by homosexual teens has caused many people to wonder if there is some sort of gay teen suicide epidemic.

Although there are no official statistics of the gay teen suicide rate, according to the Massachusetts 2006 Youth Risk Survey, "lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers" (Johnson).

Eliza Byard, executive director of the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN), "says that 9 out of 10 LGBT  youth are verbally or physically harassed" (Evon).

Photo by Jacquelyn Martin.
Controversy surrounding the LGBT community this year has not only pertained to the numerous teen suicides, but to the United States military's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell Policy' as well.

After much debate as well as protest by people such as Lady Gaga, "the Obama administration is expected to appeal a federal judge's order barring the military from enforcing its ban on gays and lesbians serving openly" (Devereaux).

Although nothing has been set in stone, for the first time in American history, the United States military is accepting openly gay recruits after the Pentagon announced that they could begin to. Video coverage on the DADT policy debate can be viewed under 'Read More'.

Such steps towards change in favor of the LGBT community seems to show that support from citizens can, and do make a difference, so wear purple, if you have it, and never forget the lives that have been effected as well as lost due to discrimination, hate, and intolerance.

Sunday, October 10

Victim of Friday's carjacking speaks about his encounter with prison escapee

Emmanuel Maxi, a 50-year-old electrician from Danbury, is the owner of the 1994 Isuzu Rodeo that was stolen by convicted bank robber, Albert James Voute III, 36, of Oradell, N.J. on Friday evening.

Maxi was pumping gas into his vehicle at the Food Bag convenient store on Main Street around 6:25pm when he felt his SUV "shaking a bit" then saw a man behind the wheel.

Maxi said that he did not see the man get into his car because his gas tank is on the other side.

Emmanuel Maxi.
All of a sudden, Maxi's SUV started speeding away, forcing Maxi to jump away so that he would not be dragged by the severed length of gas hose that was wrapped around his leg.

Maxi's first instinct was to run after his stolen vehicle but a passerby shouted to him that the man had a gun.

Luckily, Maxi spotted a Danbury police cruiser and stopped the officer to tell him what happened and described what his vehicle looked like.

The police were able to  quickly catch up with the stolen vehicle, which crashed into a stone wall near Hilltop Manor, which compelled Voute to exit the SUV and make his way to the I-84 highway where he was shot and killed after exposing his handgun to a Connecticut State trooper.

Now that the chaotic incident is over, Maxi is hoping that State Police will allow him to access his vehicle that is located at the Troop A Barracks in Southbury. Inside his SUV are books he needs for classes he is taking in Waterbury and electrician tools he needs for work.

"They want to keep the car for investigation," Maxi said. "But I will go to Southbury (Monday). I have books and tools that I really need."

Police identify man involved in I-84 shooting

Oct. 10-- Police have identified the driver of the stolen SUV that led police on a car-chase that turned into a fatal shooting on the I-84 highway as Albert James Voute III, 36, of Oradell, N.J.

Albert James Voute, III.
Voute, a white supremacist with delusions of criminal grandeur,  had escaped from a West Virginia prison in Martinsburg, W.Va., on Sept. 15 after fleeing from a transport service van. Voute created a multi-state manhunt, had a lengthy criminal record in several states, had been serving a 14-year sentence on bank robbery charges, and was even featured on America's Most Wanted.

Oct 8., Danbury Police Department received a report of a stolen vehicle from the Food Bag convenience store. Officers soon spotted the SUV and a brief pursuit ensued. Voute later fled on foot and was seen by a trooper that was patrolling the Exit 4 area of I-84.

Connecticut State Police's investigation showed that Voute had what appeared to be a handgun, which had been observed by several officers and witnesses. Voute directed the handgun at the state trooper, who was faced with a life-threatening situation and thus fired at Voute, striking him multiple times.

No shots were fired by Voute, according to the State Police Forensic Lab, who examined his handgun after the incident.

In pursuit to catch Voute, police raced through neighborhoods such as that of Estela Dardofo on Hiltop Manor, who was calling for her 5-year-old daughter to come home from a neighbor's yard. The stolen SUV then suddenly sped through Dardofo's yard, across the street, and crashed into her neighbor's stone wall.

"It was very scary," said Dardofo, who saw officers run through her yard and down the bank behind her house onto I-84 in pursuit of the fugitive. "I had just taken my daughter from the spot the car went through."

Ryan O'Donnell, 17, of Danbury was able to capture a photo of the
stolen SUV with his cell phone, Oct. 8, after it hit a stone wall.
Ryan O'Donnell, 17, walked out of his parents' home on the opposite side of Dardofo's and saw police streaming past while other police searched near the stone wall where the car had hit.

"This car was crashed into the rock wall," O'Donnell said. "You could see that the rear lights were still on and the driver's door was still open. The car was left running when the man left on foot."

The name of the Connecticut State trooper that shot Voute has not yet been released.

One thing I can't help but to wonder is: Who is the owner of the SUV that was stolen and what does he or she have to say about the whole thing?

Saturday, October 9

Car chase onto I-84 in Danbury turns fatal

At approximately 6:21pm, Oct. 8, Danbury Police were led on a car chase by a driver of a stolen, white SUV, who later fled from the vehicle near the I-84 Interstate highway. The fleeing felon opened fire on the officer, who then fired shots back, killing the fugitive.

"A life threatening situation ensued, resulting in a trooper discharging his weapon," Kelly Grant, Connecticut State Police spokesman, said.

Sage Baker, 17, was on Beaver Street when she saw the SUV "running away from two cops," she said. "If another car would've been coming, they would've been done."

Photos by News Times.
The incident brought traffic to a stop in both directions of the I-84 Interstate highway. Around 9pm, one motorist reported to the Danbury News Times that the westbound was completely closed off near Exits 4-5.

Numerous Facebook posts appeared on news feeds, warning people not to get on the highway or even the main roads because of unexpected, immense amounts of bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Around 10-pm on Oct. 8, the News Times tweeted via Twitter: "Traffic backed up to I-84 Exit 9 heading westbound in wake of tonight's shooting near Exit 5. No problem with eastbound I-84 traffic."

Five hours after the shooting occurred, around 11:05pm, Exits 4-5 and one westbound lane were still closed off and the amount of traffic was still a "nightmare."

Wednesday, October 6

Lil Wayne sent to solitary confinement

Dwayne Michael Carter, better known as the Grammy Award-winning rapper, Lil Wayne, was moved to solitary confinement within Rikers Island jail complex in New York, Oct. 4, after officials discovered illegal headphones and an mp3 charger belonging to Carter during a cell search in May 2009.

Carter's infractions were not crimes, therefore he was
to a jail disciplinary process instead of court.
The headphones and charger, which are considered contraband, had been "tucked in a potato chip bag in a garbage can in the rapper's cell" (Peltz).

Carter was incarcerated in March 2009 after pleading guilty to attempted criminal possession of a weapon [and] admitting he had a loaded semiautomatic gun on his bus in 2007" (Peltz).

Given a year-long sentence, Carter has been expected to serve only eight months due to good behavior, but there has been "no word on whether this recent setback will affect his release date" (Carter).

Due to Carter's rule-breaking, the solitary confinement he has been sentenced to comes with stricter rules and less freedoms for the rapper. Twenty-three hours of his day will now be spent confined to his cell, with the only exceptions being visits, showers, and religious services. He will no longer by allowed to mingle with fellow inmates or watch television, and can only make one phone call per week aside from calls with his lawyer, Stacey Richman.

I understand that what Lil Wayne did was in violation of prison rules, and I know that it is unjust to allow certain people, such as celebrities, to have any type of special privileges that other inmates do not have, but for some reason I cannot help but feel bad for him. His whole life revolves around music (well, along with marijuana, purple drank, and women...), and the fact that he has to be locked up all alone, 23 hours a day, for a month seems a bit harsh to me. Then again, the way I feel about matters such as this is one reason why people like me probably should not work in the law enforcement field.

Friday, October 1

From California to Connecticut: one young man's journey across the nation

 Jordan Singleton is an International Business
 major at WCSU.
Approximately 36,503 students currently attend Western Connecticut State University, 89 percent of them from Connecticut, and many of who are in the process of trying to discover who they are and what their future beholds, all the while furthering their education.

Among those students is 21-year-old Jordan Singleton, who moved to Danbury, Conn. from Aliso Viejo, Calif. in September 2009, and whose journey up to this point distinguishes him from many of his peers.           

Childhood was a confusing and difficult time for Singleton, who was raised in Atlanta. His parents, Rufus and Lynette, were young and struggled with many obstacles of their own aside from raising Singleton and his two younger sisters, Jasmine and Jaylynn.

Once the family had overcome many of their struggles, “we moved to California to start new,” said Singleton, who considers the move from Atlanta to Southern California his biggest life-changing experience.

“Making friends was the biggest obstacle,” Singleton said. “Most [of the] kids had their friends and I had to try to fit in with their groups.”

Building friendships may have been a challenge for Singleton when he moved to California, but he did not let that interfere with one love of his life: basketball.

Even before he moved to California, Singleton had a love for basketball. From attending basketball-training camps to practicing even when he did not have to, Singleton “worked really hard playing basketball all this life,” he said.

Singleton said that his father, Rufus, has been an inspiration.

“He taught me all I need to know,” Singleton said. “He inspires me because of the things he’s accomplished and the issues he’s overcome.”

Singleton stands next to his time after breaking a school track record.
With self-determination and his father’s support and encouragement, Singleton excelled athletically. Not only did he break track and field records at his high school, play on the varsity basketball team, and gain an understanding and respect for hard work, but Singleton was also able to build friendships along the way.

“Sports helped a lot,” Singleton said. “Not only did just playing sports help me meet people, but I went through so much struggle, hard-work, and good times with those people [that] I formed some real good friendships."

Nowadays, Singleton aspires to graduate from college. His parents and sisters moved to Connecticut when he was seventeen and Singleton decided to stay in California, graduate from high school, and attend Vanguard University of Southern California. At the age of 20, Singleton decided that “it would be easier for me to
complete college if I moved here [Connecticut],” he said, and so he did.

Leaving behind his friends in California and experiencing Connecticut’s cold weather took Singleton a while to get used to, but he never lost focus of his academic objective. He acquired three jobs and worked hard to pay for school and his rent while also balancing classes and homework.

Singleton said that is current biggest obstacle is “having enough money to do what is necessary to have a good future,” and as a Christian, he looks to his faith in God to help him through his times of struggle.            

 Singleton at the Dana Hills High School 2008 Graduation.
“While I’ve been living alone,” Singleton said, “God has been there for me in tough times and I’m lucky to be where I am now.”

Along with expanding his mind and one day having a family of his own, Singleton dreams of having a successful career after he graduates college, because “with that,” he said, “I could live a satisfying life and be able to support a family and myself.”

“I feel I grew up faster than some [people],” Singleton said. “My maturity has given me the motivation to do what’s necessary to live comfortabl[y] today.”

Although he said that his stubbornness sometimes sets him back, Singleton makes sure to always maintain his integrity. He envisions himself married, with a steady career, and living decently in ten years, and continues to work hard towards his goals, in pursuit to one day be, he said, “rich, happy, and married.”

Total Pageviews