Deal too Good to Be True on a Used Car?

Corpus Christi, Law Enforcement

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

     “The car was beautiful. Everything was immaculate,” said Paul Adams, who unknowingly bought a flood-damaged car in 2009, according to a CNBC report by Annie Nova.  The vehicle had been damaged in Hurricane Katrina in 2005 but did not start to show its damage until later.

     At the Flour Bluff town hall meeting on Monday, September 18, Melissa Castro, Corpus Christi Police Department Auto Theft Task Force Project Manager, cautioned those in attendance about buying used – and even new – vehicles after a storm like Harvey from a used car lot or an individual.  In the literature she distributed at the meeting, she shared valuable tips for making “sniffing out” a seller who may try to sell you a vehicle with hidden damage.

     “Cars are rolling computers these days. When water gets as high as it did with Harvey, we’re going to see significant damage,” said John Van Alst, attorney at the National Consumer Law Center.  

     If you are shopping for a vehicle, follow these tips:

  • Be alert to damp or musty odors.
  • Check for carpet/upholstery that has been replaced or recently shampooed.  Pull back the carpet at different areas and look for mud, dirt, or signs of water stains.
  • Look for dirt build-up especially on the underside of the dashboard.  This area is hard to clean.
  • Inspect for rust under the vehicle.  Corrosion is uncommon in new vehicles.
  • Look for rust, mud, dirt, or discoloration in small, out-of-the-way crevices on the doors under the hood or inside of the trunk.
  • Ensure electrical components, such as lighting, heater/AC fan, window motors, and more are all functioning properly.
  • Get a pre-purchase inspection of the used vehicle by a trusted mechanic.
  • Check the vehicle’s history; acquire a CARFAX Vehicle History Report.  The report may reveal if the car has been in a flood or been issued a salvage title.

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

     Other websites that offer additional valuable information are as follows:

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

  • All DMVs throughout the U. S. Report to NMVTIS.
  • Total loss flood-damaged vehicles will be recorded in ISO, NMVTIS, and TEXAS DMV databases.
  • A catastrophe code is assigned to Hurricane Harvey losses.  NICB will pull the total loss flood damage vehicles based upon a flag placed by TEXAS DMV along with the catastrophe code assigned to Hurricane Harvey and enter the VIN record into the NICB Vincheck.

     Castro encouraged citizens to contact her office for more information or to report vehicle burglary, theft, and insurance fraud.

Corpus Christi Police Department

Melissa Castro

Auto Theft Task Force Project Manager

Office  361-886-2872

MelissaMa@cctexas.com

Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day.
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The Constable’s Corner:  Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville

Front Page, History, Law Enforcement

Hello everyone!  We have had a busy first half of 2017 here at Pct. 2, from uniform changes (going back to Stetson hats), policy changes, continuing peace officer education classes, upgrades to our technology systems, new web site, new Facebook page, the day-to day services my department provides, our community policing programs, and our hugely successful “Pray for Police” wristband giveaway. All of these successes were not possible without the dedication of my officers, administrative staff, and the ever-growing support I receive each day from the citizens of Pct. 2.  Thank you from all of us at NCCO Pct. 2.

The Constable’s Corner

Yes, it has been a while since my last publication.  This month’s focus is on the Texas State Prison at Huntsville, Texas.

       A few months ago, I attended Constable’s School at Sam Houston State University.  During that week, which was crammed full of lectures and training, I got a tour by a Captain of the Guards of the prison.  The University is located right next to the prison and right in the heart of town.  I got to see the Walls Unit, Death Row, Educational Unit, Recreational Unit, and the Leather Shop.  Most interesting to me was the stories – the old stories – which is where I begin in this month’s Corner.

     The prison is officially the Huntsville Unit.  The prison’s red brick walls led to the nickname “Walls Unit”. The prison’s first inmates arrived in October 1849.  Originally, women in the Texas Prison System were housed in the Huntsville Unit.  Beginning in 1883, women were housed in the Johnson Farm, a privately owned cotton plantation near Huntsville.  The Huntsville Penitentiary was the only prison in the eleven Confederate states still standing at the end of the Civil War, at which time it entered a dramatic period of its history. The increase in lawlessness that accompanied the end of the war resulted in more persons being sentenced to prison.

Famous Escape Attempts from the Walls Unit 

       In January 1934, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow hid guns in the field for their friends, Joe Palmer and Ray Hamilton.  These guns led to the death of J. Crowson, the first correctional officer killed in the line of duty.  The prisoners who were caught received the death penalty for the killing of Officer Crowson.  For Bonnie and Clyde, this was the last straw for them.  This eventually resulted in their deaths in a hail of automatic gunfire in a Louisiana ambush.

Old Sparky (Photo provided by Mitchell Clark)

     Whitey Walker was the leader of probably the most successful bank robber in Texas during the 1930’s, the Whitey Walker Gang.  They were much better than Bonnie and Clyde because Whitey subscribed to the John Dillinger school on robbing banks……..plan, plan, and plan.  The Barrow Gang had no planning, no escapes routes planned.  They just walked in, robbed the bank, and left.  The problem was that most of the time the banks they robbed had no money due to the Great Depression.

Various devices used to restrain inmates over the years (Photo courtesy of Mitchell Clark)

     While in the Walls Unit, Whitey Walker wanted his dear friend, Blackie Thompson, to be saved from the electric chair.  This also included death row inmates Joe Palmer and Raymond Hamilton of Bonnie and Clyde fame.  Walker had guns smuggled into the prison with the help of a guard.  A huge gunfight ensued between the guards, and the convicts as the prisoners were climbing a ladder trying to get over the wall.  Walker was killed by Guard Roberts.  The three prisoners made it over the Wall to an awaiting getaway vehicle. 

     In 1974, the prison was the site of an eleven-day siege, one of the longest hostage-taking sieges in United States history. Three armed inmates (Fred Carrasco, Ignacio Cuevas, and Rudy Dominguez) held several hostages in the education department. The ring leader, Carrasco, had been a porter in the chapel. Cuevas usually worked in the inmate dining hall. Ten hostages were employees of the prison system; two were educators, and one was a guard.  Even the prison chaplain, Catholic priest Joseph O’Brien and four prisoners were taken hostage. On the final day, the inmates tried to escape using chalkboards and hostages as shields.  Dominquez was killed in the attempt. Carrasco killed Elizabeth Beseda, a teacher, then shot himself.  Julia Standley, the librarian, was also killed that day. Ignacio Cuevas was executed on May 23, 1991, for Standley’s murder. I am told by jailers from the Sheriff Johnny Mitchell days that Carrasco was a prisoner at the Nueces County jail and was transferred from Corpus Christi to Huntsville.

     One of my favorite stories is that of Dr. B.W. Jones. Dr. Jones was an intellect, a professor of psychology with an I.Q. higher than the sun and a true photographic memory. In 1955, Dr. Jones so impressed the warden with his background and intellect, he was immediately hired as a lieutenant of the guard, rose to captain, and eventually became Assistant Warden.  Captain Jones set out to change the way prisoners were treated, instituting a rewards for good behavior system, sensitivity training, and treating prisoners in a way they were not used to.  Capt. Jones was a big guy, six feet and 300 pounds, and he would get in any inmate’s face – even when threatened with violence – and calm the situation.  The convicts couldn’t figure him out, and his guards thought he was either very brave or crazy.

     Then a funny thing happened.  A prisoner was reading in Life Magazine about a man named Ferdinand Waldo Demara.  He showed the picture to the guard and said, “Doesn’t this guy look just like Cap’n.   Jones?”  The Warden confronted Jones about the picture.  He denied it, went into a tirade, gathered his belongings, left, and was never to be seen in Texas again.

Ferdinand Waldo Demara (Photo courtesy of Creative Commons)

     Demara was one of the biggest impostors the world had ever known.  He could speak nine languages and could read and remember 5 books a night.  He impersonated a surgeon (doing actual surgery), a monk, psychologist, lawyer, teacher, minister, dean at college, engineer, zoologist and – yes – a warden in the Texas Prison at Huntsville.

Other Notable Huntsville Inmates

John Wesley Hardin:  One of the most notorious outlaws and killers in Texas; said to have killed 42 men;  sent to Huntsville in 1877 for 25 years but was released in 1894 and was subsequently gunned down by the Constable in El Paso in 1896.

Duane “Dog” Chapman:   Served 18 months for a murder in 1976; well known for his top hit reality show, “Dog the Bounty Hunter.”

David Crosby:   Sentenced to 5 years for drugs and weapons in 1983; began serving in 1986 and was paroled 5 months later; famed lead singer for rock group Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.

Semper Fi,

Constable Mitchell Clark

Learn all about your constable by going to his new web site: ConstableMitchellClark.net and FaceBook @ Nueces County Constable Precinct 2

 

References:

Time Magazine, 1974

Wikipedia, “Huntsville”

The Wall, Patrick McDonnan

Texas Prison Museum

Constable Clark is the duly elected official for the Pct. 2 Constable’s Office. He has been involved in the Nueces County Constable operations since 1981 and holds a Masters Peace Officers license from the State of Texas. He is a licensed attorney in Texas and Tennessee and in the U.S. Supreme Court. He is a former Marine with assignments as a military policeman with a specialty in corrections and as highly prestigious Marine Corps Drill Instructor @ MCRD San Diego. Constable Clark knows the law.
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The Constable’s Corner: What Does COP Mean?

Corpus Christi, Flour Bluff, Front Page, Human Interest, Law Enforcement

     Several popular etymologies for cop exist for this word now commonly used for policeman.  One offers it up as an acronym standing for “Constable on Patrol” or “Chief of Police.”  Another states that the first police officers in London (or perhaps another city–it varies in the telling) had copper buttons on their uniforms.  Still, another source asserts copper badges, not copper buttons, gave them the name.  Some of the first New York City police officers reportedly wore badges made from copper.  The most common stories trace cop or copper to the copper buttons or copper police badges.

     The police “sense” of the terms probably originates from the Latin word capere, meaning, “to seize,” which also gave us capture.  Cop as a slang term, meaning “to catch, snatch, or grab” appeared in English in the 18th century.  Ironically, it was originally used among thieves; a copper was a street thief.  By the middle of the 19th century, criminals apprehended by the police were said to have themselves been copped, caught by the coppers or cops.  And there you have the etymology of cop.  “Case closed,” as the cops say.

     Or, is it?  Lexicographers and etymologists have long disputed the actual origin of the verb copper.  It either derives from the Dutch kapen, meaning “to take” or from the Old Frisian capia, meaning, “to buy.”  It may even derive from the French caper, meaning “to take”, which also comes from the Latin capere.

     To make matters even more complicated, the acronym COP has many meanings, most of which are unrelated to law enforcement. Following are just a few:  COP Copper; COP Chief Of Police; COP College of Pharmacy (Xavier University of Louisiana); COP Coefficient Of Performance; COP Code of Practice; COP Coil on Plug (automotive ignition); COP Court of Protection (UK); COP Cost of Production (agriculture); COP Citizens On Patrol; COP ConocoPhillips (stock symbol); COP Chief of Party (various locations); COP Canada Olympic Park; COP Congressional Oversight Panel (US Senate).

     For me, I’m somewhat partial to Constable on Patrol.  It has been said that the Constables back in jolly ol’ England went to the livery stable and checked out a horse, lantern, and night stick. In a record book, they would write “constable on patrol” and record the time they went to work. Like so many others, I was told that eventually someone got tired of writing all of this and shortened the entry to COP and then entered the time.  We may never really get to close the case on the origin of this little word.

Semper Fi,

Constable Clark, your Constable on Patrol

Learn all about your constable by going to his new web site: ConstableMitchellClark.net

 

Constable Clark is the duly elected official for the Pct. 2 Constable’s Office. He has been involved in the Nueces County Constable operations since 1981 and holds a Masters Peace Officers license from the State of Texas. He is a licensed attorney in Texas and Tennessee and in the U.S. Supreme Court. He is a former Marine with assignments as a military policeman with a specialty in corrections and as highly prestigious Marine Corps Drill Instructor @ MCRD San Diego. Constable Clark knows the law.
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