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Old 02-21-2020, 11:03 AM   #141
Icelander
 
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Default Trump Tweet

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Originally Posted by Varyon View Post
A message of condolence to and solidarity with the police and the families of those who were lost is, of course, a given. Both sides of the media will certainly echo this. If there’s decent indication (and there seems to be) that some degree of illegal immigration was involved with the case, expect Trump to call strongly for more support for border security, with the right supporting him and the left denouncing his statements as anti-immigrant and/or racist. Once the pishtaco attack the hospital (assuming you still go that route), expect this to ramp up. Given the scope of this ongoing event, it’s certainly going to come up in his State of the Union in February. Some sort of immigration crackdown (potentially including severe political pressure on “sanctuary cities,” particularly if any of the attackers can be linked to one) is possible, and given the grimness of your setting we can expect detainees to be beset by malign supernatural influences.
Love it.

Anyone want to attempt an actual Tweet from the Commander-in-Chief, maybe set when the news about the firefight on the Aqueronte are everywhere, no confirmation of any immigrants being involved has been made, but rumours are trending that way?
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Old 02-22-2020, 06:08 PM   #142
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Default New Joint Task Force [Name Suggestions Welcome...]

Ok, we've got a multi-agency task force led by Regional Director Jason Taylor of the Texas DPS, veteran Texas Ranger and Major of Company A (Houston) until his promotion a couple of months ago.

Second in command is ASAC Ed Michel of the FBI, because Lacoste recognised that the FBI would inevitably have a strong claim to controlling the jurisdiction and decided to shade his own report and the official version from the Galveston County Sheriff's Office to present Michel as vital to the strong spirit of interagency coordination that yielded the success aboard the Aqueronte.* So instead of appointing someone more senior from Washington to the task force, ASAC Michel is made the XO and due to Jason Taylor's preferences, will end up being the one doing most of the talking in the media.

The senior ICE-HSI figure is SAC Valeria Sanders, an ambitious, politicially-savvy attorney whose hands-on law enforcement experience is much less than Taylor and Michel's, but whose connections in Washington are considerably better. Brilliant, hard-nosed, organized and effective, but unfortunately for Lacoste, inexplicably biased against him.

SAC Sanders also seems to be bitter to be reporting to a 'provinvial cowboy cop' and an 'over-the-hill FBI dinosaur' she outranks, but has no choice but to accept it, especially after the third incident, which happened at the UTMB-TDCJH inmate hospital in Galveston and serves to put the violent attacks on law enforcement back into the foreground and reduce the focus on human trafficking.

Lacoste will be brought on at the Galveston County Sheriff's Office full-time for the duration of the investigation, at his previous NOPD rank, Detective Lieutenant. He'll be the case officer for GCSO and while Sheriff Trochesset also belongs to the new task force, there's no question that Lt. Lacoste will be the primary investigator from the GCSO and the Sheriff is going to badk him to the hilt.

From all appearances, it also looks like ASAC Michel and Lt. Lacoste are establishing a solid working relationship, despite some early clashes, as Michel has noticed that Lacoste chose to color his reports so that Michel now has the chance of a lifetime to shine on national television.

America is watching and Lacoste has given the correct subtle signs to indicate that credit for his work is to flow to Sheriff Trochesset, the US Marshals in the person of Deputy Marshal Natalie Garza (made acting supervisor of the GCVOFTF and responsible for high-risk warrant service around Galveston in relation to the investigation) and ASAC Michel, as Lacoste is going to remain in the background as far as the media are concerned.

Now, I've got a few questions.

First, what should the special task force for investigating the violent criminal incidents between 27th and 30th of December 2018 on and around Galveston be named?

Second, Teddy Smith is a Reserve Deputy, but not one with any training, experience or credibility as a detective. He's been volunteering his time to train the Marine Units in nearby Sheriff's Offices in boating, diving and maritime search and rescue, as well as giving helpful courses for the armorers for the SWAT teams. The closest he gets to detective skills are 1 point in Interrogation and 4 points in Intelligence Analysis, from pseudo-operations in the Selous Scouts and nine years as, effectively, a senior Intelligence and Operations NCO in Kessler's emerging anti-supernatural threat network.

Can Sheriff Trochesset plausibly put a Reserve Deputy who is not a detective on a special task force instead of a deputy with detective experience? Would such a task force have billets for administrators or analysts from the local Sheriff's Office or would all such support personnel be provided from the much more numerous and better funded state or federal agencies?

Third, how many people, in total, might there be on a task force investigating a total of 40+ murders, almost that many wounded, about that many victims of human trafficking, 25 suspects in custody and about 30 persons of interest being sought, with that number growing hourly?

What might be a rough breakdown of local, state and federal personnel?

*Yes, the PCs managed to dodge being held responsible for a catastrophe and instead managed to buy favors and influence by doling out credit for what is being presented as a heroic success by law enforcement. Movies love the trope of the protagonist who is clueless about office politics, service rivalries and the power of presentation, but PCs who are well-connected and extremely skilled at social engineering tend to have lot more plausible opportunities for shaping the course of events.
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Old 02-25-2020, 05:50 AM   #143
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Default Command of the Gulf Coast Violent Offenders and Fugitive Task Force

In the real world, the commander of the GCVOFTF, Supervisory Deputy US Marshal Normal Merkel, died of heart-failure on January 16, 2019. In my campaign, Merkel was hospitalized after a heart attack on December 28, 2018. Whether he dies as in real history has not yet been determined, but because of how central the GCVOFTF is to the manhunt for suspects from the police shooting in Galveston and the serving of any warrants that the ongoing investigation may lead to, the task force can't be leaderless.

Second-in-command of the GCVOFTF rotates among the local and state law enforcement agencies involved in the task force. As officers assigned to the task force are deputized by the US Marshals, I don't imagine that a local cop can lead what is in effect a federal task force. The Marshals Service therefore have to make one of their other Deputy US Marshals on the task force Acting Commander and/or they need to promote or transfer someone to Houston to take over the job.

In the real world, Merkel's successor seems to have been Chief Deputy US Marshal / Senior Inspector Johnny Ray Williams Jr.*, who was previously the Chief Deputy in Oklahoma. However, I can't find data on when Williams took over the GCVOFTF, other than he signed paperwork for overtime for local cops assigne to it in July 2019, so he might have come aboard at any time between January 17 to July 2019.

I'm unsure of whether the Marshals Service would officially replace a man with his permanent successor while he was in the hospital and his prognosis unclear, but at the same time, it's clear that the GCVOFTF needs strong leadership immediately. And while it's a sizable task force, it seems that only a few Deputy US Marshals actually serve on it (the manpower is mostly local) and none of the DUSMs I've found have the requisite experience to be credible as a task force commander.

There is a temptation to make DUSM Natalie Garza the Acting Commander. She's one of five Deputy Marshals who were in the Galveston area before the second incident. She was also the first federal law enforcement officer to board the Aqueronte and the PCs have portrayed her participation in the investigation and arrest as inspired, brilliant and heroic.

However, she's in her early thirties, joined the USMS right out of college and has ten years service, which I'm concerned makes her less experienced than other suitable Deputy US Marshals, some of whom were military veterans or experienced law enforcers before they joined the USMS and have 15+ years in that service.

Besides, how plausible is it that good press and nice mentions in reports lead immediately to a functional promotion, with no attention paid to administrative competence?

No matter how heroic the act captured on TV; i.e. the carrying a rescued and injured young girl from a ship where she was the victim of human traffickers, after a firefight where you and local police (unnamed) rescued 39 girls from heavily armed criminals. Still seems that the Acting Commander is more likely to be someone with experience coordinating investigations and manhunts.

What do the forumites say? Should Natalie Garza get the job or is she more likely to the case officer and point person for the USMS while an older and more experienced colleague does the actual running of the task force?

In simple, gamist, terms, is it really plausible for the character with Administartion -11 and Leadership -12 to get handed a job which primarily requires Administration, Leadership and other management skills, just because she demonstrated high Will, combat skills and a degree of luck?

*Somehow, not a professional country singer, although I'm pretty certain from the name that he's thought about it as a career path.
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Old 02-26-2020, 07:39 AM   #144
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Default US Marshals Command

I note that the Chief Deputy US Marshal for the Southern District of Texas, i.e. the most senior career USMS federal law enforcement officer in Houston*, Richard 'Rich' Hunter, retires in January 2019. In my campaign, at the end of December 2018, he has already handed in his papers and is probably not expecting to do any major work for the couple of days left until he officially retires.

Hell, since it's a weekend, he probably just expects to drop by Monday to say goodbye to everyone, and has already done all the administrative stuff necessary to transfer any cases he's overseeing to other deputies.

By contrast, however, his successor is probably not yet at work, not expected to be until after New Year's.

So I'm still struggling to determine who will be the most senior US Marshal figure connected to the investigation. After all, not only will the Marshal-led GCVOFTF be important in serving warrants connected to the investigation of the main special task force, but anyone detained by federal agents (or local/state LEOs deputized by being part of a federal task force) becomes the responsibility of the US Marshals. Including Raul Sandoval and 'Gwen Delvano'.

Does anyone know who the US Marshal for the Southern District of Texas was in December 2018 through the next few months of 2019 in the real world? That is, who was the predecessor for T. Michael O'Connor? Edit: From 2014-2019, the US Marshal for the Southern District of Texas was Gary Blankinship, former Harris County Sheriff's deputy and thirty-year veteran Houston PD officer, long-time president of the Houston PD union and former Vice President for the National Association of Police Organizations. This means Blankinship is in office in my campaign.

And does anyone have any idea about real people serving as Supervisory Deputy US Marshals in the Houston division of the US Marshals?

If I invent one, how many people of that rank would there be in the Southern District of Texas?

Depending on who is the most senior figure from the US Marshals connected with the case, the PCs might be able to have a great deal of influence of what happens to their prisoners, given that they have explained the supernatural situation to DUSM Natalie Garza and, shockingly, she seems to accept the existence of supernatural threats in stride and is both willing and able to help them work within the federal bureaucracy to handle these threats. Especially when she doesn't even have to lie, just accurately report unspecified criminal connections that pose a threat to the safety of the prisoners and not mention that these are magic-using cultists and their controlled monsters.

I'm assuming that even with the heart attack of Garza's boss in the GCVOFTF, she still has bosses. But who are they and can they be manipulated or worked with?

The ideal situation would be if Garza was allowed to hand-pick a team of Deputy US Marshals and deputized members of local and state law enforcement to handle the safety of the prisoners, moving them to an undisclosed location. That would allow the picking of people who already know about the supernatural and with whom Kessler or his people have preexisting relationships. But that rather depends on how many people there are in the local hierarchy above DUSM Garza and what her relationship with them is.

*I'm excluding the actual US Marshal for the Southern District of Texas, because that is a political appointment and may or may not be a career federal LEO. US Marshal Gary Blankinship was in office 2014-2019, before the current appointment (in our world) of T. Michael O'Connor, a Texan rancher and former county sheriff from a prominent local family in Victoria County.
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Old 02-26-2020, 09:12 AM   #145
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Default Re: US Marshals Command

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Does anyone know who the US Marshal for the Southern District of Texas was in December 2018 through the next few months of 2019 in the real world? That is, why was the predecessor for T. Michael O'Connor?
Using the Wayback Machine, the most recent archive from this page, which shows the current US Marshal in charge of the Southern District, is from August 6, 2017. That shows US Marshal Gary Blankinship; a bit of research finds this, which makes it clear that O'Connor replaced Blankinship (or, rather, was set to replace him, at the time of the article's writing), with nobody in-between, so I'd say we've found our man.
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Old 02-26-2020, 09:21 AM   #146
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Default Re: US Marshals Command

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Using the Wayback Machine, the most recent archive from this page, which shows the current US Marshal in charge of the Southern District, is from August 6, 2017. That shows US Marshal Gary Blankinship; a bit of research finds this, which makes it clear that O'Connor replaced Blankinship (or, rather, was set to replace him, at the time of the article's writing), with nobody in-between, so I'd say we've found our man.
Thanks.

Note that because small and/or local US papers often don't want to deal with recent EU/EEC regulations, many articles like the last linked are unavailable to me for legal reasons. That is, I can't open the link with a European IP number.

Still, I did manage to find Marshal Blankinship's relevant background, although I still don't know his exact age (it matters whether he's fifty five or seventy five, in regards to how involved he can be in events that take place at night and when most senior figures are operating on little sleep).

Now I just have to find or invent a Supervisory Deputy US Marshal based in Houston.
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Old 02-28-2020, 08:26 AM   #147
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Default Breaking News! FBI Informed of Existence of the Occult!

Because Lucien Lacoste's player believes that ASAC Ed Michel won't accept any cover story he can imagine for how the people after 'Gwen Delvano' knew in what room she was and how they were able to bypass layer after layer of high-tech security as well as most of the 200 correctional officers at UTMB-TDCJH, and because Lucien Lacoste is an Impulsive, On the Edge madman, Lacoste is going to speak to Michel, man-to-man, and tell him about the Keepers of the Last Hearth (apocalyptic cult of the Cold Ones, Outsiders representing the End of Everything).

Lacoste will be clear that he's confiding information that he can't prove to the satisfaction of lawyers and which therefore shouldn't be put into official reports, but which Lacoste, nevertheless, believes in light of his confidential sources and experience as a detective. To some extent, ASAC Michel asked for this, as he earnestly asked Lacoste to tell him everything he knew about these people and gave him his word of honor that he wouldn't put any inconvenient details about confidential informants or unlicensed Sheriff's Office operations into the reports against Lacoste's wishes. Because, well, Michel believed Lacoste knew more than he was saying, although Michel likely believed that the answers were more 'secrets about a criminal concpiracy we don't tell the feds because we don't trust them not to take away our informant if we do' and less 'secret world of occult horror'.

Backing up Lacoste's claims are suggestive facts such as the OpFor of cultists and their support personnel having had either incredible luck or phenomenal and terrifying access to confidential law enforcement information about the location of 'Gwen Delvano', not to mention the way literally dozens of security gates, manned and unmanned check-points, cameras, alarms and all sorts of other high-tech surveillance and security gear failed at the same time.

The risk here is that Ed Michel will fail his roll against the Facade and/or otherwide refuse to accept or believe in the possibility of supernatural forces. If he does, he'll search for any alternative explanation that doesn't require him to change his entire worldview.

Unfortunately, two plausible scenarios that suggest themselves as alternatives are that Lacoste is crazy, or, worse, that Lacoste is trying to deceive Michel for some purpose of his own. The better arguments and more evidence Lacoste can bring to bear, the less likely the first explanation is, but unless Michel can overcome the Facade completely and face a new and terrifying world head-on, the second explanation is going to be awfully tempting for him to take refuge in.

Lacoste is also going to show Michel the partially dissected body of a pishtaco as well as the autopsy notes and hope that the time elapsed since the shooting hasn't been enough for the unnatural body to have taken on a perfectly normal human appearance. If the body still looks like it did when Lacoste saw it opened, it should provide a hefty bonus to believe something is not normal, but not necessarily be enough to allow Michel to accept a new and terrifying reality in the long term. Memories are surprisingly mutable and for everyone except the most strong-willed and clear-eyed, the mind finds a way to re-adjust while continuing to deny the implications of anything supernatural they see.

It may amuse readers to note that Lacoste's player justified his chosen action with, as far as I can tell, an entirely unironic "Honesty is the best policy".
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Old 02-28-2020, 09:47 AM   #148
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Default Re: Breaking News! FBI Informed of Existence of the Occult!

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Lacoste is also going to show Michel the partially dissected body of a pishtaco as well as the autopsy notes and hope that the time elapsed since the shooting hasn't been enough for the unnatural body to have taken on a perfectly normal human appearance.
What does the medical examiner have to say about the body? Those guys are normally good at distinguishing between facts, impressions and ideas.
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Old 02-28-2020, 10:22 AM   #149
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Default Re: Breaking News! FBI Informed of Existence of the Occult!

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What does the medical examiner have to say about the body? Those guys are normally good at distinguishing between facts, impressions and ideas.
Happily, Thurman Montoya, the ME on duty that night, was one of Kessler's 'scholarship boys' at the University of Texas - Medical Branch, so he had planned to say one thing to the mundane authorities and entirely different and more accurate things to Kessler's inner circle, to whom he'd deliver his unredacted report.

What he will say to a senior FBI agent is not yet revealed, but Dr. Montoya will no doubt fervently wish that he was not put into this position.

In any case, Lacoste left Dr. Montoya finishing up his preliminary physical examination of the body while he went to speak with ASAC Michel. Both Lacoste and Montoya have enough familiarity with the occult, the Facade and the effects of Very Low or No Mana areas on what appears to be conclusive evidence of the paranormal to be aware that as soon as Dr. Montoya wheeled the body into the autopsy room and turned on various devices, he started a metaphorical (and metaphysical) clock that would soon ruin any conclusive evidence.

Before he did so, Dr. Montoya had unofficially opened up the body for Lacoste in another room of the morgue, one without any active modern technological devices, and used his skills to determine that at the time of death, this creature, while superficially human, was profoundly different in internal physiological makeup.
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Old 02-28-2020, 04:41 PM   #150
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Default Re: Breaking News! FBI Informed of Existence of the Occult!

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. . . as soon as Dr. Montoya wheeled the body into the autopsy room and turned on various devices, he started a metaphorical (and metaphysical) clock that would soon ruin any conclusive evidence.

Before he did so, Dr. Montoya had unofficially opened up the body for Lacoste in another room of the morgue, one without any active modern technological devices, and used his skills to determine that at the time of death, this creature, while superficially human, was profoundly different in internal physiological makeup.
And, of course, Lacoste didn't think to prevent that clock from starting while he went to talk to Michel . . .
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because Lucien Lacoste is an Impulsive, On the Edge madman
Damn right he is.
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Unfortunately, two plausible scenarios that suggest themselves as alternatives are that Lacoste is crazy, or, worse, that Lacoste is trying to deceive Michel for some purpose of his own.
Well, if Michel sees nothing wrong in the corpse, and Montoya doesn't want to join Lacoste on the Self-Sabotage Express, the odds on him deciding that Lacoste needs a long relaxing holiday somewhere where the fashionable clothing laces up the back increase noticeably.
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