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ACLU of Colorado(COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.) -- The City of Colorado Springs, which has sentenced hundreds of poor people to debtors prison, has agreed to not only end the unconstitutional practice of converting court fines to jail time, but to also to pay back those who were wrongfully jailed.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado (ACLU) announced the settlement in a statement Thursday.

"The City of Colorado Springs has agreed, as part of a $103,000 settlement with the ACLU of Colorado, to stop converting impoverished defendants’ fines into jail time, to stop sentencing defendants to jail for non-jailable offenses, and to compensate dozens of individuals whose court fines were illegally converted to jail time when they could not afford to pay," the ACLU said in its statement.

Imprisoning people because they are poor and cannot afford to pay court fines violates both federal and state laws against debtors prisons in Colorado.

"We discovered what was going on and wrote the city a letter in October saying you need to stop this practice," Mark Silverstein, the legal director of ACLU of Colorado, told ABC News Thursday, "and you need to set up a fund to pay these people back."

The city has agreed to compensation terms of $125 a day for each day wrongfully imprisoned, and 66 people are eligible to receive compensation, Silverstein said, explaining that many of these people can be hard to track down because they may be homeless, so they are working on how to get their money to them.

"The defendants were usually visibly poor or homeless," Silverstein said, noting that offenses they were picked up for included jaywalking, staying in a park after curfew, open containers of alcohol, and other non-jailable offenses. "They were fined, then these fines were converted to jail time."

Shawn Hardman, an ACLU client, will receive more than $11,000 as part of this settlement.

"I was told over and over that I either had to pay or go back to jail. Without a home or a job, the cycle kept repeating," Hardman said in a statement.

"I am thankful for this settlement, because it will help me keep a roof over my head, something I have wanted for a long time. Even more, I am proud that the settlement will protect other people living on the streets in Colorado Springs from going through what I went through -- being jailed just because I was poor," he said.

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers said he was "pleased with the process" of collaborating with the ACLU.

“While we admittedly found some areas that required correction, I am pleased to report that our Municipal Court, City attorneys and Councilmembers worked expeditiously to correct the situation upon learning of the non-compliance," Suthers said in a statement today. "Overall, this process has been collaborative and productive and ultimately will result in improvements to our court and enforcement processes.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Raymond Boyd/Getty Images(ATLANTA) -- An anonymous Twitter account, which claims to be written by a student at a women's college, has prompted two investigations into an alleged sexual assault.

The Twitter user, who says she is a freshman at Spelman College in Atlanta, wrote the first post on May 2, "surrounded by 4 Morehouse students who took me to another room and took turns raping me. I was in shock about what had happened."

The user @RapedAtSpelman writes about the alleged assault, which apparently took place more than a month ago, and her subsequent interactions she claims she had with university staff over a series of 12 tweets. She added that she created the anonymous account because she doesn't believe the colleges would take sexual assault claims seriously and in order to avoid "blame & bash" she believes is often doled out to victims by other students.

Officials from both Spelman College and Morehouse College, which are both historically black colleges, have responded publicly.

"Our hearts go out to this student and I want to personally offer her our full support and assistance," Spelman College president Dr. Mary Schmidt said in a statement released to ABC News.

"We are a family at Spelman and we will not tolerate any episode of sexual violence. No student should ever have to suffer and endure the experience she has recounted on social media. Spelman is conducting a full and thorough review of these events," the statement reads.

She also reached out to the anonymous account over Twitter.

The president of Morehouse College also released a statement saying that he "deeply troubled" by the allegations.

"At Morehouse, we take seriously all allegations of sexual assault and we are redoubling our efforts to ensure that our students and students throughout the Atlanta University Center are encouraged to report any such incidents," the school's president John Silvanus Wilson Jr. wrote.

"Both our Office of Campus Safety and the Title IX Office have been activated to fully investigate the allegations with the limited information that we have," the statement said, before also calling on students to come forward about any other sexual assaults.

The @RapedAtSpelman account now has more than 2,600 followers.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Midlothian Police Department(MIDLOTIAN, Texas) -- New clues are emerging in the case of a mother found murdered in a church in Texas last month, according to search warrants released by the Midltohian Police Department Thursday citing "persons of interest" in the case.

Terri "Missy" Bevers, a fitness instructor and mother of three, was found murdered at Creekside Church of Christ in Midlotian, Texas, on April 18. She had been scheduled to teach a fitness boot camp class at the church, according to police.

Surveillance video from the church showed an unidentified suspect wearing full tactical gear -- including a heavy helmet, gloves and jacket with the word "POLICE" on the front and back -- disguising the person's gender and identity. The suspect had a distinctive walk, which police were hoping someone might be able to identify.

Though police have not yet identified the person on the video or any other suspects in the case, several persons of interest and other details have been described in search warrants issued for AT&T cellphone records and LinkedIn messaging records.

Here's what the warrants reveal:

Bevers Received a "Strange and Creepy" Message Days Before Her Death

A friend of Bevers told investigators that "less than three days before the murder," Bevers received a "creepy and strange" message on LinkedIn from a male unknown to them both, according to the search warrant for Bevers' LinkedIn records.

The friend could not recall the name of the person on the account that sent the message, police said.

Bevers Had an "Ongoing Financial and Marital Struggle" And Extramarital Affairs

Evidence police extracted from Bevers' and her husband's iPhones and an iPad, along with several tips provided to officers, revealed that Bevers had "an ongoing financial and marital struggle as well as intimate/personal relationship(s) external to the marriage" with persons of interest, according to the search warrant for AT&T cellphone records.

A "Person of Interest" Had "Fliratious" Communications With Bevers on LinkedIn

Police said that a "person of interest confirmed that they had engaged in a series of communications" with Bevers while on LinkedIn some time around January this year, until her death. The "person of interest" added that their communications ultimately turned "flirtatious and familiar," police added in the search warrant for LinkedIn records.

How the Unknown Murder Suspect May Have Used a Cell Phone

According to the search warrant for AT&T records, police said they believe the unknown suspect could have used the cell phone to:
- confirm the Bevers' workout times and locations, which she had publicly posted to social media
- communicate with Bevers through calls, messages, texts, emails, data, push-to-talk and/or walky-talky
- photograph, record and/or video the victim and the murderous act
- access applications and tools such as map locator applications, clock or timing capabilities, GPS locating applications and flashlight

No official suspects have yet been named.

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Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama granted commutations of sentences to 58 convicted criminals Thursday, including 18 individuals serving life sentences, boosting his total to 306 granted petitions, more than the previous six presidents combined and the most of any president since Franklin Roosevelt.

“As President, I’ve been working to bring about a more effective approach to our criminal justice system, particularly when it comes to drug crimes,” Obama wrote in a post explaining his decision Thursday.

The president also implored Congress to reform federal sentencing laws, “particularly on overly harsh mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenses.”

“While I will continue to review clemency applications, only Congress can bring about the lasting changes we need to federal sentencing,” the president noted. “Because it just doesn’t make sense to require a nonviolent drug offender to serve 20 years, or in some cases, life, in prison. An excessive punishment like that doesn’t fit the crime. It’s not serving taxpayers, and it’s not making us safer.”

Obama has received a striking number of petitions for clemency during his tenure: more than 22,000 -- more than double the number received during President George W. Bush’s administration.

Nearly all of those granted commutations of sentences Thursday were convicted of drug-related offenses, mostly for possession or conspiring to distribute cocaine, crack, methamphetamine, heroin, piperidinocyclohexane-carbonitrile (PCP) and marijuana.

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BananaStock/Thinkstock(HOLLYWOOD, Fla.) -- A South Florida man recently helped save his wife's life by calling 911 after he heard her being kidnapped at gunpoint through the Bluetooth earpiece she had on at the time, according to officials.

The harrowing incident happened this past Tuesday when 49-year-old Priscilla Cercone was sitting in her car in front of her Hollywood, Florida, home, according to a probable cause affidavit obtained by ABC News.

Cercone had just picked up the mail and was talking to her husband via the Bluetooth device when a 21-year-old man -- later identified by authorities as Bernard Owens -- suddenly approached Cercone, pointed a handgun at her and "ordered her to open the back door of her car or he would kill her," the affidavit states. Cercone "feared for her life," so she opened the door for Owens, who then ordered her to start driving, according to the affidavit.

Owens pointed the handgun at Cercone's head while she was driving and demanded that she take him to an ATM after she told him she did not have any money on her, according to the affidavit.

Cercone's husband was still on the phone with her via the Bluetooth device and tried to ask what was happening, the affidavit states, but Cercone was "too fearful" to respond, and Owens eventually took her cellphone from her.

Having heard the exchange, Cercone's husband called 911, ABC affiliate WPLG reported.

Meanwhile, Cercone drove to a nearby bank and withdrew $400, which she gave to Owens, who then demanded she drive back to her house, according to the affidavit. As they were driving, Owens then demanded to know what valuables she had at home and who was inside, according to the affidavit.

Thanks to the 911 call Cercone's husband had made, police were already at her home by the time she got there, according to the affidavit. When Cercone spotted them, she jumped out of her moving vehicle, the affidavit states.

Owens also jumped out and tried to run from police, but he was eventually caught and arrested, police said. One officer located a firearm that a witness told police Owens had tossed while trying to run away, according to the affidavit. Bernard's money and cellphone were also located on him.

Owens has been charged with robbery with a firearm, possession of a weapon or ammo by a convicted Florida felon, false imprisonment of an adult, and kidnapping with intent to commit or facilitate commission of a felony, according to online court records for Broward County in Florida. Owens has been booked into Broward County Jail with no bond.

A county court spokeswoman told ABC News Thursday that Owens has not yet obtained an attorney and that he has not yet entered a plea to the charges against him.

Cercone did not immediately respond to ABC News' requests Thursday for additional comment.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The 6,083 reports of sexual assault in the U.S. military last year remained almost level with the previous year, but Pentagon officials who released the latest statistics remain concerned that service members continue to report sexual assault at a high rate.

The 6,083 reported incidents in fiscal year 2015 are 48 fewer than the number of incidents reported in 2014. But, when the numbers are adjusted to account for the reduced sizes of the four military services since the previous report, the rate of reporting remains at four reports per 1,000.

The military defines sexual assault to mean incidents including sexual harassment, unwanted sexual contact and rape.

Major General Camille Nichols, director of the Department of Defense’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, said it was unclear if two years of roughly equal numbers indicates a plateau has been reached in the number of incident reports.

"We're not sure if we've plateaued," said Nichols. "It’s too early to tell that, we do know we haven’t often had everyone reporting and we are still on a campaign to do that."

Service members can report sexual assault incidents in unrestricted or restricted reports. Restricted reporting allows sexual assault victims to get medical treatment and mental health counseling without notifying their chain of command. At any time, they can change their case to unrestricted reporting, which notifies their chain of command and triggers an investigation.

This year’s statistics showed that 21 percent of restricted reports were eventually converted to unrestricted reports.

“This is encouraging as we believe it to be an indicator of growing confidence in a justice system that is now better configured to hear the voice of the victim,” Nichols said.

Nearly 3,000 reports were considered for possible prosecution or action under the military judicial system. Seventy-two percent of those cases were dealt with through court-martials, non-judicial punishment, administrative action or discharges. Twenty-five percent of those cases were not acted upon because there may not have been enough evidence, the statute of limitations had passed or the victim declined to press charges.

Four hundred and thirty-seven cases were sent to prosecution, which resulted in 254 convictions for unwanted sexual contact. There were also another 158 convictions for issues like fraternization, adultery or giving false statements.

Nichols said she was also encouraged by a command climate survey of active duty service members that found that 16,000 took action in situations where they believed people were at risk for sexual assault.

“We need to capitalize on this 'move to act' and continue to ensure our people understand the risk factors that lead to sexual assault and feel confident to do their part in these situations,” said Nichols.

Though the numbers of reported sexual assaults have increased in recent years, Pentagon officials have acknowledged that reported sexual assaults likely only make up a quarter of the estimated 26,000 assaults that occur in the military. That estimate is extrapolated from a survey conducted every two years.

For the second year in a row, the number of males reporting remained near 20 percent, a significant increase from the early days of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office.

“Still, men remain less likely to report the crime than women,” said Nichols. “Encouraging greater involvement by men in prevention and reporting remains a major area of focus for us.”

Some of the male victims stepping forward initially considered that they may have been “physically manhandled” as part of a “hazing or a right of passage ritual” said Nichols. “Only later on after hearing and seeing definitions they say 'Oh, I was sexually assaulted.'”

She said her office is working to fill in gaps for medical and non-medical ways to care for male victims.

Nichols said that 504 of the sexual assaults reported by service members had occurred prior to their having entered the military. She said that the goal is to help military victims regardless of when the sexual assault occurred.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- For weeks at a time, various portions of the Washington Metro system will be shut down for maintenance, general manager Paul Wiedefeld is expected to announce Friday, according to a Metro official with knowledge of the plan.

It’s an unprecedented move that could cripple transit for commuters in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. On average, the system sees more than 700,000 boardings each weekday.

Wiedefeld’s comprehensive track work plan will include “safety surges” that include both long-duration track outages and long-duration continuous single tracking, which could last for several weeks at a time, and would remain in place even during rush hour, the official said.

The program will likely last almost a year, with crews alternating between various segments on five lines. Metro will work around major events, like July 4, the presidential inauguration and the cherry blossom festival.

The surges will focus on heavy-duty track work, like replacing wooden rail ties. “There just aren’t enough hours in the day” to complete the necessary repairs within Metro’s normal schedule, the official told ABC News.

As he acknowledged, though officials will deploy “dozens and dozens” of shuttle buses, Metro won’t be able to replace train capacity with buses. A single train can carry about 800 people, while a bus can carry about 50, meaning you’d need 16 buses every three minutes to match train capacity during rush hour.

“You can’t put 10 pounds of potatoes in a 5-pound bag,” the official said.

Instead, Metro officials are encouraging commuters to carpool, bike, walk, work from home or drive to a different metro line. They’re also working with local jurisdictions, which they hope will consider adjusting traffic-light timing and modify high-occupancy vehicle lane rules. And the U.S. Office of Personnel Management may also be able to make adjustments for federal workers.

“We’re going to have a lot of cranky people for a long time,” the official said.

This announcement comes less than two months after Wiedefeld shut down the entire system for 29 hours for emergency safety inspections.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(ELMORE, Ala.) -- Inmates at as many as five Alabama prisons have been engaged in a coordinated labor strike for the last five days, sending two facilities into a state of lockdown, according to the state's Department of Corrections.

The labor strikes, which were launched to coincide with May Day, an international day of celebration for socialists and other advocates of workers' rights, has been staged by a group of prisoners calling themselves the “Free Alabama Movement,” which aims to raise awareness of what the inmates describe as inhumane living conditions, worker exploitation and an atmosphere that promotes recidivism.

Alabama's prisons are considered among the most violent in the country, according to Pastor Kenneth Glasgow, who runs a non-denominational organization that focuses on inmates' rights called the Ordinary People Network based in Dolan, Alabama.

“Recidivism is guaranteed in living conditions like these,” Melvin Ray, the founder of the Free Alabama Movement, told ABC News from inside of the William E. Donaldson Correctional Facility, one of the prisons participating in the strike. “If I want to smoke crack, I can smoke crack right now. But as I’m talking to you, there are 96 men on both sides of me and not a single one of them can get access to a book.”

Ray, 45, said he is serving a life sentence for murder.

Bob Horton, a spokesman for the Alabama Department of Corrections, told ABC News that lockdowns of William C. Holman Correctional Facility and Elmore Correctional Facility, which are located in Atmore and Elmore, Alabama, respectively, were necessary, he said, because guards were carrying on the work typically performed by inmates, like food preparation, recycling duty and laundry, and were unable to perform their normal workloads due to the strikes. He said that the other prisons participating in the strikes did not require lockdown because the numbers of inmates participating were not high enough to stop workflow.

Horton denied Ray's claim about books, and says that Donaldson prison has a library. The state offers educational and vocational training for prisoners, as well as mental health services, Horton said. He acknowledged that drugs are a problem in many prisons.

“Lockdown” typically pertains to a state in which prisoners are forbidden from leaving their cells.

The phenomenon of coordinated prison strikes has been advanced largely through the help of mobile technology, which has enabled inmates to plan strikes such as these using cellphones, which are considered contraband in Alabama prisons, according to Horton.

Ray argues that phones, which are commonplace in prison, are only treated as contraband because they allow inmates to expose unsafe living and working conditions through photographs and video to the outside world. Horton said that possession of a cellphone in Alabama prisons is a felony offense because it can be used for criminal activity, such as drug deals. Also, he denied that living and working conditions inside of the prisons are inhumane, or that they promote recidivism.

The Free Alabama Movement’s website and Facebook page, which are maintained in part through the help of family members and other advocates of prisoner rights, showcase photos and videos taken with mobile devices that feature Ray and others demonstrating the motives behind their actions through what they claim is a virtual tour of their daily lives. Some of the videos purport to show exposed wiring, rotting hamburger meat, rats and other alleged potential health hazards. Other videos feature interviews with inmates who claim to be in need of mental health treatment, or men performing manual labor allegedly without compensation.

“These inmates organizing the strikes haven’t made any demands, so we don’t know what they want,” Horton told ABC News by phone. “They’re talking to the media but not to us.”

Horton also noted that some prisoners are compensated for labor in work release programs, and that the state has a program called Alabama Correctional Industries, where crafts and furniture created by inmates, who are paid between $0.25 and $0.75 per hour, are sold to the public.

That’s not enough, Glasgow told ABC News.

Glasgow, who is the brother of civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton, served 14 years in prison on drug-related charges, and acts as a spiritual adviser to Ray, as well as other incarcerated members of the Free Alabama Movement.

“We need new language to discuss this subject,” Glasgow said. “These are people, not just prisoners. And what these labor strikes can do is draw attention to that fact.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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KTRK-TV(HOUSTON) -- A four-alarm fire Thursday at a warehouse complex in the Texas city of Spring Branch, located in the northwest Houston area, sent roaring flames and long plumes of black smoke into the sky, as canisters of hazardous materials exploded loudly throughout the morning.

More than 150 firefighters were deployed to put out the blaze, according to ABC's Houston affiliate KTRK-TV.

A resident of the area told KTRK that the explosions shook the foundation of her home.

The warehouse complex is situated near several schools. No students are believed to be in danger at this time.

It is unknown whether anyone has been injured or killed in the blaze.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The oldest verified World War II veteran in the U.S. passed away Tuesday at the age of 110.

Frank Levingston enlisted in the U.S. Army on Oct. 6, 1942, according to the National Archives, less than one year after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor propelled the U.S. into World War II. Levingston has seen 19 presidents hold office during his lifetime.

"He felt the obligation to give to the country whatever he possibly could, and he was very excited about it," Jee Levingston, Frank's nephew, told ABC News Thursday. "He gave it his very best."

Levingston told ABC News that his uncle was born on Nov. 13, 1905, in Cotton Valley, Louisiana, and that both of Frank's parents died when Frank was very young.

"He was the backbone of this family," Levingston said. "He never married, had no children, but he took great pride in taking care of his sister's and brother's children. He was an individual who was able to mingle with people of all levels, from the uneducated to those with the highest of level of education."

Levingston received a letter from the White House thanking him for his service on his 110th birthday. Last year he visited Washington, D.C., for the 74th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and laid a wreath at the National World War II Memorial.

Levingston said the funeral will be held next Tuesday at the Wesley Grove CME Church in his hometown of Cotton Valley, Louisiana.

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iStock/Thinkstock(BARNEGAT, N.J.) -- Police are still searching for a man convicted of manslaughter who escaped a New Jersey state correctional facility earlier this week.

Arthur Buckel, 38, had escaped from the Bayside State Prison on Tuesday, just weeks before being eligible for parole.

On Wednesday, authorities posted surveillance images of Buckel at a local CVS Pharmacy in Barnegat -- located about 50 miles south of the capital of Trenton -- where police located the stolen vehicle he was allegedly driving.

An image of Buckel was also released by police showing what he might look like with a shaved face.

Buckel was serving a two year sentence for assault and burglary, but records indicate Buckel previously served 14 years for manslaughter. He was paroled in 2010, and went back to prison on assault and burglary charges in 2015.

Residents in Barnegat were told to say indoors Wednesday while schools were placed on lockdown. Police said they will open Thursday, with increased police presence at every school.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A small plane that crashed in Alaska last month struck a bald eagle before bursting into flames, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

The Cessna 172 was conducting aerial surveying just west of the Birchwood Airport on the morning of April 20 when the plane went down into an area of dense woods, killing all four on board, according to a preliminary report published by the NTSB.

The pilot of the aircraft was a former NTSB investigator, according to the agency’s lead investigator on the crash, Shaun Williams.

“Remains of a bald eagle was found on the tail of the aircraft,” Williams told ABC News. “Remains were sent to the Feather Identification Lab at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.”

He said at this point they don’t know if the bird entered the cabin of the aircraft.

Williams said there have been other accidents caused by bald eagle strikes, but according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, this would be the first fatal crash of its kind.

Federal Aviation Administration air traffic control data shows the plane making several sharp turns in the area of the airport before the data indicated its last altitude at just under 1,000 feet.

“We’re still going back and try to review past flights to see how this flight path compared to previous flights,” Williams told ABC News.

Investigators from the NTSB and FAA on scene later that morning discovered a fuselage mostly incinerated by a post-crash fire.

Williams said the investigation is still in its infancy.

A probable cause of the crash has not yet been determined.

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tupungato/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Times Higher Education's World Reputation Rankings has released 2016's list of the world's top 100 universities, and while U.S. mainstays like Harvard and MIT top the top 10 list, Asia's institutions of higher education are climbing the charts.

The rankings are entirely subjective, Times Higher Education points out, but they are based on annual opinion survey taken by some 10 thousand academics from all over the world.

The University of Tokyo maintained its 12th place ranking, though China's Tsinghua University jumped eight places to place 18 on the list, and Peking University leaped 11 places, to reach 21st place.

The full list can be found here.

World's Most Prestigious Universities - 2016

  1. Harvard University
  2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  3. Stanford University
  4. University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
  5. University of Oxford, United Kingdom
  6. University of California, Berkeley
  7. Princeton University
  8. Yale University
  9. Columbia University
10. California Institute of Technology

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ABC News(KIRTLAND, Ohio) -- After weeks of searching for a stray dog's owner, members of an Ohio police department decided to adopt the pup themselves.

On March 31, the Kirtland, Ohio, police department posted a photo of a stray dog to its Facebook page. "Missing your dog?" the post read.

But no one came forward. Fast forward several weeks, and John Doe, as the dog came to be known, was still without a home. The officers and police personnel wanted "JD" to go to a good home, so they decided to give him one themselves.

With the permission of the mayor and the police chief, the department adopted "JD." He'll spend time with the officers, of course, but the pup will also work alongside the others who serve the people of Kirtland.

"The folks here at the Police Department wanted a good home for JD (this is now his name) so with the permission of the Chief and the Mayor JD has been adopted by the Kirtland Police Association but they also share the warmth this stoic animal has brought with City Hall and the Fire Department," reads a post on the Kirtland PD Facebook page.

"JD has fit into the environment as though he were here always. We are happy to have him in our department and our lives," the post continues. "He loves everyone and we love him."

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ABC News(CHAPEL HILL, N.C.) -- A North Carolina man is now fighting for his life after he was bitten by a king cobra snake he apparently kept as a pet, according to officials.

After he sustained the snake bite on Monday evening, Ali Iyoob tried to drive to a hospital for help. But he didn't make it very far, according to the 911 call he made, obtained by ABC News.

"My vision’s kinda blurry," Iyoob said on the call. "I’m sweating like crazy. I’m like panicking. I feel nauseous."

Iyoob then apparently pulled over on a highway, where paramedics found him nearly unconscious, officials for Orange County Emergency Services told ABC station WTVD-TV in Raleigh-Durham. He was rushed to University of North Carolina (UNC) Hospital, where he was listed in critical condition, officials added.

Iyoob remains in critical condition this afternoon, UNC Health Care spokesman Tom Hughes told ABC News.

King cobras are the world's longest venomous snakes and can grow up to 18 feet, according to National Geographic. They can deliver enough venom in a bite to kill 20 people or an elephant.

Officers with Orange County Animal Services are currently working in coordination with several other agencies to remove the king cobra and around 20 other snakes Iyoob apparently was keeping as his house, communications specialist with the agency, Andi Morgan, told ABC News. She said further information would be made available at a later time.

In a statement released Tuesday, the agency said that its staff was "working closely" with other agencies to to determine if any state statues were violated.

"If a violation is confirmed, Animal Services will coordinate with those organizations to identify, seize, and care for the reptiles," the statement said. "If no state violation is present, Animal Services will work internally to devise the best plan for the removal of the snakes. County ordinance does not permit the keeping of venomous or constricting snakes inside Orange County."

Animal Services officials added it had "no reason to believe there is a reason for public safety concerns."

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