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Florida Police Abuse Database. 400% Increase in Officers Involved Since 2011.

From the Orlando Sentinel:

Florida’s driver-and-vehicle database, the system that can help law enforcement identify victims of fatal crashes and decipher the identity of a suspect, can be a useful tool for cops.

But the system — known as D.A.V.I.D., for Driving and Vehicle Information Database — can also be easily abused.

Data obtained by the Orlando Sentinel show the number of Florida law-enforcement officers suspected of misusing D.A.V.I.D. skyrocketed last year.

At least 74 law enforcers were suspected of misusing D.A.V.I.D. in 2012, a nearly 400 percent increase from 2011, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Officers who needlessly pull information or photographs from D.A.V.I.D. that would otherwise be private could face criminal charges, sanctions or disciplinary action.

And yet the temptation of looking up a relative, a celebrity’s address or a romantic interest is too great for some law enforcers.

Deputy: ‘You can get a new dog’

From Denver CBSLocal.com:

An Adams County man is in shock after he says deputies shot and killed his dog.

Jeff Fisher said deputies went to his house by mistake. He said when they forced their way through the door his dog Ziggy ran outside and an Adams County Sheriff’s deputy shot and killed him.

“(He went to the door) to see who it was and the police officer shot him three times,” Fisher said. “They killed my dog for no reason.”

Video at the link above.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 1-18-13

Here are the 7 reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, January 18, 2013:

  • Update: Las Vegas, Nevada: A now-former police officer is going to prison for two years. He pleaded guilty to charges of coercing women to expose their breasts after stopping them on the road. The Judge, after hearing victims’ statements, looked right at him and said: “You are nothing short of a sexual predator with a badge.” ow.ly/gWgdQ
  • Garfield, New Jersey: The girlfriend of a city teen fatally shot by police has filed a federal lawsuit claiming wrongful death. In it, she claims he was “viciously and unjustifiably shot” by officers from the city force and the Bergen County Police Department, according to court documents. ow.ly/gW9UP
  • Los Angeles, California: Sheriff’s department investigators are probing a deputy’s allegations that she was the victim of sexual misconduct involving three top sheriff’s officials. “I take this very seriously, and I will find out what did or did not happen,” said the Sheriff. ow.ly/gW9c0
  • Schaumburg, Illinois: Three officers robbed drug dealers of their stash while executing search warrants. They then turned around and sold the heroin, cocaine and marijuana, pocketing the cash, said prosecutors. ow.ly/gVQIy
  • Beacon, New York: A city police officer was suspended from duty with pay after an investigation into his conduct with a police informant, according to court documents. ow.ly/gVAiA
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: According to a federal lawsuit filed, the police have shown a pattern of wrongfully arresting people who videotaped officers in public. It seeks monetary compensation and confirmation of the public’s right to videotape the police. ow.ly/gVxpU
  • Miami-Dade, Florida: Two female officers have gone public with sexual harassment accusations against the school police chief, saying they have lost faith in the district’s investigation of their complaints. ow.ly/gWaPG

The Civil Forfeiture Racket

From Reason.com:

Jerrie Brathwaite was not in her car when Washington, D.C. police seized it in January 2012. She had lent her 2000 Nissan Maxima to a friend, and that friend was pulled over, searched, and found to be in possession of drugs. A year later, Braithwaite—who has never been charged with a crime—still doesn’t have her car back, and no one from the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) will return her calls. …

In theory, the government uses asset forfeiture to strip criminal enterprises of resources and “toys”—the cars, planes, boats, and homes that make the illicit life look glamorous. But a glance at the legal notices the department publishes periodically in The Washington Times reveals the city is hardly targeting kingpins. A notice from last September lists these cars: a 1985 Chevrolet, a 1994 BMW, a 1999 Lincoln, a 1994 Lexus, a 1991 Honda, and a 2001 Chevrolet. Most seizures are of cash—generally less than $100 and as little as $7—taken from thousands of people each year.

“Many of these clients don’t have money, don’t have assets, some are innocent,” says criminal defense lawyer Henry Escoto, who is pursuing a class-action lawsuit against the city. “Many times just because police arrest somebody for possession of a controlled substance doesn’t necessarily mean that the money they have on them came from illegal proceeds. It could be many of these guys have jobs and get caught with rent money or their paycheck. That’s pretty significant.”

By law, the MPD must notify property owners of their constitutional right to challenge a forfeiture, but it recently emerged in court that up to 2,000 of the 3,000 property owners who had property seized in 2009 may not have received notice.

H/T: Instapundit.   For additional background, go here.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 01-17-13

Here are the 7 reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, January 17, 2013:

  • Blakely, Georgia: A former state trooper has been indicted for stealing marijuana from the evidence locker, and then giving it to teenage girls. He is charged with theft by a government employee, distribution of marijuana, and violation of oath of office. http://ow.ly/gTHmX
  • Chattanooga, Tennessee: A lawsuit seeking $50 million in damages names two officers, the city, and Erlanger Health Systems after an inmate sustained a compound fracture and other injuries from a beating from officers. http://ow.ly/gTKmx
  • Peekskill, New York: After a 4-year investigation into organized crime’s influence on the carting industry in, a 20-year-veteran is facing two extortion charges. He, and two others, is accused of forcing a trash hauler to turn over his business to them. All in all 32 people were indicted on federal charges. http://ow.ly/gTMbv
  • Boston, Massachusetts: A veteran police officer, who has been suspended in the past for a domestic altercation, pleaded not guilty to charges of raping and indecently assaulting a woman, officials said. http://ow.ly/gTFRL
  • Margate, Florida: A rookie police officer has been fired for carrying guns while “extremely intoxicated” at a Fort Lauderdale nightclub. He was carrying two loaded firearms, and one of them was his police weapon. He also had three additional magazines with rounds, and a pocket knife. http://ow.ly/gTGOu
  • Chatham Borough, New Jersey: A police detective has been charged with drunken driving after he drove his vehicle off the road, crashed through a concrete wall, and came to rest on top of a large rock. ow.ly/gTzVU
  • Kentwood, Louisiana: A police chief was arrested and booked with malfeasance of officer and obstruction of justice after there was an investigation into missing evidence. Investigators concluded that he had intentionally tampered with the evidence. ow.ly/gTwdK

The Aaron Swartz Case

There is much buzz surrounding the recent suicide of Aaron Swartz–and whether prosecutorial abuse by Carmen Ortiz played a part.

Glenn Greenwald:

Whenever an avoidable tragedy occurs, it’s common for there to be an intense spate of anger in its immediate aftermath which quickly dissipates as people move on to the next outrage. That’s a key dynamic that enables people in positions of authority to evade consequences for their bad acts. But as more facts emerge regarding the conduct of the federal prosecutors in the case of Aaron Swartz – Massachusetts’ US attorney Carmen Ortiz and assistant US attorney Stephen Heymann – the opposite seems to be taking place: there is greater and greater momentum for real investigations, accountability and reform. It is urgent that this opportunity not be squandered, that this interest be sustained.

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that – two days before the 26-year-old activist killed himself on Friday – federal prosecutors again rejected a plea bargain offer from Swartz’s lawyers that would have kept him out of prison. They instead demanded that he “would need to plead guilty to every count” and made clear that “the government would insist on prison time”. That made a trial on all 15 felony counts – with the threat of a lengthy prison sentence if convicted – a virtual inevitability.

Just three months ago, Ortiz’s office, as TechDirt reported, severely escalated the already-excessive four-felony-count indictment by adding nine new felony counts, each of which “carrie[d] the possibility of a fine and imprisonment of up to 10-20 years per felony”, meaning “the sentence could conceivably total 50+ years and [a] fine in the area of $4 million.” That meant, as Think Progress documented, that Swartz faced “a more severe prison term than killers, slave dealers and bank robbers”.

Swartz’s girlfriend, Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, told the WSJ that the case had drained all of his money and he could not afford to pay for a trial. At Swartz’s funeral in Chicago on Tuesday, his father flatly stated that his son “was killed by the government”.

More background from Radley Balko and Declan McCullagh.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 01-16-13

Here are the 9 reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, January 15, 2013:

  • Frederick County, Maryland: A family is suing the Maryland State Police after a woman died in her home after a confrontation with a state trooper. http://ow.ly/gRZE1
  • Update: Washington, DC: A District Court judge ordered a veteran police officer to remain jailed after a second woman came forward to say he had sexually assaulted her when she was a teenager singing in a church choir he directed. The judge called him a “danger” who targeted adolescent girls. The hearing was for a charge that he repeatedly sexually abused a girl, beginning when she was 11 years old and lasting nearly three years. http://ow.ly/gTX5B
  • New Milford, Connecticut: A former police officer who was fired in 2011 following an internal investigation of his conduct in an off-duty case has been allowed to retire and receive related payments from the town. He is said to have attempted to extort money from a teenager, and threatened him. He was sentenced to six months incarceration, suspended, and received a two year conditional discharge. http://ow.ly/gSaRN
  • St. Paul, Minnesota: An officer illegally fired a weapon in the back yard of his home, according to charges filed in court. Police “challenged the defendant’s story that the rounds were blank,” the complaint said. The officer then admitted he had fired live rounds from a handgun. http://ow.ly/gSdm1
  • Update: Deptford Township, New Jersey: The officer charged with murder has been suspended from the municipal police force without pay. The officer shot a man in the head in his home, and the man died. ow.ly/gRTEe
  • German Township, Ohio: A police officer will have to surrender his peace officer certification after he took a plea agreement. He was accused of raping a 19-year-old woman. The alleged incident occurred at a party; the victim, who said she had been drinking, said she was being assisted by two juveniles when the officer took her upstairs and sexually assaulted her, according to the initial report. http://ow.ly/gRHWf
  • Prince George’s County, Maryland: The officer accused of selling and giving away guns he had seized from criminals was found guilty of theft and misconduct in office. He was ordered directly to jail after a jury reached guilty verdicts on all counts against him in less than two hours of deliberation. http://ow.ly/gRIWZ
  • Update: Edmonds, Washington: An officer, who is facing criminal prosecution for allegedly having sex with a woman he detained, resigned upon learning he could be fired for the incident. http://ow.ly/gRy76
  • Abbeville County,  South Carolina: A sheriff who was under scrutiny because of a sex tape was indicted by the State Grand Jury after being accused of taking kickbacks. http://ow.ly/gRtJK

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 01-15-13

Here are the 10 reports of police misconduct tracked for Tuesday, January 15, 2013:

  • Saratoga Springs, New York: A man who was injured outside a sports pub by an off-duty officer plans to sue him and the city. The officer has resigned his position and the misdemeanor assault charge against him will be dismissed in six months if he complies with City Court conditions. ow.ly/gQlUA
  • Update: Orlando, Florida: A police officer who has been accused of raping a woman while on duty formally entered a not-guilty plea. ow.ly/gQ0m3
  • Lewiston, Idaho: A sheriff’s deputy has pleaded guilty to felony sexual battery for a sexual relationship he had with a 16-year-old girl. He was put on paid administrative leave when the charges were filed. ow.ly/gPYwa
  • Harris County, Texas: A now-fired sheriff’s deputy faces federal charges for allegedly aiding in the delivery of the drug ecstasy. “Every single one of the employees at the HCSO is expected to obey the law and play by the rules. If an employee becomes involved in criminal behavior then they should know that we will do everything in our power to make sure we find them the jail cell they deserve,” said the Sheriff. ow.ly/gPSqD
  • Henderson, Nevada: A police sergeant was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence. ow.ly/gPJ3E
  • Chester County, Pennsylvania: An officer has been accused of slapping his wife and beginning to strangle her before she broke free and hid. He was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, simple assault and related charges. ow.ly/gPFKK
  • Jacksonville, North Carolina: A deputy resigned after state prosecutors pressed charges. Deputies say he was “doctor shopping,” which means he was going around to different doctors getting prescriptions he didn’t need. ow.ly/gPDKI
  • Wheeler, Wisconsin: A former police chief will spend 14 years in prison for committing numerous sex-related crimes. He was charged with 16 felony counts, half of which were the sexual assaults of children by those who work with youngsters. His other charges included child enticement, and exposing children to harmful materials. http://ow.ly/gNjnO
  • Washington, DC: An officer involved in paternity dispute with his mistress shot her dead, and left their infant child to die in a hot car. He is being tried on two counts of first-degree murder along with child abuse and firearms charges. http://ow.ly/gPf1l
  • Burlington, Vermont: A state trooper took responsibility for stealing more that $200,000 from taxpayers over the past six years. http://ow.ly/gPfzQ

Show ‘COPS’ – 25 Years on TV

From the American Conservative:

The show “COPS” is celebrating its 25th season on television, the opening strains of its signature opener as familiar as the images of mascara-stained prostitutes, half-naked wife beaters, and obscured faces of a thousand different men, planted in the asphalt by the boot of Johnny Law himself.

After all these years, the gratuitous flash of  “viewer discretion advised,” followed by the COPS trademark and the peal of sirens, still marks a half hour of testosterone-fueled, fast food entertainment, or a prompt to quickly change the channel, depending on who’s on the other side of the remote control.

For teenagers, voyeurs, and red-blooded law-and-order types who’ve made this show one of the longest running in American history, the pioneer cinéma vérité format ratifies the correct order of things—beginning smartly with heroes and villains, and ending with the crank of handcuffs and the door of a squad car slamming on another case, closed. …

“What disturbs me is that the audience is led to believe that they’re getting a fair peek at ‘real policing,’ but they don’t realize they’re seeing a distorted picture,” said Tim Lynch, director of the Cato Institute’s Project on Criminal Justice, who guesses among the throwaways are “awful mistakes, incompetence, or misconduct.”

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