As seen in...
ABC News
The Atlantic
The Economist
Washington Post
National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

Police Union Used Felons to Gather Signatures in Ballot Drive

From the Washington Examiner:

Montgomery County’s police union used felons, including a fugitive and a man convicted of forgery, to collect signatures for a ballot measure that would kill legislation reducing police collective bargaining rights, court documents show.

The county cites the Fraternal Order of Police’s use of felons among reasons why at least 6,700 of the 34,828 signatures validated by the County Board of Elections are insufficient to put the measure, protecting police officers’ ability to negotiate any management decision, on the November ballot.

The felons were responsible for collecting signatures and certifying they were gathered legally.

“The notion that a felon who under Maryland law would be prohibited from voting in an election, and who at any time was at the risk of arrest by the very individuals on whose behalf he was circulating the petition, would be responsible for preventing fraud flies in the face of common sense and is truly laughable,” attorneys for the county wrote in documents filed in Montgomery County Circuit Court.

One felon, Keith Gregory Moore, of Grand Rapids, Mich., was convicted of forgery, fraud, aggravated assault and home invasion, the court filing shows. 

Another petition circulator, Jessie James Rowe, of Kalamazoo, Mich., was a fugitive felon at the time he was gathering signatures — and still is — the document says.

National Police Misconduct Daily NewsFeed Recap 06-07-12

Here are the 8 reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, June 7, 2012:

  • An Edmonds, Washington police officer was arrested on allegations of sexual misconduct involving a woman he detained after she jaywalked
  • Chicago, Illinois police officers are being accused of excessive force after using a stun gun on a pregnant woman.  Police arrested the woman and her boyfriend after an argument over a parking ticket.  
  • A Melbourne, Florida police officer has been suspended without pay pending an ongoing criminal investigation.  The officer has been off the job since May 26 and already turned in his badge, weapon, and patrol car
  • Old Forge, Pennsylvania Police Chief Larry Semenza is being investigated by the FBI.  The probe was sparked after an alleged victim reported a sexual relationship with Chief Semenza from 2004-2007
  • Fullerton, California cop charged with the Kelly Thomas murder has been accused in another case of assault.  A disabled man claims he was thrown to the ground and stomped during his arrest last year by the officer
  • New York Supreme Court judge claims he was struck by a police officer during a chaotic scene in Queens.  The judge said the officer rushed forward and delivered a sharp blow to the his throat, which sent him reeling back and doubled over in pain
  • Former Ocala, Florida police officer was sentenced to more than six years in federal prison and ordered to pay more than $874,000 in restitution for helping conspirators in a tax fraud scheme
  • A Hingham, Massachusetts officer was arrested for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend.  The officer has been put on paid leave after he was arrested on four counts of domestic assault and battery

The Stop and Frisk Scandal

I have an article over at The Crime Report concerning the stop and frisk policy of the New York City Police Department. 


By way of background, a “stop” is an involuntary citizen-police encounter—but it is an encounter that has not yet escalated to the point of a full blown arrest. 

In other words, the person has not been handcuffed and taken into custody, but neither is he free to walk away.  Often in full view of neighbors or passersby, the person may have to “assume the position” by placing his outstretched arms against a wall or the hood of a police car; or even lay down, prostrate, on the sidewalk. 

It can be a degrading and humiliating event to endure….

There have been two important developments concerning the stop-and-frisk doctrine.  The first concerns the absence of a remedy in the situations where the police violate a person’s constitutional rights.  That is, what happens if the cops just whimsically  stop someone, frisk his garments, and pepper him with questions for 5-10 minutes? 

Mere curiosity as to whether the person might be holding some marijuana is not enough of a valid basis for a frisk, at least in theory. 

What’s a poor person, who is totally innocent going to do in situations where the police are just fishing around?  If there’s no injury, is it realistic to expect poor residents to go meet with an attorney?  Even if that happened, most attorneys would turn the potential client down quickly. 

An unjustified detention that lasted only a few minutes?  They would likely respond that the case just isn’t worth the time and expense of litigation. 

With no practical remedy for innocent persons stopped and frisked, there is not much of a downside for police to skirt the rules. So they have….

Well-to-do Americans do not realize it yet, but their right against unreasonable detentions is being trampled.  They are oblivious because it’s been the minorities in the poorer sections of the city who have borne the brunt of expanding police powers.

The stop and frisk policy is a low-visibility type of police misconduct.  On paper, in theory, the tactic can comply with the rules laid out by the courts, but those rules are also violated frequently with no consequences for the officers involved.  

For more about the stop & frisk tactic and how it has undermined the legal protection against false arrests, see my paper on that subject, “We Own the Night.”


National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 06-06-12

Here are the 7 reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, June 6, 2012:

  • New Jersey State Police video captures troopers slamming a disabled man to the ground and punching him repeatedly.  “The actions toward this young man and his family’s struggle for a response are disturbing and unacceptable,” said Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver
  • A New Haven, Connecticut officer arrests a bystander for videotaping police.  The allegations against the officer came from two women who observed a tussle between cops and an unruly man outside of a nightclub
  • Fairfield, New Jersey off-duty police officer pleaded guilty to lying to law enforcement officials who were investigating a bar brawl involving two of his friends, both known associates of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang
  • Aurora, Colorado police officers searching for suspected bank robbers stopped every car at an intersection, handcuffed all the adults and searched cars
  • A Memphis, Tennessee police officer has been indicted on charges of official misconduct, theft of more than $500 and less than $1000, accessory after the fact and facilitation of a felony
  • Former Downers Grove, Illinois police officer has been accused of using his position on the force in a scheme to rip off drug dealers.  The officer was sentenced to probation and periodic imprisonment 
  • A Florence, Texas family accuses the police chief of shooting 2  pet dogs.  The family says they believe the chief shot their pets because the dogs had gotten loose earlier in the day.  The dogs were back on the family’s property at the time of the shooting

NY Cop Went for the Jugular — of a Local Judge

From today’s New York Times:

Thomas D. Raffaele, a 69-year-old justice of the New York State Supreme Court, encountered a chaotic scene while walking down a Queens street with a friend: Two uniformed police officers stood over a shirtless man lying facedown on the pavement. The man’s hands were cuffed behind his back and he was screaming. A crowd jeered at the officers.

The judge, concerned the crowd was becoming unruly, called 911 and reported that the officers needed help.

But within minutes, he said, one of the two officers became enraged — and the judge became his target. The officer screamed and cursed at the onlookers, some of whom were complaining about what they said was his violent treatment of the suspect, and then he focused on Justice Raffaele, who was wearing a T-shirt and jeans. The judge said the officer rushed forward and, using the upper edge of his hand, delivered a sharp blow to the judge’s throat that was like what he learned when he was trained in hand-to-hand combat in the Army….

When they first came upon the crowd, the judge said, he was immediately concerned for the officers and called 911. After he made the call, he said, he saw that one of the officers — the one who he said later attacked him –was repeatedly dropping his knee into the handcuffed man’s back.

His actions, the judge said, were inflaming the crowd, some of whom had been drinking. But among others who loudly expressed their concern, he said, was a woman who identified herself as a registered nurse; she was calling to the officer, warning that he could seriously hurt the unidentified man, who an official later said was not charged.

Justice Raffaele said that after the officer struck him and he regained his composure, he asked another officer who was in charge and was directed to a sergeant, who, like the officer who hit him, was from the 115th Precinct. He told the sergeant that he wanted to make a complaint.

The sergeant, he said, stepped away and spoke briefly with some other officers — several of whom the judge said had witnessed their colleague strike him — and returned to tell the judge that none of them knew whom he was talking about. As the sergeant spoke to the other officers, the judge said, the officer who hit him was walking away….

Asked whether he intended to sue, Justice Raffaele said, “At this point, no, I don’t.”

He added:  “I do feel that it’s  important for this person to be disciplined.  I don’t know if he should be an officer or not —  what he was doing was so violent.”


Creative Commons License
This work by Cato Institute is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.