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National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 02-21-15 to 02-23-15

Here are the nine reports of police misconduct tracked for Saturday, February 21 through Monday, February 23, 2015:

  • Update: Milwaukee, Wisconsin (First reported 12-05-13): A now-former detective was acquitted on two felony excessive force charges, despite video showing him punch a handcuffed suspect. He had been fired from the department for his actions. http://ow.ly/JtSmm
  • Indianapolis, Indiana: An officer was arrested for attempted murder of his girlfriend. http://ow.ly/JtSJM
  • Kronenwetter, Wisconsin: An officer was suspended one week for misconduct and is back on the force. He had an inappropriate relationship with a known illicit drug user and used a police database to find information about her. He has been reprimanded several times over his career for various policy violations on and off duty. Information about the officer had been withheld from the public but was obtained via lawsuit by local media. http://ow.ly/JtTDa
  • Maricopa County, Arizona: The sheriff faces contempt of court charges for failing to comply with federal court orders to cease and desist policies of racial profiling. http://ow.ly/JtTZD
  • Douglasville, Georgia: An officer was investigated for taking an engagement ring during an arrest following a traffic stop. The dashcam footage of the arrest shows the officer discovering the ring, but it was never logged into evidence. Police deny the charge that the officer stole it and he has since returned to duty. http://ow.ly/Jw003
  • Update: Victoria, Texas (First reported 12-17-14): The city council rejected the appeal of a former officer to be re-hired. He was fired for tackling and twice Tasing a 76-year-old man during a traffic stop.  http://ow.ly/JwLPj
  • Fremont, Ohio: An officer was charged with DUI and failure to yield after being involved in a 2-car accident. He left the scene and may face more charges. http://ow.ly/JwRhO
  • Update: Phoenix, Arizona (First reported 11-03-14): An officer pled guilty to disorderly conduct for pointing his service weapon at someone in a ‘road rage’ incident. He had initially been charged with aggravated assault.  http://ow.ly/JwTcp
  • Update: Victoria, Texas (First reported 02-06-15): An officer who was indicted for DWI and felony property damage has been fired. http://ow.ly/JwUYw

Disturbing Report from Chicago

Those of us who follow police misconduct closely know that patterns of abuse can become normalized when tolerated or unchecked by police supervisors. Abuses that went unreported or were unsubstantiated in years past have been exposed by the growing presence of camera phones and other technologies that record police-public interactions. But they can’t catch them all.

The Guardian’s Spencer Ackerman has reported a truly disturbing practice in Chicago. The police have established a “black site” area where Americans are held incommunicado to be interrogated. Prisoners are held without charge and in violation of their constitutional rights and without access to legal counsel:

The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights.

Alleged police practices at Homan Square, according to those familiar with the facility who spoke out to the Guardian after its investigation into Chicago police abuse, include:

  • Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases.
  • Beating by police, resulting in head wounds.
  • Shackling for prolonged periods.
  • Denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility.
  • Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15.

At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square “interview room” and later pronounced dead.

Unlike a precinct, no one taken to Homan Square is said to be booked. Witnesses, suspects or other Chicagoans who end up inside do not appear to have a public, searchable record entered into a database indicating where they are, as happens when someone is booked at a precinct. Lawyers and relatives insist there is no way of finding their whereabouts. Those lawyers who have attempted to gain access to Homan Square are most often turned away, even as their clients remain in custody inside.

“It’s sort of an open secret among attorneys that regularly make police station visits, this place – if you can’t find a client in the system, odds are they’re there,” said Chicago lawyer Julia Bartmes.

This is not Chicago’s first brush with systematic abuse of citizens. Just this month, a retired CPD detective was released from prison for covering up the torture and false confessions of over 100 people in the 1970s and ‘80s. He still collects a $4,000 per month pension.

Police transparency is essential to effective policing, but police organizations often protect their officers from outside scrutiny, making it difficult to hold officers accountable for repeated violations of policy. Secretive internal investigations can stonewall public inquiry into disputed officer-related shootings committed in broad daylight. Left unchecked, entire police departments can develop institutional tolerance for constitutional violations in day-to-day policing.

But what Ackerman reports seems to be the ultimate lack of police transparency. If what he reports is true, a full investigation should be launched by government officials outside of the Chicago Police Department to examine such egregious violations of civil and constitutional rights.

Read the whole thing here.

Problems at U.S. Border Patrol

One of the greatest challenges to resolving police misconduct allegations is the opaqueness of internal investigations in any police department or agency. This is true at the local, state, and federal levels.

Today, the Los Angeles Times has a report on the backlog of use-of-force cases, particularly fatal shootings, at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. There is an added wrinkle here, due to bureaucratic overlaps, that other agencies in the Department of Homeland Security share responsibility for oversight and have been unable to further these investigations.

Nearly a year after the Obama administration vowed to crack down on Border Patrol agents who use excessive force, no shooting cases have been resolved, no agents have been disciplined, a review panel has yet to issue recommendations, and the top two jobs in internal affairs are vacant.

The response suggests the difficulties of reforming the nation’s largest federal law enforcement force despite complaints in Congress and from advocacy groups that Border Patrol agents have shot and killed two dozen people on the Southwest border in the last five years but have faced no criminal prosecutions or disciplinary actions.

Customs and Border Protection, which has more than 60,000 agents and officers, saw most of its abuse investigations outsourced to a sister agency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and to the Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General. Internal affairs instead conducted lie detector tests, did performance reviews, and dealt with questions from outside agencies.

Read the whole thing here.

You should also check out this Cato Policy Analysis calling for the abolition of DHS.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 02-20-15

Here are the nine reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, February 20, 2015:

  • Broward County, Florida: A deputy was arrested for falsifying reports about an arrest during a traffic stop outside of his jurisdiction. ow.ly/JnJPe
  • Adams County, Ohio: A now-former deputy was charged with two counts each of rape, sexual battery, and sexual conduct with a minor. The charges stem from an incident at his home with a 15-year-old girl in December. He resigned after his arrest.  ow.ly/JnLmp
  • Berkeley County, South Carolina: A deputy was arrested for domestic violence. ow.ly/JnMpr
  • Iowa City, Iowa: An officer was arrested for DUI. He was reported to be passed out in the driver’s seat at an intersection. ow.ly/JnQCM
  • Shreveport, Louisiana: An officer was arrested for felony misconduct in connection with an ongoing investigation. ow.ly/JnZ55
  • Fresno, California: A now-former officer was arrested on charges related to auto theft and perjury. He was fired from the department in January. ow.ly/Jo0k6
  • Houston, Texas: An officer was arrested for shoplifting $60 in ammunition from a sporting goods store. ow.ly/Jo2ap
  • Maricopa, Arizona: A now-former detective pled guilty to fraud and theft for stealing $1,300 from a drug smuggling operation. ow.ly/JoavO
  • Kansas City, Missouri: An officer was indicted for his conduct during a shooting incident in June. He is currently on unpaid leave.  ow.ly/JpLEk

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 02-19-15

Here are the eight reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, February 20, 2015:

  • Kentucky State Police: A now-former trooper faces misconduct and tampering charges. He allegedly pulled over underage girls who he found to be intoxicated and let them drive away. He then pulled them over a second time and initiated inappropriate contact with one of them.  http://ow.ly/JiwQr
  • Houston County, Texas: A deputy was arrested for domestic assault after an altercation with his stepson, who is a minor. ow.ly/JjMJm
  • Update: Ottawa Hills, Ohio (First reported 02-07-14): A now-former officer who had been convicted of shooting and paralyzing a motorcyclist will get a new trial. He had been sentenced to ten years, in part because of the use of the gun in the incident. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the law was not written to apply to police officers who were acting against someone they thought was armed. ow.ly/Jko27
  • New York, New York: A now-former officer was sentenced to two years and four months in prison for credit card fraud and identity theft. The officer provided a confidential informant with someone else’s name and driver’s license number. ow.ly/JkAmJ
  • Update: Shreveport, Louisiana (First reported 02-13-15): The corporal that was suspended for policy violations last week was arrested for aggravated rape and intimidation. The incident allegedly happened at the police station. ow.ly/JkEdp
  • Greensburg, Indiana: The now-former police chief admitted to stealing $70,000 in cash from evidence seized for criminal cases.  ow.ly/JkUhf
  • Washoe County, Nevada: A deputy was indicted for having sex with a detention center inmate. ow.ly/JkXBj
  • Update: Orlando, Florida (First reported 07-10-14): An officer was fired for excessive force. He attacked a handcuffed man who was facedown on the ground, contrary to the officer’s statements. He had been charged with assault and perjury, but the charges were later dropped. According to the news report, the victim has filed a lawsuit against the city. ow.ly/Jlebp

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 02-18-15

Here are the nine reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, February 18, 2015:

  • Broward County, Florida: A now-former deputy was sentenced to five years in prison for coercing undocumented immigrants to have sex with him. As part of the plea deal, he will not have to be placed on the sex offender registry. ow.ly/JfOww
  • Update: Marysville, California: An officer was convicted of repeatedly molesting a teenager in the 1990s. His employment with the department was terminated upon his conviction. http://ow.ly/JfSMe
  • Update: New Orleans, Louisiana (First reported 04-25-14): An officer was acquitted of a domestic violence charge. http://ow.ly/JfUIU
  • New York, New York: An officer was arrested for punching a woman while he was off duty. ow.ly/JfX5a
  • Albany, Georgia: A woman filed a lawsuit alleging that her arresting officer was too violent when she was arrested at the jail. The suit also claims that the subsequent denial of medical treatment for the night she was held in the jail contributed to her miscarriage. ow.ly/JgPxL
  • Daytona Beach, Florida: An officer was arrested for groping a suspect during her arrest. http://ow.ly/Jhb6w
  • Owasso, Oklahoma: The City agreed to pay $280,000 in back pay to an officer fired for excessive force who was subsequently reinstated by an arbitrator. ow.ly/Jhe32
  • Lubbock, Texas: An officer was arrested for hiring a prostitute while he was off duty. ow.ly/Jhf2Y
  • Update: Waupun, Wisconsin: A now-former officer pled no contest to one count of burglary in each of seven counties.  The prosecutor recommended the former officer be sentenced to a maximum of ten years in exchange for the plea. The former officer had been accused of over 60 robberies and other offenses during his crime spree.  ow.ly/JhKMU

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 02-14-15 to 02-17-15

Here are the nine reports of police misconduct reported for Saturday, February 14 through Tuesday, February 17, 2015:

  • Update: Lafayette, Indiana (First reported 07-03-14): The city and an officer face an amended federal lawsuit alleging officer pushed over a man in a wheelchair and conducted an illegal search. ow.ly/JafQl
  • Update: Louisville, Kentucky (First reported 09-09-14): A suspended officer was acquitted of assault for kicking a handcuffed suspect. The department’s internal investigation is ongoing. http://ow.ly/Jai2k
  • Broward County, Florida: A now-former deputy was acquitted of tampering. He was accused of interfering in a separate racketeering case against Ft. Lauderdale detectives. http://ow.ly/Jakqf
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota: The City settled a $140,000 lawsuit alleging an officer choked a high school senior. http://ow.ly/Jalpe
  • Update: Rothschild, Wisconsin (First reported 10-08-14): An officer pled not guilty in sexual assault case. He has resigned from the department. http://ow.ly/Jc9mE
  • Update: New York, New York (First reported 09-19-14): A vendor that was seen on video being kicked by a now-suspended officer at a street fair finally had his resisting arrest charges dropped. http://ow.ly/JchCq
  • Update: Nassau County, New York (Last reported 05-06-14): A grand jury did not indict a now-former officer for shooting and wounding an unarmed cab driver after a night of drinking. According to the news report, key witnesses were never called to testify before the now-expired grand jury. The officer was fired last year.  http://ow.ly/JcC6y
  • Albuquerque, New Mexico: An officer was arrested for assaulting his 12-year-old stepson. http://ow.ly/JcQrf
  • New York State Police: A trooper was arrested for DWI in Lockport. He was pulled over for speeding and failing to yield to an emergency vehicle.  http://ow.ly/JcWGv

Problems in Cleveland

From Cleveland.com:

The U.S. Department of Justice issued a scathing report in December, claiming that the Cleveland Police Department routinely violated citizens’ civil rights. But taxpayers already had been paying a heavy price: more than $8.2 million to resolve lawsuits that accused officers of brutality, misconduct or making wrongful arrests….

In a number of cases, the people who alleged brutality were the ones who called police for help in the first place.  [!!]

More than a year ago, The Plain Dealer and Northeast Ohio Media Group submitted public records requests to the city, in an effort to determine how widespread allegations of misconduct were and how much police behavior was costing the city. The records were turned over on the eve of the Justice Department’s release of its report….

Mayor Frank Jackson says the settlements don’t prove any pattern of police conduct. They don’t even mean officers were at fault for wrongdoing, officials have said.
But viewed as a whole, the details show that high-level city officials were, or should have been, on notice about allegations that officers too often used excessive force, escalated confrontations and needlessly disrespected citizens in the community they were hired to serve.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 02-13-15

Here are the eight reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, February 13, 2015:

  • Update: Madison, Alabama (First reported 02-11-15): The officer who seriously injured a 57-year-old Indian national has been fired and arrested for the incident. A video of the violent encounter has been released.  ow.ly/J0bZm
  • Lakeside, Colorado: A man was put in handcuffs and had his phone seized for recording a shoplifting arrest. ow.ly/IXGAC
  • Pasco, Washington: Three officers were placed on leave after one or more of them fatally shot a man throwing rocks into traffic. Video of the incident appears to show the suspect running away when he was shot. ow.ly/J0U8l
  • Mansfield, Ohio: An officer was indicted on 40 charges, including 25 felonies, related to sexual battery, burglary, and tampering. Seventeen of the counts are for abusing a police database. The initial complaint that led to the investigation alleged the officer offered to destroy criminal evidence in exchange for a sexual favor. The officer has been on leave since late November.  ow.ly/J0tVS
  • Toledo, Ohio: A lieutenant has been charged with obstruction, felonious assault, and tampering. He is accused of conspiring to shoot a witness.  ow.ly/J1vkH
  • Miami-Dade, Florida: A sergeant already on house arrest for lewd conduct was arrested again for child pornography possession—some of which he produced. He was suspended with pay after the first incident in August.  ow.ly/J1IVC
  • Shreveport, Louisiana: An officer was placed on administrative leave during an investigation into unspecified policy violations. ow.ly/J1F0G
  • U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (Montana Vista, TX): An agent who was recently arrested for domestic violence took his estranged wife and another man hostage. He shot the man in the head during a standoff with police before surrendering. ow.ly/J1VB3

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 02-12-15

Here are the eight reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, February 12, 2015:

  • Memphis, Tennessee: An officer was arrested for DUI after causing accident that caused two cars to flip over. Remarkably, no injuries were reported. ow.ly/IWhvD
  • Webb, Alabama: An officer was arrested for domestic violence.ow.ly/IWhYH
  • Flower Mound, Texas: An officer was arrested and charged with felony DWI. She was driving 77mph in a 35mph zone with her 6-yr-old in front seat. ow.ly/IWiTE
  • Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: An officer was charged with DUI and an open container violation after crashing his truck into a ditch. ow.ly/IWSMS
  • Carencro, Louisiana: A now-former officer was indicted for extortion, illegally using a government database, and lying to federal agents. He is alleged to have taken money in exchange for allowing prostitution at a gentlemen’s club.  ow.ly/IX0OA
  • Williamson County, Texas: A sheriff’s detective was arrested for falsifying government documents. He allegedly lied on his timesheets and was working another job when he was claimed to be on duty. ow.ly/IXd5e
  • Update: Wewoka, Oklahoma (First reported 10-01-14): A now-former officer was sentenced to five years in prison for raping a 15-year-old girl who had been enrolled in the department’s police explorer program. ow.ly/IXgbO
  • Update: Bayonne, New Jersey (First reported 01-26-15): An officer already indicted for brutality faces new charges, including embezzlement from United States government. ow.ly/IXhX3

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