National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

Officer Involved Domestic Violence

From PBS Frontline:

Domestic violence is one of law enforcement’s most challenging crimes. It’s vastly underreported, dangerous and difficult to prosecute, with repercussions that extend far beyond the two parties involved. The perils only deepen when the abuser comes from within the law enforcement family — armed with training, weapons and the community’s trust.“You get that kind of a character in a badge, you got a real problem,” said Mark Wynn, a veteran police officer who trains departments on officer-involved domestic violence. “When you train someone to be a cop, you train them to challenge when confronted. …You train them to [use] fighting skills that no one else has. …You teach them all these skills, and then you add all of that to someone who is violent, you’ve got a lethal combination on your hands.”A nine-month investigation by FRONTLINE and The New York Times found that law enforcement often downplays domestic violence allegations in their own ranks, letting abusers remain on their beats and victims fall through the cracks of the criminal justice system.  Interviews with former prosecutors, judges and officers, and a review of police and court records show that most departments lack policies to deal with the problem, and harbor a general perception that OIDV isn’t as serious as other crimes. It’s an attitude that extends beyond law enforcement into the courtroom, where prosecutors and judges also play a role in failing to hold offenders accountable.“In many areas of law enforcement in general, we’ve been moving with jet-like speed,” said David Thomas, a 15-year veteran of the Montgomery County, Md. police department and domestic violence educator. “But with respect to violence against women and in particular OIDV, we’re still moving at a horse-and-buggy pace.”

Check your local listings to see the documentary film, A Death in St Augustine.

Houston Parking Enforcement Officer Gets the Boot

From Yahoo:

He was supposed to dole out tickets and make sure drivers were sticking to parking rules. But instead, one Houston parking enforcement agent broke the rules he was meant to enforce, getting fired this week after parking illegally in a handicapped spot and cursing at the fed-up civilian who filmed him in action.

“Like with any organization, there are some hires that work out and some that don’t,” Christopher Newport, deputy director of city parking management for Houston tells Yahoo Shine, confirming on Wednesday that the agent in question had been let go “as of yesterday morning.” And it was not his choice of parking spots that was the worst offense, Newport adds, but “his response,” which included the use of an expletive, despite knowing he was being filmed at the time. “If that’s how you make decisions, I don’t think we want you working for us,” says Newport.

Brian Moya, head of an online real estate company, filmed the unnamed parking agent pulling his city vehicle out of the spot and immediately uploaded the video to YouTube. He then called Newport’s office to log an official complaint.

Cato and Flex Your Rights are quoted later in the article.

Civilian Oversight

From the Washington Post:

Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler regularly ordered state troopers assigned to drive him to turn on the lights and sirens on the way to routine appointments, directing them to speed, run red lights and bypass traffic jams by using the shoulder, according to written accounts by the Maryland State Police.When troopers refused to activate the emergency equipment, Gansler, now a Democratic candidate for governor, often flipped the switches himself, according to the police accounts. And on occasion, he became so impatient that he insisted on driving, directing the trooper to the passenger’s seat. Gansler once ran four red lights with sirens blaring, a trooper wrote. Another account said he “brags” about driving the vehicle unaccompanied on weekends with the sirens on.“This extremely irresponsible behavior is non-stop and occurs on a daily basis,” Lt. Charles Ardolini, commander of the state police executive protection section, wrote in a December 2011 memo that said the problem had existed for five years. “Attorney General Gansler has consistently acted in a way that disregards public safety, our Troopers safety and even the law.”

Attorney General Gansler is one of the key officials that Maryland residents depend upon to oversee problems relating to police misconduct.   Hmm.

To give credit where it is due, good for the state police for not playing along with politician misconduct.

And the governor played it straight as well:

Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) was briefed, aides said, and authorized the police to take whatever corrective action they deemed necessary, including revoking Gansler’s transportation services.

Mr. O’Malley also seems to put up with traffic jams just like the rest of us.

Related item here.

20/20 Sets Up Speed Trap for Police Cars

An ABC News Crew from 20/20  set up a speed trap for police vehicles in North Carolina.

They filmed cops speeding all around town for non-emergency situations.

One of the speeders turns out to be a driving instructor for the police academy.

Question: Do you think the findings would be all that different in other states? If not, what would that tell us?

Mackala Ross and Delores Epps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Former Memphis police officer Alex Beard was speeding to a call with no siren when he rammed into a car, killing 13-year-old Mackala Ross and her mother, Delores Epps, age 53.  Mackala’s father, Michael Ross, was severely injured, but survived the crash.

This week the former officer was offered a plea deal by prosecutors: six months in jail.  Mr. Ross said the sentence was like a “slap in my face.”

The prosecutor said “this was the best that could be done.”   Hmm.

The above photo is Mackala’s school locker where her classmates made a little memorial.

The Julian Dawkins Case

From the Washington Post:

According to police, Dawkins, 22, a shuttle driver for the “PBS NewsHour,” was fatally shot by an off-duty Arlington County sheriff’s deputy. Family members say they are still struggling to understand why.

“He was a working guy. Didn’t bother nobody,” said Curtis Dawkins, Julian Dawkins’s father. “It’s just so sad and senseless that these things had to occur.”

The officer was interviewed, but not charged.  Police declined to offer details about the incident.

Update:  Questions

How Many DUIs Will It Take?

From Jacksonville.com:

A 40-year-old Jacksonville police officer with a history of DUIs since her 2004 hire was charged Tuesday with five counts of driving under the influence causing damage as well as multiple hit-and-runs, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Diana Laura Jones, who was off duty, also was cited with reckless driving after officers found her in her truck eating a hamburger after three cars were hit in an Atlantic Boulevard parking lot and another on Hodges Boulevard, according to her arrest report.

Undersheriff Dwain Senterfitt said he had fired Jones after a DUI investigation in 2011, but an arbitrator reinstated her. Senterfitt said he is frustrated she was rehired and is now under investigation a third time

 

New Orleans Cops Caught on Tape

The police commander says he saw no wrongdoing in the video. Hmm.

A few questions:

1. What would have happened if the young man’s mother had not arrived so quickly?
2. What would have happened if she had not been a police officer herself?
3. What would happen if these undercover officers tried to swarm on a person who was carrying a firearm? The police often remind us that they must make split-second decisions. True.  But note that this tactic gives the citizen only a split second to decide if he’s being attacked by thugs or whether it’s a police stop.
4. The other day a columnist at the Wall Street Journal heaped praise on the stop and frisk tactics of the New York City Police Department. He said the police have an “uncanny” ability to discern who is carrying a gun. He is looking at paper statistics and gets a warped view of what’s actually happening out there. Consider two scenarios.  (A) The police swarm on someone. If they find a handgun, they take him downtown–paperwork shows arrest and gun confiscated. (B) How many times do the police swarm on a person, no gun is found, and the police just walk away as above? No paperwork on that (usually).  From the paper records, it is as if frightening incidents like this never even happened.

What if they happen a lot? What then?

Police Officer Shoots a Trainee

From the Baltimore Sun:

According to sources familiar with the investigation, Kern was at the Rosewood Center for a training exercise when recruits peered through a window from another room. He playfully pointed a weapon in their direction, the sources said, and did not intend to harm anybody.

The shot struck the trainee — who remained in critical condition Thursday and has not been identified — in the front of the head, and a second officer was injured from broken glass, police have said.

Looks like an accident, not a (real) crime.  Should he still be a trainer?  Still be a cop? Probably not, but let the investigation proceed and let his full record be taken into account as higher-ups decide how to handle the incident.

But let’s consider how an ordinary citizen would be treated under similar circumstances.  Let’s say an NRA instructor had been “playing around,” picked up a loaded weapon, and accidently fired at some spectators during a training session.  Would reckless endangerment charges be brought?

If a Virginia gun owner drove into Washington,DC and forgot that his rifle was still in the trunk from his time at the shooting range over the previous weekend, DC prosecutors would bring charges if the gun was discovered during a traffic stop.  Even if no one was harmed.  Even if it was an accident.  And even if the owner had a stellar reputation for integrity.

People do get criminal records and go to jail for having unregistered guns (no one hurt).    The “universal background check” sounds nice, but it means that if one hunting buddy tells another “Hey, I’ll give you $300 for that shotgun you never use anymore” and the other says “You’re right. I don’t use it much anymore and I could use that money to fix a problem on the house.  Here you go.”   Federal crime–”unauthorized transfer.”   Recently, here in DC, a man saved the life of a boy who was being attacked by pit bulls.  The man saw what was going on, ran into his house, got his gun, ran back out and shot one of the dogs.  That man saved a life and instead of being praised, he’s under criminal investigation.