National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

NY Cop Frames Two Men on Drug Charges; Makes Up a Story

From the New York Daily News:

A city housing cop was convicted Wednesday of falsifying reports in a 2012 drug bust after prosecutors confronted him with a smoking-gun video that proved he was lying.

A Manhattan Supreme Court jury found NYPD Officer Isaias Alicea, 29, guilty of 10 felony counts of offering false instrument for filing and one misdemeanor charge of official misconduct.

What if there was no videotape?  It would be your word against the police officer.  Who would the judge/jury believe?  Scary.  That’s why vigilance against police misconduct is so important.


 

Undercover Narco Befriends, then Busts, Autistic Teenager

From ABCNews.com:

“Our son was a new kid in August, and this undercover cop befriended him,”  Snodgrass said. On the second day of school, Snodgrass said, Daniel asked the boy to buy drugs. “He asked my son if he could find marijuana for $20,” Snodgrass said. ”Three weeks later my son was able to bring back a half joint he received from a homeless guy.”

Later, Snodgrass said, “he asked to purchase my son’s prescription medication, but our son refused.”

It took the 17-year-old three weeks to procure a half joint of marijuana, according to court documents filed later in Riverside County juvenile court. After he was pressed again by the police officer, the student retrieved another joint for $20, from another homeless man, the documents said.

“During that time, he received more than 60 text messages from this undercover officer,” Snodgrass said. “Our son has a real problem reading social cues and social inferences because of his various disabilities. It would’ve been hard for him to figure to out that he was talking to an undercover officer.”

Snodgrass said his son had been diagnosed with autism, bipolar disorder, Tourette’s syndrome  and various anxiety disorders.

Temecula police arrested Snodgrass’ son, along with 21 other students, on Dec. 11. Snodgrass told ABC News that his son was interrogated, booked and held for two days without having contact with his parents.

Federal Agents Riding to the Rescue to Protect Us

From the Wall Street Journal:

Peter Gleason was a psychiatrist who devoted much of his professional life to caring for what government officials call “underserved populations.” He would have been thrilled to learn that on Dec. 3 in New York, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a ringing opinion that vindicated the conduct for which he was indicted and arrested in 2006.

Unfortunately, Gleason did not live to see this welcome reversal of the federal government’s crusade against him and the promotion of Xyrem—a drug widely used by physicians, including Gleason, to treat a number of medical conditions beyond what the federal Food and Drug Administration approved it for. Hounded for years, he saw his career and finances ruined by the relentless war waged against him by FDA bureaucrats and Justice Department prosecutors. Gleason committed suicide on Feb. 7, 2011.

Harvey Silverglate is a Cato adjunct scholar.

Drug-sniffing Dogs and their Handlers

H/T  Radley Balko at Huffington Post.

Please remember this video the next time someone says, “Well if you have not done anything wrong, you don’t have anything to worry about.”  The officer admits putting illegal narcotics on cars randomly around town–enough to have a dog “alert” to anyone’s car, whether they have ever used drugs or not.  This isn’t an officer “caught on tape.”  The officer readily admits that this is what he does.

To fully appreciate the video above, you should watch this video first.   This victim of police misconduct filed a lawsuit against town and officer.  A year or two later, his attorney gets his opportunity to question the officer in a deposition.  That’s what the above video is all about.

There is a drug detection dog case pending before the Supreme Court this term.  Read the Cato amicus brief in that case to learn more about the law on the matter.

Milton Friedman on the Drug War

100 years ago, the great champion of liberty, Milton Friedman, was born.  Thus, it is  an appropriate day to recall some of his words about the American criminal justice system, particularly the drug war.

 

 

Here is Dr. Friedman’s foreword to my book, After Prohibition:

This book contains revised versions of papers given at a conference on “Beyond Prohibition: An Adult approach to Drug Policies in the 21st Century,” held at the Cato Institute on October 5, 1999. The papers presented range widely over all aspects of current drug policy. The final two chapters record a debate held at the conference on whetherAmerica should legalize drugs.

Whatever your view about that issue, I believe that you cannot read this book without recognizing the social tragedy that has resulted from the attempt to prohibit people from ingesting an arbitrary list of substances designated “illegal drugs.” That list includes marijuana, for which there is no recorded case of human death from overdose in several thousand years of use and which has important medicinal uses, but excludes alcohol, which also has important medicinal uses but for which the annual death toll in theUnited Statesalone is measured in the tens if not hundreds of thousands. Not since the collapse of the attempt to prohibit the ingestion of alcohol has our liberty been in such danger from the misnamed “war on drugs.”

How can there be a war on drugs? Can there be a war on stones, on buildings, on aspirin? Surely, wars are on living, not inanimate, objects. And this war is being waged on people. Like every war, it is being waged in wanton disregard of “Life,Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”-”unalienable rights” with which we are endowed by our Creator, according to the Declaration of Independence.

As a nation, we have been destroying foreign countries because we cannot enforce our own laws. As a nation, we have been responsible for the murder of literally hundreds of thousands of people at home and abroad by fighting a war that should never have been started and can be won, if at all, only by converting theUnited Statesinto a police state. The annual arrest of nearly a million and a half people suspected of a drug offense, most of them for simple possession of small quantities, is frightening evidence of how far along that road we have already gone. So too is the overcrowding of our prisons, despite an unprecedented increase in capacity, leading to the release of persons convicted of violent crimes in order to make room for persons convicted of a drug offense and given minimum required sentences. Minimum required sentences that are sometimes so harsh that at least one judge has resigned rather than be the instrument for imposing cruel and inhumane punishment, and numerous other judges have registered strong protests (see chapter 8). So too is the fact, noted by Nova University law professor Steven Wisotsky, that “law enforcement officials-now joined by the military forces of the United States-have the power, with few limits, to snoop, sniff, survey, and detain, without warrant or probable cause, in the war against drug trafficking. Property may be seized on slight evidence and forfeited to the state or federal government without proof of the personal guilt of the owner….[and] and increasingly imperial federal government has applied intimidating pressures to shop owners and others in the private sector to help implement federal drug policy.

Why is it that laws against the ingestion of a class of substances have proved to be so much greater a threat to our freedom than laws against theft, assault, and murder? The answer is simple. Persons who have been harmed by theft, assault, and murder have a strong incentive to report the crime to law enforcement officials. There is a clear and evident victim. Enforcement of the law is a cooperative enterprise that enlists the assistance of the persons harmed.

By contrast, when a willing seller and a willing buyer transfer a substance that has been designated illegal, no one has an incentive to report what the law in its majesty has declared a crime. NO on has a direct incentive to cooperate with law enforcement officials. Evidence must be obtained in other ways, such as the use of informers-a practice that every totalitarian state has engaged in when it made it a crime to hold or publish the “wrong” beliefs, a crime that willing participants have no incentive to report. The Nazis and the Communists alike encouraged children to spy on and report their parents for “crimes against the state,” and so does the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (see chapter 10).

The lack of anyone who has a direct incentive to report an offense is also the reason drug enforcers are driven to warrantless searches, seizures of property without due process, and all of the other violations of civil liberties that have become so common in the relentless prosecution of the drug war.

The high financial stakes enhance the danger to our liberty. The produce widespread corruption, which requires the use of ever more resources to monitor the monitors, and enable drug dealers to finance armies and arms not obviously inferior to the armies and arms of the drug warriors. Only the well-financed and well-armed drug dealers can survive, with the ironic result that our drug enforcement efforts protect the major drug cartels from competition-more effectively than the OPEC cartel was ever able to protect itself from competition!

Law enforcement agencies are major beneficiaries of the drug war at the same time that law enforcement is a major victim. The agencies benefit from the many billions of dollars spent on pursuing the drug war and from the proceeds of forfeiture, an increasingly attractive and lucrative source of funds. Law enforcement suffers because the attempt to enforce laws against victimless crime breaks the link between law enforcers and the community; widespread corruption engendered by the vast sums at stake destroys the trust between police and public that is essential for the proper enforcement of the law (see chapter 7). Moreover, though total expenditures on law enforcement has increased greatly, so large a fraction goes to the drug war that less is available to enforce the laws against theft, assault and murder.

The Declaration of Independence tells us that “governments are instituted among men” in order “to secure” “certain unalienable rights” and that “whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it.” A nanny government has become destructive of these ends. It is past time that we alter it.

Milton Friedman
Hoover Institute
Stanford, California
September 8, 2000

Ever so slowly, policymakers are starting to come around on this subject.  

Police organizations too!  More here and here

For more info about the legacy of Milton Friedman, check out the Cato Institute home page.