National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

When the Commanders Order Cops to Cover It All Up

When police officers report police misconduct, is that free speech protected by the Constitution?  Or can they be punished because they went outside of the chain of command?  Does it make any difference if the commanders ordered a coverup of wrongdoing?

A former police officer filed a lawsuit that claimed he was fired because he tried to do something about misconduct that he witnessed.

From the Los Angeles Times:

“It is relevant to the resolution of Dahlia’s case that Dahlia disclosed misconduct to LASD in contravention of the numerous threats and admonitions from his superiors not to reveal the misconduct to anyone,” wrote Judge Richard A. Paez, a President Clinton appointee. “He defied, rather than followed, his supervisors’ orders.”

Dahlia alleged that he witnessed other officers physically abuse suspects who were taken into custody during a high-profile robbery probe that began in late 2007. He said he saw a lieutenant grab a suspect by the throat, put a gun under his eye and threaten him.

Dahlia also reported that he heard yelling and the sound of somebody being hit and slapped in a room where a sergeant was interviewing a suspect.

When Dahlia reported what he had allegedly witnessed to a superior, the lieutenant told him to stop his “sniveling,” he said. Dahlia said he also was ordered not to tell internal affairs officers about what he had seen.

“The physical beatings continued in BPD interview rooms and in the field, evidenced by the booking photos of various suspects,” the court said.

Police Exempt from Red Light Cameras?

From the DemocratandChronicle.com:

Over the past 18 months, city of Rochester employees have committed at least 119 red light violations while driving city vehicles, records show.

But while employees can be disciplined for the violation, “payment of the related fine will not be required,” according to a newly adopted city procedure for handling the violations.

One-third of the infractions were by police department vehicles, including one driven by Police Chief James Sheppard. These are not instances where squad cars are going through intersections with lights and sirens blaring.

H/T:  Drudge Report

Police Union to Police Chief: ‘We’re just going to kick your butt anyways, like we always have’

From the Oregonian:

In the past three decades, Portland police chiefs have fired officers who were convicted of driving drunk off duty, leaving dead animals outside a black-owned business, and selling “Smoke ‘Em, Don’t Choke ‘Em” T-shirts to officers after a man died in police custody from a neck hold.

The chiefs had to bring them all back.

More recently, an arbitrator overturned the firing of Officer Ron Frashour for fatally shooting an unarmed man in the back; the 80-hour suspensions for Officer Chris Humphreys and Sgt. Kyle Nice following the death of James P. Chasse Jr.; and the 900-hour suspension of Officer Scott McCollister for his actions leading up tohis fatal shooting of Kendra James.

So just what does it take to discipline a Portland police officer?

Frankly, if push comes to shove and it goes to arbitration, you can’t do it.

10 Days in the Police Academy, 14 Years on Disability

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Barnes is one of two officers collecting disability because of injuries sustained while still in the police academy.

The other, Michael Terrano, injured a knee 17 years ago, underwent surgery, then refused to return to work and was fired.

Despite that, he is getting disability checks that so far have totaled more than $560,000.

Terrano is also in business. He recently was part of a company hoping to sell medical marijuana in Arizona.

Of all the Chicago cops on disability leave, Barnes spent the least amount of time on the job — those 10 days in the police academy, which he entered six months before his father retired from the police department.

Despite not making it through two weeks at the academy, Barnes stands to collect a total of at least $1.2 million from the city’s police pension fund.

He can keep collecting his annual disability payment — which now stands at $46,343 and which will increase as the salary for an entry-level patrolman goes up — until he reaches mandatory retirement at age 63. Then, he can retire with a full police pension — based on all of his years as a disabled officer.

 

‘She was more afraid of the police’

Opinion column from the New York Times:

I MET her at 2 a.m. on a cold and windy morning in Washington, when she ran over to the outreach van to get a warm cup of coffee. Volunteers were offering condoms and health information to sex workers. She took only two condoms, and I urged her to take more. She told me that although she was worried about H.I.V., she was more afraid of the police. A month earlier, she had been harassed by officers for carrying several condoms. They told her to throw them out. She thought if they picked her up with more than a couple of condoms again, she might be taken to jail on prostitution charges.

Her story is not unique. Over the last eight months, Human Rights Watch has interviewed more than 200 current and former sex workers in New York, Los Angeles, Washington and San Francisco. The interviews were part of an investigation into barriers to H.I.V. prevention for sex workers, who, worldwide, are more than 10 times as likely to be infected as the general population. What we found was shocking: While public health departments spend millions of dollars promoting and distributing condoms, police departments are harassing sex workers for carrying them and using them as evidence to support arrests.

Many of the women we interviewed asked, “How many condoms is it legal to carry?” One wondered,  “Why is the city giving me condoms when I can’t carry them without going to jail?”  Some women said they continued to carry condoms despite the consequences. For others, fear of arrest trumped fears of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. Most of those we interviewed told us they were afraid to carry the number of condoms they needed, and some – about 5 percent – told us they had unprotected sex with clients as a result.

Police officers confiscate condoms and prosecutors try to enter them as evidence not because it is official policy to do so, but simply because they have not been trained to do otherwise. An act of the legislature (like one bill pending in the New York State Assembly), or even a directive from a police chief or district attorney, could end the practice immediately. Categories of evidence – like testimony regarding the sexual history of rape victims – are excluded as a matter of public policy in many legal systems. In this case, the value of condoms for H.I.V. and disease prevention far outweighs any utility they might have in the enforcement of anti-prostitution laws. Law enforcement efforts should not interfere with the right of anyone, including sex workers, to protect his or her own health.

Later this month, the 19th International AIDS Conference will be held in Washington. The United States’ response to the epidemic will be in the spotlight; it is an opportunity for our government to announce new policies that protect those at risk of H.I.V. infection and to eliminate those that undermine prevention. Police and public health officials both seek to protect individuals and make our communities safer. They can – and should –  work together to keep condoms in the hands of those who need them the most.

When “Just Following Procedure” is a Crime Under the Color of Law

From the Orlando Sentinel:

Officials stood by two Casselberry officers who tased a man three times after he refused to show them his identification.

“They followed procedure. They followed the law,” spokeswoman Sara Brady said Thursday.

Zikomo Peurifoy, 25, of Casselberry was riding his bicycle Saturday at 5:14 p.m. across State Road 436 with Noelle Price, 27, of Casselberry when they were stopped by two officers who said they were jaywalking.

Saying he did nothing wrong, he accused the officers of making a false arrest, police said.

After his continued denial, one officer tased Peurifoy several times. When he was finally subdued, the arrest affidavit says, the officers searched him and found a loaded handgun on his waistband that “was easily accessible at any time during our encounter.”

Peurifoy had a permit for the weapon and never reached for it in the tussle. Police said Price had a small knife, brass knuckles and an unloaded gun, found when the two were brought to the Seminole County Jail.

Police officers must get used to people complying with their requests day in and day out–so some officers overreact when they encounter a citizen who just refuses, say, a request for ID.  This appears to be a outrageous overreaction by the police–indeed a crime

For additional background on identification demands by the police, go here and here.  Also, check out the Know Your Rights video featured on the home page above.  Btw,  it’s always a good day to blast that video out to friends, message boards, etc  — so please remember that.

Police and Prosecutorial Misconduct in Texas

From the Dallas Observer:

He stood, encircled by reporters. After some thank yous, he lit the fuse: “I want to say that me and my lawyer, Cheryl Wattley, we’ll make a formal complaint against Thomas D’Amore for prosecutorial misconduct,” Miles said, referring to the lawyer who prosecuted him. “My life was taken because of malicious acts by a prosecutor. I can’t just let that go by.”

As he spoke, several of the 33 innocent men freed in recent years by Dallas County watched from the gallery, dressed as if for mass. At least seven of their cases had contained “official misconduct,” mostly exculpatory evidence that wasn’t disclosed to defense lawyers, according to Michigan and Northwestern University’s National Registry of Exonerations. Misconduct contributes to 42 percent of exoneration cases nationally, those researchers say.

It’s a problem that’s had a particularly profound effect in Texas. In 91 criminal cases between 2004 and 2008, Texas courts found that prosecutors withheld evidence, made improper arguments or committed other misconduct, according to a report by Veritas Initiative, part of a national Prosecutorial Oversight coalition. But only one prosecutor was disciplined in that time period by the State Bar of Texas. (His license was suspended for two years.)

As Miles and his fellow exonerees know well, prosecutors are virtually immune from accountability. They’re protected from civil action, and the statute of limitations for prosecuting them generally runs out before a prisoner even goes free. Miles could file a grievance with the State Bar, the organization charged with attorney discipline. But there’s a statute of limitations on those complaints, too….

“It’s a prosecutor’s responsibility to never fabricate evidence or manipulate witnesses or take advantage of victims,” Siegler told reporters in dismissing [another] case, according to Texas Monthly. “And unfortunately, what happened in this case is all of those things.”

H/T:  Grits for Breakfast

German Bosque ‘Joked About His Record of Misconduct’

From the Miami Herald:

He has been accused of cracking the head of a handcuffed suspect, beating juveniles, hiding drugs in his police car, stealing from suspects, defying direct orders and lying and falsifying police reports. He once called in sick to take a vacation to Cancún and has engaged in a rash of unauthorized police chases, including one in which four people were killed.

Arrested and jailed three times, Bosque, 48, has been fired at least six times. Now under suspension pending yet another investigation into misconduct, Bosque stays home and collects his $60,000-a-year paycheck for doing nothing.

The Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association has successfully fought Bosque’s dismissals.

Study Finds Crime Report Manipulation in NYPD

From today’s New York Times:

An anonymous survey of nearly 2,000 retired officers found that the manipulation of crime reports — downgrading crimes to lesser offenses and discouraging victims from filing complaints to make crime statistics look better — has long been part of the culture of the New York Police Department….

The survey, conducted earlier this year, was financed by Molloy College. Dr. Eterno and Dr. Silverman e-mailed a questionnaire to 4,069 former officers who had retired since 1941. Roughly 48 percent — 1,962 retired officers of all ranks — responded.

The respondents ranged from chiefs and inspectors to sergeants and detectives. About 44 percent, or 871, had retired since 2002. More than half of those recent retirees said they had “personal knowledge” of crime-report manipulation, according to the summary, and within that group, more than 80 percent said they knew of three or more instances in which officers or their superiors rewrote a crime report to downgrade the offense or intentionally failed to take a complaint alleging a crime.

The questionnaire did not ask for specific examples, but it did invite respondents to comment. The summary included remarks from six former officers, but did not indicate their ranks.

One officer, who retired in 2005, wrote that he heard a deputy commissioner say in a “pre-CompStat meeting” that a commanding officer “should just consolidate burglaries that occurred in an apartment building and count as one.”

“Also not to count leap-year stats.”

Another respondent, who retired in 2008, wrote, “Assault becomes harassment, robbery becomes grand larceny, grand larceny becomes petit larceny, burglary becomes criminal trespass.”

NYPD Officials deny widespread manipulation and say there are problems with this study.

 

A Survey on How Cities and Counties Handle Police Oversight

From the Connection Newspapers:

The National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement supports member cities and counties with citizen police oversight functions. Its U.S. membership is approximately 100 organizational and individual members and growing. The association exists to provide a means for technical support to requesting cities and counties, share information among its membership, and to annually meet to conduct seminars and workshops to advance the professionalism of police-community relations and police citizen oversight.

A review of the NACOLE membership demonstrates a varying array of citizen review organizational models, authorities and functions, ranging from some with subpoena power and authority to access police incident reports, to other purely advisory and no authority to compel reports, convene hearings, or conduct independent investigations. A typical model includes citizen oversight participation independent of the police department.

Radley Balko has a related post here.