National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

Is There a Connection Between Police Unions and Abusive Cops?

Conor Friedersdorf:

There are, of course, police officers who are fired for egregious misbehavior by commanding officers who decide that a given abuse makes them unfit for a badge and gun. Yet all over the U.S., police unions help many of those cops to get their jobs back, often via secretive appeals geared to protect labor rights rather than public safety. Cops deemed unqualified by their own bosses are put back on the streets. Their colleagues get the message that police all but impervious to termination.

That isn’t to say that every officer who is fired deserves it, or that every reinstated cop represents a miscarriage of justice. In theory, due process before a neutral arbiter could even protect blue whistleblowers from wrongful termination. But in practice, too many cops who needlessly kill people, use excessive force, or otherwise abuse their authority are getting reprieves from termination….

Society entrusts police officers with awesome power. The stakes could not be higher when they abuse it: Innocents are killed, wrongly imprisoned, beaten, harassed—and as knowledge of such abuses spreads, respect for the rule of law wanes. If police officers were at-will employees (as I’ve been at every job I’ve ever held), none of the cops mentioned above would now be walking the streets with badges and loaded guns. Perhaps one or two of them deserved to be exonerated, despite how bad their cases look. Does the benefit of being scrupulously fair to those individuals justify the cost of having more abusive cops on the street?

Read the whole thing.

Problems with the Border Patrol

From the Washington Post:

FEW FEDERAL government agencies have grown as quickly as U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which includes the 21,000 agents, double the number in 2004, who patrol the nation’s frontiers with Mexico and Canada. That growth has been accompanied by an alarming number of incidents involving the use of lethal force, particularly along the Mexican border and all too frequently under circumstances that suggest the agency is indifferent or hostile to the most basic standards of restraint, transparency and self-policing.

Reports by news organizations and independent experts — including one report that was suppressed by Customs and Border Protection for more than a year — have finally prompted the agency to address its problems with accountability. The agency’s new commissioner, R. Gil Kerlikowske …has promised that the agency will be more forthcoming about future incidents involving the use of deadly force, which would be a constructive change from its deeply ingrained habit of stonewalling. To that end he is establishing a rapid-reaction force of investigators whose mission will be to gather evidence following incidents and allegations of abuse.

Vice President Biden and the Police

According to news reports, three White House officials will be attending the funeral for Michael Brown today.  Vice President Joe Biden will not be attending and that is no surprise.   Why?  Because the Brown family has been demanding a vigorous, impartial investigation into the shooting and Biden is fond of saying that he “has the back” of the police force.  Biden’s presence would be awkward, to say the least.

Here is a clip where Biden is urging a police audience to get behind President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor.

Biden has kept a low profile since the unrest began in Ferguson–and no wonder.   The last thing protesters there want to hear is that the White House “has the back” of the police.   Indeed, that’s why there is so much concern about the local county prosecutor who is handling the investigation and why there have been calls for Governor Nixon to appoint a special prosecutor.  A special prosecutor would be more likely to follow the evidence impartially.

Beyond the Brown shooting, we have seen other abuses by the police there.  The false arrest of reporters, the tear gas rounds fired into the yards of homes, and the reckless weapon handling by officers against protestors.   One wonders if Biden has been on the phone to Obama … saying the administration’s approach thus far has been all wrong… It should “have the back” of the police–not the reporters, the residents, the protesters.

Beyond Ferguson, African-Americans (and others) have been protesting in other cities.  On Saturday, thousands of New Yorkers turned out to protest the killing of Eric Garner by New York City police.   Other cities have other incidents to relate.

Make no mistake, Biden has been part of the problem.  The long simmering tensions in communities around the country did not spring out of nowhere.  Misguided policies and unaccountable bureaucracies bear much of the blame.  And so do powerful politicians like Biden, who have been deaf to the cries of police abuse and harassment.

 

Cop Overturns Man in Wheelchair

From Wane.com:

[Police Chief Patrick] Flannelly said after an internal review of the incident, he and six other members of the command staff unanimously felt Davidson used both conduct unbecoming an officer and an excessive use of force and should be fired….Flannelly said he still has full confidence in Davidson’s abilities.

Hmm.

More from Wane.com:

Flannelly said an electronic malfunction delayed the review of the case by about three months, but did not affect the outcome.

Electronic malfunction?  Hmm.

Cleveland Officers to be Prosecuted for Barrage of Gunfire

From Cleveland.com:

CLEVELAND, Ohio — A Cuyahoga County grand jury Friday indicted six Cleveland police officers for their roles in a 2012 police chase and shooting that left two people dead and carved deep schisms into the community. The grand jury charged Patrolman Michael Brelo with two counts of voluntary manslaughter, a first-degree felony. The panel also accused five supervisors of dereliction of duty…

On Friday, McGinty said that after officers fired more than 100 shots at the car, Brelo started shooting again and fired at least 15 shots, including fatal ones, downward through the windshield into the victims at close range as he stood on the hood of Russell’s car.

“This was now a stop-and-shoot, no longer a chase-and-shoot,” McGinty said. “The law does not allow for a stop-and-shoot.” …

“Let’s be clear what happened here,” McGinty said about the case. “(Russell) was fully stopped. Escape was no longer even a remote possibility. The flight was over. The public was no longer in danger because the car was surrounded by police cars and 23 police officers in a schoolyard safely removed from pedestrians and traffic.

Deputy Crashes into Woman’s Car, Then Falsely Charges Her With DUI

 

From UPI:

A Wisconsin woman is still fighting to make things right after a sheriff’s deputy allegedly hit her with his car and then arrested her for drunk driving more than a year ago.

Tanya Weyker’s Camry was allegedly struck by Milwaukee County Deputy Sheriff Joseph Quiles’ patrol car last February and she suffered a broken neck in the collision….

Blood tests later revealed that Weyker had no alcohol or drugs in her system at the time of the crash and the district attorney declined to file charges.

Double Standard for Shootings

From the Star-Tribune:

An Albuquerque police official says investigators waited more than 48 hours before they interviewed the officer involved in the troubled department’s latest shooting.  Deputy Chief Robert Huntsman tells KOB-TV (http://bit.ly/1pz2JzK ) there were several reasons for the delay in interviewing the officer who killed 19-year-old Mary Hawkes on Monday…. the department likes to give officers time to de-stress after a shooting.

If John Q. Citizen uses a gun in self-defense, the police do not give him/her a few days to “de-stress.”  Shouldn’t the police be held to the same, or perhaps even a higher standard?

Peculiar Police Ticketing

From NBC 10 News:

Months after the NBC 10 I-Team revealed a parking ticket blitz in Cranston, Mayor Allan Fung on Thursday called for the firing of one of the city’s top police officers.

“Today we are announcing a recommendation, that is a recommendation of termination for Cranston Police Capt. Stephen Antonucci,” Fung said.

Fung said a state police investigation found it was Capt. Stephen Antonucci who ordered patrol officers to hand out more than 100 parking tickets.

All of the tickets were handed out in wards 1 and 3 after those council members voted against a new police contract.

Hmm.

Chicago Spends Hundred of Millions on Police Misconduct Cases

From the Chicago Sun Times:

Over the past decade, the City of Chicago has spent more than $500 million on police-related settlements, judgments, legal fees and other costs — raising new questions about the adequacy of training and oversight in the Chicago Police Department, according to a review by the Better Government Association.

In 2013 alone, the city shelled out $84.6 million — the largest annual payout in the decade analyzed by the BGA, and more than triple the $27.3 million the city had initially projected to spend last year….

In all, the BGA found more than $521.3 million has been spent to handle police misconduct-related lawsuits from 2004 to the present day. The true cost, though, is even higher, as the BGA counted settlements and judgments, legal bills and other fees — but not less tangible expenses related to, say, insurance premiums, investigators and the cost of incarcerating innocents.

In all, the BGA found 1,611 misconduct-related lawsuits had been filed against Chicago police from 2009 to 2013, a majority alleging excessive force.

A Fundraiser for Corrupt Police?

From ABC.Local:

Some San Francisco police officers are coming to the aid of five fellow cops who were recently suspended without pay after being indicted on fed corruption charges.

Martin Halloran, the head of the Police Officers Association, talked with us exclusively about the fundraisers planned to help five fellow cops who are no longer collecting paychecks following federal indictments.

“They have mortgages and car payments just like everyone else,” Halloran said.

Hmm.