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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Police Misconduct NewsWatch for 01-29-09

Picture taken outside of the US Federal Courthouse in Seattle Washington

First, A Confession...
I've been busy... so busy in fact that the quality of the posts I've been putting up have really been lacking... for that, I apologize. I put them up without really reading over them for a final edit since I'm always rushed, and that doesn't do what I'm trying to do with this site any justice.

So, in an effort to do a better job, I'm asking for your input on how I can do better, just take our poll on the sidebar or send me a note about what else I can do to support victims of misconduct and help reduce police misconduct in Seattle and the US.

...and Some Clarification
I just wanted to make it clear that my intent in this article I posted a few days ago wasn't to boast that I was right all along, but to point out that if I, with my limited time and resources, was able to spot the assault by officer Pirone on Oscar Grant in a video released to the public on 01/06/09 when I did that analysis of that video on 01/11/09... then it is certain that BART PD, Oakland PD, and DA Orloff's investigators had seen that punch as well with all of the enhanced video equipment and man-hours available to them long before I spotted it.

My point in posting that, ultimately, was that you should seriously question the claims made by those officials when they say the only reason that no other officers have been charge is that they didn't know of the abuse that occurred prior to the shooting.

They knew... they just hoped nobody else noticed it.

BART Tries Yet Another PR Ploy
Speaking of BART... BART officials in Oakland announced that they are looking to turn over the internal investigations into their officer's actions during the New Years shooting of Oscar Grant to an outside agency in order to try and repair the public relations disaster they've created by failing to investigate the shooting by officer Mehserle for a week and then failing to investigate the use of force by officer Pirone for almost a full month, despite video evidence of both being widely distributed publicly just days after the shooting.

Unfortunately, the effectiveness of an externally run investigation still depends on the information, evidence, and testimony gathered (or ignored/destroyed) by BART officers who claimed they had confiscated several video recording devices that night and gathered witness statements that all, somehow magically, did not corroborate with the video evidence the rest of us have already seen.

Wouldn't honesty and a transparent effort to seek justice be a better solution to all this?

Insights on Pick For Civil Rights Division Head
Fellow Police Misconduct/CopWatch blogger Five Before Midnight has some interesting insight on President Barack Obama's pick to head the Department Of Justice's Civil Rights Division in the comments section for the NewsWatch post I made about that decision. I don't know enough about attorney Tony West to really form an opinion, but I really respect her insights on the matter. Go check it out and see what you think.

Missoury Seeks To Hide Police Misconduct From Public
Legislators in Missouri are pressing for a new law, HB62, that would seal police misconduct investigation records from the public. The bill, sponsors say, is to protect the reputation of officers, especially those that run for public office, who are accused of misconduct.

Opponents to the bill say that keeping such records open would allow officers to clear their names by being able to show the public the truth in cases where accusations ended up being false and that, ultimately, the bill is just a means to keep misconduct under wraps and to protect misbehaving officers from any accountability.

Dallas Police Chief Fires 4 Officers... Some Were fired Before

The police chief in Dallas Texas has fired 58 officers since he started in 2004, and on Thursday he bumped the number up to 62 by firing 4 officers for incidents ranging from working second jobs while collecting worker's comp to ignoring emergency calls while talking with girlfriends.

The problem? Two of the officers had been fired previously, one of which had been fired from the department twice. How'd they get back on? It's a problem we've talked about in the past and one that infuriates chiefs who try to fix misconduct problems... that being the review boards that officers can appeal to in order to get disciplinary actions overturned.

Most review boards are loaded with ex-cops and tend to favor officers, often overturning even egregious cases of misconduct that endangers the public not only by returning bad officers to work, but by proving to them that there are no consequences for bad behavior.

How many times do I have to say it, there are two justice systems in the US, one for cops and one for the rest of us.

NYC Questions Why NYPD Refuses To Prosecute Their Own
As noted previously, complaints against police officers in New York City have risen, but the number of disciplinary actions and prosecutions against those officers have declined. In fact, out of 2,200 complaints only 161 were found substantiated and of those, only 70 were actually followed up on.

City council members are convening hearings to discuss the problem with the NYPD's refusal to pursue cases documented by the Civilian Complaint Review Board and hear arguments from the Civil Liberties Union that a civilian review panel should take over handling of sustained complaints.

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