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Packratt@injusticeinseattle.org

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Police Misconduct NewsWatch for 02-05-09

As misconduct reports climb, more people than ever still trust cops.

Before I get into today's news headlines, I just want to say that it's getting harder and harder to keep up with all the reports of police misconduct that are popping up all over the US and abroad. Given that President Obama has pledged to give billions more to police departments without any accountability reform strings attached, the problem is undoubtedly going to get worse... After all, boys with new toys will always try to find some excuse to play with them.

One of the goals of this site is to make people aware that police misconduct does happen, that it happens to everyday innocent people like them, and that it can happen to them too... But it's an uphill climb to convince people of that given that over 75% of the US population believes police officers are inherently trustworthy according to a 2006 Harris Interactive Poll of Trusted Occupations which placed police as ranked 4th behind doctors, teachers, and scientists in a list of most trusted occupations.

It gets frustrating sometimes... but I do the best I can. So, if I miss a story, please let me know at packratt@injusticeinseattle.org or in the comments and I'll try to put it up.

Thank you...

Pierce County Jail Guard Threatens Family In Road Rage Incident
A Pierce County corrections officer has been charged with assault in the second degree for pointing a gun at another car in an apparent road rage incident. In order to try and cover for the act of threatening a family with a 12 year old girl in the car he called 911 and told the operator that the family was ramming his car and might have seen a gun on his dashboard...

The problem was that the family had also called 911 when the Kent Washington Regional Justice Center corrections officer forced their car to stop and pointed a gun at them while holding his corrections officer ID against their window. When police arrived they noticed the guard's car had no marks that would indicate that it had been rammed by the family in the other car.

The guard, Yury Nijnik, has been placed on leave while facing charges and could be fired since he is still in his first year probationary period... otherwise, it would be as difficult to fire him as it is to fire police officers as it would involve rounds of internal investigations, loudermill hearings, appeals to public employement boards, and then court challenges.


Canby Oregon Cop Faces Charges For Buying Steroids While On Duty
Canby Oregon police officer Jason Deason is now facing charges that he illegally purchased steroids and human growth hormones, allegedly 100 pills at a time every month, while on duty. The FBI claims that one of Deason's suppliers admited that he sold to Deason and even gave investigators an order for pills that Deason filled out on Canby police department stationary.

Canby Police Chief Greg Kroeplin has been on paid vacation since November while the city continues to look into allegations that he refused to investigate previous allegations that Deason was on steroids and that he would tip off his suppliers about any planned drug raids.

Federal Chicago Torture Squad Probe Goes Deeper
Federal investigators have widened their probe into Jon Burge's torture squad to include a few of the officers who were under his command when suspects were tortured into making confessions back in the 1980's. Burge is currently facing charges for providing false testimony to federal authorities during a civil suit over the abuses, but will not face charges for the abuses themselves since the statute of limitations ran out.

Baltimore's Defunct Elite Police Unit Sued Over Public Strip Search
A $210 million civil rights lawsuit has been filed against the city of Baltimore over the actions of the Baltimore police department's now defunct elite "Special Enforcement Team" when they pulled over a Navy veteran, strip-searched him, and then did a body cavity search in the middle of the street in front of a gathering crowd... and then sped away without explaination.

The elite "proactive policing taskforce" was disbanded later in 2006 after a susequent investigation discovered a pattern of abusive behavior which overturned about 100 criminal convictions. We did a special report about the pattern of problems with and tendency towards corruption within proactive policing taskforces that are used all over the US and Canada last year.

Speaking of problematic elite policing units...

Los Angeles Police Department Costing City A Fortune
The city of Los Angeles has agreed to pay out $12.85 million dollars to victims of the May Day attack on immigration demonstrators, reporters, and innocent bystanders by the LAPD's elite Metro Division that used batons and rubber bullets indescriminately on the largely peaceful crowd, attacking protesters and journalists alike.

The city has grown concerned with the level of liability the LAPD has brought on the city when they noted that this was one of many large settlements recently paid out with more on the horizon. One council member noted after voting to approve the settlement that ammount paid out for the May Day assault could have been used to hire 130 new police officers instead, if it weren't for the lack of accountability within the LAPD that allowed the misconduct to occur.

Legal Immigrant Alleges Police Brutality Over Traffic Stop
Manassas Virginia police officers are accused of beating immigrant from El Salvador during a routine traffic stop for a broken headlight when the woman, who barely understands english, refused to sign the ticket. Her brother witnessed the assault and a store manager saw the aftermath while he was leaving his store where officers were carying the barely concious woman to an ambulance after bouncing her head off of a cruiser and the pavement.

Louisiana Residents Protest Persistent Police Mistreatment
Eunice Lousiana residents attended a packed town hall meeting in a local church with Saint Landry sheriff and a representative from the US DOJ to talk about the numerous complaints they've filed against two Eunice officers, all without any response from the Eunice chief of police.

Residents say they're afraid to leave their homes for being harassed by Lieutenant Varden Guillery and officer AJ Frank who they say target local African American residents mercilessly. Ultimately they hope the current chief of police either suspends the two, resigns himself, or that the DOJ will investigate their complaints since the local police refuse to.

4 comments:

Karl Mansoor said...

I read about the Manassas incident - it is not too far from where I live - and it made me think about a few things.

Of course there still remains the officer’s side of the story; it is possible the lady was a ball of fire but I just can't help thinking that officers could have taken time to deal more effectively with the language barrier. It could have prevented the whole thing. I can't help thinking the officers pursued a hard nosed approach from the beginning which may not have been necessary.

It reminded me of an incident with some officers where I worked. They had cause to detain a Hispanic male and eventually tackled him, among other things, and made a physical arrest.

I still have detailed information from that incident and I know the officers involved. They were on my shift. I read their complete report; something which the public almost always never gets to see.

Just from reading their report I could tell they over-reacted and needlessly used force on the male subject. It was a language barrier come face to face with overzealousness, misplaced aggression, and a lack of common sense and understanding basic human nature on the part of the officers.

Personally knowing the officers reinforced that conclusion.

The officers were commended for their actions.

It is just plain frustrating and my turn to vent.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I blog about corruption in the Seattle Police Department as well and thought we ought to link to one another...

Packratt said...

Karl,

I can't really imagine how frustrating it would be to have access to that kind of information and not be able to do a thing about it.

I know when the civilian oversight board in Seattle was asking for new volunteers some people tried to goad me into trying out for that, but it would have been the same thing except they have less access to information that even we do on the outside, that and they can't do a thing with what they do find.

It's all just so damn ridiculous. It's like a game to most of them, see how far they can push the misconduct it until it causes the politicians some grief and then the politicians come back during contract negotiations with the police union and offer the department a raise in exchange for ineffective accountability reforms that have more holes than swiss cheese...

Wash, rinse, repeat...

Packratt said...

Anonymous,

Sure, what's the address?

 
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