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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Police Misconduct NewsWatch for 03-15-09

Will Obama's Bailout Plan Encourage More Police Corruption?

While much has been said elsewhere about how Obama's plan is giving $36 million to police departments across the US and how this influx of money could have done a lot more good if it had been tied to mandatory police accountability reforms... which it doesn't. It seems that there was yet another twist that none of us foresaw until the plan went into motion.

For example, last year the King County Sheriff's Department had to choose between cutting more staff or completely cutting the funds for their police accountability reforms and civilian oversight program. Guess what got gutted? That's right, last year all police accountability reforms died in King County for the foreseeable future.

Now that the King County Sheriff's Department stands to gain $4.8 million from the stimulus plan you would think they could implement the needed reforms, especially in the face of worldwide condemnation over the videotaped beating of Malika Calhoun and other recent cases...

You would be wrong... the federal stimulus funds may only be used to fund more hires, more drug and gang task forces, and other SPECIFIED enforcement activities. They cannot be used for police accountability programs.

So while King County can hire a bunch of new cops and give existing cops promotions to violent proactive task force groups like the Anti-Crime Task Force... It can't do anything with that money to keep those officers accountable or they would lose those funds.

So, ultimately, not only does Obama's stimulus plan ignore police brutality and racial profiling, it actually encourages more of it since departments can't use it to fund accountability reforms and civilian oversight programs that were the first to be cut when funding dried up like it was in King County.

So, in addition to forcing police departments all over the US to keep any accountability reforms that they were forced to cut off the table while hiring more recruits, Obama's plan will only bring us...

Many more stories of a failed justice system like this...
In February 2007 Spokane Police officer Jay Olsen, who had been drinking at a bar, shot Sacred Heart Medical Center nurse Shonto Pete in the back of the head.

While Olsen claimed that Pete had stolen his truck and that he feared for his life when he shot Pete, the evidence said otherwise and in a battle of conflicting testimonies Pete, who lived despite having a hollow point bullet lodged in his skull, was cleared of theft charges as prosecutors could not prove he was ever in Olsen's truck...

But on Friday a jury also found Jay Olsen not guilty of first degree assault and reckless endangerment charges despite the evidence contradicting nearly every part of Olsen's testimony and backing up every part of Pete's testimony, and speculation that police investigators coached Olsen when they interviewed him about the shooting incident.

Olsen is still suspended pending the completion of the internal investigation into the shooting, but given the acquittal, it's likely he'll be back on the job soon.

Like I said, yet more stories of a failed justice system like this...

A jury in the criminal trial against a Denver police officer accused of stomping on a teenager's back so hard that he suffered from a ruptured liver, kidney damage, and broken ribs found that, even though there was clearly evidence of police brutality, that they could imagine a scenario where the officer in question might not have been the one who did it... even though two other officers testified that he did. Sound familiar? Seems lawyers specializing in defense of police in criminal trials have hit upon an ultimate defense strategy and it's catching.

More police chiefs covering for sexual predators like this...

Ex-Creston Police Chief Jamie Christensen one of the officers he was in charge of, John Sickels, have been found guilty of sexual abuse in the second degree in a case where the chief walked in on Sickles while he was having sex with a bartender in a local bar but when the bartender reported it as sexual abuse the chief refused to investigate it and said that what he saw that night wasn't sex in order to cover for his officer.

The cross-examination of the chief is telling when he starts to vacillate between admitting that what he saw was a sexual act and then switching back to saying he didn't report or investigate it because he didn't think it was an act of sex that he walked in on that night.

More innocent families attacked and their dogs killed like this...

Imagine finding out that you accidentally locked yourself out of your own home. So, you and your son climb through a window to get in, no problem. Later there's a knock on the door, you open it and are met by police who start shouting at you and beating you and your son in your own home and then they shoot your dog too.

That's what two Washington DC men are charging DC police officers did to them and their pet dog in this disturbing case of being assaulted by the police for doing nothing wrong. This case takes an incriminating twist though. While officers did report that they shot the family dog, they never documented their use of force that night even though the two clearly have numerous bruises and cuts from the beating they allegedly received that night.

More steroid junkies like this

Seems that Brooklyn NY police officer Vaughan Ettienne, who also doubles as a body builder and was also briefly suspended for steroid use, likes to spend his time offering his "sage opinions" on police brutality videos online.

Such insider opinions that included nuggets of wisdom like "If he wanted to tune him up some, he should have delayed cuffing him." came back to haunt him in court when those remarks and others cost prosecutors a case against man who claims that he was framed by Ettienne as a cover for the officer when Ettienne beat him so badly that he broke three ribs. Ettienne faces no disciplinary action for sharing his opinions on how to better commit police brutality with the world on MySpace or costing prosecutors their case.

More corrupt sheriffs like this...

Seems that 74-year-old Cuyahoga County Sheriff Gerald McFaul only spent 16 days at the office this year... and only 74 days last year... and only 46 days the year before... but still rakes in his $110,000 a year salary despite not having a computer at home to telecommute with.

The sheriff's work pattern came to light recently as he was being investigated for hiring and promoting friends and relatives and for instructing a witness on how to avoid a subpoena so she wouldn't testify against him in a sexual-harassment case.


Five Before Midnight said...

We have elections and I've been asked by candidates about the stimulus package for LE officers and the city's involvement in obtaining some of that money. So I guess it's a campaign issue for the police unions b/c I was asked around the time they were conducting some of their interviews of candidates for endorsements.

My city's agency wasn't really interested b/c of salaries only being paid for a certain number of years and my region won't be out of this economic downturn as it's called for several years longer than the recession will last nationwide.

Speaking of accountability, I found out that one of my city's department's captains who retired is now police chief up in Oregon and the investigator gave him high marks on his ethics and said the people they talked to in Riverside gave him high marks on that. Including in the comments section of the news article about him which consisted of mostly officers past and present from my city.

Funny, that's not what I heard. I heard it was a forced retirement linked to some onduty incident about six months before he retired. A pretty serious incident as it turned out that someone had leaked on my blog several years ago.

Packratt said...

Well, King County has little choice but to take the cash since the sheriff had to cut 8.6% of her budget for this year and, as a result, said that they won't be able to investigate property crimes that were less than $10,000, had to disband their DV unit, and cut 20 deputy positions, (obviously they didn't get the problematic ones out).

Of course, with that money they can restore some of those services and positions, but what won't get restored is the $755,000 she cut from the accountability reforms that were suggested by a panel the county formed in response to several really bad cases of misconduct that came out a few years ago... so those reforms are dead and will be for several years, despite the incredibly bad press they just got hit with due to the Schene case.

So, they'll put more unaccountable officers on the streets who will learn from officers like Schene how to beat citizens and the system.

Seattle will likely take the money too as they will be facing quite a shortfall soon, as I hear.

As for that police chief, sounds interesting, have any more details?

Thanks for the comment, it's appreciated as always! (wish I could comment on your site, but it's understandable why I can't)

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