As the end of April draws near I'm getting ready to compile the statistics from the first month of the national police misconduct tracking project.
In case you didn't know, that project, of which the National Police Misconduct News Feed on Twitter is but a by-product, is an attempt to gather statistics on the extent and types of police misconduct in the US, as well as localities where misconduct may be more prevalent than others.
As I compile these stories of police misconduct, I keep thinking about posting up the worst of them each week or so... but so many of them are so horrific to me that the lists each week would be too long for a mere blog post.
So, instead, I've decided to post a brief list of the weirdest stories I've seen this month and post them for your review.
I think that cop just gave you the finger, kid
A Tolleson Arizona police officer assigned to a local elementary school, where the grade-school kids are apparently so dangerous that he needed to cary his gun around, appears to have accidentally shot his own finger off while standing in the school doorway.
At the time there was no reported need for the officer to be, erm, fingering his weapon, and there was no word in the report on whether or not there were any small children nearby at the time. But the officer was last reported to be in the hospital while his department looks into the incident.
This cop certainly deserves the finger though!
Ever here that lame urban myth about police officers who were so corrupt that they would charge victims of police brutality with assaulting the cops fists with their faces?
Well, in Albany New York, they seem to delight in turning nightmarish myths into reality now that the Albany police department has charged a man with felony assault... are you ready for it?
...because an officer broke his finger while punching him in the face.
What does it take to be a police chief these days?
Well, for the city of Columbus New Mexico, apparently, it takes a bit of criminal experience. Apparently, after sifting through resumes of potential candidates, the city of Columbus New Mexico picked an interim police chief who might have intimate knowledge of the criminal mind.
To be precise, their new chief comes with a value-added criminal record that includes indictments for extortion in 1996 and allegations of stalking and harassment in 2001. If that's the kind of person they want leading their police, I hate to see the requirements for the officers that will serve under him.
Can you say "backfired"?
Philadelphia's police union was furious when a judge ordered a picture they put up of a recently killed officer because it gave the appearance of bias in his courtroom when the officer's accused killer was scheduled to appear.
So, the union has been demanding that he be fired and have even gone so far as to illegally remove his parking sign from the court parking lot in retribution. But, citizens don't appear to agree with the police union's sentiment that the judge offended everyone in the world by trying to keep the court impartial and have held protests in support of their besieged judge.
Speaking of unions...
Teamsters vs Police
No, this isn't a story of cops busting up union picket lines like back in the old days. This time, it was the story of the Teamsters and the Fraternal Order of Police who were in a pitched battle to represent Nashville TN police officers.
One enterprising Nashville Tennessee cop and Teamster's union representative was caught breaking into the rival union's camp for underprivileged children and installing cameras in an attempt to discredit the FOP in 2007.
Now he's facing 10 months in prison and a Shelby County deputy will be joining him for pleading to perjury in connection with the case.
Buy that cop a leash?
A Pittsburgh Pennsylvania police sergeant cost city $500,000 in a settlement against the city over an incident where the officer had choked a fellow officer last year. Now, you might think that, well, maybe the cop was told not to do that sort of thing again, or maybe disciplined, fired, or even prosecuted?
Nope... and now Sgt. Chokey McChoker been accused of choking yet another cop in new lawsuit against the city. If that's what this Sgt does to coworkers and subordinates, I sure hate to see what this cop does to citizens.
Will it really be that big of a surprise, Surprise?
The city of Surprise Arizona recently fired two of it's police officers but has remained very tight lipped about exactly why the two officers were fired. Of course, whenever there's a secret like that, the press gets interested. So, the local paper sued after the city denied a FOIA request for the disciplinary reports.
The police department and city officials have given a very odd reason for their refusal in that they say the reports will cause a "chilling reaction in the community's trust in their police department"... and the judge isn't buying it and has ordered the city to be a bit more precise about exactly why this case, while not associated with any known criminal charges, will chill the hot Arizona city to the bone.
The Peter Police Principle?
A Reno Nevada police detective who ran a program that travelled around different schools to warn teens about the dangers of drinking & driving was recently arrested... yep, you guessed it, for driving while under the influence.
A Manitowoc Wisconsin police officer who worked in the notorious anti-drug D.A.R.E program was convicted for, you guessed it again, being involved in an accident while under the influence. The chief won't disclose that officer's discipline, but we know it's not a dismissal.
A forfeiture fit...
Auditors recently began to question why a Minneapolis/St. Paul Minnesota joint gang taskforce used $16,000 of funds obtained by forfeiture in various drug raids to fund a "working vaction" trip to Hawaii. So, what did they do in response?
...fit to be tied?
They apparently held a secret, and quite illegal, meeting to discuss ways they could spin the story when they found out the local paper was getting ready to print a story about the whole scandal. I guess they decided to go for double or nothing.
Is sharing really caring?
Culpeper Virginia police officers sure love to share... in fact, after arresting a young man for a DUI, officers decided to look through the suspect's cell phone and found pictures of his girlfriend in the nude.
The officers called all their pals in the department to come take a look... and agreed they were so interesting they even called out over the radio and invited officers from other departments to come see.
Now those brilliant officers are faced with a lawsuit seeking $350,000 in damages which may jump now that the plaintiff's lawyers have discovered evidence that the images were distributed outside of the department.
Deputy Chip's CrewThe wife of sheriff's Deputy Charles “Chip” Buckner III apparently thought it would be a lark to take his police cruiser out on the town with her mom and a 19 year old, um, friend.
Well, after swerving all over, and then pulling a u-turn in front of another cop, they got pulled over and arrested... for a lot more than just a joy ride.
It appears that Gail Buckner, the deputy's wife, was a felon and so was the 19 year old guy she and her mom were with. So, in addition to grand theft they also got busted for impersonation, felon in possession of a firearm, and firearm theft.
The hubby deputy has since resigned while the sheriff's department looks into how the whole debacle came about.