Former Police Captain Accused of Soliciting Minors for Sex
The former captain was arrested in June on charges he inappropriately touched a 10-year-old girl
By Jackie Bensen
A former police captain is behind bars for a second time this summer after police believe he solicited minors for sex online.
Fairfax County Police said 53-year-old Joseph Patrick Gamerl, of Fairfax, Virginia, had been arrested in June on charges he inappropriately touched a 10-year-old girl and exposed himself.
According to search warrants obtained by News4, Gamerl was then fired from his contractor job for the Department of Justice Office of Diversion Control.
In a routine screening of his work laptop, the Office of Professional Responsibility found a child pornography image, according to documents.
"Our detectives were able to obtain more evidence, especially electronic evidence that showed that there's more victims out there, possibly with ties to the Loudoun County or Prince William County areas," said Fairfax County Police Officer Monica Meeks.
Gamerl used to be a police captain in North Miami Beach before moving to Fairfax, Virginia.
Authorities said anyone who may have information about Gamerl's contact with any children should call police.
By ALAN FEUERAUG. 16, 2016
When lawsuits against the police are settled, like the one announced this week in which New York City agreed to pay $4 million to the family of Akai Gurley, people tend to focus on the amount of money changing hands. Sometimes overlooked are the institutional reforms embedded in the deals, and the difficult decisions made by plaintiffs and their lawyers in trading a full public airing of the facts for the recovery of damages.
In many police misconduct cases, the victims and their families are people of limited means for whom a six-figure check could be life-changing. At the same time, lawyers said, those who file, and settle, such suits belong to what might be called a community of the wronged, and often have a strong desire to tell their stories or force the system to change.
“Frequently, plaintiffs in these cases are badly damaged and want or even need compensation,” said Barry Scheck, a lawyer who helped negotiate the $9 million settlement for Abner Louima, a Haitian immigrant who was sexually assaulted by the police with a broomstick inside a Brooklyn station house in 1997. “But you have to trade that off sometimes with their aspirations to expose what happened, and to find solutions.”
Mr. Louima’s suit, which was filed against the city and its main police union, was a rare example of litigation that produced enormous monetary damages and real alterations to policing policy. When the settlement was reached in 2001, Mr. Louima said that he had dropped his three-year battle because he was convinced that the city and the union had started to improve the ways the Police Department trained, monitored and disciplined its officers.
Ultimately, the decision of whether to settle a suit or to air the facts of the case, hoping to both win a judgment and secure reform, is up to the client, said Scott Rynecki, who handled the suit involving Mr. Gurley, an unarmed man killed two years ago by an officer on patrol in a Brooklyn public housing project.
“Our primary job is to get our clients” — in this case, it was Mr. Gurley’s domestic partner, Kimberly Ballinger, and their daughter — “a decent recovery,” Mr. Rynecki said. “If the recovery is fair, we have an obligation not to go forward just to ‘go forward.’”
Mr. Rynecki said it was also important to create a public record and push for structural change. As part of his negotiations with the city, he said, he urged officials to improve training at the Police Academy in areas like firearms handling and emergency medical care. “I have made repeated calls for this, both in public and in private, with politicians and on TV,” he said. “It’s a constant mantra. We have the greatest police force in country, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be improved.”
In Mr. Gurley’s case, as in some others, litigation was preceded by an extensive criminal trial which produced a detailed narrative about everything that had happened. Sometimes, the revelatory nature of a criminal proceeding can persuade a plaintiff, like Ms. Ballinger, that she does not need her day in civil court. But sometimes, even a long criminal trial can leave the record incomplete.
Howard Hershenhorn, a lawyer who represented the family of Amadou Diallo, a Guinean immigrant who was shot 41 times by the police in 1999, said he “had no choice but to fully litigate the civil case” because the officers who had killed Mr. Diallo were acquitted and the story of his client’s death was never fully told. Working with his partners, Mr. Hershenhorn took numerous depositions during the case’s discovery phase, unearthing information that never emerged fully at the criminal trial. Much of it concerned the Street Crimes Unit, a plainclothes patrol in the Police Department that employed the officers who shot Mr. Diallo and was eventually disbanded.
“We never would have settled the case without assurances from the right people that that would happen,” Mr. Hershenhorn said. “The unit was on its way to being disbanded because of information that we produced in discovery and that, frankly, the city didn’t know.”
Since by definition plaintiffs in these cases have suffered the apparent trauma of personal injury or the death of a loved one, there are powerful incentives to take a settled payout and not relive it all at trial.
“These cases aren’t easy for the plaintiffs; they’re very difficult and emotional,” said Jonathan Moore, a lawyer who won a $5.9 million settlement in a lawsuit by the family of Eric Garner, who died after an officer placed him in a chokehold while arresting him for selling untaxed cigarettes on Staten Island. “It may not be exactly what they want, but settling a case at least puts an end to it.”
Then there is the question of the money, which can be a godsend for plaintiffs.
“More often than not, when we first meet our clients they tell us in all sincerity that ‘it’s not about the money,’ but in the end, even a jury verdict is a dollar figure,” said Andrew Stoll, who has represented several plaintiffs in police misconduct cases. “It’s the rare victim that has the luxury of refusing that money to make a bigger point.”
33rd annual "Dear God will some guy please marry a Fairfax County Police Woman" auction begins in October
Racial bias isn't the problem...the quality of cops and the lack of mental wellness in cops is the problem
U.S. Justice Department to Release Blistering Report of Racial Bias by Baltimore Police
By RICHARD A. OPPEL Jr., SHERYL GAY STOLBERG and MATT APUZZOAUG. 9, 2016
The Justice Department has found that the Baltimore Police Department for years has hounded black residents who make up most of the city’s population, systematically stopping, searching and arresting them, often with little provocation or rationale.
In a blistering report, coming more than a year after Baltimore erupted into riots over the police-involved death of a 25-year-old black man, Freddie Gray, the Justice Department is sharply critical of policies that encouraged police officers to charge black residents with minor crimes. A copy of the report was obtained by The New York Times.
The critique is the latest example of the Obama administration’s aggressive push for police reforms in cities where young African-American men have died at the hands of law enforcement.
The findings, to be released Wednesday, are the first formal step toward the Justice Department’s reaching a settlement with Baltimore — known as a “consent decree” — in which police practices would be overhauled under the oversight of a federal judge. The department started the inquiry at the invitation of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
To show how officers disproportionately stopped black pedestrians, the report cited the example of a black man in his mid-50s who was stopped 30 times in less than four years. None of the stops led to a citation or criminal charge. Black residents, the report said, accounted for 95 percent of the 410 individuals stopped at least 10 times in the five and a half years of data reviewed.
The most pronounced racial disparities were in arrests for the most discretionary offenses: For example, 91 percent of those arrested solely for “failure to obey” or “trespassing” were African-American, even though the city is 63 percent black, the report found.
In one telling anecdote from the report, a shift commander provided officers with boilerplate language on how to write up trespassing arrest reports of people found near housing projects. The template contained an automatic description of the arrestee: “A BLACK MALE.”
“The supervisor’s template thus presumes that individuals arrested for trespassing will be African-American,” the report stated, describing the sort of detentions the language was intended to facilitate as “facially unconstitutional.”
The report indicated that the frequency of arrests without probable cause was reflected in the fact that booking supervisors and prosecutors had declined to file charges, after arrests by their own officers, more than 11,000 times since 2010.
Two weeks ago, Maryland prosecutors dropped charges against the last of six officers charged in the April 2015 death of Mr. Gray, who sustained a fatal spinal cord injury while in custody. With that, Baltimore joined a growing list of cities where police-involved deaths sparked outrage, and even riots, yet no one was held accountable in court.
While no consent decree has been reached, the report states that the city and the Justice Department have agreed in principle to identify “categories of reforms the parties agree must be taken to remedy the violations of the Constitution and federal law described in this report.”
FINDINGS OF THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT REPORT
In its report, the Justice Department concluded that the Baltimore Police Department “engaged in a pattern or practice of conduct” that was unconstitutional or violated federal law, including:
• Making unconstitutional stops, searches, and arrests.
• Using enforcement strategies of stops, searches and arrests that unfairly target African-Americans.
• Using excessive force.
• Retaliating against people engaging in constitutionally-protected expression.
“I don’t think at this point, it’s about justice for Freddie Gray anymore,” said Ray Kelly, a director of the No Boundaries Coalition, a West Baltimore group that provided its own report on police abuses to the Justice Department. “Now it’s about justice for our community, for our people.”
City Councilman Brandon Scott,vice chairman of the council committee that oversees the department, said the next fight could be over how to pay for the police overhaul.
Baltimore is among nearly two dozen cities that the Obama administration has investigated after they were accused of widespread unconstitutional policing. Using its broad latitude to enforce civil rights laws, the Justice Department has demanded wholesale change in how cities conduct policing. In several cities, including Seattle; Cleveland; and Ferguson, Mo., those investigations began in the aftermath of a high-profile death that sparked protests and in some cases riots.
Police chiefs, prosecutors and experts say the investigations have forced cities to address longstanding, entrenched issues far beyond the targeted cities.
“Chiefs are constantly looking at these reports, not just to learn lessons and best practices from each other, but also what pitfalls we can avoid,” said Scott Thomson, the police chief in Camden, N.J., who is also the president of the Police Executive Research Forum.
But court-ordered reform can take years, which does little to ease the frustration of activists who say that police officers too often go unpunished for deadly encounters with unarmed people.
AFTER A WATCHDOG BLOG repeatedly linked him and other local officials to corruption and fraud, the Sheriff of Terrebone Parish in Louisiana on Tuesday sent six deputies to raid a police officer’s home to seize computers and other electronic devices.
Sheriff Jerry Larpenter’s deputies submitted affidavits alleging criminal defamation against the anonymous author of the ExposeDAT blog, and obtained search warrants to seize evidence in the officer’s house and from Facebook.
The officer, Wayne Anderson, works for the police department of Houma, the county seat of Terrebone Parish — and according to New Orleans’ WWL-TV, formerly worked as a Terrebone Sheriff’s deputy.
Anderson was placed on paid leave about an hour and a half after the raid on his house, Jerri Smitko, one of his attorneys, told The Intercept. She said that he has not yet been officially notified about why.
Smitko said Anderson denies that he is the author of ExposeDat.
But free speech advocates say the blogger — whoever he or she is — is protected by the First Amendment.
“The law is very clear that somebody in their private capacity, on private time, on their own equipment, has a First Amendment right to post about things of public concern,” Marjorie Esman, director of the ACLU of Louisiana, told The Intercept.
Larpenter told WWL: “If you’re gonna lie about me and make it under a fictitious name, I’m gonna come after you.”
Esman said the Sheriff and his deputies were forgetting something. “The laws that they’re sworn to uphold include the right to criticize and protest. Somehow there’s a piece in the training that leads to them missing that.”
ExposeDAT calls itself a “watchdog group,” posting articles that use public records to identify institutional corruption in the Parish. Since it launched in late June, it has accused various public officials and business owners of nepotism, tax evasion, polluting and misuse of government funds.
It promises to “introduce articles that explore the relationship between certain Public Officials and the flow of money in South Louisiana.”
The Sheriff’s office, in order to obtain the warrants, said the blog had criminally defamed the Parish’s new insurance agent, Tony Alford, WWL reported.
One ExposeDAT blog post titled “Gordon Dove and Tony Alford’s Radioactive Waste Dumping,” briefly describes the relationship between Alford and the parish’s president, who jointly own a Montana trucking company that has been cited for dumping radioactive waste in Montana. That citation was originally reported in the Missoula, Mont., newspaper The Missoulian.
In a post titled “You Scratch Mine and I’ll Scratch Yours,” the blog uses public records to call attention to the fact that Sheriff Larpenter gave Alford a parish contract despite that fact that his wife manages Alford’s office.
“When decent, law abiding citizens try to speak out on matters of public importance, they’re treated like criminals,” Smitko said. “If this is what happens to a police officer with 12 year of impeccable service what the hell kind of justice do criminals get?”
The Sheriff’s office, the police department and the district attorney’s office did not return requests for comment.
This isn’t the first time that Louisiana law enforcement officers have challenged those who criticize them. In 2012, Bobby Simmons, a former police officer, was arrested and jailed on a charge of criminal defamation for a letter he wrote to a newspaper regarding another police officer. The charge was later dropped, and Simmons filed a civil suit alleging that his civil rights were violated.
Fearing for their lives, California deputiesopened fire on a man who wasrecording them with a cell phone from the garage of his home, claiming they thought it was a gun.
Sacramento County sheriff’s deputies then searched the man’s home, finding no guns, before they apologized and went on their way.
Fortunately, Danny Sanchez survived the shooting, ending up with only bullet fragments in his legs. And although deputies apologized to Sanchez,
they are pretty much unapologetic for their actions because, you know, officer safety.
The incident took place in Rancho Cordova as Sacramento County deputies were arresting Sanchez’s next-door neighbor after a two-hour standoff.
Let’s not forget that the only person accused of a crime in that situation was Ledford, whom they were already taking into custody when they shot Sanchez.
Gosh, is there anything that the cops AREN’T afraid of? I mean, rly, they only saw a damn CELL PHONE and started shooting… How are they meant to protect, if they’re getting feared so easily?
The problem is that cops aren’t held accountable for their actions, and they know it. These officers violate rights with impunity. They know there’s a different criminal justice system for civilians and police. Even when officers get caught, they know they’ll be investigated by their friends, and put on paid leave. My colleagues would laughingly refer to this as a free vacation. It isn’t a punishment. And excessive force is almost always deemed acceptable in our courts and among our grand juries.— former cop Redditt Hudson, “ The Washington Post
Police Union President Demanding Boycott after Officer is Denied Service
The President of Broward County’s largest police union has called for a national boycott of Sunoco gas stations following an incident during which a uniformed officer from the Miramar Police Department was refused service by the sales clerk at one of the company’s locations.
“On a day when three officers are slain in Baton Rouge, La., and a fourth is fighting for his life, how can anyone deny service to a uniformed police officer?” said Broward County PBA President Jeff Marano.
In his incident report, the officer, who was wearing his full police uniform, said that on Monday, he walked into the Sunoco Gas Station located at 1700 S Douglas Road around 2 p.m., and as he was attempting to get a drink from the refrigerated area, a black male, wearing a gray shirt with gray pants, walked up to him and asked why they arrested his “boy”. He asked the man who he was referring to, to which he said, “Ya’ll got my boy in the back of that car outside the gas station.”
The officer told him that the man was arrested and he couldn’t give him any further information. The man then walked away.
The officer then proceeded to walk towards the cashier in order to pay for his drink. The same individual that walked up to him earlier was standing behind the cash register without a name tag and closed his cashier’s window. The officer then knocked on it in order to get his attention, however, the man looked at him and didn’t say anything. The officer asked, “Hey can you ring me up? I need to pay for my Gatorade.” The man then stated “No.” The officer asked him what he meant. The man said that he wouldn’t ring him up and said, “You know why.”
The officer asked him again to ring him up, and the man once again refused.
During the same time, the man said, “Get out of my way, I need to attend to customers.” The officer looked behind him and there was a line of four people trying to pay for their items. He moved out of the way, so they could pay, and after they were done, he again asked to pay, and was once again refused.
He then asked the man for his name and his manager or boss’s name, and he replied that he doesn’t have to give out his name or his boss’s name. The officer asked why he was refusing to ring up a police officer trying to buy a drink, to which he answered, “Because I don’t have to, that’s why.”
Marano is demanding the immediate termination of the Sunoco employee, however, a police search for the owner’s information was met with negative results.
Be careful. This program is a sham. If the cops suspect they screwed up on a domestic violence case, the “Advocates” allow them to sit in on meetings with the victims.
Domestic violence victims use Fairfax Co. program to find help
FAIRFAX, Va. — New figures show that over the past year, domestic violence victims have been using a program in Fairfax County, Virginia, that is meant to help provide victims withpotentially lifesaving services.
Under the Lethality Assessment Program — launched in July 2015 — police officers who respond to domestic violence incidents sit down with victims and ask them a series of questions about their situation. Victims deemed to be in a “high-danger” situation are then given the option of talking on the phone with a victim advocate who can give them more information about what to do and where to go to receive services they may need to stay safe.
“The program is intended to connect victims immediately with victim advocates upon the scene of a law enforcement incident,” said Sandy Bromley, the countywide domestic violence coordinator.
According to new figures, police have dealt with 555 high-danger victims since the program began, or about 46 every month. When given the option to do so, 80 percent of the victims agreed to speak with an advocate.
“When victims engage in those services, they are safer,” Bromley said.
The program has also shed light on the severity of such situations, with 51 percent of high-danger victims saying they believed their offender might try to kill them.
“Domestic violence in Fairfax County is a big problem,” said Fairfax County Police Chief Ed Roessler.
He added, “We are just blessed that every single Fairfax County police officer, along with our advocates, has embraced this program and we have made a difference.”
Fairfax County: Support for Police Auditor, Civilian Review Panel
Supervisors discuss independent oversight recommendations from Ad Hoc Commission.
By Tim Peterson
Neither the independent auditor nor civilian review panel would conduct an independent investigation of the complaint, but would refer the case to the Chief of Police and he to the Internal Affairs Bureau for investigation. Or as Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova put it: “It’s another portal complaints can come from.”
Details of an independent auditor for Fairfax County police and a civilian panel to review cases of alleged FCPD abuse of authority or misconduct are still being hammered out. However there was general agreement among County Supervisors at the July 19 Public Safety Committee meeting that they are in favor of moving forward with the recommendations from the Ad Hoc Police Practices Review Commission to create both entities for accountability.
The meeting was held to discuss the recommendations from the commission’s Independent Oversight and Investigations subcommittee so that a formal board matter accepting them can be drawn up in time for a vote this fall.
Public Safety Committee chair Supervisor John Cook (R-Braddock) opened the meeting with a moment of silence, and then a perspective on the need for reforms to aspects of the County’s policing.
“We need to be bringing people together,” Cook said. “How do we further connect the community and our law enforcement, have that dialogue.”
In reference to creating a civilian review panel, Cook added Fairfax County would “do what other jurisdictions are doing, and hopefully do it better.”
TO GIVE AN OVERVIEW of independent and civilian review of law enforcement, Independent Monitor Nicholas Mitchell with the City and County of Denver Office of the Independent Monitor spoke to the crowded Fairfax County Government Center conference room. Mitchell also spoke as a board member of the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement.
“There’s the proposition as citizens we’re obligated to ensure powers are being consistent with the Constitution and our system of laws,” Mitchell said. “And the proposition with granting of power, comes respect and accountability to the community.”
Mitchell said there is no one model for civilian review boards, and that most large cities and an increasing number of medium and smaller-size cities are forming them. Some are formed preemptively, others in the wake of critical incidents involving police.
Jack Johnson, chair of the Independent Oversight subcommittee, reviewed the recommendations word for word. He explained they were voted through unanimously, including the representatives from law enforcement and FCPD.
Under the recommendations, independent oversight of Fairfax County Police would be undertaken by an independent auditor and civilian panel. The auditor would handle use of force cases that resulted in death or serious injury. The civilian panel would look at other alleged FCPD abuse of authority or misconduct. Residents could bring a complaint directly to the Civilian Review Panel, which would refer the case to the FCPD for investigation.
In each case, the reviewing party would not conduct an independent investigation of the complaint, but would refer the case to the Chief of Police and he to the Internal Affairs Bureau for investigation.
Or as Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova put it: “It’s another portal complaints can come from.”
Fairfax County Chief of Police Edwin Roessler said the recommendations are fully supported by his department. Roessler embraced independent oversight as an important part of trust with the community. “We’re on the same page. There is no conflict,” he said.
Det. Sean Corcoran, president of the Fairfax Coalition of Police Local 5000 and a member of the Ad Hoc Commission, said despite the unanimous commission vote for an auditor and civilian review board, there are more details that need to be taken into account before moving forward with the recommendation.
“There’s concern about fiscal costs,” Corcoran said. “Our internal affairs is strapped as it is right now.”
The Supervisors reviewed a draft job description for the auditor, who would be a full-time County employee, and language that would formally set the scope, organization and process of the Police Civilian Review Panel.
Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield) echoed Corcoran in calling for the group to take more time dealing with the “devil in the details” rather than rushing forward with the recommendations.
“Can we get there in a fiscally responsible way?” Herrity asked. “What’s this going to cost us? In distraction? Time taken? Someone needs to make some estimates.”
Herrity questioned whether both an auditor and civilian review panel were necessary, and if there might be a better way to “get transparency without creating bureaucracy.”
Randy Sayles of Oak Hill was a member of Ad Hoc Commission Use of Force subcommittee and attended the majority of the full meetings. He sat in the front row of Tuesday’s meeting.
Sayles said he thought the day’s discussion did a “good job” capturing the work of the commission on independent oversight.
With regard to the composition of the civilian review panel, Sayles said he would like to see language requiring a law enforcement representative have a seat at the table. They could be retired, just not from Fairfax County.
“To speak up and give that perspective,” he said would be an important addition. “That’s a recommendation I’m standing by to this day.”
The next Public Safety Committee meeting is scheduled for Sep. 13 at 3 p.m. at the Fairfax County Government Center, located at 12000 Government Center Parkway in Fairfax.