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"I don't like this book because it don't got know pictures" Chief Rhorerer

“It’s becoming a disturbingly familiar scene in America - mentally unstable cops”

“It’s becoming a disturbingly familiar scene in America - mentally unstable cops”
“It’s becoming a disturbingly familiar scene in America - mentally unstable cops”

Police chief, county executive oppose citizen oversight of Fairfax County Police.

No Citizen Oversight

By Michael Lee Pope

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Citizens will have no role in a model for investigating allegations of police misconduct under a recommendation presented to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors this week by Police Chief David Rohrer and County Executive Anthony Griffin. For advocates of a citizen review board, the move was a disappointing rejection of an effort more than a year in the making. Almost immediately after a memorandum outlining the plan was released last week, experts began questioning the extent of research that was invested in the proposal.

"I find it perplexing that they made no effort to contact the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement," said Phillip Eure, former president of that organization, adding that he’s still waiting to receive a phone call from Fairfax County. "It really makes you wonder about the extent of the best-practices research they conducted."

The March 29 memorandum outlining the plan does include a 1997 report indicating that only 98 out of 651 eligible agencies had public review. But critics of the proposal say much has changed in the last 14 years, and that if the county officials had examined the current state of the field they would have discovered that Fairfax County is the largest jurisdiction in the country without any independent review of its police department.

"It’s unfortunate that the board is seeking guidance from Chief Rohrer because I feel he’s a big part of the problem," said Ronald Koch, president of the Citizens Coalition for Police Accountability. "He would much prefer to continue to have police police themselves."

INSTEAD OF HAVING an independent investigation of allegations of police misconduct, Rohrer and Griffin suggest having the county auditor review the police investigation. The brief memorandum outlining how this would work explains that the auditor, who reports to the county executive, would not have the power to subpoena witnesses. Instead, the auditor’s review would be limited to examining the police investigation.

"It is not proposed that the Internal Auditor will do an independent investigation separate from the police," Rohrer and Griffin write in the March 29 memorandum. "There may be instances, however, when the Internal Auditor will need to contract for consultants to aid in a view to compensate for a lack of particularized expertise in a specific area."

Critics say this model presents a conflict of interest. Because the auditor and the chief of police report to the same individual, how would the public ever know if the two disagreed on an investigation? Also, would an employee of the county executive be willing to issue a report detailing police misconduct? Advocates for a citizen oversight panel say the only way to ensure an independent investigation is to create a system outside of the existing power structure.

"It’s clear that they are doing everything in their power to avoid citizen oversight," said Nicholas Beltrante, executive director of the Citizens Coalition for Police Accountability. "I would encourage the Board of Supervisors to adopt our proposal rather than the one presented by the chief of police and county executive."

ALTHOUGH THE PROPOSAL from Rohrer and Griffin was on the docket for the Board of Supervisors meeting this week, Mount Vernon Supervisor Gerry Hyland offered a motion to postpone the matter and send it to the Public Safety Committee and the Citizen Advisory Committee. The move was cheered by many who were concerned that the public had no opportunity to respond to the proposal. Now that the police chief and county executive are on record opposing citizen oversight, those who would like to see a more public process say they will be fighting for a more public process than the one currently under consideration.

"Having an auditor review the police investigation is like having the fox guarding the hen-house," said Kent Willis, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia. "Citizens should have the opportunity to evaluate, investigate and review police activity."

Rohrer and Griffin, on the other hand, believe that a citizen review board would not provide "additional value" to a review process. In the memorandum outlining their proposal, they say the citizen’s role would stop at asking for an investigation. Because the auditor already investigates allegations of inappropriate behavior and business practices, they say, he or she would be familiar with police procedure and investigator practices.

"There is no strong evidence that a citizen review board provides additional value to a review process," they wrote. "Public review boards have the same issues as any publicly appointed body."

THE MOVEMENT TO CREATE a citizen review board in Fairfax County began in February 2010, shortly after police officer David Ziants shot and killed an unarmed driver on Richmond Highway. Police officials failed to release the incident report or the dashboard video footage of the incident, even when the information was requested in a Virginia Freedom of Information Act request. Yet Rohrer and Griffin now say the existence of the dashboard video footage is a reason citizen input is not needed.

"In summary, an independent auditor is a recognized model and option to provide an independent look at significant responses by police and alleged police misconduct," the memorandum concludes. "It allows the public to initiate reviews of the Police Department actions, and coupled with the Board’s anticipated acquisition and installation of digital cameras in police patrol vehicles, which the Police Department has long sought, the public’s trust of police should be enhanced."

The Fairfax County Police Department has long maintained the position that its incident reports should be kept secret, even though these documents are routinely available in the vast majority of jurisdictions across the country. Even when one of their officers shot and killed the unarmed man in 2009, the department refused to identify the officer who fired the fatal shot.

"What does the name of an officer give the public in terms of information and disclosure?" asked police spokeswoman Mary Ann Jennings at the time. "I’d be curious to know why they want the name of an officer."
Because the auditor would merely review information submitted by police, critics say, the department’s reputation of secrecy would be counterproductive for investigating allegations of misconduct.

"We’re happy they’ve acknowledged there’s a problem," said Koch. "But the proposal currently under consideration is not what we were looking for."

idiots at work

Birmingham AL police officers under investigation over videotaped beating of security guard who had hands in air [3] http://is.gd/QZHiEU

Pittsburgh PA cop who was sued in a $150k brutality settlement earlier this month is now under investigation over alleged road rage case [3] http://is.gd/G92rEZ

Arnaudville LA settles suit for undisclosed amount to man shot in back of legs while trying to run from cop [0] http://is.gd/VNtsjw

Saskatoon SK police officers accused of kneeing & beating man w/flashlights as retaliation for previous incident [3] http://is.gd/oD7S9c

Tuscaloosa AL cop charged w/sexual assault for allegedly raping a woman he offered a ride to in his police cruiser [0] http://is.gd/G3J86Z

DeKalb Co GA cop indicted for child molestation, rape, & battery for allegedly having sex w/15yr-old & hitting her [0] http://is.gd/SDqkHz

Nashville TN police officer fired after investigation into allegations he had sex w/women he arrested in police car [0] http://is.gd/ZsNssN

San Diego CA cop now faces 18 felony charges involving 5 alleged victims coerced into sex under threat of arrest [0] http://is.gd/gNC6uS

Port Arthur TX cop reassigned from working at school while subject of investigation into relationship w/student [2] http://is.gd/yZCfgH

Espanola NM cop charged w/animal cruelty for allegedly letting dog hit by car suffer for a month before taking it to vet http://shar.es/3TCQk

Contra Costa CA Community College police version of arrest the left woman bruised in library contradicted by witness [3] http://is.gd/ruI8Te

Toronto ON police officer charged w/careless use of firearm for firing shots at car for reckless driving [1] http://is.gd/CvW8yV

Atlanta GA & Fulton County GA police agencies sued alleging they violate law by not documenting seized assets [3] http://is.gd/uxH6h3

Antioch CA police sued by 5 people claiming cop facing charges & others illegally seized their property w/o charges [3] http://is.gd/eNaKi3

Concord CA female police lt who won 2 sex harassment suits now sued by female subordinate alleging sexual assault [3] http://is.gd/tDFB2r

Texas State Tech of Waco TX police chief fired on allegations he misused evidence seized by police dept [1] http://is.gd/ebVHPR

Las Vegas NV cop suspended w/o pay after arrested for allegedly assaulting ex-girlfriend & breaking into her car [0] http://is.gd/zXzR4X

Edinburg TX cop suspended & indicted on allegations of timesheet fraud & sex w/jailed woman and for using a subpoena to find a woman for sex. [0] http://is.gd/LGfz4R

Gaithersburg MD cop fired & 2 others suspended over unrelated but undisclosed misconduct allegations [2] http://is.gd/aEcQCE

Fairfield OH police officer arrested on drunk driving charge after stopped by highway patrol for crossing line [0] http://is.gd/pkolyw

Galveston TX cop convicted for deceptive business practices for failing to complete promised hurricane repairs [0] http://is.gd/ir9RCa

Wakeman OH police officer on administrative leave after arrested on drunk driving charge by state trooper [0] http://is.gd/qPXxS3

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A Niles MI police officer that we reported being arrested last week on unspecified charges was apparently accused of sexually assaulting a teenage boy who was in custody at a juvenile detention facility while the officer was on duty. [1]

A Toronto ON police officer was arrested on sexual assault and child exploitation charges involving a 14-year-old and a 16-year-old boy. [0]

A Covington County MS deputy is the subject of a lawsuit alleging that he followed a man to his home then beat and falsely arrested him. [3]

A Pennsylvania State trooper was fired after he was convicted and sentenced to probation for interfering with a child molestation investigation. [0]

3 Fort Lee NJ police officers were suspended while under investigation for leaving 5 teenage boys locked in police van overnight in near-freezing temperatures after detaining them for underage drinking at a party. [0]

A Jersey City NJ police officer was arrested on child abuse charges on allegations that he tried to coerce a 16-year-old runaway for sex in exchange for a night in a hotel room. The girl got scared while she was in his car and called a friend who then called the police. [0]

2 Washington DC police officers were found liable by a jury in a $97,000 judgment against the city in a suit alleging the officers falsely arrested a woman for “contempt of cop”. [0]

The Denver CO police are being sued by the ACLU for racial bias on behalf of a man who was jailed on false allegations that he was an illegal alien despite his giving the officers a valid ID that the police didn’t recognize or try to validate. [2]

A Baltimore Co MD police sergeant, who is the head of the police union, has been charged with assault for allegedly punching a taxi driver and threatening him with a gun while he was drunk. [0]

5 St Louis MO police officers have apparently admitted to sharing a graphic cellphone photo taken by a fellow SWAT officer of a man who was shot to death in a shootout with police. [0]

A Shreveport LA police officer has been convicted for perjury after he lied on the witness stand about what happened when he ran away from an officer-involved shooting situation involving his fellow officers. [0]

A West Bloomfield MI police officer is facing charges for allegedly soliciting over $1,000 from a man who was involved in an accident as part of a ticket fixing scheme. [0]

A Windsor ON police officer was suspended after arrested on domestic violence charges involving an unidentified woman. [1]

A Conroe TX police officer was fired and indicted for allegedly misusing the department’s letterhead in order to avoid paying taxes on firearms he bought for personal use. [0]

A Modesto CA police officer was arrested for possession of illicit drugs and distribution after an investigation into allegations that he seized drugs but never entered them into evidence. [0]

An El Paso TX police officer faces a termination hearing after arrested on a possession of marijuana charge. [0]

A Suffolk County VA police officer was arrested last month for harassing a man is now facing an additional charge for allegedly hacking into the man’s social networking page. [0]

An Altamonte Springs FL police officer has been suspended for 8 hours without pay for driving an unmarked cruiser to at least 2 bars to drink… after a Casselberry police officer let him go after stopping him for swerving when the Altamonte Springs cop admitted to drinking at a strip club prior to the stop. No word on any disciplinary action against the Casselberry cop. [0