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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”

Jail deputies investigated

FREMONT -- A city police detective is still looking into allegations of employee misconduct at the Sandusky County Jail, Chief Tim Wiersma said Friday.
Three corrections deputies -- Charlie Pump, Franklin Kaiser and Joshua Smith -- were placed on paid administrative leave Jan. 11, "pending the completion of an investigation for violation of work rules and policies," according to letters in their personnel files.
Two of the deputies have not been with the sheriff's office long and have relatively clean records, but the more senior of the three has a personnel file filled with reprimands and letters requesting he improve his performance.
Kaiser has received five official verbal warnings and three written reprimands for insubordination, alleged abuse of the sick leave system, sleeping on the job and other policy violations since his hiring as a corrections deputy in 2004.
In a 2008 letter, Capt. Diane Blue asked Kaiser to correct inappropriate behavior including reading when he should be working, passing gas in front of other employees and discussing his sexual behavior in front of co-workers.
"I am concerned about the nature of your attitude and laziness over the past few weeks," Blue wrote.
In a letter attached to the most recent written reprimand in October 2009, county jail administrator Maj. Tom Fligor wrote, "Your violations this year show a Progressive Discipline pattern."
In a May 2009 written reprimand for calling off sick the day before a scheduled day off, supervisors wrote, "You have a severe pattern of calling off sick in conjunction with days off." Another written reprimand was written in March 2009 after a supervisor reported twice overhearing Kaiser snoring during work hours.
In 2007, an inmate accused Kaiser of approaching him in an intimidating manner. He also was repeatedly cited for questioning and arguing with supervising officers on various occasions.
The deputy responded in writing to many of the reprimands, denying them or attempting to explain the incidents. Kaiser filed a union grievance in February 2009 regarding a verbal warning he was given for alleged inappropriate use of sick time.
In the file, Kaiser does have one positive item. Fligor wrote him a commendation in June 2005 for "professionalism" he displayed while dealing with an incident involving an inmate.
Pump was first hired as a corrections deputy by the sheriff's office in November 2008, though he was terminated in May 2009. In a letter to the deputy at that time, a "lack of funds" is cited as the reason for his termination.
Pump was rehired in July 2010 to the same position. He received only one verbal warning while at the jail.
In February 2009, Pump was warned for not following proper procedure in sending inmates back to their cells from the recreation area. Before working at the county jail, Pump worked as a Woodville police officer for two years.
Smith is the newest of the three deputies, hired in July. He received a good 120-day evaluation from Fligor in November and this is the first disciplinary matter in his personnel file.
Last week, Sheriff Kyle Overmyer and Fligor confirmed an investigation had begun and said the alleged misconduct was "not criminal in nature."
Since then, both have declined to comment further on who brought the issue to light or to give any details about the allegations themselves.
Sandusky County Prosecutor Tom Stierwalt said Friday afternoon he was redacting information from the Fremont detective's investigative file, for which The News-Messenger made a public records request this week. Stierwalt said the report may not be ready to be released until next week.

Arrested EHPD officer released on $250,000 bond

Updated: Thursday, 26 Jan 2012, 9:46 PM EST
Published : Thursday, 26 Jan 2012, 11:57 AM EST

Bridgeport, Conn. (WTNH) - One of the four East Haven police officers arrested Tuesday by the FBI on charges they abused Hispanic immigrants and covered it up has been released on $250,000 bond.
The U.S Attorney's office said Jason Zullo was released Thursday. Zullo, who is not permitted to travel into East Haven, was the only officer not released after their arrest Monday.
Federal authorities say the officers assaulted people while they were handcuffed and unlawfully searched Latino businesses. They also allegedly harassed and intimidated people, including witnesses and other officers who tried to investigate or report the misconduct or abuse the officers committed.
Zullo was arrested along with officers David Cari, Dennis Spaulding and Sergeant John Miller.

Both Miller and Spaulding were ordered not to enter the town without permission from the court.

All four say they're not guilty.

Wrong apology sought from East Haven's mayor

Rushing to condemn East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo Jr. for political incorrectness or insensitivity, his critics have let him get away with a real offense: his complicity in the perjury committed by his town's police officers.

When Maturo told a reporter this week that his response to the Latino community's concerns about police misconduct might be to have tacos for dinner, he wasn't being racist, though he happily has been presiding over bigotry. Rather the mayor was expressing contempt for those concerns -- as he already had done immediately upon this week's federal indictment of four East Haven officers.

"We basically have a very good police department," Maturo told the New Haven Register. "I stand by our police department from top to bottom."

This is the department that, since March 2009, had been exposed for falsifying the written record of the arrest of a Catholic priest who was videotaping the harassment of Latinos by East Haven police. The officers charged the priest with threatening them with what they thought was a weapon at a Latino grocery store. But the audio on the priest's video recorded the officers as acknowledging that he had only a camera. In court the charge against the priest was dismissed quickly and his video of the lying cops was broadcast repeatedly throughout the state.

But no one in authority in Connecticut's government did anything about the perjury by the police -- not the judge who dismissed the case against the priest; not the prosecutor who handled the charges; not East Haven's police chief, later suspended by Maturo's predecessor as mayor but quickly restored to office upon Maturo's election two months ago; not then-Gov. Jodi Rell; not Chief State's Attorney Kevin Kane; and not Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, now U.S. senator, and other members of Connecticut's congressional delegation who now have gotten upset only about "tacos." Even Governor Malloy's first comment about the case, this week, was only a demand that Maturo apologize for "tacos" -- which the mayor already had done.

The East Haven police enjoy no presumption of innocence in the matter of the priest. While nearly everything else in the federal indictment remains to be proved, the priest's case was already fully documented and concluded. Anyone could compare the signed arrest report against the video and audio of the incident and the dismissal of the charge.

That case and the lying officers behind it are what Mayor Maturo should be apologizing for, just for starters. His "taco" remark is only a snide little manifestation of his refusal to acknowledge and correct what is wrong with the East Haven police. What's wrong there won't be corrected by the mayor's supporting the department "from top to bottom" when it is plainly corrupt from the top down, with a chief who endorses perjury by his officers.

But then everyone in authority in Connecticut who knew about the case of the priest and decided not to risk political trouble with police officers, their unions, and bigots throughout the state and leave justice to the U.S. attorney's office or to God should be apologizing too.

Former New Brunswick Police Sergeant Indicted on Internal Affairs Tampering and Misconduct Charges

The Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office announced Wednesday that former New Brunswick Police Department Sgt. Richard Rowe has been indicted by a grand jury on charges of mishandling 81 Internal Affairs complaints filed with the city police department from 2003 to 2008.
Rowe, 44, who resigned from the city police force on Aug. 4, was charged on Oct. 11 with "Official misconduct, tampering with public records or information, obstructing the administration of law, and committing a pattern of official misconduct by repeatedly closing internal affairs cases without properly investigating the complaints," according to a press release from the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office.
The grand jury charged that Rowe knowingly made false entries in New Brunswick Police Department records, knowingly failed to thoroughly conduct and close out those 81 investigations, and that he removed, hid or destroyed files
According to the release, Rowe worked in the Internal Affairs Division from Sept. 23, 2002, to March 17, 2008.
An investigation and audit ensued, and the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office and state Attorney General's office were called after it was discovered by the New Brunswick Police Department that files were missing, the release said.
Rowe was suspended without pay from the force on March 21, at which point he was earning $123,202 annually.
If convicted, he could serve up to 21.5 years in state prison, lose his pension and be banned from public employment, the release said.
In the wake of the charges against Rowe, the New Brunswick Police Department has implemented some changes to ensure that Internal Affairs complaints are better handled. All complaints filed between January 2003 and March 2008 were reviewed. If any cases were deemed incomplete or missing documentation, thy were reopened and re-investigated, the release said.
Additionally, the police department announced that going forward, all new Internal Affairs complaints will be sent for review by the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office before they can be closed out

Austin police use of doctored DNA report in interrogation raises legal questions

ByTony Plohetski

Updated: 8:08 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012
Published: 7:58 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012
As his defense lawyers were working to free Michael Morton from prison because of a wrongful conviction that raised questions of prosecutor misconduct, Austin police doctored a crime lab report to use during the interrogation of a suspect in a related case, the American-Statesman has learned.
Austin police officials and Travis County prosecutors confirmed last week that they are looking into the techniques investigators used as they questioned Mark Alan Norwood during lengthy interviews in September.
The detectives used what Police Chief Art Acevedo called "an investigative prop" when seeking information from Norwood in the 1988 bludgeoning death of Debra Masters Baker in her home.
Officials at the state crime lab told Austin police cold case investigators that DNA tests had linked Norwood to the crime scene, officials said. But investigators did not yet have the written report, so they took a DNA report from a separate case, altered it to indicate it was from the Baker case and showed it to Norwood during the interrogation, officials said. Acevedo said the scientist who conducted the test also had authorized them to share the result.
Norwood didn't confess and has not been charged in Baker's death but remains a suspect, according to Austin police.
Norwood's lawyer and legal experts said they do not think the officers' actions will impede the case because Norwood did not confess, but several raised concerns about whether the detectives' actions may have violated laws on evidence tampering.
Acevedo said that investigators have since received the final report and that "the essence of the report is consistent with the prop used by the investigators."
Norwood is in the Williamson County Jail awaiting trial in the 1986 death of Christine Morton, whose husband served almost 25 years in prison for the crime but was declared innocent and released last year. A former prosecutor is facing allegations that he violated state law by hiding several pieces of evidence favorable to Morton.
Police are generally allowed to deceive suspects during interrogations in an effort to get a confession, but the creation of a false government document to use in such interviews raises legal questions. A March 2010 decision by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals threw out the confession of a man in San Antonio after a detective obtained the statement by using a falsely created report showing the suspect's fingerprints were on a gun used in a homicide.
The ruling said the detective violated state document tampering laws, which are intended to help "maintain honesty, integrity and reliability of the justice system." Officials have said the detective in that case was not charged with a crime.
The court said, "Neither police nor private individuals have a license to fabricate documents or other evidence and then use them to affect a criminal investigation or proceeding. This is exactly the type of law violation that the Texas Legislature intended to prohibit when it enacted (certain laws concerning confessions) — conduct by overzealous police officers who, despite their laudable motives, break the penal laws directly related to gathering and using evidence in their investigations."
That ruling helped prompt Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg to ask prosecutors in the Travis County attorney's office to review whether investigators may have violated the law by creating the altered DNA report.
A prosecutor from Lehmberg's office was present for Norwood's interrogation and was immediately troubled by the use of the altered document, she said. The prosecutor did some research on the legality of the technique and told his supervisors what had happened, Lehmberg said, adding that her office later informed Norwood's lawyer about the matter.
"It is important that the public have confidence not only in our conduct, but in the integrity of the evidence," Lehmberg said. "We will step up training to make sure officers understand what trickery and deception is allowed, and some is condoned, but that it has limits."
Travis County Attorney David Escamilla said he will review the information he received from Lehmberg's office and "take any appropriate action." Escamilla's office has been asked to oversee the inquiry because of the assistant district attorney's involvement in the case.

Victim in alleged sexual assault by Benton Harbor police officer files federal lawsuit

GRAND RAPIDS — A 25-year-old woman who says she was forced to perform sex acts on a Benton Harbor police officer under the threat of arrest has filed suit against the city and the officer's estate.
The 20-page action was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids by Dominque C. Allen and her attorney, Albert J. Dib, of Royal Oak.
Allen's suit, announced in a press release issued by Dib, Fagan and Brault, P.C., comes more than a month after Jared Lorenzo Graves, 42, was charged with two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count each of misconduct in office and delivery of marijuana.
Berrien County prosecutors alleged Graves forced a woman to perform oral sex on him and to have sex with him during two separate incidents in October and November and threatened to arrest her in connection with a drug case if she did not follow through.
Graves resigned from the police department after the allegations came to light and was found dead Jan. 12 inside his Benton Township home from an apparent suicide.
In her lawsuit, Allen alleges that Graves had been previously investigated for alleged sexual assaults while assigned as a school-resource officer with the Benton Harbor Police Department and that the city “is vicariously liable for Graves' conduct because it knew or should have known of Graves' propensities to sexually assault females before Graves committed the actions” against Allen.
Allen seeks a jury trial and asks for compensatory and punitive damages, as well as the payment of her court costs and attorney fees in the case.

Benton Harbor Police Face Federal Lawsuit

The Benton Harbor Police Department is facing a police misconduct and sexual assault lawsuit in federal court in Grand Rapids on behalf of Dominique Allen. Her attorney, Albert Dib, said they're filing the lawsuit due to the assaults the 25-year-old allegedly suffered at the hands of offer Jared Graves, who committed suicide earlier this month just before he was to go on trial.
Dib said they have not determined how much money they will seek in damages from the city and the police department. As for Benton Harbor's financial situation and its ability to pay any damages if they're found liable, the attorney said it's not his concern.
The lawsuit claims the department was aware of previous sexual misconduct by Graves and did not remove him from the force or take any other corrective action. The lawsuit was filed Tuesday.

Hiring Freeze Hinders a Fight Against Police Misconduct

There were some head-spinning developments on Wednesday at the Civilian Complaint Review Board’s first monthly meeting of 2012.
On the one hand, the board’s chairman, Daniel D. Chu, announced that financing for a new program to empower board lawyers to prosecute police officers in certain misconduct cases will continue to flow. Last summer, Mr. Chu had issued a sober warning that financing to keep the program — known as the Administrative Prosecution Unit — running was set to run out by the end of December.
On the other hand, there is a vacancy for the program’s sole lawyer position, and a hiring freeze on city agencies imposed by City Hall precludes filling that job, officials said.
“It is a perfect Catch-22,” said Christopher T. Dunn, the associate legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, who attended the meeting. “It is bureaucratic perfection; they have a line, it’s funded, but they cannot spend the money because of the hiring freeze.’’
“They can’t do any prosecution because they don’t have any staff,” Mr. Dunn added.
Until recently, Laura Edidin was the staff prosecutor for the board, which is an independent city agency that investigates allegations of officer misconduct. In May, Ms. Edidin carried out the board’s first solo lead prosecution in a police misconduct case – against two officers in the Bronx who faced internal disciplinary charges after the board substantiated a complaint by a man who claimed the police abused their authority.
But Ms. Edidin has since moved on to a new job, as deputy executive director for legal affairs and investigations for the review board, said Linda Sachs, a spokeswoman for the board.
In the case regarding the Bronx officers, Ms. Edidin won.
According to Ms. Sachs, the police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, last month meted out punishment against the two officers on trial, Richard Rodriguez and Miguel Alvarez. Each officer lost 10 vacation days, Ms. Sachs said, for abusing their authority in issuing a summons for disorderly conduct to Julius Lewis as he tried to cross a busy street with his wife, Yesenia, in February 2009. He said he had to jump out of the way to avoid being hit by a police van.
Mr. Chu, in a statement on the case’s disposition, said: “The confidence that the victim and his wife maintained in the complaint process made this guilty finding possible. Without their cooperation and willingness to testify, the officers would not have been held accountable for their actions.”
Mr. Chu also described his hopes for the board’s prosecution unit’s attaining an unimpeachable presence in the city.
“Transformation of the A.P.U. from a pilot project to permanent status is an important milestone in the history of civilian police oversight in New York City,” Mr. Chu said. “Having the C.C.R.B. prosecute misconduct cases can only strengthen public confidence in the disciplinary process.”
So far, the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations have generated around 850 contacts to the Civilian Complaint Review Board from people around the country who have lodged complaints about the city’s policing efforts – via e-mail or telephone calls or letters – about things they have seen on television or the Internet.
The board is keeping careful track of what has shaped up to be a sort of social media phenomenon, and is digesting who sent the complaints, as well as their insights into behavior by the nation’s largest police force in dealing with large-scale civil disobedience.
More narrowly, however, the demonstrations have generated a smaller number of actual cases for the board, an official said.
So far, there are 37 cases of alleged wrongdoing by officers stemming from the protests, said Ms. Sachs, the board spokeswoman. Those cases involve 78 protesters, she said, and involve allegations against 41 police officers.
“The majority of the allegations are for the use of force,” said Ms. Sachs, who said they encompass officers’ use of pepper spray or batons and cover issues like allegations that officers kept handcuffs on too tight or improperly used a vehicle or an animal, presumably a police horse.
Mr. Dunn, of the civil liberties group, who has been tallying the numbers, said that while 29 complaints had to do with force, 12 others had to do with officers allegedly abusing their authority. One case, Mr. Dunn said, was for an officer’s alleged offensive language.

New Denver Police Chief White promises transparency, review of internal affairs

DENVER — Police Chief Robert White said he'll be out front and provide as much information as possible on police misconduct cases that arise on his watch, while trying to speed up the disciplinary process.
White took over a department last month that has been plagued by repeated allegations of excessive force in recent years. Mayor Michael Hancock tapped the former Louisville, Ky., police chief to take over the 1,400-member department that Hancock said needs to work on restoring public confidence.
To that end, White said he'll be open with the community about whether an officer is right or wrong. And on internal affairs investigations, White said he's considering enacting a 90-day deadline to complete them, with time extensions granted for good reasons. Such investigations recently have taken several months, even years to complete.
"We've got to show the community that we are more than capable of managing ourselves and disciplining ourselves," White said in an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press. "We have to say, 'Hey, this officer did everything according to our policies or procedures,' or preliminarily, 'I have a lot of unanswered questions as related to the conduct of this police officer.'"
Just five weeks into his job, White said he is discovering a cumbersome and lengthy disciplinary process that he and his boss, Manager of Safety Alex Martinez said needs to be changed. The process includes the independent monitor, the Civil Service Commission, and the department's internal affairs investigation process that includes reviews by police supervisors and other department leaders.
"In five departments in 39 years of doing this, there are more layers in this disciplinary process than I've ever seen," White said. He started his career with the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington in 1972, worked as the public safety director for D.C.'s housing authority, and served as police chief in Greensboro, N.C., before taking the top post at Louisville's police department.
"I want to look at the time it takes to do those (internal affairs) investigations. I want to look at the number of people who are weighing in. Quality and the timing. Those are the type of things I'm looking for," White said.
Richard Rosenthal, head of the Office of Independent Monitor that was created in 2005 following a string of deadly police shootings in the early 2000s which included the death of unarmed man and a developmentally disabled teen, blasted the department for the length of time it takes to complete internal investigations. Rosenthal, in a scathing report issued before he left earlier this month for a similar position in British Columbia, suggested the department was purposely dragging its feet on investigations.
And on internal affairs investigations, White says he's considering enacting a 90-day deadline to complete them, with extensions granted for good cause.
PHOTO: FILE - This Dec. 15, 2011 file photo shows Denver Police Chief Robert White during a meeting with Occupy Denver protesters across from the Capitol in Denver. White said he'll be out front and provide as much information as possible on police misconduct cases that arise on his watch, while trying to speed up the disciplinary process. "We've got to show the community that we are more than capable of managing ourselves and disciplining ourselves," White said in an interview Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012 with The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski, File)
FILE - This Dec. 15, 2011 file photo shows Denver Police Chief Robert White during a meeting with Occupy Denver protesters across from the Capitol in Denver. White said he'll be out front and provide as much information as possible on police misconduct cases that arise on his watch, while trying to speed up the disciplinary process. "We've got to show the community that we are more than capable of managing ourselves and disciplining ourselves," White said in an interview Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012 with The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski, File)
Rosenthal also publicly called for a civil rights investigation.
In two high profile cases, the department and the manager of safety's office have fired the officers involved. Two officers shown on video throwing a man to the ground outside a downtown nightclub in 2009 were fired after a nearly two-year process. They were reinstated, which the city is appealing.
In April, two other officers were fired over allegations they lied about their actions during arrests caught on one of the city's surveillance cameras. The video from the July 2009 arrests shows one officer using a billy club to shove some women to the ground outside a downtown eatery. He is seen near a woman on her knees when a second officer sprays mace in her face and then sprays the crowd.
Those officers were reinstated this month by a Civil Service Commission panel, although that decision is also being appealed. One of the officers in that case was also involved in the beating of Alexander Landau, who suffered brain injuries and trauma during a 2009 traffic stop that resulted in a $795,000 settlement with the city.
Between 2008 and 2011, the city averaged about $900,000 each year in excessive force settlements.
In Louisville, White said he was consulted before cases were settled, sometimes in cases where the officer wasn't at fault. In those cases, city attorneys believed they couldn't win, he said.
"Sometimes you have to say this is an issue that we're going to fight," White said. "We might go into this losing but there is more value in taking this one through the process.
"I'm not the guy to make those decisions, but I think those decisions should be made with the understanding of the consequences of the outcome."
The Denver city attorney's office has said it settled the lawsuits without acknowledging liability in order to avoid lengthy and costly legal battles.

Village of Palmyra police chief fired over handling of cases

The village of Palmyra's police chief has been fired after village officials determined he handled several cases improperly.
Among the cases, according to officials: He parked his personal truck loaded with 89 confiscated marijuana plants on high school grounds; he refused to prosecute a volunteer suspected of exposing himself to third-grade boys several times; and he mishandled a drug case.
The Palmyra Police Department Committee voted 2-1 last week in favor of firing Chief Charles Warren after determining he performed his job unsatisfactorily. In doing so, the committee acted against the recommendations of the village's hearing examiner, attorney John Fuchs, who concluded after a hearing in November that Warren showed "room for improvement" but no misconduct.
Warren's attorney, Paul Bucher, called the dismissal "racially motivated" and said he plans to sue. Warren is black. He has been with the department for five years.
It was Palmyra resident and retired Milwaukee police detective Gary Byers who brought three cases to the attention of the Police Department Committee in a complaint, saying Warren didn't follow policy. In hearings Nov. 21-22, Byers outlined the cases.

Child enticement case

According to village records:
A third-grader told his teacher in October 2009 that he and four other special-needs children had played "truth or dare, be naked" at the home of a volunteer with the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization. The student said the man also exposed himself several times and showered where the boys could see him. School officials reported the case to police.
Warren called in former village Police Chief Scott Neubauer to help him because he had expertise in child abuse. The two determined no sexual assault had occurred. But Neubauer said he believed that the man was a "seductive pedophile" - someone who's likely to commit a sexual assault in a matter of time - so he recommended a search of the man's apartment and a referral of the case to the Jefferson County district attorney's office.
Warren disagreed, saying he thought there was insufficient evidence "that a crime had yet been committed."
"He (Warren) felt no charges would issue, but detrimental embarrassment of the adult would result," Fuchs' summary of the case said.
No one brought the case to the district attorney's attention.

Marijuana case

In another case, the chief had used hunting cameras to survey an area on the border of the village where marijuana plants were growing. He was unable to figure out who was growing or harvesting them. On Aug. 31, 2010, he knew a student activity was coming up and ordered two officers to tear up the plants.
While the officers harvested the plants, the chief coached football at Palmyra-Eagle High School. The officers realized the plants didn't fit in their police car. Having no truck in the department, they called the chief, who owns a truck. He left the football session and had the officers load the plants into his truck. He then drove back to the high school to help finish practice, parking the truck on school grounds.
A woman walking by noticed the odor of marijuana and the roots of the plants sticking out of the truck and helped herself to some. The chief noticed this and sent an officer, who gave her a ticket. Warren later advocated for dismissal of the ticket because he thought the embarrassment that the woman's innocent son would have experienced from media coverage was enough punishment.
The village did not have an evidence room big enough to store the marijuana plants, so the chief didn't inventory the marijuana for use as evidence but took it home. More than a month later, he borrowed a chipper, shredded the plants and buried them in his yard.
"The marijuana never grew and was never illegally used," Fuchs' document states. "Many days passed by the time the chief did this, but he had no shredder."
Byers argued that the marijuana is evidence of criminal behavior. Fuchs countered that the plants were not being used as evidence because there was no suspect. Besides, he said, the chief could not be punished for not following policies on handling evidence because the Police Department has no such policies.

Drug case

In a third case, involving the 2009 death of a 34-year-old woman, the Jefferson County coroner made a preliminary finding that she died of an accidental drug overdose. Before the Milwaukee County medical examiner - a doctor - issued his final ruling and toxicology report, the woman's mother called the police, saying the confiscated drugs were hers and she needed to get them back. She had a prescription for the drugs that her daughter had stolen.
Warren told her to contact her doctor, but when she said the doctor was unavailable, Warren agreed to release the drugs, fearing the department would be liable for damages if something happened to the woman. He did not wait for the medical examiner's report to determine whether foul play was a factor in the death of the woman.
Fuchs concluded that the drug overdose case and the marijuana case did not rise to the level of cause for suspension or removal. But he called the child enticement case "a disturbing situation."
"There seems something wrong here," he wrote in his recommendation.
Yet, because Warren didn't ignore the case, there wasn't cause for suspension or termination, Fuchs said.
He concluded: "I do not see misconduct. I do not see incompetence. I find merely room for improvement."

Committee's vote

The committee disagreed. It had the choice of suspending Warren with pay or firing him, committee member Cindy Bontempo said in an interview Sunday. The committee voted 2-1 in favor of termination for "unsatisfactory performance demonstrated by the failure, or either unwillingness or inability to perform assigned tasks, failure to perform work standards established for the officer's rank . . . failure to take appropriate action on the occasion of a crime, disorder or other conduct deserving police attention," Village Attorney Val Anderson explained after the vote.
Bontempo said that the chief is "a great guy" who's loved by a lot of people in the community, but that he has a hard time balancing those relationships with doing his job. Taken individually, she said, the three cases may have been addressed with discipline but cumulatively constituted a reason for dismissal.
"A lot of it felt sloppy. Somebody's going to get hurt on it," she said. "He's worried about what's going to happen to these people. I think he's torn between making sure that everything's covered or he doesn't embarrass somebody for the wrong reasons. . . . I think he has a hard time balancing that."
Warren's attorney, Bucher, said a committee member had made racial comments against Warren, one of very few black men in the village.
"The information we have is, at least one of the members had made a statement she didn't like the chief because he was black. That will be pursued. It's an outrageous decision," he said in an interview. "This is clearly, without a doubt, a racial issue. And we're going to respond in kind. There was no just cause to terminate. I don't think there's any court in the land that will look at this and find just cause."
Bontempo said she doesn't know of any racial comments anybody made.
Bucher said he planned to seek a temporary injunction to prevent the firing from taking effect and planned to sue the village.

Trooper may face additional penalties for drunken driving

When Robin Parker, a state police sergeant, was pulled over for driving drunk on the Maine Turnpike Dec. 18, he faced criminal penalties as well as a demotion and a two-month suspension from work.

But the potential sanctions don't stop there. Parker's privilege to be a law enforcement officer depends on a certificate awarded to him and some 5,000 other police and corrections officers in Maine by the board of trustees at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy.
Trustees can suspend or revoke the certification of any officer who commits a felony or class D misdemeanor -- such as as operating under the influence -- or who is involved in any theft, falsification in official matters, bribery or illegal drug use.
In the past four years, trustees have acted on 120 complaints of criminal misconduct by police and corrections officers in Maine.
Eighty-three of those officers were permanently decertified or gave up their certification before the board met, and 29 had their certifications suspended and later restored or were placed on aprobationary status.
The goal is to make sure that the people given power to enforce the law are worthy of the public trust, says Linda Smithers, a trustee from Starks who serves as a private citizen representative on the board's three-member complaint review committee.
"You don't want a drunken thief carrying a gun, going out and enforcing the law," Smithers said. "(A person like that) should not be in law enforcement."
The board was given decertification authority in 1991. Then-Attorney General Michael Carpenter advocated for the change after he learned a state police officer accused of using excessive force had been allowed to resign. The officer was then hired by a sheriff's department, but later resigned again only to be hired by a local police department, according to Brian MacMaster, the attorney general's representative on the board and its chairman.
Each agency let the officer resign rather than be fired or prosecuted, he said.
Now, local police chiefs and county sheriffs are required to notify the academy's board whenever an officer is accused of serious misconduct -- the report is then reviewed by the three-member complaint committee. The committee, which meets monthly, first decides whether it is an appropriate referral -- it does not rule on non-criminal violations of department policy.
Members then examine police reports and internal affairs investigations.
They often hold informal conferences with the officer and get feedback from his or her agency. The committee has the discretion to take several factors into consideration.
A person's record can be a factor, as is the level of support from the officer's agency, but the officer's conduct is given the most relevance, say committee members.
Members then make a recommendation to the full board, made up of 17 members representing local, county, state and federal public safety agencies as well as the public, an educator and a municipal official.
The complaint committee had not received all the material on Parker by its last meeting and meets next in February, when it is likely to make a recommendation.
It is unlikely Parker's certificate will be revoked or even suspended.
Historically, police charged with a first offense of operating under the influence have entered into a consent agreement with the board.
In several cases in 2011 involving drunken driving and other offenses, consent agreements require the officers to avoid new criminal conduct until the middle of 2014. Any new charges would lead to a certificate suspension pending a review by the board.
"If you look at the spirit of the decertification law, you want to decertify people who shouldn't be cops," said Maine State Police Sgt. Mike Edes, president of the Maine State Troopers Association. "(Parker) has taken steps to correct his behavior. There are no dishonesty issues here. It's all bad judgement."
Edes said the state invests a lot of time and money in training state troopers, and if an officer's behavior can be corrected, that person should remain an officer.
MacMaster said unions representing police officers have encouraged the board to make more use of suspensions, which carry a temporary loss of enforcement powers. That represents a middle ground between a consent agreement and decertification.
The board decided 34 cases of potentially disqualifying conduct in 2011, up sharply from the 24 decided in 2010.
There were 10 decertifications last year for conduct ranging from domestic violence to possession of child pornography to putting hot sauce in inmates' food.
Another 12 law enforcement and corrections officers voluntarily surrendered their certificates rather than go through board review. In those cases, the alleged misconduct is not described.
MacMaster said the board's records in decertification cases are confidential except for any final discipline.
The egregious cases that lead to decertification are the ones that get the attention, said Saco Police Chief Brad Paul, who has served on the complaint committee the past three years.
"The vast majority of what comes before us, we're able to resolve the issue, come to some kind of acknowledgment of conduct and talk about how we move ahead from here, often times in the form of a consent agreement," Paul said.
The board's review and its sanctions are not intended to be punishment, which is handled by the courts and a person's agency, said Paul.
The board entered consent agreements with 10 officers last year, at least three for drunken driving.
The agreements generally require an officer to avoid any new misconduct, or face immediate suspension of his or her certificate pending a board review.
"We want to know the issues have been addressed by the individuals," said Paul. "There's some acknowledgment of responsibility and a plan for avoiding any kind of repeat incident in the future."
MacMaster said he knows of only two cases in which an officer violated a consent agreement -- both were drunken driving cases in which the officer was again arrested for operating under the influence. One was 10 years ago, the other about five years ago, he said.
South Portland Deputy Chief Amy Berry, another complaint committee member, said that police misconduct is serious business, but only a small fraction of officers undergo board review.
There are 2,610 full-time and 1,020 part-time law enforcement officers in the state, and 1,578 full-time and 136 part-time corrections officers, said John Rogers, executive director of the criminal justice academy and staff person for the board.
In the cases reviewed by the complaint committee in 2011, about half involved corrections officers and half were law enforcement officers, Rogers said.
The committee tries to be consistent in its recommendations to the full board, and this is aided by the makeup of the committee, MacMaster said.
Smithers is a member of the public who does labor management consulting, and Paul and Berry are both police executives who have to deal with personnel issues in their own departments. Members recuse themselves when they know the officer under review.
"They have a keen awareness of due process and treating people fair and equal," she said. "There's usually going to be good reason behind why someone may not have made out as well as someone else for what appears to be similar conduct."
The board's approach to certification review has evolved from what was a panel prone to favoritism and tolerance to a board enforcing professional standards as well as any other in the state, Smithers said.
"When I first started, the old boys group, the thin blue line, all that stuff was there. It was pervasive. Personally, as a citizen, it was horrifying," Smithers said.
She said that approach is gone, and not just because the law requires that private citizens be members of the board.
"The law enforcement members of the board are professional people who want it to continue to be a profession and to improve it," she said.
"They're not going to cover for the bad boy any more ... We're evaluating whether or not this person is suitable for a career in law enforcement."

Dellwood Police Department Under Fire

Serious crimes, including rape cases and child abuse cases, in Dellwood, Missouri, have gone unprosecuted and the mayor says it`s because of police misconduct. Officers allegedly mishandled critical evidence and never turned over investigations to prosecutors. But not everyone believes the allegations.

The city of Dellwood put its chief on leave in November and St. Louis County loaned the city an administrative officer to fill the position. When he came in, Dellwood Mayor Loretta Johnson says he discovered trouble.

The department`s handling of evidence was in disarray. Officers had taken weapons confiscated in crimes for their own personal use, and sold copper that was evidence in another case to a scrap yard.

Those revelations sparked an audit, which uncovered disturbing details. In more than 120 crimes, Dellwood officers did not present the case to the St. Louis County prosecutor`s office to apply for warrants. And in dozens of cases, they never sent evidence to a lab for analysis.

"There are rape cases. You try explaining that to somebody`s daughter who was a rape victim and thought evidence was being taken seriously, and taken to St. Louis County for processing and it never made it," said Johnson.

But some of Johnson`s critics say this is politics at work. Johnson is in favor of dissolving Dellwood`s police department and allowing St. Louis County to take over. Four aldermen are on her side. But four others are not. They have been boycotting Board of Aldermen meetings since December to prevent a quorum from being present, so the board cannot vote on the takeover.

James Lovings is one of the aldermen boycotting the meetings. And he says the entire audit is biased and skewed, because the mayor supports the county takeover, and the county did the audit. 'You should be able to read between the lines on this,' he said.

"A lot of officers are not applying for warrants because they have already tried. The cases go there, sit in a lab for two or three months before you get results back, and then the end result, it`s denied."

"The problem is not just Dellwood. I`m sure other municipalities are experiencing this issue, where officers go and apply for different applications and it gets denied," he said. "And some of these cases are still being worked."

But the statute of limitations is up on some of the cases involved.

Based on the audit findings, Mayor Johnson is recommending three officers be terminated, but the firings need board approval. Until a board meeting happens, the officers are on unpaid leave.

Other officers will be disciplined, said City Administrator Frank Myers. "Part of the discipline will be training so these officers know how to properly do their jobs," he said. Some officers knew what to do, others had completed the process for a small number of cases, but "then totally neglected the process for a large percentage of others," he said.

Dellwood`s department is dwindling in numbers. Only seven full time officers remain, and two are taking jobs with St. Louis County in early February. Dellwood typically has 15 to 16 officers, but several have left due to the uncertain future. Some are applying for jobs with the county in anticipation of a takeover.

"This is not a witch hunt. The proof is there. It`s up to me to react to it," said Johnson. "I think the citizens that did not get justice deserve an answer and it`s up to me to ask the questions what happened"

Vow to Fight Police Misconduct Faces Skepticism

After a year that saw a steady drumbeat of police corruption cases and increased scrutiny of several New York Police Department practices, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg pledged on Thursday to add four lawyers to the two-person legal staff at the agency responsible for monitoring the department’s Internal Affairs Bureau.       
“We don’t tolerate misconduct or corruption anywhere,” the mayor said in his annual State of the City address. “And we have the very highest standards for those we entrust to enforce the law.”
But Mr. Bloomberg’s plans were met by skepticism among those who view the entity, the Mayor’s Commission to Combat Police Corruption, as a flawed watchdog. Tiny, with a modest budget, it has no subpoena power and relies on the department’s good will for relevant information. Even its chairman, Michael F. Armstrong, who was the counsel to the Knapp Commission on police corruption in the 1970s, has acknowledged the commission’s limitations.
Richard Aborn, the president of the Citizens Crime Commission, said, “If we were to have effective oversight of the N.Y.P.D., it would have two elements, independence and transparency, and you only achieve independence if you have subpoena power and funding that cannot be eliminated.”
Mr. Armstrong has taken the position that the department, under Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, does not need outside oversight.
One former law enforcement official who closely tracked the commission’s work for many years said the department’s refusal in some instances to cooperate with the commission and the agency’s lack of subpoena power made the addition of the new lawyers “form over substance — window dressing.”
“Without the department’s cooperation and full subpoena power, it means absolutely nothing,” the former official said.
Following a year in which the police force suffered a series of black eyes from scandals, the mayor used his speech to hail Mr. Kelly for ensuring that the department is “the most upstanding.”
Still, corruption accusations reached all parts of the city in 2011. In the Bronx, 16 police officers were indicted, and hundreds more ensnared, in a long-running inquiry into ticket-fixing.
Separately, an elaborate F.B.I. sting operation led to several current and former New York City officers, many of whom worked at the same Brooklyn police precinct, being charged with taking payments to drive guns into the city. Prosecutors in Queens saw seven narcotics investigators convicted of planting drugs on people to meet arrest quotas.
The mayor’s proposal would most likely include an increase of more than $400,000 to the commission’s current $560,000 annual budget.
Some analysts pointed out that as the mayor spoke of adding staff at one agency, he was silent on the problems faced by another, the Civilian Complaint Review Board. A hiring freeze imposed by City Hall leaves unfilled the position of prosecutor for a two-year-old review board program meant to prosecute city officers in certain internal disciplinary matters. Thus, the authority to prosecute substantiated misconduct complaints — as the program envisioned — is delayed.
The program, known as the Administrative Prosecution Unit, has handled a total of three cases since September 2010, when Laura Edidin, a former assistant United States attorney, was hired at an annual $105,000 salary, officials said. She moved in early November to another position at the board.
The situation is frustrating for the board, particularly since its chairman, Daniel D. Chu, said this week that overall financing for the new program would continue to flow. Last summer, Mr. Chu issued a sober warning that financing to keep the program running was set to run out by the end of December.
That a policing oversight program announced in February 2010, with much fanfare, has survived a threat to its dedicated financing stream, only to be paralyzed by a hiring freeze, struck many analysts as nonsensical.
“It is a perfect Catch-22,” said Christopher T. Dunn, the associate legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. “It is bureaucratic perfection; they have a line, it’s funded, but they cannot spend the money because of the hiring freeze.”
“They can’t do any prosecutions because they don’t have any staff,” Mr. Dunn added.
A spokesman for the mayor said the board’s staffing needs were under review.

William K. Rashbaum contributed reporting.

Atlanta police investigate allegation of misconduct at Blake's

by Dyana Bagby

The Atlanta Police Department is conducting an official investigation into allegations of police misconduct during the arrest of two men at Blake's on the Park. Management of the popular Midtown gay bar, however, is praising the APD's handling of the incident.

APD Deputy Chief Renee Propes, who is openly gay, said during Monday's Atlanta Police LGBT Advisory Board meeting that an Office of Professional Standard investigation was opened this week after an allegation a police officer ordered a patron at the popular Midtown gay bar to delete video off his cellphone during the arrest of two unruly patrons.

The alleged misconduct occurred late Friday, Jan. 20, when APD was called to the bar for backup after a fight broke out, including one of the patrons arrested allegedly throwing a drink in the face of an off-duty officer working security and then allegedly knocking his glasses off his face. The patron also allegedly punched Blake's manager Doug Edmisten in the head.

The lone allegation of misconduct is made by an anonymous male. The APD contacted him to ask about the allegations he made and he has yet to make an official statement with OPS and is asking to remain anonymous, according to Propes and the city's law department. At least seven other witnesses gave statements to the APD the night of the incident and none said any misconduct occurred, according to Major Chris Leighty, commander of Zone 5 that includes Blake's.

The manager and senior bartender at Blake's disputed the claims made by the individual and said the APD acted professionally and with respect toward its customers after two customers became "belligerent" and a "scuffle" broke out between them and employees of the bar including an off-duty officer. Lynn Barfield, known as "Mama Lynn" to many of Blake's customers and a 2011 Atlanta Pride Grand Marshal, also said there was no misconduct by the APD.

Edmisten described what happened Friday night and said there were two "belligerent" customers who he asked to leave the bar. When they refused, Edmisten asked for assistance from the off-duty officer who also asked the men to leave.

Edmisten said at that point one of the two patrons threw a drink in the off-duty officer's face and attempted to hit him and then punched Edmisten in the head.

As Edmisten and the off-duty officer were escorting the men out the back door and into the parking lot, one of the patrons started fighting with the off-duty officer. The patron was handcuffed and APD backup was called, Edmisten said.

By the time the backup officers arrived, the two patrons were outside in the parking lot. At no time did the backup officers enter the bar, he said.

The first responding officer then handcuffed the second patron.

"I did not hear an officer at any time to ask anyone to stop videotaping the incident," Edmisten said. "The backup APD did not call anyone names such as 'princess' as stated in the media as I had moved everyone back into the bar.

"The backup APD arrived quickly and were totally professional. I think this is an embarrassment for anyone to try to link this incident to the Atlanta Eagle," he said.

Oakland Police ordered to take extra steps to comply with reforms from Riders misconduct case

By Cecily Burt
Oakland Tribune

Posted: 01/24/2012 08:18:38 PM PST

Updated: 01/24/2012 08:24:30 PM PST

U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson has canceled a Thursday hearing to review Oakland Police department's progress on reforms ordered nine years ago to settle the Riders police misconduct case and instead ordered the department to work more closely with the monitor overseeing the agreement.

According to the Independent Monitor, the department is no closer to complying with the Negotiated Settlement Agreement than it was three months ago, despite Henderson's threats to appoint a federal receiver to oversee the department.

Attorneys representing 119 plaintiffs who filed the lawsuit requested Henderson set a date to appoint a receiver, but also said they would work with OPD to exhaust all other remedies before that happens.

On Tuesday, Henderson ordered Interim Police Chief Howard Jordan to consult with the monitor before carrying out any disciplinary actions or personnel changes; changing policy or the manual of rules; using tactical initiatives that have a direct bearing on the NSA; and procuring equipment used for compliance with the reforms.

"The Court hopes that these intermediate measures will be sufficient to move (the Oakland police department) into full compliance, but it also shares Plaintiffs' concerns that Defendants are taking far too long to achieve what they should have achieved at least four years ago," Henderson wrote in Tuesday's decision.

Henderson said the court will take action to place the department in receivership if compliance is not achieved soon

San Francisco Police Probed

One of Many Law-Enforcement Corruption Cases Opened By Justice Department

SAN FRANCISCO—A videotape found more than a year ago by a defense lawyer in a routine drug case has helped spark this city's biggest police-misconduct probe in years—one of numerous investigations into law-enforcement practices being conducted nationwide by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The tape, attorney Scott Sugarman says, showed his client dressed in a black jacket as police arrested him. But officers wrote in statements that the defendant was wearing a white jacket that contained drugs. The drug-possession case was dismissed by prosecutors.

Dozens of other instances have since surfaced where officers' written statements allegedly conflicted with surveillance videos or other evidence. San Francisco's district attorney dismissed dozens of such cases, and asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate.

Now federal prosecutors are moving forward with a probe that examines, in part, whether San Francisco police made arrests under false pretenses while conducting investigations, many of them concerning the poor people who live in the Henry and other residential hotels, say people briefed on the investigation.

The prosecutors have already brought at least three city police officers in front of a grand jury, say officials with the city's police union, and have issued subpoenas to witnesses of alleged misconduct, says a person familiar with the matter.

Prosecutors questioned the officers on a series of cases in which evidence, including videotapes, appears to show officers entering the hotels without warrants, taking items from residents, and filing false paperwork, say three people familiar with the probe. The police who have testified before the grand jury are likely witnesses, rather than targets, say people briefed on the matter. It's not clear how many officers are being investigated, these people say, though it could be more than a dozen.

A police department spokesman declined to comment. A police union official says members believe local politics has played a role in the investigation.

The San Francisco investigation comes as the Justice Department is scrutinizing potential civil-rights violations in at least 20 police departments across the U.S., Deputy Assistant Attorney General Roy Austin said in a speech last month. A Justice Department spokeswoman says the department's police-abuse probes are the most in its history, and that curbing civil-rights violations is a priority for the department now.

As a result of one of these investigations, the Justice department said it found that Seattle police used too much force when arresting mentally ill people for minor offenses. The department is also investigating whether police in Portland, Ore., and Miami, Fla., engaged in civil-rights abuses in a series of shootings in recent years.

A Miami police spokesman said the police are cooperating with the Justice Department. A Portland police spokesman said the department was notified about the probe last year. A Seattle police spokesman said the department is discussing the findings with Justice.

The criminal investigation in San Francisco is different from those civil probes because officers could go to prison.

San Francisco U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag declined to comment on the investigation.

A year ago, Ms. Haag created a special division in her office to probe priority areas including law-enforcement corruption. Now they're handled by a small group of senior prosecutors.

In recent months they have charged the head of a state drug task force east of San Francisco with stealing drug evidence and shaking down prostitutes, and indicted a San Francisco crime lab worker on charges connected to allegedly snorting evidence.

A lawyer for the crime lab worker said his client is fighting the charges. The former drug task force chief has pleaded not guilty, though his lawyer says he admits to some wrongdoing.

The circumstances leading to the grand jury probe developed last year, as San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi, who is elected, began searching for instances where officers' documentation from arrests conflicted with other evidence.

In July Mr. Adachi hired a former American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who specializes in police-misconduct cases to see whether there were more examples. The attorney, Jay Rorty, says his office identified dozens of questionable cases and he worked to get some dismissed.

In response to the allegations, the police department has placed "a number" of officers on administrative leave, a police spokesman said, while San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon had prosecutors in his office review cases for possible misconduct, including some of those identified by Mr. Adachi.

As a result of the review, Mr. Gascon's office has dismissed 137 cases over the past year, a spokeswoman said.

Normally, said Omid Talai, a felony prosecutor in the DA's office, "it's very rare" to dismiss a case because an officer is under criminal investigation. Many of these were dismissed, he says, because police who made the arrests were suspended from active duty due to the probe and weren't available to testify. In a hearing last fall in a dismissed drug cases, lawyers for two officers said that if called to testify, their clients would invoke their Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination.

Kevin Martin, the vice president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association, says his union members are worried that Mr. Adachi—who ran unsuccessfully for mayor last year—has pushed the cases out of a desire to advance politically. Mr. Adachi "got a lot of mileage out of going after cops," Mr. Martin says.

But Mr. Adachi says: "This is not about politics, it's about preserving and protecting the public trust."

Write to Justin Scheck at justin.scheck@wsj.com

Copyright 2011 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

EDITORIAL: Another take on police

EDITORIAL: Another take on police

Protester wins a judgment against a Eugene sergeant

Published: (Saturday, Jan 28, 2012 05:00AM) Midnight, Jan. 28

A federal jury’s ruling Monday that a Eugene police sergeant used excessive force to arrest an environmental activist in 2009 should serve as a reminder to law enforcement officials that people in the community they serve often see allegations of police misconduct through a different prism than the one police use to view those same allegations.
After a four-day trial, the jury awarded Josh Schlossberg $5,583 in damages after deciding unanimously that the environmental activist’s constitutional rights were violated by Sgt. Bill Solesbee during a March 13, 2009, encounter in front of an Umpqua Bank branch at Seventh Avenue and Oak Street.
Schlossberg had set up a table there to hand out leaflets. He was videotaping his interactions with police when Solesbee arrested him for allegedly violating a state law that prohibits people from secretly recording conversations. Schlossberg was released shortly after his arrest, and no formal charges were filed.
In his lawsuit, Schlossberg said he complied with the law by informing Solesbee that he planned to record their interaction and did not conceal his camera. A YouTube clip of the incident shows Solesbee saying that police had received a complaint that activists were “harassing people” and blocking pedestrians. After Schlossberg denied those allegations, the sergeant told Schlossberg that he needed a permit to set up a table on the sidewalk, and should “keep moving.”
Solesbee then took issue with Schlossberg videotaping their conversation. When the activist said he had previously informed Solesbee that he planned to tape their exchange, the sergeant denied that was the case and demanded the camera.
The YouTube tape shows Solesbee saying, “Give me that; that’s evidence.” That’s where the tape ends, and Schlossberg claimed that Solsebee injured him by forcing his arms behind his back, throwing him to the ground and placing his knee on his neck.
Schlossberg initially filed a formal misconduct complaint with the police department, alleging that his constitutional rights were violated when Solesbee seized his camera and viewed its contents. Schlossberg also said the sergeant had used excessive force and arrested him without justifiable cause.
After an internal review, Chief Pete Kerns determined that Solesbee did not violate Schlossberg’s rights, and that both the arrest and the sergeant’s force were “objectively reasonable” and in compliance with department policy. The city’s police auditor also investigated the complaint and came to a similar conclusion.
Schlossberg then filed a lawsuit in federal court, where a jury reviewed the allegations and came to a different conclusion. So did U.S. Magistrate Thomas Coffin, who before the trial began took the unusual step of ruling that Solesbee violated Schlossberg’s rights by viewing contents of his video camera without a search warrant.
The jury’s ruling pleased department critics who contend that the city’s police officers rarely are held accountable for misconduct. But it’s unwise to make too much out of an incident that occurred nearly three years ago. The ruling should not be regarded as an indictment of the police department’s internal complaint system — or of the current conduct of the city’s police officers.
Yes, Eugene police have had some noteworthy problems over the years dealing with protesters, but its recent performance has been professional, and at times exemplary.
The department’s recent handling of the Occupy Eugene protest was marked by restraint, judgment and cooperation; it should be viewed as a model by other communities dealing with similar situations. Behind the scenes, the department has made a significant investment in training officers on protecting the rights of suspects and on the proper use of force. As for the police’s internal review system, the department says its overall rate of sustained allegations was 27 percent in 2010 and 26 percent in 2011, significantly higher than in most communities.
The federal jury’s ruling in the Schlossberg case should serve as a reminder to police that both real and perceived mistakes and misjudgments by officers carry a price — and that juries made up of ordinary people often have a different perspective on police misconduct than that of law enforcement.
But it should not be seen as a measuring stick for a department that has made marked improvement in recent years.

A mother has accused three Houston police officers of brutality

by Larry Seward / KHOU 11 News


Posted on January 28, 2012 at 5:48 PM

Updated today at 7:01 PM

HOUSTON—A mother has accused three Houston police officers of brutality. She said they bruised and punched her in the face over a cell phone video.

Her face is bruised, left arm swollen, lips are busted in two places and her back is scarred. Annika Lewis claims all of those injuries came at the hands of three Houston police officers.

“I am very stunned,” Lewis said. “I always thought, you know, people got beat by police because they were resisting arrest.”

Lewis’ husband, Sebastian Prevot, was taken into custody Friday morning and charged with resisting arrest. Houston police declined to comment on his case and said the incident report would not be available until Monday.

On the phone, Prevot said he did not stop far enough behind a stop sign. Prevot said he was pulled over then beaten in front of his northeast Houston home. Lewis, who was inside, came out armed with her cell phone. She said she recorded video until officers took her memory card.

“What they did is violate her first amendment rights,” said Deric Muhammad, a community activist.

Last Thursday, Muhammad and others organized a community town hall meeting for northeast patrol officers to hear personal stories of alleged police abuse and profiling. However, after what happened to Lewis, Muhammad is calling for more.

“This is just another example of what it is we discussed with the citizens on Thursday,” Muhammad said. “We want to send a strong message to HPD that this is not going to fly.”

To ensure that it does not, Lewis is filing a two-page complaint letter with internal affairs and the FBI.

Houston police, through a spokesperson, declined comment on Lewis’ claims. A spokesperson said if she files a complaint, it will be taken very seriously.