“Identification with one’s office or title is very attractive indeed, which is precisely why so many men are nothing more than the decorum accorded to them by society. In vain would one look for a personality behind the husk. Underneath one would find a very pitiable little creature. That is why the office is so attractive: it offers easy compensation for personal deficiencies.” Carl Jung
By Cody Bozarth
Charges have been filed against a Roodhouse police officer and two dispatchers following with investigations into the disappearance of prescription medication from the White Hall Police Department.
On Friday, the Greene County Sheriff’s Department began to serve warrants for the arrests of Roodhouse Police Sgt. Steven L. Settles, 46, as well as Michele A. Stewart, 48, and Amanda M. Morrow, 28.
Settles has been charged with delivery of a controlled substance and official misconduct. Stewart and Morrow were both charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance and theft.
Stewart and Morrow are accused of stealing medication containing hydrocodone from a storage area in the White Hall Police Department.
Greene County Sheriff Robert McMillen said the charges that were filed against Settles are unrelated to that theft, and he is accused of distributing medication he possessed with a valid prescription.
“When we got the complaint about missing medication from White Hall, we looked into that case and learned of deliveries that had occurred involving Settles and opened up that investigation a little broader,” McMillen said.
While Hall Police Chief Jack Wallis said Stewart and Morrow were both part-time dispatchers at White Hall, though Morrow resigned June 10.
Stewart was a full-time dispatcher at Roodhouse and Morrow had also resigned this month from a part-time position there.
The charge of official misconduct filed against Settles accuses him of delivering controlled substances in his official capacity and that “knowingly performed an act which he knew he was forbidden my law to perform.”
Roodhouse Police Chief Kyle Robison issued a written statement saying “my department will continue to provide any information necessary to the Greene County Sheriff’s Office and cooperate fully with the Greene County State’s Attorney.”
McMillen said Friday afternoon that Stewart already had been arrested and released on $3,500 bail. Settles was expected to turn himself in later Friday. He said Morrow was undergoing medical treatment and was not yet arrested.
Wallis said that as a part-time, on-call employee, Stewart is not allowed to work while the case is ongoing. At the onset of the investigation, Robison placed two employees on paid administrative leave. McMillen said he believed that continues to be the case following the arrests.
HONOLULU (AP) — A former Honolulu Police Department officer and a second man have been charged in federal court with extortion and selling stolen vehicles.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports Roddy Tsunezumi and Jeremy Javillo were charged in documents filed Wednesday.
Federal prosecutors say Tsunezumi committed the crimes while employed by the police department.
Police spokeswoman Michelle Yu says Tsunezumi "separated" from the department in April after nine years but would not say why.
Tsunezumi's lawyer Megan Kau declined comment. It's not clear if Javillo has a lawyer.
Prosecutors say Tsunezumi and Javillo between June and October 2013 tried to extort $15,000 from two owners of a Honolulu hostess bar.
They're also charged with conspiring to buy salvaged vehicles, stealing similar models and switching vehicle identification numbers to resell the stolen vehicles.
Buena officer charged with child sex assault
BUENA – A special police officer was arrested at work here Friday for alleged on-duty misconduct involving a 17-year-old girl he sexually assaulted, according to county and local officials.
Sean R. Griffith, 24, of Landisville was held in Atlantic County Jail on $100,000 bail, the county Prosecutor's Office said.
Acting Prosecutor James P. McClain listed the charges as official misconduct and sexual assault, both second-degree offenses, and third-degree endangering the welfare of a child.
Giffith has worked here about a year, according to borough Public Safety Director Daniel Caregnato. He's a Class II special officer, meaning he was allowed to carry firearms while on duty.
Griffith was suspended immediately without pay, pending a Borough Council vote on whether to fire him, Caregnato said.
The officer was used for patrol duties, he said.
Caregnato said the Police Department is not investigating the allegations and the borough has not been fully briefed by county authorities.
McClain said Griffith "committed the acts while holding a position of authority and disciplinary power" over the alleged victim.
Griffith is scheduled to be arraigned in municipal court on July 10.
In New Jersey, a second-degree offense carries a potential prison term of five to 10 years. The term for a third-degree offense is three to five years behind bars.
by Kristine Harrington
TEMPE, Ariz. -- An Arizona State University professor who was arrested by campus police last month is claiming self-defense, and the incident is getting a whole lot more attention now that 3TV has obtained video of it.
“The reason I’m talking to you right now is because you are walking in the middle of the street,” Officer Stewart Ferrin said to ASU professor Dr. Ersula Ore after stopping her near campus. She was crossing College Avenue, just south of Fifth Street.
Click here to view the raw video
But in less than a minute, the conversation quickly began to escalate.
“Let me see your ID or you will be arrested for failing to provide ID,” Ferrin said.
“Are you serious?” Ore asked.
“Yes, I am serious. That is the law,” Ferrin replied.
According to police reports, Ore said she was trying to cross College Avenue in the same fashion as several others trying to avoid construction.
“I never once saw a single solitary individual get pulled over by a cop for walking across a street on a campus, in a campus location. Everybody has been doing this because it is all obstructed. That’s the reason why,” Ore said to the officer. “But you stop me in the middle of the street to pull me over and ask me, 'Do you know what this is? This is a street.' ”
“Are you aware that this is a street?” Ferrin asked.
“Let me finish,” Ore said.
“OK, put your hands behind your back,” Ferrin said.
“Don't touch me,” Ore said. “Get your hands off me.”
Seconds later, things escalated even further.
“Put your hand behind your back. I’m going to slam you on this car. Put your hand behind your back,” Ferrin said.
“You really want to do that? Do you see what I’m wearing? Do you see?” Ore said.
She was wearing a black dress and after being "slammed" onto the car, she was wrestled to the ground. Her dress hiked up and her body was exposed.
While both Ore and Ferrin suffered some minor injuries, Ore was charged with aggravated assault on a police officer in addition to criminal damage and obstructing a thoroughfare. She intends to fight the charges.
Ore's attorney, Alane Roby, says Ore is claiming self-defense.
"She was exposed, told officer she was exposed," Roby said of her client while she was on the ground. "Her dress was up; the officer was reaching toward her anatomy. She felt uncomfortable with hands going there."
Professor Ore is an English professor whose research interests include cultural studies, according to ASU's website.
ASU released this statement to 3TV:
“ASU authorities have reviewed the circumstances surrounding the arrest and have found no evidence of inappropriate actions by the ASUPD officers involved. Should such evidence be discovered, an additional, thorough inquiry will be conducted and appropriate actions taken.
"Because the underlying criminal charges are pending, there is not much more we can say at this time. The Maricopa County Attorney's Office has reviewed all available evidence, including the police report, witness statements, and audio and video recordings of the incident, and decided to press criminal charges of assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest, refusing to provide identification when requested to do so by an officer, and obstructing a highway or public thoroughfare.”
WEST ALLIS, Wis. (KTTC/AP) -- Bond has been set at $1 million for a former police officer suspected of killing two women and hiding their bodies in suitcases dumped in southern Wisconsin.
Steven Zelich, 52, is charged with two counts of hiding a corpse in a case that brought investigators to Rochester. Zelich appeared on video but didn't speak during a hearing Friday in Walworth County Circuit Court.
Zelich's lawyer, Travis Schwantes, asked for a far lower bond, noting his client hasn't been charged with homicide. But District Attorney Daniel Necci said he expects homicide charges to be filed where the women were killed. Investigators allege the women were killed elsewhere in Wisconsin and in Minnesota
According to the criminal complaint, Zelich is accused of stuffing the remains of two women in suitcases he left along a southern Wisconsin highway. The complaint goes on to say he met his victims online, bound and killed them and carried their bodies around in his vehicle for months.
On June 5, a highway worker discovered the two suitcases beside a road in Geneva, Wis., about 50 miles southwest of Milwaukee. On June 12, evidence brought investigators to Rochester where one victim, Laura Simonson, 37, of Farmington, Minn., was seen checking into the Microtel Inn and Suites with Zelich back on Nov. 2. Zelich checked out alone the next day.
Police said Rochester could have served as a common meeting point, as Simonson was from Farmington, and Zelich is from the Milwaukee suburb of West Allis.
Zelich's apartment in West Allis was searched Wednesday, as neighbors watched. They describe him as a man who kept to himself, was quiet, and never stopped to talk.
Investigators said Zelich was involved in bondage and sexual fetish websites, where he may have been looking for a sex partner. Police said they don't know if that's where he and Simonson first met. Meanwhile, the second woman killed is still unidentified.
The complaint says Zelich killed one woman in Wisconsin in late 2012 or early 2013 and the other in Minnesota last November. It says he hid the first body in his home, then later stored it with the second body in his vehicle.
Both women were found bound, and their bodies had started to decompose. One had a ball gag in her mouth
Zelich was a patrol officer for 12 years with the West Allis Police Department before resigning in 2001.
We'll have the latest on this story on KTTC.com and the NewsCenter
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Officials say a former Daytona Beach police officer will serve a three-year mandatory minimum prison sentence for dealing in Oxycodone.
The state attorney's office in Daytona Beach says 51-year-old Anthony Annatone Jr. pleaded no contest to the drug charge and was found guilty on Wednesday.
The Daytona Beach News-Journal (http://bit.ly/1o9ZIlO ) reports Annatone was also fined $50,000.
The FBI conducted a two-year investigation into Annatone, which resulted in his arrest. His son, 26-year-old Aaron Annatone, pleaded no contest in March and was sentenced to 10 years in state prison.
The decommissioned Metro police officer accused of raping his ex-girlfriend will leave his post after a 29-day suspension.
Lt. Curtis Watkins, 36, sent his letter of resignation, effective at the end of his suspension, to police on Thursday, according to a news release from the Metro Nashville Police Department. He was arrested June 13 after a Davidson County grand jury indicted him on three counts of rape spanning a two-year period.
Watkins was decommissioned Jan. 27 after the woman alleged victim contacted police with her concerns. The suspect was the subject of two Metro investigations into the matter at the time of his resignation, police said.
Before his decommissioning, Watkins worked in the Investigations Unit at Metro's Madison Precinct. He was a 15-year veteran of the police department.
Watkins remains free on $100,000 bond. His next appearance in court is scheduled for Aug. 6.
DAYTON -- A Dayton police officer is facing three misdemeanor charges, filed June 25 by the Trotwood Police Department, following an investigation.
Officer Erica S. Cash is charged with one count of falsification and two counts of obstruction of official business. Trotwood investigators say that after a fatal crash on Little Richmond Road last October, Cash hindered them from finding the main suspect, Jermaine Griffin
"The whole thought of an officer not stepping up and doing what they're
supposed to do is very disturbing." Captain John Porter of the Trotwood
Police Department told us.
Cash has been placed on restricted duty pending the outcome of the criminal case. Cash graduated from the Dayton Police Academy on July 11, 2008.
Bakersfield police officer charged with DUI is being sued by the driver he hit in the crash Cris Ornelas
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - A Bakersfield Police officer accused of driving drunk and causing a crash is now being sued.
Police say Officer Justin West was drunk when he rear-ended another car and then veered off into several more parked cars Monday night.
The man he hit says he had to go to the hospital later that night.
He is suing West and his attorney says his client’s injury could increase West’s charge to a felony.
The District Attorney's office says they have not received the case yet from the Bakersfield Police Department.
They say once they do they will make a decision on whether to increase West's charge to a felony.
Shannon Maxwell, whose car was hit while parked, says she called All-State Insurance to file a claim with West's insurance, but found out the truck he was driving was not on the family's policy.
This means the people whose cars West hit may have to pay for their own repairs.
BY SCOTT WISE
CUMBERLAND COUNTY, Va. – Two teenage girls were victimized by a Virginia man who filmed or took pictures of them in sexual situations, according to Virginia State Police.
Francis D. Marrin Jr., 42, of Cumberland, Virginia, was arrested Thursday after a grand jury indicted him on 33 felony counts.
“In April 2014, Virginia State Police Special Agent K.R. George initiated an investigation into allegations of child pornography and sexual assault involving Marrin and a 16-year-old female,” Virginia State Police wrote in a statement. “During the course of the investigation, a second female teenage victim was discovered and identified.”
Marrin was indicted on charges of:
Production and possession of child pornography
Unlawful filming of another (minor)
Aggravated sexual battery
Marrin, who lived in Cumberland, was never employed by the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, according to Cumberland Sheriff Darrell Hodges.
“[He] was a former police officer employed by another jurisdiction outside of Cumberland County,” Hodges said.
State Police called its investigation into Marrin “ongoing.” He is being held without bond at Piedmont Regional Jail in Farmville.
With $40M Central Park Five deal, city's payouts in NYPD, civil rights suits are higher than last year
The city’s legal tab, if the Central Park deal is approved, would hit $101 million this year, compared to $96.3 million for all of 2013. But some lawyers say the high numbers don’t necessarily indicate a trend.
BY JOHN MARZULLI
It's already been a very expensive year.
The $40 million Central Park Five settlement would boost 2014 city payouts in police misconduct and civil rights suits past last year’s total. And there’s still six months to go.
The legal tab, if the Central Park deal is approved, would hit $101 million this year, compared to $96.3 million for all of 2013, according to figures provided to the Daily News from City Controller Scott Stringer’s office.
Taxpayers shelled out $106.6 million in 2012 and $106.8 million in 2011 to settle NYPD misconduct and civil rights cases, the controller’s figures showed.
“This should be a wakeup call to the de Blasio administration that they have to do something about police misconduct that’s costing taxpayers an outrageous amount of money,” said civil rights lawyer Sanford Rubenstein.
By ANDREW SMITH
A former Suffolk County police sergeant has been charged with 20 more hate crimes in an indictment that accuses him of repeatedly targeting and stealing from Hispanic motorists.
Scott A. Greene, 50, of Shirley, who retired in April, already was charged with several counts of fourth-degree grand larceny as a hate crime and official misconduct for allegedly stealing from six Hispanic motorists.
The new indictment unsealed Tuesday accuses him of stealing from 20 other Hispanic drivers who told prosecutors what happened to them. For each victim, he is charged with larceny, larceny as a hate crime and official misconduct.
State Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho allowed Greene to remain free with no bail, although Greene did spend the morning in handcuffs after turning himself in to face the new charges. He pleaded not guilty and left the courtroom escorted by court officers and his attorney, Timothy Mazzei of Blue Point. Greene and Mazzei did not comment.
As with the previous cases, District Attorney Thomas Spota said Greene pulled over Hispanic motorists driving cars in Coram with out-of-state license plates. He asked for the driver's wallet, went back to his patrol car and then returned the wallet -- minus about $100 -- and let them go without writing a traffic ticket.
Spota said investigators "had to scour thousands of documents to corroborate" the accusations, including radio transmissions, license plate checks and summonses written by Greene.
He credited Hispanic advocacy groups for helping the new victims come forward and testify before a grand jury.
Spota said the investigation is continuing and his office is still willing to hear from other potential victims.
Irma Solis, Long Island organizer for Make The Road New York, thanked Spota for taking the victims seriously and pursuing Greene.
She and Spota differed, however, on whether Greene acted alone. Spota said his investigation found no other officer engaging in such behavior. Solis said that seemed unlikely, and she urged prosecutors to cast a wider net.
"It's very difficult to believe others [in the police department] didn't know what he was doing," Solis said. Greene should be held responsible for what he did, but not for anyone else, she said.
Greene was first targeted in a sting in January, a result of a half-dozen other drivers identifying him as the officer who pulled them over and stole their cash, prosecutors said.
Greene was arrested Jan. 30 after he was recorded on video taking $100 cash from an envelope on the front seat of a car driven by a Hispanic undercover detective on Granny Road in Coram, Spota said.
Spota said Greene also stood out for his seemingly zealous traffic enforcement. "It was an extraordinary amount of stops for a sergeant," he said.
A second Baltimore City police officer has been charged in connection with the death of a dog at the hands of another city officer, police said. Thomas Joseph Schmidt, 52, of Abingdon, was charged Thursday with aggravated animal cruelty, animal cruelty and malfeasance in office charges, according to court records. He is scheduled for trial on July 28 and was released Thursday after posting $75,000 bond. Schmidt had been suspended on June 19. Police said Officer Jeffrey Bolger cut the dog's throat after she disappeared from her home on June 14. The department accused Schmidt of holding the dog down while Bolger killed her. Bolger remains free on his own recognizance.
WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) -
An internal investigation by the Wilmington Police Department has found that an officer used excessive force during an arrest in May in downtown Wilmington.
A cell phone camera captured a police officer using his baton on a man during an arrest in downtown Wilmington over the weekend.
Now, the man who was cuffed says he wants an apology and wants to see the officer punished.
Earlier this week, WECT obtained a copy of a letter sent from an internal affairs investigator to the person who made the original complaint.
It specifically states that the complaint against Officer A.J. Phillips was sustained, which according to the WPD policy manual means the employee acted improperly.
A second officer involved in the arrest was also investigated. That same investigation found there was not enough evidence to confirm or refute the allegations.
The investigations stem from an incident in May when Khale Gay was leaving a club on Front Street and walked into a fray of pepper spray and police officers. Gay claimed before he knew what happened he was under arrest and an officer was hitting him in the legs with a flashlight.
Officer Phillips was suspended for two days according the WPD.
At first, the WPD denied our public records request, saying that any disciplinary action taken against an officer would be kept in his personnel file and therefore would not be a public record.
We pointed them to North Carolina General Statue 160a-168 which specifically says the dates of suspensions and other change of classifications are public record.
At that point the WPD said the department does not keep track of suspensions. Cpl. Leslie Irving explained in an email:
"I was informed that our system is not set up to track suspensions because suspension does not change salary. It only tracks changes in position and salary classification for example: Administrative Leave with or without pay or Family Medical Leave. We don't keep a public record that shows suspensions."
On dozens of occasions in the past, the WPD has provided WECT and other media outlets with information about suspensions and officers who have been placed on administrative leave, including just two weeks ago when Chief Ralph Evangelous announced another officer had been placed on administrative leave in a separate excessive force complaint: http://bit.ly/1lxNbsB
BOTHELL, Wash. - A Bothell police officer was suspended for one day for his involvement in a high-speed pursuit that resulted in a fatal crash in Everett.
Police Chief Carol Cummings said Officer Mark Atterbury should have called off the pursuit earlier.
The discipline was reported by The Daily Herald after it sought the information through public records law.
The pursuit took place in May 2013, when Atterbury spotted a man driving a stolen pickup and pursued him for miles through Snohomish County at speeds of up to 95 mph. During the chase, the pickup hit the officer's patrol car and another car before heading north up Interstate 5.
The pickup eventually turned off I-5 at Everett, turning onto Evergreen Way and heading north, blasting through several red lights at high speed as the officer followed with emergency lights and sirens on.
At the intersection of Rucker and Pacific avenues in Everett, the stolen pickup collided with a car and killed its driver, Rachel Kamin, 40, a registered nurse who was on her way to work.
The driver of the stolen pickup, later identified as Joseph Strange, is charged with murder for the death and is facing trial in October.
DANBURY -- An attorney representing a woman facing auto theft charges in Stratford claims that Danbury police negligence is the reason his client was wrongly arrested.
Michael Bradley, a Norwich attorney specializing in police misconduct cases, has filed a notice of intent to sue the city on behalf of Rachel O'Rourke, 29, of East Starrs Plain Road.
"It's like a bad dream," Bradley said. "She is absolutely in the right, and she did everything she could under the circumstances."
According to the Stratford police arrest warrant affidavit, O'Rourke rented a car from Enterprise and didn't return it, owing the company $2,223. O'Rourke told them the car had broken down and been towed in Danbury.
But when Stratford police called Danbury police to verify her story, they were told there was no record of the towing, Bradley said. She was charged in December with third-degree larceny.
The charge is still pending in state Superior Court in Bridgeport, even though a second records check by Danbury police confirmed that they had in fact ordered the car towed and that it had been in the possession of the towing company when Stratford police inquired about it, Bradley said.
Under state law, when a person contemplates a lawsuit against a municipality, notice of intent to sue must be given within six months, Bradley said. O'Rourke's notice was received by the town clerk June 12, two days before the deadline.
Assistant Corporation Counsel Les Pinter said the matter has been referred to the city's insurance carrier for review.
When the suit is filed, O'Rourke will seek damages for false arrest, false imprisonment, emotional pain and suffering and financial damages for "loss of time because she had to attend court repeatedly," Bradley said.
A Danbury police spokesman said this week he had no knowledge of the incident.
Court records indicate that prosecutors in Bridgeport have offered O'Rourke a suspended sentence with three years of probation. Her next court date is July 17.
By Scott Adkins -
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A group is calling for more oversight over Louisville Metro police after a grand jury decided there wasn't enough evidence to prosecute four young men after a night of teen violence.
The Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political Oppression wants an elected group of citizens controlling Louisville Metro Police Department.
Kathleen Parks, chair of the Kentucky Alliance, is proposing a Civilian Police Accountability Council.
"It would be a democratically elected controlling body of the Louisville Metro Police Department," Parks said during a news conference Thursday.
Parks made the announcement while sitting at a table with four young men arrested following teen mob violence.
A grand jury decided there wasn't enough evidence to prosecute Craig Dean, 20, Shaquazz Allen, 18, Jerron Bush, 21, and Tyrone Booker Jr., 19.
There's currently a Citizens Commission on Police Accountability appointed by the mayor and approved by metro council. Parks said that's not good enough.
"I don't have a lot of faith in the current council they have right now. (LMPD) was not held accountable for their actions in this particular case - that's a clear cut distinction right there," Parks said.
Parks alleged LMPD racially profiled in the wake of teen mob violence at Waterfront Park.
LMPD Chief Steve Conrad responded with this statement:
"I can certainly appreciate the perspective of the Kentucky Alliance Against Political Repression and their call for a Citizens Review Board. These concerns have been raised in the past and, in fact, there are already multiple layers of civilian review. For over ten years citizens from throughout our community have reviewed and issued recommendations on every police involved incident resulting in a death as part of the Citizens Commission on Police Accountability. The Merit Board, also consisting of community members, reviews all disciplinary actions. Additional information on this group may be found at www.louisvilleky.gov.
Finally, the LMPD must also answer to the Metro Council, which includes representatives of all segments of our community, as well as Mayor Greg Fischer. All of these bodies provide several layers of accountability which, we believe, have been and continue to be extremely effective in addressing the actions of our officers."
Kentucky Alliance is gathering signatures for a petition that will be presented to Metro Council sometime in 2015, according to Parks.
We urge the Oakland City Council to place a measure on the November ballot that would create a citizen-run Public Safety Oversight Committee.
By Susan Shawl and Robert Oliver
Based on the most recent report issued by federal monitor Robert Warshaw, the Oakland Police Department will most likely require months of additional court monitoring — after eleven years of failure to comply with the Negotiated Settlement Agreement (NSA). No other city in the United States has taken so long to bring its police department into compliance with a federal consent decree.
It is indisputable that the City of Oakland has lacked the ability to hold its police department accountable to the public it is sworn to protect and serve, and this inadequacy has led to the expenditure of many millions of dollars on costly lawsuits, court monitoring, and outside consultants — resources that might have been used to hire additional police officers or meet other critical needs.
The Coalition for Police Accountability, composed of Oakland residents, was formed to address this crisis and has drafted a ballot measure to amend the city charter to create a Public Safety Oversight Commission (PSOC). This initiative is being sponsored by City Council Public Safety Committee Chair Noel Gallo and was scheduled to be discussed at its meeting on Tuesday, June 24.
Currently, the city administrator manages the personnel matters of the Oakland Police Department (OPD) and all other city departments. This authority is granted by the city charter. This initiative would transfer authority to discipline officers found to have violated policy to the PSOC. The PSOC would also make budget and policy recommendations to the mayor and city council for implementation.
This structure is based on the police commission model in Los Angeles and San Francisco. The PSOC would consolidate the staff of the existing Citizens Police Review Board and Community Policing Advisory Board — so no additional taxation would be sought. The mayor and city council members would retain authority to make final decisions concerning the budget, policies, major program initiatives, and the selection of the police chief.
The Oakland police union — the Oakland Police Officers Association (OPOA) — believes that police officers do not need civilian oversight, and that they can adequately police themselves. And for decades, the city's leadership has deferred to this view. The result has been clear: OPD has failed to adhere to the terms of the NSA and complete its mandated reforms within five years, revealing an ingrained resistance to change that has prolonged noncompliance.
The solution we propose protects reforms and best practices by using Oakland citizens — instead of expensive federal court monitors — to oversee the implementation of structural change in OPD policy, practice, and fiscal management. If the city's residents and leaders do not install adequate civilian oversight of OPD, we may find ourselves going "back to the future," with further expensive lawsuits and misconduct settlements after the NSA is concluded.
These issues are critical. Neglecting the need to create adequate local mechanisms of police oversight for so many years has resulted in massive, prolonged expenses that Oakland simply can't afford. The city council owes it to the residents, its constituents, to allow them to choose in November whether or not to adopt this long-overdue corrective measure.
Two years ago, citizens' groups proposed a similar measure. But our circumstances are very different now. In 2012, we didn't have the time and the organization to get the ball rolling. In addition, a Public Safety Oversight Committee, if it would have been created back then, would have run afoul of the OPOA's contract with the city. But we believe that issue is no longer a roadblock.
The provisions of the current measure, if passed by voters on November 4, 2014, would not take effect until either 180 days after the election or the termination of the NSA. That brings us up to around June 30, 2015, when the current OPOA contract expires. And this charter amendment would preclude any provisions of a new contract between OPOA and the city that would conflict with the language of the measure.
Military-style units from government agencies are wreaking havoc on non-violent citizens.
By John Fund
Regardless of how people feel about Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s standoff with the federal Bureau of Land Management over his cattle’s grazing rights, a lot of Americans were surprised to see TV images of an armed-to-the-teeth paramilitary wing of the BLM deployed around Bundy’s ranch.
They shouldn’t have been. Dozens of federal agencies now have Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams to further an expanding definition of their missions. It’s not controversial that the Secret Service and the Bureau of Prisons have them. But what about the Department of Agriculture, the Railroad Retirement Board, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Office of Personnel Management, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service? All of these have their own SWAT units and are part of a worrying trend towards the militarization of federal agencies — not to mention local police forces.
“Law-enforcement agencies across the U.S., at every level of government, have been blurring the line between police officer and soldier,” journalist Radley Balko writes in his 2013 book Rise of the Warrior Cop. “The war on drugs and, more recently, post-9/11 antiterrorism efforts have created a new figure on the U.S. scene: the warrior cop — armed to the teeth, ready to deal harshly with targeted wrongdoers, and a growing threat to familiar American liberties.”
The proliferation of paramilitary federal SWAT teams inevitably brings abuses that have nothing to do with either drugs or terrorism. Many of the raids they conduct are against harmless, often innocent, Americans who typically are accused of non-violent civil or administrative violations.
Take the case of Kenneth Wright of Stockton, Calif., who was “visited” by a SWAT team from the U.S. Department of Education in June 2011. Agents battered down the door of his home at 6 a.m., dragged him outside in his boxer shorts, and handcuffed him as they put his three children (ages 3, 7, and 11) in a police car for two hours while they searched his home. The raid was allegedly intended to uncover information on Wright’s estranged wife, Michelle, who hadn’t been living with him and was suspected of college financial-aid fraud.
The year before the raid on Wright, a SWAT team from the Food and Drug Administration raided the farm of Dan Allgyer of Lancaster, Pa. His crime was shipping unpasteurized milk across state lines to a cooperative of young women with children in Washington, D.C., called Grass Fed on the Hill. Raw milk can be sold in Pennsylvania, but it is illegal to transport it across state lines. The raid forced Allgyer to close down his business.
Brian Walsh, a senior legal analyst with the Heritage Foundation, says it is inexplicable why so many federal agencies need to be battle-ready: “If these agencies occasionally have a legitimate need for force to execute a warrant, they should be required to call a real law-enforcement agency, one that has a better sense of perspective. The FBI, for example, can draw upon its vast experience to determine whether there is an actual need for a dozen SWAT agents.”
Since 9/11, the feds have issued a plethora of homeland-security grants that encourage local police departments to buy surplus military hardware and form their own SWAT units. By 2005, at least 80 percent of towns with a population between 25,000 and 50,000 people had their own SWAT team. The number of raids conducted by local police SWAT teams has gone from 3,000 a year in the 1980s to over 50,000 a year today.
War on drugs" How militarized cops are turning neighborhoods into battlezones–with black Americans getting the worst of it
When I think of SWAT teams I think of bank robberies not ordinary drug busts. The latter, I think, fall more into the category of routine than special and can be taken care of with ordinary weapons and tactics. - Matt
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) published a study Monday that found excessive militarization of police due to the rising use of SWAT teams to execute ordinary search warrants is disproportionately affecting minorities, and African-Americans in particular:
All across the country, heavily armed SWAT teams are raiding people’s homes in the middle of the night, often just to search for drugs. It should enrage us that people have needlessly died during these raids, that pets have been shot, and that homes have been ravaged.
Our neighborhoods are not warzones, and police officers should not be treating us like wartime enemies. Any yet, every year, billions of dollars’ worth of military equipment flows from the federal government to state and local police departments. Departments use these wartime weapons in everyday policing, especially to fight the wasteful and failed drug war, which has unfairly targeted people of color.
SWAT team usage has gone up for two main reasons: Post-9/11 spending security increases and the shift to what are called “multi-jurisdictional” SWAT teams.
A Salon.com story last year explains the first phenomenon well with contributions from the Washington Post’s Radley Balko, an expert on police state excess.
“Since 9/11, the newly formed Department of Homeland Security has distributed billions in grants, enabling even some small town police departments to buy armored personnel carriers and field their own SWAT teams,” Alex Halperin writes.
“Once you have a SWAT team the only thing to do is kick some ass. There are more than 100 SWAT team raids every day in this country,” he continues. “They’re not chasing murderers or terrorists. For the most part they go after nonviolent offenders like drug dealers and even small time gamblers.”
Balko noted the correlative relationship between SWAT teams and the war on drugs, in conjunction with post-9/11 security increases.
“The drug war is what got us to a crisis point and Sept. 11 just kind of blew it out of the water. A Pentagon program hit its record in 2011 by giving away about $500 million of equipment. [Department of Homeland Security] grants in the last 10 years have given away $35 billion. DHS has accelerated the trend,” Balko said.
Multi-jurisdictional SWAT teams have given SWAT teams usage even more reason to go up, having “reduce[d] the budgetary constraints of local departments and agencies, as these costs are shared between several organizations.”
In fact, “SWAT teams are currently called out over 540,000 times a year nationwide, as opposed to just 3000 times per year on average in the 1980’s, but most of these ‘call-outs’, according to statistics, were to serve warrants (Balko 2006).”
All of this leads to one big question and then a subsequent question with a smaller scope: Is it a good idea to use SWAT teams to serve warrants as general rule, and are our reasons to extend that usage to serving non-violent drug offenders sufficient?
The evidence, especially that provided by the ACLU, seems to indicate no.
Kriston Kapps of Citylab.com notes that “67 percent of Americans think U.S. policy should focus on treatment, with just 26 percent favoring prosecutions for people who use drugs.” Even still, “79 percent of the incidents reviewed by the ACLU involved a SWAT team searching a person’s home” and “more than 60 percent of the incidents reviewed involved a search for drugs.”
The ACLU’s graphs yield some staggering numbers, particularly the wide racial disparities.
A DEA Agent stopped at a ranch in Texas and talked to an old rancher. He told the rancher, "I need to inspect your ranch for illegally grown drugs." The rancher said, "okay, but don't go into that field over there...", as he pointed out the location. The DEA Agent verbally exploded and said, "look mister, I have the authority of the federal government with me!" Reaching into his rear back pocket, the arrogant officer removed his badge and proudly displayed it to the rancher. ..."See this badge?! This badge means I can go wherever I want... On any land! No questions asked, no answers given! Do you understand old man?!"
The rancher kindly nodded, apologized, and went about his chores. Moments later the rancher heard loud screams, he looked up and saw the DEA agent running for his life, being chased by the ranchers big Santa Gertrudis Bull...... With every step the bull was gaining ground on the officer, and it was likely that he'd sure enough get gored before he reached safety. The officer was clearly terrified. The old rancher threw down his tools, ran as fast as he could to the fence, and yelled at the top of his lungs......
"YOUR BADGE! SHOW HIM YOUR BADGE!"
"YOUR BADGE! SHOW HIM YOUR BADGE!"
By Mike Connors
A former city police officer was sentenced to 30 days in jail Thursday for stealing more than $3,000 from three prostitutes.
Michael Mobley, a 30-year-old who also served on the department’s dive team, pleaded guilty in February to two counts of misdemeanor embezzlement. He faced up to two years in jail. He can serve his sentence on consecutive weekends.
According to prosecutors, Mobley approached prostitutes on two occasions in July 2012. He entered their Greenbrier hotel rooms and questioned them under the guise of a police investigation.
Mobley seized money from the three women and told them it would go to Chesapeake schools. Instead, he pocketed it.
Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Derek Wagner said Thursday that Mobley’s actions were worse than other thefts because he “used his badge to steal money.”
Mobley declined to comment after sentencing, but he said in court that the past few years have been the hardest of his life.
Defense attorney Teddy Black said this was an isolated wrongdoing by Mobley, who resigned in February before his plea.
Since then, he has been a mate on boats and plans to go to dive school, Black said.
“He made a terrible mistake, and he’s going to pay for that mistake for the rest of his life,” Black said.
BY JULIE SHAW
EX-COP RAFAEL CORDERO and his supporters passionately told a federal judge yesterday that Cordero swayed from his law-abiding ways to help a family member.
Cordero, 53, was convicted by a jury in December of passing sensitive law-enforcement information about drug investigations to his half brother, David Garcia, who was a member of a Kensington heroin drug-trafficking ring.
"This is a unique set of circumstances, dealing with a brother who [Cordero] has been tortured with over the years," defense attorney Jack McMahon told U.S. District Judge Paul Diamond.
Cordero tried to get Garcia on the right side of the law, McMahon said.
One police officer, dressed in his uniform, came to court to support Cordero. Officer Mario Santiago, of the traffic unit, told the judge: "Sometimes, we as a police officer think as a family first."
Cordero, rocking back and forth, tearfully told the judge that when he told the information to his half brother in 2011, he wasn't acting as the cop that he was, but was "looking at [Garcia] as my brother."
But Diamond saw the case much differently.
He said the jury rejected that Cordero was just trying to help his half brother.
Before sentencing Cordero to 15 years in prison, Diamond said Cordero "was not trying to help his brother stay alive," but "was trying to help his brother sell drugs."
The judge noted that Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey had submitted a letter asking for the maximum sentence allowed, 20 years in prison, for Cordero.
During the two-hour hearing, the judge and McMahon verbally sparred over elements of the case. At one point, McMahon told the judge he believed the government's portrayal of Cordero to be "disingenuous," prompting the judge to interrupt.
Cordero was aiding a drug organization that was "helping to kill the city he [Cordero] swore to protect," the judge said.
After McMahon heatedly disagreed, arguing that the facts didn't fit into a neat, little pattern, the judge called for a brief break.
During the government's turn, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Brenner called Cordero "deceptive, defiant and duplicitous," saying he lied to his fellow officers, to the FBI and to the jury at his trial.
The jury convicted Cordero of two counts each of obstruction of justice and of lying to the feds.
After the hearing, McMahon and Cordero's family were visibly upset by the judge's sentence. McMahon called the long prison term "unspeakably cruel."
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — A driver who was rear-ended by an off-duty Bakersfield police officer wants tougher DUI charges filed in the case.
Officer Justin West was cited after allegedly plowing into five parked cars. The man he first hit now says he was hurt in the crash, and his attorney thinks felony charges should be filed against West.
"I feel the pain in my back, I feel pain and (I'm) sore," Arturo Jimenez told Eyewitness News on Thursday. But, just after the crash late Monday night, Jimenez told officers he was not hurt.
"At the moment, I just felt a burning sensation in my back," Jimenez described. "I didn't want to go to the hospital." The 32-year-old Jimenez says that's because he doesn't have health insurance.
Investigators say West, 21, had rear-ended Jimenez on Hageman Road, east of Jewetta Avenue. It was about 11 p.m. Officers say West lost control of his pickup at that point, and then hit four, unoccupied parked vehicles, and rolled over, landing on a fifth parked car.
"When I ran out, he was underneath the trunk of my car," neighbor Olwen West told Eyewitness News the next morning. She's not related to Officer West, and said all the damaged cars belong to her family. West is a nursing student, and she and a passing nurse tried to make sure West was OK until paramedics got there.
Police say West suffered moderate injuries and was taken to a local hospital where he was found to be under the influence. Officers say he was cited there for misdemeanor DUI.
Jimenez had just dropped off his girlfriend when he was hit, and she arrived soon after and took photos. Some show the badly damaged Honda Accord. Jimenez says it's lucky no one was in the back seat, it was demolished. He says officers told him the pickup was going some 80 miles an hour.
"I saw head lights coming fast, so I tried to avoid him," Jimenez says. He describes pulling to the right, but says he still got hit, the car spun around and stopped.
When officers got there Jimenez says he didn't feel too bad. But, his girlfriend eventually did take him to the hospital. "I ended up going, because the pain got worse," Jimenez says.
He says the doctor in the ER didn't think there were any broken bones, but Rodriguez says Jimenez was given pain medication and muscle relaxants. And, his attorney says the case should now be a felony charge.
"Felony drunk driving says, if you're driving under the influence and you cause bodily injuries," Daniel Rodriguez insists. "Any bodily injuries." The lawyer says they intend to contact the Kern County District Attorney's office and let them know Jimenez was hurt.
Chief Deputy D.A. Mark Pafford says this case hasn't come to them yet, and explains how DUI cases work.
"Generically, DUIs with injury are what we call 'wobblers,' they can be filed as misdemeanor or felonies," Pafford said. "And, we review any case like that on a case by case basis."
Pafford also says this driver should contact the investigating agency, which is the BPD.
On Thursday, Bakersfield Police Sgt. Joe Grubbs said the misdemeanor charge was filed because officers on the scene were told by Jimenez that he was not hurt. Asked about Officer West's current status, Grubbs said he is not currently on any type of leave. Police have reported West graduated from the police academy in December 2013.
Jimenez says when the crash happened, he saw beer cans that apparently flew out of the pickup truck, and also a gun. He says that landed on a nearby front yard.
West's brother had been following him, according to neighbors, and they say it was quickly clear that he is a policeman. And Jimenez' reaction to that?
"I was mad," he told Eyewitness News. "because those people are supposed to (provide) an example."
Rodriguez said they plan to file a civil claim against West, saying they hope he has auto insurance. No court dates have been set for the criminal case, but he and Jimenez want stronger charges.
"I just want justice," Jimenez said. "I want the person that caused the damage to be treated equally, to have the same punishment as everybody else."