by Andy Castillo on 22/12/2015
An NYPD officer involved in the controversial 1999 fatal police shooting of an unarmed immigrant was promoted Thursday. Davis continued, "He is now on full-duty status and not subject to any disciplinary or administrative hold". NYPD Officer Kenneth Boss leaves an Albany courthouse during the 2000 trial for the shooting death of Amadou Diallo at the hands of Boss and three other cops. Boss fired five of the shots at Diallo, 22, in the high-profile case. The News reported that Boss's promotion was procedurally required and management had no say over it, but Diallo's mother said that someone should at least try to do something to stop it. Although shot at 41 times, 19 bullets penetrated Diallo. Still Katiadou will continue her movement for justice - she plans on joining community leaders and other mothers who have lost their sons in February to call for police change. "I think it's disgraceful and sends the wrong signal at a time when nationwide we are raising the question of police reform", Sharpton told the New York Daily News. Officer Sean Carroll retired from the NYPD in 2005, while officers Richard Murphy and Edward McMellon joined the FDNY. "Otherwise, people should shut up and sit down".
The Oceanside Post http://oceansidepost.com/2015/12/22/amadou-diallo-cop-gets-promoted.html
BY ERRIN HAINES WHACK, ASSOCIATED PRESS
In a remarkable turnaround, federal officials on Tuesday praised the Philadelphia Police Department as a potential role model for better policing in the post-Ferguson era just months after citing it as a troubled agency that needed major changes in its culture and policy.
In May, the Justice Department issued a scathing report that found the police department's use of deadly force was motivated by fear and was overwhelmingly affecting black citizens. Since then, officials say the police department, the fourth largest in the country with 6,600 sworn officers, has completed or is making progress on 90 percent of the 91 recommendations listed.
"If you look at what has been done for an agency this size, for the amount of recommendations that were provided ... their progress is nothing less than amazing," said Ronald Davis, director of the Justice Department's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.
Among the changes that could soon be implemented is the use of the Pennsylvania State Police as lead investigative agency on officer-involved shootings resulting in injury or death, as well as on in-custody deaths of suspects. City Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said the two agencies are working on a memorandum of understanding.
The police department has already completed 21 of the recommendations. Several of them address use-of-force methods:
— After finding that the department's policy did not specifically limit how many times a person could be shocked by an officer's stun gun, the policy was changed to require officers to consider whether a stun gun should be used repeatedly and limited its use to three five-second cycles. Also, stun guns cannot be used on protesters who are "passively resisting" an officer's demands or on people who are handcuffed except to prevent harm to themselves or others.
— After finding that the department's policy was unclear on training regarding chokeholds, the policy was changed to ban them.
— The department created an award to recognize officers who use "exceptional tactical or verbal skills to avoid a deadly force situation."
Ramsey requested the federal probe in 2013 after an increase in officer-involved shootings that year. Among the findings in the report were that of the nearly 400 officer-involved shootings from 2007 to 2013, 81 percent of the suspects involved were black, and 59 percent of the officers involved were white.
Philadelphia as a whole is 43 percent black and 41 percent white. The police department is 34 percent black and 56 percent white.
The shootings included 96 deaths. In the report, the Justice Department said the shootings contributed to "significant strife and distrust" between the department and the community. The probe's recommendations included intensive training in use of force and community-oriented policing.
Mayor Michael Nutter said that the self-examination process was meant to bring the legitimacy and credibility of an outside review to the agency and that it gives the department a clear plan to move forward.
Philadelphia's probe began before the national conversation and unrest around community policing disparities sparked by deaths of unarmed black males in Ferguson, Missouri; Cleveland; New York City; Charleston, South Carolina; and Chicago. Since then, the Justice Department has announced investigations into departments around the country and has uncovered patterns and practices disproportionately affecting African-Americans.
Ramsey, who is retiring next month after Nutter leaves office, said he will encourage other jurisdictions to be proactive about seeking federal help.
"As far as police chiefs go, the goal has to be to stay out of the crosshairs of (the Justice Department) to begin with," said Ramsey, who added that he sought help after reading a similar report issued about another department. "It may not be your issue today, but it could be tomorrow."
Body cameras can protect responsible officers against false claims of bad behavior and can help problem departments identify problematic police procedures and officers.
Posted: Saturday, December 19, 2015 10:30 pm
By Stephen J. Farnsworth and Ellen O’Brien
Police departments around the state need to get serious about supplying their officers with body cameras to record their interactions with the public, say 92 percent of Virginians surveyed in a new statewide poll sponsored by the University of Mary Washington.
In that 1,006-person survey conducted last month, only 6 percent said it would be a bad idea for officers to be equipped with body cameras. There was no gender gap in the responses to the question, and there was little difference among whites, African-Americans and Latinos or among Democrats, Republicans and independents. More than 87 percent of all those subgroups in the survey supported body camera deployment.
For those not familiar with public opinion research, a 92-6 split among survey respondents is almost unheard of in public policy questions during these days of deeply divided politics.
A follow-up question demonstrated that this strong citizen preference for the cameras was not motivated by hostility to law enforcement. In response to the question of who is usually responsible when a person is seriously injured during an arrest, only 11 percent thought the police officer was primarily at fault, as compared to 19 percent blaming the person being arrested, 26 percent saying both were responsible and another 41 percent believing that it is not possible to say.
Police cameras provide a more effective recording of interactions with suspects than do video clips produced by bystanders, who record few incidents and usually only start recording after the incidents are well underway. Furthermore, witness recordings are often made at a considerable distance from the incident itself. Dashboard cameras have provided evidence of many police-suspect interactions, as have stationary cameras deployed in some community trouble spots, but those stationary cameras capture only some of the action.
Body cameras can protect responsible officers against false claims of bad behavior and can help problem departments identify problematic police procedures and officers.
Roughly one of six law-enforcement agencies in Virginia uses body cameras, according to an October 2015 study by the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia.
Without body cameras, police behavior can be subject to controversy. This is demonstrated most clearly in Fairfax County, the largest jurisdiction in the state that does not mandate the use of police body cameras.
After two years of investigation, former Fairfax County police officer Adam Torres now faces charges of second-degree murder in the death of John Geer. Torres said Geer moved suddenly and reached down and that there was a gun at his feet, but other officers on the scene say they did not see that sudden movement. With police body cameras it would be much clearer what really happened that day.
More recently, a bystander recorded an incident where another Fairfax County police officer used a Taser on a man who was lying on the ground and apparently not resisting. A bystander’s video of the event went viral.
Fairfax officials have said they are considering whether to use this new technology. Until they and other governments join the small number of jurisdictions that deploy body cameras, public perceptions of police departments and the resolutions of contentious debates regarding how officers behaved in the field all too often will depend on the randomness of what gets posted online by bystanders and what does not.
Stephen J. Farnsworth is professor of political science at the University of Mary Washington and director of the University’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies. Contact him at sfarnswo@.umw.edu.
Ellen O’Brien is a senior political science major at UMW and a research associate at the center. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pushing back against a creeping police state.
By Matt Harwood / TomDispatch
If you’ve been listening to various police agencies and their supporters, then you know what the future holds: anarchy is coming -- and it’s all the fault of activists.
In May, a Wall Street Journal op-ed warned of a “new nationwide crime wave” thanks to “intense agitation against American police departments” over the previous year. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie went further. Talking recently with the host of CBS’s Face the Nation, the Republican presidential hopeful asserted that the Black Lives Matter movement wasn’t about reform but something far more sinister. “They’ve been chanting in the streets for the murder of police officers,” he insisted. Even the nation’s top cop, FBI Director James Comey, weighed in at the University of Chicago Law School, speaking of “a chill wind that has blown through American law enforcement over the last year.”
According to these figures and others like them, lawlessness has been sweeping the nation as the so-called Ferguson effect spreads. Criminals have been emboldened as police officers are forced to think twice about doing their jobs for fear of the infamy of starring in the next viral video. The police have supposedly become the targets of assassins intoxicated by “anti-cop rhetoric,” just as departments are being stripped of the kind of high-powered equipment they need to protect officers and communities. Even their funding streams have, it’s claimed, come under attack as anti-cop bias has infected Washington, D.C. Senator Ted Cruz caught the spirit of that critique byconvening a Senate subcommittee hearing to which he gave the title, “The War on Police: How the Federal Government Undermines State and Local Law Enforcement.” According to him, the federal government, including the president and attorney general, has been vilifying the police, who are now being treated as if they, not the criminals, were the enemy.
Beyond the storm of commentary and criticism, however, quite a different reality presents itself. In the simplest terms, there is no war on the police. Violent attacks against police officers remain at historic lows, even though approximately 1,000 people have been killed by the police this year nationwide. In just the past few weeks, videos have been released of problematic fatal police shootings in San Francisco and Chicago.
While it’s too soon to tell whether there has been an uptick in violent crime in the post-Ferguson period, no evidence connects any possible increase to the phenomenon of police violence being exposed to the nation. What is taking place and what the police and their supporters are largely reacting to is a modest push for sensible law enforcement reforms from groups as diverse asCampaign Zero, Koch Industries, the Cato Institute, The Leadership Conference, and the ACLU (my employer). Unfortunately, as the rhetoric ratchets up, many police agencies and organizations are increasingly resistant to any reforms, forgetting whom they serve and ignoring constitutional limits on what they can do.
Indeed, a closer look at law enforcement arguments against commonsense reforms like independently investigating police violence, demilitarizing police forces, or ending “for-profit policing” reveals a striking disregard for concerns of just about any sort when it comes to brutality and abuse. What this “debate” has revealed, in fact, is a mainstream policing mindset ready to manufacture fear without evidence and promote the belief that American civil rights and liberties are actually an impediment to public safety. In the end, such law enforcement arguments subvert the very idea that the police are there to serve the community and should be under civilian control.
And that, when you come right down to it, is the logic of the police state.
Due Process Plus
It’s no mystery why so few police officers are investigated and prosecuted for using excessive force and violating someone’s rights. “Local prosecutors rely on local police departments to gather the evidence and testimony they need to successfully prosecute criminals,” according to Campaign Zero . “This makes it hard for them to investigate and prosecute the same police officers in cases of police violence.”
Since 2005, according to an analysis by theWashington Post and Bowling Green State University, only 54 officers have been prosecuted nationwide, despite the thousands of fatal shootings by police. As Philip M. Stinson, a criminologist at Bowling Green, puts it, “To charge an officer in a fatal shooting, it takes something so egregious, so over the top that it cannot be explained in any rational way. It also has to be a case that prosecutors are willing to hang their reputation on.”
For many in law enforcement, however, none of this should concern any of us. When New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order appointing a special prosecutor to investigate police killings, for instance, Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, insisted: “Given the many levels of oversight that already exist, both internally in the NYPD [New York Police Department] and externally in many forms, the appointment of a special prosecutor is unnecessary.” Even before Cuomo’s decision, the chairman of New York’s District Attorneys Association calledplans to appoint a special prosecutor for police killings “deeply insulting.”
Such pushback against the very idea of independently investigating police actions has, post-Ferguson, become everyday fare, and some law enforcement leaders have staked out a position significantly beyond that. The police, they clearly believe, should get special treatment.
“By virtue of our dangerous vocation, we should expect to receive the benefit of the doubt in controversial incidents,” wrote Ed Mullins, the president of New York City’s Sergeants Benevolent Association, in the organization’s magazine, Frontline. As if to drive home the point, its cover depicts Baltimore State Attorney Marilyn Mosby under the ominous headline “The Wolf That Lurks.” In May, Mosby had announced indictments of six officers in the case of Freddie Gray, who died in Baltimore police custody the previous month. The message being sent to a prosecutor willing to indict cops was hardly subtle: you’re a traitor.
Mullins put forward a legal standard for officers accused of wrongdoing that he would never support for the average citizen -- and in a situation in which cops already get what former federal prosecutor Laurie Levenson calls “a super presumption of innocence." In addition, police unions in many states have aggressively pushed for their own bills of rights, which make it nearly impossible for police officers to be fired, much less charged with crimes when they violate an individual’s civil rights and liberties.
In 14 states, versions of a Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights (LEOBR) have already been passed, while in 11 others they are under consideration. These provide an “extra layer of due process” in cases of alleged police misconduct, according to Samuel Walker, an expert on police accountability. In many of the states without a LEOBR, the Marshall Project has discovered, police unions have directly negotiated the same rights and privileges with state governments.
LEOBRs are, in fact, amazingly un-American documents in the protectionsthey afford officers accused of misconduct during internal investigations, rights that those officers are never required to extend to their suspects. Though the specific language of these laws varies from state to state, notesMike Riggs in Reason, they are remarkably similar in their special considerations for the police.
“Unlike a member of the public, the officer gets a ‘cooling off’ period before he has to respond to any questions. Unlike a member of the public, the officer under investigation is privy to the names of his complainants and their testimony against him before he is ever interrogated. Unlike a member of the public, the officer under investigation is to be interrogated ‘at a reasonable hour,’ with a union member present. Unlike a member of the public, the officer can only be questioned by one person during his interrogation. Unlike a member of the public, the officer can be interrogated only ‘for reasonable periods,’ which ‘shall be timed to allow for such personal necessities and rest periods as are reasonably necessary.’ Unlike a member of the public, the officer under investigation cannot be ‘threatened with disciplinary action’ at any point during his interrogation. If he is threatened with punishment, whatever he says following the threat cannot be used against him.”
The Marshall Project refers to these laws as the “Blue Shield” and “the original Bill of Rights with an upgrade.’’ Police associations, naturally, don’t agree. "All this does is provide a very basic level of constitutional protections for our officers, so that they can make statements that will stand up later in court," says Vince Canales, the president of Maryland's Fraternal Order of Police.
Put another way, there are two kinds of due process in America -- one for cops and another for the rest of us. This is the reason why the Black Lives Matter movement and other civil rights and civil liberties organizations regularly call on states to create a special prosecutor’s office to launch independent investigations when police seriously injure or kill someone.
The Demilitarized Blues
Since Americans first took in those images from Ferguson of police units outfitted like soldiers, riding in military vehicles, and pointing assault rifles at protesters, the militarization of the police and the way the Pentagon has been supplying them with equipment directly off this country’s distant battlefields have been top concerns for police reformers. In May, the Obama administration suggested modest changes to the Pentagon’s 1033 program, which, since 1990, has been redistributing weaponry and equipment to police departments nationwide -- urban, suburban, and rural -- in the name of fighting the war on drugs and protecting Americans from terrorism.
Even the idea that the police shouldn’t sport the look of an occupying army in local communities has, however, been met with fierce resistance. Read, for example, the online petition started by the National Sheriffs' Association and you could be excused for thinking that the Obama administration was aggressively moving to stop the flow of military-grade equipment to local and state police agencies. (It isn’t.) The message that tops the petition is as simple as it is misleading: “Don’t strip law enforcement of the gear they need to keep us safe.”
The Obama administration has done no such thing. In May, the presidentannounced that he was prohibiting certain military-grade equipment from being transferred to state and local law enforcement. “Some equipment made for the battlefield is not appropriate for local police departments,” he said. The list included tracked armored vehicles (essentially tanks), bayonets, grenade launchers, camouflage uniforms, and guns and ammo of .50 caliber or higher. In reality, what use could a local police department have for bayonets, grenade launchers, or the kinds of bullets that resemble small missiles, pierce armor, and can blow people’s limbs off?
Yet the sheriffs' association has no problem complaining that “the White House announced the government would no longer provide equipment like helicopters and MRAPs [mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles] to local law enforcement.” And it’s not even true. Police departments can still obtain both helicopters and MRAPs if they establish community policing practices, institute training protocols, and get community approval before the equipment transfer occurs.
“Helicopters rescue runaways and natural disaster victims,” the sheriff’s association adds gravely, “and MRAPs are used to respond to shooters who barricade themselves in neighborhoods and are one of the few vehicles able to navigate hurricane, snowstorm, and tornado-strewn areas to save survivors.”
As with our wars abroad, think mission creep at home. A program started to wage the war on drugs, and strengthened after 9/11, is now being justified on the grounds that certain equipment is useful during disasters or emergencies. In reality, the police have clearly become hooked on a militarized look. Many departments are ever more attached to their weapons of war and evidently don’t mind the appearance of being an occupying force in their communities, which leaves groups like the sheriffs' association fighting fiercely for a militarized future.
In July, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Arizona suedlaw enforcement in Pinal County, Arizona, on behalf of Rhonda Cox. Two years before, her son had stolen some truck accessories and, without her knowledge, fitted them on her truck. When the county sheriff’s department arrested him, it also seized the truck.
Arriving on the scene of her son’s arrest, Cox asked a deputy about getting her truck back. No way, he told her. After she protested, explaining that she had nothing to do with her son’s alleged crimes, he responded “too bad.” Under Arizona law, the truck could indeed be taken into custody and kept or sold off by the sheriff’s department even though she was never charged with a crime. It was guilty even if she wasn’t.
Welcome to America’s civil asset forfeiture laws, another product of law enforcement’s failed war on drugs, updated for the twenty-first century. Originally designed to deprive suspected real-life Scarfaces of the spoils of their illicit trade -- houses, cars, boats -- it now regularly deprives people unconnected to the war on drugs of their property without due process of law and in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Not surprisingly, corruption follows.
Federal and state law enforcement can now often keep property seized or sell it and retain a portion of the revenue generated. Some of this, in turn, can be repurposed and distributed as bonuses in police and other law enforcement departments. The only way the dispossessed stand a chance of getting such “forfeited” property back is if they are willing to take on the government in a process where the deck is stacked against them.
In such cases, for instance, property owners have no right to an attorney to defend them, which means that they must either pony up additional cash for a lawyer or contest the seizure themselves in court. “It is an upside-down world where,” says the libertarian Institute for Justice, “the government holds all the cards and has the financial incentive to play them to the hilt.”
In this century, civil asset forfeiture has mutated into what’s now called “for-profit policing” in which police departments and state and federal law enforcement agencies indiscriminately seize the property of citizens who aren’t drug kingpins. Sometimes, for instance, distinctly ordinary citizenssuspected of driving drunk or soliciting prostitutes get their cars confiscated. Sometimes they simply get cash taken from them on suspicion of low-level drug dealing.
Like most criminal justice issues, race matters in civil asset forfeiture. This summer, the ACLU of Pennsylvania issued a report, Guilty Property, documenting how the Philadelphia Police Department and district attorney’s office abused state civil asset forfeiture by taking at least $1 million from innocent people within the city limits. Approximately 70% of the time, those people were black, even though the city’s population is almost evenly dividedbetween whites and African-Americans.
Currently, only one state, New Mexico, has done away with civil asset forfeiture entirely, while also severely restricting state and local law enforcement from profiting off similar national laws when they work with the feds. (The police in Albuquerque are, however, actively defying the new law, demonstrating yet again the way in which police departments believe the rules don’t apply to them.) That no other state has done so is hardly surprising. Police departments have become so reliant on civil asset forfeiture to pad their budgets and acquire “little goodies” that reforming, much less repealing, such laws are a tough sell.
As with militarization, when police defend such policies, you sense their urgent desire to maintain what many of them now clearly think of as police rights. In August, for instance, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu sent afundraising email to his supporters using the imagined peril of the ACLU lawsuit as clickbait. In justifying civil forfeiture, he failed to mention that a huge portion of the money goes to enrich his own department, but praised the program in this fashion:
"[O]ver the past seven years, the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office has donated $1.2 million of seized criminal money to support youth programs like the Boys & Girls Clubs, Boy Scouts, YMCA, high school graduation night lock-in events, youth sports as well as veterans groups, local food banks, victims assistance programs, and Home of Home in Casa Grande."
Under this logic, police officers can steal from people who haven’t even been charged with a crime as long as they share the wealth with community organizations -- though, in fact, neither in Pinal County or elsewhere is that where most of the confiscated loot appears to go. Think of this as the development of a culture of thievery masquerading as Robin Hood in blue.
Contempt for Civilian Control
Post-Ferguson developments in policing are essentially a struggle over whether the police deserve special treatment and exceptions from the rules the rest of us must follow. For too long, they have avoided accountability for brutal misconduct, while in this century arming themselves for war on America’s streets and misusing laws to profit off the public trust, largely in secret. The events of the past two years have offered graphic evidence that police culture is dysfunctional and in need of a democratic reformation.
There are, of course, still examples of law enforcement leaders who see the police as part of American society, not exempt from it. But even then, the reformers face stiff resistance from the law enforcement communities they lead. In Minneapolis, for instance, Police Chief Janeé Harteau attempted to have state investigators look into incidents when her officers seriously hurt or killed someone in the line of duty. Police union opposition killed her plan. In Philadelphia, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey ordered his department to publicly release the names of officers involved in shootings within 72 hours of any incident. The city’s police union promptly challenged his policy, while the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a bill in November to stop the release of the names of officers who fire their weapon or use force when on the job unless criminal charges are filed. Not surprisingly, three powerful police unions in the state supported the legislation.
In the present atmosphere, many in the law enforcement community see the Harteaus and Ramseys of their profession as figures who don’t speak for them, and groups or individuals wanting even the most modest of police reforms as so many police haters. As former New York Police Department Commissioner Howard Safir told Fox News in May, “Similar to athletes on the playing field, sometimes it's difficult to tune out the boos from the no-talents sipping their drinks, sitting comfortably in their seats. It's demoralizing to read about the misguided anti-cop gibberish spewing from those who take their freedoms for granted.”
The disdain in such imagery, increasingly common in the world of policing, is striking. It smacks of a police-state, bunker mentality that sees democratic values and just about any limits on the power of law enforcement as threats. In other words, the Safirs want the public -- particularly in communities of color and poor neighborhoods -- to shut up and do as it’s told when a police officer says so. If the cops give the orders, compliance -- so this line of thinking goes -- isn’t optional, no matter how egregious the misconduct or how sensible the reforms. Obey or else.
The post-Ferguson public clamor demanding better policing continues to get louder, and yet too many police departments have this to say in response: Welcome to Cop Land. We make the rules around here.
Attorneys Donate $50,000 Fee From Excessive-Force Case to ACLU
MEGAN SPICER, The Connecticut Law Tribune
The year 2015 was filled with encounters between police officers and black men that did not having happy endings. But here's one that at least had a silver lining.
A Norwich man who claimed to have been roughed up by local police filed an excessive-force lawsuit and won. Now his attorneys in the case have decided to give their fees to the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut. That total comes to $50,000. ACLU of Connecticut legal director Dan Barrett said he was "knocked over" by the donation from the Stamford plaintiffs firm of Silver Golub & Teitell.
"From school desegregation to adequate funding for indigent criminal defense, the ACLU of Connecticut has a long history of litigating for broad reforms," Barrett said. "I'm very excited that Silver Golub & Teitell has recognized the value of our impact litigation and given us a gift that will allow us to pursue more cases in 2016."
Steven Hyppolite said that as a black man living in Norwich, he has been "targeted" by police. "I brought this case as a matter of principle," Hyppolite said. "I did not sustain lasting physical injury as a result of this incident. But, as a black man in Norwich, I've been subjected to constant harassment and improper use of force against me."
In November 2009, Hyppolite was sitting in his friend's car outside his home. She had driven him home and they were having a conversation in the car when two Norwich police officers drove by, shined their light into the car and stopped. They started questioning Hyppolite and his friend, who is white. Both told police there was no problem, but they were merely sitting and talking. However, the situation escalated.
The two officers, apparently unsatisfied with the answers they were receiving, told Hyppolite to be quiet or they would "make him," according to the lawsuit filed in 2011. They allegedly threatened to pull him out of the car. Hyppolite asked why they were doing what they were doing. He also told them he thought his constitutional rights were being violated.
The officers responded by pushing Hyppolite down onto the hood of the car. He claims they started searching him, looking for a gun and drugs. Finally, they told Hyppolite that he would be arrested if he called an attorney following the encounter.
Following a three-day trial, the officers were found to have violated Hyppolite's rights by using unreasonable force against him. He was represented by Silver Golub attorneys Jonathan Levine and Peter Dreyer.
"Our firm accepts appointments in this, and other cases, under the pro bono program, because we recognize that litigation plays a critical role in checking government excess and misconduct," said Dreyer. "We agreed to take this case not to profit from an award of attorney fees but to help vindicate important constitutional rights."
Hyppolite collected $61,460, plus the attorney fees. "It is our hope that this donation of our attorney fees award [to the ACLU] will encourage other law firms to support the ACLU's efforts to improve police accountability in Connecticut," said Levine.
The ACLU has been active in developing police accountability measures to reduce the type of encounters that Hyppolite was involved in. The organization lobbied for a law enforcement reform package that was enacted by the General Assembly in June which, among other things, provides state funding for body cameras and establishes a right for civilians to record their interactions with police.
BY JON SCHUPPE
The Justice Department said Wednesday it had appointed a retired police chief to run a new project to help police officers improve their relationships with their communities, part of a broader effort to build more trust in American law enforcement.
President of Baltimore SCLC: 'We're Fighting Against Structural Racism' 0:57
Noble Wray, the former chief in Madison, Wisconsin, will lead the Policing Practices and Accountability Initiative, the department announced. He served as a Justice Department consultant in Ferguson, Missouri in the aftermath of the August 2014 police shooting of an unarmed black man, helping local authorities confront problems associated with systemic racism.
As chief in Madison, he pushed similar efforts, and his final crisis before leaving the force in 2013 was dealing with an officer's controversial killing of a burglary suspect.
"Chief Wray's background and extensive experience make him the ideal candidate to lead this effort," Ronald Davis, Wray's new boss at the Justice Department's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, said in a statement.
Wray will join the agency as it implements criminal justice reformsproposed by President Obama's Task Force on 21st Century Policing. The group was assembled as a response to unrest following the shooting in Ferguson and a New York officer's fatal strangling of a suspect.
By Gregg MacDonald Fairfax County Times
Fairfax County police say that the second Fairfax County Adult Detention Center inmate death of 2015 occurred of natural causes and no charges will be filed.
In a report released on Sept. 8, prosecutors decided that no crime was committed in the Feb. 3, 2015 death of Fairfax County Adult Detention inmate Natasha McKenna, 37, who died in custody after being Tasered several times by Sheriff’s deputies while under restraint.
Today, detectives from the Fairfax County Police Department’s Major Crimes Division report they are in the final stages of their investigation regarding the second in-custody death this year of Paul Guida, which occurred on Oct. 17, while he also was an inmate at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center.
Guida, who was in the custody of the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office had been housed in the infirmary and was found unresponsive around 11 p.m. An autopsy was conducted on Oct. 19.
The police department says it has received the final report from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner which notes the manner of death as hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease with diabetes mellitus contributing. “The manner of death was determined to be natural,” they said in a release.
“Detectives are concluding their final reports and documentation of their investigation for submission to the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Fairfax County for final review,” the release states. “The Fairfax County Police Department will provide an update when the case has been submitted, which is expected to be within the next thirty days.”
AAA Polls Finds Support for License Plate Data Retention Restriction
RICHMOND, VA (NEWSPLEX) -- A AAA Mid-Atlantic poll finds Virginia drivers want retention limits for data from license plate readers.
Governor Terry McAuliffe vetoed legislation earlier this year that would limit the amount of time law enforcement officials can hang onto license plate data collected by License Plate Readers.
According to the poll, 22 percent of respondents in Virginia said they prefer a retention period of 24 hours and nearly 60 percent said they support retention limits ranging from 24 hours to 60 days.
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against the Fairfax County Police Department, which means the likelihood of legislation on this topic being considering in the upcoming legislative session is uncertain, according to AAA.
The lawsuit accused the Fairfax police of violating the state Government Data Collection and Dissemination Practices Act by collecting and storing personal information of citizens without a clear need and purpose.
"Whether the issue is resolved through the courts or the legislative process, AAA believes that Virginia motorists' privacy must be protected," said Martha Mitchell Meade, manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. "The use of License Plate Readers is not in question. AAA believes they are an important tool for law enforcement and aid in their work to protect and serve the public. Eliminating the current scenario, however, which allows police to keep information indefinitely, and establishing a time limit for the retention of data, would allow police investigations to continue while simultaneously protecting the privacy of other motorists."
LPRs can scan thousands of license plates per minute at any time of day, and they can instantly alert police of a stolen plate or vehicle or a vehicle that is connected to a crime when it drives by.
AAA supports a short retention period and agrees the limit should be less than 60 days, after which the plate data should be purged.
Federal Bureau of Investigation to Launch New System Counting People Killed by Police
The Washington Post and The Guardian began compiling data on violent law enforcement encounters earlier this year.
More than 900 civilians were fatally shot by police so far this year, according to The Post's own analysis, while the Guardianhas put the tally at 1,058 deaths.
David Klinger, a former police officer and professor at the University of Missouri at St. Louis, who has advocated for better data for more than a decade, said he was pleased to hear of the new system but skeptical about its implementation. The program only collects data on the number of so-called "justifiable homicides" reported by police, as well as information about the felonious killing and assault of law enforcement officers.
The Post's database has also motivated the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS,) another Justice Department agency, to change the way it tracks police-related deaths. The program will still rely on voluntary reporting, however, because the agency doesn't have the authority to compel local police departments to comply with its requests for data.
The proposal has not yet been signed off by FBI Director James Comey pending the agency's legal review.
This is why they are starting a project on tracking not only fatal shootings, but also any type of incident in which a police officer causes a civilian serious injury, regardless of the means, whether they use pepper spray or stun guns or their fists. "People want to know what police are doing, and they want to know why they are using force". It is now the highest priority, " he added. The Guardian reports that "Officials said statisticians were intending to count deadly incidents involving physical force, Tasers and blunt weapons used by officers as well as firearms and that they planned to begin gradually publishing some more information about fatal incidents as soon as 2016".
In a statement provided to the Guardian, the Federal Bureau of Investigation explained that there was an obvious need for "robust and complete information about encounters between law enforcement officers and citizens that result in a use of force".
Morris said the leaders of the nation's largest police organizations have agreed for the first time to lobby local departments to produce the data.
Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin C. Roessler Jr., a member of the advisory board, said police organizations "will be taking a leadership role to use peer pressure to get all departments to report on this".
"For a lot of departments, it's not like they were actively against [releasing data], they just didn't really know how to do it", Clarence Wardell, a Presidential Innovation Fellow who works on the White House's Police Data Initiative said at an event at Harvard's Kennedy School in November.