- Whether you support abortion rights, oppose abortion rights, or are somewhere in between, there’s one position on which we can all join together in agreement: Tennessee Rep. Scott DesJarlais is an asshole.
- Virginia man exonerated of rape after accuser admits to a detective that she lied. Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is still blocking the man’s release, claiming the judge didn’t have jurisdiction to exonerate him. Remember, following procedure to the letter is only important when you’re trying to exonerate someone. When you’re trying to convict them, straying from the rules is just “harmless error.”
- Good article looking at how and why conservatives joined the prison reform movement.
- Spokane police officer who beat a mentally disabled man to death after falsely accusing him of stealing from an ATM . . . gets a four year prison sentence. Otto Zehm’s last words: “All I wanted was a Snickers bar.”
- TSA detains, jails a man for wearing a “weird watch” and having “unusually large boots.”
- Headline of the day.
- Step 1: Take advantage of nepotism to get elected to Congress. Step 2: Be corrupt. Step 3: Go into a deep depression when you’re caught for being corrupt. Step 4: Offer to resign, but only on the condition that you get disability pay because of the depression you’ve suffered after you got caught being corrupt.
Category: General Criminal Justice
- Your drug war at work: St. Paul, Minnesota cops stomp a man’s head, then fire a flash grenade at his disabled mother curing a cocaine raid. She suffered third-degree burns. They found three grams of pot and a legal handgun. Taxpayers, not the cops, will pay the two a $400,000 settlement.
- Man attempts to become the walking embodiment of New York Times trend stories.
- LDS elders get swept up in a SWAT raid while at the home of two drug suspects they were counseling.
- Last night, Reason’s Nick Gillespie debate former DEA administrator Asa Hutchinson on drug legalization. You can watch here.
- The federal courts continue to shield even egregious prosecutorial misconduct from any real accountability. Smart lawyerly people: I haven’t read the 11th Circuit opinion yet, but given that absolute immunity is judge-made law, wouldn’t the Hyde Amendment, which is statutory law, take priority in this case?
- Headline of the day.
- Striking photos from the Munich subway system.
- Naomi Klein: People who oppose corporate welfare are just shilling for corporations. Or something like that.
- The photo is from a series of raids on backyard marijuana gardens in Santa Rosa, California. Best line from the article: “O’Leary, the sheriff’s lieutenant, said the show of force by authorities and their tactics were deliberate, selected in part because there is a heavy gang presence and lots of children in the neighborhood.” Ah, so there are children nearby. Well then let’s make the raids as volatile as possible!
Over at Huffington Post, I look at that question in light of recent election results.
The article is almost optimistic. Longtime readers may find that confusing. But I promise, I really did write it.
- More evidence that the public is nearing a tipping point in the war on drugs.
- This will surprise all of you. The Omaha police union is defending the officer who tackled a man out walking his dog, then shot the dog.
- Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says the fact that City Hall reporters illegally recorded journalists without their permission is “much ado about nothing.”
- America! F*ck yeah!
- This New York Times review of Guy Fieri’s restaurant is burning up the Internet at the moment. On the one hand, it kind of makes me want to try the place. On the other hand, I’m not putting anything called “Donkey Sauce” into my mouth.
- Headline of the day.
- “He’ll push to loosen marijuana penalties, legalize undocumented immigrants and pursue a less aggressive American foreign policy.” Guess who?
- Man uses garden hose to spray fire at neighbor’s house. Police tell him to stop. He does. But when firefighters don’t arrive minutes later, he gets frustrated and starts spraying the fire again. So they Tase him.
- Finally, via Gawker:
So remember when Chicago police were arresting people for recording them, and charging them with crimes punishable by 10 or more years in prison? Remember the woman who was arrested and charged because she attempted to record Chicago PD internal affairs police browbeating her when she tried to report a sexual assault by a Chicago cop? Remember all that stuff we heard from Chicago PD and Cook County DA Anita Alvarez’s office about protecting privacy?
[A] court filing in a wrongful death lawsuit against the city raised questions about whether a city spokeswoman had recorded Tribune reporters without their consent as they conducted a phone interview with Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy in October 2011.
And in separate incidents this past September, city spokespeople twice recorded a Tribune reporter as he conducted phone interviews with a top city official involved in Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s controversial speed camera program. The spokespeople acknowledged that they independently recorded the interviews without asking the reporter for consent.
Gerould Kern, senior vice president and editor of the Tribune, declined to comment Friday about the recordings. Instead, he cited the letter sent by Tribune Co. attorney Karen Flax to Patton, demanding that city officials cease recording Tribune reporters without consent. The letter also asked that the city preserve copies of all recorded conversations and turn them over to the Tribune.
In its response Saturday, the city said it was unclear whether there would be any tapes to turn over. While City Hall acknowledged the two improper September recordings, it insisted they were mistakes.
“What we have told city employees is that our position is that you follow the law,” City Law Department spokesman Roderick Drew said Friday. “And when this issue was brought to the city’s attention, we reminded employees to continue following the law.”
If you work for the government and you violate a the law in order to record journalists who cover the government, you get a gentle “reminder.” If you’re someone like Michael Allison, Tiawanda Moore, or Christopher Drew and you violate a bad law in order to expose government abuse, you get arrested, cuffed, jailed, and charged with felonies.
Seems about right.
I’ve been neglecting you. But just think, in the spring you’ll have your own portable collection of groin-punching, blood-pressure raising stories to pull down off your bookshelf—any time you like!
I do have some thoughts about the election. I just don’t have time to put them into a more substantive post at the moment. And they’re more about the various ballot measures than the election itself. Summary: I think that for the most part, there’s lots of reason for optimism in Tuesday night’s results. Even on the GOP side, the one Republican senator who managed to win a competitive Senate seat this week was Jeff Flake, a devoted fiscal conservative and principled advocate for limited government who also happens to be pro-immigration, pro-internet gambling, favors ending the sanctions with Cuba, and who generally avoids the culture wars. He’s a huge improvement over his predecessor. And he won in a state filled with Latinos and rock-ribbed conservatives. He’s a template for the rest of the party.
On to the links:
- Cop tries to kill dog during drug raid, shoots fellow cop instead.
- “The Permanent Militarization of America.”
- In Colorado, legalization of marijuana got more votes than Obama.
- Carlos Miller wins again. And how he’s suing the cops who deleted the video depicting his illegal arrest. You’d think Miami police would know to just leave him the hell alone.
- North Korean court rules that the country’s military can torture dissidents with impunity.
- A new front in the war on vegetable gardens. Don’t know about you, but if these stories ending up pitting the militant locavores and anti-obesity paternalists in an epic battle with the petty zoning tyrants . . . I’m making popcorn.
- Hey, remember when super PACs were going to destroy American democracy? Not so much. Of course, when the anti-Citizens United crowd would say things like “this will destroy American democracy,” they actually meant, “this will help the candidates I don’t like!” Which means that if and when the GOP ever gets its act together (more likely: when they Democrats inevitably overplay their hand), we’ll be back to blaming money in politics for election results again.
I have a piece up at Huffington Post looking at this week’s drug dog cases heard by the Supreme Court.
Much of it will be familiar if you’ve read this site over the last year or so. But I also consider whether the lack of any real criminal defense experience among any of the current justices may affect they way they consider these kinds of cases
(Hint: I think it does. And not in a good way.)
- The preliminary hearing is underway in the case of Matthew Stewart, the Ogden, Utah man who shot a police raid team as they broke into his home. Stewart had six marijuana plants inside.
- Bubbles likes mail.
- Sweden wants your trash.
- Amazing tales of asset forfeiture abuse at the Bal Harbour, Florida police department.
- Headline of the day.
- Today’s lesson in in why you avoid calling the cops.
- Another exoneration in a shaken baby case.
Blogging will continue to be light over the next few weeks. I’m in the homestretch of finishing up by book manuscript.
- Newsweek continues the long, proud newsweekly tradition of unskeptical drug war cheerleading.
- Local news investigation finds that Atlanta cops have shot 100 dogs since 2010. That number is fairly meaningless without more detail. The notable takeaway is that only one police department in the entire Atlanta metro area gives cops any training on how to deal with dogs, and that department only started this year.
- Speaking of which . . .
- Beautiful photo of New York City shortly after Sandy.
- But for video, Chicago edition.
- Federal judge rules that police can install hidden cameras on private property without a warrant.
- More evidence that ban on texting while driving make the roads less safe.
- I mean, who among us hasn’t faked cancer, pretended to be a doctor online, contacted a friend online while posing as said doctor, then persuaded that friend to have sex with us as a way of treating the fake cancer?
- Another good piece on the overuse of solitary confinement.
- The chair of the DNC didn’t know Obama had a kill list. That, or she’s feigning ignorance. Which would be even worse.
- The Chattanooga Times-Free Press endorses Gary Johnson for president. I suspected one-time Agitator guest blogger Drew Johnson had something to do with this.
- Politics really seems to bring out the classiness in us.
- Obama’s drone assassination program is now dropping sharks on people from the sky. Or maybe it was just a bird.
If you aren’t familiar, Huffington is the tablet magazine spinoff of Huffington Post, focusing on long-form journalism. If you have a tablet computer, I’d encourage you to check it out. One of the main complaints I hear about the Huffington Post site is its clutter and busyness. The magazine is very clean. No ads, no extras.
Anyway, while researching my book I recently came across the passage below from The New York Times Magazine. It has almost on-the-nose relevance to the issues at play in Huff’s case.
See if you can guess when it was published. Answer in the comments.
. . . a number of judges [have begun] questioning police testimony that relie[s] on such legal passwords as “in plain sight” and “furtive gesture.”
“The difficulty arises,” New York Criminal Court Judge Irving Younger wrote last year, “when one stands back from the particular case and looks at a series of cases. It then becomes apparent that policemen are committing perjury at least in some of them, and perhaps in nearly all of them . . . Spend a few hours in the New York City Criminal Court nowadays, and you will hear case after case in which a policeman testifies that the defendant dropped the narcotics on the ground, whereupon the policeman arrested him. Usually the very language of the testimony is identical from one case to another. This is known among defense lawyers and prosecutors as “dropsey” testimony. The judge has no reason to disbelieve it in any particular case, and of course the judge must decide each case on its own evidence, without regard to the testimony in other cases. Surely, though, not in every case was the defendant unlucky enough to drop his narcotics at the feed of the policeman. It follows that in in at least some of these cases the police are lying.”
In California, where many drug arrests are made during highway patrols, Judge Stanley Mosk of the State Supreme Court recently questioned the police reliance on furtive gestures in justifying arrests.
“The furtive gesture,” Mosk wrote, “has on occasion been little short of subterfuge in order to conduct a search on the basis of mere suspicion or intuition.” In so doing, he said, policy imply guilty significance to gestures that are no more illegal than reaching for one’s driver’s license or turning off a car radio.
- The Salt Lake Deseret News runs an editorial on SWAT raids.
- When occupational licensing bullshit meets anti-immigration horseshit.
- Man raided, dog shot, “small amount of narcotics” found. No big deal.
- Strong lager is the new heroin. Worse yet, someone is making a profit!
- The self-perpetuating police state: Asset forfeiture funds used to purchase surveillance cameras.
- NYC police team takes a detour on the way to a drug raid, pulls over an unarmed man, kills him.
- Politicians lie. And America likes it that way.
- Headline of the day. (Also a good read.)
- Study: Chocolate consumption correlates with Nobel winners.
- Pitched down baby cry. It’s the creepiest thing you’ll hear today.
- Court tosses lawsuit by the North Carolina paleo diet blogger.
- Criminal defense bloggers trounce progressives for their reaction to the Connecticut Supreme Court’s decision in State v. Fourtin: Popehat, Scott Greenfield, Gideon. It’s another piece of evidence in support of my thesis that progressives tend to value equality more than principles like due process, presumption of innocence, and individual rights.
This video includes a surreptitious recording of a stop and frisk in New York. It also includes interviews with NYPD cops who say that what you’re hearing isn’t atypical.
The phrase “police state” is overused. But if you can’t merely walk on the sidewalk in your own neighborhood without enduring this kind of harassment on a regular basis, I don’t know of any term that’s more appropriate.
More information on the video here.
This St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist appears to be upset that some people are criticizing his local law enforcement professionals for possibly profiling, making illegal traffic stops, and performing illegal searches—all in an effort to seize property from low level drug offenders.
You’d think a journalist would see a possible story here—an opportunity to do some reporting. Maybe he could actually look into Terrance Huff’s allegations instead of mocking them. Maybe he could use his column to see if these sorts of stops have happened to other people. Maybe, you know, at least pretend that he’s holding his local public officials accountable. Maybe he could investigate why a cop with a history like Michael Reichert’s is still on the police force. Maybe look into how these drug dogs are actually used, and whether their “alerts” should really be enough to justify a police officer rummaging through personal belongings.
Maybe that’s asking too much of Pat Gauen. But if he takes his job as a journalist seriously, you’d think he’d do some reporting. Instead, he wrote a column about something he saw on TV, then gave his local public officials a forum to slag a guy whose rights may have been violated.
And here I thought it was we Internet journalists who just sit in our basements opining about stuff, while the newspaper generation goes out and does all the real reporting.
- Interesting article on Wikipedia’s reluctance to let go of accepted but false historical narratives.
- Police raid on child porn suspect ends in gunfire, wounded suspect, and wounded officer. Use of the word “stormed” makes me suspect they didn’t announce themselves. You don’t have to sympathize with the suspect (if the charges are true, I certainly don’t) to understand why this is such a dumb tactic. For example, look at the interrior wallof a Redditor who (claims he) lives next to the suspect.
- Schrödinger’s cat’s lives.
- Mother Jones tries to link an alleged rise in mass shootings to increased gun ownership. Michael Siegel lets all the air out of that claim here. It’s also worth pointing out that Mother Jones is wrong not just on the analysis, but on the facts. Gun ownership is actually down. As is the overall crime rate. As is support for gun control. Which is to say I doubt there’s a link between guns and crime at all—positive or negative.
- Suspect that Baltimore police claim died from choking on drugs while in custody actually died of blunt force trauma.
- Fun gallery of hyperphotos from Slate.
- Another isolated incident.
- Probably the most outrageous thing you’ll read today: Sarasota, Florida sheriff tries to trick pain patients into signing away their Fourth Amendment rights.
- Some judges are finally started to question police officer claims of superhuman ability to sniff out marijuana.
- Another major publication runs an essay calling for censorship. I wonder if these speech trolls will also advocate the censorship of radical Muslims whose speech is offensive to Jews, gays, women, atheists, and just about everyone who isn’t a radical Muslim. Do they get a pass? What if I’m offended by censorship? Does that count?
- Photos from inside North Korea’s creepiest building.
- Ken at Popehat: How I Convicted A Man For Helping Terrorists Who Now Aren’t Terrorists
- Further adventures in taxicab protectionism.
- Your latest crime lab scandal: St. Paul, Minnesota.
- Puppycide. Cop hops fence while looking for a bike thief, kills dog protecting its yard.
- “The most transparent administration in history.”
- Glenn Greenwald on Shakir Hamoodi, currently in prison for ensuring his family in Iraq didn’t starve to death while the U.S. was imposing sanctions on Saddam Hussein.
- “GMO Opponents Are the Climate Skeptics of the Left” – Yep. And people are unnecessarily starving to death because of it.
- Due to recent events, The Almighty Muhammad’s Porkalicious Toon Jihad has been cancelled.
- I’ve addressed this issue here in the past, but yesterday, USA Today ran a front-page story on how convicts who get released after serving their sentences usually get more government aid than the wrongly convicted.
- Brazil has a law prohibiting anyone from criticizing a politician around election day. How backward of them!
- Headline of the day.
- “The video is one of the most troubling things I have ever seen. It’s simply unconscionable to watch what happens in the back of that squad car.”
- The only remaining certified police officer in the town of Vaughn, New Mexico is the drug dog.
- 83-year-old Virginia woman shot, killed by police after she called them to report someone breaking into her home.
- “It’s not for the American government to regret what American citizens do. “
- This year’s Ig Nobel Prize winners. My favorite: MEDICINE PRIZE: Emmanuel Ben-Soussan and Michel Antonietti [FRANCE] for advising doctors who perform colonoscopies how to minimize the chance that their patients will explode.
- Police officer lures actual vicious dog away from family, manages to not fire a single bullet.
- Slowly poking holes in the veil of infallibility of fingerprint evidence.
- Houston cop shoots, kills wheelchair-bound double amputee who was wielding a pen.
- Headline of the day.
- Governments lie.
- Mosque leader tries to dissuade teen from turning to terrorism . . . even as the FBI was encouraging him.
Thanks to the hard work of Americans for Forfeiture Reform policy analyst Scott Meiner, AFR has been asked to submit an amicus brief in an asset forfeiture case that is being appealed to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Below is a brief video I’ve made describing the case (yes, I know the video quality isn’t great; we haven’t had the money for a HD camera yet):
Meiner describes the Terrence Durr seizure and litigation in his post, “A Peculiar Idea of Proof“:
United States District Judge Clay D. Land has ordered the forfeiture of $21,175 seized from two ex-convicts by Deputy Drew Crane, of the Harris County, Georgia, Sheriff’s Office.
Neither of the men were convicted, arrested, or charged. No drugs or drug paraphernalia were reported on the men from whom the currency was seized. The claimant of the currency, Terrance Durr, has a 1996 felony drug conviction and a subsequent parole violation. Durr also has documented gainful employment–including an 8 year work history as a draft technician with Adam’s Beverage, an Anheuser Busch distributor.
The government presented no specific cognizable evidence of any drug transaction (or intended drug transaction) linking the currency to any specific illicit behavior. Durr presented evidence of why he had a substantial amount of cash on his person. The court found Durr’s evidence, and reasoning, unpersuasive.
What the ruling appears to boil down to is
- Durr is an ex-con;
- Durr had a fairly large amount of currency;
- The police wanted his currency;
- The police found his currency;
- Police recorded a positive K9 alert on his currency and on his companion’s vehicle;
- The officer said that the vehicle smelled of alcohol and marijuana;
- Durr cannot prove that his money was not intended, or derived from, something to do with drugs to the satisfaction of the court; and
- Thus, the government has “proved” that Durr’s cash constitutes proceeds traceable to an exchange for a controlled substance.
This is utter nonsense.
Durr may have intended to use the money for narcotics. Or perhaps he was going to do something else. We do not know. Nobody else knows either–except maybe Terrance Durr.
Durr presented evidence that he intended to travel to Atlanta, GA to negotiate with a bank on the imminent foreclosure of a dilapidated rental property that he owned. Prosecutors easily poked holes in the sensibility of his plan. However, they failed to offer evidence that the money was drug related–unless we are to assume that the means, a criminal record, and unreliable evidence meet the burden. Following this standard of proof would add a lot of forfeiture victims.
There are infinite possibilities as to how he got the money and to what he intended to do with it–whether they be licit or illicit. But reasonable jurisprudence ought to tether forfeiture to a showing of substantial connection between specific articulated criminal acts and proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
AFR’s amicus brief will likely focus on the insufficiency of the nexus issue (that is to say, the complete government’s inability to establish a nexus between any crime and the seized cash and Judge Land’s breathtaking leaps of logic to justify the forfeiture).
American prosecutors hold enormous amounts of authority and the courts have deferred to them at every step. Even when there is prosecutorial misconduct or when prosecutors bring cases to trial while knowing they have no evidence, they almost never are punished. Only the innocent, who often have to spend themselves into financial oblivion to defend themselves, are made to pay a price.
Last week, a West Virginia jury acquitted former teacher Autumn Rae Faulkner of having sex three times with a 15-year-old student. What is remarkable is the jury was out only for an hour before returning the acquittal, and anyone who has served on a jury knows that when someone is acquitted that quickly, jurors knew almost from the start that the prosecution had a false case.
In a blog post elsewhere, I bring up the question of what should happen to prosecutors who do this sort of thing? A judge earlier in the case had dismissed the original charges because prosecutors had illegally withheld exculpatory evidence, and for spite, the prosecution got a second set of indictments. Why? As far as I can tell, Steven Jory, the special prosecutor hired by the State of West Virginia to oversee the case, did it because he could do it. After all, Jory did not have to spend a dime of his own money while Faulkner and her family had to spend nearly all they had.
Because the U.S. Supreme Court has given prosecutors absolute immunity from lawsuits from private citizens, it is up to government authorities to discipline their own, and the government’s record in that department is abysmal. Defenders of the high court’s rulings say that prosecutors must be free to perform their jobs, and they should be free to make honest errors of judgment, even if the results are tragic.
Such a viewpoint is far to rosy for me. As Lord Acton famously wrote, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” In a just system, Faulkner should be free to sue Jory and his staff into oblivion, especially since there will be no disciplinary action from state officials. Jory’s recklessness and abuse of power in a case in which he not only had zero credible evidence, but also suborned perjury should have a better outcome than his going to the office the next day to see who next to prosecute.
In the meantime, Faulkner must pick up the pieces. She was accused of being a sexual predator, had her mug shot plastered throughout the media and the Internet, lost her teaching job, and was the subject of vile abuse from authorities, along with people who immediately assumed she was guilty. Even though the prosecution’s case was weak from the beginning, nonetheless she is the one who pays the price while the real lawbreakers are free to abuse both the law and innocent people again and again. If this is the best that the American system of “justice” can do, then it is a system that is not worth supporting and certainly not worth saving.
Update: The original prosecutor in the case, Richard T. Busch, was found to have engaged in misconduct that apparently was so bad that even West Virginia authorities no longer could cover for him. This website referred to Busch as a “congentital liar,” and The Record, West Virginia’s legal journal, reported last June that the “Lawyer Disciplinary Board, the prosecutorial arm of the state Supreme Court, filed a two-count statement of charges Feb. 13 against Richard T. Busch.”
The article is worth reading if only to see just how dishonest Busch really is. Randolph Circuit Judge Jaymie Godwin Wilfong finally acted against him after he lied to her in open court in the Faulkner case and in another one.
What is shocking to me, after reading this, is that the State of West Virginia continued to pursue criminal charges against Faulkner even though the state had no evidence other than the boy’s shifting claims of sex. Prosecutors should only bring charges when they themselves are absolutely convinced of the defendant’s guilt and the evidence is clear. Instead, West Virginia authorities continued to push the charges against Faulkner and ultimately ran into a brick wall, which jurors easily exposed.
Busch at the very least deserves to be disbarred and probably should be charged criminally. However, given the state of cronyism and corruption that infects West Virginia, I will be surprised if any real discipline is meted out to Busch at all.
– William Anderson
Jesse Trentadue, a Salt Lake City attorney, gives a powerful speech about the murder of his brother, Kenneth, at the Oklahoma City federal lockup in the fall of 1995. This is a story of a brutal killing, how federal officials lied throughout the investigation, and how the current U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder orchestrated the cover-up.
In his speech, Trentadue not only tells the story of his dealings with the FBI, or what libertarian writer James Bovard recently called “a Stasi for America,” but also goes into detail about the FBI’s program, PATCON, which involved infiltration of various anti-government groups since the 1990s. One important point he makes is that much of the problem is institutional, not political. The Department of Justice and the FBI and other agencies ultimately protect themselves and operate essentially on their own.
During the 1990s, Eric Holder operated as the “fixer” for Attorney General Janet Reno, and from Ruby Ridge to Waco to the Oklahoma City bombing, Holder made sure that the government suppressed information that would have placed the Clinton administration in a bad light. (Murder tends to make one look bad.) Ultimately, Holder was rewarded by being appointed U.S. Attorney General under Barack Obama, and one only can imagine the crimes that Holder now is concealing.
– William Anderson
Recent tales of asset forfeiture abuse in Tennessee sparked my curiosity as to how Tennessee law enforcement departments are handling (or mishandling) seized property. I am looking for credible accounts (relevant to asset forfeiture) of misappropriation of funds, stolen drugs, improper accounting, et cetera… I’ve concentrated my search on smaller departments with the thought that a couple of bad apples in Memphis do not (statistically) imply a great deal. However, I welcome any articles or reports contributors suggest. Blatant malfeasance in small departments strikes us as more descriptive of the problem and more supportive of the argument that permitting law enforcement to self-appropriate the fruits of seizures abrogates the power of the purse (castrating the electorate’s power to compel responsive government).
Contact @ scott[at]forfeiturereform.com
3rd Judicial District Drug Task Force: Pervasive accounting deficiencies.
4th Judicial District Drug Task Force: DTF agent indicted for two counts of theft of Drug Task Force funds after $5,700 goes missing.
10th Judicial District Drug Task Force: $4,500 shortage in evidence and confidential funds. A In excess of $17,000 in 10th Judicial District DTF credit charges lacked adequate documentation including $6,800 with no documentation. Quality reporting from Judy Walton of the Times Free Press reveals that, between 2008 and 2010, 10th Judicial District DTF agents spent more than $100,000 of seizure proceeds on hotels, meals, mileage and airfare. Walton also reported that former “DTF Director Mike Hall’s drug task force credit card was used to charge more than $50,000 between 2008 and 2010 on meals for himself, task force members and guests at local restaurants, as well as gifts, flowers and goodies for co-workers and office secretaries, credit card receipts show.”
12th Judicial District Drug Task Force: Failed 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim reveals that local DTF paid 20% ‘referral fees’ to at least one informant for seizures leading to DTF forfeiture proceeds as a bounty.
13th Judicial District Drug Task Force: An employee improperly charged personal expenses to Drug Task Force accounts resulting in a cash shortage of $10,000.
17th Judicial District Drug Task Force: At a motion to suppress hearing, U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger notes: ”Essentially, all of [17th Judicial District Interdiction Agent] Daugherty’s traffic stops are pretextual attempts to find illegal drugs.” [Incidentally, Daugherty was the 2008 national runnerup for interdiction officer of the year-based on numerical measure of of productivity.] Under oath, Daugherty admits that DTF funding is reliant on seizure revenues. When asked by defense counsel: ‘”Is it a fair statement that part of the reason that you were up by the Kentucky border at least 100 miles away from your four counties was the fact that it’s better hunting grounds up there?” Daugherty agrees that the drug-related activity in that area is “better.”” Judge suppresses Daugherty’s testimony after noting that she finds his testimony unconvincing and speculates why Daugherty does not employ available equipment to document cause for stops.
23rd Judicial District Drug Task Force: Sloppy accounting and a missing $54,000 in seized currency. NewsChannel 5 Investigates reports that “that officers with the 23rd have been paid thousands of dollars in bonuses, some years higher than others.” DA denies bonuses are tied to drug busts or amount of money officers seize. NewsChannel 5 Investigates presents evidence that motorists are being pulled over for fictitious traffic violations after the Dickson Police Chief, who serves as chairman of the board for the 23rd Judicial District DTF, claims: ”Every time they stop somebody it is a legal traffic stop.”
24th Judicial District Drug Task Force: Cash, guns, drugs, jewelry, and equipment under the control of the Drug Task Force were misused, stolen, and/or lost. Falsified records. Theft and smoking of crack cocaine stored in evidence, missing marijuana, etc. Drug Task Force Director at the time of the offenses “charged with one count of theft, one count of official misconduct and one count of knowingly giving a false statement to an auditor.” DTF’sAdministrative Assistant charged several days later with “one count of theft and one count of knowingly giving a false statement to an auditor.”
Crump Police Department: Multiple unauthorized removals of various seized drugs.
Dickson County Sheriff’s Office: Missing drug money. Fraud. Forgery.
Etowah Police Department: Seized drugs, cash, and guns missing.
Gallaway Police Department: Missing guns, guns issued to non-law enforcement, allegations of duplicate pay for police chief.
Hamblen County Sheriff’s Office: Sheriff’s Office employees alleged misconduct results in $14,000 cash shortage from missing commissary funds and use of an unofficial receipt book.
Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office: Deputy initially “arrested and charged with one count of burglary, one count of theft and one count of tampering with evidence” after narcotics go missing from the evidence room. Charges grow to 68 counts.
Henry County Sheriff’s Office: Sheriff and sheriff’s office business manager indicted after audit finds $162,000 shortage and falsified records, mail fraud, conspiracy, etc.
Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office: “A Lauderdale County deputy sheriff repeatedly spent undercover funds for unauthorized purposes and falsified documents to cover his tracks, a report by the Comptroller’s Division of County Audit has found.”
McMinn County Sheriff’s Office: Deputy indicted for one count of official oppression. Deputy accused of stealing prescription drugs from motorists.
Monterey Police Department: Guns and some $30,000 gso missing. Former police chief pleads guilty to theft. Allegations that the current police diverted asset forfeiture funds to pay for the use of a bulldozer on his property leads local District Attorney to call for an investigation.
Sequatchie County Sheriff’s Office: Missing commissary funds and missing cash taken from inmates at processing.
Trenton Police Department: $73,000 in cash goes missing from police department. Police chief and his secretary are purportedly the only individuals with access. Town officials have no explanations.
Unicoi County Sheriff’s Office: Sheriff indicted on multiple felony charges including “six counts official misconduct, one count of theft over $1,000, one count of tampering with evidence, one count of criminal simulation and one count of attempted aggravated assault.”
Wayne County Sheriff’s Office: Sheriff’s office sells vehicles for cash. Cash never recorded. Cash goes missing.
Wilson County Sheriff’s Office: Former Lieutenant accused of, among other things, falsely claiming to witness a drug deal between two men, holding the men at gunpoint, falsely arresting them and seizing their vehicles and cash, forging documents in an attempt to claim ownership of (several) other vehicles seized by the sheriff’s office, checking out unknown amounts of marijuana from the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office evidence room and arranging for its sale at personal gain, selling confidential information to the target of a drug investigation, burglarizing the residence of his former girlfriend to give the stolen items to his wife as gifts, and attempting to poison his wife. Bunch of other stuff gone too-including disappeared cocaine.
Whitwell Police Department: former police chief and former city recorder arrested for theft.
“What have you learned as a police officer about life and society that most people don’t know or underestimate?”Saturday, September 1st, 2012
Thought this discussion on Quora was worth flagging, excerpts:
High-speed chases look like fun because they are.
Take away alcohol and stupid, and the world would require about 90% fewer cops.
Once you become a cop, very few of your non-cop friends will ever again treat you the same way.
Innovative and insightful work from Ali Winston and Darwin BondGraham. Hard to excerpt, read the whole thing:
What do we mean by a political-economy of police and law enforcement? Over the last decade there have been numerous excellent studies of the prison-industrial complex, especially here in California where prisons have rapidly grown in their budgets, employment, and numbers of persons incarcerated. With the growth of prisons into a major branch of the state, an entire industry of small and large corporations that profit from contracting with prisons has been created, replete with trade associations, lobbyists, and powerful employee unions. Finally, a pro-prisons political constituency comprised of the local, mostly rural, cities and counties where carceral facilities have become major employers, and local tax revenue generators, has completed the complex. It’s a powerful political machine, now a significant sector of California’s economy that through its redistribution of resources to lock up hundreds of thousands of mostly men of color produces obvious winners and losers.
Surprisingly, police departments have been subject to much less study along these lines, even though policing consumes more public revenues than prisons, and in spite of the ubiquitous presence of police in every city.
Oakland’s position within the Bay Area’s police and law enforcement economy is characterized by extraction. Because of decades of white flight, capital flight, and the devastating impact of state tax cuts and disinvestment in public schools, Oakland today is wracked by unemployment, poverty, and suffers from a lack of meaningful social and economic mobility for its flatlands residents, conditions that are synonymous with crime within these same communities.
Due to Oakland’s unique history and current political dynamics, harsh law-and-order approaches are most often advocated as the solution to the city’s crime problem. Parsing out the different constituencies that advocate the ‘more cops’ approach is a task that awaits much further study, but we can generally sketch out a picture of who wins and who loses because of Oakland’s unusually large allocation of city tax dollars to policing.
The short answer is that the surrounding majority white and middle class suburban cities of the East Bay benefit from Oakland’s massive spending on cops via the redistribution of tax dollars from Oakland to other municipalities.
Oakland spends roughly 40 percent of its general fund budget on cops. Police services is the single largest expenditure for the city. Compared to other cities of similar size in California, Oakland’s spending on police is much, much higher. For example, Sacramento spent about 23% of its general fund on cops in the 2011-2012 Fiscal year, this in spite of the fact that Sacramento and Oakland actually have comparable crime rates (Oakland has outpaced Sacramento in violent crime, while Sacramento has had more property crimes than Oakland in recent years, according to the most recent FBI crime statistics).Oakland’s FY 2012-2013 budget appropriates 40% of the general fund for police services, far and away the largest focus of city government. Few other cities, even those with comparable rates of crime, spend proportionally as much on their police. (Source: “Oakland FY2011-13 Adopted Policy Budget”, p. vii.)
What Oakland obtains from its large commitment of tax dollars to policing is debatable. As the department’s budget has fluctuated over the years crime rates have also fluctuated, but not necessarily in a pattern suggesting a causal link. Oakland does, however, lose considerable tax dollars to surrounding suburban cities in the form of officer salaries. Most of Oakland’s cops don’t live in the city, meaning that their salaries and other compensation are spent on mortgages, consumer purchases, healthcare, and other forms of taxed consumption where they live. Thus, by our rough calculations, based on data provided by OPD and assembled from a database of public employee pay for 2010, at least $126 million left the city in 2010 in the form of officer compensation.
OPD’s highest paid staff, nearly all sworn officers, live outside the city, while the department’s lowest paid staff, including administrative workers, are far more likely to live in Oakland. None of OPD’s command staff live in Oakland. In a sense this means that the local jobs sustained by OPD, which recycle Oakland tax dollars into the city’s economy, are the lowest paid positions, giving the city very little bang for its police bucks.