Category: Police Professionalism

Saturday Links

Saturday, November 17th, 2012
  • 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.
  • Runner-up.
  • 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.

Morning Links

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012
  • 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:

The New Professionalism

Friday, November 9th, 2012

Florida cop responding to a report of a stolen motorcycle snoops around a cemetery at night, knocks on the door to an equipment shed without first identifying himself. Cemetery owner is in the equipment shed, hears the knock, fears he’s being robbed, and so opens the door holding a gun. Cop opens fire. The guy lived, and the cop has now been cleared of any wrongdoing. The motorcycle was on the property, but given that he wasn’t charged, it appears the cemetery owner had nothing to do with its theft.

I’m not sure why you wouldn’t announce yourself if you hear someone in the shed. Not just for the other guy’s safety, but for yours. This particular case may not seem as egregious as others you might see on this site, until you consider this particular cop’s history:

A 13-year FHP veteran, Cole has been the subject of 10 internal affairs investigations. In 2001, Cole shot a man in the hand during a traffic stop when the man made a sudden movement toward Cole after ignoring commands to show his hands. The man turned out to be a Christian minister who was unarmed and was driving erratically after getting lost. He said he was trying to show the trooper his wallet when he was shot.

Last year, Cole was investigated after he used a Taser to subdue a handcuffed woman, who fell and hit her head. She fell into a coma and suffered debilitating brain damage.

Cole was cleared in both cases.

Maybe it’s time the Florida Highway Patrol found Officer Cole a desk job. Or at least the sort of job where he’ll never need to use force.

Morning Links

Friday, November 9th, 2012

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.

Morning Links

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Afternoon Links

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

Blogging will continue to be light over the next few weeks. I’m in the homestretch of finishing up by book manuscript.

Afternoon Links

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Morning Links

Friday, October 26th, 2012

Saturday Morning Links: Millennials, Drugs, and Defecation

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

The More Things Change . . .

Friday, October 19th, 2012

In this week’s issue of Huffington, they’ve published an updated version of my March article on Terrance Huff, drug dog searches, and asset forfeiture.

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.

Cops Beat Homeless Man

Monday, October 15th, 2012


Here’s the context:

On Monday evening, October 8, 2012, police were called about a man who was sleeping in the lounge of the Aliyah Center on East New York Ave. The caller may have mistakenly believed that the homeless man, Ehud H. Halevi, was loitering on the center’s property without permission.

Aliyah is a synagogue and outreach center for troubled youth in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Two officers from the 71st precinct, one male and one female, arrived and woke the man. Confused as to why he was being accosted by police, the man refused the officers’ attempts to escort him outside, insisting that he had permission to be there and asking that they allow him to prove it.

His pleas fell on deaf ears, and they proceeded to place him under arrest.

When he resisted arrest, the male officer flew into a rage and began to beat the defenseless man. As can be seen in the video below, the officer assumed a boxing stance and then lurched towards his victim, pummeling him from all sides.

Over the next couple of minutes the man is also pepper-sprayed and beaten with a truncheon by the female officer, all while posing no threat to the officers’ well-being whatsoever.

After a good two minutes of sadistic thrashing, the officers are joined by a squadron of their peers, and successfully put him in handcuffs and under arrest.

A source confirmed with that the man had full permission to be there, and had been living there for a month without any trouble. It is unknown who called the police or why.

And it wouldn’t be a police beating without the obligatory charge against the victim for assaulting the police officer’s fist with his face.

The guy clearly wasn’t cooperating. But he wasn’t breaking any laws. Even if you don’t think the beating itself is excessive (I do), why not contact someone at the center to see if his story checks out before you move in with the cuffs? Why move immediately to confrontation, and then to escalation?

Sunday Afternoon Links

Sunday, October 14th, 2012
  • It appears that a Utah state trooper has been falsifying arrest records for DUI cases. Bonus: Higher-ups probably knew, covered it up. Double bonus: In 2007 she was named “Trooper of the Year.
  • Attempted puppycide.
  • Mark Bittman wants food labels to include what mood the workers were in when it was picked and manufactured. Okay, not quite. But awfully close.
  • Headline of the day. For your amusement, please note the improbable name of one of the two researchers.
  • I’m pretty sure that if anyone who didn’t happen to be a cop responded to a colleague’s teasing by taking out a gun and shooting toward colleague’s feet, they’d be charged with some sort of crime.
  • Milwaukee cop charged with sodomizing people performing several illegal body cavity searches is let out on $0 bail. Chief Ed Flynn referred to the officer’s actions as “noble cause misconduct.” You remember Ed Flynn. He’s the one who instructed his “troops” to tackle, detain anyone carrying a gun in the city, even though it’s allowed under state law.
  • Houston Police Department admits to pre-writing traffic violations.

They’re Having a Party

Friday, October 12th, 2012

The Philladelphia police union is throwing a benefit party to honor the cop who was recently fired for doing this:


Late Morning Links

Friday, October 12th, 2012

Stop and Frisk

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

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.