Monday, June 30, 2014
Massachusetts SWAT teams claim they’re private corporations, immune from open records laws
As part of the American Civil Liberties Union’s recent report on police militarization, the Massachusetts chapter of the organization sent open records requests to SWAT teams across that state. It received an interesting response.
As it turns out, a number of SWAT teams in the Bay State are operated by what are called law enforcement councils, or LECs. These LECs are funded by several police agencies in a given geographic area and overseen by an executive board, which is usually made up of police chiefs from member police departments.
In 2012, for example, the Tewksbury Police Department paid about $4,600 in annual membership dues to the North Eastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council, or NEMLEC. (See page 36 of linked PDF.) That LEC has about 50 member agencies. In addition to operating a regional SWAT team, the LECs also facilitate technology and information sharing and oversee other specialized units, such as crime scene investigators and computer crime specialists.
Some of these LECs have also apparently incorporated as 501(c)(3) organizations. And it’s here that we run into problems. According to the ACLU, the LECs are claiming that the 501(c)(3) status means that they’re private corporations, not government agencies. And therefore, they say they’re immune from open records requests.
Let’s be clear. These agencies oversee police activities. They employ cops who carry guns, wear badges, collect paychecks provided by taxpayers and have the power to detain, arrest, injure and kill. They operate SWAT teams, which conduct raids on private residences. And yet they say that because they’ve incorporated, they’re immune to Massachusetts open records laws. The state’s residents aren’t permitted to know how often the SWAT teams are used, what they’re used for, what sort of training they get or who they’re primarily used against.
From the ACLU of Massachusetts’s report on police militarization in that state:
"Approximately 240 of the 351 police departments in Massachusetts belong to an LEC. While set up as "corporations," LECs are funded by local and federal taxpayer money, are composed exclusively of public police officers and sheriffs, and carry out traditional law enforcement functions through specialized units such as SWAT teams . . .
Due to the weakness of Massachusetts public records law and the culture of secrecy that has infected local police departments and Law Enforcement Councils, procuring empirical records from police departments and regional SWAT teams in Massachusetts about police militarization was universally difficult and, in most instances, impossible . . .
Police departments and regional SWAT teams are public institutions, working with public money, meant to protect and serve the public’s interest. If these institutions do not maintain and make public comprehensive and comprehensible documents pertaining to their operations and tactics, the people cannot judge whether officials are acting appropriately or make needed policy changes when problems arise . . .
Hiding behind the argument that they are private corporations not subject to the public records laws, the LECs have refused to provide documents regarding their SWAT team policies and procedures. They have also failed to disclose anything about their operations, including how many raids they have executed or for what purpose . . .
METROLEC, one of the largest of the law enforcement councils covering the metropolitan Boston area, operates a range of specialized resources, including a Canine Unit, Computer Crimes Unit, Crisis Negotiation Team, Mobile Operations Motorcycle Unit, and Regional Response Team, in addition to its SWAT force. The organization maintains its own BearCat armored vehicle, as well as a $700,000 state of the art command and control post. In 2012, METROLEC reportedly used its BearCat 26 times, mostly for drug busts, and applied to the Federal Aviation Administration to obtain a drone license.
The North Eastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council (NEMLEC) similarly operates a SWAT team, as well as a Computer Crime Unit, Motorcycle Unit, School Threat Assessment & Response System, and Regional Communications and Incident Management Assistance Team. Its SWAT team members are trained and equipped to "deal with active shooters, armed barricaded subjects, hostage takers and terrorists," and they dress in military-style gear with the words "NEMLEC SWAT" emblazoned on their uniforms. Given this training, it is not surprising that the NEMLEC SWAT team has over the past decade led numerous operations that involved armored vehicles, flash-bang devices, and automatic weapons."
(Note: In addition to the LEC SWAT teams, the ACLU notes that at least 25 other Massachusetts cities and towns have their own SWAT-like units, along with the state police and the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority.)
Massachusetts also has a long history of accountability and excessive force problems with SWAT teams. A few examples:
In 1988, Boston Det. Sherman Griffiths was killed in a botched drug raid later revealed to have been conducted based on information from an informant a subsequent investigation revealed that the police had simply made up.
Six years later, the Rev. Accelyne Williams died of a heart attack during a mistaken drug raid on his home. The Boston Globe found that three of the officers involved in that raid had been accused in a 1989 civil rights suit of using fictional informants to obtain warrants for drug raids. In testimony for that suit, one witness testified that after realizing they’d just raided the wrong home, a Boston police officer shrugged, apologized and said, "This happens all the time." The city settled with the plaintiffs.
In 1996, the Fitchburg SWAT team was already facing a lawsuit for harassing a group of loiterers when it burned down an apartment complex during a botched drug raid. The SWAT team subsequently faced a number of other allegations of recklessness and misconduct.
In January 2011, a SWAT team raided the Framingham, Mass., home of 68-year-old Eurie Stamps at around midnight on a drug warrant. Oddly, it had already arrested the subject of the warrant — Stamps’s 20-year-old stepson — outside the house. But because he lived in Stamps’s home, the team went ahead with the raid anyway. When the team encountered Stamps, it instructed him to lie on the floor. He complied. According to the police account, as one officer then moved toward Stamps to check for weapons, he lost his balance and fell. As he fell, his weapon discharged, sending a bullet directly into Stamps’s chest, killing him.
"You can’t have it both ways," Jessie Rossman, a staff attorney for the Massachusetts ACLU, told me in a phone interview. "The same government authority that allows them to carry weapons, make arrests, and break down the doors of Massachusetts residents during dangerous raids also makes them a government agency that is subject to the open records law."
In some states, police agencies can claim exemptions from open records legislation for certain types of requests, such as for internal personnel files, or investigation documents that could reveal the identities of witnesses or informants. In some parts of the country, like the Virginia suburbs of Washington, police agencies have broadly interpreted open records laws to allow them to turn down just about every request. But this claim in Massachusetts is on a whole different scale.
"They didn’t even attempt to claim an exception," Rossman says. "They’re simply asserting that they’re private corporations."
The ACLU is now suing NEMLEC. It’s worth noting that in addition to receiving taxpayer funding from its 51 member police agencies, NEMLEC has also received significant federal funding over the years, particularly from the Byrne Grant program. In fact, just last April, NEMLEC made a series of drug busts across the state in an investigation funded at least in part with Byrne Grants. (NEMLEC seems to be involved in a lot of drug raids.) In 2010, NEMLEC received an $800,000 Byrne Grant earmarked by then-Sen. John F. Kerry.
Original report here
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Posted by bussorah at 7:35 PM
Sunday, June 29, 2014
Police detective sacked after his mistress videotaped him snorting cocaine and sent it to his bosses
A long-serving police detective has lost his career and marriage after a woman he was having an affair with filmed him using cocaine and sent it to his force’s anti-corruption unit.
Swansea Crown Court heard Gareth Vaughan Bassett, 45, of Llwynhendy, Llanelli, was sacked as a detective sergeant with Dyfed Powys Police after he admitted a single charge of possessing cocaine last August.
Bassett, who the court heard is now living on income support, admitted the charge at Swansea Crown Court. He initially denied the offence claiming he thought the drug was a 'legal high' and asked for hair samples to be taken.
Matthew Cobbe, prosecuting, said hair samples were subsequently sent to a French laboratory and the results showed a low level of drug use in the previous four weeks.
Mr Cobbe told the court a series of text messages on August 1, 2013 showed Bassett urged his girlfriend to buy drugs for them to use together the following weekend.
The prosecutor said the defendant claimed it was merely a 'test' because he knew his girlfriend had been a drug user and he suspected she was using illegal drugs once again but he said the defendant was effectively 'blaming' her for his possession of the drug.
As well as losing his job and the majority of his pension, Bassett's marriage ended in divorce.
James Hartson, for Bassett, said: 'This is a man who for 25 years has served his community well without a blemish on his career.'
He added: 'He has lost a substantial amount of pension rights along with his good name and for an experienced police officer in his late forties that is highly regrettable.
'He is now in receipt of income support as a result of his dismissal from the police force.
'He became involved in an extra-marital relationship with someone who was a user of cocaine, it’s a mark of her character that she recorded what happened and played it to his employers. 'He has paid a very high price for an indiscretion. It was a moment of madness.'
The court did not hear the reason why the un-named mistress filmed the cocaine session and decided to approach anti-corruption police with the video.
Mr Hartson said the reading from the former detective sergeant’s hair sample was 0.39mgs, the accepted amount for a positive reading being 0.5mgs, but he said: 'He has accepted the inevitable, that at a crown court trial he would have been convicted.'
Mr Hartson said the length of time it took his client to plead guilty to the offence was due to the fact he wanted to seek detailed legal advice on whether the video evidence would be admissible in court and he had to wait for the hair sample analaysis.
Recorder Christopher Clee QC adjourned sentence for three weeks for reports into Bassett’s background saying the offence warranted community service 'at least'.
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Posted by bussorah at 6:50 PM
Saturday, June 28, 2014
Policeman who regularly slept with vulnerable women while on duty and even called for a patrol car to pick him up after is jailed
A police officer who seduced and slept with vulnerable women while on duty has been jailed for 18 months today.
Ian Langford, 46, who served with West Mercia Police in Shropshire, struck up relationships with two women after being called to attend incidents at their homes.
Langford would visit the women, who he was having relationships with at the same time, during his shifts, Gloucester Crown Court heard.
The father-of-one’s police radio was heard to go off during visits and he even called a police car to bring him back to the station, the court was told.
Langford’s 'totally unacceptable' actions led to a trial collapsing in court - as he was sleeping with the key prosecution witness.
He also illegally accessed police records to gain the contact details of one of his victims when she changed her phone number after their relationship ended.
The court was also told how Langford was docked 13 days pay in 2008 by West Mercia Police for sleeping with a vulnerable women after attending her home following a domestic violence incident.
Langford, of Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, who was supported by his new wife in court today, admitted two charges of misconduct in a public office for the relationships, which took place in 2012 and 2013.
The judge sentenced Langford to nine months for each count of misconduct in a public office, to run consecutively - meaning a prison term of 18 months.
He also made an order banning the identification of any of Langford’s victims.
Judge Jamie Tabor QC told Langford that his actions had brought the police service into disrepute. 'You are not a man of good character because in 2008 you were reprimanded for committing a similar, if not identical, offence with another vulnerable woman,' the judge said. 'If you needed reminding that such behaviour was totally unacceptable, that incident should have deterred you.
'However, in May 2012, you met up with one victim. She was the victim of domestic violence, as had been the victim in 2008. 'She was looking for the protection of the law and the understanding of the police. You chose to seduce her when she was at her most vulnerable.
'Later, when the affair had come to an end you misused police data to discover her private phone number.'
Prosecuting, Janine Wood said Langford met his first victim in May 2012, after being called to her home to attend a domestic violence incident.
Langford 'immediately' began complimenting the woman and later contacted her on Facebook. 'She was vulnerable having suffered years of abuse from her partner, Mr Langford gave her compliments and support,' Ms Wood said. 'A sexual relationship began very soon afterwards.'
The relationship ended a few months later and the woman changed her phone number.
'In December 2012, the command and control logs were accessed by Mr Langford and he obtained her phone number,' Ms Wood said. 'He sent her a text message minutes later.'
In a victim impact statement, the woman said: 'As painful as it is to look back, when I think of the mental state I was in at the time I feel sick at how the authority figure in our community took advantage of me when he should have protected me.'
The court heard how Langford met with a second victim in June 2012 following a neighbourly dispute at her home - which resulted in a trial. This meeting was while he was in a relationship with the first woman, the court heard.
Ms Wood continued: 'He then began complimenting her inappropriately and gave her his email address and told her it was the address his wife didn’t know about,' Ms Wood said.
'He asked if he could kiss her and the relationship progressed. On a number of occasions she wrote in her journal and she recorded when sexual activity took place.
'That corresponded with Mr Langford’s GPRS tracker on his police radio. It was while he was on duty.
'There are exchanges of text messages which talk about what happened between them and mention him having to get a police car back to the station, confirming he was on duty at the time.'
The relationship ended in June 2013, when the woman discovered Langford was engaged to be married to another woman, Ms Wood said.
In a victim impact statement read to the court, the woman said: 'I thought I was safe with him but he left me with an enduring belief that the old stereotype of dodgy policemen is still very much alive and kicking, especially when it comes to vulnerable women.
'My feelings are unsurprisingly more emotional, I feel rejected - why did he do this? For kicks or thrills while supposedly on police duty?'
Judge Jamie Tabor added: 'The case was compromised when it came to trial because the defendant let it be known that you were having an affair with the prosecution witness.
'As a result, the case had to be dropped, although a restraining order was imposed. Nothing could demonstrate better why police officers have to conduct themselves in a exemplary manner.
'Both your victims feel extremely let down by the police. You targeted women when they were at their most vulnerable. You carried out the affairs while actually on duty. 'Your behaviour has brought the police service into disrepute.'
Representing Langford, Simon Hunka said his client had joined the police force in 1989.
Mr Hunka said his client, father to his 11-year-old daughter, no longer works for the police force.
'This is someone who had a long standing is the community,' Mr Hunka said. 'He is from a respected and respectful family and he knows he has brought shame on to that.'
(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress. If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where posts appear as well as on the primary site. I have reposted the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts HERE or HERE or here
Posted by bussorah at 3:12 PM
Friday, June 27, 2014
Shocking moment man's eye socket is smashed by police officer in violent arrest after he dropped PAPER CUP from his car
This is the shocking moment a police officer shattered a man's eye-socket as he arrested him after he threw a paper cup out of a car window.
Mohaib Qurban was left with horrific injuries following the arrest in Birmingham city centre in March 2012.
A West Midlands Police officer is now facing a disciplinary hearing following the incident, the force has confirmed.
CCTV footage shows Mr Qurban being held to the ground beside a parked car as an officer appears to punch down towards him.
The footage, obtained by the Birmingham Mail, also shows Mr Qurban lifted into view before the same officer knees him in the head twice.
The trainee fork-lift truck driver, of Birmingham, also suffered cuts, a damaged jaw and needed counselling for post-traumatic stress disorder.
Mr Qurban's initial complaint to West Midlands Police was rejected, but his appeal to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) was upheld.
The force has now confirmed the officer, who has not been named, is facing a new internal misconduct hearing.
The officer will not be prosecuted in court after the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to proceed with the case following an IPCC referral.
Mr Qurban, who lost his job after taking time off to recover from his injuries, is now suing the force for compensation. He said: 'I just want to see justice served. I want the officer to go through what I had to go through. 'I think he should face the courts like I had to face the courts and I think he should lose his job, like I did.'
Mr Qurban went on to say: 'I have been very patient and I have gone through all of the official channels, speaking with lawyers, the CPS, the police and the IPCC.
'But this officer is still out there on the streets and nothing seems to be happening. An issue like this just can’t be ignored.
'The IPCC upheld my complaint. They also found issues with pocket notes, CS gas and radio transmissions.
'I have no idea why he did it, maybe he just had a bad day, but whatever the reason was, it was not and never would be justifiable.'
Mr Qurban had been drinking vodka before his arrest while sitting in the passenger seat of his friend's car in the city's Dean Street.
He threw a paper cup from the car, only for it to be launched back into the vehicle and an officer appeared next to the window claiming there had been reports of a group acting in a drunk and disorderly manner.
Mr Qurban was then pushed against the bonnet of the car and he and his friends were sprayed with CS spray.
A spokesperson for West Midlands Police said: 'The IPCC complaint was upheld, but no criminal charges were brought against the officer. 'The internal force disciplinary procedures are still ongoing.'
The IPCC confirmed that they upheld Mr Qurban's complaint and sent the contents of its report to West Midlands Police.
Posted by bussorah at 10:38 PM
Thursday, June 26, 2014
The shocking moment British cops were caught surfing Facebook and looking at porn while arrested man died in a cell a few yards away
This is the moment police officers surfed Facebook and a sex website while a man in their care died in a cell just metres away from them.
Lloyd Butler, 39, died of a cardiac arrest while being detained at Stechford police station in the West Midlands on August 4 2010, an inquest decided yesterday.
The CCTV footage shows the officers responsible for him gathered around a computer while they were supposed to be keeping a constant watch on him.
A report published by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) highlighted an alarming number of mistakes and 'unacceptable behaviour' by officers in the tragic case.
It also said custody sergeant Mark Albutt faked records to make it appear officers were checking on Mr Butler more often than they did.
The review was published after an inquest saw footage showing officers laughing, joking and swearing.
The jury was also told that PC Dean Woodcock made personal phonecalls, and officers surfed inappropriate websites, including one where 'women were offering sex'.
IPCC Associate Commissioner Guido Liguori, who published the report, said: 'The indifferent treatment of Mr Butler by officers and staff of West Midlands Police showed a disregard for both the stated procedures of detention and also for human decency.
'The care given to Mr Butler fell well short of what was expected from when he was arrested to the moment he sadly died.
'Instead of taking Mr Butler to hospital officers kept him in a police cell and instead of helping him, PC Woodcock and DEO Wall mocked him.
'In addition to the failure to care properly for Mr Butler, this was a worrying case highlighted by the findings from our investigation that PS Albutt deliberately recorded incorrect information in the custody record and failed to adequately monitor Mr Butler, PC Woodcock preferring instead to surf the internet and make personal calls. 'Such actions are not what I would expect to see from the police officers and staff.'
Mr Butler collapsed at the police station after being arrested for appearing to be drunk and incapable.
Delivering the verdict that Mr Butler's cardiac arrest had been caused by underlying alcohol problems the jury said the risk assessment was inadequate.
They also said 15-minute visits were not carried out on time and a nurse was late to attend to him.
The chairman said: 'On his arrival at custody, Mr Butler wasn't capable and, according to policies in place he should not have been detained in custody, he should have been taken to hospital.
'It is the findings of the jury that, had Mr Butler been on a monitor in A&E at the time of his heart attack, the probability is that he more likely would have survived.'
PC Woodcock, who arrested Mr Butler and was later tasked with monitoring him, was found guilty of misconduct and had to undergo further training and development.
Sgt Albutt was found guilty of gross misconduct and handed a final written warning.
Lloyd's devastated mother, Janet, said her son would still be alive if West Midlands Police officers had 'done their job'.
Speaking outside the court, she added: 'I hate to think another family has to suffer the way we did and still are - it affects you for the rest of your life.
'I was satisfied with the inquest process because it brought out the truth - the truth about West Midlands Police and the officers who dealt with my son.
'Their behaviour was an absolute disgrace. They failed Lloyd miserably in their duty of care to him and I feel they assisted in his death. 'It's very clear from the evidence we've seen over the last ten days that officers were not carrying out procedures. 'If they had, my son would still be alive today.'
Birmingham coroner Louise Hunt said a 'change of culture' was needed in the force as she prepared to submit her report to prevent future deaths.
She added: 'I remain concerned essentially about the conduct in custody suites. 'I appreciate a custody suite is a very difficult environment to work in but you have very vulnerable people coming in.'
More CCTV played at the inquest showed officers dragging Mr Butler out of a police van by his legs, staggering around his cell and hitting his head against the wall.
Responding to the inquest verdict and the IPCC report, assistant chief constable Gary Cann said: 'The jury at Birmingham Coroner's Court has found officers failed to carry out an adequate risk assessment when arresting Mr Butler, placing him in custody instead of taking him to hospital.
'They also found that, once in custody, proper checks were not adequately carried out and visits were not maintained on schedule.
'We do not underestimate the impact the death of Lloyd Butler has had on his family and friends and the force extends its sincere condolences.
'On behalf of the force, I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to Lloyd Butler's family.'
Posted by bussorah at 8:13 PM
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Slack Australian cops yawn at a murder
One of the state's most senior police officers will be called to give evidence on Wednesday to defend his botched investigation into the possible murder of a young Ashfield man.
Frank Mennilli, now an assistant commissioner and commander of the South-West Metro Region, was the lead investigator in the disappearance of Richard Sajko, who vanished the night before Mother's Day in 1995.
Mr Sajko, a "quiet and shy" 21 year-old, was last seen leaving his job at Avis Car Rentals in Mascot just days before he was due to give evidence against a former friend in a criminal trial.
More than two decades later, no one has been arrested despite revelations on Tuesday that a prime suspect had confessed.
His mother Rozi Sajko told an inquest at Glebe Coroners Court that her son seemed "very disturbed" in the days before his disappearance.
She had learnt two weeks earlier that he was defending criminal charges in a district court after being pulled over in October, 1994, in a tow truck being driven by his friend Sam Testalamuta with a stolen car on the back.
The pair had given police conflicting explanations of how the stolen car came to be in their possession and Mr Sajko revealed to his mother that Mr Testalamuta had been pressuring him to change his statement.
At one stage, Mr Testalamuta threatened to kill Mr Sajko and blow up his car, the inquest heard. He had also been using Richard's name and address, without his permission, to get out of traffic infringements.
"He seemed disturbed," Mrs Sajko told the inquest. "Even though he was reserved and a shy person, with me and in our home he just was a normal, happy person but he didn't seem [that way] at the time. When I asked him what is the matter, he came out with the story... about the trouble that he seemed to be having with Sam Testalamuta."
He was due to spend Mother's Day with his mother at her Coogee home in 1995 but never showed up.
The night before, he left work at midnight with a passenger in his car. His red Commodore was parked oddly in a Croydon street that night, where it remained for 11 days until police began to investigate.
In the early stages, Mr Mennilli told Mrs Sajko that her son had probably made up the story about being threatened and simply run away, the inquest heard.
"Did Sergeant Mennilli ever tell you that he thought there was no evidence in this case supporting foul play?" asked Penelope Wass, SC, representing the Sajko family.
"Yes," Mrs Sajko replied.
She said she would often ring Ashfield police to ask questions and would never receive a call back.
It was only two years ago that she was told a man, John Tuiletufuga, who has since been deported to New Zealand due to criminal convictions, had confessed.
There was evidence that Tuiletufuga and another man known only as Sam had used Richard's phone the day after he disappeared.
One of several issues to be addressed in the inquest is whether serious errors by the police allowed Mr Sajko's usual and suspicious disappearance to go unsolved for almost two decades and possibly allowed a murderer to remain free.
"There is no evidence that Richard ran away or committed suicide or died from drugs," counsel assisting the coroner, Ian Bourke, said. "The evidence does support the conclusion that Richard has died and died in very suspicious circumstances."
Mr Sajko's body has never been found.
Posted by bussorah at 9:31 AM
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Australia: ACT police officer removed from frontline duties after capsicum-spraying dog
An ACT police officer who fired capsicum spray at a tethered dog during a raid will ride a desk until an investigation into the incident is complete.
Canberra's top cop said the move had been "operationally necessary" but did not presume guilt.
Disturbing CCTV footage which surfaced last week showed a plain-clothes Australian Federal Police officer spraying a chained dog during a search of an unoccupied Griffith house in May.
The dog's owner, Justen Storay, has lodged an official complaint with the AFP.
Mr Storay, who wasn't home at the time of the raid, said his two-year-old dog, Laps, didn't have any physical side affects from the attack. But the dog had "cowered", been "standoffish", and seemed "really shocked" after the incident, he said.
The male officer is now the subject of an internal investigation by AFP Professional Standards.
ACT Chief Police Officer Rudi Lammers said a decision to remove the officer from frontline duty, which meant he would not be able to use capsicum spray, was "a reasonable response" to the incident.
"It doesn't presume guilt, and nor does it presume the conclusions of the investigation, but it was just something we thought was operationally necessary," he said.
"The investigation is being expedited so we're going to do it as quickly as we possibly can and then work through what we're going to do after the findings of that investigation are known," Chief Police Officer Lammers said.
The man will work in a different ACT Policing department until the investigation is completed.
Mr Storay's lawyer, Peter Woodhouse, welcomed the news but said the officer should have been stood down, pending the investigation, as soon as the complaint was lodged.
"It has taken the considerable media coverage and public outcry to shame the AFP into acting," he said.
Mr Woodhouse said he hoped the widespread public outcry over the incident prompted the AFP to act "swiftly and forcefully".
"The people have spoken – they won’t tolerate this type of jack-booted, bully-boy behaviour from their police officers who are, after all, public servants."
Chief Police Officer Lammers said it was "far too early to tell" whether criminal charges would be laid against the officer.
"I wouldn't want to second guess anything that's recommended after the investigation's complete," he said.
He said police had not reviewed procedures, or raised the matter of professional standards with officers following the incident.
"We already have very sound guidelines in place for the way in which our officers should behave. Those guidelines are well-known to all officers in the police force.
"We'll just see what the end of the investigation brings, whether there is a need to do anything with our practices and procedures we won't really know that until after the investigation."
Chief Police Officer Lammers said any type of conduct that attracted adverse community attention was disappointing.
Footage of the incident shows Laps - a bull mastiff cross - tethered to a chain in the backyard. A police officer can be seen barking at the dog.
The dog charges but is stopped well short of the man by its chain. The officer then shoots a burst of oleoresin capsicum spray directly at the stationary animal and it quickly retreats out of sight.
Minutes later, three AFP officers can be seen apparently laughing, with one recording on his mobile phone. The officer who used the spray later throws a stick towards the animal and leaves.
The police officer's actions were met with backlash from animal rights groups and on social media.
RSPCA ACT chief executive Tammy Ven Dange said last week the behaviour was "inexcusable" and it didn't look like the police officer had acted appropriately.
Chief Police Officer Lammers said the AFP did not condone animal cruelty in any form.
Posted by bussorah at 9:26 AM
Monday, June 23, 2014
Deputy who let his drunk friend use patrol car's loudspeaker to cat call women and make lewd comments about their private parts fights to be reinstated after firing
A sheriff's county deputy in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is fighting to get his job back after driving his drunk friends around in his police vehicle and allowing them to use the car's loudspeaker to heckle passers-by, particularly women.
The vehicle was driven by Rodrigo Mello, 33, a deputy with the Broward County Sheriff's Office for nearly a decade. According to authorities, Mello was off-duty when he took his two drunk friends on a joyride through Las Olas, a popular nightlife district, in his marked 2007 Dodge Charger.
'Girls, put your vaginas back in your pants' the speaker from the car kept repeating, a hot dog vendor that witnessed the heckling told the Orlando Sun-Sentinel.
'They're saying extremely lewd and really stupid things over the P.A.' one caller told 911. Most witnesses who called expressed disbelief that there was an officer behind the wheel.
'They're saying rude comments and driving around. ... I don't think sheriffs would act like that,' one caller said.
Mello was fired for the August 11, 2013 incident, but has since been fighting to be reinstated as a deputy. Mello is currently attempting an arbitration process to broker a way for him to return to work. However, he is meeting tough resistance from his former employer, who is refusing to reinstate him.
According to the sheriff department's internal investigation, Mello had called in sick for his morning shift at 12:22am that evening, two and-a-half hours before he was stopped. He had texted his boss that he had 'food poisoning'.
Surveillance cameras at different locations that evening caught the vehicle stopping in the middle of roadways, using emergency lights and yelling rude remarks at passers-by.
According to the vendor, the car passed by at least three times in a half-hour, each time stopping to heckle him.
'Hey, how are your hot dogs? Those hot dogs any good?' the vendor, who is not identified by name in the investigative report, said he heard. 'I want a hot dog.'
'It was stupid as could be and I look back at it now and it's absolutely ridiculous,' Mello later said in a sworn statement. 'It was innocent fun. Now looking back at it, it was the stupidest decision I ever made in my life.'
According to his statement, Mello said he had joined a group of about 10 gym friends at a bar on Las Olas Boulevard about 9pm. He said that had two or three alcoholic drinks during the three or four hours he was there, and he did 'not at all' feel intoxicated.
After leaving the first, the group went to another in the same area. By the end of the evening, Mello agreed to drive his 'extremely intoxicated' friends home.
Mello said his friend remarked that he'd never been in a police car before, so Mello 'flashed his lights once' and gave him permission to say something over the P.A. system. Mello did not recall anything lewd or offensive being said.
Sheriff's Capt. Fernando Gajate reportedly found Mello sitting on the curb with one of his friends who was in the vehicle. The other occupant of the vehicle was found laying in a grassy knoll.
'It was an absolute stupid decision,' Mello said, according to the investigative report. 'I've brought embarrassment to myself, my family, the department.'
Gajate received a written reprimand for allegedly failing to take suitable action, according to the report. He opted to send Mello home after taking his vehicle. According to Gajate, Mello did not show any signs of being drunk, such as bloodshot eyes and slurred words.
Since his January 14, 2014 firing, Mello has been fighting to get his job back. He was terminated for lack of discretion, conduct unbecoming and having unauthorized passengers in his vehicle. An arbitrator has not yet been selected for Mello's fight regarding the termination.
According to Mello's LinkedIn page, he began working for a small law enforcement training firm as the Chief Logistics Officer after his departure from his previous job. On his page, he also claimed to have been awarded a Medal of Honor while working with the Broward County Sheriff's Office.
Posted by bussorah at 6:36 PM
Sunday, June 22, 2014
Arrested for 'being stupid': What police officer told a man after slamming him against a wall and cuffing him... because he took his parking ticket TOO FAST
Black cop; white arrestee
In Chicago, being disrespectful is now apparently against the law.
A video has surfaced online showing a resident of the Second City being arrested during a routine traffic stop after snatching a parking ticket from the hands of an officer.
When the unnamed arrestee demanded to know why he was being handcuffed, the responding officer offered a terse reply: ' for being stupid.'
The cell phone footage shot by the suspect's friend was first shared on Facebook Monday. It has seen drawn 341 'likes' and nearly 800 shares.
It was later uploaded by the user TemperVale onto the video-sharing site LiveLeak, where it has been played more than 20,000 times., and counting,.
According to the post that accompanied the video, the incident involved officers from Chicago Police Department's District 4 covering the southern portion of the city.
The three men in the video were riding in a car together when the driver allegedly parked on a sidewalk and tried to leave, but was stopped by police.
The clip clocking in at 2 minutes and 41 seconds shows a hulking police officer in a bulletproof vest approach the motorist holding a parking citation.
The cop goes to hand the ticket to the man, who is visibly upset and abruptly snatches the piece of paper from the officer's hands.
The suspect's brusque gesture enrages the officer, who yanks the motorist by the neck and then slams him against a nearby wall face first.
As he is being fitted with a pair of handcuffs, the driver demands to know why he is being placed under arrest, to which the officer responds: 'for being stupid.'
The man continues to protest, lamenting: 'I got my ID. Now I'm under arrest.’
The officer appears unimpressed by the suspect’s arguments, and with the words, ‘You like to go to jail tonight? That's fine with me,’ he leads him to the patrol car and places the restrained man in the backseat.
The arrestee’s friend recording the incident makes a last-ditch attempt to reason with police by pointing out that there are more serious crimes being committed in the rough South Chicago neighbors than a parking violation.
‘There's people shooting outside,’ the man says off camera. ‘I had a gun pointed at me the other day and you're going to arrest him?’
But the responding officers appear unmoved by these arguments.
On Facebook, most commenters have sided with the arrested man, calling out the unidentified officer for being a 'bully.'
Leroy Dabbinzz wrote: 'What law did he break? When the cop handed him the ticket he took it too fast? That's a crime? A crime worthy of assault and imprisonment? I think not. If the guy deserved a citation then write it up give it to him and be on your way.’
Posted by bussorah at 4:14 PM
Saturday, June 21, 2014
Strange Google policy
Google is the host of this blog. They recently notified me that they regarded one of my blog posts from 2006 as unacceptable. It was the post of August 12, 2006. Google cancelled access to it. The post was an account of the trial and conviction for sex offences of a Mr Prashant Modi. I have now replaced the post with a brief comment, linking to another account of the trial.
What amazes me is that Google seems to be in the business of protecting sex offenders. The trial took place in Britain, which is part of the EU and the EU have recenrtly mandated that search engines must delete links to stories about people which are discreditable to them. That judgment concerned search engines only, however, not hosting services. So I think the action that took place against this blog is the doing of Google only.
This is not the first time to my knowledge that Google have protected crooks. You can read of another such instance here. I think it is quite clear that they are being evil in these matters.
But how evil? They could be evil enough to cancel or block access to this blog. They did that to my orginal "Wicked Thoughts" blog -- now hosted on Wordpress. And despite repeated enquiries from me they have never said why they cancelled that blog. I would very much like to know why as I am unaware of doing anything wrong.
So it is a lively possibility the Google may block access to this blog or block access for any new postings. In that case be prepared. I have a mirror site for this blog already up and running and will start doing my posts there if Google blocks me. The mirror site is here. Make a note of it!
Posted by bussorah at 2:31 PM
Film examines ‘wrongful’ conviction of (black) Bushwick native David McCallum
Documentary filmmakers need talent and timing to change the world — Ray Klonsky had both.
His doc "David & Me" about the wrongful conviction of Brooklynite David McCallum is a classic tale of injustice — but it would have been just another righteous cry in the wilderness without the re-examination of dozens of similarly sketchy convictions from the dark days of Brooklyn’s criminal "justice" system in the 1980s and ’90s.
The film was just selected for the Manhattan Film Festival, where it will screen Friday. Klonsky is gratified for himself and his friend.
"He didn’t seem like a guy who had to spend time in prison," said Klonsky, who was so convinced of McCallum’s innocence that he took on two side jobs to produce the film.
The Bushwick native McCallum was just 16 when cops allegedly beat a confession out of him for a murder.
Years later, McCallum reached out to Klonsky, beginning a correspondence — and a crusade as Klonsky, 29, and his fellow filmmakers spent years re-examining the case and acquiring evidence to exonerate McCallum, such as DNA from cigarette butts from the crime scene that did not match McCallum.
McCallum’s is now one of more than 90 murder cases that are being re-examined by Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson after irregularities were found in many cases of that era. Klonsky thinks his movie "planted the seed." (Thompson declined to comment on the ongoing re-examination.)
"I did this as David’s friend," Klonsky said. "I just want people to know the person I know."
But he won’t consider his work done until McCallum is a free man.
"We appreciate the DA agreeing to look at the case, but we’re not going to accept a lackadaisical timeline," Klonsky said. "Every day David is in jail is another wasted day of his life."
Posted by bussorah at 1:45 PM
Friday, June 20, 2014
When is a wrongful conviction not a miscarriage of justice?
Victor Nealon was wrongly jailed for 17 years, but he is not being compensated
Victor Nealon has been denied compensation. The Dubliner left Wakefield Prison in Yorkshire in the days before Christmas last year with less than £50 (€63) in his pocket, having spent 17 years in jail for a wrongful conviction for attempted rape.
His life spiralled into a nightmare after a 22-year-old woman was attacked in Redditch, south of Birmingham, on her way home from the Rackets nightclub in August 1996, after celebrating her birthday.
"She was very drunk. About half an hour before she left she noticed that a man, who was about 20 feet away, was staring fixedly at her with what she interpreted as sexual interest," Lord Justice Fulford said in a court of appeal ruling. "She particularly noted his intense gaze and a lump that was like a scratch on his forehead. He was notably older than most of the other men at the nightclub."
In the early hours, the woman and a female friend left to walk home, before she was seized from behind as they walked under a bridge. She blanked out, but subsequently regained consciousness.
She punched and kicked her assailant, who then ran away.
Distressed, she was taken to her home. Within 90 minutes, police had taken her clothes for forensic analysis.
Both women were vague about identifying the attacker. The victim’s friend said she had had "just a few seconds" to look at the man’s face, and the light under the bridge was poor.
"She was sure, however, that it was the same person who had been staring at [the victim] in Rackets, and she said he was wearing the same black trousers and black paisley panelled shirt.
"She described him as stocky and about the same height as [the victim when] wearing heels," said Lord Justice Fulford, adding that she said he had been "clean-shaven with strange, very small lips and an evil-looking face".
Preparing an artist’s drawing, the victim’s friend said the attacker’s forehead lump had been on the left side of his face, though later in court she said it was on the right.
Detectives spoke to other people who had been in the nightclub.
Three recalled a man who wore a distinctive patterned shirt. The doorman remembered admitting him, but believed his accent was Scottish.
Differences existed among testimonies, as is typical with such attempts at recall, but all agreed on the existence of the forehead lump – a disfigurement, rather than anything temporary caused by a blow.
Nealon, then a 36-year-old postman, does not have such a disfigurement, but he did have acne – something that appeared sufficient to West Mercia police to justify placing him in an ID parade.
There, he was identified as having been in the nightclub by three witnesses – though not by the victim, who did not inspect the parade, nor by her friend, who had provided details for a drawing of the assailant.
The Dubliner said he had been at home that night, watching videos. However, detectives’ suspicions were heightened when he gave the wrong film titles when asked to name them.
Given a life tariff, with a minimum recommendation of seven years, Nealon was repeatedly refused parole because he refused to admit to the crime. He faced similar rebuffs from the criminal cases review commission.
Nealon tried again. In July 2012, the commission finally referred his case to the court of appeal, saying fresh DNA evidence had emerged – even though it was far from fresh.
A "real possibility" existed, said the commission, which was set up after a string of wrongful Irish convictions in the 1970s, that judges would find his conviction to have been unsafe.
Unsafe it was, but 17 years in jail does not merit compensation, it seems. British justice secretary Chris Grayling has now ruled that Nealon has "not suffered a miscarriage of justice" as defined by law.
The decision is "a nonsense", says Nealon’s solicitor, Mark Newby. "His conviction was quashed on the basis that someone else was responsible, so why should he not be entitled to compensation?"
Seventeen years on, Nealon, who was repeatedly segregated for refusing to co-operate with the authorities, lives in temporary accommodation in Birmingham, struggling even to begin to rebuild his life.
Posted by bussorah at 6:04 PM
Thursday, June 19, 2014
The Central Park Five
While the problem of false confessions among young, low-IQ juveniles may be a real one, the "Central Park Five" case is a bad example, because there’s no real evidence, as we’ve repeatedly shown here on VDARE.com, that they were any less guilty than they said they were. Ann Coulter said
Of more than three dozen hoodlums brought in for questioning, only 10 were charged with any crimes, and only five of those were charged with raping the jogger. All those charged with the jogger`s rape gave detailed, corroborated, videotaped confessions, after full Miranda warnings, four of the five in the presence of an adult relative.
Recall that none of them—including the police—could have known whether the jogger would emerge from her coma and be able to identify her attackers. (She emerged, but blocked all memory of the attack.) All five confessed to assisting the attack on the jogger, but none to raping her themselves. That`s enough for a rape conviction….
Melody Jackson, whose brother was friends with defendant Kharey Wise, testified—reluctantly—that she talked to Wise by phone when he was at Rikers Island and that he told her that he didn`t rape the jogger, he "only held her legs down while Kevin (Richardson) f–ked her." She originally volunteered this information to the police thinking it would be helpful to Wise.Ann Coulter: What You Won`t Read In The Papers About The `Central Park Five`
The "exoneration" were based on a guy who’s in jail for life claiming he did it all by himself, a thing that appears to have been physically impossible, and the fact that he was the only guy whose DNA was found. Sometimes DNA isn’t found because the rapist failed to achieve penetration and/or intromission.
Robert K. Tanenbaum , quoted by Nicholas Stix
Det. [Thomas] McKenna’s memo book entry of statements made to him by the defendant Yusef Salaam:
"Hit her with pipe/she went down and hit her again/. . . Kevin [Richardson] f—-d her. . . To me it was something to do.
"It was fun."
Kevin Richardson is on one of the "false confessions" referred to by Lauren Kirchner above, he’s one of the people who sued New York City for convicting them after they confessed.
Posted by bussorah at 10:46 PM
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
"Welfare" thugs defeated: Judge orders Connecticut girl to be returned to family
In the end they couldn't even defend their own actions
Justina Pelletier is coming home.
A Massachusetts judge ordered the 16-year-old Connecticut girl, who was taken from her family by child welfare advocates more than a year ago, to be returned to her mother and father effective Wednesday. The ruling caps a long-running medical custody dispute that began when two highly-respected Boston hospitals clashed over the girl's diagnosis. The case sparked national outrage, and led Lou and Linda Pelletier, of West Hartford, Conn., to wage a bitter legal battle.
"To hear the news is overwhelming," Lou Pelletier told FoxNews.com moments after learning of the ruling. "Now we can certainly begin the healing process."
The case began when the girl's parents disagreed with a psychiatric diagnosis given by Boston Children's Hospital and said they wanted their daughter returned to her original physician at Tufts Medical Center, who had previously treated Justina for mitochondrial disease, a group of rare genetic disorders affecting cellular energy production. The Massachusetts Department of Children and Families moved in, claiming Justina was the victim of "medical child abuse."
Mat Staver, of the Liberty Counsel, which battled the Bay State bureaucracy on behalf of the Pelletiers, said the ruling handed down by Massachusetts juvenile court Judge Joseph Johnston was well-deserved.
"We are thrilled that Justina will finally be returning home," Staver said in a statement. "The family looks forward to putting this 16-month nightmare behind them. Justina and her family now begins the process of healing both physically, emotionally, and spiritually."
In May, Justina was moved from Massachusetts to a facility in Thompson, Conn., allowing her parents to visit with their daughter, but doing little to dampen their determination to win her back for good. In a 45-second, videotaped plea, first posted on a Facebook support page last week, Justina is seen sitting in a chair and pleading plaintively with Johnston.
"All I really want is to be with my family and friends," the girl says, her voice faltering at times. "You can do it. You're the one that's judging this. Please let me go home."
The judge granted the girl's wish, after the Massachusetts DCF filed a motion agreeing that the teenager should be returned to her family. Alec Loftus, a spokesman for Massachusetts Health and Human Services Secretary John Polanowicz, confirmed to FoxNews.com last week that the agency was no longer planning to fight the case.
The emotional toll on Justina and her family is one that cannot be measured, Staver said. She has missed out on two years of education, Staver said, and went from becoming a competitive figure skater to being confined in a wheelchair.
Lou Pelletier said he knows his daughter will need time and love from her family to overcome her ordeal.
"She’s coming home tomorrow," he said. "I think she will want to get adjusted.
"Think of it like a prisoner of war who has been held captive for 16 months," he continued. "There will be an adjustment period."
Posted by bussorah at 7:40 PM
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
New York, the injustice capital of America
Wrongful convictions have been at the center of public discourse lately. Every few weeks, there's a headline about a new exoneration, some poor guy locked up for 20 years for a crime it turned out he did not commit. In 2013, 87 people were exonerated across America, the most in any year on record.
In New York City, and even nationally, Kings County is at the forefront this wave of overturned convictions. Brooklyn, after all, has had the highest-profile faces at every layer: David Ranta, the innocent man who spent 23 years in prison after being found guilty of killing a rabbi; Louis Scarcella, the detective accused of fabricating confessions and coaching witnesses; Michael Vecchione, the prosecutor accused of hiding evidence of a defendant's innocence; Charles Hynes, the politically minded D.A. who seemed to turn a blind eye to the misconduct that led to the as-yet-undetermined number of false convictions; and current Brooklyn D.A. Ken Thompson, who unseated Hynes by vowing to clean up the office and whose staff is reviewing nearly 100 questionable convictions, including 56 involving Scarcella.
It's enough to make an intelligent, well-read New Yorker think that Brooklyn is the city's wrongful conviction capital. But that New Yorker would be wrong. In fact, it is the Bronx that holds that dubious title.
From January 1989 through December 2013, Brooklyn and the Bronx each had 29 exonerations, according to the National Registry of Exonerations. Nationally, the two counties tied for fourth place for highest total. Manhattan was sixth, with 26. Cook County, Illinois, a populous and sprawling area that includes Chicago, had the most by far, with 95.
The Bronx, of course, contains a million fewer residents than Brooklyn.
Per capita, Bronx County had the highest rate of exonerations in the state, and ranked fifth nationwide, while Brooklyn did not crack the top ten. Cook County ranked seventh, and Manhattan ranked eighth.
A slightly different data set, looking at convictions between 1985 to 2007, offers some additional details. From that period, 32 people were exonerated in the Bronx; 29 of them were convicted between 1985 and 1999. Fourteen of those 29 spent at least a decade in prison.
Of those 32, 12 involved a mistaken witness identification. Only one of the exonerations involved DNA evidence.
The data also show the extent to which exonerations, and, therefore, wrongful convictions by extension, are disproportionately spread across the city. While the Bronx and Brooklyn each had more than 30 exonerations stemming from convictions between '85 and '07, Manhattan had 24, Queens had 18, and Staten Island had one.
When the boroughs combine forces, though, they help push New York state to the top of the rankings. New York led the country in exoneration between 1989 and 2013, with 152, 16 more than the next closest state.
Posted by bussorah at 10:13 PM
Monday, June 16, 2014
Changing pot laws prompt child-endangerment review
A Colorado man loses custody of his children after getting a medical marijuana card. The daughter of a Michigan couple growing legal medicinal pot is taken by child-protection authorities after an ex-husband says their plants endangered kids.
And police officers in New Jersey visit a home after a 9-year-old mentions his mother's hemp advocacy at school.
While the cases were eventually decided in favor of the parents, the incidents underscore a growing dilemma: While a pot plant in the basement may not bring criminal charges in many states, the same plant can become a piece of evidence in child custody or abuse cases.
"The legal standard is always the best interest of the children, and you can imagine how subjective that can get," said Jess Cochrane, who helped found Boston-based Family Law & Cannabis Alliance after finding child-abuse laws have been slow to catch up with pot policy.
No data exist to show how often pot use comes up in custody disputes, or how often child-welfare workers intervene in homes where marijuana is used.
But in dozens of interviews with lawyers and officials who work in this area, along with activists who counsel parents on marijuana and child endangerment, the consensus is clear: Pot's growing acceptance is complicating the task of determining when kids are in danger.
A failed proposal in the Colorado Legislature this year showed the dilemma.
Colorado considers adult marijuana use legal, but pot is still treated like heroin and other Schedule I substances as they are under federal law. As a result, when it comes to defining a drug-endangered child, pot can't legally be in a home where children reside.
Two Democratic lawmakers tried to update the law by saying that marijuana must also be shown to be a harm or risk to children to constitute abuse.
But the effort led to angry opposition from both sides — pot-using parents who feared the law could still be used to take their children, and marijuana-legalization opponents who argued that pot remains illegal under federal law and that its very presence in a home threatens kids.
After hours of emotional testimony, lawmakers abandoned the effort as too complicated. Among the teary-eyed moms at the hearing was Moriah Barnhart, who moved to the Denver area from Tampa, Florida, in search of a cannabis-based treatment for a daughter with brain cancer.
"We moved here across the country so we wouldn't be criminals. But all it takes is one neighbor not approving of what we're doing, one police officer who doesn't understand, and the law says I'm a child abuser," Barnhart said.
Supporters vow to try again to give law enforcement some definitions about when the presence of drugs could harm children, even if the kids don't use it.
"There are people who are very reckless with what they're doing, leaving marijuana brownies on the coffee table or doing hash oil extraction that might blow the place up. Too often with law enforcement, they're just looking at the legality of the behavior and not how it is affecting the children," said Jim Gerhardt of the Colorado Drug Investigators Association, which supported the bill.
Colorado courts are wading into the question of when adult pot use endangers kids. The state Court of Appeals in 2010 sided with a marijuana-using dad who lost visitation rights though he never used the drug around his daughter.
The court reversed a county court's decision that the father couldn't have unsupervised visitation until passing a drug test, saying that a parent's marijuana use when away from his or her children doesn't suggest any risk of child harm.
But child-endangerment standards remain murky in Colorado, with wide disparities in how local child-protection officers and law enforcement approach pot, said Rob Corry, a Denver lawyer who successfully argued the father's custody appeal.
Corry, who helped Colorado's 2012 campaign to legalize recreational marijuana, said the main thrust of the effort was to treat pot like alcohol.
"Think of brewing beer. You've got a constitutional right to do it. There's nothing wrong with it. Marijuana should be just as simple — you just keep it on a high shelf, right next to your vodka. But in practice, this is not how law enforcement treats marijuana," he said.
In the absence of legal guidelines, a growing network of blogs counsel parents in how to deal with police or child-protection agencies concerned about parental marijuana use, including one, Ladybud, run by legal-pot activist Diane Fornbacher.
She said she moved to Colorado this year after child-protection workers visited her family in New Jersey after a teacher alerted officials when her son mentioned hemp — pot's non-hallucinogenic cousin — at school.
"They said, 'We're just here to help.' Emotionally, my brain was like, 'My kids! My kids!' My mama bear instinct kicked in," she said.
The need for better standards about when marijuana endangers kids is growing by the day, said Maria Green, a Lansing, Michigan, mother who lost custody of her infant daughter for three months last year.
Green grows pot to treat her husband's epilepsy, and though Michigan's medical marijuana law states parents shall not be denied custody or visitation with a child for following the statute, a legal dispute with her ex-husband led to her daughter being placed with a grandparent until it was resolved.
The ex-husband who brought the complaint declined an interview until talking with his lawyer.
"I never in a million years thought that they were going to take my daughter," Green said. "I know that there's a place for child protection, but I would love to see it used to protect kids from being actually hurt."
Posted by bussorah at 5:35 PM
Sunday, June 15, 2014
Woman Dies in Jail Because She Failed to Pay a Fine—For Her Child's Truancy From School
Some monstrous policy out of Pennsylvania, from Associated Press via the Pottstown Mercury News, a land where there is no such thing as debtors prison for the poor unless that debt is to the government, that institution that only monsters question because after all it's there to help the poor:
Hundreds of parents, some impoverished and overwhelmed, have been jailed in Pennsylvania for failing to pay court fines that arise from truancy hearings after their children skip school, creating what some call a "debtor's prison" for people like Eileen DiNino.
DiNino, 55, of Reading, was found dead in a jail cell Saturday morning, hours after she surrendered to serve a 48-hour sentence.
She had racked up $2,000 in fines, fees and court costs since 1999 as the Reading School District tried to keep her children in class, most recently at a vocational high school.
Died alone in prison. Over truancy.
More than 1,600 people have been jailed in Berks County alone — where Reading is the county seat—over truancy fines since 2000, more than two-thirds of them women, the newspaper reported....
Language barriers can also be an issue for letters and phone calls between the parents and school, given that the vast majority of the city and school population is Hispanic, Guida said.
...the fines handed down by judges were typically small, perhaps $20. The debt adds up, he said, over court costs and fees. In one case alone involving DiNino, her bill included a laundry list of routine fees: $8 for a "judicial computer project"; $60 for Berks constables; $40 for "summary costs" for several court offices; and $10 for postage.
As I wrote about back in January in "Petty Law Enforcement vs. the Poor" and again last month, focusing specifically on the whole "multiplying court fees" matter that helped Ms. DiNino die in a cell, some of the pettiest fines when it comes to traffic and the like can really end up screwing up citizens lives in ways far more serious than the initial offense. (Not to mention the stickier question of the ethical status of an entity that makes sure it gets its pound of flesh from any debtor by literally locking them up as punishment for not paying off.)
It's not a topic that political scientists and sociologists have gathered a lot of data on, as near as I've been able to tell, but let's add this set of anecdotes from Pennsylvania to "the state will behave with monstrous lack of mercy to the least well-off among us."
Posted by bussorah at 10:01 PM
Saturday, June 14, 2014
Police compared to a foreign military
With especial note to the "war on drugs"
I have previously compared domestic police forces to domestic military, but it would seem the illustration is not complete. So today I’ll make the comparison to a foreign military.
The Foreign Military
Right now, Al Qaeda "insurgents" are marching towards Baghdad. Let’s imagine that they succeed in taking the Iraqi capital, and establish an Islamic State in Iraq. In retaliation for the US invasion of Iraq, they team up with the Iranian & North Korean governments to attack America, with weapons and funding from Russia. We will refer to this invading force as the Axis Powers.
While American war propaganda has, to date, been completely blown out of proportion, we can say with a good deal of certainty that these are bad dudes. To make matters worse, they’re absolutely convinced that they are doing a good thing. After all, the Iraqi’s were actually attacked by the US Government, who killed over a million of their people, and attempted to install a puppet government to rule over them for generations to come. The Iranians and the North Koreans, they are told every day about the very real threat to their countries that the United States poses. They aren’t just fighting for a pay check, they are fighting for their lives.
The Axis Powers reach our shores, and drop leaflets assuring the population they are only here to deal with the threat our government poses. They say they have no interest in harming American citizens, but we’ve heard the stories of soldiers raping women, killing children, and ransacking houses.
The Axis Powers are easy to identify visually. They have uniforms, flags, and by the way, they are driving tanks and armored personnel carriers. Kinda hard to miss.
They have fully automatic weapons, rocket launchers, and grenades. Thanks to the US government, we can safely assume the Axis Powers have superior firepower over any group of average Americans. To make matters worse, they have radios and can call in for reinforcements, and air strikes. Fighting them is extremely dangerous, the likelihood of victory is very low.
The police have none of the excuses the Axis Powers have for their initiations of force. We pose no threat to their safety, we didn’t invade their country, we didn’t kill a million of their people. They signed up for the job to get paid, and to hold a certain status in society. They could quit their jobs at any moment, and seek out productive employment, with pretty much no negative consequences whatsoever. All they would have to give up is their status in society as police. They may actually make more money working in the private sector, if they have any marketable skills whatsoever.
They sit in their cars, drinking coffee, hiding in wait on the sides of highways, hoping someone will disobey the orders of their political masters. When someone does, they will pull their car out of hiding, turn on their lights to signal the victim to pull their car over, and if the victim does not comply, he will use whatever level of force is necessary to stop them, up to and including ramming their car, or shooting them in the face.
They have actually declared war on us. They call it a "war on drugs" but of course, drugs don’t fight wars, people do. If you have plants they do not approve of, they will conspire secretly to break into your house with guns drawn. If they even think you might put up the slightest bit of resistance, an entire team of armed thugs will empty their guns into you. They will throw grenades at babies.
The police aren’t dealing with a threat to themselves, they have pledged their lives to be a threat to you.
The police are as easily identifiable as the Axis Powers. They wear uniforms, they have marked cars, they have armored personnel carriers. They get on television and announce their intentions. The entire community not only knows who they are and what they do, most of them are actually pretty happy about it. That is, until it happens to them.
Like the Axis Powers, the police have us outnumbered and outgunned. They have automatic weapons, armored vehicles, and radios to call in for reinforcements. If we attempt to arm ourselves anywhere near comparable to the weaponry they possess, they will break into our homes, confiscate our weapons, and murder anyone who resists them. Fighting them is very dangerous, the likelihood of success is very low.
I would submit that the Axis Powers actually have a more legitimate claim to use of force than the police do. They are responding to an actual threat that is made possible by the tax payers and voters of this country. That said, we’re all held hostage by this government. Anarchists do not consent to this extortion, and so we can and should defend ourselves against this foreign invasion.
The police have no more authority to use violence against us than the Axis Powers do. They are only doing this because they gain positive benefit from it, they have plenty of other options, and they are not responding to a threat to their safety. The police are actively participating in the aforementioned hostage crisis, making us vulnerable to the retaliations of the Axis Powers.
If we are to accept the words of Cop Block and Will Grigg, then we can only respond to the Axis Powers after they have actually used violence against us personally. The fact that they are a foreign military with no legitimate authority to harm us, does not mean we can preemptively use violence to stop their advancement. Being able to identify them as enemy soldiers is not enough, because only individuals can be held responsible for the aggressions they commit directly against the person defending themselves.
One of two things is true. Either you can kill police, just for being police. Or, you cannot kill soldiers of the Axis Powers until they break into your home and kidnap/murder/rape your family.
If that’s your definition of the "non-aggression principle" then you just don’t understand use of force. Use of force is justified in dealing with a threat, and whatever level of force is necessary to repel that threat is justified. If the Axis Powers invaded tomorrow, myself and others would be making improvised explosive devices to deal with them. We would ambush them, fight dirty, and commit every otherwise repulsive act of violence to stop their advancement. Not just anarchists either. People who voted for Barack Obama would be doing the same thing. Jeb Bush supporters, would be doing the same thing. Everybody would recognize the foreign threat, and many Americans would respond to it with deadly force.
If you’re actually committed to the non aggression principle, then police are subject to the exact same rules of engagement as a foreign military. In fact, they are even less worthy of mercy.
Posted by bussorah at 4:21 PM
Friday, June 13, 2014
Treated like a hardened drug dealer: As he is finally cleared, anger of RAF hero, 83, arrested for giving wife painkillers in her care home
A grandfather arrested and banned from seeing his wife after he gave her a painkiller patch at her care home said last night he had been treated like ‘a hardened drug dealer’.
Walter Crompton, 83, had attached the prescription patch to her arm after she told him that she had been left in severe discomfort by arthritis.
But staff at Allendale Care Home, in Blackley, Manchester, where the dementia sufferer has been living, contacted police because the patch contained morphine.
Four days later Mr Crompton – who had been his wife Eileen’s only carer for 15 years before she became seriously ill and went into the home – was arrested on suspicion of ‘administering a noxious substance’.
He was even locked up for seven hours in a police cell.
But only after a two-month police probe has he finally been cleared of wrongdoing.
Yesterday the RAF veteran – who has lost weight and struggled to sleep since his arrest – said: ‘This whole sorry business has been hanging over me for months and I think the way it has been dealt with is absolutely disgusting.
‘I’ve had a hell of a time and been treated as if I was like some kind of hardened drug dealer. ‘I’ve never committed a crime in my 83 years and for this to happen is mind-boggling.
‘For the police to say I’ve tried to harm my wife is unbelievable. ‘She had complained of arthritis in her arm and I said I had a pain patch in my pocket so I put it on her arm.
‘I used to look after her 24 hours a day so I know what she can and can’t have.’
He said: ‘I have never been in a cell before. I’ve only seen stuff like that on TV. ‘I never had anything to eat from morning to night when I was in the cell.’
Mr Crompton was asked to give fingerprints and a DNA sample and his house was searched, before he was interviewed by officers at midnight.
He was eventually released and taken home at 1am but as part of his bail conditions he was barred from contacting his wife of 60 years.
The retired British Aerospace aircraft engineer later had his bail conditions relaxed slightly so that he could see his wife – but only if accompanied by a social worker, who was not always available.
He added: ‘I’ve been missing my wife greatly because before of all this. ‘I used to be allowed see her every day but after my arrest I was told not to contact her at all. ‘I was allowed to visit her later but only under supervision with someone watching over us.
‘Two or three days per week I had no one to go to the care home with me so I was restrained from seeing my wife. It was terrible. Then on Monday when I went to the police station they told me there was no case to answer.
‘They said all accusations had been dropped. Why couldn’t that have happened after two weeks? It’s been an absolutely horrendous three months.’
Instead, officers from the Greater Manchester Police Public Protection Investigation Unit started an investigation and a ‘multi-agency strategy meeting’ was held.
Detective Superintendent Joanne Rawlinson said: ‘This was a potentially serious incident in which a vulnerable elderly woman with significant health issues could have come to serious harm and, as such, people would expect the police to always conduct a thorough investigation.
‘An integral part of the inquiry was to safeguard the potential victim and, while the investigation was ongoing, bail conditions were necessary to ensure this happened.
‘After twice interviewing the 83-year-old man, we presented a file of evidence to the CPS and they ruled there is insufficient evidence to proceed to a charge.’
A spokesman for Allendale Care Home said: ‘We strictly follow the guidelines with regard to patient care and protection to ensure they receive the highest standard of care.’
Posted by bussorah at 7:51 PM