Sunday, September 23, 2007

Bad apples

A Gentle Reader sent me the following by way of e-mail:

LawDog,

You are a TX peace officer and I very much respect your knowledge of the interworkings of PD across our great nation. In response to this post at Colt CCo http://www.coltcco.com/?p=187 I would very much like to see what you would think about this.

Let me say this, I have never had such an incident in TX – I reside in a small rural town SW of FTW but I commute to FTW every day for work. I have a Texas CHL and have had one for over six years. I have been stopped a few times for minor traffic violations. Officers I have encountered have been the paragons of courtesy and efficiency. They go out of their way to be nice. However, in recent days we have been seeing (usually up north) officers resorting to saying “I can make something up . . .” as in the above post and in the Kuehnlein video (see http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/19/1961.asp and here http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2715792117793977759 respectively). I don’t know if you want to work up a post on the LDF on this topic – I know that you are busy and work a hard day’s work. You may not want to respond via email and that is ok too – you simply are the only police officer I know (well sort of know via your blog). I know many lawyers but don’t trust them for a policeman’s point of view.

First of all, I'd like to thank you for your kind words.

I am saddened and more than a bit annoyed at the events described by ColtCCO. I find myself quite unable to comprehend the mindset of the officer in question.

As a peace officer, he should have known that the citizens of the State he is in have access to a legal CCW option. Common-sense would appear to indicate that it might be best to ascertain if ColtCCO was in possession of a CCW before flying off the handle and assuming that he didn't -- especially given the totality of the circumstances surrounding the incident as described by ColtCCO.

I am not an officer in that department, or that State, so I don't know all the particulars. All I can do is compare the incident described to my own experience, and my own department.

If an officer in my department acted as described by ColtCCO, I would have serious misgivings about that officer on several fronts.

His knowledge of the law would appear to be lacking. As peace officers, knowledge of the law is a vitally important part of our job. Not knowing the details of the law, or trying to apply the laws of a different State, at best can cause you to lose cases, and at worst it can ruin lives.

His tactical sense would appear to be lacking. The officer made contact with multiple subjects -- ColtCCO and his girlfriend -- with at least one firearm, and was alarmed enough to put ColtCCO on the wall. If he was alarmed enough to initiate immediate physical contact with multiple armed suspects, then it would follow (in my experience) that he was alarmed enough to call for back-up and have said back-up present before making the contact.

The fact that back-up apparently wasn't summoned suggests to me that the officer wasn't really that alarmed -- and if so, why the wrist-lock and the slam?

The fact that the officer cites a non-existent Ohio law as an excuse, presents the worrisome scenario that he's lying to save face (and his arse), or -- and this may be even more worrisome -- this is the second State that this law officer hasn't bothered to learn the law of the land.

The statement that the officer would "make some reason" to arrest a citizen is inexcusable.

Not knowing the law you are attempting to enforce, lying to cover your arse and putting yourself and the public in danger due to poor tactics are all grounds for suspension without pay.

A public statement in front of witnesses regarding intent to frame a citizen is grounds for termination. Not only is it unlawful; a violation of his oath; and a violation of multiple civil rights, but that one, single stupid act has now tainted every case he's ever made in the past, and every case he will be involved in in the future.

I'm here to tell you, if that officer uttered those words in front of witnesses, every defence attorney in that area is going to hit his knees and thank God for the early Christmas present just as soon as he finds out about it.

Every case that officer is involved in now, has been involved in in the past, or will be involved in in the future he's going to have to prove that he did NOT "make up a reason to arrest" to a jury -- ever tried to prove a negative? There's your reasonable doubt. In spades.

According to ColtCCO's account, the department has placed a written reprimand in that officers file, and has stated that this carries certain consequences. I don't know that department, don't know anyone from it and have never heard anything good or bad about it. There are departments in which a letter of this sort is a career-killer. I have worked for an agency in which a written reprimand of this kind meant that there was no chance for promotions, transfers, special duty or any other advancement.

On the other paw, there are departments in which a letter of this kind is meant to mollify the complaining citizen and no more. Every other department in the country falls somewhere on that spectrum.

Like I said, I don't know that department, so I honestly can't take a guess as to how punitive the letter actually is.

As far as the two separate incidents where officers one officer and one ex-officer threatened to frame citizens, let us remember that during the same time period that those two incidents took place there were several million other peace officer/citizen contacts where the citizen was neither framed, nor threatened with being framed.

Granted, two such incidents are two too many -- but let's not attach statistical significance to them ... yet.

Again, thank you for your question, and thank you for reading.

LawDog

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well, y'know, by the same reasoning, thousands of fundamentalist Muslims did nothing of note on 9-11-01, so why attach so much importance to the actions of a few?
IMO, a/v recording equipment should be standard equipment in cars, and anybody with an opportnity to expose a dirty cop should be encouraged to do it.

Anonymous said...

The wal-Mart case I don't know enough about to comment on.

The other I sorta do. How to word this so it doesn't come across wrong....it'll be rambling since I'm tired but whatever...

I come from a police family. I have police friends and like I said they're my family members and I would have been a peace officer myself if other circumstances had not intervened in life and led me to a different career path. I am about the most law abiding person you can imagine.

Several years ago now I was driving through St. Charles county which is in the St. Louis area on a trip. It was late and I pulled over to get a bottle of coke at a Gas-n-Rob on the roadside there. I see a cop pulling up behind me and I think nothing of it as Gas-n-Rob's attract cops at night for coffee and snacks and to keep an eye on the clerk who's job is more dangerous than theirs. As I'm getting out to grab my drink I'm approached by a large officer who inquires, rudely and loudly I might add, why I don;t think I need to stop at red lights. I reply that I had the green turn arrow as I had to wait stopped for a bit for it to turn from red to green arrow. Keep in mind this is 2 am with not a car in sight on the road. He proceeds to get louder and more belligerent with me. Like the cop in the st Louis vid. Racial terms were being thrown around by him as I was white and he was a large black man. He kept asking to search my car which I kept refusing. He kept threatening me with jail. He started tugging on the handle of his weapon and making veiled threats that really got me to wondering if he was going to kill me and make up some story about me reaching for something. I was beginning to wonder if I was going to make it out of this situation alive. I finally told him that he was making me very uncomfortable and that I wanted his supervisor there immediately and that I wanted him to either cite me or I would be on my way. He shut up rather quickly at that point for some reason. He went back to his car and wrote me for the bogus charge of the turn and left without saying another word.

It as that experience and several other that occur during the most simple encounters that are causing some serious misgivings in myself and many others that I talk to. It is something that those in “Law Enforcement” (a term which I don't particularly care for but will suffice for now) really should be paying attention to. The people who's views are changing and becoming downright hostile aren't radical wide eyed college kids or kooky nut cases, white trash or urban thug culture types. They're normal suburban and rural folks who were “law and order” types but are really getting a hostile attitude towards LE. I've heard some absolute PROFANITY spew forth from elderly ladies mouths when discussing several members of a certain LE agency and cops in general. I was utterly shocked. I had never heard such a thing cross their lips before. Why were they this way? Because of how they were treated. Also to a lesser extent of how others around them were treated.

I myself have noticed this trend especially with the younger set coming on. The invasive questions that are asked during a traffic stop. Where have you been? Where are you going? And the war that starts when you decline to discuss your travel plans. The evil guilt trip that is played “You don't mind if I search your vehicle just for my safety do you?” All because you had a burned out license plate light, were speeding or the ever popular “weaving”.

Once during a illness of a family member I was driving between Texas and Illinois on a regular basis. Every week or so. Usually in a van or a suburban. I was in my 20s and usually had another guy with me or a girl. I learned plenty about the bogus traffic stop let me tell you. I think this is when my views on LE began to shift.



I think when the academies began to turn out Law Enforcers and Drug Warriors instead of Peace Officers is when things began to change. It began to change when uniforms went from light blue or white shirts to “tactical” and BDUs. It began to change when the police started referring to people other than themselves as “civilians”. It wasn't always like this. I wasn't dragged bodily out of a car with a pistol to my head when I was 16. I was when I was 19. I went my entire childhood without seeing my dad being proned out at the side of the highway in handcuffs at gunpoint during a cross county trip to see sick relatives. I sure didn't make it very long ino adulthood without the experience. ( guess handler can say the drug dog alerts on anything huh? I suppose I'm lucky nothing “magically” appeared in the van so podunk PD could seize it and take us to jail)

I guess what I'm saying is that at one time these sorts of things were just that – bad apples. Now it is something different. It is a combination of a change in LE mission and probably just as importantly attitude and mindset. It is a more militaristic, adversarial, us vs them mindset. Just look at the cop message boards when it came to the St. Louis kid case. It was shocking. It seems to be a change in LE on the doctrinal and mindset level. It also appears that in many cases not only does a bad actor not get punished but only in the rarest of circumstances but he is shielded by the famed “blue wall of silence” and legally from his or her negligent actions by legal immunity.

The shame of it is that it didn't use to be like this. It makes me sad. Little old ladies I know didn't use to curse when cops were mentioned. When I seen shows on TV like cops I saw good guys but the fact of the matter is a lot of times I don't. In fact when I see shows like Dallas SWAT you REALLY don't want to know what is going through my mind. When you have the most law abiding among you rooting for the criminals and thinking terrible things about you, you're doing something terribly,terribly wrong.

I know I was discussing this recently with a family member who is retiring soon and another who retired several years ago now and he said it wasn't always like this and the new guys are a different breed and he's glad to be leaving. They're jacked up and think they're all swinging dick special ops warriors wanting action and you can't teach them a damn thing.

Oh and the first thing I do when I get a new car now is to install a hidden mic and camera system. The incident in St. Charles county I had prompted me to do it. You would actually have to disassemble the car to find it. It looks just like the other electronics. You can hide that stuff anywhere now even inside other components. Hit a hidden dead button on the dash and it's recording with no one the wiser.

Purple Daisy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Purple Daisy said...

(reposted to correct URL)

Lawdog,

This happened in my backyard but I knew nothing about it until I read it here on Sunday. I live about half a mile from the store in question. I shop in that store regularly.

Am I surprised? Not a bit.

Why am I not surprised? Because that store is the closest Wal-Mart to the campus of the University of Tennessee and usually has a large college student population at any given hour. It usually also has a large contingent of non-English speaking customers every time I go in. If appearances are anything to go by, and I know they're not usually, there are always a couple of "pretty shifty looking critters" wandering around the store.

The property is also contains a Sam's Club with a gas station in addition to the Wal-Mart store and traffic flow is poorly laid out.

There is usually an officer on the property either when my husband and I go in or when we come out.

Am I surprised that one happened to flip out because of an exposed gun? Not really. Given the clientele of that particular location, the officer was probably doing what he thought best.

Could it have been handled differently? In my opinion (which if you add 50 cents will buy you a cup of coffee), it could have been handled a little better, especially from the PR side.

Would I have been panicked if I'd seen the gun exposed while shopping with the guy? No, but I grew up with a gunsmith.

Both sides of this need to bend just a little bit, but that's just my opinion.

Be that as it may, I thought I would pass along the link to the article in the paper on Saturday - http://knoxnews.com/news/2007/sep/
22/gun-owner-receives-apology/.

On the left hand side, there's a box with links to the original complaint form, the findings from IA, and the letter from the chief of police plus a video interview with the gentleman.

Dr. StrangeGun said...

Not CCW.... "CCW" is what got him into this mess in the first place.

We have "HCP", a generic carry permit. There's no requirement for concealment.

Anonymous said...

Law Dog,

Thank you for your insight into this matter. You have elucidated the matter quite well - IMHO.

Best Regards
Dr. Joe

Anonymous said...

So, lets see then. This cop at Wal-Mart overreacted to the situation and then got a bit snarky when his authority was challenged. He allegedly made some comment about making something up. Clearly a bad apple who should be dealt with in a stern manner.

On the other hand the cops at the Uni of Florida who arrested a student for asking questions at an open mic. event organised by and for students at his university, they weren't overreacting when they grabbed him, dogpiled him, cuffed him and tasered him. Indeed when they later tried to say his behaviour constituted "incitement to riot" in the face of all the different video evidence - that was still righteous? Yeah right...

LawDog said...

That is correct, Anonymous. The cop at Wal-Mart was wrong, and the cops at the University of Florida were right.

joelr said...

I'm with anonymous 1. From my own experience with cops, I'd think that there are very few thugs with badge and guns -- but, then again, as one of my friends-who-happens-to-be-a-cop pointed out to me, not too recently, thugs with badges and guns are unlikely to want to be buddies with me.

My own guess -- and it's just a guess -- is that the thug contingent is a minority, but a larger one than many people think.

Check out officer.com, and not the reactions to the St. George case -- almost all of the cop posters were far more upset with the citizen for having "entrapped" the now thankfully ex-cop than they were with the now thankfully ex-cop having threatened phony charges, etc.

There's a sickness in part of your community, Dog, even if -- as seems clear -- you haven't been bitten by the bug. How big a part? The only thing I can say for sure is: far too big.

Anonymous said...

Ok, people. The Dog in his first year as a deputy was on the receiving end, as were thousands of other Texas law enforcement officers, of a letter from one of these militant splinter groups, threatening him with his life forever. Not because he'd done anything, but because he was a LEO. Tell me that the teachers, secretaries, restauranteers, students, businessmen, etc. are faced with something like that EVER, much less every day.
Most LEOs go about their very poorly paid business-try less than a net of $1200 a month-with this type of threat, teenagers armed better than they are, a manipulative media that is more than happy to take sides against anyone in law enforcement, all of which adds up to a stress factor that would have the average man on the street running for his psychiatrist.
Many of our LEOs go on patrol alone, armed with a pistol and maybe a shotgun, and are apt to be facing a gang with Uzis. Fact of life.
On the other hand, because of poor pay, the daily danger to him and often his family, and the stress, sometimes this profession attracts people who are more interested in getting their ego rocks off than in the law. These people are empowered by the ability to bully someone. If you meet up with one of them, you are in deep shit.
And, yes, there are bad ones, some deliberately so, some simply cracking under the strain. As a for instance, a cousin of mine from was driving a car with New York plates through Virginia (a minus for her to begin with). She was alone. She was pulled over for God knows what, just about twilight, and the attitude of the cop frightened her. She didn't put her window all the way down, but handed him her license and insurance through a small slit at the top. He demanded that she roll down the window, and when she didn't, attacked the car with his nightstick. She called 911 and told them what was happening. They confirmed that this particular officer was on patrol in the area, and did nothing.
The upshot of all this was, the officer sued her; the department didn't pay for the damage to her car, nor did they pay for the $3000+ in lawyer fees that she was forced to pay before the cop dropped his suit.
This is in no way fair. This is a bad cop.
On the other hand, a friend of mine's small girl, age four, was playing in her fenced yard with her dog, a large bumbling English shepherd. She would throw the ball, the dog would bark once and bound after it. It was a game.
The off-duty policeman across the street came out on his front porch with his service revolver and screamed that he was going to shoot the dog.
Needless to say, the child was terrified. Her father reported the incident to the local authorities who excused the whole thing by saying well, this particular policeman was having family troubles and was upset.
Upset? Gods, cop or not I'd have been after him from here to doomsday. This officer was obviously unfit and should have had his weapon taken and put on a desk until he got himself sorted out, if he ever did.
Then there's the small county sheriff who was stripped of his clothing miles from anywhere in sub-zero temperatures and left to freeze to death for no reason at all.
Or the policeman forced to his knees on the streets of a large Texas city and shot while begging for his life. He had done nothing except be a cop.
There are incidents of this sort and worse on a daily basis in law enforcement. Most of our LEOs are good reasonable people who know the law and whether they think it's right or not, they abide by it
There are others who abuse their power; they are in the vast minority, but being a good cop doesn't make good copy for the media.
Yes, anyone with the opportunity should expose a bad cop-if, indeed, that cop is actually bad and not just the victim of hysteria, a vicious riot mentality, and the usual media circus that is unabashedly anti-cop.
And before you start saying, "You mean..." I mean exactly what I've said. There are bullies and criminals in every profession, up to and including the highest office in the land. It is unjust and unfair to hysterically go against the LEOs without fully informing yourselves of the law and the true circumstances surrounding the incident.
On the other hand, if an officer escorting six prisoners is strangled by handcuffs and stabbed with a pencil or a sharpened toothbrush, do his fellow officers have the right to beat the snot out of these prisoners? You're damned right they do.
And that's my final word on the matter.
LawMom

Anonymous said...

[quote]That is correct, Anonymous. The cop at Wal-Mart was wrong, and the cops at the University of Florida were right.[/quote]
We never needed cops to deal with hecklers and loudmouths when I was at university, much less to take them down. Vigorous discussion was an integral part of the environment - even if students did sometimes use words like "blowjob", or make an ass of themselves.

Now it seems that the heavy-handed enforcement of authority has become all too commonplace, and with it the "us vs. them" mentality where all too many police appear no longer to see themselves as part of the community, but as figures of authority and enforcement. The incident at Wal-Mart is just a symptom of that, as was the incident at UF, and many others too...

Kaerius said...

This gave me a feeling of deja vu.

Haven't ColtCCO posted about this incident before, and been linked to by lawdog?

In any case, totally reprehensible behavior by that policeman, he should be fired ASAP.

Rorschach said...

Lawdog, Down here in Houston we have a somewhat similar problem with our local DA. He seems to think that State law is more of a suggestion instead of LAW. he has instructed LEO's in the area to disregard Texas' laws concerning "travelling". Here is an example:

http://redinktexas.blogspot.com/2007/04/mr-rosenthal-what-part-of-no-do-you-not.html

LawDog said...

Rorschach --

-- How in the hell did Rosenthal get re-elected?

Making yourself a laughing-stock in the US Supreme Court -- not to mention having a Texas district judge stop one of your trials half-way through and announce an acquittal without bothering to poll the jury -- would usually tend to be something of a career-killer.

Rorschach said...

Simply because the people the Demonrats have put up against him have been even worse. The guy that is going to run against him is C.O. Bradford, the ex-HPD police chief that was in charge of the HPD crime lab fiasco and buddy of Lee Pee "Baby Doc" Brown. One of the most corrupt Mayors Houston has ever seen.

joelr said...

Well, no, Lawmom, they don't have that right. Retaliation is never lawful -- save, perhaps, when a sentence by a duly constituted court can be considered retaliation. It's not good for folks involved in law enforcement to decide that they get to be judge, jury, and then execute the sentence -- it's a very bad thing, and the slope is not only slippery, but steep. That's how you get cops like the ex-St. George one, and others who haven't been so well documented: they've learned that they can get away with punishing people for whatever offenses they sense, and even when they get away with it -- and, alas, the thugs with badges do get away with it a lot -- they're still in the wrong.

Folks who don't get that really need remedial kindergarten. "Just because Bobby made a face at you doesn't mean you can bite him, Tiffany."

joelr said...

As to the Florida thing, Lawdog, assuming that I'm wrong about the recreation/lazy zapping, the cops were in the right, but the folks who had the idiot taken down were wrong. Legalities aside -- and it was clearly lawful to have the idiot evicted -- the best way to handle stupid speech is, whenever possible, with unstupid speech. It was clearly possible there, and that's not the way it was handled.

Having somebody arrested -- which was the logical and likely result of having the cops try to evict the jerk -- escalated a problem of too much talk where people could get hurt.

Bad idea.

Rick R. said...

All you anonymous posters. . .

Yes, (once again), the cops in Florida were CORRECT.

The suspect was already guilty of TRESSPASSING when the cops wnet up to him. (He had been asked to leave by the people who had leased the property rights for that space at the time.)

he refused to leave when asked -- even started acting in a bizarre and non-compliant fashion. (Yes, bum-rushing through the cops to scream at a US Senator is "bizarre and non-compliant".)

He was then apprehended for tresspassing, since he refused to leave on his own. (Having chosen NOT to leave when lawfully told to, this was a valid arrest.)

He then PHYSICALLY RESISTED A VALID ARREST. (Game on!)

The officer in Wal-Mart:

A. INCITED a physical confrontation on a bogus pretext -- and his OWN behavior indicates it was 100% bogus in his own mind. You see -- he let one of the "suspects" go off alone, WITH UNSEARCHED EVIDENCE (the grilfriend - her person and grocery bags) when his supposed cause was "an immediate fear for his safety". (The main subject - the man - was 100% compliant and, IN FACT, reaching for his ID and permit AS ORDERED.)

B. Flat out LIED about the laws in the state in which he served in for seven years. (And later excused his actions by lying about the laws in his previous state.)

C. PUBLICLY THREATENED to detain and imprison the subject on false charges ("I'll make up something to charge you with!"). That's called KIDNAPPING, considered a violent felony.

Even if the U of Florida cops overreacted, this cop is LIGHT-YEARS worse.

You see, he threatened to commit violent felonies on an innocent civilian because he didn't like the way the guy looked and dressed.

That makes the KPD cop a criminal thug, no different than any gang-banging drive-by dope-dealing cockroach.

As LawDog said here (and I said at teh original site BEFORE reading LD's comments, this cop has ALSO provided ready-made acquittals for ANY case he is tangentally involved in, from first hire until his Last Shift.

Frankly, if I were on a jury and this incident was entered against the officer's credibility, I would have to acquit. If he'll frame THIS citizen, why should I believe he didn't frame the guy in my case?

phlegmfatale said...

All I know is the officers I see on a regular basis are the folks who run the crime watch meetings I attend for my work. I sit in those meetings and I think about these officers and how they have dedicated themselves to a life of risk and ultimate personal peril, sublimating their own interests to the good of our entire society. I often think how people like them make my life so much easier and I am grateful for their dedication.

It's inevitable that in every profession there will be a minority of folk who behave in an inappropiate - even infamous - manner. Those people should be held accountable and dealt with severely.

Let's think of this in other terms: if not you, then someone you know, at some point in time has bought a vehicle new from the factory that turned out to be a lemon. True, it's less common these days than perhaps 30 years ago, but even then, no one suggested all cars were bad, just because one got put together in a wonky, mechanically confounded fashion. The vast majority of cars that DID operate properly were of vital importance to our society and its smooth function.

I believe the majority of police officers are good people, and a bad cop story in Tennessee or Missouri is not going to make me feel I can't rely on the folks in uniform I see on a daily basis.

As for what LawMom said - I concur wholeheartedly. If a prisoner murdered an officer and there was no doubt who was responsible, I'd be completely ok with someone stomping a mudhole in their ass and walking it dry.

I also wish she'd set up her own blog.

Anonymous said...

joelr
I didn't say retaliation was legal or illegal. I said it was the right of the officers to try and rescue and or/defend themselves and an officer who had been attacked, and if the perpetrators got pounded along the way, so what? Tell me that if six people come at you armed with, say, box cutters, you are just going to stand there with your thumb in your mouth and let them slice you up? And if you just happen to come out on top, you're not going to get in a few licks?
Definitely more civilized than I am. Tsk.
LawMom

Anonymous said...

LawMom; the problem is that in pretty much every other profession, when people feel put upon, unappreciated, or outright threatened, they don't whine incessantly about it, they change jobs.

I've seen enough ex-cops (and damn good ones at that) in moderate-to-high paying white collar jobs to know that it is possible for them to find another line of work and leave the martyr complex behind.

If enough do it, then either supply and demand will fix the pay scale, or the municipalities will degrade to a point where the citizens will have to do something about it.

And, for the record, incidents like Florida are the reason I think Tasers should have a "maim severely" setting.

P.S. Anonymous #2: Could you elaborate a bit on brand and price range of your recording equipment? Does it go to VHS hidden somewhere, DVR, or what?

dracphelan said...

As others have said, the bad cops are a minority. Unfortunately (either due to increased media coverage or it is a truth) there appears to be more and more bad cops. I believe some of this is the missions they are given. And, some of this is a reflection on our society.

Speaking to another matter, law enforcement pay. In the Dallas area, police officers make at least $41,000 a year to start and make $48,000 a year after 5 years. I have more experience in my career field than that and make less. Now, can we ever adequately pay them for risking their lives? No. However, at least in the Dallas area, they aren't exactly in the poor house either. Here are some links to area department pay scales:
http://recruiting.dallaspolice.net/index.cfm?page_ID=6378&subnav=0
http://pdf.plano.gov/police/Employment/POLICE%20OFFICER%20SALARIES.pdf
http://www.cor.net/PD/Promo/recruitsalary.html
http://www.ci.garland.tx.us/Home/Departments/Public+Safety/Police/Benefits+and+Compensation.htm
http://www.grandprairiepolice.org/jobs/benefits.html

Don Gwinn said...

Lawmom (long time! Remember when Lawdog got scalped?) I am a school teacher, and I have been threatened with death more than once. I never got a letter from a splinter group.
Lawdog didn't defend either of the cops we're discussing here, and I don't think you meant to, either, but it did sorta come across that way.

>>>>>>>>
Well, y'know, by the same reasoning, thousands of fundamentalist Muslims did nothing of note on 9-11-01, so why attach so much importance to the actions of a few?

Are you implying that there's something wrong with the reasoning that hundreds of millions of innocent Muslims are different from a few thousand guilty Muslims? I don't see the flaw in that reasoning from here.
If all Muslims are guilty, then I suppose we've got our own jihad to get started, haven't we?
And if all cops really are the same as these two, I guess we'd better abolish the police departments, too. Tell you what; you get rid of the cops in your town, and my town will keep ours for a few years and see how it works out for you guys.

KBCraig said...

I'm very glad to see this blawg entry from LD, especially after the Florida TASER kerfluffle. Being one of the "dissenting opinions" on that subject, I'm glad to see that LD is on the right side on the matter of bad apples.

Just for perspective, I also despise bad apples, and I want them all gone from my agency. On the other hand, I've seen first hand what happens when an overzealous IA agent decides to make an example of someone. We currently have an officer who's been riding a desk for more than a year after a false allegation of abusing a prisoner. The U.S. Attorney dropped all charges in court last Spring, and just last week informed us that he has no intention of pursuing any further action.

Now that the criminal charges are off the table, you'd think the matter was resolved. But no, they still might pursue workplace disciplinary action. Never mind that there is zero evidence, and for good reason: he didn't do it! (I'm actually surprised the AUSA isn't pursuing charges against the IA division for falsifying charges and withholding exculpatory evidence.)

When bad apples such as Kuehnlein (or Jack Tiller in Roseland, Indiana) are publicly outed, they deserve the boot immediately, if not sooner. But just because the accusation is there doesn't make it true. Thank goodness for video and audio. After all, "If you've got nothing to hide..."

Anonymous said...

An old boy made an observation to me this afternoon and he said that there was a time when you rarely had to have an interaction which the law if you weren't friends with an officer. Unless you needed their assistance as a victim of a crime or were a criminal you never encountered one. Now it seems that the various constabularies just can't leave a peaceable citizen alone. Instead of going out catching criminals and such they're more interested in tripping up the average citizen into violating some law or statute of some sort and writing a ticket for some infraction. Once they do this it gives them a chance to ask invasive questions rummage through their vehicle. It is no longer a case of the police being there to catch criminals and to stop crimes but to run around and just mess with people who are minding their own business. 70 year old farmer was the one who was telling me this so hardly your agitating type.

Anonymous said...

"P.S. Anonymous #2: Could you elaborate a bit on brand and price range of your recording equipment? Does it go to VHS hidden somewhere, DVR, or what?"

I don't recall the brands now. I ripped the stuff out of it's casings and chassis when I installed it so it is all bare circuit boards and such when possible. I then tucked these into the other components of the car such as the radio and heater so they appear to be just other electronic components. A search looking for a video camera system wouldn't find one. Even if they found the mic and the camera they would have a really tough time finding the DVR hidden in the electronic components of the rest of the car.

You can find the extremely small "spy" cameras on the net by searching for "spy cameras" Those places usuallly sell DVRs too.

My system is a little complex. My DVR is higher end and high capacity (and now in pieces). It was like 500. The cameras I run are wireless so they can't run the wire back to find the DVR and they were like 200 I think. I maybe have 100 bucks in various other bits and pieces like wiring and a dummy switch from manufacturer to replace a stock one on the dash that I use to activate and deactivate the system. You could put one together a lot cheaper. A couple of hundred bucks maybe. If anything a recording pen left on during a stop. It saved Lester Eugene Siler. A simple tape recorder caught him being beaten, tortured, sexually assaulted and threatened with murder by the drug task force during a raid of his home. No one would have ever believed him without that tape. BTW if anyone hasn't heard the tape of that by all means give it a listen. It is yet one more reason why I go to the lengths I do. I wish I didn't have to but in today's climate we're forced to.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lester_Eugene_Siler

AaronE said...

guess that this is a good news/bad news gig...several years ago I was stopped for speeding (I was 9 over...my bad, sunny Sunday AM in the summer before the rest of the world was up cruising with windows down and the tunes cranked).

Saw the officer and looked down at the speedo...WHOOPS...Oh Well OK, I'll just pay the lucre and go on.

NOT...

FIRST WORDS out of the officer's mouth were NOT may I see your license and registration or anything ELSE remotely expected. Instead what came out was " I see you are one of those assholes who thinks everyone needs a gun, people like you make my job dangerous" in apparent reference to the NRA Life Memeber sticker and the WA Deft of Fish and Wildlife Hunter Education Instructor sticker. I WAS going to be polite and all...what the officer GOT was the ABSOLUTE minimum that I could give. when he walked back to his car I dug my cell out and called 911, asked for the duty officer and described what was going on. When the officer returned to the truck he continued his spew at me and announced that since he didnt like my attitude he had written me a "bit of an incentive for me to behave" in the form of a ticket for 19 over (3x the fine for the rnage of a 9 over).As the officer continued to ride me about the "Arming Criminals", I quietly took the ticket and asked if i was free to go. He said yes and I checked traffic and pulled out, picking up my cell and asking if the duty officer had heard the exchange. Turns out he had and such it was patched through 911..they had a recording of it too.

I was instructed to report to the State Patrol office ASAP, where i was met by the watch commander, the duty officer and a clerical sort with a transcript of the 911 tape for my records and one for the complaint form. I swore out a complaint which was typed up in front of me, approved by me and signed.

Upshot was that the officer was called in from the field, stripped of his gun and badge and, after due administrative process, fired.

So it worked...but I'm NOT real happy that he made it out to the street anyhow. MAkes me wonder about the buzz-cut, BDU-wearing, mirror sunglasses crowd. And I NOT real impressed with far too many of the newer officers who put on an attitude with the badge.

joelr said...

Lawmom, you're attacking a strawman and/or missing the point. Here's what you wrote, and which you emphasized you meant every word of:

... if an officer escorting six prisoners is strangled by handcuffs and stabbed with a pencil or a sharpened toothbrush, do his fellow officers have the right to beat the snot out of these prisoners?

You didn't limit it to those "fellow officers" stopping the attack by using force against those prisoners actually attacking the guy. Heck, in your hypothetical, it could be one prisoner killing the cop -- and by your standard (since you mean every word you say), his fellow officers would be entitled to "beat the snot" out of the other five.

Well, no.

That's a no-no. If you really don't understand the difference between self-defense and retaliation, you really should learn it.

I've certainly no objection to people lawfully using force, even lethal force, in self-defense. (Given that I'm a carry permit instructor in my state, I hardly could.) But the difference between stopping an attack and retaliating for an attack is important, and not terribly subtle.

Jeff Deutsch said...

Hello,

Purple Daisy, with all due respect, you are wrong.

Let's assume that particular Wal-Mart had a sometimes "shifty" clientele. That is no reason at all for an officer to "flip out" on an obviously law-abiding citizen.

LawDog and Rick R. said it best: Officer Greene showed by his actions that he knew he was in no danger. He had no reason even to lay hands on Trevor Putnam, let alone to ask him to go up against the wall.

With regard to causing panic: no one was panicked except possibly Officer Greene - who had no reason to be, and whose job it is to keep his head when all about him are losing theirs and blaming it on him.

Suppose for the sake of argument someone was panicked. But if Putnam was exercising his rights, that's that someone's problem, not Putnam.

Suppose also for the sake of argument that Officer Greene wasn't sure if Putnam had the right to carry openly. All he would have had to do was take him aside, ask to see his permit and if he still wasn't satisfied Putnam had the right to carry openly he could have simply asked him to pull his shirt over the gun.

Joelr is also absolutely right. With all due respect to LawMom, there is all the difference in the world between self-defense and retaliation. That difference is anarchy and vigilante justice, badge or no badge.

I have nothing to say about the Florida incident.

Cheers,

Jeff Deutsch

Anonymous said...

Well, Jeff, we aren't talking, really about a difference between self-defense and retaliation. We are talking about an entirely human reaction. I think, if a jury can excuse a man hopping out of a car and punching out another driver with "Well, he was stressed out; he had road rage," that under certain circumstances, particularly painful or life-threatening ones, a few jabs on the side are normal. I did not say they were legal or illegal, as I have said before. I said this was a human reaction.
Too many of the public expect the LEOs to be more than human, and want them to pay a penalty if they aren't.
And that's just flat wrong, particularly when the general public is excused for what amounts to the same thing-and worse.
Someone attacks me, you bet I'm going to kick him when he's down-hoping some do-gooder isn't around with a video camera. I'm not right to do this; he wasn't right to jump me.
It equals out.
LawMom

Nick said...

I would like to know what the public can do to prevent these kinds of incidents from happening. Obviously if someone can record a bad apple breaking the law they can take action against that person, but what kinds of policies should I support to make sure that the police officers in my area are honest, effective and law abiding?

Nick said...

I would like to know what the public can do to prevent these kinds of incidents from happening. Obviously if someone can record a bad apple breaking the law they can take action against that person, but what kinds of policies should I support to make sure that the police officers in my area are honest, effective and law abiding?

KD5NRH said...

Nick:
Carry a camera. A good digital camera can be had for under $200 that will do video, and will have a good enough optical zoom to keep you safely away from anybody else's encounters you record. Watch for a camera that does audio in its video mode, too, though, as a lot don't.
A digital voice recorder is a good idea too; look for one with USB capability so you can drop the files straight onto a computer and make an audio CD rather than having to sit and play everything back to a tape recorder later. Even better would be one that uses SD or similar memory cards, since if it looks like the cops are going to try to confiscate the recorder, you can try to palm the card and get it safely away.
FWIW, a good number of phones have these features, (my Nokia 6126 does a pretty good job of video-with-sound or just voice recording and decent snapshots) but they're almost never going to have the image quality to make out a badge number, nametag, car number or license plate at the distance a dedicated camera will, and they're usually not designed for lecture-type voice recording, which means that for good audio quality, you're going to have to be pretty obvious about it.
Of course, working security, I tend to just use this to save myself some note-taking, so I'm often not too discreet about the video part. OTOH, discreetly recorded audio can be handy when someone claims you were rude or unnecessarily confrontational.

Raven said...

I lived in the same town as ColtCCO, and I worked with a number of off-duty KPD officers (I was a late-night manager at a movie theatre for roughly four years.)
Some of them were good people, but others - suffice to say that even their fellow officers were distressed by the way they acted. I have heard a similar comment, a threat to make some reason up, before.
The officer in question is still working there, four years after a letter promising a reprimand.

Rick R. said...

LawMom,

I DO expect the cops to maintain a higher standard of calm and control than the minimum expected of non-LEO citizens.

It's their JOB -- a panicky cop is WAY more dangerous than a panicky citizen. If you (the hypothetical panicky LEO) are inclined to panicky more readily than the average bear (still within the "normal" range of the bell curve, but way over to the side), you're in the wrong profession.

It's the cop's JOB to "keep his head while others are losing theirs" and attempt to PREVENT or CONTAIN situations before they get out of hand, if possible.

NOT to be the one STARTING the panic.

But Officer Greene wasn't panicked. If he had proned out (or at least cuffed) BOTH subjects, maybe. But bad people tend to run with bad people -- if Subject A is dirty and dangerous, then odds are too great to ignore that Subject B might be, to -- and gender is no sure discriminating factor; Bonnie was far more dangerous than Clyde, after all.

I wouldn't recommend that a cop inclined to panic try any of the following professions, either:

Surgeon
Emergency medicine (on any level)
Pilot
Night clerk in a Stop & Rob
Wilderness guide
Ship captain
Demolitions

Likewise, _I_ am not the sort of person I would recommend for other professions, like:

Interrogator
Con man
Psych counseling
Salesman

. . . or any other job requiring immediate, real time, extremely sensitive interpersonal skills on a very subtle level. (ALL of these jobs have something in common -- they require you to be able to get inside your subject's head and direct his choices and actions without him being consciously aware of it.)

People inclined to get scared of heights shouldn't work as tour guides on the Eiffel Tower, claustrophobes shouldn't work in IT (have you SEEN the dark caves they get stuck in? {grin}), etc.

Then there's the "Authority" versus "Responsibility" factor; or "Why a PVT E1 get's an Article 15, mandatory substance abuse classes, and probation for a first time hot drug test, and a SGT E5 gets chaptered out of the Army." Of why, as a drill sergeant, I had to meet higher standards, ESPECIALLY in regards to how I handled recruits -- since I had greatly increased authority (compared to my peers in non-cadre billets), it was CRITICAL that I have responsibility (or accountability, if you prefer) increased to match.

Because LEOs have ADDITIONAL authority (_I_ can't decide I need to go 90 mph down the highway, _I_ can't carry a gun into a courtroom, _I_ cannot detain a person and demand ID, etc. . . all responsibilities cops need to do their job, but non-LEO citizens are forbidden to do). This means they must have responsibilities EQUAL to the authority, or the system breaks down. (This is INVARIABLY the cause of groups of bad cops -- the authority/responsibility balance has gotten out of whack. . . one bad cop may just be a "weak" individual -- a group of bad cops is a systemic problem. Ditto for any group of increased authority people -- drill sergeants, CEOs, accounting departments, UN inspectors, HR clerks, loan officers, etc.)

Greene didn't overreact in a "wrong but understandable" fashion. Disregarding EVERYTHING that he did to abuse his power beforehand, the INSTANT he indicated he would falsify charges in order to affect an arrest, he crossed the line.

And he broke his responsibility PRECISELY because he thought his "authority" exceeded his responsibility. ANY coward who thinks he can use his shield in order to shield himself from the consequences of his abuses of innocent citizens or residents needs to lose his badge, hopefully his freedom.

Because the scummiest descriptor you can add to an accusation is "under color of authority".

Whether it’s cops, teachers, preachers, drill sergeants, scout leaders, doctors, or what – the perp is FAR worse than if a stranger off the street had done the same exact thing to the victim.

Because he violated the TRUST. And hid BEHIND that trust to avoid paying the price.

Kristopher said...

Here is s forum full of bad apples:

http://www.copswritingcops.com/home.html

Everyone on their "Dicks" list needs to be bought a meal, in my opinion.

Jeff Deutsch said...

Hello LawMom,

Rick R. has said it all wrt the special responsibilities of an LEO. I would just like to draw attention to one thing.

This is not the first time you have shifted your ground in the argument and misrepresented having done so. Previously, Joelr had to call you on your switching from self-defense to retaliation - and conflating the two.

Now let's see some quotations from your previous comments:

"On the other hand, if an officer escorting six prisoners is strangled by handcuffs and stabbed with a pencil or a sharpened toothbrush, do his fellow officers have the right to beat the snot out of these prisoners? You're damned right they do."

and

"I didn't say retaliation was legal or illegal. I said it was the right of the officers to try and rescue and or/defend themselves and an officer who had been attacked, and if the perpetrators got pounded along the way, so what?"

Emphases added.

Now you're saying:

"Well, Jeff, we aren't talking, really about a difference between self-defense and retaliation. We are talking about an entirely human reaction."

Well, yes, but that begs the question. Murder, rape, assault, theft, vandalism and a variety of other evil acts are indeed "entirely human reaction[s]," as you put it. They are not and never have been rights.

In my previous comment, I said:

"[T]here is all the difference in the world between self-defense and retaliation. That difference is anarchy and vigilante justice, badge or no badge."

Emphasis added.

I respectfully suggest that this difference also separates rights from natural human reactions.

Vigilante justice - generally an oxymoron - doesn't become legal or right when it takes guilty victims. At most, the guilt of the victim is a sentencing issue for the vigilantes.

Last but not least, LawMom, with all due respect you need to be honest and consistent in your arguments. That means not shifting ground with every turn, and honestly acknowledging it when you do.

Jeff Deutsch

joelr said...

I didn't say retaliation was legal or illegal. I said it was the right of the officers to try and rescue and or/defend themselves and an officer who had been attacked, and if the perpetrators got pounded along the way, so what?

No, Lawmom, that's not what you said. I'll just refer you to the written record, above. You were quite clearly condoning violent retaliation and vengeance, and while I can't congratulate you for trying to rewrite the written record, at least you're not doing that at the moment.

Anonymous said...

As for the last two comments. You both need to learn to read, not interpret.
LawMom