Getting the Criminals Off the Streets in DC…Means Arresting the Police

Big City…Big Crime. Corruption on the part of Civil employees is a threat in any government. When it is the Police though, it has an impact on community trust and impacts the ability of the good cops to do their job.

The District of Columbia has more policemen per capita than any city in the world. Between the dozen or so local and Federal Police Departments (FBI, Secret Service, Customs, ATF,  etc), quasi police organizations such as the Federal Protective Service, the Transit Police guarding the city’s bus and subway system, and a host of private police guarding various buildings and facilities – there are actually enough police in DC to station one on every street corner in the city…several times over. During the riots of 1968 after MLK was assassinated, they actually did that with some small help from the National Guard.

A pic of some of DC’s finest. Insofar as this poster knows, none of the Policemen shown in this picture has done anything untoward or illegal.

110 D.C. Police Officers’ Arrests Since 2009 Leads To Questions, Scrutiny

Police officials in the nation’s capital have been facing recent questions about headline-making arrests — not of hardened street criminals but of their own officers.

In a single month, one District of Columbia police officer was accused of taking semi-nude pictures of a 15-year-old runaway and another was charged with running a prostitution operation involving teenage girls. A third was indicted on an attempted murder charge, accused of striking his wife in the head with a light fixture.

Police say the arrests aren’t representative of the entire department, which includes about 4,500 officers and civilian employees. Still, more than 100 officers in the last five years have been arrested on charges ranging from traffic offenses to murder to money laundering, and the latest instances have increased concerns about training, supervision and accountability. The D.C. Council has set a hearing to discuss the problem and Police Chief Cathy Lanier has met with residents to assuage fears of a misbehaving department.

“We don’t think we have a department out of control, and I think that oftentimes is the image that is portrayed,” she said in an interview, noting that the majority of arrests are not for on-duty corruption but instead involve off-duty misconduct that is harder to police.

The hearing Friday will focus on how applicants are screened and what services are available to prevent alcohol abuse and domestic violence, two prevalent problems, said Councilmember Tommy Wells, who chairs the public safety committee.

“I think it’s extremely important that the public have confidence in our police force and we’ve had three high-profile cases of serious police misconduct, albeit generally off-duty,” Wells said.

Police department figures show the arrests of about 110 police officers, for both on- and off-duty conduct, since 2009. Many of the arrests involved traffic violations or involved cases that were dropped or ended in acquittal.

Among the most serious cases was Richmond Phillips, who received life without parole last year for the slayings of his mistress and baby daughter. Wendel Palmer was convicted last year of sexually abusing a girl who participated in his church choir, while Kenneth Furr received a 14-month sentence for an armed altercation that began after prosecutors say he solicited sex from a transgender prostitute.

Lanier has said many of the arrested officers were brought onto the force during a time of lax hiring standards and wouldn’t be qualified to serve today. She said that in some cases the arbitration process has required the department to rehire officers it fired. She said the department has dramatically tightened its recruitment practices to mandate polygraph exams and that only one of about 25 applicants is now hired.

The department also tracks warning signs like missed commitments and abuse of sick leave. And it requires officers to report off-duty arrests, which Lanier contends can make the numbers look worse than in cities that lack that requirement.

“I feel comfortable that our recruiting process, the background screening we do, is as tight as we can get,” Lanier said at the meeting. “But I also realize that there are people that are on the police department that came through at a time when there was not that strict background (check), and those are the people that we want to make sure that if they are involved in misconduct, that we weed those people out.”

But resident Khadijah Tribble, 42, told the chief she was unconvinced the misconduct was isolated.

“Aren’t these trends troubling and isn’t it worth our due diligence to do a thorough, independent investigation of this trend?” Tribble said in an interview.

Robert Kane, the director of the Drexel University criminal justice program who has studied police misconduct, said the number of arrests wasn’t necessarily shocking for a big-city police department.

At least 43 New York City police officers are known to have been arrested between 2011 and 2013 on charges including gun-running, drunken driving, perjury, a ticket-fixing scam and a cannibalism plot. A Los Angeles police officer was charged with stomping a handcuffed woman who later lost consciousness and died. Dozens of Memphis, Tenn., officers have been arrested in recent years.

Kane said that on-duty police misconduct can be reliably defined, off-duty misbehavior by officers is studied less often.

“We know what factors explain police misconduct, when police officers stop people and extort money from them,” he said. “What do we know about officers who walk into a liquor store when off-duty and rob it at gunpoint for some beer?”

In D.C., the first of the recent arrests was on December 2 when officer Marc Washington was charged with taking semi-nude pictures while on-duty of a teenage runaway who had just returned home. Authorities say after responding to the girl’s apartment, he directed her into her bedroom and told her to undress so he could photograph injuries. He was arrested after the girl alerted her mother, who contacted police. Soon after being released from jail, Washington was dead from an apparent suicide.

The following week brought the off-duty arrest of Linwood Barnhill Jr., a 24-year-veteran who was charged after police came to his apartment and found a 16-year-old girl who had been reported missing. The girl told police Barnhill had photographed her and offered to pay her to have sex with other men, allegations also made by a second teenager. His lawyer says Barnhill never threatened anyone.

Lanier acknowledged the arrests, especially for on-duty conduct, have shaken the department. But she said she hopes the sight of handcuffed officers sends a message to other officers who would break the law.

“We would like the officers to know that if there’s somebody in our midst that is committing criminal conduct and we become aware of it, we will lock them up,” Lanier said. “We don’t need somebody else to lock them up. We will lock you up.”

Police Misconduct and Brutality…Again

Why is it the police in Florida can arrest a black man at his job 258 times for being at work…

And can’t get a murderer like George Zimmerman off the street and not pulling guns on women?

In the second incident this week to make the news concerning racial profiling, police abuse, and brutality – “Get Tough on Crime” laws have turned into a mechanism of racial harassment and brutality. The first incident (or more properly series of incidents) were in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, where officers harassed, beat, and videotaped black men they accosted on the street, threatening them with arrest if they didn’t sing or dance on video for the officers amusement. A series of videos uncovered by local paper posted at a local Police internal message board, by the Motor City Muckraker, show black men in the town being stopped and harassed by police, and forced under threat of beating or arrest to sing or make animal sounds.

 

 

The case in Miami Gardens, Florida is even more vicious.  A local store owner, tired of having his employees and customers summarily harassed and arrested by Miami Gardens Police, while doing nothing more nefarious than taking the trash out, minding the store, or purchasing a Lottery Ticket,  installed a video surveillance system. What the videos show is Miami Gardens Police harassing, arresting, and using force to arrest people on manufactured grounds over a year.

Here, a store employee (Earl Sampson) taking out the trash is arrested for “trespassing”…

Earl Sampson has been stopped and questioned by Miami Gardens police 258 times in four years.

He’s been searched more than 100 times. And arrested and jailed 56 times.

Despite his long rap sheet, Sampson, 28, has never been convicted of anything more serious than possession of marijuana.

Miami Gardens police have arrested Sampson 62 times for one offense: trespassing.

Almost every citation was issued at the same place: the 207 Quickstop, a convenience store on 207th Street in Miami Gardens.

But Sampson isn’t loitering. He works as a clerk at the Quickstop.

So how can he be trespassing when he works there?

Earl stocking the shelves…And arrested for trespassing…

Now admittedly Miami Gardens has a crime problem. It is a poor area, and robberies and shootings are not uncommon. However, it is hard to see how arresting law abiding citizens on trumped up charges, while they are at work – is doing anything to stop the serious crime problems.

How “Zero Tolerance” Policing Helped Bad Cops in Florida Create a Civil Rights Nightmare

The Miami Herald has published a stunning, maddening story about alleged persistent police harassment of blacks in the city of Miami Gardens, Fla. (You should read the entire Heraldstory; it will raise your blood pressure and ruin your weekend, but you should still read it.) For years, police would come to a convenience store in a transitional neighborhood and hassle black customers and employees in the name of proactive crime prevention—regularly citing and arresting men for loitering or trespassing, even when they weren’t.

One man, an employee of the store, was “stopped and questioned by Miami Gardens police 258 times in four years,” with almost all of these incidents happening on store premises. He was arrested 62 times for trespassing, and, again, these were arrests for being on the grounds of the store where he was employed. These incidents and others were recorded by video cameras installed by the store’s owner for the express purpose of documenting police misconduct:

The videos show, among other things, cops stopping citizens, questioning them, aggressively searching them and arresting them for trespassing when they have permission to be on the premises; officers conducting searches of Saleh’s business without search warrants or permission; using what appears to be excessive force on subjects who are clearly not resisting arrest and filing inaccurate police reports in connection with the arrests.

The harassment continued even after the store’s owner asked the cops to leave him and his employees alone. Since then, the store’s owner has reported police harassment of his own. “I ’m going to get you mother-f—–,” he says one cop told him during an allegedly gratuitous traffic stop.

How does something like this happen? Blame it on endemic racism, yes, and on bad apples in the police department—but also blame it on a short-sighted local crime-reduction policy that, in retrospect, was always, always ripe for abuse. The convenience store incidents began when police convinced the store’s owner to enroll in the department’s “Zero Tolerance Zone” program. In Miami Gardens, when a shop becomes a Zero Tolerance Zone, the owner signs an affidavit authorizing the police to enter the premises when the owner is absent and question, eject, and/or arrest all those whom they suspect of being up to no good. The website of the Miami Gardens Police Department notes that the program is “designed to reduce the number of individuals who are sometimes seen trespassing and loitering on private property without legitimate business.”

Miami Gardens does have a serious crime problem—murders there have “more than doubled” in recent years, says the Herald—and, in theory, this program is meant to address that problem by keeping potential malefactors on their toes and off the streets. In practice—at this one convenience store, at least—by authorizing police to act in the owner’s stead, the “Zero Tolerance Zone” just made it easier for bad cops to abuse power.

The fact that Miami Gardens police kept arresting that one particular employee even after it was very clear that he worked at the store is baffling, and obviously indicates that more was going on here than simple overzealousness. But the alleged police misbehavior is rooted in the idea that cities can keep their streets safer by keeping poor black men off of them, and that it’s up to an individual cop’s discretion to determine what sort of behavior is and is not appropriate.

The “Zero Tolerance Zone” initiative sounds similar to the controversial stop-and-frisk programs that have been deployed in New York and other cities, where police officers are encouraged to routinely stop and question people on slim grounds—“suspicious behavior” is a favorite excuse—in hopes of seizing guns and drugs and stopping crime before it starts. In both programs, cops have been accused of routinely exceeding their authority against people who have no real means of stopping them from doing so. Inevitably, the people being stopped and questioned are minority residents of crime-ridden areas—police have no incentive to deploy these tactics in rich white neighborhoods with minimal street crime. Inevitably, when cops are authorized to engage in this sort of proactive policing, some cops will overdo it, and trample citizens’ civil rights in the process.

This all comes down to the goddamn stupid, silly, racist “broken windows” theory of crime prevention that encourages police to treat the symptoms in hopes of curing the disease. This doesn’t work in medicine or crime prevention. “Broken windows” theorizes that disorderly neighborhoods invite criminal behavior, and that cracking down on quality-of-life violations can make neighborhoods safer. But while taking a hard line on public disorder might make the streets cleaner, there is little evidencethat the strategy is an effective way to reduce crime. (Broken-windows policing was most famously applied in New York during the Giuliani administration, but the decline in the city’s crime rate during that timespan probably had more to do with the end of the crack epidemic than with the NYPD taking a hard line on jaywalking.)

More broadly, there will always be crime in poor neighborhoods as long as these neighborhoods lack good jobs, good schools, good mental health resources, and other things that truly help make neighborhoods stable. Thinking you can stop crime by ticketing loiterers (or manufacturing bogus charges against people who look like loiterers) is the sort of willfully obtuse policymaking favored by shortsighted, indifferent leaders who value appearances over results. As a long-term crime-prevention strategy, broken windows is intellectually bankrupt; as a short-term strategy, it is a recipe for civil rights abuses. If the allegations are true, the Miami Gardens story makes this all painfully clear.

 

 

Police Militarization – Cops Fire at Minivan Full of Kids

While I certainly agree the Mom in this case was way out of bounds…

Shooting at a minivan full of kids is something else entirely.

And as to the “Marijuana pipe”…If you believe that was in the van before they searched…. I got some oceanfront to sell you in Death Valley. She certainly IS guilty of evading the police, although I have to say fleeing from some “officer” shooting at a van full of kids isn’t exactly “criminal”.

Seems to me what you got in this case is criminals stopping a criminal.

The Black “Dirty Harry”

Those of you old enough may remember movie characters  “Coffin” Ed Johnson and “Gravedigger” Jones in the Blaxploitation flick “Cotton Comes to Harlem” based on a series of books by Chester Himes

Fans of the genre also remember Clint Eastwood as “Dirty Harry”.

Turns out both of those films and roles were likely  based after a black cop in Chicago, nicknamed “Two Gun Pete”, AKA Sylvester Washington.

Chicago cop struck fear into South Side from 1934-51

The legend of “Two-Gun Pete,” the cold-blooded cop who shot at least nine men dead on the South Side, began with a gun battle eight decades ago.

Just six months into his rookie year in April 1934, he caught 27-year-old Ben Harold red-handed during an armed robbery near 51st and State streets. What followed was a shootout that brought several bullets dangerously close to the young stockyard-worker-turned-policeman.

When the smoke cleared, four of the cop’s five shots had hit their mark, tearing through Harold’s torso. He staggered several steps before falling dead in a doorway.

After nearly emptying his six-shooter, Pete started carrying a second handgun for backup. He eventually swapped his .38-caliber revolvers for more powerful .357 Magnums, and his reputation grew.

Though he was one of the deadliest police officers in Chicago history, few people without a longtime South Side connection have ever heard of Two-Gun Pete, or the enigmatic man behind the nickname, Sylvester Washington.

The Tribune set out to bring his story to a wider audience, separating facts from myth. The newspaper examined official records, talked to police veterans who knew him, and interviewed his third wife, who was a DuSable High School student when they secretly wed in the 1960s. The Tribune also found a woman who says she owns one of Washington’s guns.

Two-Gun started as an anonymous bluecoat walking a beat, but he ended up as a ghetto superstar — a flamboyant, crooked, braggadocious, womanizing, hard-drinking, foul-mouthed police detective.

He was tasked with clearing out bad elements from every nightclub, flophouse and pool hall in what was then called Black Metropolis, a South Side community mired in poverty and violence, yet bouncing to a jazzy beat.

Washington spent most of his career working out of the old Wabash Avenue police station at 48th Street and Wabash Avenue. By the mid-1940s, his 5th District, with a population of 200,000, led the city in slayings, robberies and rapes, and was nicknamed the “Bucket of Blood.”

But the mention of Two-Gun Pete’s name could clear a street corner in seconds.

“Everybody knew Sylvester Washington,” said Rudy Nimocks, a former deputy police superintendent. “They knew his car. And the prostitutes would go hide someplace when they saw him. He was something else.”

Facing criticism that police were failing to protect black residents, Chicago’s top brass looked to Washington and other tough black cops to get ahold of crime. But the bosses may have made a pact with the devil, entrusting citizens’ safety to a profoundly violent man.

“He was the meanest, cruelest person that I have ever seen in my entire life,” said his third wife, Roslyn Washington Banks.

Pete augmented his fierce reputation with the tools of his trade: a nightstick and meaty hands that he used to slap grown men to the ground like small children.

And there were his sidearms — pearl-handled .357 Magnum revolvers. One had a long barrel, the other a short barrel. Each pistol was holstered in its own belt around his hips, both pearl handles pointing right for the right-handed gunslinger.

“I seldom miss the mark with them,” Washington bragged to Ebony magazine. “I can put 14 bullseyes into a target out of 15 shots, and have made a marksmanship record of 147 out of a possible 150.”

Police officials told the newspapers that Pete had gunned down nine men by 1945. He later claimed the career total was 11. And even later, he added one more body to the pile, telling a young reporter named Mike Royko: “I kept my own count and I counted 12.”

Depending on which number is accurate, Pete was either the deadliest police officer in Chicago history or tied with Frank Pape, a North Side cop who started on the force three months before Pete and killed nine men… more

Orange Jumpsuit Garlic Thieves?

This intrepid team of crooks swiped several truckloads of …Garlic! Now, I have to believe short of a Vampire infestation in the local town – stealing a truckload of freshly harvested Garlic is about as stupid as it gets…

These guys get BTx3’s – “Orange Jumpsuit of the Week Award”!

Cops Nab Thieves —With 9.5 Tons of Garlic

It’s a heist that didn’t exactly require sniffing dogs: Austrian police stopped three overloaded and sagging vans about to cross into Hungary from Austria today and found them packed to the roof with allegedly stolen garlic—about 9.5 tons of the pungent cargo. After questioning the five men—all Romanian nationals—in the vehicles they charged them on suspicion of receiving stolen goods.

Police say the garlic apparently came from Spain and estimate its value at $37,500. The Austrian Press Agency cites one officer as saying it was clear what the vans were carrying even before their doors were opened. “All three vehicles really stunk like garlic,” he says.

A Real Zombie!

Geez! Thisone is like something out of a horror movie where mindless dead people shuffle around attacking and eating the living…

Did this guy watch reruns of “Dawn of the Living Dead” one time too many?

Not sure about the Cops “cocaine overdose” theory – I wasn’t aware cocaine gave you the “munchies”…

Naked man killed by Police near MacArthur Causeway was ‘eating’ face off victim

It was a scene as creepy as a Hannibal Lecter movie.

One man was shot to death by Miami police, and another man is fighting for his life after he was attacked, and his face allegedly half eaten, by a naked man on the MacArthur Causeway off ramp Saturday, police said.

The horror began about 2 p.m. when a series of gunshots were heard on the ramp, which is along NE 13th Street, just south of The Miami Herald building.

According to police sources, a road ranger saw a naked man chewing on another man’s face and shouted on his loud speaker for him to back away. Meanwhile, a woman also saw the incident and flagged down a police officer who was in the area.

The officer, who has not been identified, approached and, seeing what was happening, also ordered the naked man to back away. When he continued the assault, the officer shot him, police sources said. The attacker failed to stop after being shot, forcing the officer to continue firing. Witnesses said they heard at least a half dozen shots. Continue reading

Stevie Wonder Victim of Attempted Blackmail

Damn – “Street Pirates” for relatives…

Stevie Wonder Blackmail: Couple Seeking The Star’s Money Charged With Extortion

Two people have been charged with extortion after police detectives say they arrested the pair for trying to sell what they said was embarrassing information about Stevie Wonder.

The duo, Alpha Lorenzo Walker and his girlfriend Tamara Eileen Diaz, have been jailed since their arrest on May 2. Both have pleaded not guilty and are scheduled to appear in court on May 16 for a hearing in which a judge will decide whether there is enough evidence for them to stand trial.

According to a felony complaint, Walker and Diaz attempted to obtain money from the Grammy-winning musician, who is identified by his birth name, Steveland Morris. An email message sent to Wonder’s studio was not immediately returned Friday.

Walker, 38, was on probation at the time of his arrest after pleading no contest to grand theft in May 2011. A judge issued a suspended three-year prison sentence in that case and he is due in court for a probation violation hearing May 31.

District attorney’s spokeswoman Jane Robison says Walker contacted Wonder’s representatives claiming to have embarrassing information about the musician. Detectives organized a sting and the pair were arrested. Police did not release additional details about their investigation Friday.

Walker identifies himself as Wonder’s nephew and is being held without bail because of another case.

Diaz’s bail is set at $95,000. Both are being represented by public defenders, who did not immediately return calls for comment.

Diaz was placed on three years of probation after pleading no contest in February 2011 to possession of marijuana with the intent to sell, court records show.

The case was first reported Friday by celebrity website TMZ.

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