Why Are So Many ‘Bad Apple’ Police Officers Bad in the Same Way?

Brian Encinia, a former trooper with the Texas Department of Safety, confronting Sandra Bland at a traffic stop.

Brian Encinia, a former trooper with the Texas Department of Safety, confronting Sandra Bland at a traffic stop. Photo: Sandra Bland

Brian Encinia said that he ordered Sandra Bland out of her vehicle, forced her to the ground, and handcuffed her on July 10, 2015, because he feared for his safety. “My safety was in jeopardy at more than one time,” the former–Texas Department of Safety trooper told the agency’s Office of Inspector General. “I had a feeling that anything could’ve been either retrieved or hidden within her area of control.”

But newly released footage contradicts this account. On Monday, reporters with Dallas television station WFAA aired a 39-second cell phone videocaptured by Bland that had not been previously made public. It depicts an irate Encinia threatening to “light … up” the black 28-year-old with his stun gun and demanding that she exit her car and “get off the phone,” all while Bland asks him repeatedly why a “failure to signal” called for such treatment. “The video shows that [Encinia] wasn’t in fear of his safety,” Cannon Lambert, a lawyer for Bland’s family, told the New York Times. “You could see that it was a cell phone. He was looking right at it.”

Bland was found dead in a Waller County jail cell three days later; authorities ruled her death a suicide. Nationwide protests followed. The Naperville, Illinois, native — who, before her arrest, was en route to start a new job at Prairie View A&M University in Prairie View, Texas — became the most prominent woman to die in police custody as a result of police violence during the height of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Encinia was charged with perjury for lying about the circumstances surrounding Bland’s arrest, but the charges were dropped on the condition that he never seek a job in law enforcement again. As a result, Encinia — whose former lawyer told the Times that he is now “working in the private sector, supporting his wife and family and living a quiet life” — became one of the countless American police officers to face no legal consequences for demonstrated misconduct.

The gravity of Encinia’s behavior falls short of the murderousness shown by Michael Slager and Jason Van Dyke, police officers who were convicted of crimes after shooting and killing black men. But it is an edifying example nonetheless in the debate over whether cases of police misconduct are a series of isolated incidents or part of a systemic problem. Public opinion is divided on the issue — but perhaps predictably, the divide is largely racial and politically partisan. According to a 2015 PRRI survey conducted after the killings of Mike Brown and Freddie Gray, 74 percent of black Americans believed that such killings were part of a broader pattern of police behavior, compared to 43 percent of white Americans. Thirty percent of Democrats felt they were isolated incidents, compared to 65 percent of Republicans.

The position held by most whites and Republicans can be summarized as the “bad apple” theory of law enforcement — the idea that a few bad actors exist but should not reflect poorly on an otherwise-good bunch. Prominent subscribers include former–U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has deployed this argument to discredit federal oversight of local police departments. “I think there’s concern that good police officers and good departments can be sued by the Department of Justice when you just have individuals within a department who have done wrong,” the then-senator said in 2017. About 67 percent of police officers agree with Sessions that these occurrences say little about policing as a whole.

But what happens in their immediate aftermath is just as illuminating in uncovering the truth as the incidents themselves. Encinia did not just order Bland out of her car, threaten her, and arrest her for apparently frivolous reasons. He lied to investigators about the threat that he believed she posed. His official account of the exchange hinged entirely on the assertion that his actions were justified because he thought he was in danger. And he is not alone in pursuing this line of reasoning. Almost every prominent police killing or assault of an unarmed black person in recent years has been followed by official claims that the officer feared for his or her safety. In cases as disparate geographically as the shooting deaths of Mike Brown in Missouri, Terence Crutcher in Oklahoma, Sam Dubose in Ohio, and the 15-year-old boy attacked in April by sheriff’s deputies in Broward County, Florida, police have invoked the fear they purportedly felt to justify their violence.

This approach has yielded dividends. Department policy and Supreme Court precedent have combined to render more or less legal the brutalization of civilians, as long as the officer in question can demonstrate that their actions were “objectively reasonable.” Of course, what is considered “objectively reasonable” shifts from state to state and case to case — such that more often than not, merely claiming to have felt fear is treated as objectively reasonable grounds for murder.

We can say with confidence that this is a systemic problem because letting these officers off the hook is a systemic act — enshrined in law and practice across the United States and carried out in official press conferences, departmental investigations, and grand jury proceedings. “A few bad apples” are not to blame for a system-wide mechanism which police can so reliably turn to for exoneration that they do so almost every time they are caught doing wrong. There is something fundamentally nefarious about the whole institution when so many such cases follow a familiar script: Commit violence against an unarmed civilian, then claim — often dishonestly — to have been so frightened that no other option was available.

Sandra Bland may have been mistreated by a lone officer on the street that day. But it was the system that empowered Encinia to treat her as he did in the first place — and that gave him confidence that even if the encounter ended with her dying, he could lie and expect to be protected.

 

“Why Are So Many ‘Bad Apple’ Police Officers Bad in the Same Way?”, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/05/sandra-bland-footage.html
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Good cop, bad cop

May 6, 2019

Can civilian allegations of officer misconduct be used to prevent future incidents?

Lori Lightfoot, then president of the Chicago Police Board and Accountability Task Force Chair, discusses the findings of its report released in April 2016.

Daniel X. O’Neil

An important question following any violent death is whether it could have been prevented.

So it was with Laquan McDonald. The 17-year-old Chicago resident was gunned down in 2014 by police officer Jason Van Dyke, who had a history of complaints of using excessive force prior to McDonald’s death.

If Chicago police had taken those complaints more seriously and pulled Van Dyke from street duty, would McDonald still be alive? It’s impossible to know. But a paper in the May issue of the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy says civilian allegations of officer misconduct may be a useful tool in identifying and reining in the worst offenders on a police force.

“While these allegations and the allegation process are taken seriously, maybe they’re not taken seriously enough,” said Kyle Rozema, who co-authored the paper with Northwestern’s Max Schanzenbach, in an interview with the AEA.

Schanzenbach and Rozema, a fellow at the University of Chicago who soon will join Washington University as an associate professor, looked no further than their own city of Chicago to determine whether civilian complaints could be a reliable tool for supervisors and policymakers concerned with reining in officer misconduct.

While these allegations and the allegation process are taken seriously, maybe they’re not taken seriously enough.

Kyle Rozema

Chicago police have been involved in a number of high profile incidents, including McDonald’s death, that have caused civil unrest and been costly to the city. Chicago has paid out an average of $50 million a year between 2009-2014 to settle lawsuits stemming from police officer misconduct.

The issue is not a burden shouldered by Chicago, alone. Cities from New York to Pittsburgh andFerguson, Mo., have dealt with the fallout from incidents involving police violence.

This paper suggests that allegations of police misconduct could become a critical tool in identifying the “bad apples” who account for a disproportionate share of incidents.

Rozema and Schanzenbach collected personnel records on all Chicago police officers between 2002 and 2014, and examined newly released data on over 50,000 civilian allegations of police officer misconduct to see whether they could reliably predict whether an officer would later be involved in a legal settlement over their actions.

After controlling for factors that might bias the results—such as police officers who worked in high-crime areas—the authors found a strong relationship between misconduct allegations and future civil rights litigation. But it was concentrated among the worst officers.

 

Alleged Misconduct
The pie chart below represents allegations made against Chicago police officers between 2002 and 2014. Civilian allegations relate to interactions between civilians and on-duty police officers, internal allegations arise from reports from supervisors or fellow officers, and the off-duty allegations are mostly generated by off-duty behavior. Click on the chart to drill down to the different types of allegations made in each category.
Civilian Allegations: 61.0%Civilian Allegations: 61.0%Internal Allegations: 34.0%Internal Allegations: 34.0%Off-Duty Allegations: 5.0%Off-Duty Allegations: 5.0%Highcharts.comAll AllegationsOff-Duty Allegations: 5.00% of all allegations
Source: Table 1

 

Officers who ranked among the top-1 percent of civilian allegations against them generated almost five times the number of payouts and four times the total damages in civil rights lawsuits. For context, if Chicago had removed the worst-1 percent (120 in total) from regular civilian contact and replaced with average officers, the city would have saved over $6 million in payouts from 2009-2014.

Meanwhile, there wasn’t much differentiation among the rest. Officers below the 80-90 percentiles for allegations are little different than officers with none.

The results seemed to validate the idea that the problems in the department were largely driven by a few bad actors rather than the entire police force.

“A very important part of the story is the very worst of the worst,” Schanzenbach said. “It did confirm some of the conventional wisdom that a lot of people were making, the argument about the bad egg.”

Their paper also sheds light on a policy related to whether an allegation is actually investigated by the department. More than half of allegations against Chicago police officers were dismissed because the complainant refused to sign a sworn affidavit. The reasoning goes that if allegations can lead to severe penalties for the accused, then the allegor should be prepared to face legal repercussions if they are lying.

Still, allegations without a sworn affidavit are just as accurate at predicting future police misconduct. The findings raise concerns that the requirement, which may intimidate many complainants, is suppressing otherwise legitimate allegations that could be used to hold police accountable.

The authors stop short of drawing any definitive policy conclusions. Collective bargaining agreements and local laws will determine the extent to which these tools can be used.

But, at the very least, their findings suggest that police supervisors need to take all allegations against their officers more seriously. Not only could it save cities costly legal actions, it could save lives.

“Maybe if Van Dyke had been flagged and had a partner that night, things would have turned out differently,” Schanzenbach said. “That’s the thing that’s in the back of my mind.”

“Good Cop, Bad Cop: Using Civilian Allegations to Predict Police Misconduct” appears in the May issue of the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy.

 

Chris Fleisher, May 6, 2019, “Good cop, bad cop”, American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, https://www.aeaweb.org/research/good-cop-bad-cop-chicago-police-civilian-allegations

NYPD flouts requirement to disclose police misconduct info, vows to post data

NYPD flouts requirement to disclose police misconduct info, vows to post data
NYPD flouts data requirement, vows to post info on police misconduct (rafalkrakow/rafalkrakow)

The NYPD has ignored for more than two years a city law requiring it to reveal statistics about officer misconduct, the Daily News has learned.

Police admitted the omission and said the information would soon be on its website.

The department declined to say why the data had not been posted, but City Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Queens) said there is a simple explanation: the NYPD’s first instinct when it comes to information is to withhold it.

’I think the NYPD has learned that the more the council and the public know about the racial disparities in policing and the lack of police accountability within the NYPD the more heat the NYPD gets to change its policies and reform its practices,” Lancman said.

“So they’ve obviously decided that withholding information they’re legally required to produce is more important to them than abandoning racially disparate practices and disciplinary processes that let officers engage in misconduct with impunity.”

The Deployment Law, a local ordinance, took effect Oct. 1, 2016. It requires police to report annually the number and percentage of cops in each police command with misconduct markers on their records: at least two substantiated civilian complaints or the use of excessive force in the prior three years, a suspension in the prior five years, or an unsealed arrest back 10 years.

The data is considered useful in spotting trends; for instance if a police unit was linked to numerous brutality complaints. It does not name officers or provide specifics that could reveal a cop’s identity.

The law requires police to post the data on the day the ordinance went into effect, and thereafter every February. But as of last week, only the 2016 data had been posted and, as Lancman noted, the numbers aren’t broken down by category of misconduct as required.

“So even with the information they have posted,” Lancman said, “what they have produced is practically useless.’’

A candidate for Queens District Attorney, Lancman said he learned almost by chance about the missing information.

Having sued the NYPD for not fully complying with a law requiring police to disclose data about fare evasion enforcement, Lancman checked if police were adhering to other laws.

The City Council also requires the NYPD to release stop and frisk data, but when it did so in Feb. 2007 it was discovered that such data had not been posted since late 2003.

How the NYPD tracks officer misconduct and disciplines its own has been headline news over the past few years. In 2016, the department stopped releasing to the media summaries of internal disciplinary proceedings against officers, reversing 40 years of practice. It cited Section 50-a of the state’s civil rights law for its action.

Section 50-a specifies that personnel records of police, firefighters and correction officers should be considered confidential and not subject to inspection or review without an individual’s written consent except if mandated by a court order. In the event of a court order, the personnel records in question are sealed and sent to a judge, who evaluates their relevance and releases to a petitioner only those sections deemed relevant by a judge.

Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioner James O’Neill have advocated for the law to be amended.

 

“NYPD flouts requirement to disclose police misconduct info, vows to post data”, https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/ny-nypd-flouts-data-requirement-vows-to-post-info-on-police-misconduct-20190506-gxsuloasfzbi5hecatefp6sj2i-story.html

Houston Police Shot Man Killed in Fraudulent Drug Raid at Least Eight Times

Dennis Tuttle and his wife, Rhogena Nicholas, who was shot twice, were pronounced dead shortly after police invaded their home based on a “controlled buy” that never happened.

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Houston narcotics officers shot Dennis Tuttle at least eight times during the January 28 drug raid that killed him and his wife, Rhogena Nicholas, at their home on Harding Street. The no-knock raid, based on allegations that Tuttle and Nicholas were selling heroin, found no heroin and no evidence of drug dealing. The officer who obtained the warrant, Gerald Goines, reported a “controlled buy” at the house that apparently never happened.

According to an autopsy report dated March 19, Tuttle suffered gunshot wounds in his head and neck, chest, left shoulder, left buttock (which was struck twice), left thigh, left forearm, left hand, right wrist, and right forearm (two graze wounds). The report says the chest injury “may represent a re-entrance wound of a fragmented bullet associated with one of the gunshot wounds of the upper extremities.” The officers reported that they shot Tuttle after he fired at them with a .357 Magnum revolver in response to their armed invasion of his home, during which they killed a dog with a shotgun immediately after crashing through the door.

Another autopsy report, also dated March 19, says Nicholas was shot in the torso and right thigh. Police said they shot her after she moved toward the officer with the shotgun, who had collapsed on a couch after being shot by Tuttle. They said they believed she was trying to take away the shotgun. There is no video of the raid to corroborate that account. Both Tuttle, who was 59, and Nicholas, who was 58, were pronounced dead at 5:15 p.m., shortly after police broke into their home.

The only drugs that police found in the house were 18 grams of marijuana and 1.5 grams of cocaine. Those are also the only drugs detected by the toxicology tests described in the autopsy reports: THC and a THC metabolite in Tuttle’s blood and benzoylecgonine, a cocaine metabolite, in Nicholas’ blood. Notably, the tests found no traces of heroin, fentanyl, or other opioids.

Although Police Chief Art Acevedo has said the affidavit for the search warrant was falsified, he continues to defend the investigation that led to the raid, citing a January 8 call from an unnamed woman who reported that her daughter was using drugs at the house and described Tuttle and Nicholas as armed and dangerous drug dealers. Acevedo also said neighbors had thanked police for raiding the couple’s home, which he said was locally notorious as a “drug house” and a “problem location.”

Those claims are inconsistent with the accounts of neighbors interviewed by Houston news outlets. They said that Tuttle and Nicholas, who had lived in the house for two decades, were perfectly nice people and that they had never noticed any suspicious activity at the house.

KTRK, the ABC station in Houston, reported in February that the woman who called police on January 8 was Nicholas’ mother, who was concerned about her own daughter’s drug use. But that report is inconsistent with Acevedo’s account and with what Nicholas’ mother, Jo Ann Nicholas, has told reporters. “I want her name cleared,” the grieving 84-year-old woman said in a March 25 interview with KTRK.

Four officers, including Goines, were injured by gunfire during the raid, but it is not clear where those rounds came from. It seems implausible that Tuttle, even if he fired all six rounds from the revolver, was able to hit his targets four times in the chaotic circumstances of the raid. Acevedo initially responded indignantly to the suggestion that officers were hit by “friendly fire,” but that question is part of the Houston Police Department’s ongoing investigation. This morning I asked the HPD whether the issue has been resolved but have not heard back yet.

After I requested copies of the autopsy reports on April 1, Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan claimed the documents were not subject to disclosure under the Texas Public Information Act. Citing the law’s exception for information that “would interfere with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime,” Ryan sought an opinion from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who I gather disagreed.

Update, May 7: HPD spokesman Kese Smith said the department is not releasing any information on the “friendly fire” issue until it completes its internal affairs and criminal investigations of the operation. He said those investigations should be completed by mid-May, at which point the department will report its findings to the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, which is conducting its own investigation. The FBI is also looking into potential civil rights violations.

 

| “Houston Police Shot Man Killed in Fraudulent Drug Raid at Least Eight Times”, https://reason.com/2019/05/06/houston-police-shot-man-killed-in-fraudulent-heroin-raid-at-least-8-times/

Minneapolis Bans ‘Warrior-Style’ Training for Police Officers

CINNAMON JANZER     APRIL 30, 2019

During his State of the City address on April 18, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey announced that the city will ban its police officers from participating in “warrior-style” training, even when it’s self-funded and off duty.

While the Minneapolis Police Department doesn’t currently offer any fear-based trainings, they “remain available to officers off-duty,” Frey said. “That’s why today we’re announcing that the Minneapolis Police Department will be — we believe — the first major department in the nation to prohibit fear-based training” both on and off-duty.

“Warrior-style” training takes a fear-based approach to policing that prioritizes officer safety over community safety by conditioning trainees to view all encounters as inherently dangerous. The most well-known examples are offered by retired Lt. Colonel Dave Grossman and his Grossman Academy. The philosophy behind his courses and his book, “On Killing,” is this: Both soldiers and police officers should be trained to kill with less hesitation.

After praising the department for various achievements like offering wellness trainings to help officers combat the trauma they experience on the job, Frey explained that the popular fear-based trainings run counter to the department’s vision.

“There are external trainings that have no place in the vision and culture shift outlined by our chief. Chief Medaria Arradondo’s MPD rests on trust, accountability, and professional service. Whereas fear-based, warrior-style trainings like ‘killology’ are in direct conflict with everything that our chief and I stand for in our police department,” Frey said.

“Fear-based trainings violate the values at the very heart of community policing. When you’re conditioned to believe that every person encountered poses a threat to your existence, you simply cannot be expected to build meaningful relationships with those same people.”

“Basically, the issue is that Grossman’s ‘killology’ idea and course has no scientific basis in reality,” says Michelle Gross, the president of Minneapolis’ Communities United Against Police Brutality. Gross’ organization has met with Mayor Frey and has been working with Chief Arradondo since he assumed the role in 2017 to oust fear-based training, a term Gross says her organization coined in order to describe trainings like Grossman’s and more.

“We wanted to make it clear that these trainings are under all kinds of names and have a very powerful influence on police,” she says.

Gross, who became interested police brutality activism after experiencing it herself, sees no need for the warrior-style trainings that Frey has moved to eliminate. “This kind of training where danger is lurking at every corner and you should be prepared to gun down people … basically teaches officers to be fearful when they don’t need to be. What we see as a result is what’s happened with Officer Yanez who killed Philando Castile.” Yanez had taken a “Bulletproof Warrior” seminar through Grossman’s organization before the 2016 traffic stop in which he shot Castile.

Frey’s announcement comes as another police brutality trial is underway in the Twin Cities, this time of Mohamed Noor, a former Minneapolis police officer who shot and killed Justine Damond in Minneapolis in 2017.

Not everyone is pleased with the announcement. Last week, the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis — the union that represents officers, sergeants, and lieutenants across the MPD and park police — announced an exclusive partnership with Law Officer, a self-described “industry leader” in law enforcement training, to provide fear-based training through the company’s website and app for the rest of Frey’s term for free, defying Frey’s ban.

Travis Yates, director of training for Law Officer, said in a press release that “it is both an honor and a privilege to provide the heroes of the Minneapolis Police Department daily training that can ensure they will return home each day to their family regardless of the dangers that they may face and the ignorance of some politicians.”

In the release, President of the Police Officer’s Federation of Minneapolis Lt. Bob Kroll thanked Law Officer for defying the mayor, adding that “while it seems that the lives of our officers are not important to politicians, they certainly are by Law Officer and we are grateful for this partnership.”

In response, Frey has doubled down on his commitment to ban the trainings. “We have adopted this new policy because proper training on use of force and de-escalation is of paramount importance,” Mayor Frey said in a statement. “Officers found to pursue any training that conflicts with MPD’s training and has not been preapproved will be subject to discipline.” Chief Arradondo’s public information officer refused to make him available for this story.

The move could set the stage for a court case, and the union, at least, is ready. “We’ve ran it by our attorneys and are prepared to go down that route … for unfair labor practices,” Kroll told Next City.

Last week, union leadership met with Chief Arradondo, but no agreement has been reached, the Star Tribune reported.

In the meantime, Gross remains hopeful as her organization continues to combat police brutalities.

“Getting rid of this training is a life-saving measure because [the training] promotes killing more people. We would like it if they didn’t kill anybody at all,” she says. “I hope it’s a chance to change the culture of policing and … change it in a way that police will be less likely to kill people and less likely to be brutal and more prone to use methods of de-escalation.”

CINNAMON JANZER, APRIL 30, 2019, “Minneapolis Bans ‘Warrior-Style’ Training for Police Officers”, https://nextcity.org/daily/entry/minneapolis-bans-warrior-style-training-for-police-officers

Check Out This New Database of Corrupt Cops

USA Today launches an important new tool for tracking officers who have been fired for misconduct.

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USA Today has partnered with its affiliate newsrooms and a nonprofit group in Chicago to launch an important new database that documents law enforcement officers with records of misconduct.

Part of that database is now available for public searches. USA Today has documented at least 85,000 cops who have been investigated or disciplined for misconduct across the past decade. But this initial document dump focuses just on 30,000 cops who have been “decertified” by various state agencies for misconduct.

There are 44 states that have an internal decertification process that is intended to try to make sure that bad cops can’t migrate to other cities or states to land new jobs at other agencies after they’ve been fired for misconduct. But as Anthony Fisher documented for Reason in 2016, there’s really no centralized tracking going on so that it’s easy to determine who is on any of those lists, and even decertified cops can go on to find new jobs in law enforcement agencies elsewhere. Several of these states require officers to actually be convicted of crimes before they’ll actually be decertified. And police unions have resisted any efforts to make a national decertification database.

So it’s possible that this USA Today database is a useful resource to other law enforcement agencies in states that don’t participate in the decertification process or are otherwise struggling to get the information.

But there are still huge gaps—California does not participate in this 44-state decertification program and they’ve got more police and deputies than anybody else. It was just with the start of this new year that California changed its record laws to unseal records of police misconduct that had been hidden from public view.

Of the cops who were decertified, USA Today notes that the greatest number of them had been banned for drug or alcohol issues (DUIs, for example) and for assaults or violence. But a good number of them (close to 2,000) had been banned for sexual misconduct. Another 2,777 had been banned for “dishonesty,” a category that covers behavior like perjury or tampering with evidence.

Also worth note: USA Today‘s data show that only 10 percent of officers in most police forces get investigated for misconduct. But among those who have been banned, nearly 2,500 had been investigated on 10 or more charges. A small group of them (20) had faced 100 or more allegations and were still serving. If it’s bad apples spoiling the bunch, some of them are really bad.

USA Today ends its piece by openly calling for cooperation from journalists at other media outlets, from members of the public, and even from law enforcement agencies and prosecutors to fill out this database. The opening of police records in California has prompted media outlets there to work together to track down decades’ worth of what had been secret details of police misconduct. Maybe they’ll add their work to what USA Today is doing.

Check out the database here.

 

“Check Out This New Database of Corrupt Cops”, https://reason.com/2019/04/25/check-out-this-new-database-of-corrupt-cops/

How an officer fired twice from one police department became chief of another

David Cimperman

A lot of police departments don’t have the money or resources to do thorough background checks on candidates, and police misconduct is often secretive and hard to uncover, reports CBS News’ Jeff Pegues. He spoke to an Ohio police chief who said an officer fired twice from his department went on to become the police chief of a nearby town.

Michael Goodwin, the police chief of New Philadelphia, Ohio, said there is one word that comes to mind when he hears the name of his department’s former officer, David Cimperman: chaos.

“He was here for 15 years before he resigned. The city fired him twice. An arbitrator gave him his job back twice,” Goodwin said. “He was being wrote up or disciplined by his supervisors on a regular basis.”

Cimperman was hired in the early 1990s. Internal police reports and county records obtained by USA Today Network show years of misconduct followed. Among the allegations: Cimperman tampered with police radios so he could “make untraceable calls,” which blocked 911 calls from coming through. He was also accused of engaging in a high-speed chase with a motorcyclist who didn’t pull his visor down. Cimperman crashed, flipped his patrol car and had to shoot a window to get out.

Even after Cimperman was fired and rehired twice, Chief Goodwin says allegations continued to pile up, and in 2012, the department gave Cimperman an ultimatum – resign or face more possible disciplinary action. He chose to resign on his own accord, which allowed him to get another job.

Three years later, Cimperman was back on the force, this time,as chief in nearby Amsterdam, Ohio. Nobody from Amsterdam called to check on his past – something that doesn’t surprise Goodwin.

“What we are finding out is, across the state, police departments are not doing a thorough background check,” Goodwin said. “I think they are in a hurry to get a body or boots on the ground.”

Gary Pepperling is the mayor of Amsterdam. He hired Cimperman, whose misconduct allegedly continued.

“We needed a police officer bad, and he fit the bill for what we thought he would do,” Pepperling said. “I think he’s a criminal and that’s disgusting, you know? And I feel bad I let the people down and didn’t get rid of him sooner.”

According to interviews and hiring forms obtained by USA Today Network, Cimperman allegedly added officers to Amsterdam’s roster even though many of them never did any work. Instead, they allegedly logged hours for a private security company he ran on the side. A now published internal report also accuses Cimperman of misplacing evidence. The mayor said Cimperman was forced to resign.

Chris Davis, the vice president of investigations for USA Today Network, and his team analyzed troves of records and data from around the country, publishing many online. They found 85,000 police officers who have been disciplined or in trouble. Dozens of them are still working in departments, including some previously found guilty of a crime.

“It’s not easy to find information often about officers who have been in trouble,” Davis said. “You need a resource that is better than what exists to keep track of officers who have had problems and there is no national complete data set that’s available.”

Chief Goodwin agrees. He wants to see departments doing background checks and thoroughly investigating officers before they are hired, something he says his department already does.

“Things are getting kind of set aside that’s not fair to the people who pay our salaries, which are the citizens of our cities,” Goodwin said.

USA Today Network published a list of more than 30,000 officers in 44 states who have been decertified, or essentially banned, from being an officer in their state. They hope this searchable database will help the public and future employers identify dangerous officers.

Cimperman told us “the article is not accurate, and places me in a false light.” USA Today Network says he is still commissioned and working in Ohio as a paid part-timer.

 

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/officer-fired-twice-from-one-police-department-became-chief-of-another/

Broward County Deputies Assaulted a Black Teen. But ‘Accountability’ Is Not Enough.

Video still from footage of a Broward County Sheriff's deputy assaulting a black teenager, April 2019.

Video still from footage of a Broward County Sheriff’s deputy assaulting a black teenager, April 2019. Photo: Screenshot via Broward County Sheriff’s Office

The sheriff’s office in Broward County, Florida, has promised to investigate two of its deputies for assaulting a black 15 year old on Thursday. An 18-second video shows the officials — Christopher Krickovich and Sergeant Greg LaCerra — pepper-spraying the teen in the face, banging his forehead against concrete, and punching him on the side of his head. (The teen’s name has not been disclosed in news reports, but he has been identified on social media as “Lucca.”) Footage of the incident has circulated nationally, prompting outraged responses from celebrities and lawmakers alike. Sheriff Gregory Tony tried to assuage the concerns of local black civic leaders by vowing a “tactful” investigation. “That’s the most electrifying and dangerous situation for a law enforcement administrator to handle,” Tony, the county’s first black sheriff, said on Saturday, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “Any time a white deputy is involved in contact with using force on a black youth, this thing blows up.”

That such a thing might “blow up” is appropriate. Years of activism and reporting have demonstrated the racism with which law enforcement is applied across the United States. In Broward County, its impact on black youth has been a point of special focus. A 2013 initiative led by Robert Runcie, superintendent of Broward County Public Schools, sought to eliminate disparities in the rates at which black students were suspended and arrested for in-school misconduct compared to their white peers. (During the 2011-2012 school year, black students were roughly two-thirds of those suspended, mostly for minor incidents — like using profanity or disrupting class — despite being 40 percent of the student body, according to the American Prospect.) Runcie partnered with local advocates and law enforcement to implement alternatives to suspension and prohibit arrests — 71 percent of which were for misdemeanors — in some cases where they had been allowed before. (Officers were, however, allowed to override some of these prohibitions: “I wanted to make sure deputies always had discretion,” then-Sheriff Scott Israel told the Prospect.)

The effect was almost immediate. By the end of 2013, suspensions had dropped 40 percent and arrests of students had fallen 66 percent. A more humane tint began to color how local law enforcement treated black children for whom youthful mistakes often meant years of condemnation as criminals. But Thursday’s incident proves that progress on one front does not constitute a sea change any more than it precludes regression. After 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last February, criticism of how Broward County Sheriff’s deputies handled the shooting — including their failure to immediately enter the school when gunshots were reported — prompted an emphasis on meeting perceived threats with swift violence, according to the Washington Post. Deputies have since been re-trained on how to subdue subjects in what one sheriff’s union official described to the Post as a “Fight Club atmosphere.” Some participants have suffered injuries in the process, ranging from fractured bones to a detached retina to brain bleeding.

So when dispatchers on Thursday received calls that a group of teenagers had gathered in a McDonald’s parking lot in Tamarac — a popular hangout for local high schoolers — and that some of them were fighting, they applied the kind of immediate and decisive force that many wished they had wielded against Cruz. Among the differences was that such force is used traditionally against black youth with no such justification — as examples ranging from the 2015 police assault on a black girl in Richland County, South Carolina, to the February police beating of a black girl in Chicago illustrate. For these victims, the misapplication of brutal police training was their lot well before Parkland. That the 15 year old on Thursday committed no clear infraction, let alone a crime, highlights the absurdity of continuing to apply it after. In effect, the training changes in Broward County seek to level against men like Cruz a degree of violence that, for many unarmed black children, was already a danger. Such are the wages of a culture that looks to atrocities like Parkland to shape law enforcement policy, but seems unable or unwilling to ensure that officers do not greet innocent people with the same violence.

Accordingly, Krickovich, who wrote the police report about Thursday’s incident, seemed to inflate Thursday’s threat to justify his response. In his telling, he was arresting another teen for trespassing when Lucca bent down to pick up the boy’s cell phone. “While I was dealing with the male on the ground, I observed his phone slide to the right of me and then behind me,” Krickovich wrote, according to the Sun Sentinel. “I observed a teen [Lucca] wearing a red tank top reach down and attempt to grab the male student’s phone.” In the video, another deputy — identified by the Sun Sentinel as LaCerra — is seen shoving Lucca, after which Lucca appears to object verbally. In the report, Krickovich wrote that Lucca “took an aggressive stance” toward LaCerra, “bladed his body and began clenching his fists.” (The video shows no such clear aggression.) LaCerra then pepper-sprayed Lucca in the face and threw him to the ground. Claiming that he feared for his safety, Krickovich “jumped on [Lucca],” grabbed the prone teen by both sides of his head, slammed his forehead against the concrete, and punched him before another deputy helped him apply handcuffs.

Whether the deputies were actually afraid is less knowable — and arguably less telling — than their confidence that claiming they were would exonerate them of wrongdoing. Racism shapes this expectation. Outlandish scenarios arise from police accounts of the dangers that young black men allegedly pose. Officer Darren Wilson equated Michael Brown to a “demon” during his testimony about the 2014 shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, that sparked protests and riots. “[He] had the most intense, aggressive face,” Wilson told a grand jury. “The only way I can describe it, it looks like a demon.” If one accepts that Brown was “like a demon,” claims that he barreled toward a police officer through a hail of bullets become palatable. (No criminal charges were filed against Wilson.) If one concedes that Lucca was similarly endowed, assertions that the unarmed teen posed a threat to gun-toting sheriff’s deputies — despite video evidence to the contrary — is plausible enough for Krickovich to gamble on investigators siding with him.

In a sense, Thursday was a predictable outcome of asking an institution whose job is violence to escalate. Lucca and Cruz — or Lucca and anyone who seeks to harm police officers, really — exist on polar ends of most realistic threat spectra, but separating them is of secondary concern to those convinced that safety means reflexively treating more people like the latter. Krickovich banked on this ambiguity. Racism likely helped rationalize his response, despite it transpiring in a community whose administrators, in the past, sought to reduce disparities. Indeed, it is hard to believe that he and LaCerra would have treated a white child the same way they did Lucca. But when an assault like Thursday’s is permissible as long as officers claim they are afraid — and can convince investigators that their response was consistent with what others would have done in their place — then the bigger issue is more fundamental than whether they were white and the victim black. The problem, one of many, is the public and institutional instinct to let the worst set the standard rather than remain outliers. Humane rules of engagement evaporate where every suspect is a demon. And whatever the outcome of the department’s investigation, it is worth asking if that is a reasonable price to pay for feeling safe.

 

Zak Cheney-Rice, NYMag., “Broward County Deputies Assaulted a Black Teen. But ‘Accountability’ Is Not Enough.”, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/04/broward-county-deputy-beats-black-teen.html

Broward Police Officer who Assaulted 15 Year-Old Suspended From Force

 

Cellphones have been an instrumental tool in capturing alleged incidents of police brutality. This weekend, there were multiple videos taken of a Broward County, Florida police officer slamming a young black teenager’s head into the ground.

As the videos spread around social media, there were numerous calls for the officer involved to be fired. Deputy Christopher Krickovich has now been ordered to surrender his gun and badge as he is being suspended while the incident is investigated.

The arrest of 15 year-old Luca drew attention from Broward County’s Mayor, Mark Bogen. Bogen tweeted, “The behavior of these BSO deputies is outrageous & unacceptable. The officer who jumped the student, punched & banged his head should be fired. I have a problem with the deputy who threw him to the ground after he pepper sprayed him. He could’ve easily arrested him after the spray.”

Mayor Mark Bogen@mark_bogen

The behavior of these BSO deputies is outrageous & unacceptable The officer who jumped the student, punched & banged his head should be fired. I have a problem with the deputy who threw him to the ground after he pepper sprayed him He could’ve easily arrested him after the spray.

South Florida Sun Sentinel

@SunSentinel

Broward Sheriff’s Office investigates after video shows deputies pepper-spraying and punching teens https://trib.al/7OTBElf 

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Bishop Talbert Swann also weighed in, writing, “Demand that Broward Sheriff, Gregory Tony drop all the charges against Delucca, fire and arrest the racist, rogue officers that used excessive force and brutalized an innocent 15 year old boy.”

Bishop Talbert Swan

@TalbertSwan

Here’s another angle that shows @browardsheriff’s deputy pepper spraying unarmed Black boy, Lucca, who posed no threat. He then slammed his head into the concrete, arrested him & charged him with ASSAULTING the cops.

This is brutality.

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Bishop Talbert Swan

@TalbertSwan

Demand that @browardsheriff Gregory Tony drop all the charges against Delucca, fire and arrest the racist, rogue officers that used excessive force and brutalized an innocent 15 year old boy.

Sign the Petition! http://chng.it/5KhTfFXw  pic.twitter.com/gR4sU4WZaN

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Golden State Warriors’ Coach and frequent Trump critic, Steve Kerr, also gave his opinion. “What the hell is wrong with our country? This is insane yet routine. So demoralizing,” wrote the Coach.

Steve Kerr

@SteveKerr

What the hell is wrong with our country? This is insane yet routine. So demoralizing.

Keith Boykin

@keithboykin

This is police brutality. https://twitter.com/TalbertSwan/status/1119612441049075713 

37.6K people are talking about this

Broward’s Sheriff, Gregory Tony is doing his best to manage the situation. Talbert Swann writes, “Gregory Tony held a meeting with Black Elected Officials & emphasizes a commitment to transparency & accountability.” The 15 year old boy involved in the incident is still facing charges.

 

TODD NEIKIRK, https://hillreporter.com/broward-police-officer-who-assaulted-15-year-old-suspended-from-force-32157

NYC spent $230M on NYPD settlements last year: report

NYC spent $230M on NYPD settlements last year: report
NY City Comptroller Scott Stringer (Jefferson Siegel/New York Daily News)

New York City taxpayers spent a whopping $230 million to pay off 6,472 lawsuits settled against the NYPD in the last fiscal year, according to an annual report released Monday by Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office.

The amount reflects settlements made from July 2017 through June 2018, and marks a 32% decrease from the prior year, when the city paid out $335 million for lawsuits against the police department.

Roughly $108 million was related to allegations of police misconduct like false arrests and excessive force, more than doubling the $48 million paid out for such issues a decade ago.

The total number of police misconduct claims filed last year increased from 2017, despite the fact that the total number of settlements issued in cases against the department declined.

Stringer’s report noted that a handful of claims inflated the total cost of last year’s settlements — five wrongful conviction cases accounted for roughly 14%, or $33 million, of the NYPD payouts.

Police spokeswoman Sgt. Jessica McRorie said the reduction in claims shows the department’s ability to fight frivolous cases and provide top-of-the-line training to its officers.

“These gains represent another example of how the NYPD is building greater trust and respect with the community to collaboratively solve problems, drive down crime, and enhance public safety,” McRorie said.

Critics say the numbers in the report are not indicative of a reformed police department.

“This is just another spin effort by the comptroller and the Law Department,” said civil rights lawyer Joel Berger. “The trend over the past 10 years tells you there’s a lot of dissatisfaction out there, and not everyone harmed by the police files a lawsuit. Plenty of people decide they don’t want to go through the hassle.”

Berger pointed out that 44% of the claims against the city resolved by settlements of judgement in 2018 were against the NYPD, and took issue with the police department and unions claiming that many of the cases against the NYPD were frivolous.

“The public should not be fooled by government and union officials who attempt to spin statistics in an effort to claim that police-community relations are improving,” said Berger. “They aren’t.”