Saturday, July 27, 2013

Roundup: Jail litigation, wrong-house raid, metadata, pot smokers and potato chips

A few odds and ends that won't make it into their own posts before the blog goes on hiatus for a couple of weeks.

Dallas sued over choice not to train jailers to recognize health problems
A federal judge ruled a lawsuit can go forward against the Dallas County Jail alleging lack of state-required training contributed to the death of a homeless man from pneumonia who died lying on the floor of his cell. "In his ruling in June, U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade said testimony showed that Dallas County jailers are not trained to recognize basic medical distress in inmates so that they can notify the medical staff." Further, "Evidence in the case shows that the county and Sheriff Lupe Valdez have deliberately decided not to train jailers to recognize medical problems even though state regulations require it." The Dallas jail was briefly on lockdown yesterday after an inmate escaped; he was recaptured within an hour.

Fort Worth raid hits wrong house
Radley Balko would call this unnecessary death another isolated incident.

GEO lone bidder for mental health unit
Private prison operator GEO Group is the lone bidder to buy a secure mental health facility from Montgomery County.

Walled gardens
The Texas Tribune had an item last week on jail gardens providing vegetables to local food banks.

North to Alaska
Former Texas state Rep. Jerry Madden was recently in Alaska promoting de-incarceration initiatives.

'Blame it on the media'
Violent crime has been dropping for twenty years, so why do polls show the public thinks it's on the rise?

Do neighborhood watch programs work?
Turns out, nobody knows, and there has been astonishingly little valid research investigating the topic.

NSA privacy breaches harm tech industry
If the US doesn't improve its electronic privacy laws it will harm America's cloud computing industry. In fact, it's already starting to happen.

Gohmert on metadata, pot smokers and potato chips
Check out a video of Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert railing against the NSA metadata collection program. He compared the program's ostensible justification to a police officer wanting to pursue pot smokers by investigating stolen potato chips, which it turned out was based on an actual search warrant application he declined to process while working as an assistant district attorney.


doran said...

Darn! I was sure that Rep. Gohmert was the guy I could always count on to be totally off the wall on everything about which he might opine. This may be an aberration on his part, but I have to give him credit. NSA's program is indeed a lot like searching for stolen potato chips.

North Texas Cop said...

That wasn't a "raid" or a "hit" in Ft. Worth. It wasn't a SWAT operation of the sort Radley Balko makes his living writing about. That was two patrol officers responding to a bona fide call of a burglary in progress. They went to the wrong address because of a human error (mistaking a 9 for a 4 in the darkess) and encountered an armed homeowner. Something obviously went wrong but your use of the words "raid" and "hit" is dishonest sensationalism.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

NTC, none of your justifications or semantics makes the guy less dead, but perhaps they make you feel better. Balko has lots of examples of errors related to address numbers resulting in shootings of innocent people. Common as dirt.

Anonymous said...

doran, I think this is a "stopped clock is right twice a day" situation

North Texas Cop said...


I'm not trying to justify the shooting of the Ft. Worth homeowner nor am I trying to make anyone feel better about his death. I am however, calling BS on your use of intentionally inflammatory language to make it appear as if the incident was something that it was not. The Ft. Worth incident was not a botched police raid. It wasn't a "raid" at all. The incident is in no way related to the theme of Radley Balko's work or his masterful ability to combine legitimately awful incidents with incomplete and cherry picked data.

They may not matter in the blogosphere but the context, intent, and specific type of negligence leading to wrongful deaths actually does matter in the real world. The words used to describe and report such occurrences matters a great deal. But then, that's why you chose the ones you did.

Miriam-Webster defines general semantics as, "the language achieve a desired effect on an audience especially through the use of words with novel or dual meanings." It’s fair to say that definition describes your writing on this incident a lot better than mine.

You run a great blog which I enjoy reading, Scott. You're the kind of critic who helps hold the system accountable. Unfortunately, I need to be reminded every now and then that your past actions and demonstrable misrepresentations serve as probable cause to believe you are willing to lie and exaggerate in order to advance your agenda. Thank you for providing that reminder today. Take care.


doran said...

North Texas Cop: I've read the newspaper article, which includes excerpts from the "search warrant affidavit," and am experiencing the typical aggravation of trying to get a basic understanding of what really happened. The "search warrant affidavit" was, or course, executed AFTER the event and not before, so it is legitimate to take the exculpatory nature of it with a grain or large dose of salt.

So, the best I can do now is to try to elicit your response to a slight change of facts. That is, if the dead homeowner, seeing two people in his yard, next to his house, had fired first and killed or injured the cops, how would you characterize the homeowner's act? Would it still be your opinion that "something obviously went wrong" is a sufficient response?

Anonymous said...

NTC, for someone to come out of the gate claiming he's or she's 'not' trying to "justify" sure as hell failed to.

Then to go off on Grits (correction, you seem to be on a first name basis Scott) about utter non sense is something you and only you know what that's about. We've had plenty cops visit for years and they refrained from being jerks.

Since you are still in denial about your profession, please allow me to assit in getting you to a better place. No, I'm not suggesting the Chron.

FWIW, it was a preventable accident and being 100% based in training or lack of. You could be right, might not have been a wrong-house raid and more like a leadership oversight to send rookies out alone in the dark without tactical floodlights and back-up.

Something a good cop would have admitted.

*To Justify or Excuse?

Address - called in as 404 but went to 409

Excuse - Blame it on the darkness. "Poor lighting".

Justify - "had only flashlights"

Responding officers - rookies or a mix?

Excuse - Blame it on the triggers. Pulled trigger(s) no less than 6 times total.

Justify - rookies, startled, darkness, poor quality flashlights, (was the garage light on and the light blinded them?), all numbers look the same to former postal workers, they don't test cadetts for ability to desern a 4 from a 9, they were issued poor flashlights and dollar store batteries, the triggers stuck,...

Joan A said...

I find it interesting that the Dallas county and Sheriff decided not to have the jailers trained, also that they lost an inmate. Makes you wonder how trained and professional their jailers are.

Anonymous said...

Do neighborhood watch programs work? No. They just snitches.