Friday, December 10, 2004

Byrne Task Forces Not Just Texas Problem

Often people consider scandals with drug task forces like in Tulia, Hearne and Palestine to be simply a Texas problem, further evidence of our backward criminal justice system, like our death-penalty-happy courts. Once you start to pay attention nationwide to the federal Byrne grant program, though, it becomes apparent many Byrne task forces run into similar problems with incompetent investigations, rogue elements and gypsy cops popping up all over.

Last month, the Portsmouth PD in New Hampshire pulled out of their Byrne task force, which is run out of the Attorney General's office, after task force officers started two separate fights with Portsmouth officers in a restaurant. No criminal charges have been filed.

A former task force officer in Tennessee was arrested last week for pulling a gun on her colleagues.

In Colorado, a lawsuit has been filed against a task force for a botched raid looking for meth.

And a judge in Kentucky may throw out several task force cases because of officers operating outside their jurisdictions. That's been a problem in Texas, too.

Congress recently slashed Byrne grant funding nationally by 24 percent.
Grits mentioned other non-Texas task force scandals here, here, here, here, here, and here.

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