Sunday, December 12, 2004

Sunday Odds and Ends

Usually gypsy cops move on to other departments, not to city council! Police officer Ron Segovia retired last year from San Antonio PD to successfully run for City Council District 3. Now it turns out he resigned in the middle of a misconduct investigation. The SA police chief received a staff recommendation that Segovia be "indefinitely suspended," which is bureaucratese for "fired," but Segovia resigned before the chief could act on it and declared his candidacy. State civil service laws prevented the chief from making the information public, so Segovia was elected without voters knowing the investigation details, which involve allegedly buying and selling stolen property and lying to the police. Segovia made headlines earlier this year when his girlfriend, a local TV reporter, filed for a restraining order against him.

Meanwhile, the Statesman reports that a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper was reprimanded after he stopped a gay couple from kissing on the capitol grounds in Austin. (DPS is in charge of capitol security.) "We won't have you doing this on capitol grounds," he told the two men. Apparently this trooper doesn't watch the U.S. Supreme Court, but Texas' seldom-enforced sodomy law was struck down last year in Lawrence v. Texas.

In Tarrant County, the North Richland Hills police chief was suspended for driving under the influence of prescription drugs, though he was not ticketed nor arrested by the officer who stopped him. Would you or I get the same treatment?

A county jail inmate is suing the Port Lavaca, TX Police Department for excessive force, racial profiling, false arrest and imprisonment, and violating constitutional and civil rights. Prosecutors appear to be enhancing small-time charges in retaliation.

Dallas police are cracking down on people who steal electricity to keep warm, claiming some of them are using it to power crack houses. Sometimes, though, electricity thieves are simply homeless people trying to survive the cold, like the man killed with a Taser recently by Fort Worth police. TXU, a private electric company, is behind Dallas PD's new push.

The new Dallas police chief recently announced officers can buy their own AR-15 semi-automatic weapons and carry them in their cars. They'd damn well better carry them in their trunks, because the same article cites a problem with officers attacked in transit because there's no cage between the front and back seats in DPD police cars.

Panhandle Truth Squad has the story about a Republican sheriff Kansas voters can't seem to oust, despite his losing two elections.

Though it's been well-covered in the blogosphere, it's worth mentioning that the Supreme Court this week agreed to hear the case of a Mexican national on Texas death row that will determine police obligations to non-citizen arrestees under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. That's the treaty Alberto Gonzales said didn't apply to Texas. The case has implications far beyond the death penalty, as it will affect how many thousands of foreign nationals are treated -- those here legally and those who are not -- during interactions with the criminal justice system, giving the Mexican government an opportunity to intervene.

Finally, I received several learned email responses to my post about the Senate Criminal Justice Committee's arguments for drug courts, including from somebody who runs one (I'm reading what you sent me, Judge!). Folks interested in that subject should also look at the resources compiled recently by Professor Berman at the Sentencing Law and Policy blog.

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