Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Few complaints against police doesn't mean no complainers, finds undercover report

By today law enforcement agencies across Texas must report 2005 racial profiling data to their local governing bodies, including how many complaints the department received about racial profiling in the last year. Since these reports started coming out annually, many agencies have reported low numbers of complaints and used that statistic to claim they are not engaged in racial profiling.

Filing a complaint against police, though, isn't as easy as it sounds. In Florida, a TV station sent hidden cameras into 38 police stations in conjunction with the Police Complaint Center asking to file a complaint against an officer - 35 of 38 times officers responded to the complainant by "refusing to supply complaint forms, and at times, appearing to belittle or insult the undercover tester for asking."

Tell me, if you walked into a police station and this was the interaction you had, would YOU file a complaint?

tester: Yeah, I wanted to find out how to file a complaint against an officer. I just want to find out how you do it. Do you guys have a form or something that I could take with me.
officer: Well, you got to tell me first, and then I got to hear what's going on. You've got to tell me what the complaint is.
tester: Do you have a complaint form that I can, like, fill out or something like that?
officer: Might not be a legitimate complaint.
tester: Who decides that?
officer: I'm trying to help you.
tester: Like, if there's a form, why can't I just take it and leave, right?
officer: No, you don't leave with forms. You tell me what happened, and then I help you from there. Do you have I-D on?
tester: Why?
officer: You know what? You need to leave.
tester: Why?
officer: I'm going to tell you one more time, because I can't do this anymore with you, okay. You're refusing to tell me what you want to do, okay. You're refusing to tell me who's involved, where it happened, what transpired. You'e not cooperating with me one bit.
tester: I was just asking if you guys have a complaint form, like if there's some way for me --
officer: Out of my way.
tester: To contact Internal Affairs.
officer: You can do whatever the hell you want. It's a free country.
officer: Where do you live? Where do you live? You have to tell me where you live, what your name is, or anything like that.
tester: For a complaint? I mean, like, if I have --
officer: Are you on medications?
tester: Why would you ask me something like that?
officer: Because you're not answering any of my questions.
tester: Am I on medications?
officer: I asked you. It's a free country. I can ask you that.
tester: Okay, you're right.
officer: So you're not going to tell me who you are, you're not going to tell me what the problem is.You're not going to identify yourself.
tester: All I asked you was, like, how do I contact --
officer: You said you have a complaint. You say my officers are acting in an inappropriate manner.
officer: So leave now. Leave now. Leave now.
Via Boing Boing


Anonymous said...

Hmmm. No recent negative report on Texas agencies, so rile everyone with a Florida story. I can't wait for the tinfoil crowd to rally around the "trends are showing an increase" claim, when it's "proven" that there has been an increase in complaints over the last 40 years.

Anonymous said...

Let me come quickly to the defense of Grits. It happens to be the single most legitimate source for information on criminal justice. It should be a go-to reference guide for state policy and the mainstream media.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Anonymous is once again missing the main point: a member of the taxpaying public which foots the bill for the salaries of some of these apparently less-than-civil 'civil servants' was being treated as if he were a criminal...just for asking for a complaint form.

Is Mr. Anonymous saying that the taxpayer who conducted the experiment would be treated better in his precinct? Can he guarantee the level of professionalism in the interaction between public and (supposed) 'public servant' would be higher than it evidently was in Florida? Or would the same attitude towards his paymasters be exhibited by him and his precinct?

Anonymous said...

hey folks, a cop is a cop wherever he is,, texas, florida,, natze germany or i assume anywhere else

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Thanks so much PD!!

Kaptinemo, you hit the nail on the head, but the anonymous commenter from 7:21 a.m. has simply proven my friend Mike Godwin's famous law -- pretty quickly really, to get there by the fourth comment.

It's funny, when I started Grits some people thought it was odd to have such a narrowly focused state-level blog. Everybody wanted to be Kos or the Instapundit. Now some folks are unhappy if it's not EXCLUSIVELY so - at least the trolls apparently feel that way. Folks without an axe to grind usually don't seem to mind an occasional detour.

Anonymous said...

Scott, the main problem with much of what has happened with regards to the relationship between the civil populace and their employees, the civil servants, is that entirely too many of the latter have forgotten that that's just what...they...are. Employees. Servants. Not masters. The power that has been vested in them came from the citizens. It was not invested by some deus ex machina. Forgetting that fosters abuse of civil rights, corruption, etc. In short, it serves as the breeding ground for such travesties as Tulia.

As always, it comes down to the old question Cicero asked over two millennia ago: "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" Indeed, who shall police the police? The police, themselves? What human being is so totally without flaw that they can make such a claim? I certainly can't.

As that little experiment proved, allowing that kind of attitude on the part of the police towards their paymasters to go unchallenged is a recipe for the kind of behavior witnessed by the experimenter. That kind of thing I saw in 1983 in East Berlin and it has no place in this country.

Anonymous said...

Silly rabbits.

My service is in what I will do that you wouldn't, and couldn't, regardless of the pay. Speaking of, paymasters, we all need a raise.

How I treat the citizens of my jurisdiction, and how I express myself towards and shed light upon the drivel of malcontented, misdirected, self-involved miscreants is...well...different to say the least. Trolling? I don't see it that way, but you can always censor me.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Heavens! - "malcontented, misdirected, self-involved miscreants"?

Yes, I'm sure you're real respectful toward everyone in your jurisdiction. Your honorable nature really shines through.

Anonymous said...

Henson and the Hensonites, the authority on "honorable nature".

Heheh, now that's a good one.

I merely mirror your M.O.

Anonymous said...

Scott never resorts to that kind of name calling. Troll.

Anonymous said...

"Your honorable nature really shines through."


Complete change of personality for the constituents, hey, Anonymous?

Anonymous said...

Trix Kid,

I'm not a "rabbit", "misdirected", a "malcontent", nor am I "self-involved", and I'm certainly not a "miscreant".

Ad hominem attacks on someone who disagrees with their point of view, usually means the person who employs them, the ad hominems, has no grounds or reason to stand on in the debate, so the person resorts to insults.

" just can't be're a miscreant or a silly rabbit or something."

This is serious to many of us. We are very concerned.