Monday, July 18, 2011

Police misconduct roundup: Speed traps, fish stories and contempt of cop

Here are a few news items related to police misconduct that caught Grits' attention recently:

Sheriff's Captain acquitted of property room theft, convicted on other gun charges
A former Cleveland Police Department officer and Liberty County Sheriff's Office captain was convicted and sentenced to a year in federal prison for, among other things, using his law enforcement credentials to purchase restricted equipment for a third-party buyer. However, reported the Houston Chronicle, "At the same time, the jury found there was insufficient evidence to convict [Captan Harry] Kelley of the most serious offenses they were considering — illegally selling more than a hundred weapons taken from the Cleveland police and sheriff's property rooms. Kelley had been a detective and custodian of the evidence room for Cleveland police until his supervisor there, Henry Patterson, was elected sheriff in 2009. Patterson hired Kelley and made him a captain and allowed him access to the property room there." I know no more about the case than was reported after the verdict, but one wonders: If this guy didn't take the guns from the property room, where did they go? OTOH, as the nation was reminded with the Casey Anthony verdict, not guilty can mean a lot of different things.

Lying cop causes drug cases to unravel
Reports the SA Express News, "A judge has thrown out the no-contest plea of a San Antonio man who alleged that a Bexar County sheriff's deputy lied to get a warrant for a raid that netted cocaine and marijuana." The charges "stemmed from a sworn search warrant obtained by Charles A. Flores, a deputy who has since been fired and is being prosecuted for allegedly lying to get a search warrant in an unrelated drug case.
Sierra's lawyer, Scott Sullivan, argued that Flores also lied to get the warrant in Sierra's case, and the District Attorney's Office agreed, Sullivan said."

What does it take to get fired from the Dallas PD?
Robert Wilonsky at the Dallas Observer looks at recent DPD dismissals to answer that question, and also reports on the arrest of a DPD officer for family violence.

Does public need to know basis for police chief's suspension?
Zavalla police chief Jim Hodges has been suspended with pay but city officials won't disclose why.

'Proof of nothing'
Jordan Smith at the Austin Chronicle examines the often fuzzy distinction between the charges of public intoxication and contempt of cop.

Jogger arrested for encouraging obedience to speed limit
Speaking of "contempt of cop," a jogger in El Paso was arrested for notifying drivers of a looming speed trap. Given that the functional reality of telling drivers there's a cop just over the hill is to make them obey the speed limit, it's hard to understand why police would be upset about that if it weren't for a "gotcha" mentality. The cop in the speed trap would rather people break the law because it justifies his paycheck. Like the tree falling in the forest which supposedly makes no sound, if a speed trap is set and no one is ticketed, does the cop involved really exist?

FBI was paying "big fish" cartel leaders ATF wanted to arrest
This line from the LA Times about Operation Fast and Furious - the undercover gun deal where the feds sold guns to Mexican cartels and made me laugh out loud: "The ATF and congressional investigators learned later that those agencies apparently were paying cartel members whom the ATF wanted to arrest." Ain't it a bitch when a federal law enforcement agency wants to arrest somebody and it turns out they're another agency's employee? They're supposed to be running these undercover operations through so-called "deconfliction" centers to avoid stepping on one another's toes like that, but this whole mess sounds like an episode of Reno 911! relocated to the border.


Anonymous said...

Texas Penal Code

(c) It is a defense to prosecution under Subsection (a)(1) that the conduct engaged in by the defendant was intended to warn a person operating a motor vehicle of the presence of a peace officer who was enforcing Subtitle C, Title 7, Transportation Code.

Anonymous said...

Too many lying cops, if you ask me...

The Comedian said...

These traffic cops are nothing but mobile tax assessors. Pols don't want to raise taxes directly so they tax motorists via traffic tickets.

If you think speed kills, then why isn't half the driving population of the Houston metro area dead by now? 75-80 mph is the norm if you don't want to get blown off the road or follow behind some 18-wheelers in the slow lanes until your windshield gets starred by errant gravel.

How come I never see the meth freaks who pass other vehicles at 100+ mph while weaving in and out of freeway lanes getting pulled over? Maybe they're off-duty cops.

As for me, I just like to flash my headlights at oncoming motorists as a sign of "Drive friendly" and I always appreciate the same courtesy from others.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Comedian, growing up in East Texas I used to see people all the time flash their headlights to warn people of speed traps up the road, and have done so a time or three myself. Haven't seen it much since moving to the city, but for the longest time I thought that was just considered common courtesy.

Paul-UK said...

Hello from this side of the pond! You may (or may not) know about the scandal over here which has seen the resignation of the head of the Metropolitan police and a senior commander and the launch of an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission and the Prime Minister has ordered a Judicial review. Part of the roots of this scandal is the Met Police's desire to gain favorable relations with the press. Now if that is happening in the UK where all police officers are appointed, what is happening in the US where many senior officers (Be they Sheriffs, police chiefs or Constables) are elected, is this happening in the US?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Wow, Paul, you get a gold star for that question! I don't know, but it's an interesting story angle for some enterprising reporter out there.

Paul-UK said...

Would the press ask it there? Given that the scandal involves the police and the press in a mutual appreciation society (Press reports brave cops taking on crime gang, news broadcaster has easy story given to it by police department with helpful news release and talking points handed to them) I think not.

Thomas R. Griffith said...

Hey Grits, regarding Paul's input.

When we were out visiting police departments in an effort to convince them to implement updated Eyewitness Identification & Line-up Procedures, we learned that they had reporters personally assigned to them.

Which fully explains why one of the cities with a crime spree occurring for years and only around three hundred yards from the PD never made any form of 'News". Thanks.

Art Knowles said...

I have a friend in The Gatesville Unit. She was convicted of Capital Murder in 2004. Her PD (Public Defender) was paid $500.00 to defend her! Texas supplied the perverbial rope. She was 19, homeless, and her baby had just been murdered, (not by her), when Franklin County tricked her into a confession w/o anybody there to represent her. Martin Braddy MADE SURE she got convicted by having her main witnesses blocked from testifying. It was re-election time. Is this how you want to put people in prison in Texas! I'd be ashamed of myself if I took advantage of children to get re-elected! I hope GRITS publishes this. Her cause is called "JIIT", ( Jessica Is Innocent Texas). I hoope others in my situation will respond and GRITS will help me find a "post conviction investigator". This is a prime example of how Texas stays in the "prison business". Oh, TDCJ said the only way we can only get married is over the phone! "She could try to escape while in the prison chapel", (per a prison official).

Anonymous said...

The police really have no case against the jogger, because they can't show that any of the motorists he was warning were actually speeding. Hence, no "interference with public duties."