Saturday, January 10, 2015

Texas police misconduct roundup

Grits makes no comprehensive effort to track police misconduct around the state but can't help but notice Texas has witnessed quite a few extreme and remarkable cases over the last month or so. Here are a few that jumped out:
  • A Dallas police officer who was accused last month of sexual assaulting a woman in his squad car killed himself yesterday.
  • A 23-year old cop in Victoria was fired after dashcam video of him tackling and tasing a 76-year old man went viral.
  • From the Express-News (Jan. 9), "Late Thursday, San Antonio Police Department Officer Konrad Chatys was booked on allegations he stole items from a couple while on duty. On Friday afternoon, Billy Torres, 40, a Bexar County Sheriff’s Office deputy, was arrested on a charge of burglary of a building."
  • In Laredo, "A South Texas sheriff's deputy and her brother have been charged with conspiracy in an indictment accusing them of drug trafficking."
  • It was reported last month that an SAPD officer was fired for dereliction of duty last August after dashcam video showed her failing to respond to some two dozen calls, including driving away from a shooting to which she should have responded.  
  • Two Corpus Christi police officers were disciplined for excessive force after dashcam video caught them slamming a handcuffed murder suspect's head into the side of a squad car. One officer resigned, the other has been suspended without pay.
  • In December, "A police officer in Cedar Park [was] fired for being dishonest during an investigation into his friendship with a man suspected of multiple sexual assaults." As summarized at, “According to the news report, the police department said that not only did they fire the officer for being dishonest, but because he accessed police databases about the suspect without legal reason to do so. The suspect has a history of sexual assault and is characterized in other reports as a potential 'serial rapist.'”
  • In Houston (Jan. 8) "Bungled murder investigations by the Houston Police Department not only allowed killers to walk free, but may harm the ability of detectives to solve other slayings, warns an independent arbitrator," who concluded "the evidence demonstrated that it's allowed murderers to remain on the streets; caused unnecessary frustration and heartache to the families of victims; and led Houston's citizens to question the department's integrity."
  • In Round Rock (Dec. 22) "A Round Rock man has sued the city’s police department in federal court and accused officers of using excessive force during a 2012 incident." Cops showed up at a domestic disturbance, went to the wrong house and allegedly kicked and beat the innocent homeowner before releasing him. The man was acquitted at trial of interfering with a police investigation. "The suit names 10 officers as defendants."
  • A woman has sued DPS and four state troopers over a 2013 roadside cavity search.
  • Last month, Joe Edward Cummings, a former jailer and patrol officer with the Denton County Sheriff's Office was arrested on child pornography charges.
  • A 22-year veteran at the Brownsville PD was arrested on theft and forgery charges (Dec. 22). 
  • A Harlingen PD officer was indicted in December for money laundering
  • A former reserve officer with the Bryan police department was charged with possessing child pornography
  • In Fort Worth, a "police officer has been fired for allegedly failing to show up at a court for an aggravated kidnapping trial and giving conflicting information about his role in the case." Prosecutors did not want Officer Royce Brown "to testify in court after learning that he had a prior suspension from the department for untruthfulness."
  • In El Paso, "A young man left a quadriplegic when he was shot by an off-duty El Paso police officer in 2010 has died." The officer who shot him was indicted by a grand jury but remains on duty with charges pending.
While disheartening to read this litany of ignominious incidents, it's at least good to see dashcam video contributing to greater accountability in several of these cases, a development that IMO argues for expanding the use of cameras both to police bodycams and recording custodial interrogations at the police station. Most Texas departments got dashcams via legislation state Sen. Royce West carried back in 2003, which included a voter-approved $18 million bond issue for police to purchase equipment, and West has filed legislation this session to authorize grants for police bodycams.

Though some of these are new developments in old cases, it's unusual to see this many serious police misconduct stories crop up in Texas news outlets in so short a span. I wonder if that's because of an actual uptick in incidents or because, in the wake of renewed national focus on police misconduct, the media are simply more likely to cover such episodes than before events in Ferguson and Staten Island?


doran said...

Good Lord! In so short a span is an understatement.

While I hope you will continue this roundup, I fear that more than once a month will be just too disheartening to bear.

Anonymous said...

Bad doughnut!

But seriously....It's not just dashcams, bodycams are coming into vogue now all over the country. I suspect there's bound to be more lurid stories about bad cops coming out but now complete with video. It's amazing because you'd think that all the cameras would make them think twice and behave better but apparently not. You just get excellent video of the cop murdering the perp that hopefully will be made available to the attorney who sues the entity that employed the bad cop.

So, sue baby sue. I know everyone hates attorneys and lawsuits but I think it's the only way to put a damper on the bad behavior. Bad cops shouldn't be tolerated (I know, the unions). When an insurance payout to the victim of a bad cop raises rates to the moon and maybe even bankrupts the employing entity, maybe the police unions will soften up a bit?

If a cop cavity searched you on the side of a highway in front of passing cars, you should be outraged and so should everybody else. People must be pissed off before there can be change.

Anonymous said...

Here is another one for your list. A Wise county officer who was the person in charge of the sex offender registry was arrested for improper photography.
He was forcing registrants to pose nude, claiming it was mandatory for registration. Another victim has filed a law suit against him and the county.

Anonymous said...

people might be surprized to know things like this are going own in the prisons to, and the gangs are runing the the prisons and a lot of the officers are working and helping them because they are gang related also,and if you are not a gang member you get F WITH ALL TIME make you pay them just to keep safe, yes i know cell phones & drugs are coming into the prisons all the time by officers why because the are not searched, because they are trusted, inmates are in danger and the good officers to, but as you can see by this post how corruped texas is, but like they say everything is bigger in texas!

Gordon L. Dilmore said...

What is the purpose in this? It appears that it is anti-cop bias on your part.

Anonymous said...

This blog has always been anti law enforcement or so long as I've ocassionaly read it.

Grandmom said...

Why can't I get any link to full articles? Do I have to subscribe to the Houston Chronicle to have access to the article you quote?

Anonymous said...

NOT anti cop just anti crooked cop!!!

Anonymous said...

One doesn't come to this blog to read balanced coverage of any aspect of the criminal justice system, they come here to help balance out the existing mainstream coverage. Agree or disagree with the biases of Grits or other commentators, it's healthy in an open society to discuss these things.

As far as the list of misconduct is concerned, keep in mind that some of the links are about events that happened years ago, most of it updates rather then new accusations. That some automatically assume an accusation means guilt is just part of their own bias, one they rarely apply to those who are not affiliated with police in my experience.

Texas has over 76000 certified peace officers which doesn't include feds or military police. That virtually all of the listed cases show other police catching the allegedly crooked cops seems lost on some of you but again, where you land on the issue probably stems from how you look at things. By all means catch the few bad apples and punish them. If that means going through tens of thousands of hours of body cam footage to catch a couple crooks in uniform, so be it.

Anonymous said...

@ grandmom 1/11/2015 01:38:00 PM

a trick to use to view articles. Google the article cited and click on the google link. It will usually give you full access to the article without a subscription.

Unknown said...

What about the information regarding Mr. Antonio Buehler's unlawful arrests, which were "unwarranted and didn't jive with the video?"

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing this is a drop in the bucket compared to how many go unreported.

From personal experience, you can sue, baby, sue all you want but Statutory Immunity protects individual officers.

Statutory Immunity is also the reason grand juries rarely indict members of law enforcement as we've seen in multiple cases around the country. Judges, Prosecutors, DAs, LE all know how it will go, so much so that it looks like a ruse to quiet the public.

Anonymous said...

If you can't successfully sue baby sue and you can't put the bad cop where he REALLY belongs which is jail, then, ultimately, you will probably have riots and it ain't pretty. I fearlessly predict (because I am logged in anonymously) that there will be more bodycams which cops will fail to turn off before acting badly. Their acting badly will wind up on Youtube. It's a brave new world out there and it's only going to get more interesting. I'd like to see the dashcams and bodycams made impossible to turn off.

Anonymous said...

Anon 03:56:00 AM,
as evidenced in New York, body cam footage of a man killed did not lead to riots and the officers weren't indicted. When much more footage of far less severe treatment is made available, people will just ignore it and grow numb. Predictions of increasing amounts of such footage are pretty reasonable given the growth industry in selling body cameras but contrary to those who wring their hands and embellish statistics of alleged abuse, most people won't identify with those killed once the total circumstances are released.

Anonymous said...

Those blaming unions are missing the point in the same way those who blame lawyers for all the ills of society are wrong. Just because a police officer accuses you of a crime does not mean you are guilty but the same holds true when a police agency alleges an officer broke the law. Lawyers force the allegation to be proven in both cases, what upsets some of you is that lawyers working for police unions are more successful at their job, juries often giving a public servant the benefit of the doubt others would not get. This phenomenon has been studied numerous times and the reasoning is complex but often rational, combat it by showing up to jury duty when called and voting sensibly for those who see as you do at election time.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@Mr. Dilmore, I barely understand your question. What is the purpose of tracking serious police misconduct? Are you implying instead there's social value in ignoring it and pretending it doesn't happen?

@3:15, you are right my purpose in part is to "balance out the existing mainstream coverage." Even more to the point, though, folks forget this blog is for me, not you. I often record stuff I think I may want to remember later. Simple as that.

@12:59, I consider it pro-law enforcement to go after the bad apples. Their actions stain the reputations of all and any officer worth their salt should want them off the force as much as the most ardent critic.

Anonymous said...

You have disrespected the Police State. Prepare to face the wrath of the Badge Bunnies (and there are plenty of male ones).

Anonymous said...

No one should ever point out misconduct by government officials. Government officials should be able to do whatever they want. After all, they are in charge. How day anyone point out bad behavior on their part. I think we need to make it a crime to speak out against the government. Let's put all these people who do so in prison to keep them quiet. We can't have them disrupting the ability of those in power to exercise that power in any way we see fit, now can we? Silence all the rabble rousers, dissenters, etc. After all, it will all be done in the name of safety, security and the desire for an orderly society. Trust the government, they will always act in your best interests.

Anonymous said...

I think, more than 200 years ago, there was a group of troublemakers who dared challenge the authority of the enforcers of the law (aka law enforcement) to do whatever they wanted - searching houses with general warrants, arresting folks without probable cause, taxing folks without representation, etc. This group not only maliciously maligned but, ultimately, attacked and killed many of the members of this group of law enforcers. Shame on them, to do such a thing to dedicated public servants who were only doing their jobs in enforcing the law and protecting the orderliness of the society.

These troublemakers went on to ultimately defeat this group of law enforcers and embarked on what appeared to be a promising experiment in freedom. Unfortunately, human nature being what it is, the laziness, apathy, and fear of the citizenry ultimately led to them once again being dominated and controlled by other groups of law enforcers.

The bravery of that original group of troublemakers was in vain. Later generations failed to pay heed to warnings from some of the original troublemakers, such as being wary of trading security for freedom, or that every government needs a revolution every twenty years or so.

PDiddie said...

An activist with the Texas Tar Sands Blockade who was arrested protesting construction of the KXL pipeline there is suing the sheriff's department for torturing him in their custody. Yes, torture.

Charlie said...

Reporting on police misconduct is a public issue. Only a bad cop would be opposed to media exposing their bad acts. These bad cops forget they are public servants and work for the people not the mob. A good cop would be assisting in exposing and weeding these bad guys out. For all you haters: As Grits has pointed out in the past; a hit dog always hollers.

Anonymous said...

Anon 08:47:00 PM, using your logic, police beating someone must be okay under any circumstances because after all :a hit dog always hollers". I am sure I know more police officers than Grits or yourself as I work for one of the biggest departments in the country, doing so for decades.

Most officers I know would sign off on the death penalty for rogue cops that rape, molest kids, sell drugs, and such. What we take offense to are the witch hunts some of you would engage in that start with the premise of how all officers start off as guilty. According to some of you, we all lie on the stand, we are all racists, and we are all horrible people. At least Grits differentiates between the good and the bad, even if he exaggerates how many are engaged in misconduct.

We already have civilian oversight by the elected weasels and grand juries, some of us having review boards too. Then we have appointed leaders who routinely sell us down the river for political expediency. What some of you are demanding as reforms are a process that discards the facts to find us guilty regardless of the circumstances because the current system works just as often for us as it does for the rest of society.

The difference is that when we are examined under a microscope by the legal system, even if we are not legally guilty, we are often fired or disciplined on the flimsiest of accusations. Those of us lucky enough to have some modest form of civil service then have a chance that an arbitrator will look at the facts and overturn such actions, the net outcome being we are still retaliated against by the department by being banished to some broom closet assignment, unable to promote, not allowed to work extra jobs to pay our bills and a litany of other punishments that none of you are subjected to when you are found not guilty.

If half the facts in those linked stories are accurate representations of what took place, by all means lock them up and toss the key. Other officers caught them and brought them to justice. As Grits said, we hate crooked officers more than you do but at the same time, we don't assume guilt because of the profession and will work twice as hard making an airtight case against our own. We welcome reasonable scrutiny but not political purges because someone wants to cater to a small vocal mob of ignorant rioters.

Anonymous said...

"If half the facts in those linked stories are accurate representations of what took place, by all means lock them up and toss the key. Other officers caught them and brought them to justice."

*And what say you about the other half? The Not Guilty.

*If they (police) are deemed Not Guilty, then should the accuser (police and/or non-police alike) be charged with any & all crimes surrounding the act of perjury?

*Would you agree that all false accusers (of police & non/police alike) should be disqualified to participate in Plea Bargains?

*Would you apply your answer to anyone falsely arrested and sequentially convicted via gross police & prosecutorial criminal conduct?

*Can you name any other profession in the public servant industry (other than Medical) that provides an Arbitrator to employees accused of crimes? or one that sends a Union Lawyer to your location as needed.

*If your partner were to be arrested and charged for a crime (that you knew he was guilty of because you were just a few feet away when he committed the crime - felony), and an Arbitrator got him off and he was reinstated - would you ask the brass to provide another partner or overlook his past criminal actions and forgive him and allow your wife & kids to continue going places with him (spend the night) without you being there?

*Can you name one single member of the Law Enforcement community that has publicly denounced the so called Blue Wall of Silence and or has spoken out against the utilization of Grand Juries by DAs (where the Accused and his Defense are banned) to obtain a No Bill / regarding police caught red handed committing crimes? please understand that doing so Anonymously doesn't count.

According to your comment, I honestly believe that you are one of the good guys. It's also very clear that you hail from New York. Your answers would allow the citizens of America (aka: Them) to understand how police (aka: Us) see themselves in a reverse Us vs. Them mind-set. Btw, the term was created by Law Enforcement and those they work for (DAs' Offices) in efforts to gain public support in A to Z wars. When one of Us finds themselves in the shoes of one of Them, Guilty or Not, all of the evidence should be allowed to speak for itself, and the jury should be allowed to reach a verdict without hand picked (voir dire) bullies being allowed to tag team other jurors into submission in order to go home. One of the main reasons why cameras should be installed in all jury rooms. I appreciate your concerns and any additional light you can shine on this touchy topic.

Be safe.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:41:00 PM, I'll try to answer you as best I can, some points not quite clear to me.
1) I've learned that media accounts are rarely even close to being half accurate but you're applying the numbers wrong. I didn't say half the stories, I said half the facts.

2) You charge someone of a crime based on whatever evidence and witnesses you find. If someone commits perjury to try and convict another, they should be charged as such but just as juries are unpredictable, basing a charge on an accuser (police or not) requires more than just the accused winning in court (unless we change the burdens of proof, etc.).

3) If an accusation is false, there should be no reason for a plea bargain. Otherwise, I'm not sure I'm overly comfortable with the fact finder in a case having anything to do with the a plea bargain under virtually any circumstances.

4) I've heard people banter back and forth regarding what constitutes "gross" misconduct my entire life and I'm not sure I could spell it out consistently in every case. Since some apply the term to everything under the sun, I'd need a clearer idea what you meant. Just as I find it incredulous that recent rioters and protestors automatically assume every error, mistake, or misunderstanding made by an officer equates to racism when there are far more likely answers, I'd say in general that I fully support people having their day in court, their rights unabridged, etc.

5) You are mistaken about arbitrators since they only rule on departmental discipline, not criminal matters. If an officer is accused of committing a crime by his department and the district attorney takes the case, he will be tried in a criminal court. The officer is then subject to the disciplinary process for whatever violations of policy he is accused of committing. In some cases, he may not have committed the crime but did violate policy or he may not have violated policy, the arbitrator only deals with the department policy issues.

Anonymous said...

Part 2

6) While I don't have a partner, under your scenario, I would likely be the one turning him in so your outcome would be different. I don't knowingly associate with criminals on or off the clock other than as part of the job. The brass would never put the two back together if they had a modicum of intelligence, I know that's a stretch.

7) Officers all across the country report misconduct on a daily basis and do not typically do so anonymously. Most such matters center on policy violations but they are handled internally, often with the officer being reassigned and being suspended without pay for a period of time if the violation is serious enough, some even fired and referred to the district attorney's office in addition to policy sanctions. If you are in Texas, reports made public suggest that over 75% of all employee misconduct are made by other employees but your mileage may vary as you travel up north. As far as district attorney's manipulating grand juries, I'd have no way of knowing they were doing that. When we complete an investigation, it is reviewed by several layers of supervisors and peers before we submit it to the district attorney's office. After that, we often never hear about it again (typically a plea bargain is made I am led to understand).

8) I'm not a lawyer but I've sat in on the voir dire process numerous times. The process doesn't allow either side to "pick bullies" only to disqualify people that appear biased one way or another or might be better suited for another case. I know in the past, some abused the process and regulations were enacted to address that.

As far as whether I'm good or bad, I'd like to think I'm pretty fair and I still try to help people as my position allows. Much of the time, that help is merely to play referee to adults that missed the bus when it came to learning the basic common courtesy's most of us use without thinking each day. On the us versus them concept, it goes back before modern policing according to what I learned in college. Those more prone to criminal activity always considered the enforcers and regular citizens to be "them" and they considered themselves to the the other side of the equation. Modern police picked up the term much later just as the term civilian came into common use. Some of this is proven in literature dating back before William Shakespeare but it is not just a western concept.

Have a good day!

Anonymous said...

Except for the last one, most of these are good news, that the cop was disciplined in a meaningful way - suspended without pay, not "with pay."

I'm confused about El Paso. Was the officer supposed to show up? On the one hand, prosecutors no longer wanted him to testify, on the other, he was charged for failure to show.


Anonymous said...

Lava, some departments will suspend an employee with pay until the final discipline is handed out. The reasoning is that then they can legally restrict you in numerous ways such as force you to stay at home, report for more questioning without notice, not work any side jobs, and the like. If they suspend you without pay, they cannot call you in as needed, cannot interrogate you against your better interests (as an employee, you have no right to plead the 5th Amendment), and such.

As far as the officer not showing up in court, I suspect that while the prosecutors did not want him to testify since he was damaged goods, once subpoenaed, he is obligated to show up by policy and by law. It might be that the defense needed him as a witness, they have a right to require he show up regardless of what the prosecutor wants. In the limited world of some, police only cooperate with prosecutors, refuse to answer questions by defense attorneys, and engage in whatever conduct it takes to convict someone charged with a crime but the reality is that as a witness, the case is no longer in his control so he must follow the instructions of the court. As a completely fair witness, he will have a greater impact in terms of credibility than someone that nobody in the courtroom believes.

Anonymous said...

Hello again 1:25PM,

Thank you for taking time to clarify some issues and setting me straight on those I seemed to have blurred. In the future, when Grits writes about Plea Bargains, I hope to see you here so that I can pick your brain about the last two sentences in #7 in detail.

For the sake of conversation stability, I'm not: a lawyer, a reporter or anti-cop. Just looking for honest answers from honest people.

As a GFB subscriber, I see a constant troll or two jumping at the opportunity to bust Grit's chops with bullshit comments based on the tired old theme of "anti-cop" crapola. (See 12 year old Gordon L. Dildo's noon-tyme spit & run above. A question followed by a childish accusation.) Reporting & re-reporting about this & that doesn't make the reporter anti-this & that, but boys will be boys up until they see that first hair.

It should be mentioned that conversations regarding public servants gone bad, allow those that have (& eventually will have) personally experienced their (Police, DA, ADA, Judge) collective immunity lading rogue team efforts to either: vent, share or, in my situation go on to strive to learn more in an effort to understand what leads one to the dark-side and/or prevents one from going dark in the first place.

For the record, just because I was falsely arrested by rouge cops and framed by rogue detectives and those that (blindly/happily) signed off on the Report and convicted with a lil help from a shitty lawyer doesn't mean that I see all: cops, detectives, lawyers & judges as rogue. If anything, it has allowed me to differentiate between: the good, the bad & the ugly. You sir, are considered a Good-Guy in my book. Thank you again.

Anonymous said...

Anon 01:30:00 PM, You're welcome. I was referred here by someone that had some questions and figured I might help shed some light from my perspective. My skin was thick enough to withstand the personal attacks made on what I wrote and it occurred to me that those attacking me were either trolling or likely had very little experience but were relying on third or fourth hand information. Of course some people are just grumpy and this is the kind of place they feel safe venting but there is clearly a need for greater dialogue.

I know it's popular to hate on attorneys and police these days so many avail themselves of their rights to generate a lot of noise or focus on the relatively rare times when an officer kills someone by mistake, the more common occurrences where they make a small mistake, and everything in between. Some think all mistakes are signs of complete and utter incompetence or racism, the bottom line being that in any human endeavor, mistakes will happen no matter what protocol you follow.

As far as truly malicious acts by those in uniform, in the circles I ran they were very rare and found after the fact. They were then addressed in one way or another, those that believe LEO's should be held accountable to a standard of perfection kidding themselves (such as in the UK comic book, Judge Dredd, where bad cops are sent to serve a 20 year sentence on Titan).

And examples of alleged misconduct that form the basis for the article tied to this commentary thread, when looked at closely, include many stories that are just rehashes of previous allegations, but some will count them all over again, much like the wife likes to spend our tax refunds several times over each year. I'm of the opinion that it is healthy to look at what went wrong and work on trying to prevent such problems in the future, or at very least reduce the likelihood. And as others have pointed out, this blog is a construct for Grits, not the rest of us, the slant he takes given his background certainly going to vary from mine but worth reading all the same. I've found that just reading opinions you agree with tends to isolate you from reality, even if my defenses are as alien to some here as their robust claims of evil cops behind every billboard, involved in every case, or hired simply because they were tested for meanness and passed with flying colors.

I think everyone has a responsibility to report criminal acts, perceived or real, and to let elected officials know what they want/expect from government too. You might not always get what you want but those that keep quiet facilitate lousy elected officials and others appointed or empowered to accomplish a task. Society is moving in the right direction more often than not despite what you may read in the comments section but not because of mob rule and rioters but despite them, rational people can agree to disagree on all sorts of topics without needing to vilify folks.

In general though, as much as I have been trained to by cynical and a skeptic about just about everything, I find people are remarkably similar most of the time. Expecting a fair shake or feeling free to criticize government actions should be a given in our relatively open society. It stinks that you were given a raw deal and perhaps karma will address it in the future but working toward improving things usually takes more than potshots or embellished claims of misconduct amplified to the point where they aren't recognizable. Too many here do just that so I'll be around when something of interest pops up, I've learned a great deal coming here and a few other blogs myself.

Roadsidebetty said...

We have as a society allowed or cultivated an environment which people go astray in. It isn't outrageous that these things are happening more and more... how can they not happen. We refuse to embrace our own humanity, face our own frailties that given the right circumstances we might do the same things. Our disdain and judgement of those who fail suggests that they are other. Thats not me, thats not you, thats them. But really thats just not true. In our horror, and outrage we divest from the truth of us. When one of us fails we all fail. When one of us makes it, we all make it. I believe Grits for Breakfast comes as close as you can get at calling it for what it is in an un-biased way. Honest reporting looks really ugly perhaps but we can't look away anymore. It seems a little disingenuous to criticize from an anonymous post, I just can't place any value on the statements made by someone who hides in the shadows, more secrecy doesn't promote anything I value. Stand proudly in the light right wrong or indifferent thats honor to ones self.

Anonymous said...

"embellished claims of misconduct amplified to the point where they aren't recognizable."

Unfortunately, this one statement discredits your otherwise reasonably sounding remarks. Please point out how any of the incidents of misconduct pointed out in the article were "embellished." You are calling those who are simply reporting misconduct liars. What is your basis for doing so - lets hear some facts.

Anonymous said...

To those of you who deny that misconduct is not a serious problem - here is something I have seen from my experience - the incidents that come to light are only a fraction of what really occurs. There is significant variation among departments and agencies. The culture of some agencies does encourage honesty and the reporting of misconduct. Unfortunately, the culture of other agencies encourages misconduct and discourages reporting of it. What we see reported in the press is barely the tip of the iceberg. In general, dishonesty is common in our society, police are no different.

Anonymous said...

Anon 04:55:00 PM, in my over 25 years of experience I have routinely and repeatedly seen the media and internet accounts of police misconduct embellished. It isn't always because the reporter or blogger are lying, sometimes they are either too quick to jump on a story, too quick to run with the first tidbit of information they get, or simply selling their own agenda. Nonetheless, just as accounts of police activity used to be whitewashed to the extreme years ago, some reporters still failing in their duties as part of the fourth estate, the average account of misconduct in the media or net have not been properly vetted.

If you find fault with that as the sole point of contention to everything else I wrote, I'll happily take it as a win overall because I don't expect people coming here to march in lockstep given the general biases displayed. I always advise people take whatever they hear online or even from official sources with a grain or twelve of salt, suggesting they do their own thinking. Departments across the country have proven they will throw an individual officer under the bus to keep problematic policies intact, activists have been proven to embellish accounts to keep their money flowing, and individual officers are not above reproach any more than those accusing them as long as there is something at stake to encourage versions of stories that stray from the truth for one reason or another.

Anonymous said...

I admit it. I have a strong anti-cop bias. My dad worked as a civilian in the state police in a northern state. My friends had fathers and mothers who were officers and I personally witnessed things both here in Texas and elsewhere that were either marginally or completely unethical or illegal. Police in general tend to be people who want to help people but quite often they have a strong binary sense of right and wrong. Good and bad are black and white. They see no gray. If it isn't written into the law or protocol they shouldn't act - but quite often they do. In Texas we give police some of the broadest latitude in the United States.

We think nothing of allowing an officer to abuse someone nor do we blink when people are arrested. The officer need only have a reasonable suspicion and that's sufficient. Here they arrest people for probably cause and little else. And they needn't worry. The judges back them. Police here are not paid well. In fact their wages are shrinking on a regular basis. There aren't enough law enforcement and the tools they have since drug related crimes are on the decline is problematic. They could once depend on huge caches from drug busts which netted departments sometimes millions of dollars.

In 2001 the Texas legislature granted even greater power and we've seen the erosion of the rights of ordinary citizens. Common Class C offenses have turned very ugly. For many years people of colar near my community were obviously being profiled - and they were stopped so often that I warned local law enforcement management again and wrote the US Department of Justice.

Chats with law enforcement management have reinforced my belief that the legislature needs to scale back police power. They're becoming bullies. The Craig Ranch incident of June 7, 2015 is a very good example. You don't pull weapons on unarmed kids in a crowded pool area. Very bad reasoning. But if they felt afraid they may well receive a warning or nothing at all. Let's not confuse mouthy kids at a pool with criminals firing at civilians or officers or both. Let's not compare a drugged out freak holding a knife to his girlfriend with a kid stealing a t-shirt at the local mall. There's a balance in everything.

Roadsidebetty said...

Well put. I think most people would agree with you. Have these circumstances just hit critical mass or what? I wonder why there seems to be an escalation of these aggressive behaviors by police now?