Police Corruption News ArticlesExcerpts of Key Police Corruption News Articles in Media
British journalist Julia Breen's scoop about racism at her local police force didn't just get her on the front page, it got her put under surveillance. Investigators logged her calls, those of her colleague Graeme Hetherington and even their modest-sized newspaper's busy switchboard in an effort to unmask their sources. The [Northern Echo newspaper] has often provided painful reading for Cleveland Police, a department responsible for a Chicago-sized patch of England's industrial northeast. The small force has weathered a series of scandals. A minority officer, Sultan Alam, was awarded 800,000 pounds ... after allegedly being framed by colleagues in retaliation for a discrimination lawsuit. The judgment made national headlines. Cleveland Police issued a statement insisting the force wasn't racist. The next day, an anonymous caller told Breen an internal police report suggested otherwise. The following morning her byline was across the front page beneath the words: "Institutional racism uncovered within Cleveland Police." Breen ... eventually forgot the episode. Cleveland Police didn't. The force secretly began logging calls to and from Breen, Hetherington and a third journalist from another newspaper. It was later calculated that the surveillance covered over 1 million minutes of calling time. The Echo isn't unique. Britain's wiretapping watchdog ... revealed in 2015 that 82 journalists' communications records had been seized as part of leak investigations across the country over a three-year period.
The 30 largest U.S. cities saw a double-digit increase in their murder rate in 2016, according to a new year-end report, even as crime nationwide remains near all-time lows. Chicago again accounts for almost half of the total murder increase nationwide. New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice projects that the 2016 murder rate for the largest U.S. cities is up 14% from 2015 while the violent crime rate rose by 3.3%. The overall crime rate, however, increased by just 0.3%, thanks in large part to historically low levels of property crime. Two cities are largely driving the spike in violent crime: Chicago and Charlotte. Violent crime in Chicago is up 17.7% ... this year, and the city accounts for almost 44% of the total increase in murders. Charlotte has experienced a number of drug-related murders as well as homicides related to domestic violence and is projected to see a 13.4% increase in violent crime this year. While the murder rate has increased, overall crime across the U.S. is near all-time lows. Of the 30 cities studied, just eight showed an increase in their crime rates from 2015.
Note: The media has given lots of attention to Chicago's major increase in murders in 2016, yet virtually no attention to the fact, as reported in this Wall Street Journal article, that the rate of major crimes in New York City dropped to the lowest levels yet recorded. Read more on the dramatic drop in violent crime rates over the past two decades in this informative essay.
The problem of racial bias among police [has] been a concern of the FBI for at least a decade. 10 years ago ... the FBI warned of the potential consequences - including bias - of white supremacist groups infiltrating local and state law enforcement, indicating it was a significant threat to national security. In the 2006 bulletin, the FBI detailed the threat of white nationalists and skinheads infiltrating police in order to disrupt investigations against fellow members and recruit other supremacists. The bulletin was released during a period of scandal for many law enforcement agencies throughout the country, including a neo-Nazi gang formed by members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Similar investigations revealed officers and entire agencies with hate group ties in Illinois, Ohio and Texas. Much of the bulletin has been redacted, but in it, the FBI ... warned of “ghost skins,” hate group members who don’t overtly display their beliefs. “At least one white supremacist group has reportedly encouraged ghost skins to seek positions in law enforcement for the capability of alerting skinhead crews of pending investigative action against them,” the report read. Neither the FBI nor state and local law enforcement agencies have established systems for vetting personnel for potential supremacist links. That task is left primarily to everyday citizens and nonprofit organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center, one of few that tracks the growing number of hate groups in America.
I was 29 and mowing the lawn at my mother’s house in Birmingham, Alabama, on a hot day in July 1985 when I looked up and saw two police officers. I asked the detective 50 times why I was being arrested. Eventually, he told me I was being arrested for a robbery. I told him, “You have the wrong man.” He said, “I don’t care whether you did it or not. You will be convicted.” At the station, it became clear I’d been at work when the robbery occurred. The detective verified this with my supervisor, but then told me they were going to charge me with two counts of first-degree murder from two other robberies. When I met my appointed lawyer, I told him I was innocent. He said, “All of y’all always say you didn’t do something.” I might have seen him three times in the two years I waited for trial. The only evidence linking me to the crime was the testimony of a ballistics expert who said the bullets from the murder weapon could be a match to my mother’s gun. They found me guilty. [In] 1986 I went to death row. Eventually, [in] 2015, the State of Alabama dropped all charges. I was released that same day. When you’ve been locked up for nearly 30 years, nothing is the same. It was like walking out on to another planet at the age of 58. Every night, I go outside and look up at the stars and moon, because for years I could not see either. Now, I am determined to go wherever I am asked to help end the death penalty. I am so thankful that I get to travel with Lifelines and [the Equal Justice Initiative], and share my story.
Between 2005 and 2015, 6,913 people died while in legal custody in Texas. Many died of natural causes while serving long prison sentences. Others ended their own lives. A few died at the hands of another inmate, or, in some cases, police or correctional officers. Together, these deaths form revealing patterns about Texas-style justice and the state of corrections in an increasingly carceral country. This information used to be hard to access, but it’s now readily available in an online database called the Texas Justice Initiative. The final product was culled from thousands of internal reports and includes names, time and place of death, cause of death, time in custody, and a description of the circumstances. “These deaths occurred in local jail cells, in the backs of police cars, and on prison sidewalks,” [project creator Amanda] Woog wrote in the summary report of her findings. Among the “suicide” listings is one for Sandra Bland, who died in police custody after a traffic stop. Like Bland, more than 1,900 of those who died, or 28 percent, had not been convicted of or even charged with a crime. Pre-booking deaths reported by law enforcement have been on the rise since 2005. The data gathered on Texas reflects a markedly high number of deaths in custody compared to national trends.
Police officers arrest more than 1.2 million people a year in the United States on charges of illegal drug possession. Field tests ... help them move quickly from suspicion to conviction. But the kits - which cost about $2 each and have changed little since 1973 - are far from reliable. Some tests ... use a single tube of a chemical called cobalt thiocyanate, which turns blue when it is exposed to cocaine. But cobalt thiocyanate also turns blue when it is exposed to more than 80 other compounds, including methadone, certain acne medications and several common household cleaners. Other tests use three tubes, which the officer can break in a specific order to rule out everything but the drug in question - but if the officer breaks the tubes in the wrong order, that, too, can invalidate the results. There are no established error rates for the field tests, in part because their accuracy varies so widely depending on who is using them and how. In Las Vegas, authorities re-examined a sampling of cocaine field tests conducted between 2010 and 2013 and found that 33 percent of them were false positives. By 1978, the Department of Justice had determined that field tests “should not be used for evidential purposes,” and the field tests in use today remain inadmissible at trial in nearly every jurisdiction. But this has proved to be a meaningless prohibition. Most drug cases in the United States are decided well before they reach trial, by the far more informal process of plea bargaining.
Note: Drug test field kits sometimes produce wildly inaccurate results. And recently the FBI was found to have faked an entire branch of forensic science. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing judicial corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
There are more than 20 states in the U.S. where growing small amounts of marijuana is legal. North Carolina isn’t one of them. Those caught cultivating cannabis in the Tar Heel State are usually slapped with a felony, prison time, and anywhere from a $200 to $200,000 fine. Unless, apparently, that person is a police officer. Take the case of Thomas Daniel Gaskins. Police arrested the 33-year-old on June 13 in connection to 11 marijuana plants found in a forest. At the time of his arrest, Gaskins ... worked as a police officer. Local news confirmed the arrest and initially reported that he had been charged both with “manufacturing” and possession of marijuana. But later reports began reflecting that he had only been charged with possession, a misdemeanor. His story is a perfect representation of the war on drugs’ biggest problem - racial bias. Minorities are nearly four times more likely to be arrested for pot than whites. While 11 marijuana plants may not seem like a large offense, it dwarfs many marijuana crimes that minorities are serving life sentences for today. Take the case of Fate Vincent Winslow, who was sentenced to life in prison ... for selling $20 worth of weed to an undercover officer. Winslow was accompanied by a white man in the sale, who - despite receiving $15 of the $20 - was never even arrested. That’s not to say that white men haven’t fallen victim to the drug war, just that they’re far less likely to serve the kind of hard time that minorities are often slapped with.
There are no good national numbers on police conduct. Even the government's most basic statistic - the number of people killed by police - [is] way off. The White House says it wants to change that with the Police Data Initiative ... whose final report called for greater data transparency as a means to build trust between police and communities. The Police Data Initiative encourages departments to anticipate the kind of numbers their communities want to see, and provide them, preferably in database format. As an example, the White House cites the online data portal on police shootings set up by the Dallas Police Department. But there's a caveat, here: This is all voluntary. The White House says 53 jurisdictions so far have pledged to share this kind of data. But an additional 17,000 or so law enforcement agencies have not yet signed on, and they account for about 85 percent of the country's population. Openness to providing data seems to be most prevalent in police departments that are already in cooperative relationships with the federal government. Many of them receive federal grants, observes David L. Carter, a professor in the School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University. "In many cases, progressive police executives feel it's 'the right thing to do,' and will volunteer," says Carter in an email. But he thinks others may take a pass. The result? There may be good stats on places like LA and Dallas, while thousands of smaller communities ... will continue to be white spaces on the statistical map.
Back in 2005, Jameel McGee says he was minding his own business when a police officer accused him of - and arrested him for - dealing drugs. "It was all made up," said McGee. Of course, a lot of accused men make that claim, but not many arresting officers agree. "I falsified the report," former Benton Harbor police officer Andrew Collins admitted. "Basically, at the start of that day, I was going to make sure I had another drug arrest." And in the end, he put an innocent guy in jail. "I lost everything," McGee said. "My only goal was to seek him when I got home and to hurt him." Eventually, that crooked cop was caught, and served a year and a half for falsifying many police reports, planting drugs and stealing. Of course McGee was exonerated, but he still spent four years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. Today both men are back in Benton Harbor, which is a small town. Last year, by sheer coincidence, they both ended up at faith-based employment agency Mosaic, where they now work side by side in the same café. And it was in those cramped quarters that the bad cop and the wrongfully accused had no choice but to have it out." I said, 'Honestly, I have no explanation, all I can do is say I'm sorry,'" Collins explained. McGee says that was all it took. "That was pretty much what I needed to hear." Today they're not only cordial, they're friends. Such close friends, not long ago McGee actually told Collins he loved him. "And I just started weeping because he doesn't owe me that. I don't deserve that," Collins said.
Note: Don't miss the beautiful video of this story at the link above.
A sordid scandal involving a male prostitution ring within Colombia’s national police force has gripped the country in both fascination and disgust. The scandal so far has claimed the head of the police chief, a deputy minister and a prominent journalist and unveiled a web of corruption, sexual harassment and influence peddling that has eroded the public confidence in the police. At the centre of the affair is what has been described as a homosexual male prostitution network run by senior police officials, known as the “Fellowship of the Ring”, which allegedly operated within the police academy between 2004 and 2008. Officers and congressmen allegedly paid for sexual services from cadets with cars, gifts and large sums of money. The existence of the ring first came to light in 2014 when it was revealed that at least 10 former cadets had testified in an investigation into the suspicious death in 2006 of a female cadet at the academy, which was first labeled a suicide. The cadet, Maritza Zapata, had uncovered the existence of the ring and – according to her family – may have lost her life over it. Public interest in the case was renewed late last year when an influential radio journalist, Vicky Dávila, began airing testimonies from police cadets recounting incidents of sexual harassment by senior members of the National Police. After airing some of the testimonies, Dávila complained that her phones were being tapped and laid responsibility squarely on the police ... leading to Dávila’s apparently forced resignation.
Note: Watch an excellent segment by Australia's "60-Minutes" team titled "Spies, Lords and Predators" on a pedophile ring in the UK which leads directly to the highest levels of government. A second suppressed documentary, "Conspiracy of Silence," goes even deeper into this sad subject in the US. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about sexual abuse scandals and government corruption.
The Chicago Police Department has routinely spied on activist groups during the past six years, police records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times show — including union members, anti-Olympics protesters, anarchists, the Occupy movement, NATO demonstrators and critics of the Chinese government. And it has continued to do so, according to the records ... which the police department fought to withhold. Under the department’s rules, cops aren’t allowed to purposely interfere with people exercising their free-speech rights. In recent years, though, department officials have repeatedly justified spying on protesters by saying they fear they might engage in “disorder” and “civil disobedience.” One investigation involving the surveillance of protest groups is still underway, 10 months after it was launched, the records show. The police won’t say who is being investigated or discuss the methods being used. “There’s something deeply disturbing about monitoring and documenting the exercise of First Amendment rights,” says Molly Armour, an attorney who has represented protesters investigated by the police. In July, the Illinois attorney general’s office issued an opinion saying “worksheets” — outlining the scope of these investigations — are public records under the state’s Freedom of Information Act. The office ordered the police department to “promptly produce unredacted copies of the worksheets.” It took nearly two months for the department to comply with the ruling.
Note: Undercover police in New York City have reportedly been spying on Black Lives Matter activists. Does the mention of an unnamed investigation that is "still underway" suggest that Chicago police are doing the same? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing civil liberties news articles from reliable major media sources.
Top British detectives are questioning an unlikely suspect in a high-stakes child abuse investigation: their boss. Metropolitan Police Chief Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe is getting grilled by his own detectives over an alleged police cover-up connected to former Prime Minister Tony Blair's administration. Hogan-Howe was an Assistant Chief Constable for the Merseyside Police in 1998, when the department uncovered claims that one of Blair’s ministers was a suspected pedophile. Hogan-Howe now says he “does not recall details about the investigation” or any suspects, according to a statement from the Metropolitan Police Service. But a source close to the investigation [said] it is “inconceivable” that Hogan-Howe and his cohorts weren’t aware of the accusations. "The senior investigating officer at the time would have been expected to have reported to his senior officers the fact a serving government minister had come under suspicion," the source said. Even as he is apparently being questioned within his own department, the MPS said in a statement that Hogan-Howe "absolutely refutes any suggestion he would have stopped or inhibited a criminal investigation of the nature suggested, including politicians. It would be wrong to suggest otherwise." MPS opened an investigation into the cover-up claims just two years ago. The minister was one of several men suspected of sexually abusing children at a Brixton home in the early '80s.
Note: It's quite interesting that few mainstream media in the UK or US have picked up this important article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about sexual abuse scandals and government corruption from reliable major media sources.
The Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound. The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Police practices at Homan Square [allegedly] include: Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases; Beating by police, resulting in head wounds; Shackling for prolonged periods; Denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility; Holding people [as young as 15] without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours. Unlike a precinct, no one taken to Homan Square is said to be booked. Jacob Church learned about Homan Square the hard way. On May 16 2012, he and 11 others were taken there after police infiltrated their protest against the Nato summit. After serving two and a half years in prison, Church ... and his co-defendants were found not guilty in 2014 of terrorism-related offenses. Tracy Siska, a criminologist and civil-rights activist with the Chicago Justice Project, said that Homan Square, as well as the unrelated case of ex-Guantánamo interrogator and retired Chicago detective Richard Zuley, showed the lines blurring between domestic law enforcement and overseas military operations. “The real danger in allowing practices like Guantánamo or Abu Ghraib is the fact that they ... creep into domestic law enforcement, either with weaponry like with the militarization of police, or interrogation practices. That’s how we ended up with a black site in Chicago.”
Note: Church was one of three young activists charged with 'terrorism' after police manufactured evidence against peaceful Occupy Wall St protesters in Chicago in 2012. For more, read about the increasing militarization of police in the U.S. after 9/11, or see concise summaries of deeply revealing civil liberties news articles.
Eric Garner was not the first American to be choked by the police, and he will not be the last, thanks to legal rules that prevent victims of police violence from asking federal courts to help stop deadly practices. The 1983 case City of Los Angeles v. Lyons vividly illustrates the problem. That case also involved an African-American man choked by the police without provocation. Unlike Mr. Garner, Adolph Lyons survived. He then filed a federal lawsuit, asking the city to compensate him for his injuries. He also asked the court to prevent the Los Angeles Police Department from using chokeholds in the future. The trial court ordered the L.A.P.D. to stop using chokeholds. The Supreme Court overturned this order. The court explained that Mr. Lyons would have needed to prove that he personally was likely to be choked again in order for his lawsuit to be a vehicle for systemic reform. This is the legal standard when a plaintiff asks a federal court for an injunction — or a forward-looking legal order. When the stakes are this deadly, federal courts should step in. If police departments still failed to comply, federal judges could impose penalties. How do we know? Consider school segregation. Local officials had promised change but failed to ensure it. It took decades of close supervision by federal courts to make a dent in the problem. As the courts started to leave this field in more recent years, de facto segregation returned.
Many have become fed up with police violence and a perceived lack of accountability in this country. In addition to the worrying trend of police militarization, many areas of the country have police forces that seem fairly unaccountable for excessive violence or other problems. In Philadelphia, an inquiry was recently completed on 26 cases since 2008 where police officers were fired from charges ranging from domestic violence, to retail theft, to excessive force, to on duty intoxication. Shockingly, the Police Advisory Committee undertaking the investigation found that so far 19 of these fired officers have been reinstated. Why does this occur? The committee blamed the arbitration process. Another implication of police power is political. For example, the Miami-Dade police union recently blocked body cameras for police officers. And when Wisconsin limited collective bargaining rights for public sector workers it exempted police and firefighter unions. When most people mess up at work their bosses don’t need arbitration to determine whether they can be fired. Even if the error was “reasonable” people can be fired just to please the customer. Police should be as accountable to the public as the rest of us our to our employers and customers. The police are extremely powerful in this country. With the public’s trust justifiably falling, it’s time to strip them of job protections and political power that lead to unaccountability and injustice. This is not going to happen while police unions remain intact.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing police corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
A scathing examination of this city’s Police Department has concluded that five detectives tasked with investigating sex crimes failed to pursue hundreds of reported cases. “It was a persistent, systemic problem,” said Howard Schwartz, the inspector general’s lead investigator. The report described how victims’ charges of sexual assault were ignored, referrals from medical personnel were dismissed, and evidence was not processed; in some cases the detective would mark down in a report that evidence had been sent to the state laboratory, though no records could be found that the laboratory received anything. In one case, a 2-year-old was brought to the emergency room on suspicion of having been the victim of a sexual assault and was found to have a sexually transmitted disease. The detective did no follow-up and closed the case. In another, a nurse collected DNA evidence from a victim in a rape kit, but the detective apparently never submitted the kit for testing. That same detective, the report said, told at least three different people that he or she “did not believe that simple rape should be a crime.” These findings are not new to the New Orleans police force, which is under federal court supervision after having been found to have a pattern of inefficient, abusive and corrupt police work.
The officers got the wrong man, but charged him anyway—with getting his blood on their uniforms. Police in Ferguson, Missouri, once charged a man with destruction of property for bleeding on their uniforms while four of them allegedly beat him. [A] 52-year-old welder named Henry Davis ... had been arrested for an outstanding warrant that proved to actually be for another man of the same surname, but a different middle name and Social Security number. The booking officer had no other reason to hold Davis, who ended up in Ferguson only because he missed the exit for St. Charles and then pulled off the highway because the rain was so heavy he could not see to drive. The cop who had pulled up behind him must have run his license plate and assumed he was that other Henry Davis. Davis said the cop approached his vehicle, grabbed his cellphone from his hand, cuffed him and placed him in the back seat of the patrol car, without a word of explanation. The booking officer ... proceeded to escort him to a one-man cell that already had a man in it asleep on the lone bunk. Davis balked at being a second man in a one-man cell. The booking officer summoned a number of fellow cops. One opened the cell door while another suddenly charged, propelling Davis inside and slamming him against the back wall. [A] female officer allegedly lifted Davis’ head as the cop who had initially pushed him into the cell reappeared. “He ran in and kicked me in the head,” Davis recalled. “Paramedics came. They said it was too much blood. I had to go to the hospital.” A federal magistrate ruled that the [police] perjury about the “property damage” charges was too minor to constitute a violation of due process and that Davis’ injuries were ... too minor to warrant a finding of excessive force. Never mind that a CAT scan taken after the incident confirmed that he had suffered a concussion.
Note: If you are willing to know how bad it gets, read the entire article at the link above. Then read an educational article on the skewed reporting of the New York Times on the Michael Brown murder. For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government surveillance news articles from reliable major media sources.
As the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have wound down, police departments have been obtaining military equipment, vehicles and uniforms that have flowed directly from the Department of Defense. According to a new report by the ACLU, the federal government has funneled $4.3 billion of military property to law enforcement agencies since the late 1990s, including $450 million worth in 2013. Five hundred law enforcement agencies have received Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, built to withstand bomb blasts. More than 15,000 items of military protective equipment and “battle dress uniforms” have been transferred. “More Americans are becoming aware of the militarization of policing, but the use of paramilitary tactics to fight the war on drugs has been going on for a very long time,” says the ACLU’s Kara Dansky. As police departments have added military gear, they’ve also upped the number of SWAT deployments, especially for use in drug warrants. Almost two-thirds of SWAT deployments between 2011 and 2012 were for drug raids. Many of those units, says Kraska, base their strategy and tactics on military special operations like Navy SEALs. “When people refer to the militarization of police, it’s not in a pejorative or judgmental sense,” [Peter Kraska, a criminal justice professor at Eastern Kentucky University] says. “Contemporary police agencies have moved significantly along a continuum culturally, materially, operationally, while using a Navy SEALs model. All of those are clear indications that they’re moving away from a civilian model of policing.”
Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
The Obama administration has been quietly advising local police not to disclose details about surveillance technology they are using to sweep up basic cellphone data from entire neighborhoods. Citing security reasons, the U.S. has intervened in routine state public records cases and criminal trials regarding use of the technology. This has resulted in police departments withholding materials or heavily censoring documents in rare instances when they disclose any [information] about the purchase and use of such powerful surveillance equipment. One well-known type of this surveillance equipment is known as a Stingray. The equipment tricks cellphones into identifying some of their owners' account information, like a unique subscriber number, and transmitting data to police as if it were a phone company's tower. That allows police to obtain cellphone information without having to ask for help from service providers ... and can locate a phone without the user even making a call or sending a text message. The Obama administration is asking agencies to withhold common information about the equipment, such as how the technology is used and how to turn it on. "These extreme secrecy efforts are in relation to very controversial, local government surveillance practices using highly invasive technology," said Nathan Freed Wessler, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, which has fought for the release of these types of records. "People should have the facts about what the government is doing to them."
Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government surveillance news articles from reliable major media sources.
As President Obama ushers in the end of what he called America’s “long season of war,” the former tools of combat — M-16 rifles, grenade launchers, silencers and more — are ending up in local police departments, often with little public notice. During the Obama administration, according to Pentagon data, police departments have received tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft. The equipment has been added to the armories of police departments that already look and act like military units. Police SWAT teams are now deployed tens of thousands of times each year, increasingly for routine jobs. Police departments ... are adding more firepower and military gear than ever. Some, especially in larger cities, have used federal grant money to buy armored cars and other tactical gear. And the free surplus program remains a favorite of many police chiefs who say they could otherwise not afford such equipment. The number of SWAT teams has skyrocketed since the 1980s, according to studies by Peter B. Kraska, an Eastern Kentucky University professor who has been researching the issue for decades. Recruiting videos feature clips of officers storming into homes with smoke grenades and firing automatic weapons. In Springdale, Ark., a police recruiting video is dominated by SWAT clips, including officers throwing a flash grenade into a house and creeping through a field in camouflage.
Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
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