Police Corruption News ArticlesExcerpts of Key Police Corruption News Articles in Media
New York City ended the year with the fewest murders and the lowest crime figures in decades, the mayor and the NYPD said Friday. There were 290 murders in the nation's largest city in 2017, compared to 335 killings the previous year, said Mayor Bill de Blasio in a news conference. “No one believed it was possible to get under 300 murders,” de Blasio said. The murder rate is a far cry from 1990, when 2,245 people were killed in the city. The numbers of other crimes - shootings, robberies, burglaries and grand larcenies auto - also dropped, officials said. “To see crime levels as low as we have today, you’d have to go back to 1951, when the Dodgers played in Brooklyn and a slice was 15 cents,” de Blasio added. Overall, 2017 was the fourth straight year of declines in crime in New York City. According to NYPD records there were 96,517 crimes reported last year, compared with 102,052 in 2016, a drop of 5.4 percent.
I traveled from Baltimore to join hundreds of thousands of protesters at counterdemonstrations around Mr. Trump’s swearing-in. Little did I know that I would be swept up into a legal nightmare that demonstrates how prosecutors intimidate and manipulate defendants into giving up their rights. Minutes after I got to downtown Washington on Jan. 20, police officers used pepper spray, “sting-ball” grenades and flailing batons to sweep up an entire city block in a mass-arrest tactic known as “kettling.” Next, prosecutors ... took the highly unusual step of indicting more than 200 of those arrested. Most of the people in the group, which includes journalists, legal observers and volunteer medics, face charges of engaging in a riot, inciting a riot, conspiracy to riot and property damage. In addition to seizing the contents of at least 100 cellphones, prosecutors secured broad warrants for Facebook pages. The government has failed to provide most defendants in the case with evidence of their alleged individual wrongdoing. For example, I was offered a plea deal (to a single misdemeanor charge) on the basis of virtually nothing more than being at the site of the protest. This serves to illustrate a critical problem in the American justice system: Prosecutors have the power to single-handedly destroy lives, and there are few consequences for abuse of that power. At the same time, their main measure of success is the ability to secure convictions, not the degree to which justice is served.
Note: United Nations officials recently said that the US government's treatment of activists was increasingly "incompatible with US obligations under international human rights law". For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on judicial system corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.
This week, Donald Trump lifted the ban on certain military-grade weapons and equipment available from the Pentagon to our local police forces across the nation. Before Barack Obama signed an executive order in 2015 limiting the transfer of certain types of military equipment under the Pentagon’s 1033 Program, the Department of Defense transferred more than $5bn in surplus military equipment directly to police agencies. The Pentagon program creates a pipeline that bypasses normal ... procurement processes, enabling police departments to acquire expensive-to-maintain and often unneeded military equipment directly from the Pentagon without the approval or even knowledge of [elected] government officials. Citizens are left to pay the price when these military “toys” are put into the anxious hands of often untrained local law enforcement. Handing our police weapons of war, including but not limited to large-capacity, rapid-fire weapons and ammunition – including .50-calibers – bayonets, grenade launchers, armored vehicles including military tanks, unmanned vehicles (armed drones), explosives and pyrotechnics, and similar explosive devices, makes us less safe. It also drives a wedge between police officers and ... communities. Our nation was built on the principle that there are clear lines between our armed forces and domestic police. Moreover ... law enforcement is subject to civilian authority. This program blurs those lines. Militarizing America’s main streets won’t make us any safer, just more fearful.
Note: The above was written by US Congressman Hank Johnson, author of the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act of 2017. The Pentagon's 1033 program now being revived led to what the ACLU called an "excessive militarization of American policing". For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on police corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.
Local police departments will soon have access to grenade launchers, high-caliber weapons and other surplus U.S. military gear after President Donald Trump signed an order Monday reviving a Pentagon program that civil rights groups say inflames tensions between officers and their communities. President Barack Obama had sharply curtailed the program in 2015. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky called the plan a dangerous expansion of government power that would "subsidize militarization." Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina said the program "incentivizes the militarization of local police departments, as they are encouraged to grab more equipment than they need." Congress authorized the program in 1990, allowing police to receive surplus equipment to help fight drugs, which then gave way to the fight against terrorism. Agencies requested and received everything from camouflage uniforms and bullet-proof vests to firearms, bayonets and drones. More than $5 billion in surplus equipment has been given to agencies. The new order largely lets local agencies set their own controls and rules governing use of the equipment. The plan to restore access to military equipment comes after [Attorney General Jeff] Sessions has said he intends to pull back on court-enforceable plans to resolve allegations of pervasive civil rights violations. Sessions ... has also revived a widely criticized form of asset forfeiture that lets local police seize cash and property with federal help.
Note: The Pentagon's 1033 program now being revived led to what the ACLU called an "excessive militarization of American policing". The civil asset forfeiture program now being revived was widely criticized because it made it easy for corrupt police to steal money and property from poor people and seize private assets based on departmental "wish lists".
In the most detailed study ever of fatalities and litigation involving police use of stun guns, Reuters finds more than 150 autopsy reports citing Tasers as a cause or contributor to deaths. Many who die are among society’s vulnerable – unarmed, in psychological distress and seeking help. As her husband stalked around the back yard, upending chairs and screaming about demons, Nancy Schrock ... dialed the police. “He needs to be in the hospital,” she told a 911 dispatcher. Tom Schrock had struggled with depression ... throughout their 35-year marriage. Police had visited the family’s [house] more than a dozen times. Typically, Tom was taken to the hospital, medicated and sent home after 72 hours. Not this time. Three officers answered the call, categorized by the dispatcher as a disturbance involving an unarmed man with mental health issues. Nancy took them through the house to the back; Santiago Mota, a veteran cop, drew his Taser. As officers came out the back door, Tom strode toward them. Mota fired the Taser. Tom buckled, then retreated. Mota followed, pressed the electric stun gun to Tom’s chest and fired again. The 57-year-old collapsed [and] never regained consciousness. “I called for help,” Nancy said. “I didn’t call for them to come and kill him.” Reuters documented 1,005 incidents in the United States in which people died after police stunned them with Tasers. In nine of every 10 incidents, the deceased was unarmed. More than 100 of the fatal encounters began with a 911 call for help during a medical emergency.
Jose Charles was dazed, bleeding from his head and surrounded by police. His mother had gone to take one of the 15-year-old’s siblings to the bathroom at a Fourth of July celebration in Greensboro, N.C. - and returned to find an officer’s hand around Jose’s neck. Police charged Jose with four crimes, including attacking an officer. The teenager and his mother say police slammed and choked him without provocation. In a month, the court’s interpretation of the incident could determine Jose’s fate. Body camera footage from several officers who were at the scene of the encounter is sitting ... where almost no one can see it. Standing in the way of clarity and transparency, critics say, is a new North Carolina law that makes it more difficult than ever to view recordings of controversial interactions between police and members of the public. The law requires anyone who wants to see police body camera footage to pay a fee and plead their case to a Superior Court judge. The law gives an inordinate amount of power to prosecutors. Jose Charles’s mom, Tamara Figueroa ... said [her son] suffers from schizoaffective disorder. She said prosecutors have told her that if Jose doesn’t plead guilty to assault, they’ll ask a judge to send him to a [facility] which Figueroa calls “a kiddie jail,” unequipped to treat his mental illness. The video could change public perception and her son’s fate, Figueroa said: She has seen the footage and remains adamant that her son didn’t assault a police officer.
Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca was convicted Wednesday of obstructing an FBI investigation into corrupt and violent guards who took bribes to smuggle contraband into the jails he ran and savagely beat inmates. The trial ... cast a dark shadow over a distinguished 50-year law enforcement career that abruptly ended with his resignation in 2014 as the corruption investigation spread from rank-and-file deputies to his inner circle. Baca appeared to have escaped the fate of more than a dozen underlings indicted by federal prosecutors until a year ago, when he pleaded guilty to a single count of making false statements to federal authorities about what role he played in efforts to thwart the FBI. A deal with prosecutors called for a sentence no greater than six months. When a judge rejected that as too lenient, Baca withdrew his guilty plea and prosecutors hit him with two additional charges of conspiracy and obstruction of justice. The federal probe began in 2011 when Baca’s jail guards discovered an inmate with a contraband cellphone was acting as an FBI mole to record jail beatings and report what he witnessed. Word quickly reached Baca, who convened a group to derail the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Lizabeth Rhodes said during closing arguments that corruption in the nation’s largest jail system “started from the top and went all the way down.” Baca’s subordinates hid the FBI informant from federal agents [and] tried to intimidate his FBI handler by threatening to arrest her.
White supremacists and other domestic extremists maintain an active presence in U.S. police departments and other law enforcement agencies. [FBI] policies have been crafted to take this infiltration into account. An October 2006 FBI internal intelligence assessment ... raised the alarm over white supremacist groups’ “historical” interest in “infiltrating law enforcement communities or recruiting law enforcement personnel.” In 2009 ... a Department of Homeland Security intelligence study, written in coordination with the FBI, warned of the “resurgence” of right-wing extremism. The report concluded that “lone wolves and small terrorist cells embracing violent right-wing extremist ideology are the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States.” The report caused an uproar. Faced with mounting criticism, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano disavowed the document. The agency’s unit investigating right-wing extremism was largely dismantled and the report’s lead investigator was pushed out. “They stopped doing intel on that, and that was that,” Heidi Beirich, who leads the Southern Poverty Law Center’s tracking of extremist groups, told The Intercept. Daryl Johnson, who was the lead researcher on the DHS report ... says the problem has since gotten “a lot more troublesome.” Homeland Security has given up tracking right-wing domestic extremists. “It’s only the FBI now,” he said, adding that local police departments don’t seem to be doing anything to address the problem.
For a shocking glimpse of what’s been happening in the name of criminal justice in America, look no further than a Justice Department report last week on police behavior in Louisiana. Officers there have routinely arrested hundreds of citizens annually without probable cause, strip-searching them and denying them contact with their family and lawyers for days - all in an unconstitutional attempt to force cooperation with detectives who finally admitted they were operating on a mere “hunch” or “feeling.” This wholesale violation of the Constitution’s protection against unlawful search and seizure ... was standard procedure. The report described as “staggering” the number of people who were “commonly detained for 72 hours or more” with no opportunity to contest their arrest, in what the police euphemistically termed “investigative holds.” The sheriff’s office in Evangeline, with a population of 33,578, initiated over 200 such arrest-and-grilling sessions between 2012 and 2014. In Ville Platte, which has 7,303 residents, the local police department used the practice more than 700 times during the same years. The residents faced demands for information, the report said, “under threat of continued wrongful incarceration,” resulting in what may have been false confessions and improper convictions. “Literally anyone in Evangeline Parish or Ville Platte could be arrested and placed ‘on hold’ at any time,” the report found.
The president of America’s largest police management organization on Monday issued a formal apology to the nation’s minority population “for the actions of the past and the role that our profession has played in society’s historical mistreatment of communities of color.” Terrence M. Cunningham, the chief of police in Wellesley, Mass., delivered his remarks at the convention in San Diego of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, whose membership includes 23,000 police officials in the United States. The statement ... comes as police executives continue to grapple with tense relationships between officers and minority groups in the wake of high-profile civilian deaths in New York, South Carolina, Minnesota and elsewhere, the sometimes violent citizen protests which have ensued as well as the ambush killings of officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge. Cunningham continued, “While we obviously cannot change the past, it is clear that we must change the future ... For our part, the first step is for law enforcement and the IACP to acknowledge and apologize for the actions of the past and the role that our profession has played in society’s historical mistreatment of communities of color.” He concluded, “It is my hope that, by working together, we can break this historic cycle of mistrust and build a better and safer future for us all.” Jeffery Robinson, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, applauded Cunningham’s statement. “It seems to me that this is a very significant admission,” Robinson said.
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Legal papers filed by the New York police department reveal that the department sent its own undercover officers to protests led by Black Lives Matter after the death of Eric Garner. The NYPD documents also show that it collected multimedia records about the protests. The revelations come from the same records request that led to the Intercept’s release of documents last summer showing that MTA and Metro-North transit police had regularly spied on Black Lives Matter protesters in and around Grand Central, deploying plainclothes officers to monitor demonstrations, track their movements, and share photos of activists. The NYPD’s newly revealed operations are potential constitutional violations. “The fear and disarming effect caused by undercovers being assigned to what were and continue to be extraordinarily peaceful protests is disturbing,” said MJ Williams, one of the attorneys involved in the records request. “As someone who was present at the protests, it’s disturbing to know the NYPD may have a file on me, ready to be used or to prevent me from getting a job simply because I’ve been active in some political capacity.” The MTA and Metro-North disclosures from last summer revealed that transit police tracked activists’ locations and shared images of some activists. If similar multimedia images are being held by the NYPD, they could be a violation of the NYPD’s protest monitoring rules ... which are supposed to prevent the department from deploying undercovers or collecting images of protesters solely to keep tabs on their political activity.
America has been enmeshed in a wrenching discussion about how the police treat young black men. But this week’s blistering report from the Justice Department on police bias in Baltimore also exposed a different, though related, concern: how the police in that majority-black city treat women, especially victims of sexual assault. In six pages of the 163-page report documenting how Baltimore police officers have systematically violated the rights of African-Americans, the Justice Department also painted a picture of a police culture deeply dismissive of sexual assault victims and hostile toward prostitutes and transgender people. It branded the Baltimore Police Department’s response to sexual assault cases “grossly inadequate.” Baltimore officers sometimes humiliated women who tried to report sexual assault, often failed to gather basic evidence, and disregarded some complaints filed by prostitutes. Some officers blamed victims or discouraged them from identifying their assailants. And the culture seemed to extend to prosecutors, investigators found. In one email exchange, a prosecutor referred to a woman who had reported a sexual assault as a “conniving little whore.” A police officer, using a common text-message expression for laughing heartily, wrote back: “Lmao! I feel the same.” Other “pattern or practice” investigations of police departments - including in New Orleans; Puerto Rico; and Missoula, Mont. - have also identified gender bias.
Police departments will be required to give the US justice department full details of deadly incidents involving their officers each quarter, under a new government system for counting killings by police that was influenced by the Guardian. Announcing a new program for documenting all “arrest-related deaths”, federal officials said they would actively work to confirm fatal cases seen in media reports and other open sources rather than wait for departments to report them voluntarily. The new system, which aims to replace a discredited count by the FBI, mirrors that of The Counted, an ongoing Guardian effort to document every death caused by law enforcement officers. Writing in the Federal Register, Department of Justice officials said their new program should increase transparency around the use of force by police and improve accountability for the actions of individual officers. The federal government has kept no comprehensive record of killings by police officers, even as a series of controversial deaths set off unrest in cities across the country over the past two years. An annual voluntary count by the FBI of fatal shootings by officers has recorded only about half the true number. The new system is being overseen by the department’s bureau of justice statistics (BJS). It would, like the Guardian’s, document deaths caused by physical force, Taser shocks and some vehicle crashes caused by law enforcement in addition to fatal shootings by officers.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing police corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
On July 7, Dallas police officers used a bomb robot to kill the suspected perpetrator of a shooting that left five Dallas-area police officers dead and seven others wounded. While police have used robots to deliver chemical agents and pizza, it looks as if the deployment of the robot bomb on Thursday night was the first time American police officers have used a robot to kill someone. According to Dallas Police Chief David Brown, “We saw no other option but to use our bomb robot and place a device on its extension for it to detonate where the suspect was.” The death of the alleged shooter in Dallas should prompt us to think carefully about how new technologies will be used by police to deliver lethal force. Robots like the one used by Dallas police are used by police departments across the country as part of bomb squads. But it’s worth keeping in mind that these robots will continue to improve, making it easier for police to use them in situations like the standoff in Dallas. Other tools such as drones could also potentially be used to kill suspects. In fact, North Dakota has legalized the use of armed drones in some circumstances, and Florida law defines a police drone as one that can “carry a lethal or nonlethal payload.” As technology improves, using tools such as robots to kill dangerous suspects will become easier, and we shouldn’t be surprised if they proliferate. Amid such changes we should keep a careful eye on how and when police use remote devices, especially in cases not as clear cut as the recent standoff.
Note: The use of robots in warfare has been increasing. Militarization of US police, led by the Pentagon, suggests that robots will also be increasingly used in domestic law enforcement. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing police corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Havoc broke out at a peaceful protest against police violence and racism in Dallas on Thursday evening when a sniper opened fire, shooting 12 officers and 2 civilians. Police cornered the suspect, now known to be Micah Johnson. Around 3 a.m., police reported that the sniper ... was killed by explosives delivered by a remote-controlled robot. “We saw no other option but to use our bomb robot and place a device on its extension for it to detonate where the suspect was,” said Dallas police chief David Brown. Experts say this is the first use of a robot to kill a suspect in the history of US law enforcement. Debate about Johnson's death is situated within a larger conversation about police militarization and why it has become a law enforcement trend. That question has been central to the Black Lives Matter movement. Militarized equipment, including this bomb-wielding robot, has become increasingly common in domestic police forces, as a result of the government’s 1033 program that filters excess military equipment into domestic law enforcement departments. Joseph Pollini, a retired NYPD lieutenant commander, [said] the use of an explosive was more surprising than the use of a robot. “In my entire career I’ve never heard of using an explosive device to terminate someone,” he says. “There is a huge concern about the weaponization of robotic platforms, as these technologies become more sophisticated and more autonomous, and weapons are actually quite easy to attach to them,” both by civilians and police, he says.
Note: The use of robots in warfare has been increasing. Militarization of US police, led by the Pentagon, suggests that robots will also be increasingly used in domestic law enforcement. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing police corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
At a time of justified concern about arbitrary police stops, the Supreme Court on Monday made such harassment more likely. By a 5-3 vote, the court upheld the search of a drug defendant that grew out of a stop that the state conceded was unlawful. The decision in a Utah case pokes yet another hole in an important principle: that courts may not consider evidence that is the result of an illegal search or seizure – the so-called “fruit of the poisonous tree.” Edward Strieff was stopped by a police officer after he walked out of a house in South Salt Lake City. After Strieff identified himself, the officer ran his name through a database and discovered an outstanding arrest warrant for a traffic violation. The officer then arrested Strieff on that charge and searched him, finding a bag containing methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. The state subsequently admitted that the officer lacked reasonable suspicion to stop Strieff, as required under Supreme Court interpretations of the 4th Amendment. Writing for the majority, Justice Clarence Thomas concluded that it didn’t matter if the officer had no basis on which to stop Strieff; the evidence was admissible anyway. The decision could have far-reaching consequences. As Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in a powerful dissent: “This case allows the police to stop you on the street, demand your identification, and check it for outstanding traffic warrants - even if you are doing nothing wrong. If the officer discovers a warrant for a fine you forgot to pay, courts will now excuse his illegal stop.”
The head of Colombia's police resigned Wednesday amid accusations of illegal enrichment and sexual misconduct with young cadets that threatened to tarnish the reputation of one of the South American nation's most-prestigious institutions. Gen. Rodolfo Palomino's resignation came a day after Colombia's inspector general opened an administrative probe into the accusations, which surfaced in the media late last year. The accusations against Palomino range from his purchase of a luxury home outside Bogota that was apparently incompatible with his police salary and alleged illegal wiretaps against journalists. But the most damning charges, which have monopolized public attention the past few days, are Palomino's alleged participation in a male prostitution ring, dubbed the "Community of the Ring" by local media, that allegedly forced entry-level cadets to cater to high-ranking officers and even members of congress. Palomino has for months fought accusations by a former colonel that he abused his position for sexual favors years ago. In announcing the probe Tuesday, Inspector General Alejandro Ordonez said authorities obtained testimony and a videotaped conversation from 2008 between a then-senator and police captain that it said corroborates existence of the prostitution ring.
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 sexual abuse scandal news articles from reliable major media sources.
A national debate has played out over mass surveillance by the National Security Agency. [Meanwhile], a new generation of technology ... has given local law enforcement officers unprecedented power to peer into the lives of citizens. The powerful systems also have become flash points for civil libertarians and activists. “This is something that’s been building since September 11,” said Jennifer Lynch, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “First funding went to the military to develop this technology, and now it has come back to domestic law enforcement. It’s the perfect storm of cheaper and easier-to-use technologies and money from state and federal governments to purchase it.” But perhaps the most controversial and revealing technology is the threat-scoring software Beware. As officers respond to calls, Beware automatically runs the address. The searches return the names of residents and scans them ... to generate a color-coded threat level for each person or address: green, yellow or red. Exactly how Beware calculates threat scores is something that its maker, Intrado, considers a trade secret, so ... only Intrado - not the police or the public - knows how Beware tallies its scores. The system might mistakenly increase someone’s threat level by misinterpreting innocuous activity on social media, like criticizing the police, and trigger a heavier response by officers.
Nearly a thousand times this year, an American police officer has shot and killed a civilian. In a year-long study, The Washington Post found that ... the great majority of people who died at the hands of the police fit at least one of three categories: they were wielding weapons, they were suicidal or mentally troubled, or they ran when officers told them to halt. Although black men make up only 6 percent of the U.S. population, they account for 40 percent of the unarmed men shot to death by police this year. The FBI is charged with keeping statistics on such shootings. Fewer than half of the nation’s 18,000 police departments report their incidents to the agency. The Post documented well more than twice as many fatal shootings this year as the average annual tally reported by the FBI over the past decade. The research also noted whether victims were mentally ill or experiencing an emotional crisis. Officers fatally shot at least 243 people with mental health problems: 75 who were explicitly suicidal and 168 for whom police or family members confirmed a history of mental illness. Most of them died at the hands of police officers who had not been trained to deal with the mentally ill. An average of five officers per year have been indicted on felony charges over the previous decade; this year, 18 officers have been charged with felonies. Such accusations rarely stick, however.
Note: A similar project run by The Guardian called "The Counted" tracks police killings by all methods - not just shootings - and had noted 1117 such deaths in 2015 as the above story went to press. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing civil liberties news articles from reliable major media sources.
At his trial on drug charges nearly a decade ago, Ben Baker told a seemingly far-fetched tale about a corrupt band of Chicago police officers who ran a South Side housing project like their own criminal fiefdom, stealing narcotics proceeds, shaking down dealers for protection money and pinning cases on those who refused to play ball. A Cook County judge at the time said he believed the testimony of veteran Sgt. Ronald Watts and officers under his command, not Baker's accusations that Watts and his crew had framed him. But two years ago Watts was convicted on federal corruption charges after being snared in an FBI sting. Now, Baker is seeking to overturn his own conviction and 14-year sentence in a case that casts a spotlight on the police code of silence. In a court filing this week, his lawyers [cite] a whistleblower lawsuit filed by two Chicago police officers who ... faced repeated retaliation after going to supervisors about their discovery of the police corruption. FBI reports [show] that at the time of Baker's trial, Watts was already the target of an ongoing joint investigation by the FBI and Chicago police internal affairs investigators into allegations of corruption nearly identical to those made by Baker. Five years later ... FBI agents were able to build a criminal case against Watts, based in part on the undercover work by the two [whistleblowers], Shannon Spalding and Daniel Echeverria. After Watts was charged in 2012, Spalding and Echeverria filed their lawsuit naming ... a dozen high-ranking officers as defendants.
Note: Explore an excellent website run by former police officers exposing police corruption and calling for accountability. Included on that webpage is a long list of police officers who were severely threatened, harassed, and fired for exposing police corruption. Then explore concise summaries of deeply revealing police corruption news articles from the major media.
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