Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Fullerton (CA) Police Officer breaks the "Blue Code of Silence"

2012-12-04 "Ben Lira Interview: Ben Lira speaks to the Fullertonian about his experience at the Fullerton Police Department" by Mark Stouffer
 Open the MP3 file. [http://soundcloud.com/markstouffer/012a-121204-1107-ben-lira]
This is the raw audio from our interview with officer Ben Lira from the Fullerton Police Department. We are presenting it unedited because we think the citizens should have access to this information.
Ben Lira -

 Lira alleged to KFI on Thursday, November 29th, that Officer Dan Hughes played a key role in keeping officers silent following the beating of Kelly Thomas, in addition, Lira made allegations of racism and nepotism within the department. An email sent to Joe Felz on July 20th described the allegations in detail [http://thefullertonian.com/Article/Details/745].
 The Fullertonian presented the case for transparency from the very begining of the Kelly Thomas issue in our articles [http://thefullertonian.com/Article/Details/430] and [http://thefullertonian.com/Article/Details/436]. Transparency was a buzzword of the recent City Council campaigns. It is in the interest of transparency, and that our local government serves its citizens, and that the citizens should therefor be informed, that we publish this unedited interview. Mr. Lira's statements are his own, and are not confirmed or validated by the Fullertonian or its contributors.
 Lira recently released a letter that he sent to city manager Joe Felz in April in which he complained about Dan Hughes's management of the police dept. He claims that there is a subculture of racism and nepotism among some members of the police department, and that some PD management suppress complaints.
 We spoke to Joe Felz and he told us that the process of administrative action followed the normal course and was not affected by any outside influence.
 We have contacted Dan Hughes but have not heard back from him yet.

2012-11-30 "Officer Benjamin Lira Breaks the Blue Code of Silence; The first allegations regarding corruption within FPD to come from a cop themselves" by Alex Stouffer
 KFI began reporting yesterday, Thursday November 29th, on a letter that had been sent to City Manager Joe Felz by Fullerton officer Benjamin Lira. Within the letter below, Lira alleges misconduct that has been occuring with the higher ups at FPD including Acting Captain Dan Hughes who is at the top of the list to become the new permanent Chief of Fullerton Police Department [http://www.kfiam640.com/pages/billcarroll.html?article=10605753]:

From: Ben Lira
Sent: Friday, July 20, 2012 12:42 PM
To: jfelz@ci.fullerton.ca.us; City Manager
Subject: message/information from Benjamin Lira
 Mr. Felz,
 My name is Benjamin Lira, and although we've never met, I've been a nearly 17 year dedicated employee of the Fullerton Police Department.  Recent events have left the city, the Police department and it's employees in turmoil.  I'm saddened to think I've had anything to do with that.
 I apologize for reaching out to you via email but myself and my colleagues have stood quiet long enough.  I ask that you PLEASE take the time to read this email and reflect on it's contents.
 If my name doesn't ring a bell, then let me introduce myself and tell you I am the person who drafted the email to solicit bail funds for Manuel Ramos.  I'm not writing you to debate the KT events; they speak for themselves.  I've said all along that I didn't condone the actions of the Officers, but Manuel Ramos is my friend and I did it to help a friend.  Not only did I try to help a friend I checked with then Acting Chief Hamilton who told me, "I can do whatever I want as long as I do it on my own time."  Employees at the PD were confused because having not seen the video were told by Captain Crum, "that's what happens when you fight with the Police."  On my own time I drafted an email and distributed via PORAC.  I didn't have any intentions other then to solicit donations through union members.  Unfortunately, someone from LAPD put the email on his facebook page, Big City Cops.   I do not have any affiliation with BCP nor do I agree with their views.
 Since drafting this email I've been demoted.  After my demotion I was placed on paid leave for a text message I did not send and was distributed by members of the FPD.  It's unfortunate that I and on my own time am held to higher standards then some of the members of the FPD while on duty.  Many in the public refer to the "culture of corruption" in the FPD and I'm here to tell you it exists.  I've resisted long and hard the "culture of corruption" and I can no longer sit back and allow this to ruin the reputation I spent long and hard building with the community, my co-workers and my colleagues in the LE profession.  Which was once a childhood dream to become a Police Officer has now become a nightmare.
 Up until now I've decided to remain silent, mostly at the advice of my attorney's.  I can no longer remain silent and my passion to clean up the Police department and restore its reputation remains stronger then ever.  I feel it's ironic the person now in charge of the Police department, Dan Hughes, has led the way in the culture of corruption and now makes the decisions for the Department.  I implore you to please continue reading and know that against my attorney's wishes I'm reaching out to you to give you information you may find useful.
 When I first began my career in 1995 I was eager to make a difference and that difference started in my assignment at the FPD jail.  While working in the jail I watched then Senior Officer Dan Hughes slap an inmate 6-8 times in the face.  I thought to myself this person doesn't need to be a Police Officer and never did I ever imagine this person would one day be in charge.  The assault was investigated and as a probationary employee and only 19years old I feel as though I was told what to say and not asked what I saw.
 During my career I worked up the ranks from Cadet, Sr Cadet, Jailer, Reserve Officer, Police Officer and Corporal.  I attended CSUF and obtained my Bachelors degree in hopes of one day promoting.  Sadly I was wrong because I soon realized there was a culture at FPD where a group of White Officers would promote and then promote their friends leaving the rest of us on the outside looking in. If you look at the make up of the PD it's made up of Supervisors, their family members and friends.   I know it's hard to believe but as you continue to read on I hope you see the evidence I show to support my claim.
 In my nearly 17 years as an employee of the Fullerton Police Department I have received one citizen complaint and it was at the beginning of my career.  I personally think this is impressive because all of my career but 2 years has been spent in patrol because I've never been given a chance to prove myself in details, assignment, training, etc.  This frustration grew into depression and in 2005 I took a leave of absence.  Embarrassed as to how I was feeling I didn't tell anyone.  I did what I had always told people and that's if your not feeling well then seek counseling, and that's exactly what I did.  Unfortunately, this didn't meet the mold of the culture at FPD because when I returned to work I had 46 metal hangers intertwined on my locker preventing me from opening it.  I reported this, but of course nothing ever happened.
 Throughout my career I watched as this Culture of Corruption grew and they became increasingly racist.  Mexicans would be referred to as "wetbacks" and African Americans would be referred to as the "N" word.  I voiced my displeasure but to no avail.  On July 22, 2008 a departmental photo was scheduled and during individual photos a group of Mexican Officers were called, "wetbacks," "where's your oranges,""Where's your Chiclets."  For the first time in my career, while in uniform and not on the scene of a tragic crime, I wanted to cry.  I filed a complaint and my frustration grew when the FPD brass deemed my complaint "spirited bantering."  I was mortified and couldn't understand why this could be.  From then on I suffered even more ridicule by colleagues teasing me for making a complaint.
 Since this time I've continued to suffer discrimination.  I've reported this and ultimately then Chief Sellers scheduled an independent investigation.  RCS investigating and consulting ultimately met with me and the results of this investigation have never been given to me.  During this investigation I reported how supervisors would leave early and go drinking downtown.  I reported how the supervisors would then have Officers take them home in Police/City vehicles.  Ironically these same officers who would give them rides home would begin to get promoted and preferred details in the Department.  I reported how then Captain Petropolous would teach at FJC and allow FPD members enroll in his class and never show up and get A's in the class.  Doesn't sound like much until you consider Officers would use these credits which led to certificates and increase pay.
 This investigation went on and I reported a laundry list of incidents which largely alleged supervisors were derelict in their duty.  I reported how supervisors would go and teach at FJC academy when they should be working at the PD.  I didn't feel it was fair to the citizens that the watch commander was getting paid to teach at FJC instead of being at the PD, but this was the norm and til this day hasn't changed.
 10 days after this interview I was called in on a Sunday to the Watch Commanders office.  I was met by an angry Dan Hughes.  Hughes told me I was ordered not to talk about the above mentioned investigation and that someone had filed a complaint against me.  I was never given a copy of the complaint, I was never told what the complaint was and a follow up investigation took place.  I later learned from the Association that it was Dan Hughes attempt to cover up the interview which in turn led to his promotion to Captain.
 The more I look around I can't help but feel Dan Hughes is the common theme amongst corruption that has occurred.  For instance, the city is being sued by Clarke, a citizen who said he was assaulted on St Patrick's day 2010.  All those involved know it was Dan Hughes who initiated this contact and took Clarke down to the ground causing him injuries yet no record of this ever exist.  In fact, this arrest was followed by Officer Cary Tong purposely slamming on the brakes and while recorded on DAR you can hear Officer Tong allowing the inmates face to slam on the "cage" three times in the Police car.  I think it's sad and ironic how now the city is being sued but up until now Hughes' involvement is not known.  To me this shows what kind of person he really is.  In addition to that during this investigation he had Sgt Chocek secretly/privately go up to each officer involved and promise them lenient discipline in return for not reporting Dan Hughes' involvement.
 These are just my stories and quiet frankly I have several more and so do other members of this department.  There's employees that are afraid to come forward in fear of risking their career like I have. There's a lot of good employees at the FPD, one being Captain Lorraine Jones.  Sir, whether you agree with me or not I ask that you please consider the common goal we have and that's to clean up the Police Department.  It breaks my heart to have to listen to the advice of my attorney's and prepare for lawsuits because that's not what I'm about.  If you question my intentions please ask my friend, Captain Lorraine Jones.  She speaks highly of you and it's for that reason I've chosen to reach out to you.
 On May 17 I met with the FBI and reported what I've said along with other things.  The FBI, like yourself, have the opportunity to make a difference for this city, it's citizens and it's employees and I urge you to please consider that.  I think at the very minimum I've given you some evidence of the misdeeds perpetrated by Dan Hughes and I'm hoping it's enough to launch an investigation and place him on administrative leave.  I hope that if at any point you want to meet with me and or use me to help, that you know I'm committed to you and this city and it's citizens.
 I'm sorry for any inconvenience any of my actions have caused.
 Benjamin Lira

2011-08-24 "Common Ground: Ethics and Politics" by Mark Stouffer
Politics in our town is changing. It is going through a quite painful process of introspection in our Police Department and our City Hall. The sequence of events that followed the tragic beating of Kelly Thomas have revealed a uncomfortable lack of accountability and an almost total lack of transparency.
Reports of confiscation of witness video, initial misinformation, total lack of disciplinary action until publicity required it, legal moves against local publications that reported the incident, a “hush fund” offer to the victims father, and a stern refusal to release high-quality video of the incident or any other evidence, all flies in the face of campaign promises of “transparency”.
These events have lead two city council members to demand the release of the video tapes and also the resignation of Police Chief Michael Sellers.
Video of bystander accounts during and immediately after the incident, along with the gruesome picture of Kelly Thomas after the beating, have sparked outrage in national and international press.
The DA is refusing to release the city’s high-quality video of the incident, but when asked on CNN about the contents of the tape DA Chief of Staff Susan Kang Schroeder chocked up and said, “Your heart…, your heart is … sad, watching what was on the tapes.” She claimed that releasing the video could cause witnesses or jurors to be swayed by “what they saw in the media” instead of the truth.
It is because of the painful nature of this process that it is important that we keep a civil tone. What needs to be said must be said but a direct identification of the nature of the problem is more important than veiled threats or offensive language. In civil discourse the best defense is not “a good offense”.
We present these notes to you because we should be prepared as the world turns their eyes towards Fullerton. A wise man once said, “When you are going through tough times, keep going!” That sounds like good advice. Now it is time to shine a light on our guiding institutions and look directly at them. If we make the effort to fix these problems the right way we can see a newer, brighter future for all Fullertonians.

2011-08-10 "Common Ground: Transparency in Government" by Mark Stouffer
One word that was mentioned regularly during the most recent City Council campaign season was “transparency”. Interestingly, it has returned to the front of the newspapers because of a lack of transparency in the Kelly Thomas beating case. But what is transparency? And why is it good?
Transparency can easily be understood by contrasting it with what is called a black box. A black box is a term used to refer to a system that is opaque. You can see what goes into a black box and you can see what comes out of it, but you can’t see what it does to the inputs to produce the outputs. An ATM machine is one example. You can log in to an ATM (inputs) and get money and a receipt out (outputs) but you can’t look inside.
It’s not important to look inside the ATM because you don’t need to trust it. The trust required for the transaction lies with your bank. You can instantly check the amount that was withdrawn from your account by inquiring with your bank and getting a full report. And you can trust that your bank authenticates the devices that are allowed to submit transactions. This is why you can use a debit card scanner at a small liquor store without worrying about how the scanner works.
Sometimes you need to trust the system that provides you a  service, such as the bank. This is why banks spend a lot of time telling you how they work. They need to establish a trust relationship with you. Banks produce reports, publish policies and staff names, and the staff is often eager to answer questions. Banks establish trust through a process of transparency.
For decades organizations have been touting the curative properties of transparency. Gorbachev used “glasnost” (openness) to promote freedom in the former Soviet Union (it worked beyond his wildest dreams). But transparency does not just benefit outside observers. CEO’s of large companies read press reports of the workings of their subsidiaries. The US administration has used CNN for years to see instant news of it’s remote operations. Even smaller organizations find that transparencies reveal insights. This is not possible with a black box where there is only one route for information to get to the top.
Opaqueness blinds the leaders as well as the observers.
E.D.Kain, writing about the Kelly Thomas beating on Forbes.com said, “Who [benefits] the most from increased police transparency? The answer is simple: honest cops. Honest cops who have nothing to hide benefit the most from police transparency and an end to police abuse. Honest police work is hard – much harder than the overt displays of power and aggression.”

Bad Cop: Norman Wielsch of Contra Costa County

2012-12-03 "East Bay cop to plead guilty in drug case" by Justin Berton from "San Francisco Chronicle"[http://www.sfgate.com/crime/article/East-Bay-cop-to-plead-guilty-in-drug-case-4088040.php]:
The former commander of an elite Contra Costa County police squad will plead guilty this week to charges that he stole narcotics from evidence lockers and tried to sell them back on the street with the help of a private investigator, court records show.
Under a plea deal filed Monday in federal court, Norman Wielsch, 51, will admit to five charges in a 2011 federal indictment in exchange for a lighter sentence.
The charges allege that he stole marijuana and methamphetamines, falsely arrested a suspected drug dealer, and stole cash and cell phones from prostitutes, his attorney said.
The terms of the deal require Wielsch to agree not to argue for fewer than 10 years in prison when he is sentenced by a judge in February, his attorney, Michael Cardoza, said. Wielsch was facing more than 25 years behind bars. Federal guidelines recommend that he serve 14 to 17 years, but the judge has wide discretion on the length.
 "After a full evaluation of all the evidence," Cardoza said, "he decided that it would be in his and his family's best interest to plead guilty."
Before his arrest, Wielsch was an agent with the state Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement for 12 years, and most recently served as commander of the Central Costa County Narcotics Enforcement Team, an elite multi-agency team that conducted drug raids and shut down prostitution rings.
The change of plea ends one story line in a saga that began in February 2011, when authorities arrested Wielsch and his friend, Concord private investigator Christopher Butler, 51.
Those arrests came after one of Butler's most trusted employees wore a concealed wire and video-recorded the two men making a drug deal. The video appeared to show Wielsch counting money and voicing concerns about selling confiscated drugs.
Butler, who pleaded guilty in September and is serving an eight-year prison term, earlier told authorities about a raft of dirty deeds that allegedly involved four other local lawmen.
The ensuing investigation led to the imprisonment of Wielsch's second-in-command, San Ramon officer Louis Lombardi, 40, for stealing cash and drugs from crime scenes and lifting two stolen guns. Two Richmond police officers with ties to Butler were sentenced in August on charges that they illegally purchased guns for minors and tried to obstruct a federal investigation.
And former Contra Costa County Deputy Sheriff Stephen Tanabe, 48, has pleaded not guilty to charges that he participated in Butler's "dirty DUI" stings, where prosecutors say the officer arrested men who were targeted and set up for drunken driving arrests. His trial is pending.
In addition, Butler told authorities that Wielsch assisted him when he opened a Pleasant Hill massage parlor to front for a brothel. The private eye said Wielsch shared in the profits and used his law enforcement position to protect the operation, while ordering raids on competing brothels.
Cardoza said his client's alleged connection to the parlor was not among the charges he'll admit to Wednesday, when he is scheduled to appear in an Oakland courtroom before he is taken into custody.
"He spent the weekend with his church group," Cardoza said. "He understands from that day on he will be serving a lengthy amount of time for the crimes he committed."
In interviews after his arrest, Wielsch said he was deeply stressed from his job when he decided to steal the drugs and regretted the dishonor he brought to law enforcement.
"Norm certainly hopes other police officers are paying attention to what went on in this situation," Cardoza said, "and if they are ever tempted to do anything that they give it a second thought and not do it."

2012-12-04 "Ex-police officer will plead guilty in drug case" from "Associated Press"[http://www.sfgate.com/news/crime/article/Ex-police-officer-will-plead-guilty-in-drug-case-4089494.php]:
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — A disgraced former commander of an elite Northern California drug task force will plead guilty to stealing drugs from evidence lockers and trying to sell them on the street with the help of a private investigator.
Under a plea deal filed Monday in federal court, Norman Wielsch, 51, on Wednesday will admit guilt in an Oakland courtroom to five drug and corruption charges stemming from a 2011 indictment, the San Francisco Chronicle reported (http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/East-Bay-cop-to-admit-guilt-in-drug-case-4088040.php).
"After a full evaluation of all the evidence, he decided that it would be in his and his family's best interest to plead guilty," Wielsch's attorney, Michael Cardoza, said Monday.
Wielsch was the commander of the now-defunct Central Costa County Narcotics Enforcement Team, an elite multi-agency task force that conducted drug raids and shut down prostitution rings.
Last year, the FBI arrested Wielsch and private investigator Christopher Butler after a grand jury indicted them for stealing drugs, operating a brothel and conducting phony sting operations to rob prostitutes.
Those arrests came after one of Butler's most trusted employees wore a concealed wire and recorded the two men making a drug deal. A video appeared to show Wielsch counting money and airing his concerns about selling confiscated drugs.
As a private investigator, Butler also acknowledged setting up so-called "dirty DUIs" for wives in divorce cases. The scheme involved hiring attractive women to lure the husbands into cheating and drunken driving. Butler orchestrated the arrests after he was hired by ex-wives, prosecutors said.
At the time, Butler also was trying to land a cable reality show, "P.I. Moms of San Francisco," that featured a crew of female detectives tracking down and videotaping cheating husbands.
Butler pleaded guilty in September to similar criminal charges and is serving an eight-year prison sentence. He said his crimes involved several other officers, including Wielsch.
Butler told authorities that Wielsch aided him when he opened a massage parlor in Pleasant Hill to front for a brothel. Butler added Wielsch shared in the profits and used his status as a law enforcement official to protect the operation, while ordering raids on competing brothels.
Cardoza said Wielsch's alleged connection to the parlor was not among the charges he will be pleading to on Wednesday.
"He understands from that day on he will be serving a lengthy amount of time for the crimes he committed," Cardoza said about Wielsch. "Norm certainly hopes other police officers are paying attention to what went on in this situation, and if they are ever tempted to do anything that they give it a second thought and not do it."
Under terms of the deal, Wielsch, who was facing more than 25 years in prison, could spend up to 17 years behind bars when he's sentenced in February.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

"Rev. Harris, Andrea Jarreau, Uncle Bobby & Minister Keith of the Nation of Islam speak at Vallejo Town Hall Meeting"

2012-11-18 video upload by Floyd Harris [youtube.com/watch?v=f5skFGh0GYI]:
Vallejo Town Hall Meeting held after Mario Romero was shot 30 times by Vallejo Police.
Mothers and fathers who kids were killed by Cops came together and spoke out!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Vallejo Police conduct a brilliant PR campaign to preserve their standing with the African-American community

While the Vallejo Police has knowingly allowed White Nationalists who engage in racist street executions against African Americans to remain protected and employed as Officers, the reputation of Vallejo Police has taken a nose-dive.
So, as a show of faith to the African-American community, they make sure the local newspaper prominently displays that, they are, in fact, there to protect the people which they terrorize every day...

2012-10-24 "Vallejo police offer reward in slaying of man, pregnant woman" by Lanz Christian Bañes from "Vallejo Times-Herald"
Vallejo police announced a $10,000 reward Tuesday for information on last month's slayings of a Vallejo couple and the couple's unborn twins.
"They have to be caught. They have to be found and punished to the fullest. ... They don't deserve to be walking around on this earth freely. They don't have that right," said Felecia Johnson, whose son Dashoun Ramon Jones, 31, and his fiancée Ashley Shari Mills, 28, were gunned down Sept. 6 in the 100 block of Atherton Street.
Mills was six months pregnant with twins -- a boy and a girl -- when she was killed. They would have been born in December.
"We're following up on every lead we have ... but we need more leads," Vallejo Police Lt. Jim O'Connell said Tuesday as he was flanked by members of Jones' and Mills' families at a press conference.
Family members took turns describing the night of the shootings. Many appeared on the small Atherton Street block that night as word spread of the deaths.
Jones' sister Ashley Johnson, 17, recalled getting a call from her father that her mother had been hospitalized after fainting in front of the crime scene. Then her father told her that Jones was "gone."
"I didn't know what he meant by that. ... I was just screaming and crying and begging for it not to be true," the teenager said.
Meanwhile, Mills' parents received their phone call as they drove on Interstate 80 toward their daughter's home.
"She's a beautiful person. I miss her," father Wilson Mills said of his daughter, who was studying psychology at Solano Community College.
While Mills doesn't believe in the death penalty, he hopes the person or people who killed his daughter and her family have a "miserable life in jail."
"I know sooner or later, down in my heart, the police department will apprehend these people," Mills said.
Two black men wearing hoodies were seen by witnesses running from the scene after shots were fired, police said.
"These two people were targeted in this crime. Very specifically they were targeted," O'Connell said.
Family members said they don't know why the couple was attacked. Jones and Mills left behind three children. Jones' 12-year-old daughter is staying with her mother, while the Mills are caring for Ashley Mills' 8-year-old son and the 2-year-old son she and Jones had together.
The reward money is being funded by the city. The quadruple homicide has been hard on the officers working the case as well, O'Connell said.
"We're human. We have families ourselves. I have twins myself," O'Connell said.
O'Connell declined to give too many specifics on the case, citing a sensitive investigation. Jones' mother appealed to the community to help quell the violence in Vallejo.
"We all need to reach out to each other. The youth need to stop the killing. We need to come together as a community," Johnson said.

Felecia Johnson, second from left, and her daughter Ashley discuss Tuesday the shooting deaths of son Dashoun Jones and his fiancee Ashley Mills, who was pregnant with twins. Mills' father, Wilson Mills, comforts his wife, right. (Lanz Christian Banes / Times-Herald)

Ashley Mills, 28 (Lanz Christian Banes)

Deshoun Jones, 28 (Lanz Christian Banes / Times-Herald)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

2012-10-21 "Vallejo police kill man during fiery rampage at home; Police say man shoved rifle barrel into officer's stomach"

by Irma Widjojo from "Vallejo Times-Herald" [http://www.timesheraldonline.com/news/ci_21823122]:
In a bizarre chain of events, Vallejo police shot and killed one man early Sunday and arrested another after one or both men apparently set their house on fire during a brief rampage.
Vallejo police Lt. Lee Horton said that a 29-year-old man was shot by an officer after he stuck a rifle in another officer's stomach in the burning house.
Police said the fiery incident began at about 1:28 a.m. when they received multiple reports that two men were involved in a loud argument in the 2500 block of Alameda Street and that the men were trying to burn their house down.
When police arrived they saw that several vehicles outside had shattered windows and a naked man running inside. When they went inside the house, where smoke was visible, they confronted the naked man.
At that time, a second naked man appeared from the back of the house with a rifle and placed its barrel directly against one officer's stomach. Another officer fired his weapon at the armed man and he dropped to the floor. He was pronounced dead later at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Vallejo.
A neighbor told the Times-Herald hours later that she heard someone yell "Put the gun down!" numereous times before shots were fired.
The neighbor also said that the men had never caused any problems before, and were quiet.
Later inspection of the .22 long-barrel rifle revealed it had a round in the chamber, Horton said.
No officer was injured and the uninjured man, 28, was taken into custody. He was then taken to Sutter Solano Medical Center for observation, where he was still held as of noon Sunday, Lt. Sid DeJesus said.
"He was still hallucinating as of 8 a.m., and could not be questioned," DeJesus said.
Names of both men have not been released.
During the encounter the officers realized the two-story house was becoming engulfed in flames and called the Vallejo Fire Department. Officers had tried to search the house further but smoke and flames prevented them from doing so, Horton said. The extent of the damage to the house was not immediately clear as of Sunday afternoon.
Horton said other officers also followed a blood trail that started inside the house to the back yard where they found recently slaughtered animals. DeJesus later said the animals were three decapitated birds, two of which appeared to be canaries.
"It appeared that there was a ritualistic type of event at this place," DeJesus said. "It was an extremely bizarre situation."
Although the investigation is continuing, police said it appeared one or both men had shut the power to the house, shattered numerous windows in the house and in two or three of their own cars parked outside, and that one or both were under the influence of some sort of hallucinogenic.
DeJesus said police have not determined the exact type of hallucinogenic pending toxicology result, but he also said that "We've dealt with meth, PCP before. But this is something different ... based on their rabid behavior."
Horton said the officers involved in Sunday's shooting have been placed on administrative leave in accordance with department procedure. The shooting also will be investigated by the department and Solano County District Attorney's office.
Horton said that anyone with information about this case is asked to contact police at 1 800 488-9383.
It was the 10th officer-involved shooting in Vallejo this year, and the sixth fatal one. It also was the 20th homicide in Vallejo this year, and second this weekend. On Saturday, Mauricio Dominguez, 20, was fatally shot in what witnesses said was a drive-by shooting. The 20 homicides also include the shooting death of an alleged robber by a store owner and the deaths of unborn twins in a double homicide Sept. 6.

Friday, October 19, 2012

2012-10-19 "Why Firing a Bad Cop Is Damn Near Impossible; A brief history of the 'law enforcement bill of rights'"

by Mike Riggs [http://reason.com/archives/2012/10/19/how-special-rights-for-law-enforcement-m]:
Over the summer, a still from a surveillance camera showing a police officer kicking a handcuffed woman in the head went viral on Facebook and email. The text below the picture read, "Rhode Island police officer Edward Krawetz received no jail time for this brutal assault on this seated and handcuffed woman. Now he wants his job back. Share if you don't want this to happen." The allegation was wild enough to pique the interest of the rumor-debunking site Snopes.com, which determined that the story was, in fact, true [http://www.snopes.com/politics/crime/krawetz.asp].
In 2009, Officer Edward Krawetz of the Lincoln Police Department arrested Donna Levesque for unruly behavior at a casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island. While seated on the ground with her hands cuffed behind her, Levesque kicked Krawetz in the shin. Krawetz responded by cocking back his right leg and nailing Levesque in the side of the head, knocking her over. In March 2012, Krawetz was convicted of felony battery [http://articles.nydailynews.com/2012-07-12/news/32652065_1_cuffed-woman-edward-krawetz-disciplinary-hearing] despite his claim that he kicked Levesque in "self defense." The 10-year sentence he received was immediately suspended, and Krawetz was ordered to attend anger management classes.
But he wasn't fired from the Lincoln Police Department. Under Rhode Island law, the fate of Krawetz's job as a cop rested not with a criminal court, or even his commanding officer, but in the hands of a three-person panel composed of fellow police officers—one of whom Krawetz would get to choose. That panel would conduct the investigation into Krawetz's behavior, oversee a cross-examination, and judge whether Krawetz could keep his job. The entire incident, in other words, would be kept in the family.
The same was true for Rhode Island Police Officer Alfred Ferretti after he followed two women home while in uniform and exposed himself; for Officers Robert Neri and Robert Lobianco after they were found having a threesome while on duty; and for Officer Nichalas Laprade after two women reported that he stared at them while masturbating as he drove down I-95 in his personal vehicle.
 All of these Rhode Island cops, and many more like them across the county, were able to keep their jobs and benefits—sometimes only temporarily, but always longer than they should have—thanks to model legislation written and lobbied for by well-funded police unions [http://www2.turnto10.com/news/2012/feb/14/bill-rights-protects-officers-accused-crimes-ar-932389/]. That piece of legislation is called the "law enforcement bill of rights," and its sole purpose is to shield cops from the laws they're paid to enforce.
The inspiration for this legislation and its similarly named cousins across the country is the Police Officers’ Bill of Rights, introduced in 1971 by New York Rep. Mario Biaggi (D), at the behest of the Police Benevolent Association. Having once been the most decorated police officer in the country, Biaggi didn't need much convincing to put forward the union-friendly bill.
Biaggi pushed for the POBOR until March 1987, when he received two indictments back-to-back. The first was for accepting a paid vacation from Brooklyn Democratic Leader Meade H. Esposito in exchange for using federal funds to bail out a company in Esposito's neighborhood. A second indictment handed down three months later charged Biaggi with extorting $3.6 million in cash and stock options from a small Bronx machine shop called Wedtech. Both charges resulted in convictions and Biaggi's resignation from Congress.
While Biaggi's bill never made it through Congress, police unions didn't wait for city managers or police department higher-ups to write their own. Benevolent associations in Maryland successfully pushed for the passage of a police bill of rights in 1972; Florida, Rhode Island, Virginia, New Mexico, and California followed suit before the 70s were over. The 1980s, 90s, and 2000s saw still more states adopt police bill of rights at the behest of police unions.
The rights created by these bills differ from state to state, but here's how a typical police misconduct investigation works in states that have a law enforcement bill of rights in place:
A complaint is filed against an officer by a member of the public or a fellow officer. Police department leadership reviews the complaint and decides whether to investigate. If the department decides to pursue the complaint, it must inform the officer and his union. That's where the special treatment begins, but it doesn't end there.
Unlike a member of the public, the officer gets a "cooling off" period before he has to respond to any questions. Unlike a member of the public, the officer under investigation is privy to the names of his complainants and their testimony against him before he is ever interrogated. Unlike a member of the public, the officer under investigation is to be interrogated "at a reasonable hour," with a union member present. Unlike a member of the public, the officer can only be questioned by one person during his interrogation. Unlike a member of the public, the officer can be interrogated only "for reasonable periods," which "shall be timed to allow for such personal necessities and rest periods as are reasonably necessary." Unlike a member of the public, the officer under investigation cannot be "threatened with disciplinary action" at any point during his interrogation. If he is threatened with punishment, whatever he says following the threat cannot be used against him.
What happens after the interrogation again varies from state to state. But under nearly every law enforcement bill of rights, the following additional privileges are granted to officers: Their departments cannot publicly acknowledge that the officer is under investigation; if the officer is cleared of wrongdoing or the charges are dropped, the department may not publicly acknowledge that the investigation ever took place, or reveal the nature of the complaint. The officer cannot be questioned or investigated by "non-government agents," which  means no civilian review boards [http://www.apbweb.com/featured-articles/1321-cops-have-due-process-rights-too.html]. If the officer is suspended as a result of the investigation, he must continue to receive full pay and benefits until his case is resolved. In most states, the charging department must subsidize the accused officer's legal defense.
A violation of any of the above rights can result in dismissal—not of the officer, but of the charges against him.
Because of these special due process privileges, there's little incentive for police departments to discipline officers. In most cases, it's more financially prudent to let a District Attorney or outside law enforcement agency do the heavy lifting, and then fire the officer if he's convicted. This is the only "easy" way, under police bills of rights, for departments to get rid of bad cops--which essentially means the only way to get rid of bad cops is if some other law enforcement agency can make a felony charge stick. This is the biggest problem with law enforcement bills of rights--they encourage police departments to let external forces determine what behavior is unacceptable. That's eventually why Rhode Island's Krawetz resigned his post.
But Rhode Island is by no means an outlier.
In the last year, a Florida narcotics detective was charged with a slew of crimes ranging from rape and torture, to embezzlement and forgery; a Virginia police officer shot a retired Sunday school teacher in the back of the head and throat as she drove out of a church parking lot; six California cops beat a homeless man into a life-ending coma; a Milwaukee police officer was arrested for sodomizing suspects; a drunk man slapped a Philadelphia cop, and the cop responded by beating the drunk man's face bloody with his baton.
What do they all have in common? They were all known by their colleagues and employers to be bad cops long before they came to the public's attention.
Major Joseph Floyd was a problem cop at departments across Florida before  beginning his two-year reign of terror in Crestview, Florida [http://reason.com/blog/2012/03/13/meet-maj-joseph-floyd-the-most-crooked-c].
Daniel Harmon-Wright was hired at the Culpeper Police Department despite a known drinking problem, and kept on the force despite  complaints that he illegally entered a home [http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/culpeper-va-police-officer-charged-with-murder-was-hired-despite-objections/2012/06/08/gJQAqGyjOV_story.html] and threatened its residents at gunpoint. 
At least one of the Fullerton PD officers who beat Kelly Thomas into a coma from which he never woke was accused of brutality the year before [http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/09/16/california.fullerton.police.brutality/].
Michael Vagnini's superiors in Milwaukee  knew "for a couple years" that he'd been conducting illegal rectal searches [http://reason.com/blog/2012/10/10/meet-michael-vagnini-the-milwaukee-cop-c].
Before William J. Gress beat a drunk and unruly Oktoberfest reveler, he  broke a woman's nose and spat on her outside a restaurant [http://articles.philly.com/2012-10-17/news/34500498_1_officer-strikes-officer-william-j-gress-police-officer].
Additionally, all of those officers were working in states with a law enforcement bill of rights, and when they were all eventually disciplined, it was by a law enforcement agency other than the one they worked for.
While it's possible—maybe even likely, depending on the department—that these officers would have faced no internal discipline even if their states did not have law enforcement bills of rights, such laws discourage discipline and make it nearly impossible for the public to hold bad cops accountable.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Oakland Police enagage in political hostility

Oakland Police are a renegade security agency engaged in hostile gestures against the Oakland city government, who are unaccountable for their Officer's prevalent White-Nationalism and who allow officers to be directed into open warfare against political dissent (as seen through 2011)...

2012-10-10 "Disturbing New Evidence About OPD: Court documents reveal that some Oakland police commanders believe cops could avoid shooting suspects if they were allowed to "rough" people up" by Ali Winston from "Eastbay Express" newspaper
Correction: The original version of this story mistakenly stated that private investigator Jan Gilbrecht had been hired by civil rights attorneys John Burris and Jim Chanin.
The official request last week to put the Oakland Police Department in federal receivership grabbed much media attention. But overlooked in the voluminous documents filed by civil rights attorneys John Burris and Jim Chanin was disturbing new evidence that raises significant questions not only as to whether the City of Oakland can stave off receivership, but also whether OPD's dysfunctional culture has changed at all in the past decade or if it's doomed to remain that way for years to come. Among other things, the new evidence shows that department trainers and commanders have been telling city residents, and possibly new police recruits, that Oakland cops shoot suspects because they're no longer allowed to beat them up.
According to a sworn deposition from Jan Gilbrecht, a private investigator who attended an Oakland Citizens' Police Academy on May 21, OPD Sergeant Randy Pope told attendees of the academy that Oakland was traditionally a "blue-collar kind of town," with a "blue-collar police force that maybe in the past was a little 'hands on' with folks, liked to put their hands on people and maybe got rough sometimes, but did not have that many officer-involved shootings."
According to Gilbrecht, Pope then talked about the federal consent decree that mandated reforms of OPD following The Riders scandal early last decade: "Some city lawyers came in and said, 'We want a white-collar kind of force now,'" and the city agreed to the reforms. Pope then added that he believes Oakland cops have become less inclined to use physical force on suspects, resulting in fewer complaints, but that they fire their weapons more frequently at suspects. "What do I know, I just look at the situation and do the math. It's more physical-use-of-force complaints but more live bad guys on the other hand, versus the NSA and more shootings on the other hand. What do you choose?" Pope asked the audience.
The Citizens' Police Academy is designed to enlist city residents to help police combat crime in Oakland. Even more alarming is the fact that Sergeant Pope, who lives in the far-East Bay suburb of Oakley, is a firearms and use-of-force instructor at OPD's training academy for new police recruits. His comments to the citizens' academy thus raise concerns as to whether he's repeating the same statements to new police officers, telling them that the federal consent decree leaves them little choice but to shoot suspects. Pope's comments also are in stark contrast to official statements from OPD brass that the consent decree is not hampering police work. "It's telling that they'll say this in a room full of citizens in the Eastmont substation — and it's completely opposite to what they say in court," Chanin said in an interview.
The evidence uncovered by Burris and Chanin also offers insight into the contempt that some OPD line officers have for federal Judge Thelton Henderson, a civil rights hero and Carter administration appointee who oversees the consent decree and was responsible for reforming the state's troubled prison health care system. Henderson will decide whether OPD is put in federal receivership. According to a sworn deposition from Nancy Appel, an associate director at the Anti-Defamation League who also attended the spring 2012 Citizens' Police Academy, Sergeant Greg Porritt told attendees that Judge Henderson "has an agenda," was "in the SLA [Symbionese Liberation Army]" or represented them in court. Both are false assertions.
Racially insensitive, defaced photos of Henderson and Mayor Jean Quan that had been posted at OPD headquarters were also included in the court filings. The one of Henderson depicts him with enlarged eyes and exaggerated lips, and one of the images of Quan shows her standing alone by a police car with dragon wings, horns, and slitted eyes drawn on her by a blue pen. There's also a photo of Quan and former Mayor Ron Dellums that looks as if it was used for a dartboard.
The caption stated: "If you thought Ron Dellums was a good Mayor...YOU'LL LOVE JEAN QUAN."

The Express previously reported about a flyer posted on a bulletin board at OPD's basement training range in winter 2010. According to police sources, the flyer, which superimposed a picture of a World War II fighter pilot over derogatory language about anti-war liberals, was still posted there until August.
The several hundred pages of evidence filed by Burris and Chanin trace the past ten years of stop-and-start reform, including the department's questionable history of uses of force, lax supervision, failure to rein in problem officers, and poor leadership that have combined to lead OPD astray in a manner unique in American law enforcement. Burris and Chanin contend that OPD's progress on reforms has ground to a halt, and their assertions are supported by reports from the court-appointed monitor that indicate the department has made virtually no progress since January 2010.
Reading through old monitoring reports and court transcripts filed with the receivership motion elicits a sense of déjà vu. Judge Henderson's response to a negative monitor's report in February 2005, two years after the consent decree began, reads like his comments from last fall: "I'm not given to overstatement, but I haven't seen anything like this in 25 years. This is so unacceptable that I've been spending my time deciding what I can do to get the attention of the defendant [the city and OPD]. This is contemptuous. I'm so angry at the slap in the face, the ignoring of this decree that my question is who's responsible and how can I get them in front of me?"
As this newspaper noted in January (see "Will OPD End Up in Receivership?" 1/25), OPD's response to Occupy Oakland also is playing a major role in the case, as is the review conducted by Frazier Group, LLC, of the October 25 raid on Occupy Oakland and its aftermath. In a sworn deposition in the consent decree case, Thomas Frazier, the former Baltimore police commissioner and longtime member of the San Jose Police Department, heavily criticized OPD's internal affairs and criminal investigation divisions' handling of the incident in which war veteran Scott Olsen was seriously injured by a cop. Portions of Frazier's deposition also reveal that Sergeant Jim Rullamas was the officer in charge of the criminal investigation into Olsen's wounding, which this reporter revealed had been "compromised" in June (see "OPD Screws Up Scott Olsen Investigation?" 6/13). It was Rullamas' decision to prematurely close the criminal probe that led the Frazier Group to voice concern and advise OPD to re-open the file. Frazier also said in his deposition that his staff questioned OPD's accounting of the videotaped beating of Kayvan Sabehgi by OPD Officer Frank Uu on November 2, stating that Uu's report of the incident and a video of it "did not jibe." (See "Cop Identified in Kayvan Sabehgi Beating?" 4/11.)
The evidence filed by Burris and Chanin also confirm and clarify City Administrator Deanna Santana's attempts to hide many of the Frazier report's key revelations, including the botched Olsen case (see "Santana Tried to Alter Damning Report," 9/19). Frazier's deposition includes a succinct response to questions about Santana's requests to have the report sent to her personal email in Microsoft Word format so that she could easily redact key portions of it.
"Chanin: Did she want to remove your findings?
Frazier: Yes."
The new evidence also confirms that former Police Chief Anthony Batts did nothing to reform the department and meet the requirements of the consent decree, also known as the Negotiated Settlement Agreement, or the NSA. In a deposition, current Police Chief Howard Jordan said Batts "didn't understand the tenets of the NSA, the history," and that the reforms were "too much for him to absorb." OPD's stagnation on reform efforts began during Batts' tenure, which lasted from 2009 to 2011.
Portions of Frazier's deposition also indicate that members of Jordan's own command staff do not have confidence in the integrity of OPD's internal affairs or criminal investigations division when it comes to probing allegations of police officer misconduct. "I have little faith that IA can get it right and have even less faith that CID will do the case right. The CID investigation would be a waste of time," a commander who court documents identify as one of Jordan's deputy chiefs, told one of Frazier's staffers. Jordan's deposition revealed that he was unaware of the unrest among his ranking subordinates over shoddy internal investigations into incidents such as the October 25 raid on Occupy Oakland and Scott Olsen's wounding.
In his deposition, Jordan also acknowledged the existing problems concerning police officers' use of lethal force. "There is a propensity in our organization for officers to point their firearms in cases when it's not necessary," said Jordan. However, the chief also claimed that scrutinizing uses of force "takes away from their [supervisors'] ability to supervise their officers."
Last week, Oakland police union attorney Michael Rains told the Oakland Tribune that the department's rank-and-file wasn't necessarily opposed to receivership in light of the "absolute lack of meaningful leadership in the department for the last decade," including from Chief Jordan. The city has until November 8 to respond to Burris and Chanin's receivership motion in court. The receivership hearing is scheduled for December 13.

Oakland Police Dept. actually gets scarier and more repressive

Oakland PD visits Israel to study counterterrorism, and has been found by investigators to be increasing its human rights abuses of people.

2012-10-17 "US police visit Israel to study counterterrorism" by BEN HARTMAN from "Jerusalem Post"[http://www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?id=288283]
Jerusalem hosting week-long seminar for US experts, plan to share tactics on high-risk combat.
 Counterterrorism experts from some of the biggest police departments in the United States are in Israel for a week-long seminar with representatives of the Border Police, where they plan to share tactics on high-risk combat.
The 10-member delegation includes officers from police departments in New York; Los Angeles; Austin, Texas; Oakland, California; and Houston, Texas.
They are visiting Israel as part of the American Jewish Committee’s “Project Interchange,” and organizers said the week-long meeting “will showcase Israeli technological and operational advances in counterterrorism tactics,” and allow the US participants to “exchange information on best practices with their Israeli counterparts,” in a press release issued on Wednesday.
During the visit, the attendees will also visit Megiddo Prison, where Israel houses well over a thousand security prisoners. The visit’s delegates will also take part in briefings on Israel’s handling of Palestinian terrorism and cooperation between Israeli and PA security agencies.
The program is the 10th such meeting held by the organization. In the press statement, Los Angeles Police Department Commander Richard Webb is quoted as saying that Israelis “are considered world leaders and innovators in counterterrorism and security. My experiences in meeting with the various experts and leaders confirm they not only are experts, they are pragmatic and collaborative.”
Webb also vowed to take what he learns from his Israeli counterpart back to Los Angeles, and made mention of “multi-level security measures at an international airport.”
Montgomery County Police Department Assistant-Chief Russell E. Hamill says that so far on the trip he has learned “not only the importance of hardening the country against terror attacks but also of the community in refusing to be terrorized. The Israeli people live that; they refuse to be terrorized.
In the battle against terrorism, that’s how you win and the Israelis are winning. They are not victims but survivors.”

2012-10-15 "Monitor finds Oakland police regressing" by Matthai Kuruvila from "San Francisco Chronicle"[http://www.sfgate.com/crime/article/Monitor-finds-Oakland-police-regressing-3951368.php]:
A court-appointed monitor overseeing Oakland police reforms said in a report released Monday that he was "dismayed" by the department's lack of progress, citing a "stubborn resistance to compliance." Robert Warshaw found that the Oakland Police Department actually took a step back, falling out of compliance with one of its tasks, which involves the creation of a monitoring system to track officers engaging in potentially problematic behavior.
The report is Warshaw's last before the federal judge who appointed him hears arguments in December about whether to place the department under federal control. Oakland city and police leaders have been eager to show that they are making progress. Oakland's department would become the first police department in the nation to be placed in federal receivership.
Warshaw made a point of recognizing "the challenges that the brave men and women of the agency face on a daily basis" but said the department's leadership "lacks consistency of message and a unanimity of purpose."
The department was ordered to make reforms after four officers, who called themselves the Riders, were accused in 2000 of systematically beating and framing suspects in West Oakland. A federal consent decree listing the reforms began in 2003, and the city was expected to comply within five to seven years.
There are 22 reforms still being monitored, with 12 in compliance, seven in partial compliance, one not in compliance, and two being deferred until a later date.
The report evaluated the reforms from April 1 through June 30.
 Officers who engage in at-risk behaviors - such as unusually high numbers of arrests, use of force or pointing of weapons - are tracked. If they reach a certain threshold, they are recommended for additional training or supervision. It is not a disciplinary system, but a corrective system.
Warshaw, however, said commanders and deputy chiefs have a high tolerance for at-risk behaviors by officers.
In his last report, Warshaw said the department was "almost stagnant" in its efforts to comply. Three months later, Warshaw said the department showed "regression."
John Burris, a civil rights attorney who is advocating for the department to be put in receivership, called Warshaw's latest description of the department "damning."
"For us, it's just another point in consideration that led us to filing a motion for the appointment of receivership," Burris said. "The system is not working."
The union representing the city's police officers and sergeants noted that Warshaw repeatedly pointed to department leadership as the problem. The reform task that fell out of compliance, for example, is completely out of the hands of rank-and-file officers, said Sgt. Barry Donelan, president of the Oakland Police Officers Association.
Warshaw also raised other concerns. His report said officers routinely violate policy by not turning on their lapel cameras in required circumstances, and their supervisors do not discipline them for it. Warshaw also said he was troubled that officers use confidential informants - who he said often have credibility issues - to justify stops and the pointing of weapons.
Despite the criticisms, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said the department had made progress over the past year. She said she will be pushing the City Council to spend more money on the reform effort.
"We're either going to be done, or we're going to have a very specific timeline (for compliance) by the end of the year," she said.
Quan said Police Chief Howard Jordan has been caught between two difficult forces - a monitor who wants change and a police union that thinks he's disciplining officers too harshly.
Last week, Jordan announced that he was seeking to fire two officers, demote one and suspend 15 more for their handling of Occupy Oakland protesters.
The union denounced the move as scapegoating, but Quan said it was an example of Jordan's ability to make tough decisions.
"He worked very hard to create a report that was very fair and balanced," she said.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Vallejo Police Officer who murdered Mario Romero has been identified

2012-09-30 "OFFICER INVOLVED IN RECENT POLICE FATALITY IDENTIFIED"press release from "Justice for Mario Romero and Joseph Johnson Movement":
Vallejo, CA –
 Officer involved in Romero death had a long history of unlawful and abusive behavior.
 On September 2, 2012, Mario Romero was approached and gunned down while sitting in his parked car in front of his home by a Vallejo Police Officer, identified by multiple witnesses as Officer Dustin B. Joseph (age 32).
 Public and Court Records indicate a series of multiple complaints that detail a history of unlawful abusive and questionable, to say the least, behavior of Officer Dustin Joseph.
 Reports detail claims, that Vallejo Officer Dustin Joseph, and another officer, physically assaulted Anthony Trapps in Kaiser Hospital Vallejo. Trapps said he was angry, that his son had been Tased multiple times during an alleged break up of a fight at Vallejo High School. Mr. Trapps felt Officer Joseph used excessive force with a disregard for the life of his minor son, in light of a recent Taser Related Death involving Vallejo Police Department.
 Trapps admitted to cursing at the officer out of frustration when Officer Joseph refused him access to his son, preventing Mr. Trapps ability to ensure the wellbeing of his hospitalized son. Trapps had no idea what would follow... when he turned around to exit the hospital, Trapps was attacked from behind, beaten, and then arrested.
 Another report states Officer Dustin Joseph deployed his pepper spray recklessly on a group of students, as well as other adults with their small children, while eating at a Jack in the Box restaurant. Officer Dustin Joseph unloaded the entire contents of his canister, an Action most people believe is reserved for extreme situations. The report describes the Restaurant having to be evacuated. Vallejo Fire Department 911 Emergency Services were summoned for immediate use of their industrial blowers to restore safety and financial Productivity .
 In another report, Officer Dustin Joseph is accused of an unlawful search and arrest of a Female Minor, where a subsequent or secondary search interestingly produced 13 Ecstasy Pills. Officer Dustin Joseph claimed the minor “told” him she planned to sell the drugs. In another similar report, a complaint of inappropriate physical contact filed at Vallejo High School on behalf of a female minor attending Vallejo High school in the 2008-2009 school year claims Officer Dustin Joseph (a male Officer) performed a physical body search on the female minor. The minor stated she asked Officer Joseph not to touch her. The minor said that the Officer immediately grabbed her arm twisted the arm turning her around placed her in handcuffs that cut into her skin, then moved his hands all over her body smiling and laughing. He then placed her in his patrol car. The minor was not charged with any crime, she dropped out of High School fearful of Officer Dustin Joseph. She stated “He is a Bully and uses his big Size and job to violate us".
The Murder of Mario Romero, a man sitting in his car in front of his home, unknown to the officers at the time of the shooting, suspected of nothing except being an American exercising his right to just exist, minding his own business, murdered by this non-upstanding Police Officer "on Steroids"... the once 300 Pound menace lost a hundred pounds and decided to practice his new agility by spraying Mario full of bullets! Then, like a homicidal Rambo, he jumped on the hood of the car and emptied the next clip like the first into Mario Romero’s windshield at close range. Officer Dustin Joseph could not see him, the officer never used the loudspeaker nor did he identify himself. He ran up to the vehicle like a common thug, Murder under Color of the Law.
Officer Joseph did not want the neighborhood to witness his ongoing premeditated abuse of power. His name was not released early for good reason... He has a lot to hide! Murder, Excessive Force, brandishing firearms on people is not a new behavior for this officer, “He was a ticking time bomb waiting to explode”.
 # # # #
We ask that anyone who has had an encounter with this monster to to please leave details in comment area. Thank you.

L.B.: Thats the same ass hole that slammed a girl on her neck 2009 at bethal what are they waiting for they clearly have proof action must be tookn into consideration this is straight bull shit... they sure did shit when that officer capoot was gun down this has everything to do with race!
D.K.: i used to get harassed daily by him at vallejo high. we called him officer d joseph. i believe he was the one that tasered this girl when i went there n 2007. she started havin seizures and had to go to the hospital. it was horrible. that man loved pickin on people that wasnt white or if u looked like u was affiliated. he tried to say i was a gang member for wearing red. but guess what. it was Friday which was spirit day. vhs colors. red. i got kicked out of school on the last day. i wasnt able to go to my graduation cuz it said i was a danger to the school and myself. omg. my mom was so mad. and they had to let me come back. i had to do a half semester cuz i failed my last two finals for not bein there. thank u officer fuck head. he tased hella people. i wanna say atleaat three cuz kids kept going to the hospital. thats what really opened my eyes to how vpd brutalizes people. he had a partner too his name officer huff. two big white assholes.
C.M.: Yes, D.K. this is true. I was passing through VALLEJO high when this took place. My god son who now R.I.P Kevin Morgan was also taken from school while attending Bethel in 2003- ? And taken to Richmond by officer huff n his police car. For what aparent reason it is still unclear to me.
B.B.: I went through the same thing the young lady did at Vallejo high he used alot/too much force wen arresting me caused me to bleed cause the cuffs were too tight, tried to brake my arm wen putting it behind my back, searched me knowing a female officer was suppose to made me sit in the car wit a big ass puff coat on windows rolled up w the heater on & the list could go on . Everybody has a damn story bout this man.. I was arrested by both D joseph & Huff.
L.H.: man i know that dirty ass cop cus i went to da high he dipped the fuck outtda me put his knee all up n a bitch neck fuk him i hope they see what type of dirty ass cop he realy is so he can b stripped of his rights as a cop n thrown n jail forever!
L.A.: Im not sure if this is the same officer but about a year ago me and two african american men were at the park on fair grounds minding our business which is legal & two vallejo police men drove threw the grass coming from fairgrounds dr going toward whitney the side of the park we were on they got out drew there guns & demanded all three of us to get face down on the ground mind u im 17 at the time the only female & we are all guilty of no crime ... they run our names & pat us down while face down in the dirt If im remembering correctly male officers are not to touch females so I remind them that I am a minor one of the officers kneels down & whispers to me "i dont give a fuck what you are" they handcuff one of the young men I was with but made no arrest after they realized they had nithing they let us go about our business .... This is harrasment & I agree that something needs to be done about the VPD they should not be getting away with this bullshit any longer
L.M.: I wasn't assaulted by d Joseph N officer huff while i attended Jesse bethel high school, I was harassed an treated daily an one day iwas caught by these same officers off campus and was beaten an arrested on false charges that where later droped. I remember Joseph laughing an sayin I told yu I'd catch yu
My name I wish to withhold...
I am the uncle of the person whose Facebook this belongs to [www.facebook.com/JusticeForMarioRomero]. I lived in Vallejo but moved out because of police encounters...I too encountered officer D. Joseph...me and the mother of my child in south Vallejo at the motel 6 where I was brutally beaten and my pocket knife I held in my right front pocket was pulled from my pocket and placed to my throat by officer Joseph with him threatening to cut my throat and using racial slurs...he and his partner whose name I can't remember pulled my dreadlocks and continued to kick me repeatedly in my face because I was not wanted on the property of motel 6 by the owner...I didn't have a stay away...nor did I possess any drugs or weapons except for a four inch pocket knife...he told me not to show my face in south Vallejo any more...I obeyed...I attempted to make a police report only to have my report discarded...I never persisted after that...I just left Vallejo...
A.L.: D. Joseph had a Long history of threatning My brothers life(rest in peace) hed told him repeatedly ” im going to get you. Ur Granny wont always be able to save you”. Hes partly responsible for my brothers reputation being tarnished & him being killed.
S.W.: Well shit since ur talking about it dont forget the 6 yr old child that was having a temper tantrum over crayons that he snatched out of the moms car put him in the back of his patrol car against his mothers will only for this child to have a panic attack, then placed him on a 51/50 hold take him to the hospital have the doctor give him a tranquilizer and ship him off to St. Helena mental at 6yrs old. Vallejo filed bankruptcy after the family filed a lawsuit. Oh and dont forget the civil rights violation lawsuit filed on 2/29/12, this lunatic is out of control

Thursday, September 20, 2012

2012-09-20 "No charges for pepper-spraying UC cops"

 by Nanette Asimov from "San Francisco Chronicle" [http://www.sfgate.com/crime/article/No-charges-for-pepper-spraying-UC-cops-3882346.php]:
UC Davis police Lt. John Pike uses pepper spray on protesters during an Occupy demonstration in November 2011. Photo: Wayne Tilcock, Associated Press

The image of UC Davis police calmly coating seated protesters with pepper spray in November was shocking to the millions who saw it on videos gone viral - but it wasn't a criminal act, the Yolo County district attorney has concluded.
At issue was whether officers broke the law on Nov. 18 by using the chemical irritant on 21 students during a protest over rising tuition.
In a 12-page report issued this week, the district attorney's office describes UC police trying to remove a group of arrested students while surrounded by protesters chanting, "Set them free!" A smaller group then linked arms and sat down across the walkway, blocking the officers' exit route.
In the videos, Lt. John Pike of the campus police is seen slowly and deliberately spraying the students, pausing to shake the can before continuing. At least one other officer, Alexander Lee, is also seen spraying.
By linking arms, the seated protesters engaged in "active" rather than "passive" resistance, according to the district attorney's report, which relied not only on the officers' accounts but on University of California-commissioned studies of the incident, on experts in the use of force, and on UC policy.
Officers may use pepper spray when they encounter active resistance, the report says.
But whether the officers used the chemical in an unlawful manner - 11 students were treated for the effects of pepper spray and two were taken to the hospital - could not be proved "beyond a reasonable doubt," says the report.
"Lt. Pike's pepper spraying of the seated protesters has been seen by and has outraged millions of viewers throughout the world," the report says, but adds that the decision about whether to prosecute considered a broader context, including the officers' belief, discredited in hindsight, that they were surrounded by a hostile mob.
There were between 200 and 250 protesters, said Mike Cabral, assistant chief deputy of the district attorney's office.
Pike and Lee, who had been on paid leave, left their jobs in July. Pike's attorneys did not return calls for comment. But Pike told the Sacramento Bee that he was relieved that he would not be charged. After the incident, Pike had been deluged with harassing phone calls, e-mails and visits to his home.
UC officials declined to comment, as did several students who were pepper-sprayed.
The 21 are in the process of settling their civil lawsuit against UC, which the regents approved Sept. 13. The American Civil Liberties Union, representing the students, expects to file the settlement in federal court in Sacramento next week. The terms will then become public, said spokeswoman Rebecca Farmer.
This incident and the forceful use of batons on students by UC Berkeley police in November prompted UC officials to examine their response to protests across the 10-campus system. UC spent nearly $1 million on two studies, outside attorneys and insurance, said Steve Montiel, a UC spokesman.
-- To see the video, go to: www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=6AdDLhPwpp4

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

2012-09-19 "The People's Police Department: Why federal consent decrees are working in Detroit, but not in Oakland"

by Joaquin Palomino from "Eastbay Express"
In January of 2011, 38-year-old Lamar Deshea Moore walked into the Detroit Police Department's sixth precinct and opened fire. Two officers were hit in the head with shrapnel, a commander was shot in the back, and a fourth officer was shot in the chest, although a bulletproof vest saved her from serious injury. "As you can imagine, utter chaos and pandemonium took place," Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee Jr. said at the time. "Through it all, our officers maintained courageous calm. ... They returned fire, they took cover, they did all the things we train them to do under pressure."
Miraculously, no cop was fatally wounded. The shooter, though, was killed in a barrage of police bullets. While the horrific details of the incident drew national attention, one aspect of it flew under the radar. Moore was the first and last person to be killed by Detroit police officers in all of 2011. As of earlier this month, only one civilian had been killed by police fire in 2012.
The low number of officer-involved slayings in Detroit represents a stark contrast to years past. Between 1990 and 1998, Detroit PD was the deadliest police force in the nation, averaging ten shooting deaths per year. Autopsies showed that many of the civilians were shot in the back, and yet the majority of the officers involved were never punished. Given such statistics, how has Detroit PD made such progress on reducing civilian casualties in recent years? 
Much of the department's success stems from a 2003 federal lawsuit that accused Detroit PD of system-wide misconduct. In order to avoid a potential federal takeover, the department agreed to two legally binding agreements known as consent decrees. The decrees systematically overhauled the department's policies to ensure accountability and "best-practices" policing.
If this sounds familiar, it's because the Oakland Police Department is under a remarkably similar consent decree that the City of Oakland signed in 2003. Both police departments also are under the oversight of the same independent court monitoring team led by Robert Warshaw, former police chief of Rochester, New York.
But in recent years, while Detroit has made significant progress in implementing the reforms required in its federal consent decrees, the Oakland Police Department has made little to none. In fact, by year's end, Detroit PD could emerge completely from federal oversight, while Oakland could become the first police department in the country to be put in federal receivership.
Detroit PD's turnaround began in earnest three years ago when Chief Godbee took the helm of the department in 2009, and instead of making excuses, used the consent decree as a roadmap for creating a new police culture. As a result, over the past two years citizen complaints have dropped 41 percent, according to a recent monitoring report by Warshaw and his team. In addition, Detroit cops now rarely draw and point their firearms while on duty and taxpayers' payouts from police misconduct cases have dropped, according to the department's oversight division.
"Chief Godbee appeals to the best in people in the department and is really giving people who will perform in the public interest an opportunity to shine," said longtime Detroit City Councilwoman Sheila Cockrel. Godbee and his executive team are "change agents," she continued. "They're willing to take risks — risks that will succeed and sometimes risks that will fail. But they're willing to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and go back to the table to do it again."
These "risks" come in the form of a number of innovative programs that have turned Detroit PD into a sort of People's Police Department. Detroit PD, for example, now has public accountability meetings in which police command staff must justify their actions and results to city residents. The department also supports a highly productive Civil Rights Integrity Bureau that conducts routine audits and investigations of police accountability. There's also a project that encourages police officers to buy homes in the inner city.
According to interviews and public documents, the department's innovative programs, paired with Godbee's strong leadership, have fundamentally changed Detroit PD. And for many in the community, the transformation was long overdue.
For one week in the summer of 1967, tens of thousands of Detroit residents looted and pillaged. Forty-three people died, 7,200 were arrested, and 2,000 buildings were burned to the ground. Many cite racially exclusionary housing policies and employment discrimination as the root causes of the violence, but Cockrel said the riots were a reflection of stewing tension between police and black residents. "It was all about police violence, police misconduct," she said, "the way police operated in the city in relationship to African-American people."   The 1967 riots set in motion demands for the Detroit Police Department to improve its practices — in particular, to have the city's police force better reflect the growing number of African-American residents. By 1973, this demand was answered. Detroit elected its first black Mayor, Coleman Young (since then, every mayor of Detroit has been African American), and one of Young's campaign pledges was to integrate the city's largely white police department and curb corruption on the force.
By the 1990s, part of his vision had become reality; a majority of officers in Detroit PD were African-American. However, integrating the police force did little to improve police-community relations. "The city was majority African-American, the police department was majority African-American, and the police officer whose particular behavior sparked public outrage was an African-American officer who shot and killed three other black men in a very short window of time — all under the color of law," Cockrel said.
That officer's name was Eugene Brown. Between 1991 and 2003, he cost the City of Detroit $7.5 million in lawsuits. Most of that money stemmed from nine shootings he was involved in, three of which were fatal. Despite his frequent use of lethal force, Brown was cleared of wrongdoing by internal police investigations in all instances.
David Robinson, a former Detroit cop who's now an attorney, said the department's protection of Brown was not out of the ordinary. "The average investigator would never throw an officer to the wolves unless there was some impartial evidence," he said. "Police investigators have always seen things through blue spectacles."
By 2000, community frustration with police had boiled over again. Police watchdog groups formed, activists staged strikes, and there was strong pressure to remove then-Police Chief Benny Napoleon, who regularly defended the department's "shoot to kill" policy.
Eventually, the US Department of Justice conducted what's known as a "pattern or practice" investigation of Detroit police. The DOJ found Detroit PD to be in violation of numerous laws. Most shocking was the state of the city's holding cells.
Between 1990 and 2000, numerous inmates died of drug withdrawals, heart attacks, diabetic comas, and myriad other health issues. In many instances, inmate bodies were found in a full state of rigor mortis — meaning they had been dead for at least four to six hours before being discovered. "For years and years," Robinson said, "Detroit's lock-up was tantamount to a torture chamber."
The sheer ineptitude of Detroit PD forced the Department of Justice to write two separate federal consent decrees. These legal agreements, signed by the City of Detroit, deal with police use-of-force issues and address the deadly conditions in the city's holding cells. Much like Oakland, federal monitors and a federal judge oversee Detroit PD's progress in implementing the reforms. The decrees themselves promised to make "a significant impact on the way business is conducted."
But it would be a long time before tangible impacts emerged.
When Detroit signed its two federal consent decrees in 2004, the city was led by Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. The city had a projected $389 million budget shortfall over three years, and Kilpatrick promised to "lead Detroit out of the desert."
But while many saw hope in his leadership, Kilpatrick turned out to be a far cry from the city's savior. Only one year into his term, Time magazine named him one of the three worst mayors in the nation.
In 2008, Kilpatrick was charged with numerous felonies for assaulting and obstructing a police officer and lying under oath about an affair he had with Sheryl Robinson Wood, who was the then-head monitor overseeing Detroit PD's reforms. After pleading guilty to perjury, Kilpatrick was forced to resign. In 2010, he was also indicted on 31 counts of criminal racketeering. It was revealed that he and two top aides had run a crime ring built on bribery, extortion, and fraud.
During Kilpatrick's corrupt and incompetent tenure as mayor, Detroit PD made dismal progress on the consent decrees — even worse than Oakland. By 2010 — seven years and one extension into the process — Detroit had only completed 29 percent of the tasks outlined in the decrees.
The police force also continued to cost the city. Lawsuit payouts stemming from police misconduct between July 2006 and June 2009 totaled $19.1 million.
However, after Kilpatrick's resignation, things took an unexpected turn. In 2009, Detroit PD was put under the guidance of a new monitoring team, Police Performance Solutions, with Warshaw as the primary overseer.
Along with new federal monitors came an entirely new administration. NBA Hall of Famer Dave Bing was elected mayor and Godbee became police chief. Godbee immediately brought a fresh outlook on crime and policing in the Motor City, refusing to bow down to pressures to "get tough on crime." Instead, he's focused much of his energy on building a new type of police culture and fully embraced the consent-decree reforms.
Detroit PD, as a result, has made enormous progress. Today, the department is 85 percent compliant — an increase of 56 percentage points in just two and a half years. The department is also expected to emerge from the federal oversight process before the end of this year. 
In an April 2012 report, Warshaw attributed Detroit PD's rapid improvement to Godbee's success in not only recording technical compliance with the reforms, but "understanding the substantive meaning behind those requirements and by embracing the opportunities they present for improving the quality of policing in Detroit."
Godbee, in essence, viewed the consent decrees not as a hindrance or a big list of things to do, but as an opportunity to create a more effective police department — one that was much more responsive to the community and thus was better at fighting crime.
From 1995 to 2000, Oakland averaged just under 7,000 violent crimes a year, making it one of the most dangerous cities in the country — although not as dangerous as Detroit. When he took office in 1999, then-Mayor Jerry Brown promised to reduce violent crime by 20 percent.  Shortly thereafter, Brown named Richard Word, an inexperienced police captain, to be the department's police chief. Some longtime police observers in Oakland say that Brown and then-City Manager Robert Bobb instructed Word to take an aggressive, no-holds barred approach to crime, which came as a relief to many residents who felt besieged by violence.
"The community was desperate and they really wanted a police department to do something," said civil rights attorney Jim Chanin. The OPD adopted what some viewed as a "by-any-means-necessary" approach to policing. "And this behavior took care of crime, so people just let it go down," Chanin said.
It was in this atmosphere that four OPD narcotics officers — Francisco Vasquez, Jude Siapno, Matthew Hornung, and Clarence Mabanag — thrived. They called themselves "The Riders."
These rogue officers were notorious for beating and framing countless drug suspects in West Oakland. By 2000, 129 people had accused The Riders of crimes that included assault, kidnapping, and false imprisonment. In total, these people had served forty years behind bars for crimes they likely had never committed.
As the criminal charges against The Riders mushroomed, other civil rights lawsuits emerged, and at least twenty other officers were implicated in similar abuses. Civil rights attorney John Burris, who co-represented with Chanin the people victimized by "The Riders," said it became clear that the situation wasn't the product of a few bad apples. "There was a culture of brutality, a culture of lawlessness that existed," Burris said. "But most troubling was an unwillingness within the department to hold officers accountable for their conduct." 
In 2003, in an effort to avoid crippling taxpayer payouts, the City of Oakland agreed to a federal consent decree, also known as the Negotiated Settlement Agreement (NSA). Written as a 5-year, 51-point plan, the decree aimed to make the department more accountable.
And today, OPD has partially met that goal. Deputy Chief Sean Whent, who has worked on the force for sixteen years, including stints in the department's internal affairs division, said that the changes the department has made as a result of the consent decrees have enabled it to be more responsible and forward-thinking. "Every complaint is investigated now, whereas in the past some were just filed," he said. "We also do much better investigations of uses of force, even low-level uses of force. We report out and track the statistics on that a lot more." Substantial improvements have also been made to internal affairs and how complaints are handled.
But despite these positive changes, OPD remains a hotbed of misconduct. Over the past decade the department accrued an astonishing number of complaints and misconduct payouts, totaling roughly $60 million since 2003. This is evidence that while OPD has changed its policies, it hasn't fully changed its practices.
A big reason for this discrepancy has been an often-hostile attitude toward the decree — not just from rank-and-file officers, but also from the department's top brass. In short, there has been no Ralph Godbee in Oakland. This lack of a strong and consistent leader is key to understanding why the department has had such a tumultuous decade under the consent decree.
When the decree was signed in 2003, Richard Word was chief, and for two years "there was virtually no movement at all on the reforms," noted Rashidah Grinage, director of PUEBLO, a police watchdog group. "He was very popular among the rank-and-file, but he didn't get anything done on the NSA." 
This indifference traveled down the chain of command, and in their fourth report in 2004, federal monitors observed: "Commanders [had] an open disdain of Settlement Agreement training ... which [was] undermining reform efforts."
In 2005, federal Judge Thelton Henderson, who oversees the department's progress, took notice, saying that he had "never seen anything like this in 25 years [as a judge.] This is contemptuous. I'm so angry at the slap in the face, the ignoring of this decree."
The same year that Henderson issued his condemnation, Mayor Brown replaced Chief Word with Wayne Tucker. A veteran of the Alameda County Sheriff's Department, Tucker made reforming the department his priority. Two years later, in their eighth quarterly report, the court monitors commended Tucker for giving the department the "momentum" to "achieve significant compliance with the agreement."
By 2009, OPD had successfully implemented a number of system-wide reforms. Each officer was assigned a clearly defined, single supervisor. Early identification and intervention systems were set up to catch problem officers, misconduct investigations became more thorough and timely, and use-of-force investigations improved. These improvements set the foundation for "a strong culture of effective, responsive, and accountable policing," federal monitors stated.
If Tucker had remained chief, the Oakland Police Department may very well be in full compliance with the NSA today. But in 2009 he retired, after a public feud with the city council — which was on the verge of approving a no-confidence vote in him as crime worsened in the city. Tucker responded by contending that the council had only paid lip service to the reforms and public safety.
Then-Mayor Ron Dellums hired Long Beach Police Chief Anthony Batts to replace Tucker. Batts often talked publicly of the importance of implementing the NSA reforms, but, in reality, showed little to no interest in actually doing so. "When he first became chief he told me that for too long, the consent decree has been more important than fighting crime," Chanin said. "And he came in and said: 'I'm going to reverse that.'"
In the two years that followed, the federal court monitors expressed "serious concern" with the department's progress, saying that change had been "marginal" under Batts' command. Judge Henderson began threatening receivership, meaning that if the OPD didn't make reforms quickly, the department would be taken over by the federal government. The court monitors also expressed alarm about the number of times police officers were drawing and pointing their firearms — not only at suspects, but also at witnesses and innocent bystanders. Then, just days after the release of another monitor's report strongly criticizing his command, Batts abruptly quit.
Mayor Jean Quan and City Administrator Deanna Santana appointed Assistant Chief Howard Jordan to take over the department, and he immediately promised to make the NSA a top priority. In an interview earlier this summer, Jordan told me: "We take the judge's orders and everything having to do with the settlement agreement very seriously."
The federal monitors, civil rights attorneys, community activists, and police representatives also have all expressed hope in Jordan's ability to turnaround the department. Yet under his leadership, progress on the decree has stagnated. Jordan also oversaw OPD's heavy-handed response to Occupy Oakland protests. Henderson has criticized the department for its reluctance to punish officers involved in fatal shootings. And a recent audit revealed that the department has squandered millions of dollars on faulty technology.
Barry Donelan, president of the Oakland police union, said the focus shouldn't be on the department's difficulty complying with the NSA, but on its financial constraints. Despite an increase in crime, the size of the police force shrank from 837 officers in 2009 to about 650 today. "Officers are struggling to just keep up with the calls for services," he said. "Many of them would like to take individual interests in portions of their beat but they find themselves rushing from call to call."
It's not uncommon for police representatives and others to cite external factors for the difficulties in complying with consent decrees, including uncooperative politicians, overzealous plaintiffs' attorneys, rampant crime, and massive cuts to the force.
However, a look at Detroit shows that these factors do not have to block police reforms.
Since the 1960s, the decline of Detroit's auto industry has substantially eroded the city's tax base. Counting bonds and pension obligations, Detroit's total debt stood at about $20 billion at the start of 2012. The State of Michigan has proposed placing the entire city under state control in order to better manage the books.
This grim economic situation has depleted the Detroit PD's resources in a number of ways. In 2005, half of the city's police precincts were closed for budgetary reasons. A few years later, the crime lab shut its doors due to poor management. The department also has experienced massive layoffs: Between 2001 and 2011, 1,400 Detroit police positions were eliminated, and the projected city budget for 2012-13 shows an additional 18 percent reduction in the force — or the elimination of 300 more positions.
In an effort to save $100 million a year to avoid state receivership, Mayor Bing also has proposed cutting cops' salaries by 10 percent. If that happens, Detroit police officers would become the 48th worst-paid cops among 50 major American cities (with Oakland being the third highest-paying department on that list, according to data compiled by the Detroit police union). And for this dismal pay, Detroit cops work under incredibly difficult circumstances: The city consistently ranks in the top three most dangerous places in the country — worse than Oakland. Because of all this, Detroit police officers contend that they have arguably the most difficult working conditions of any police force in the country.
With a shell of a police department remaining, Godbee decided to pursue new avenues for crime fighting. "With [this] backdrop, for us to continue to try to do police work the same way, under the same methodology, with fewer resources is simply ludicrous," Godbee said in an April interview with the Michigan Daily (Godbee declined requests for interview for this story).
Godbee and Mayor Bing's policing strategy rests largely on improving community-police relations and accountability through a number of projects and programs — all of which are absent or seriously underutilized in Oakland.
In 1999, a law that required Detroit police officers to live within the city limits was lifted. What followed was a mass exodus to the suburbs, with roughly 50 percent of officers leaving over the past decade.
In 2011, Mayor Bing addressed the issue through Project 14. Named after police code 14 — signifying a return to normal operations — this program encourages Detroit police officers to purchase homes within the city through a number of federal subsidies and grants. "Project 14 is one approach that my administration is deploying to take two challenges facing Detroit, public safety and vacant homes, and turn them into an opportunity for neighborhood revitalization," Bing stated in a 2011 press release.
Today, 29 police officers either have moved, or are in the process of moving to the city. Two hundred others have expressed interest in the program, according to the mayor's office. In Oakland, about 90 percent of police officers live outside the city (see "The High Costs of Outsourcing Police," 8/8). 
Another groundbreaking step made by the Detroit PD has been the creation of the command accountability meetings. These meetings are conducted internally twice a month, and publicly every quarter. In them the department brass, along with a number of officers, discuss matters pertaining to the consent decree. "We notify the command officers that we have a problem, a global problem, department-wide problem with this particular issue, but then we drill down to the actual officer who is causing the violation at the same time," explained one commander at a 2011 Detroit Board of Police Commissioners hearing.
These meetings increase transparency and make officer misconduct public. Eric Lambert, professor of criminal justice at Wayne State University, told me that they have been a game-changer for community-police relations. "They are showing [officers] how and why these reforms work, that they are actually improving their image in the community," Lambert said, "which then improves their ability to interact with civilians. And everyone knows that the best crime control is when citizens are involved and they become the ears and eyes of the police department."
Another cornerstone of Detroit PD's recent success is its Civil Rights Integrity Bureau (CRIB), an internal unit of the Detroit PD in charge of auditing and investigating the department's practices. CRIB is required to conduct 26 audits a year. However, in an effort to give individual commands more specific information, CRIB conducts far more than that. In 2011, it carried out a total of 135 audits and did roughly sixty inspections.
Commander Jeff Romeo, who heads the division, told me this diligent oversight is central to the department's rapid improvement. "You can't just put out a policy and expect people to follow it," he said. "Some people will and some people won't. You need to inspect it, audit it, and wake people up to the new procedures in place. Let them know that this is how we do business now."
The Oakland Police Department has a similar unit, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), but it has been much less active than CRIB. In 2010, OIG conducted seven audits and investigations; in 2011, it did twelve; and so far this year, it's done five, according to Steven Tull, who heads the division. Tull said he hopes to do more than the bare minimum in the future.
How exactly that will be done, however, is unclear. Mayor Quan is looking into civilianizing the inspector general's office, although it's uncertain whether the department will have the necessary funding to do so.
Detroit PD also has a fully functioning computerized system for tracking police officer conduct — the Management Awareness System (MAS). MAS issues a red flag when an officer accumulates three or more complaints in six months. It is then policy for the officer's supervisor to set up a meeting, and, if necessary, intervene.
This system has become an integral part at ensuring that officers are held accountable for their actions. "Now we know the officers that may be involved in behaviors that put the city more at risk," said Godbee in an April interview with the Michigan Citizen. "And there are intervention strategies that have to be documented to show what we did to address the officer's behavior."
Oakland has a similar tracking system, the Internal Personnel Assessment System (I-PAS), which was born out of the NSA. However, I-PAS has been either nonfunctional or partially functional for years. Only in the latest monitor's report in July was I-PAS deemed up to speed, although serious technical problems remain (the department has circumvented these problems temporarily by requiring arrest data to be entered by hand into the system). OPD hopes to have the system fully functional in the next few months, but the monitors have expressed doubts that it will be used to its full potential.
Detroit PD's efforts to ensure accountability also have led to clear results. (When looking at all of the numbers below, bear in mind that Detroit's population is more than twice as large as Oakland's, and the city has roughly four times as many police officers. It has more officers because it pays each one a much lower salary on average than Oakland does.)
In Detroit, citizen complaints are down 41 percent from two years ago, and in all of 2011, the department counted just over 500 complaints. Meanwhile, OPD's internal affairs department classified 1,039 misconduct complaints related to Occupy Oakland alone.
In Detroit, use of force reports are also down. In 2010, the department recorded 1,479 uses of force. Over the past six months that number has fallen to 635, suggesting a considerable annual decline this year. In Oakland, these figures are on the rise. In the last three months alone there were 1,116 documented use-of-force incidents (which is equal to the projected number for all of 2012 in Detroit). That's an increase of 8 percent from the previous quarter.
In Detroit, officers are also much more hesitant to draw and point their firearms. In 2011, there were 261 such instances. During the same year, OPD counted 3,623 incidents of officers pointing their firearms (roughly ten a day). So far this year, OPD officers have continued to draw and point their guns at alarming rates, counting 925 incidents in the first three months alone.
At first glance, there appears to be one outlier to the statistics above. While Oakland PD has reported only nine officer-involved shootings since 2011, Detroit reported 29 cases last year alone. However, this data also suggests that Detroit cops use their weapons much more discriminately than Oakland's — and that they don't shoot to kill.
In sum, Detroit PD may not be a perfect department, but there's no doubt that residents are benefitting from the reforms made in recent years. Meanwhile, OPD's struggles have exacted a huge financial and social toll on the city.
"Our resources have been frittered away — $58 million in lawsuits, millions and millions in monitors and consultants fees, not to mention the $8 million in overtime," noted Grinage of PUEBLO. "I mean, it's a miracle that there is any money left in this city for anything else, and the question is: What are we getting in return? We are not safer, we are not a better police department, we are still not compliant, we still have police shootings, we still have officers drawing their weapons at an alarming rate, so where is the gain from all of this? What could Oakland have done with all of that money? How many jobs could have been created, how many schools could have been repaired, how many mentors could we have had for kids? When you think about the resources that have been wasted, it is outrageous."
OPD's future is precarious. The seemingly most plausible outcome is federal receivership, meaning that the US government would step in and take control of the department. No other police force has been federalized, so it's uncertain exactly what this would look like, but most agree that it could cost the city a lot of money. Earlier this year, Jim Chanin told me that the idea of incurring more debt for Oakland was the only thing preventing him from requesting federal receivership.
Lord knows they deserve it," he said of the police department. "But what libraries are going to close? What recreation centers are going to close — because of the money for the receiver? It's just a matter of balancing the equities and trying to figure out what the right thing to do is."
When I spoke to Chanin again this summer, he had decided to write a motion in support of a federal takeover. In his view, the department can't be trusted to reform itself. It's an ineptitude that continues to baffle Chanin and many Oakland residents.
"We are not asking for much," he said. "We are not asking for these police to like everyone in Oakland, we're just asking them to follow the United States Constitution and treat people equally. When they go home to their families they can say anything they want. Hopefully, we can get officers who actually go home to Oakland and say, 'What a great city this is.' Because it is."