- Rep Power
Bad Cops in the ’Hood
Bad Cops in the 'Hood
By Ashahed M. Muhammad
Updated Dec 11, 2007, 10:48 pm
Study documents tolerance for rogue officers in Black, Latino neighborhoods
End police brutality and mob attacks (FCN, 12-11-2007) http://www.finalcall.com/artman/publ...cle_4164.shtml
The challenge of policing police brutality (FCN, 02/09/2004)
CHICAGO (FinalCall.com) - While residents in Black and Latino neighborhoods may have already accepted this as a reality, a new report documents a troubling tendency by law enforcement agencies to ignore cases of officers accused of brutality and corruption. A strict code of silence and tangled bureaucracy shields officers from scrutiny, said researchers.
A team led by Professor Craig Futterman of the University of Chicago Law School focused on the Chicago Police Department (CPD) as a case study of systemic controls and disciplinary oversight of officers accused of misconduct.Looking at statistical data from the Chicago Police Department going back to 2001, researchers found officers with the most complaints were found mostly within special operations units assigned to neighborhoods with public housing developments in mainly Black and Latino communities where there is little economic or political power.
"For some communities, these abusive officers make up the face of law enforcement," said. Prof. Futterman."We tried to bring to light what's happening and just show the hard facts and the hard data.What this truly provides is the hard evidence of the reality of those who have felt the brunt of this," Futterman added. The report, "The Use of Statistical Evidence to Address Police Supervisory and Disciplinary Practices: The Chicago Police Department's Broken System" was released Nov. 14.
According to the report, aggressive stops, street interrogations and searches of homes at any given time are realities for those living in the inner city.Whenever a police car pulled into a public housing area, Black men expected to be frisked, and questioned by police even without probable cause, it said.
Detailed within the report were the activities of a well-known outfit of rogue cops in Chicago dubbed the "Skullcap Crew," who were accused of constantly terrorizing South Side public housing residents for years. First-hand accounts by residents described seeing the Skullcap Crew "lining up a group of young Black men and kicking them in the testicles; ordering African-American men to strike Black women at the threat of arrest; strip searching African-American women and ridiculing their bodies; planting illegal drugs on innocent people; stealing money from and protecting drug dealers."
When asked if these officers were dispatched to these areas as a result of punishment for misbehavior or brutality, Prof. Futterman said it was more like "birds of a feather, flock together." Officers with negative tendencies connected with likeminded officers and got away with abusive behavior because of perceived lawlessness in Black and Latino communities, he said.
Police brutality, excessive use of force incidents across the country
With 13,600 sworn police officers making it the second largest police force behind New York, there exists a well-known history of corruption and brutality within the CPD going back to the late 1970s specifically under the direction of Commander Jon Burge.According to the testimony of complaints by victims and court records, torture techniques such as the use of cattle prods, handcuffing suspects to hot radiators, suffocating suspects with plastic bags, games of Russian roulette, and severe beatings were employed to coerce confessions.A special prosecutor found evidence of impropriety in close to 200 cases against Mr. Burge and some of the men under his command.But it was determined that the statute of limitations had run out in the crimes. Though fired in 1993, Mr. Burge is still collecting his police pension.
Many recall the police torture case of Abner Louima who testified that NYPD officers strip searched him, beat him up, kicked him in the testicles and sodomized him with a plunger before shoving it down his throat knocking out teeth. Mr. Louima suffered severe damage to his internal organs requiring multiple operations. Justin Volpe, the main officer involved in the assault was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Three other officers pled guilty to lesser charges.
In November of 2006, NYPD officers fired 50 shots into a car driven by 23-year-old Sean Bell, killing him and wounding two of his friends as they left his bachelor party at a club in Queens. The three officers accused in the case will go on trial in February of 2008. (See related article page 4.)
The city of Chicago was ordered to pay 23-year-old Coprez Coffie $4 million in damages after a jury ruled in his favor. After being stopped by an unmarked police car in August 2004, Mr. Coffie said he was accused of having drugs. During a search, a police officer sodomized him with a screwdriver while his patrol partner watched. The jury found Officer Scott Korhonen conducted an unreasonable search. Mr. Korhonen and his patrol partner, Officer Gerald Lodwich, were not disciplined by the police department.
Los Angeles Police Depart-ment became a prime example of police corruption and brutality following the Rodney King beating. Vivid memories of the LAPD Rampart scandal remain in which members of an elite squad were accused of involvement in bank-robberies, narcotics trafficking, tainting evidence and falsifying information to frame innocent people.
How can police officers be so brazen in their disrespect for law and rights of citizens they are sworn to protect?
The Futterman report found the Chicago Police Department had a "deeply ingrained culture of denial which enables certain officers to operate with impunity in certain communities." The department "goes to great lengths not to know about or address its 'bad apples' and the harm that they inflict" on the public and the justice system, said researchers.
The problem isn't Chicago's alone. Advocates for police reform have long complained of a "blue wall of silence" and the difficulty of having departments police themselves.
In New Jersey, where De Lacy D. Davis recently retired as a sergeant after 20 years with the East Orange New Jersey Police Department, the same problem exists. "Not only does the blue wall of silence exist, but the organizational culture of law enforcement is white male dominated, racist, sexist, homophobic and then you might find a good cop," said Mr. Davis. "When you operate in a paradigm that has that as a cultural foundation, it is very difficult for anyone other than those in the dominant culture to seek or get any form of justice."
"Very often, the officers with the complaints against them get promoted. The attitude of the officers on the street is a reflection of the leadership at the top of the agency," said Mr. Davis. "The system protects its own. There is an unwritten reward for not breaking the code.I have broken the code. I've been assaulted, I've had my life threatened, I've had the system unleashed on me, by Black officers, for breaking the code because I've testified against officers who were abusing citizens," said Mr. Davis.
The Futterman report pointed to extensive administrative requirements, unrealistic reporting deadlines for citizens, and a rigid policy of refusing to transfer and protect whistleblowers as "the machinery of denial" within the Chicago police department. These things provide protection for officers accused of excessive force or questionable ethical behavior, the report found. Mr. Futterman referred to the department's internal investigations as "a joke."
"Police brutality is not a crime, it is an ideology," said Chicago community activist Wallace "Gator" Bradley. In many cases of documented cases of police brutality, officers found guilty in civil suits or other wrongdoing remained on the street, he complained.
"We need to lay all that pressure on those with the power to demand that the House judiciary committee subpoena the judges, states attorney, and the police officers in all of these cases and ask them why the investigations and indictments are slow," Mr. Bradley said.
Longtime Chicago community activist Beauty Turner has been fighting the battle against police brutality for almost 20 years. She is convinced that the police should not be investigating themselves. "The public, press and activists need to be on the police review board because we actually live in the communities in which this is happening, and we have a greater impact on this police terrorism," said Ms. Turner.
Some Chicago aldermen have asked federal judges for access to the names of officers who were the subjects of multiple complaints including false arrest, brutality and unlawful search since police officers are public officials who are paid by the tax dollars.Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley has vehemently opposed the release of such information, saying institutional controls have been put in place to prevent misdeeds and investigate claims of police wrongdoing.
"What this study shows is that the same underlying conditions that allowed Commander Burge and his henchmen to torture Black people with impunity haven't been fixed today.The same underlying conditions that allowed them to get away with it are allowing the modern day Burges to do what they are doing," countered Mr. Futterman.
Although the Chicago study paints a bleak picture, as the public outcry for reform increased, Mayor Daley announced broad changes to the Office of Professional Standards, which is the administrative body responsible for investigating complaints of police misconduct. The mayor appointed Ilana Rosenzweig as the new administrative head of the Office of Professional Standards, placing the department under his direct control. Ms. Rosenzweig subsequently renamed the agency to the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) and has announced that structural and personnel changes are in the works.
In a press conference in May of 2007, after announcing that he would be restructuring the Office of Professional Standards, Mayor Daley said, "I've made it clear that misconduct in the department cannot and will not be tolerated in the City of Chicago. We must assure every Chicagoan that we are doing everything possible to prevent abuse by police."
2007 FCN Publishing, FinalCall.com
After decades of police brutality its time to start putting cameras in your cars to record everything. Expose them.
Also where is the uproar when blacks are killing blacks? Violence from white to black is the same as black to black. Oppose all violence.