Jonathan Blanks is a Research Associate in Cato’s Project on Criminal Justice. His research is focused on law enforcement practices, overcriminalization, and civil liberties.

National Police Misconduct Newsfeed Daily Recap 7/6/17

Here are the eight reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, July 6, 2017:

  • Update: Utah Department of Public Safety: A now-former officer pled guilty to impaired driving. The weapon and open container charges were dropped. He was fied $1,500.
  • Cherokee County, Georgia: A deputy was arrested for DUI.
  • St. Johnsbury, Vermont: The chief resigned after he was suspended for undisclosed allegations of misconduct.
  • Purcell, Oklahoma: An officer was arrested for violating a protective order filed by his estranged wife. He had previously been suspended for an unrelated incident.
  • Ville Platte, Louisiana: The City is being sued by a woman who claims a marshal deputy forced her to perform sex acts on man while he watched.
  • Carteret, New Jersey: An officer was charged with assault and misconduct for beating a teenage crash victim.
  • Update: Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Two officers were acquitted of being lookouts for a third officer as he raped a woman while all were on duty. The third officer was also acquitted.
  • Port Arthur, Texas: An officer was arrested for assaulting a woman in Liberty County.

National Police Misconduct Newsfeed Daily Recap 7/5/17

Here are the nine reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, July 5, 2017:

  • Update: Atlanta, Georgia (First reported 6/28/17): The officer who was captured on Black Lives Matter video punching a man in the face during an arrest was suspended 20 days.
  • Boston, Massachusetts: An officer was suspended for a year, though will serve just six months of that, for posting a racist video involving his fellow officer to social media. The other officer was filmed without his knowledge and was originally disciplined for the video until he established is ignorance of the video’s production.
  • Robstown, Texas: An officer was arrested for DUI after a traffic stop in Corpus Christi.
  • Atkinson County, Georgia: A deputy was fired and is now under criminal investigation for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman while he was on duty.
  • St. Petersburg, Florida: A longtime officer was arrested for soliciting a sex worker while he was off duty.
  • Bartow, Florida: Officers are under investigation for releasing a K-9 on unarmed men while serving an arrest warrant.
  • Franklin, Tennessee: An officer was charged with harassment for sending death threats via text and voice messages. He was fired.
  • Nebraska State Patrol: The superintendent was fired by the governor, other officers and employees have been suspended. The FBI is investigating evidence tampering involving a fatal crash.
  • Indianapolis, Indiana: An officer was arrested for domestic violence and the chief has moved for the officer’s termination.

National Police Misconduct Newsfeed Daily Recap 7/3/17

Here are the ten reports of police misconduct tracked for Monday, July 3, 2017:

  • Update: Baltimore, Maryland (First reported 3/1/17):  A now-former detective has agreed to plead guilty to charges related to racketeering, falsifying time cards, theft. The alleged conspiracy involves at least six BPD officers. The formal arraignment is scheduled for July 24.
  • Kern County, California: A deputy was arrested for domestic violence.
  • Palm Beach County, Florida: A deputy was charged with more than two dozen counts of child pornography possession.
  • Wyandotte County, Kansas: A now-former deputy was charged with official misconduct, providing false information, unlawful computer access, and forgery.
  • Update: Palm Beach County, Florida (First reported 12/28/16): A now-former deputy pled guilty to aggravated identity theft and access to device fraud. He used law-enforcement resources to steal identities.
  • Marlin, Texas: A police captain was arrested by Texas Rangers for sexual assault against an undocumented immigrant woman.
  • Update: Punta Gorda, Florida (First reported 2/22/17): The chief was acquitted of criminal culpability in his supervisory role when one of his officers fatally shot a woman during a civilian training event accident.
  • Update: Baltimore, Maryland (First reported 11/15/16): A now-former officer pled guilty to sexting teenaged boy who lives in York, Pennsylvania.
  • Update: Salt River, Arizona (First reported 6/3/16): An officer changed his plea to guilty for sexually abusing a woman in his custody. He reserved the right to withdraw his plea and go to trial if he thinks the sentence is disproportionate.
  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: An officer was arrested for domestic abuse by strangulation against his wife, who is also an officer.

National Police Misconduct Newsfeed Daily Recap 6/30/17

Here are the eight reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, June 30, 2017:

  • Louisville, Kentucky and Indiana State Police: An LMPD officer and ISP trooper were recorded beating a motorist after hectic interstate chase in Indiana.
  • Macon County, Alabama: A deputy was charged with custodial sex abuse of female jail inmates. A jailer was also charged.
  • Pinellas County, Florida: A deputy resigned in lieu of firing after an ethics investigation showed he distributed racist material.
  • Millville, New Jersey: An officer is under investigation for a possible inappropriate use of force during the arrest of a jaywalker that put that man in the hospital.
  • Update: Asbury Park, New Jersey (First reported 6/6/17): A now-former officer was apprehended as a fugitive in North Carolina after he failed to appear for his trial date.
  • Federal Protective Service (DHS, Los Angeles): An officer was indicted for kicking a handcuffed man in the head in Pomona.
  • Maui, Hawaii: A now-former officer pled guilty to tampering in a corruption probe. He drove another officer to allegedly bribe a witness.
  • Clackamas County, Oregon: A now-former detective pled to official misconduct for “abysmal, serious and gross” misconduct over five years. He received one year of probation and was ordered to pay a fine and relinquish his law enforcement certification.

National Police Misconduct Newsfeed Daily Recap 6/29/17

Here are the eight reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, June 29, 2017:

  • Update: Texas State Police: The trooper who pulled over and arrested Sandra Bland had his perjury charges dropped.
  • Leesburg, Florida: An officer was charged with sexual battery against a woman while they were at a party when he was off duty.
  • Fort Worth, Texas: An officer was fired for shooting man holding BBQ fork. His criminal trial for the incident ended in mistrial.
  • Update: Baton Rouge, Louisiana: The Department and two officers are being sued for the fatal shooting of Alton Sterling.
  • Baltimore, Ohio: An officer pled guilty to fraud. He lied so his daughter could collect government benefits under false pretense.
  • Update: Missouri State Police: A trooper who was charged with manslaughter in drowning death of Brandon Ellingson, who fell out of the boat while handcuffed, has pled guilty to misdemeanor negligence.
  • Update: San Antonio, Texas: An officer who previously was fired twice has been reinstated again.
  • Sedgwick County, Kansas: A deputy was arrested for DUI after a traffic stop off duty.

National Police Misconduct Newsfeed Daily Recap 6/28/17

Here are the 11 reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, June 28, 2017:

  • Sacramento, California: The City moved to fire one of two officers who fatally shot a knife-wielding man. The second officer has already retired.
  • Update: Durham County, North Carolina (First reported 5/9/17): A now-former deputy was indicted on numerous counts related to the statutory rape of a 15-year-old student at a school where he worked as SRO.
  • Meriden, Connecticut: A captain was fired for 63 department violations, including untruthfulness and official misconduct.
  • Update: Medford, Massachusetts (First reported 8/19/13): A now-former officer pled guilty to lying to investigators and intimidating witnesses with regard to a murder at his home. He was not implicated in the killing, but he removed evidence from the scene. He was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine.
  • Los Angeles Unified School District: A now-former officer pled guilty to computer charge for attempting to solicit a 15-year-old girl for sex online. The girl was actually an undercover officer running a sting.
  • Update: Edwardsville, Illinois (First reported 1/5/15): A now-former officer was sentenced to up to 40 years in prison for multiple burglary, firearms, and misconduct charges. He was robbing local businesses while in uniform and on duty.
  • Atlanta, Georgia: An officer was placed on leave after a local Black Lives Matter organization posted a video of him punching a black man in the head. The department is investigating the incident.
  • Lansing, Illinois: An officer was video-recorded threatening to kill a teen he detained on his property while he was off duty. The matter is under investigation.
  • Update: Jersey City, New Jersey (First reported 6/9/17): Four officers who were suspended after a high-speed chase that resulted in beating an innocent bystander who was on fire have been reinstated. The department claims the officers were suspended for the chase. An investigation into the beating is ongoing and thus has not been resolved.
  • Detroit, Michigan: The City and three officers are being sued for needlessly killing restrained dogs during a raid on a licensed marijuana grower. According to the filing, the officers killed the fenced-in dogs because they appeared to grow impatient for animal control to arrive and take the dogs into custody.
  • FBI: An agent was indicted for lying to investigators about shooting at a man who was killed after the Oregon federal land standoff. The agent is not accused of firing the fatal shots, but the agent lied about gunshots that did not hit the decedent that were not accounted for.

When Police Misconduct Violates First Amendment Rights

The New York Police Department’s Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) reported that over a three-year period, NYPD officers threatened, blocked, and otherwise tried to prevent individuals from recording them in public in the performance of their duties. Almost 100 of the 346 allegations made between 2014 and 2016 were substantiated by the board, not counting the many cases that may not have been reported.

To be fair, there are many thousands of contacts between police and individuals that happen in New York City. Although there is no way to know how many of those interactions are recorded, it’s fair to assume that many of them have been as cell-phone recording capabilities have become ubiquitous. However, there is clearly a segment of officers—perhaps very small, but nevertheless real—who feel that they may violate the First Amendment rights of people who record them. To alleviate this, the CCRB suggested that a new entry should be included in the Patrol Manual to reassert the public’s right to record police interactions. That insertion is fine, but more could and should be done because it is extremely unlikely that every officer who disrupted lawful, public recording was ignorant of the right to do so. Any officer who already knew the law was committing misconduct.

Police officers should be held accountable for their actions. Unfortunately, New York State law prohibits the Department or the CCRB from releasing the names of officers who have complaints lodged against them, whether or not they are sustained, or what the outcomes of any disciplinary actions taken were short of termination. As I testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in 2015:

According to an investigation of New York City’s Civilian Complaint Review Board records, about 40 percent of the 35,000 NYPD officers have never received a civilian complaint, but roughly 1,000 officers have more than 10 complaints on file. One officer has over 50 complaints but retains his position.

Institutionally, the NYPD knows these 1,000 officers are repeat offenders several times over. Multiple complaints against a single officer over a period of months or years implies the officer must, at times, operate too close to the line of impropriety. Those 1,000 officers represent fewer than three percent of NYPD officers but can damage the reputation of the rest of the department. Clearly, some portion of these 1,000 officers are abusing their authority, and the NYPD is unwilling or unable to remove these officers from duty. And because the public can’t know their names and records, we cannot measure how effectively the NYPD addressed these incidents with any given officer. (internal citations omitted)

The lack of transparency is not limited to New York, by any means, but the NYPD’s institutional dedication to data collection at least gives us a glimpse of what is going on. Getting the right to record in the Patrol Manual is a good start, but the State of New York should repeal the anonymity granted to misbehaving officers. Such laws punish the best officers by making them indistinguishable from those who intentionally—and sometimes repeatedly—violate the rights of the people they are supposed to serve.

For a robust First Amendment analysis of the right to record, read this opinion by 2014 B. Kenneth Simon Lecturer Judge Diane Sykes. You can read my 2015 USCCR testimony on police transparency and the use of force here. Finally, you can check out the 2014 panel we hosted on recording the police here.

This has been cross-posted from Cato@Liberty

National Police Misconduct Newsfeed Daily Recap 6/27/17

Here are the ten reports of police misconduct tracked for Tuesday, June 27, 2017:

  • Update: St. Anthony, Minnesota (First reported 11/16/16): The City settled the wrongful death suit with the family of Philando Castile for almost $3,000,000. The amount will be paid through a municipal insurance program.
  • Pondera County, Montana: A deputy was fired after his certification was revoked for sexual and criminal misconduct.
  • Polk County, Iowa: A deputy was fired for insubordination and gender bias.
  • Georgia State University: The police chief was arrested for DUI and suspended from duty.
  • Franklin, Indiana: An officer was arrested for felony domestic battery for striking his wife.
  • Update: Federal Protective Services (First reported 5/6/16): A now-former officer pled guilty to murdering his wife. He had previously pled guilty to spree killings that led to DC-area manhunt.
  • New York, New York: A now-former officer pled guilty in an administrative proceeding to false reporting against his supervisor. He lost 30 days of vacation for his plea. He is now on criminal trial for sexual misconduct with undocumented women. Although he worked in undercover prostitution stings, he is accused of paying these women for sexual acts. Many of the women are no longer in the United States.
  • Update: Chicago, Illinois (First reported 11/24/15): Three officers were indicted for misconduct, conspiracy, and obstruction for allegedly working to cover-up the Laquan McDonald shooting.
  • Update: Maricopa County, Arizona: The now-former Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now on trial for criminal contempt.
  • U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration: A now-former agent pled guilty to stealing $250,000 in fraud proceeds while working in Cyprus. She allegedly mailed the proceeds to her San Francisco home and kept the cash hidden in flower planters.

National Police Misconduct Newsfeed Daily Recap 6/26/17

Here are the reports of police misconduct tracked for Monday, June 26, 2017:

  • Update: Los Angeles, California (First reported 6/23/17): An officer who was personally arrested by the chief for sex with an underage cadet is also being investigated for possible illegal weapons. A large weapons cache, including a sawed-off shotgun and military equipment, was found at his home after his arrest.
  • Dallas, Texas: An officer was indicted for aggravated assault for fatally shooting a woman during a confrontation in January.
  • Curry County, New Mexico: A deputy was fired and arrested for allegedly stealing meth while on the job.
  • St. Louis County, Missouri: A deputy pled guilty to theft for double-dipping.
  • Update: Vigo County, Indiana (First reported 11/7/16): A now-former deputy pled guilty to wire fraud and theft for his role in an $80,000 kickback scheme. He was ordered to pay about $46,000 restitution. The report mentions that the restitution should be paid before sentencing, but no date has been set.
  • Update: Erie, Pennsylvania (First reported 10/19/16): An officer was acquitted of assault for kicking a suspect who was on the ground, fracturing his face. He was reinstated to active duty after the acquittal, but will not be allowed on patrol pending an internal administrative investigation.
  • Update: Jefferson County, Kansas (First reported 6/2/17): A deputy was arrested fo the second time in a month. This time is for DUI.

National Police Misconduct Daily Recap 6/23/17

Here are the nine reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, June 23, 2017:

  • Monticello, New York: An officer was charged with raping a minor.
  • U.S. Border Patrol: A now-former agent pled guilty to smuggling cocaine and methamphetamine while on duty.
  • Texas Department of Public Safety: A now-former trooper pled guilty to bribery for taking money for favorable truck inspections.
  • Bridgeport, Connecticut: An officer was suspended 10 days for harassing a college student. He ran her license plate and got her home address from law enforcement database.
  • Los Angeles, California: An officer was arrested by the chief of police for having sex with an underage cadet.
  • New York, New York: An officer was fired for not intervening when his friend severely beat a man at a bar.
  • Update: Balch Springs, Texas: An officer was indicted for a road rage incident. He was previously indicted for fatally shooting an unarmed teen car passenger who was leaving a party.
  • Update: University of Cincinnati: A now-former officer’s second trial for killing Samuel DuBose ends in a mistrial because of a deadlocked jury.
  • Meeker County, Minnesota: A deputy pled guilty to disorderly conduct for stalking and harassing a man.