They need to PROSECUTE any cops doing this. Sure looks to me like the California Gang Database unit needs an overhaul!
Excerpts from the Article:
Officers from an elite division within the Los Angeles Police Department (“LAPD”) are under investigation regarding allegations that they falsified reports and listed some innocent people as gang members.
LAPD Police Chief Michel Moore announced in January that he was seeking to fire one officer for his role in falsifying the records. “The California Gang Database is a critical tool for law enforcement in its efforts to solve violent crime,” Moore said. “The information entered must be accurate. We are committed to holding anyone who falsified information accountable and will also fully cooperate with the State Attorney General Office.”
In a letter sent on February 10, 2020, to the LAPD, Attorney General Xavier Becerra promised an independent audit of the department’s CalGang entries. “We do not have a full or clear picture of what occurred, but we know enough that we must act,” Becerra said.
While Becerra acknowledged that those wrongly added to the database could be subjected to additional police scrutiny, he defended CalGang as a “good policing tool that keeps the community safe.” Nearly 80,000 persons are listed in the database.
In 2016, a state audit of CalGang revealed racially biased entries, violations of civil liberties, inaccurate entries, including “gang members” younger than one, transparency problems, and failures to follow basic rules.
Young black men, old white women, and everyone else should RAISE HELL about this man’s death.
In recent years, only 1% of excessive force claims against police for attacking blacks have been prosecuted.
Excerpts from the Article:
Gwen Carr was horrified by what she saw in the video — a black man groaning on the ground with a police officer’s knee on his neck, his repeated cries of “I can’t breathe” — which brought back a painful memory for her. Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who died after he was held in an apparent chokehold by a New York Police Department officer in July 2014, said Tuesday that she could barely stomach this latest viral cellphone recording of the man’s Memorial Day death in Minneapolis, which has triggered a national outcry and an FBI investigation.
“It was déjà vu all over again,” Carr told NBC News about the parallels she noticed. “It’s like a reoccurring nightmare,” she added.
The man in the video, which was taken by a bystander, could be seen pinned by the officer on the roadside near the back tire of a police car.
“Please, please, please, I can’t breathe,” the man, later identified as George Floyd by his family’s attorney, is heard saying several times in the video. Police said he was unarmed.
Garner, a father of six, had uttered that same phrase — “I can’t breathe” — 11 times after Daniel Pantaleo, an NYPD officer in plainclothes, pulled him by the neck with his forearm and to the sidewalk in a case that was also captured on cellphone video. Garner, who was accused of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes, later died at a hospital, with nationwide protests erupting after a grand jury declined to indict Pantaleo. “I can’t breathe” was shouted at Black Lives Matter demonstrations, written on posters and worn on T-shirts, including by professional athletes at sporting events.
Carr said Floyd’s death was haunting for her after watching a portion of it.
“I don’t see any justification,” she said. “To put your knee on someone’s neck, you are obstructing their breathing. That is completely a no-no.”
Minneapolis police said the officers were responding to a report of a forgery in progress at a grocery store just after 8 p.m Monday night. Police said the man stepped out of his car when commanded, but then physically resisted. The officers were able to place handcuffs on him, but “he appeared to be suffering medical distress,” police said in a statement.
An officer placed his knee on the man’s neck for about eight minutes, doing so as the man appeared to remain unresponsive before paramedics arrived, the video shows. Police said that he was transported to a hospital, where he died a short time after.
Carr said the officer’s actions were jarring when it appeared that Floyd needed help. “Why would you keep your knee there?” she asked. “After three minutes, you don’t realize that this man is saying that he can’t breathe? And he’s struggling, struggling for life?”
The officers involved were not immediately identified and were initially put on paid leave, Minneapolis police Chief Medaria Arradondo said at a news conference Tuesday morning. But later Tuesday, Mayor Jacob Frey tweeted that four officers involved were fired.
The FBI was asked to assist in the case, Arradondo said, after a “community source” provided more context about the incident, causing concerns of possible civil rights violations.
While the federal agency is now leading the investigation, state authorities are also interviewing witnesses, and a completed review will be sent to the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.
“Whatever the investigation reveals, it does not change the single truth that he should be with us this morning,” Frey told reporters about Floyd, adding, “Being black in America should not be a death sentence.”
Gwen Carr: I’ve waited five years for justice for my son Eric Garner. I’m still waiting.
While Minneapolis has moved swiftly to fire the officers involved in Floyd’s death, Carr said she hopes justice can be attained much sooner than it took in her son’s case. In the wake of Garner’s death, she called on Congress to pass a federal law barring officers from using chokeholds — aimed at creating more accountability for police departments.
“I hope this family doesn’t need to suffer like I suffered for six years,” she said.
RELATED ARTICLE: ‘I Can’t Breathe’: Man Dies After Minneapolis Police Officer Seen Kneeling On His Neck = https://www.huffpost.com/entry/minneapolis-man-police-death-cannot-breathe_n_5ecce405c5b648af37580559
We think of DNA evidence as infallible … but only if done right!
By the way, there are tens of thousands of innocent people in our prisons, for various reasons. It is the most dramatic evidence of how fucked up our criminal justice system has become.
Excerpts from the Article:
The NYC Medical Examiner’s office (“ME”) reviewed the DNA analysis procedure in a burglary case that was the only evidence used to charge Darrell Harris with the crime. They found that the DNA sample could have been contaminated, but only after Harris lost his job and $25,000 in legal fees.
Police responded on December 19, 2018, to a Queens, New York, break-in. DNA samples were collected off the window sill and sent to a lab for testing. The results indicated it was Harris’ DNA, and he was charged with the crime.
Harris had earlier pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor forcible touching charge of an 18-year-old woman. A Grenadian immigrant who had earned U.S. citizenship, Harris had obtained employment with Jet Blue at JFK Airport and pleading to five years’ probation on a misdemeanor allowed him to keep this job.
The Port Authority told Harris that with his pending felony charge, he could not maintain his job. He had to quit and pay $25,000 to an attorney for representation in a case that could earn him up to four years in prison. Harris continued to assert his innocence throughout the proceedings. “DNA is good in some ways,” he said. “But, it’s never 100%, and in my case you had no other evidence, no eyewitnesses. Yet, they were ready to incarcerate me.”
Harris submitted his cellphone and E-Z pass records to show he was at a side job as a disc jockey in New Jersey at the time of the incident. His parents gave statements saying they helped him pack his equipment for the job.
This prompted Assistant District Attorney Eric Rosenbaum to ask the ME’s office to reevaluate the test. The ME determined that Harris’ forcible touching DNA sample was processed just prior to the burglary sample. He concluded that the burglary sample could have been contaminated. The DNA sample was recalled and charges were dropped.
Aja Worthy-Davis, spokeswoman for the ME’s office, said that testing guidelines have since been clarified for better accuracy. Terri Rosenblatt of the Legal Aid Society’s DNA unit said the city’s unregulated DNA collection and database could cause more cases of this nature.
“Given the NYPD’s rampant DNA collection of countless New Yorkers, this person could have been nearly anyone … Lawmakers have an obligation to end this completely unauthorized practice before another New Yorker is wrongfully arrested and prosecuted,” she said.
We cannot forget that too many cops are too quick to shoot! We need more emphasis and training on use of non lethal force: bean bags and stun guns.
This reminds me of a story I posted about a year ago showing that cops took 14 times more by “asset forfeitures” than was taken all burglaries one year!
Excerpts from the Article:
Mass shootings in the U.S. “have claimed the lives of 339 people since 2015,” which, while certainly egregious, is a mere drop in the bucket compared to the 4,355 citizens killed by police during the same timeframe, according to thefreethoughtproject.com.
There is no question that some of these people were armed and dangerous, but way too many were innocent and unarmed, such as Daniel Shaver, a father of three who was killed in 2016 by Philip Brailsford, who was charged with murder but eventually acquitted. In fact, he was allowed to retire from the Mesa, Arizona, police force with an accidental disability pension and medical retirement.
Meanwhile, “If we compare the 399 citizens killed by police in the same time frame, the comparison is off the charts. We are talking about a 1,280 percent difference.”
According to The Washington Post, 1,004 individuals were “shot and killed by police in 2019,” or 12 more than the previous year. In the U.S., “the overall homicide rate is 4.9 per 100,000 among the citizens,” thefreethoughtproject.com reports.
Thanks to independent watchdog groups that decided to document this number on their own, we have a total number of citizens killed by police. “Given that America has roughly 765,000 sworn police officers, that means the police-against-citizen kill rate is more than 145 per 100,000.”
This is reported at a time when violent crime “has fallen sharply over the past quarter century,” according to pewresearch.org. “Using the FBI numbers, the violent crime rate fell 49% between 1993 and 2017.”
However, the “police kill rate,” The Free Thought Project reports, “is nearly 30 times that of the average citizen, yet somehow people still call for disarming citizens and say nothing about the police.”
How asinine is it that these prosecutors, working to keep us safe, face this racism in 2020?! Speak out about it. Here is how:
Practical Tip: How YOU can become an ADVOCATE! Here is how! EASY as 1, 2 ,3 ! DO IT! – http://www.citizensforcriminaljustice.net/practical-tip-how-you-can-become-a-prison-reform-advocate-here-is-how-do-it/
Practical Tip – Get Empowered! How YOU Can Create a Powerful, Effective Force for Reform of our Criminal Justice System – http://www.citizensforcriminaljustice.net/practical-tip-how-you-can-create-a-powerful-effective-force-for-reform-of-our-criminal-justice-system/
I hope the black female prosecutor wins her unusual lawsuit, and I say the cops and judges standing in her way, and opposing justice and needed reforms in cities all over the country, should be condemned!
Excerpts from the Article:
St. Louis’s first black prosecutor is fighting back. This week, Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner filed a federal lawsuit against her entire city leadership, accusing its mostly white police force and political establishment of engaging in a racially motivated conspiracy to drive her out of office and block her efforts to make the city’s justice system less punitive toward people of color.
Gardner, who took office in 2017, is hardly alone in facing opposition. Many other recently elected, increasingly progressive district attorneys around the country have run into entrenched resistance from conservative, often white police officers and their unions, judges, governors and even the attorney general of the United States. And black women prosecutors in particular have experienced a targeted, vehement form of defiance and intimidation. “It’s already tough enough to drive change in criminal justice, but then to be black women, who make up just 1 percent of elected prosecutors?”
Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, who in 2014 became one of the first to break this particular glass ceiling, said in an interview. “The disrespect would look different if I looked different. It’s extremely personal. The first thing they come at when you’re a black woman is your competency.” “That’s why this lawsuit is symbolic for all of us,” Mosby said.Gardner’s suit cites a rarely used federal law from just after the Civil War that allowed the U.S. government to crack down on the Ku Klux Klan and other racist groups, and argues that St. Louis has been acting like just such an organization.
St. Louis Police Officers’ Association officials and the city have denied the allegations.The blowback to Gardner came as she tried to rein in police misconduct in part by refusing to prosecute cases brought to her by cops with a documented history of lying, abuse or corruption. A police union spokesman called her a “menace to society” who must be removed “by force or by choice.” Then she received stacks of letters calling her a “dumb nigger bitch” and a “NIGGER Cunt” and saying “you’re not going to beat these white boys,” according to her lawsuit.
In Orlando, Aramis Ayala, the first black elected prosecutor in Florida’s history, decided in 2017 that she would no longer seek the death penalty. Later that same day, the state’s then-governor, Republican Rick Scott, took the highly unusual step of reassigning a high-profile death penalty case from Ayala to a prosecutor from another county, so that she would no longer have a say in it.A month later, she received a noose in the mail.In Chicago, white nationalists have targeted the prosecutor Kim Foxx, the first black woman to become state’s attorney there.
In Boston, the National Police Association filed a formal ethics complaint against newly elected prosecutor Rachael Rollins, also the first black woman district attorney in her city. They did so before she even took office, saying that her proposals would incite law-breaking and put cops at risk. And in Baltimore, Mosby famously attempted to prosecute the police officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray, whose broken body was found in a police van in 2015. Their response was to sue her for malicious prosecution—and a judge allowed the suit to go forward. Suing prosecutors successfully is essentially unheard of in the U.S. justice system, because they are supposed to have “absolute immunity” from legal threats made against them for just doing their job. Cosby, Rollins, Ayala and several other black women prosecutors related so much to the frustration voiced in Gardner’s lawsuit that they flew out to St. Louis this week to stand by her at a rally. The crowd shouted, “Hands off Kim! Hands off my prosecutor!”Rollins, the Boston prosecutor, says this solidarity renewed her commitment to do what she says the voters put her in office to do. “Me and my sisters who are now in this role, we’re not going to tolerate it anymore, and we’re not going to ask nicely,” she said in an interview.
Police departments and unions are overwhelmingly male and entirely unelected, Rollins points out, so she and her fellow prosecutors have to remember they’re just not accountable to the same communities. Mosby agrees. “Now I have a network of individuals who have experienced what I have,” she said. “We have a text thread where we encourage each other not to internalize things.”Yet just after the Gardner rally, Mosby received a voicemail from someone who said she was from Illinois near St. Louis, berating her for traveling to support Gardner. In the recording, the caller said of Gardner and Mosby, “You hate cops, you hate white people, you do everything you can to give all the blacks who are criminals the benefit of the doubt… There’s only one thing worse than a badass, empowered black woman—that’s a badass, empowered black woman who’s got [the] public’s reins in her hands.
She has refused to prosecute certain low-level, nonviolent drug crimes; proposed setting up independent investigations of police shootings; and continued to evaluate the credibility of officers who testify in court.Whether a federal judge will agree with her lawsuit, though, remains to be seen. The 1871 law it cites has only been used a handful of times, including against white nationalists behind the deadly 2017 rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and also decades ago to stop police in the South from denying black people their voting rights.
In Philadelphia, Larry Krasner, who is white, has instituted some of the same reforms taking root in St. Louis, Baltimore and Boston, and has been maligned for it by the media and top law-enforcement officials. But the derision has largely focused on how to run the office, not attacks on his identity.
New York Court of Appeals: Police Officers May be Cross-Examined About Acts of Dishonesty Like Any Other Witness – A Wise, Correct Decision! – kra
Thousands of Americans languish in prison due to police perjury … a major insult to most cops, who are good cops!
Excerpts from the Article:
The Court of Appeals of New York ruled that police officers may be questioned about prior acts of dishonesty, subject to the trial court’s discretion, just like any other witness.
In August 2013, a person fired a single gunshot at a group of teenagers on a street in the Bronx. No one was injured, but two police officers identified Clarence Rouse as the shooter, claiming they saw Rouse raise the gun to eye level, fire it, drop the weapon on the ground, and flee on foot. The officers lost sight of Rouse but, several minutes later, saw him again and arrested him.
The gun was collected almost immediately after it was dropped, but, inexplicably, it was not tested for DNA or fingerprints. Consequently, at trial, the State’s case rested almost entirely on the officers’ identification of Rouse as the shooter.
But prior to trial, Rouse had moved to explore multiple grounds for impeachment during cross-examination: (1) misstatements that one of the officers had made to a federal prosecutor about his role in a ticket-fixing scheme and (2) prior judicial determinations in which each officer was found to have given unreliable testimony. The ticket-fixing scheme was tried in federal court, and in that federal proceeding, a firearm recovered by the officer was suppressed. But in the instant case, the trial court ruled that Rouse could only elicit testimony that the officer had been involved in the scheme and was disciplined by the NYPD.
The trial court ruled that Rouse could not explore the officer’s “misstatements” to the prosecutor because the officer had not been federally charged, so there was no good-faith basis for the inquiry on cross-examination. Regarding the prior judicial determinations that each officer had given unreliable testimony, the trial court was made aware that in United States v. Williams, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 134352 (S.D.N.Y. 2011), the suppression court concluded that the traffic infraction both officers claimed to have justified the stop in question was contrived. And in United States v. James Russell, No. 11 Cr. 312 (S.D.N.Y. 2011), the suppression court concluded one of the officers testified incredibly with respect to a frisk that resulted in the seizure of the firearm in question. But the trial court in the instant case refused Rouse’s request to use this as evidence to show the jury that another judge had found the officers not credible. Thus, the jury believed the officers and convicted Rouse of several crimes, including second-degree attempted murder.
The Appellate Division affirmed, and the Court of Appeals granted further review.
The Court observed that “law enforcement witnesses should be treated in the same manner as any other prosecution witness for purposes of cross-examination.” People v. Smith, 58 N.E.3d 53 (N.Y. 2016). Cross-examination “is the principal means by which the believability of a witness and the [veracity] of [the witness’s] testimony are tested.” Davis v. Alaska, 415 U.S. 308 (1974).
Prosecution witnesses may be cross-examined on prior specific criminal, vicious, or immoral conduct, provided the nature of such conduct or the circumstances in which it occurred bear logically and reasonably on the issue of credibility. Smith. Defendants may explore specific allegations of wrongdoing relevant to the credibility of law enforcement witnesses, subject to the discretion of the trial court, as long as the defendant has a good-faith basis for the inquiry. Id. A “good-faith basis” requires only that counsel have “some reasonable basis for believing the truth of things” about which counsel seeks to ask. People v. Alamo, 246 N.E.2d 496 (N.Y. 1969).
Because the trial court had ruled that the officer had to be federally charged before a good-faith basis existed, the Court of Appeals ruled the trial court abused its discretion as a matter of law concerning the officer’s misstatements to the prosecutor. And with regard to a court in prior judicial proceedings finding that both officers provided unreliable, incredible testimony, the Court of Appeals concluded that the trial court also abused its discretion as a matter of law when it precluded cross-examination on their prior testimony in those proceedings. The commission of perjury or other crimes or acts of individual dishonesty or untrustworthiness will usually have very material relevance with respect to a witness’ credibility. People v. Sandoval, 314 N.E.2d 849 (N.Y. 1974).
Defendants may inquire into a prior judicial determination that a police officer’s testimony was unworthy of belief. People v. Marzed, 161 Misc.2d 309 (Crim. Ct, New York County 1993). The Court concluded that the trial court’s abuses of discretion denied Rouse his right to cross-examine the prosecution’s witnesses.
Accordingly, the Court reversed the order of the Appellate Division and ordered a new trial. See: People v. Rouse, 2019 N.Y. LEXIS 3253 (2019).
I post this here and send out the Letter because it is important for everyone involved in the criminal justice system to have integrity, be honest, have courage! Too many, instead, are self-serving, greedy, cowards with no moral compass!
Letter to the Editor – “Guts and Glory” to Mitt! – 2/6/20
Every one of those Senators took an oath – made a promise to you and to the nation – to decide IMPEACHMENT in an honest way, impartially, based on the facts. And Mitt Romney is the ONLY Republican who did!
Surely a modern re-write of Profiles in Courage would include Mitt Romney.
READ https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/02/romney-impeach-trump/606127/ Romney Votes “Guilty”
Ken Abraham, former prosecutor, founder of Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE, Dover, DE 302–423-4067
I get lots of letters published, and ghost write for others. THIS IS THE BEST WAY TO REACH THOUSANDS OF READERS! The keys to getting your Letter published are:
1. Keep it to 250 words or fewer.
2. Do not make it about “poor little old me”. Describe the problem as one which not only affects the individual, but is a senseless or ineffective measure, policy, or law which also harms communities and society. For example, with reentry, the obstacles make it unnecessarily difficult for the individual, but also harm society by making it hard to become productive, spending money and paying taxes in the community, and they cause increased recidivism = increased crime.
3. Speak from your heart.
4. Google any facts you are not sure about.
5. Do not name-call.
Do what works: Write that Letter!
Letter to Editor – sign name, town, state, and your phone number (they often call to verify that you sent it), and “Member of Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE” if you like – shows you are part of a large group.
Send the email to yourself, and put on the “bcc” bar the email addresses for Letters to the Editor for the top ten newspapers in your state and several national ones – The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, U S A Today (google the Letter to Editor email addresses). Any questions, CALL me at 302-423-4067!
GOOGLE THE EMAIL ADDRESSES FOR “LETTERS TO THE EDITOR” FOR THE TOP TEN NEWSPAPERS IN YOUR STATE AND SAVE THAT INFORMATION FOR REPEATED USE – Some papers will print a letter from you every 2 ekke, some every 30 days, some every 90 days. They have varying policies. But if you really want to make a difference shoot them a new letter once a month! I send one out every 2 weeks.
Need a Letter on some criminal justice issue and not a great letter writer? NO EXCUSE! Email me a rough draft and call me and I’ll polish it up! firstname.lastname@example.org .
ANY QUESTIONS, CALL ME AT 302-423-4067.
Why is this here? Because tRump is as bad for our justice system as he is for the rest of my America!
Why is this here? Because tRump is as bad for our justice system as he is for the rest of my America!
These cruel, racist, spineless traitors must GO!
READ Can’t you see how serious this is?!
WAKE UP, PEOPLE! YOU ARE THE WHALE! 🙂 ACT! = https://lnkd.in/dFNhiFg
I do my patriotic duty by providing this information. PLEASE DO YOURS BY TAKING A MOMENT TO SHARE THIS POST! If we don’t ACT, these cruel, scumbags will crawl into office again! 🙁 🙁
If you have not read my article you should, and then …. it is just a couple of clicks … SHARE IT!
Restore my AMERICA! Bernie, Biden, Bloomberg, Warren, whoever it is, be sure you are registered and then VOTE! THANKS.
Ex-Sheriff Lee Baca likely headed to prison after Supreme Court declines to review case – GOOD! – kra
ALL abusive officers – cops or prison personnel – must be held accountable! READ How to avoid the deaths of prison guards and inmates … or do you want to join the countless officials who refuse to acknowledge this huge problem called prison abuse?
Excerpts from the Article:
Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca is probably headed to prison after the U.S. Supreme Court denied a last-ditch, longshot request to review his case Monday.
The high court denied Baca’s writ of certiorari, filed July 18, which would have reopened his case for review after a panel of judges from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year that his conviction for helping orchestrate a scheme to interfere with an FBI investigation into abuses at the county’s jails was fair and legally sound. The justices also denied his requests for another hearing or a new hearing in front of the entire 9th Circuit.
Baca, 77, who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, was sentenced in 2017 to three years behind bars after a jury found he oversaw the plan to interfere with the jails investigation and later lied to prosecutors about his role in the scheme.
Baca’s attorneys also asked the high court to review the trial court’s use of an anonymous jury, in which the jurors’ identities were unknown even to the defendant and attorneys. The 9th Circuit had ruled that the district court’s decision to impanel an anonymous jury was reasonable because of the highly publicized nature of the case and Baca’s position as a former high-ranking law enforcement officer.
Baca’s attorneys asked the justices to clarify whether the lower court should have considered alternatives, including sequestration or limited disclosure of the jurors’ identities to attorneys. The Supreme Court declined to consider those queries. The justices agree to hear only a fraction of the thousands of cases presented to them each year.
The decision marks the end of the road in terms of securing Baca’s freedom, Hochman confirmed.
Baca has remained free while his appeals were pending. The Supreme Court’s decision clears the way for U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson, who sentenced Baca, to set a date when the former lawman must begin serving his sentence.
Baca was the last in a group of Sheriff’s Department deputies and commanders to be accused of playing a role in the 2011 scandal, which involved hiding an inmate who was an FBI informant and threatening to arrest the agent who was leading the investigation. All 10 of the people who faced charges in the case have either pleaded guilty or were convicted. They included Baca’s second-in-command, former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, who in 2016 was sentenced to five years in prison after a jury found that he had played a leading role in the scheme.
The obstruction plan played out over six weeks in August and September 2011, after sheriff’s officials discovered FBI agents had used a corrupt deputy to smuggle a cellphone to a jail inmate who was working as an informant.
The audacious move was part of an investigation opened the year before into the Men’s Central Jail, the main facility in the county’s enormous detention system. For years, the Sheriff’s Department had been dogged by reports of a place run amok, in which deputies routinely beat inmates without provocation and covered up the abuse, often with the knowledge of supervisors. Other corruption, including deputies who took bribes to sneak contraband to inmates, was said to be rampant as well.
Prosecutors argued during trial that word of the smuggled phone and the FBI investigation angered Baca and Tanaka, who viewed it as an unwarranted incursion into their territory by an outside agency. With Baca’s knowledge and, at times, his involvement, Tanaka oversaw a group of deputies and mid-level commanders who worked to derail the FBI investigation. They moved the informant under fake names to conceal his whereabouts from his handlers, pressured deputies and the informant not to cooperate with federal authorities and brazenly tried to intimidate the lead FBI agent on the case by threatening her with arrest.
Baca initially tried to plead guilty in a deal with prosecutors, but Anderson rejected it as too lenient and signaled he would impose a stiffer prison sentence than what was in the plea deal. Baca and his attorneys chose instead to withdraw his plea and take his chances at trial. Baca nearly won an acquittal when all but one member of a jury wanted to find him not guilty. With the lone juror unwilling to budge, Anderson declared a mistrial. For the second trial, however, prosecutors revamped their case, and Anderson issued a string of rulings that hamstrung the defense.
The sentence deepened the stain already imprinted on Baca’s legacy and the reputation he enjoyed as one of the nation’s most visible and respected reformers in law enforcement. While quirky to the point of being enigmatic, Baca was seen as a champion of progressive ideas, including the need for police to build strong ties to minority communities. He stepped down in 2014 with the department engulfed in the jail scandal.
Baltimore Police Announce Surveillance Plane Pilot Program To Help Deter, Solve Crimes – Big Brother is Alive and Well in Baltimore! – kra
As with any authority given police, we must be vigilant to spot and punish abuses. The Courts will determine whether this is, per se, unconstitutional. Given the approval of street cameras nearly everywhere, I won’t be surprised if they rule it ok.
I foresee plenty of potential for abuse with this program in the hands of a private company, not police.
Baltimore’s police commissioner announced three surveillance planes will be flying over the city again in a new pilot program starting in May 2020 to test whether they can cut down on violence. The planes will take video of 90 percent of the city. Police Commissioner Michael Harrison made the announcement Friday during a press conference.
Ross McNutt, the president of Persistent Surveillance Systems, tells #WJZ, “We’re trying to save as many lives as possible.” He says there were ongoing discussions with city leaders and police about putting the planes back in the sky. 3 will begin flying in May.
Then as now, Texas billionaire philanthropists John and Laura Arnold will cover the cost of the program at no taxpayer expense. Harrison said the planes will fly for four to six months.
“We will be the first American city to use this technology in an effort to deter violent crime,“ Harrison said. “It is important we are transparent about how the program will and will not be used going forward.“ He told WJZ there will be no live streaming and officers would not use the planes to track offenders in real-time during the pilot program.
The commissioner said he has doubts the planes will cut crime, but he shifted course to give them a chance. He said Mayor Jack Young “did not push me toward this decision.” The aircraft will only be used to help with murder, shooting and carjacking cases for now. The commissioner did not say why other cases involving other serious crimes like rape and police misconduct were not part of the pilot program. Harrison said if the test is successful, the mission for the planes could expand.
The private company operating the three planes, Persistent Surveillance Systems, will have a written agreement with the city. Ross McNutt is the president of the company. He tells WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren people are only identifiable as moving dots in the video. “We limit the resolution to one pixel per person so you can’t see who people are—what race, what sex,” McNutt said. “The most important thing we can do is live within those rules that were set up, and if we don’t, we’ll be asked to leave.” McNutt showed us how people look like moving dots from the video images. He said police can track them by looking at CitiWatch and other cameras with better resolution on the ground.
During the pilot program, officers will not have direct access to the videos and will instead be given pre-packaged reports of information on cases. McNutt feels the aircraft will reduce killings in Baltimore. “Our goal is to save as many lives as possible. It’s been five long years with high murder rates and our hope is we can reduce those numbers drastically.”
“We are putting everybody in Baltimore under permanent surveillance all the time, every time they walk out the door,“ said ACLU attorney David Rocah. “If the police did that in real life and followed us, there isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that we would accept it.“
He said it is too early to decide whether the ACLU will take any legal action.
“That Baltimore is facilitating this is disturbing and shocking and is a potential step toward creating a permanent surveillance state in Baltimore.“
Despite police saying there will be independent, civilian oversight of the planes, the ACLU claims the private company can do whatever they want with the information they collect and will not be beholden to it.
“I fully support Commissioner Michael Harrison as he explores additional resources to aid the Baltimore Police Department in its efforts to reduce crime in our city,” said Mayor Jack Young. “At my direction, Commissioner Harrison consulted with the Department of Justice prior to moving forward with an exploratory phase. Any efforts we pursue have to comply with our federal Consent Decree. Reducing crime, most importantly violent crime, remains a top priority of mine. The process the Commissioner has outlined is transparent and includes necessary community engagement and auditing functions.”
But Council President Brandon Scott said he does not believe the program will help solve crimes. In part, he said: “Gun violence is out of control in our city and we are all looking for solutions that can save lives. This is why our city needs a comprehensive, coordinated approach to public safety. Sadly, the City of Baltimore does not have one. When you don’t have a plan, you reach for boxing rings. You hope for cold weather. You say you’ll put a surveillance plane up in the sky that does not work.
We need solutions that work, and Commissioner Harrison has told the City Council multiple times this year, as recently as October, that there is no evidence the surveillance plane is an effective crime-fighting tool. BPD recently testified that, in the time the surveillance plane was secretly used in Baltimore, it yielded zero pieces of evidence that could be used to fight crime.”
Mayor candidate and former Baltimore city spokesman T.J. Smith said he’s happy a decision has been made, but that it doesn’t help the more than 330 homicide victims this year.
“There have been 85 murders in the past three months and this year alone, there have been over 1,000 robberies and carjackings. This decision feels like that fierce urgency of now that we all expect from leadership,” Smith said in part. “It should’ve existed back in October, but the decision paralysis in City Hall has crippled us from thinking outside of the box and using technology that could help Baltimore become a safer city.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maryland said the aerial surveillance “will impact the privacy rights of black and brown residents for generations to come.” “The surveillance plane means putting every resident of Baltimore under permanent surveillance, creating a video record of everywhere that everyone goes every time they walk outside. If the police did that in real life, in person on our streets, we would never accept it,” the ACLU said in a statement. Everyone in Baltimore is concerned about violent crime, but the desire to address that concern cannot be sufficient to ignore the other issues that this surveillance plan raises. Any decision to take such a drastic step, with such long-term impacts, should be made by an elected body that is accountable to the people who elect them, not by the Police Commissioner, or by private funders hoping to use Baltimore as a test site,” the ACLU added.
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