National Police Misconduct Statistics Released

Story can be found here:

http://www.injusticeeverywhere.com/?p=1070

 

NPMSRP 2009 Semi-Annual Police Misconduct Statistics Report

Introduction

The National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project utilizes news media reports of police misconduct to generate statistical information in an effort to approximate how prevalent police misconduct may be in the United States.

As part of this project, reported incidents of misconduct are aggregated into a news feed on Twitter and then added into an off-line database where duplicate entries and updates are removed and remaining unique stories are categorized for statistical information in monthly, quarterly, and yearly reports here on this site. To view data from other months, refer to the Police Misconduct Statistics menu item located on the top menu bar.

While the use of news reports to generate statistical data may seem strange, keep in mind that police departments do not normally release any detailed information about disciplinary matters, and sometimes they don’t release anything at all. The use of court records by themselves would only garner information about misconduct cases that were successfully prosecuted and would miss confidential settlements and cases of misconduct that were not prosecuted but did result in internal disciplinary action.

It should be noted that the use of media reports acts as a filter that limits the number of outwardly questionable allegations of misconduct but may also suffer from under-reporting due to laws that limit the amount of information law enforcement agencies report to the press. Therefore, if anything, the resulting statistics we publish should be considered as a low-end estimate of the current rate of police misconduct in the United States and for any locality we cite.

Also, In order to allow for accurate comparisons between this project’s statistics and the US DOJ/FBI Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) statistics, it should be noted that this project utilizes the same methodology as the UCR by way of a hierarchical reporting system that only records the most serious allegation when more than one allegation is associated with an alleged incident of misconduct. It should also be noted that both the NPMSRP and UCR report on alleged instances, not convictions.

General Statistics

The following report was generated from data gathered in the months of April 2009 through September 2009. In the last 6 months there were:

2,568 – Alleged victims of reported police misconduct.
2,854 – Law enforcement officers alleged to have engaged in misconduct.
207 – Law enforcement leaders (police chiefs or sheriffs) that were cited in those reports.
215 – Fatalities reported in connection with alleged instances of misconduct.
14.7 – Reported incidents of misconduct tracked per day on average or a report of misconduct every 98 minutes.
1 out of every 116.4 – Estimated number of officers who will be involved in a reported act of misconduct this year.
$128,306,406 – Reported costs in police misconduct related civil litigation, not counting legal fees or court costs.

Categorization

When examining misconduct reports by type, non-firearm related excessive force complaints were most common at 21.3% (652) of all reports, followed by sexual misconduct complaints at 13.0% (397), and then fraud/theft reports at 9.8% (300).

MisconductByType0909

When examining reports by last reported status, 32.8% had resulted in some sort of adverse outcome for the officers involved (25.7%) or their representative employers (7.1%). 215 (7.0%) officers were disciplined, 138 (4.5%) were fired, and of the 1018 who were criminally charged, 317 were convicted of a criminal offense for a 31.1% conviction rate.

MisconductByStatus0909

State Statistics

The following statistics only count state, city, and county law enforcement agencies since current federal law enforcement employment rates were not available for calculation. The statistical rates are based on the NPMSRP statistics and employment data provided by the 2008 US DOJ/FBI UCR.

The following density map shows the police misconduct incident rate per general population.

NPMSRP_Dmap_PC_0909While the next density map shows the police misconduct rate per law enforcement officer.

NPMSRP_Dmap_PO_0909

The average national police misconduct rate is estimated to be 834.69 per 100,000 police officers. In 2008 there were an estimated 712,360 state and local law enforcement officers employed in the US for an average of 1 officer for every 231.5 people.

The following table shows the state misconduct rates ranked from worst to best.

State Misconduct rate per 100k officers State Incidents per 100k population
VT 2931.94 DC 8.79
WV* 2210.53 WV* 4.63
ID 1861.50 VT 4.51
IN 1816.44 LA 4.49
MT 1695.94 ID 3.28
MS 1654.52 MA 3.14
OR 1629.88 TN 3.02
MN 1578.71 NM 3.02
NM 1456.31 IN 2.98
AK 1428.57 MT 2.89
MA 1228.25 MS 2.86
OH 1226.54 MN 2.68
TN 1210.64 AK 2.62
WA 1188.12 CT 2.57
DC 1167.23 MD 2.56
LA 1144.11 OR 2.53
PA 1136.55 OH 2.33
AZ 1100.78 FL 2.28
CT 1042.63 PA 2.28
OK 1013.65 AZ 2.18
IA 969.18 OK 2.14
FL 948.83 IL 2.14
AR 923.48 SC 2.05
MD 921.95 GA 1.96
MI 902.38 AR 1.96
TX 846.70 WA 1.92
SC 810.64 WY 1.88
GA 782.25 TX 1.83
AL 779.58 DE 1.83
CO 775.33 CO 1.82
IL 740.98 AL 1.80
WY 718.39 MI 1.76
ME 712.69 RI 1.71
RI 696.86 IA 1.67
DE 696.86 NJ 1.61
NE 687.48 NY 1.58
ND 653.59 VA 1.44
VA 606.78 NC 1.43
NC 598.61 NE 1.35
SD 558.66 MO 1.29
UT 552.49 ND 1.25
NH 545.60 ME 1.22
CA 533.92 CA 1.18
MO 526.43 WI 1.17
WI 506.21 KS 1.14
NY 502.21 NH 1.06
KY 486.62 SD 0.99
KS 469.83 UT 0.95
NJ 432.38 NV 0.92
NV 418.99 KY 0.89
HI 333.67 HI 0.78

*note: West Virginia state statistics are based on an estimated law enforcement population since they do not provide statistical information to the federal government.

Agency Statistics

As a form of “parity check” the following table lists law enforcement agencies that are known to publish data on their police misconduct rates along with our estimated police misconduct rates for the same agency in order to make a rough estimate as to how accurate the NPMSRP statistics might be.

City ST Agency Sustained Incidents Agency Rate NPMSRP Projected Incidents NPMSRP Projected Rate
New York NY 151 422.25 104 290.82
San Francisco CA 39 1631.12 22 920.12
Chicago IL 383 2866.98 98 733.59
San Diego CA 7 352.29 10 503.27
San Jose CA 46 3326.10 12 867.68
Seattle WA 18 1365.71 20 1525.26
Portland OR 17 1718.91 24 2426.69
Denver CO 191 12394.55 28 1817.00

*Note: Due to the relatively few law enforcement agencies that make misconduct information available the number of comparisons we can make are limited, but do show more potential for under-reporting than over-reporting for our data in comparison to what known agencies self-report. (If you would like to see data for your own location, contact us at news@injusticeeverywhere.com)

Projected Comparisons

By projecting this month’s NPMSRP totals out to one year, the following comparisons can be made between the reported police misconduct allegation rate and the reported 2008 general crime rate* as published by the FBI and DOJ for 2008 (*please note that both the NPMSRP police misconduct rates and the FBI/DOJ UCR general crime rate statistics are reported incidents, not convictions):

Violent Crime:

(all assault, excessive force, forcible rape, murder, and domestic assault allegations)

  • 1 out of every 268 (372.5 per 100k) police officers will be accused of a violent crime.
  • 1 out of every 220 (454.5 per 100k) citizens will be accused of a violent crime.

Homicide

(all non-negligent manslaughter, murder, and homicide allegations)

  • 1 out of every 2,374 (42.1 per 100k) police officers will be accused of homicide
  • 1 out of every 18,518 (5.4 per 100k) citizens will be accused of homicide

Sexual Assault

(all sexual assault, coercive sexual battery, and rape allegations but not including consensual sexual misconduct, exposure, solicitation, or child pornography)

  • 1 out of every 846 (118.2 per 100k) police officers will be accused of sexual assault.
  • 1 out of every 3,413 (29.3 per 100k) citizens will be accused of sexual assault.

The following comparisons are made between the NPMSRP 6 month statistics projected out to one year and the 2004 US DOJ Bureau of Justice Statistics Criminal Sentencing Statistics:

Conviction Rate

  • 68% of civilians charged are ultimately convicted
  • 31% of police officers charged are ultimately convicted

Probation Sentence Rate

  • 28% of convicted citizens are sentenced to probation.
  • 38% of convicted police officers are sentenced to probation

Sentence Length

  • 37 months – average civilian prison sentence length
  • 14 months – average police officer sentence length

About This Report

Terminology

Misconduct Types:

Accountability – Incidents involving evidence of police misconduct cover-ups, lack of investigations, allegations of lax disciplinary response to sustained allegations, and other activities that involve accountability policies or processes.

Animal Cruelty – Acts of violence resulting in harm to animals both on and off duty that may include unnecessary shooting incidents, inappropriate training of K9 units, or other such activities.

Assault – Unwarranted violence occurring while off-duty

Brutality – Unwarranted or excessive hysical violence occurring while on-duty

Civil Rights – Violations of general civil liberties that would be ruled unconstitutional yet not covered by other categories. For example, excessive force would be a violation of constitutionally protected rights, but is already covered in the Brutality class. However, complaints of warrantless eavesdropping or illegal disruptions of lawful protests would be deemed civil rights violations.

Sexual Misconduct- Sex related incidents including rape, sexual assault, harassment, coercion, prostitution, sex on duty, incest, and molestation.

Theft – includes robbery, theft, shoplifting, fraud, extortion, and bribery

Shooting – gun-related incidents both on and off-duty, including self-harm

Color of Law – incidents that involve misuse of authority such as bribery or extortion by threat of arrest

Perjury – includes false testimony, dishonesty during investigations, falsified charging papers, and falsified warrants.

Misconduct Status/Outcomes:
Allegation – First stage of a misconduct complaint, can be from victim, witnesses, relatives of the victim, and other sources. Simply an allegation of misconduct.

Investigation – Second stage of a misconduct complaint, can be an internal investigation, criminal investigation, external investigation, or a DOJ/FBI civil rights investigation.

Lawsuits – Civil complaints filed in court, generally requires more evidence than a simple allegation, but still within the realm of allegations.

Charges – Criminal complaints filed in court, generally requires more evidence than a simple allegation, but still within the realm of allegations.

Trials – Criminal trials in court, requires enough evidence to establish probable cause, higher threshold than civil litigation or criminal charges, but still allegations.

Judgments – These are rulings that support a civil litigation complaint but also include settlement agreements that are typically, officially, said to not be admissions of guilt. Should be considered a confirmed case of misconduct.

Disciplinary – Results of investigations that confirm misconduct complaints but do not result in termination of employment.

Firings – Results of investigations that confirm misconduct severe enough to warrant termination of employment.

Convictions – Results of criminal trials that confirm allegations serious enough to warrant criminal charges. These include both rulings and guilty pleas.

Methodology

Information Gathering:
Data is gathered from various media outlets by manual searches and review of daily news stories several times a day. There are no sufficient key terms that work well enough to automate this data gathering tasks, the results must be vetted by human intervention.

Information Storage:
Confirmed stories about police misconduct that have been vetted to ensure that the story is about a case of misconduct or allegation of misconduct are published to a Twitter-based National Police Misconduct NewsFeed. From there, the stories are copied to a spreadsheet where they can later be sorted and analyzed.

Data Analysis:
At the first day of the month, data from the previous month is sorted and analyzed in the spreadsheet. All duplicate stories, stories that are informational, stories involving policy, and legislative issues are purged from the spreadsheet. Any items involving a status change about a specific incident are culled so that only the latest status story remains to avoid duplicate data. Only the most serious charge in a series of charges related to a single incident of misconduct are recorded to maintain parity with the national UCR statistical analysis methodology.

Data Presentation:
After all data has been analyzed it is presented on this site by General, Geographical, Type, and Status datasets.

Important Notes:
The data collected and presented here should only be used to provide a very basic and general view of the extent of police misconduct within the US. It is, by no means, an accurate gauge that truly represents the exact extent of police misconduct since it relies on the information voluntarily gathered and/or released to the media, not from information gathered first-hand by independent monitors who investigate complaints of misconduct since no such agency exists nationally.

This information has been gathered here because nobody else is gathering it and the national government has not gathered it for several years. Keep in mind that geographical distribution of misconduct reports can be representative of concentrations of corruption or permissive attitudes towards abusive police policies or can be indications of more open information sharing between police agencies and local media along with departmental efforts to reduce misconduct by actively engaging problematic officers. There is no real way to determine which is the case since there is no independent monitoring and investigation into allegations of police misconduct.

In generally, monthly reports do not provide as accurate a depiction of the overall extent of police misconduct in the US as do quarterly and yearly reports as there is a fair amount of fluctuation between incident types and rates month by month. Therefore, monthly reports should only be considered as the state of police misconduct in that month itself while the longer-term reports paint a more comprehensive and accurate picture of police misconduct in the US.

As always, I appreciate any recommendations, advice, requests, and general comments.

Thank you.

Crime Wave

Wow, pretty stunning figures. It makes you wonder what would happen is rapists and murderes had the political pull that cops do to prevent statistics on ther crimes being kept. Certainly puts a different light on the way justice operaates. I'm glad to see that Illinois is only average when it come to police lawlessness, but that's not exactly something to be proud of -- or to be defending as something which doesn't need improving as some insist locally.

San Jose police often use force in resisting-arrest cases

What aggressive investigative reporting by a daily newspaper and a state's attorney who keeps an open eye for police misconduct can do to shine a light on abusive police practices

by Sean Webby

Scott Wright was fixing the emergency brake on an old Cadillac in a parking lot near Willow Glen last year when the San Jose police rolled up. Within minutes, he had been shot with a Taser and beaten with batons, breaking his arm.

The cause of the trouble? Wright reached into his van to wash his greasy hands.

Police said they feared he was going for a weapon, but no weapon was found. Wright was charged with resisting arrest, but the district attorney dismissed the case before it got to trial.

What happened to Wright is no isolated event. Hundreds of times a year interactions between San Jose police and residents where no serious crime has occurred escalate into violence.

Many times the reason for the encounter is as innocuous as jaywalking, missing bike head lamps, or failing to signal a turn. But often, as the incidents develop, police determine the suspect is uncooperative and potentially violent and strike the first blow.

While many of those incidents raise questions about whether the police response was excessive, the department almost always dismisses such complaints about its behavior and limits public scrutiny of the cases, moves that tend to heighten distrust of the department, particularly in minority communities.

Last week, the Mercury News disclosed the existence of a cell phone video documenting one such confrontation between police wielding batons and a Taser and college student Phuong Ho, who police said was resisting their instructions. It is rare for such a video to come to light, but allegations of excessive force are far from uncommon.

In recent months the Mercury News has reviewed 206 court cases in which the most serious charge against the defendant was a violation of California Penal Code section 148, the misdemeanor crime of resisting arrest or delaying or obstructing a police officer. Of those, 145 — 70 percent of the cases — involved the use of force by officers.

The review was launched following the April disclosure by the newspaper that San Jose charges far more people with resisting arrest, compared with its population, than any other major California city, and that a disproportionate number of those charged are Latino residents. State and county statistics show San Jose police charge people with resisting arrest, as the primary charge, three times a day on average.

Police chief Rob Davis and other officials defend the department practices and say their officers are trained to show restraint. They caution that comparisons with other communities can be misleading.

The review included more than half of the San Jose police court cases filed last year in which resisting arrest was the primary criminal charge. The examination of those cases — together with a review of civil lawsuits and interviews with police, suspects, their lawyers and national experts on police practices — provides the most detailed public portrait of the San Jose police use of force ever developed.

It omitted what may be the most egregious cases — those where the district attorney refuses to file charges requested by the police. Such cases are closed to public scrutiny.

The Mercury News review also found:

  • Around the nation, many departments closely monitor cases of resisting arrest because of a concern that the loosely defined crime is a "cover charge" used by errant cops to justify unnecessary force. San Jose police officials last month said, in response to Mercury News questions, that they were instituting a policy to begin tracking such arrests.
  • The department's internal investigators routinely discount citizen complaints of force. Last year, a year in which 117 cases were filed, the department did not "sustain" a single complaint, including Wright's — a finding that outside experts say is not credible if a department takes complaints seriously. The city's Independent Police Auditor disagreed with police findings in 25 of the 99 use-of-force cases it reviewed last year. But the IPA lacks authority to go any further than official dissent.
  • The district attorney's office, which files charges in about eight of every 10 Santa Clara County arrests, rejects cases at an unusually high rate when the crime is resisting arrest and the department involved is San Jose police. More than one-third of the time, the district attorney declined to file charges — a number sharply higher than the rate when other county police agencies bring a complaint of resisting arrest, according to statistics provided by the office.
  • When defendants consult a lawyer and challenge resisting arrest charges brought by San Jose police, they often succeed. Defendants who hired lawyers and contested their cases managed to win outright dismissal or at least reduction of the resisting arrest charge nearly half the time, the newspaper review found.
  • The city has paid $861,778 to settle 10 lawsuits charging San Jose police with excessive force that have been filed since 2004, city figures show. Another 24 cases filed in that period remain open.

    Concern from experts

    There is no widely used and uniform method of publicly reporting incidents of police force, and no state agency requires them to be reported, preventing easy comparisons to other departments. But outside experts who reviewed a dozen troubling cases selected by the Mercury News expressed alarm at the pattern they saw.

    "In almost all of them, there is an underlying questionable or even illegal activity," said Sam Walker, a criminologist at the University of Nebraska and the author of 11 books on policing, criminal justice history and policy, and civil liberties.

    Penny Harrington, the former police chief of Portland, Ore., said it is important to remember that many people confronted by police are on drugs or alcohol, or have mental illnesses, conditions that may be spurring them to react with violence toward law enforcement.

    But Harrington added: "If a person is going to resist arrest it is usually for something very serious that they will go to prison for." Given the large number of incidents in San Jose where the only crime is resisting arrest, or resisting arrest together with minor crimes such as traffic violations, "then I would be very concerned."

    San Jose police said they would not respond to questions about individual cases, even those already closed. But former Santa Clara County prosecutor Terry Bowman, who is representing one of the officers in the Phuong Ho case, said the cases she reviewed for the newspaper showed officers engaged in an "evenhanded attempt to get suspects to toe the line." She said statistics showing high numbers of resisting arrest cases reveal nothing more than "good public safety-based law enforcement."

    The police accounts of individual cases included in this article were drawn from statements in court cases.

    San Jose police have historically made little information available about cases in which officers use force. Last month, at the urging of police, the City Council rejected the proposal by a community task force that police disclose the reports they prepare documenting each case in which force is used. At that same meeting, the council also suspended production of an annual statistical report about instances in which force is used; the police complained that report, which was last released in the summer of 2008, could be misleading to the public.

    Police defend actions

    Police officials say their officers use force only when they must, to protect themselves and others in complex situations that can quickly turn violent. They say that their internal reviews establish that San Jose police act with restraint, and cite the low number of citizen complaints about excessive force. And police captain Gary Kirby told a City Council committee this year that after reviewing more than 100 resisting arrest cases from the past two years, he came to a clear conclusion: There is no problem.

    "We are very proud to have one of the most professional departments in the country," said Police Chief Davis. But, he added, "our officers are given an immense amount of power. It is important for us to make sure that our officers are using that power appropriately. We can always continue to improve."

    San Jose police recruits spend more than 100 hours at the academy getting extensive training about using force. Once on the job, they get refresher courses every two years. As part of the refresher, each officer uses a force options simulator, a kind of computer game that tests officers in how quickly, and how severely, to use force in situations mirroring life on the street.

    The training educates officers in federal and state laws that require them to limit use of force to what is reasonable to gain control of a situation and accomplish an arrest if the officer has probable cause to believe the suspect committed a crime. That standard is intentionally loose, depending on the facts of a situation: How severe is the crime? How big and strong is the suspect? What is the suspect's history?

    San Jose local policies further restricts officers. They are expected to first use verbal warnings, and persuasion, unless that appears ineffective.

    "Our basic philosophy is, if you need to use force to effect an arrest, then you use the lowest use of force you can," Davis said.

    The department already is initiating a number of steps to respond to community unrest stemming from the high rate of street arrests on discretionary crimes. Supervision and training have been stepped up, and the department has volunteered to be the first in the country to test a new commercial device officers would wear that records sound and visual images from encounters.

    But on the street, officers are still left to make split-second decisions regarding how much force is reasonable, and often, what's reasonable is in the eye of the beholder. Resisting arrest allegations, more than many other crimes, hang on the word of police officers against the word of those they've taken into custody. The Scott Wright incident, like many of those reviewed by the Mercury News, shows just how much those perspectives can vary.

    Very different accounts

    When four police officers responded to a report of potential car burglars on Shadow Dance Drive near Willow Glen, they found Wright and Mark Schleicher standing in a parking area next to Schleicher's car. The officers separated and questioned the two men.

    Wright told the officers he wanted to wash his hands, and said later that he believed one officer shrugged permission. In the police version, the officer told Wright not to reach inside the van, and Wright became combative, telling an officer he would "kick your ass" if the officer touched him.

    Whatever was said, as Wright reached into the van, an officer struck and broke his left arm with a baton. Wright fell inside his van. As he flailed, he was hit with batons several more times. One officer used a Taser on him.

    Police say the force was justified because Wright could have been reaching for a weapon. After the violence ended, police arrested Wright and sought charges of assaulting the police and resisting arrest. Prosecutors declined the assault charges, and filed only a charge of resisting arrest.

    Before the date for trial, Wright's lawyer asked the judge to review internal police department records of three officers to explore any history of using excessive force or making false statements. After conducting the review, the judge ruled that records in at least one of the officer's past merited disclosure. The charges were later dropped, court records show, "in the interests of justice."

    Tracking the arrests

    Across the country, resisting arrest charges have raised concerns inside and outside police departments, because of allegations that they have been misused by officers to justify unwarranted force. As a result, and often in response to legal challenges, cities from Schenectady, N.Y., to Los Angeles closely monitor cases where such charges are filed.

    "I think such reviews are a best practice now," said Gerald Chaleff, police administrator for the LAPD, which has had its supervisors sign off on all such busts since the department agreed to federal oversight after an officer corruption scandal nine years ago. "A department needs to have the confidence of the community it is policing."

    Chief Davis and other police officials present for an October interview said the department will now begin tracking incidents of resisting arrest. The officials said the new policy did not suggest the department sees any problem with how it handles resisting arrest charges.

    Under California law, "resisting arrest" is something of a misnomer — the charge is for resisting or interfering with an officer.

    "Some people have a problem with authority and that's OK," said Bowman, the frequent lawyer for police. "But that doesn't mean that you have the right to be a problem for authority."

    On some occasions the charges develop after officers wade into fights or respond to domestic violence or other potentially hazardous situations. But on many other occasions reviewed by the Mercury News, the violent confrontations seem to develop almost out of nowhere.

    Seven began as pedestrian incidents such as jaywalking.

    Eleven sprang from traffic stops for minor infractions, such as burned-out license plate lights.

    In eight cases where force was used, the incidents began with officers spotting riders on bikes without head lamps.

    In many cases included in the newspaper review, minor incidents turned violent after suspects challenged officers' authority. In 30 of the cases, police reports mention the suspects mouthing off before force was used. In 19 of the cases, officers detail the use of a specific four-letter word.

    There is a well-known term for charges brought against suspects whose arrests follow defiance by the suspects, which is not in itself illegal, said Paul Chevigny, a New York University law professor and author of books on police force: Their real crime, he said, is known as "contempt of cop."

    Consider the example of Daniel Duran, who mouthed off as he and his fiance, Cindy Guizar, came upon a group of officers trying to calm a 2005 street disturbance in the downtown San Jose entertainment zone.

    "It was not a smart thing to do," said his attorney, Sharonrose Cannistraci, even if it was not illegal.

    Duran and Guizar went inside a bar and were seated on a couch when five officers came inside. One grabbed Duran, according to federal court documents. Before it was over, both Duran and his fiance were on the ground, and officers had fired their Taser guns repeatedly.

    Guizar was charged with assaulting the police and resisting arrest, charges that were later dismissed. Duran was charged with being drunk in public. That charge was also dismissed in return for his guilty plea to the misdemeanor crime of disturbing the peace.

    In 2006, Duran and Guizar filed a federal civil rights complaint against the city. Duran's attorney, Cannistraci, is a former deputy district attorney who describes herself as "very pro law enforcement. But I'll take a case when officers clearly step over the line. And in this case, what happened was clearly wrong."

    In 2007 the city paid $120,000 to settle the lawsuit.

    'Pretext' stops

    Sometimes, minor incidents turn violent when police pull over suspects they actually want to question for more serious reasons — gang members or people they have encountered in the past. Such "pretext" stops are legal, as long as the minor transgressions exist. And San Jose police say the stops give them a chance at catching people with outstanding warrants, drugs or weapons.

    These stops have a high potential to end in force, both because the suspect may be belligerent and because, as NYU's Chevigny notes, police are more likely to use extreme force against unsympathetic suspects.

    In the case of Danny Piña, whom police identified as a gang member, the suspect suffered a broken nose and dislocated arm in an incident that began when police stopped him last April near his house because his bike was missing a headlamp. Police say Piña resisted being detained.

    But neighbors heard Piña asking "Why did you hit me in the head?" and "Why did you punch me?," according to police reports — questions that left outside experts wondering whether Piña was indeed resisting arrest. The district attorney declined to file charges against Piña.

    Citizen complaints about force

    Police officials cite the low number of complaints over excess force as evidence that officers do their difficult job well. But community groups say San Jose discourages aggrieved citizens from complaining.

    A 2007 Santa Clara County civil grand jury report cited widespread community concern about racial profiling and other issues, stating: "A number of citizens do not have the confidence to report perceived officer misconduct."

    Michael Morgan says that police tried to intimidate him out of filing a claim after they arrested him in 2006. The confrontation began when Morgan was stopped for not having a front license plate, and police indicated to him they suspected him of drug use. It turned rough, with Morgan claiming police manhandling aggravated a back injury, and Morgan told police he intended to file a complaint.

    Before Morgan was released from custody, he said, the arresting officer told him: "If you think you still want to file that complaint, you can go ahead and try all you want." His attorney, Robert R. Powell, said his client "understood he was being threatened with further harassment if he pursued a complaint."

    The criminal charges were dropped after a drug test came back negative. Morgan then filed a complaint that was resolved last October, when the city agreed to pay him $20,000.

    Critics say complaints also are discouraged by how routinely the city rejects them. The city's failure to sustain a single complaint of excess force in 2008 was unusual, but not by much; in 2007, when 117 complaints also were filed, the department sustained two cases, according to the Independent Police Auditor. A complaint is sustained when the department determines it is more likely than not that excess force was used.

    A U.S. Department of Justice study found large departments — those with more than 100 officers — sustain on average about 8 percent of citizen complaints of excess force.

    Nebraska professor Walker said of the city's failure to sustain a single complaint in 2008: "It raises a red flag. There are red flags when you see sustained rates of 5 percent. Something like 12 to 14 percent is very common. When you see zero, there is a problem."

    Copyright ©

    2009 - San Jose Mercury News

  • Neither Seems to Apply Here

    "What aggressive investigative reporting by a daily newspaper and a state's attorney who keeps an open eye for police misconduct can do to shine a light on abusive police practices"

    Dream on. Neither of those conditions applies in Champaign County. We can only hope for change some day.

    Wish I could find individual

    Wish I could find individual numbers by State...for the agencies within that state only, not nationally..

    ahhh

    Read the categories..."alleged".  I'm an officer, I've been "alleged" to have commited some pretty wild things by people that I've arrested and want to get back at me.  Cleared of everything.  Anybody can make an allegation, how about some stats on the number of officers CHARGED after an allegation....that'd make more sense and give you a better picture.  I'm sure they didnt' include that because the numbers would be so low it wouldn't aid the anti-police agenda of this page.

    "the anti-police agenda of

    "the anti-police agenda of this page"

    I always find it strange how being pro-good police sometimes gets twisted into something it's not, like an "anti-police agenda."

    Oh, I see!

    This site is pro-good police!  THAT explains why this site is simply loaded with stories about police doing a good job.  You know, profiles about officers who go above and beyond the call of duty and things like that.  Make sense.  After all, that's really one of the main things you would expect on a site devoted to good policing.  Why did I not think of that before?

    shut up pig

    you're EXPECTED to do your job right. No one's going to pat your little pink ass for it. We draw attention to your abuse of power and your misconduct because of the serious effects it can have on the lives of others.

    Atlanta PD won't hinder citizens who videotape cops

    by Bill Rankin

    Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    Faced with complaints from a citizen watchdog group, Atlanta police will stop interfering with people who videotape officers performing their duties in public, an agreement reached with the city Thursday says.

    The settlement, which also calls for the city to pay $40,000 in damages, requires city council approval.

    The agreement resolves a complaint filed by Marlon Kautz and Copwatch of East Atlanta, a group that films police activity with cell phones and hand-held cameras. The group has volunteers who go out on patrols and begin videotaping police activity when they come across it.

    Last April, Kautz said, he pulled out his camera phone and began recording Atlanta police who were arresting a suspect in Little Five Points. Two officers approached him and said he had no right to be filming them, Kautz said. When Kautz refused to stop, one officer wrenched Kautz's arm behind his back and yanked the camera out of his hands, he said.

    "I was definitely scared," Kautz, 27, said.

    Kautz said that when he asked to get his phone back, another officer said he'd return it only after Kautz gave him the password to the phone so he could delete the footage. When Kautz refused, police confiscated the phone, he said. When police returned it, Kautz said, the video images had been deleted, altered or damaged.

    As part of Thursday's settlement, reached before a civil rights lawsuit was filed, the city will pay Kautz and Copwatch of East Atlanta $40,000 in damages. APD will also adopt an operating procedure that prohibits officers from interfering with citizens who are taping police activity, provided individuals recording the activity do not physically interfere with what the officers are doing. The policy is to be adopted within 30 days after the Atlanta city council approves the settlement, and training is to be carried out during police roll calls.

    "We commend the city for resolving a long-standing problem of police interfering with citizens who monitor police activity,"  the group's lawyers, Gerry Weber and Dan Grossman, said.

    APD spokesman Carlos Campos said the matter had been referred to the Office of Professional Standards, and three officers were disciplined. The two officers who confronted Kautz -- Mark Taylor and Anthony Kirkman -- received oral admonishments for failing to take appropriate action. Sgt. Stephen Zygai was admonished for failure to supervise.

    "Commanders have made it clear that Atlanta police officers in the field should not interfere with a citizen’s right to film them while they work in public areas," Campos said.

    Also Thursday, the Atlanta Citizen Review Board sustained allegations of excessive force against Kirkman, who took the phone out of Kautz's hand. The board recommended to Police Chief George Turner that Kirkman be suspended without pay for four days. It also recommended that APD adopt the new standard operating procedure.

    Copwatch began in 1990 in Berkeley, Calif., and other chapters have since been organized in cities across the country. Its goal is to protect citizens from being mistreated by holding police accountable. With the ubiquity of small hand-held cameras and cell phones, Copwatch members can begin videotaping a police scene at a moment's notice.

    "There shouldn’t be anything wrong with these constitutional watchdogs keeping an eye on the police," said Emory University law professor Kay Levine. "Just about anything the police are doing out in the public, in performance of their duties, members of the public can see -- and therefore film."

    Citizens should not interfere with police activity, however, and should be wary about compromising an undercover investigation, she said.

    "Just about anything the police are doing out in the public, they should be comfortable being videotaped because they’re simply performing their duties," Levine said. "If some aren’t comfortable with it, it makes you wonder why."

    Kautz started Copwatch of East Atlanta after he moved here about two years ago.

    "We landed right smack dab in a situation where we saw police behavior was unacceptable," Kautz said, citing the controversial APD raid of the Atlanta Eagle gay bar. "We saw Copwatch as direct action we could take to increase police accountability in the city."

    Copwatch members are trained how to behave when videotaping a scene, Kautz said. "It's important for us when we're out there to keep it together. We try to stay professional, as we expect the police to be."

    Copwatch members get varying responses from police, Vincent Castillenti, 24, said. Some officers become hostile because they don't like the scrutiny, while others begin behaving less aggressively when they realize they're being filmed, he said.

    Kautz said the intent of Copwatch is not to get police officers in trouble. "The hope," he said, "is that our presence will remind police the community is watching what they're doing and wants them to be on their best behavior."

    Copyright 2011 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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