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Something Still Stinks in New Orleans
February 25, 2010 2:00 PM   Subscribe

New Orleans detective pleads guilty to major coverup of police shootings in aftermath of Katrina. Among other things, Lohman has admitted involvement in planting a handgun at the scene, drafting fake police reports, and lying to federal agents as part of a conspiracy to cover up the truth about a shooting incident in which six unarmed civilians were shot by New Orleans' police. With news of Lohman's guilty plea announcement coming amid a renewed DOJ push to investigate allegations of police abuse in New Orleans, some are wondering who'll be next in front of a jury. (Via TPM.)
posted by saulgoodman (113 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
some are wondering who'll be next in front of a jury

I'm wondering who'll be first in front of a firing squad.
posted by nathancaswell at 2:02 PM on February 25, 2010


We all know who was responsible for letting the effects of Katrina get so out of control that this would happen in the first place. But, as with Abu Ghraib, we don't follow these crimes too far up the food chain.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:09 PM on February 25, 2010 [11 favorites]


I don't think we can really blame the Federal government for this one, Blazecock. The New Orleans police force has been famously corrupt for decades. This crime was a symptom of a deeper problem, and even with all the Federal support in the world, the corruption would still have been there.

The way we've let down New Orleans is a stain on the whole country, but even this tiny bit of support is better than nothing. You have to prosecute and jail the bad guys one by one, and maybe they'll go after more senior people as their investigations continue. I fervently hope that your expectation that it will go no higher is wrong.

If it does stop here, then you'd be right to blame the Federal government, but it's too soon to do that yet.
posted by Malor at 2:18 PM on February 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'm wondering who'll be first in front of a firing squad.

God helps those firing squads that help themselves.
posted by clarknova at 2:25 PM on February 25, 2010 [6 favorites]


Results 1 - 10 of about 8,660,000 for police planting a gun.
posted by three blind mice at 2:29 PM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


waiting for the mefites that are going to come along and explain why the shooting was probably entirely justified.

You're a pretty crappy empath if you only feel for people on one side of the story. HAMBURGER

I'm wondering who'll be first in front of a firing squad.
FYI: in Louisiana, lethal injection is the sole method of execution. Hanging was acceptable up to 1938, then electrocution was the method of death up to 1991.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:38 PM on February 25, 2010


waiting for the mefites that are going to come along and explain why the shooting was probably entirely justified.
posted by empath at 5:17 PM on February 25 [1 favorite +] [!]

Those strawmen won't move themselves, buddy.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 2:39 PM on February 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


This is pretty much par for the course. When I was living in New Orleans in the mid to late 90s, there were police officers who put out hits on citizens for complaining that they were too verbally abusive during traffic stops (the police internal affairs department that handled citizen complains basically handed over the complaints to the offending officers, and a mere $50 bucks was enough to pay off a drug dealer to kill the citizen who complained... with a nice little message to witnesses why it was happening, just so the message wasn't lost on people). The ONLY reason THAT incident was caught (obviously the internal affairs department wasn't going to investigate a murder they had a part in) was because the police officer was being tapped by the Fed.

Why were the Feds tapping this police officer? Because the had set up a sting to have New Orleans Police officers guard a gigantic shipment of cocaine. They had more than a dozen officers who were going to take part, many officers, all using assumed code names because this sort of thing happens all the time. They only caught a handful of the officers, though, because while they were tapping the NOPD they discovered the police officers were planning on murdering the Federal undercover agents so they could steal/sell the cocaine for themselves... so the Feds had to pull the plug early.

There were police officers that were robbing banks (not in uniform) on a regular basis and pulling in hundreds of thousands of dollars.

There was another police officer who, high on crack, robbed a Vietnamese restaurant where she and her partner regularly ate for free. Turns out her partner was there when she started the robbery, so she shot him in the head, then methodically went through the entire restaurant and murdered each and every family member she could find. The upside to her being high on crack was that she lost count, and one of the family members survived and made the rookie mistake of, you know, calling the police. Guess who showed in a uniform. She did. "Fortunately" (? some speculation here - but see the above example where the department helped put a hit on a citizen) because she was black and shot a white police officer to death, she was brought to justice.

There have been suspects (cop killers) shot dead on the courtroom steps. There was fear the above officer would be killed by officers, too, before she could even take the stand.

So yeah, it only got a lot, lot, lot worse after Katrina. It's almost a certainty that scores of people who "died" during Katrina were taken out by opportunistic/corrupt police officers.

This was only caught because it was so public and a police officer flipped, which is very rare indeed. Google his name in a couple of years and see if he makes it out of prison alive. I bet he won't.

New Orleans is like a third world country in terms of the way its police department and city function. Corrupt, incompetent, and very dangerous.

But it's a great city for food - highly recommend it for a vacation. Seriously. Just be very polite to the police.
posted by Davenhill at 2:44 PM on February 25, 2010 [84 favorites]


This was only caught because it was so public and a police officer flipped, which is very rare indeed.

In my experience doing dozens of these cases, that is not the case. Quite often an officer will point out wrong doing on the part of another officer. Perhaps your personal experience is quite different. Supervisors especially.

The problems occur when all witnesses are involved in the misconduct. Then there is a powerful incentive to say nothing.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:57 PM on February 25, 2010


Just be very polite to the police.

There is no reason not to be polite to anyone, including the police. If you are pulled over, cooperate. If there is misconduct, challenging the officer directly will get you nothing. Speaking with supervisors and Internal Affairs or a similar body is the way to go.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:58 PM on February 25, 2010


I'd like some citations for that big post, not cause I Doubt it but cause it sounds like fascinating reading.
posted by mpbx at 3:02 PM on February 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


But it's a great city for food - highly recommend it for a vacation. Seriously. Just be very polite to the police.
posted by Davenhill


It's a great city for a lot more than food. If you're going for understatement of the year, you win.
posted by justgary at 3:07 PM on February 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Here's hoping they lean hard on him and get him to spill every other corrupt detail he knows and then they make examples out of everyone.

Seriously, police corruption is right up there with police aggression and police incompetence for things that Can Not Stand in a healthy society. The quicker we figure out a way to purge the ranks of people who would do this sort of thing the better for everyone.
posted by quin at 3:10 PM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


We all know who was responsible for letting the effects of Katrina get so out of control that this would happen in the first place.

Oh wait, I got this one! It's Obama, right? Damn Socialist.
posted by The Bellman at 3:22 PM on February 25, 2010


Cops and Coke

NOPD Officer Antoinette Frank, who robbed the restaurant and killed three people.
posted by rtha at 3:27 PM on February 25, 2010 [9 favorites]


If there is misconduct, challenging the officer directly will get you nothing. Speaking with supervisors and Internal Affairs or a similar body is the way to go.

How much good will that do you in a city like New Orleans where police management and the Public Integrity Bureau (as their Internal Affairs department was rebranded in a reorganization following some of the scandals that Davenhill mentions above) have at least as many corrupt corrupt officers, if not more than, the rank-and-file?
posted by strangely stunted trees at 3:34 PM on February 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


I blame Steven Seagal.
posted by bwg at 3:42 PM on February 25, 2010


This is pretty much par for the course. When I was living in New Orleans...

..... Holy shit.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:43 PM on February 25, 2010


Speaking with supervisors and Internal Affairs or a similar body is the way to go.

Unless they're known for putting hits out on complainers.
posted by dirigibleman at 3:52 PM on February 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


I love New Orleans, and will move back there as soon as I am able, but Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans sometimes feels like a documentary.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:58 PM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Actually, the movie I was thinking of was Touch Of Evil. "I never framed anybody who wasn't guilty!"
posted by koeselitz at 4:04 PM on February 25, 2010


waiting for the mefites that are going to come along and explain why the shooting was probably entirely justified.

Don't do this. Seriously, it's threadshitting and nothing else. If someone wants to defend the police, they can be beaten up and piled on and everything else without you getting in a pre-emptive strike.
posted by fatbird at 4:19 PM on February 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


Could somebody link to the putting hits on complainers thing?
posted by Ironmouth at 4:28 PM on February 25, 2010


Could somebody link to the putting hits on complainers thing?

The name of the cop who ordered the hit was Len Davis, the victim's name (it was a successful hit) was Kim Groves, and the FBI operation was called Shattered Shield.

Sleazy true crime website link.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:50 PM on February 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


justgary: It's a great city for a lot more than food. If you're going for understatement of the year, you win.
Too true. I absolutely love New Orleans, and actually can't say enough good things about it (aside from the crime, corruption, and weather)... but for all of the bad things I can say about it, the good reasons to visit still outweigh them.
Ironmouth: In my experience doing dozens of these cases, that is not the case. Quite often an officer will point out wrong doing on the part of another officer. Perhaps your personal experience is quite different. Supervisors especially.
In New Orleans?

Of course I don't mean to imply that New Orleans doesn't have good police officers, it does. And I'm sure that most of them do the right thing. But comparatively speaking, it has to be one of the worst in this country.
Ironmouth: There is no reason not to be polite to anyone, including the police. If you are pulled over, cooperate. If there is misconduct, challenging the officer directly will get you nothing.
Very true. I heard a lot of stories from former NOPD officers about how they would handle people who caused them problems, or people they "knew" were guilty of something, but didn't have the proof and officers would sometimes... bridge that gap.

One of the jokes was:

QUESTION: "what's the difference between an officer who will write you up for a ticket if you pissed him off versus an officers who will beat you within an inch of your life and plant drugs and a weapon on you for pissing him off?"

ANSWER: "about 5 years on the force."

And when I didn't laugh, I got a really deadly serious, eye to eye lean-in bit of advice. "NEVER. Never argue with a police officer in the field. You will always. ALWAYS. lose. The officer doesn't care if 10 years down the line the department ends up paying you or your widow money. They always win in the field. Got that?"

Yuuuuuuuuuuuuup.

Oh. And on a lighter note, they had some term for writing civilians up for tickets just because they pissed off a police officer. Forget exactly what it was, but something like NOCC 1400 POP - (New Orleans Civil Code 1400 'pissing off a police (officer)'). Someone I went to law school with actually caught that on a ticket - the officer had carelessly written it down. He showed the judge, no explanation needed - ticket thrown out without another word.

Also heard stories about people lining up in court to basically pay someone off (presumably a police officer) to fix tickets for a fraction of the cost.
strangely stunted trees: How much good will that do you in a city like New Orleans where police management and the Public Integrity Bureau (as their Internal Affairs department was rebranded in a reorganization following some of the scandals that Davenhill mentions above) have at least as many corrupt corrupt officers, if not more than, the rank-and-file?
The upside is that, from my understanding, the department that civilians complain to about police misconduct is no longer in the same building as the police headquarters, is independently run, and supposedly has firewalls and safeguards, etc.

But I'd be curious how many people would trust their lives on it.

Especially given some of the recent elections for mayor and how they effected who the chief of police was.
posted by Davenhill at 4:54 PM on February 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


This thread reads like a series of The Wire. Good thing David Simon is down there making new TV.
posted by vectr at 5:33 PM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I too would be utterly amazed by a MeFi police misconduct thread in which nobody leaps in to defend the police.
posted by Artw at 5:51 PM on February 25, 2010


We all know who was responsible for letting the effects of Katrina get so out of control that this would happen in the first place. But, as with Abu Ghraib, we don't follow these crimes too far up the food chain.

Look, I understand how some people have had enough of Ray Nagin but I think blaming him for Abu Ghraib is taking things a bit far don't you think BP?
posted by nola at 5:53 PM on February 25, 2010


vectr, if you check out the wikipedia link to Antoinette Frank, it's mentioned that Homicide actually did an episode based on the murders. I knew the whole thing sounded familiar, and now I can't figure out if I knew about it from the news, or from seeing it on a fictional tv show.

A damn good fictional show, mind you.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:15 PM on February 25, 2010


...they discovered the police officers were planning on murdering the Federal undercover agents so they could steal/sell the cocaine for themselves... so the Feds had to pull the plug early.

Werner Herzog, master of understatement.
posted by benzenedream at 6:53 PM on February 25, 2010


In New Orleans (I recently lived just south of there for 3 years) they sell a t-shirt that says:

      N.O.P.D.
Not Our Problem Dude

The only person I've ever seen wear one was the irascible old white lady who clerks at the mini-mart.


Further down the road toward Delacroix in the rural bayou where sight lines are long and access is by both boat and car there was a sign someone had nailed to a utility pole along the side of the sole road that read "Cops Steal". It stayed up for over a year.
posted by vapidave at 7:34 PM on February 25, 2010


QUESTION: "what's the difference between an officer who will write you up for a ticket if you pissed him off versus an officers who will beat you within an inch of your life and plant drugs and a weapon on you for pissing him off?"

ANSWER: "about 5 years on the force."


Having stood right next to a client who just shot someone 8 times, I can tell you that only an officer who has never used deadly force would actually believe that.

I'd been a lawyer for all of two months, and I'm suddenly in a squad car with detectives from two different LE agencies and detectives from the Force Investigation Team. It was like the Wire, but that shit was really, really real. I acted like I knew what the fuck I was doing and it worked.

But you bet your ass they care during those law suits. The Department don't look kindly on officers who cost them 10 million dollars. It is incredibly stressful. One of the most important decisions they've ever made in their entire life, one which they had only a moment to think about is under a microscope.

Let's get real here--what happened on that bridge is a gigantic abberation. Police officers engage the 300,000,000 citizens of this country more than a hundred thousand times a day. A police shooting is an extremely rare event. Most occur in very limited areas.

Let's look at the facts:

An estimated 19% of U.S. residents age 16 or older had a face-to-face contact with a police officer in 2005, a total of 43.5 million people.

In 2005, 43.5 million persons had at least one contact with police. An estimated 71.5% had just one contact, 17.5% had two contacts, and the remaining 11% had 3 or more contacts with police in 2005. The total number of contacts was 71.1 million, with an average of 1.6 face-to-face contacts per resident.

Of persons who had contact with the police in 2005, about 9 in 10 felt the officer or officers behaved properly. Blacks (82.2%) were less likely than whites (91.6%) to feel the police acted properly during a contact.

Nearly 18 million persons -- or 41% of all contacts in 2005 indicated that their most recent contact with police was as a driver in a traffic stop. This represented about 8.8% of drivers in the United States, a percentage unchanged from 2002.

Approximately 86% of stopped drivers felt they were pulled over for a legitimate reason.

About 5% of all stopped drivers were searched by police during a traffic stop. Police found evidence of criminal wrong-doing (such as drugs, illegal weapons, or other evidence of a possible crime)in 11.6% of searches in 2005.

More than half(57.6%)of all searches conducted in 2005 were by consent. Consent searches occurred because either the officer asked permission to perform a search and the driver then granted it, or the driver told the officer he/she could conduct a search without the officer first asking for permission.

An estimated 707,520 persons age 16 or older had force used or threatened to be used against them during their most recent contact with police in 2005. This estimate is about 1.6% of the 43.5 million people reporting face-to-face police contact during 2005. The percentage of contacts involving police use of force was relatively unchanged from 2002 to 2005.

Overall, 14.8% of persons who experienced force or the threat of force were injured during the incident.

About 80% of contacts involving force or threat of force were initiated by police.

Residents who experienced force were asked to describe the type of force used. Among the estimated 707,520 persons who reported that the police used force against them:

* 55% indicated the police actually used some type of physical force, such as pushing, pointing a gun, or using chemical spray

* 27.5% reported force was threatened but not actually employed

* 10.1% indicated the officer(s) shouted or cursed at them but did not use or threaten physical force.

An estimated 16.8% of persons experiencing force reported that they did something to provoke the officer to use force, such as threatening the police or resisting arrest.


Between 2002-2005 police officers committed 1,095 homicides (intentional killings, justified or not justified).

If, for the sake of a back of the envelope calculation, we split those deaths evenly over the four year period, we get 273 law enfocement homicdes per year. If we then take the 2005 contact statistics, and assume, for the same purposes, that 273 homocides by police occured, we find that out of 43.5 million persons who had encountered police at least once in 2005, 273 were killed.

Those are very low numbers given the total amount of encounters, especially if you consider that a percentage of those 43.5 million people had multiple encounters with police. We are talking an extremely low rate.

So I think it can be said that what happened on that bridge was a very rare occurence indeed. And in those rare circumstances, people do stupid things to cover up their mistakes. Somehow, nonetheless, they were caught. The system is working.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:02 PM on February 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


If you are more interested in police procedures, I suggest going here, where you can see the general orders of a major metropolitan police department. Here is their use of force policy. Here is how they investigate use of force, and this is the basis for the review of use of force.

These are extremely complex issues, and not easily digested with the usual "blue wall" stuff you see here. It is far more complicated and human.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:10 PM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also of interest, the record of a police shooting investigation in Chicago:

On 16 May 2008, at approximately 2036 hours, off-duty Officer A was standing outside, talking with people he knew when he heard rapid gunfire in the area. Everyone on the street gathered the children and left the area. Officer A ran into an alley behind the location and heard what he believed to be gunfire. Officer A observed two black males, drew his weapon and announced his office. One of the black males, now known as Subject 1, was holding a weapon and then turned toward Officer A and fired. Officer A took cover and returned fire, striking Subject 1. Subject 1 fell on top of the second black male, the two then got to their feet and fled the area. Officer A called “911” from his mobile telephone, reported the incident, provided a full description of Subject 1 and requested assistance.

This stuff is the real deal, and will give you an idea of the dimensions of all of this.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:12 PM on February 25, 2010


This page includes links to statistical tables for Chicago and the reports of 13 separate shooting investigations.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:15 PM on February 25, 2010


Thanks ironmouth, for bringing balance and information to the topic.
posted by uni verse at 8:20 PM on February 25, 2010


Ironmouth: If you're willing to concede that the incident on the bridge was an aberration, why not the possibility that the NO police department in general represents an aberration from the norm? Maybe the police really are more corrupt in NO than in other places. Corruption tends to feed on itself. It's not uncommon for whole towns to be overrun with it. I have no opinion on this point myself, honestly. Haven't spent nearly enough time in NO to comment generally on the quality or integrity of its police force. And I appreciate all the usual (often justified) concerns about contributing to anti-police sentiment, but isn't it also dangerous to leap too reflexively to the defense of the police, considering we necessarily entrust them with so much extraordinary power--power, ultimately, over the administration of law itself?
posted by saulgoodman at 8:20 PM on February 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


I once had a motorcycle cop pull me over for speeding (despite the fact that I absolutely was not speeding), pull out his gun, point it at my head, and say, "I will blow your head off if you do not roll down your window" despite the fact that my window was quite obviously broken and taped shut. When he finally realized I couldn't roll down the window he let me get out of the car. He put me in cuffs and I waited on the side of the road while two other police cars pulled up and several officers searched my car. They let me go after issuing me a $140 speeding ticket. This was in La Jolla, CA on a bright, sunny afternoon. Not exactly a high-crime area.

I'm a scientist and reject anecdotal data in most cases, but that experience was enough to color my opinion of the police so strongly that Ironmouth's empirical evidence is meaningless to me. Seriously, fuck the police.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 8:23 PM on February 25, 2010 [13 favorites]


Here's the San Francisco Police Department General Orders.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:24 PM on February 25, 2010


Haven't spent nearly enough time in NO to comment generally on the quality or integrity of its police force.

First, I am like you, I have never been to NO, and I don't know anything about the police there. Since I know a great deal about 12 other law enforcement agencies, my definition of knowing something about it might differ from others.

But there is a big difference between corruption and use of force issues. Generally, those involved in corruption work quite hard to avoid being detected. Use of force issues are different, usually a lot more in the open and systematically investigated. I think that one of the issues surrounding the bridge incident might be that IA investiagtors were probably not responding to the scene, where the could take stock of what happened, due to the giant disaster. Yet they got the job done, nonetheless.

I'm a scientist and reject anecdotal data in most cases, but that experience was enough to color my opinion of the police so strongly that Ironmouth's empirical evidence is meaningless to me.

I doubt we could have a meaningful conversation on the subject. Although I have not been so accosted by the police, I have a lot more experience with dealing with police use of force, both anecdotally and empirically.

And I appreciate all the usual (often justified) concerns about contributing to anti-police sentiment, but isn't it also dangerous to leap too reflexively to the defense of the police, considering we necessarily entrust them with so much extraordinary power--power, ultimately, over the administration of law itself?

I haven't seen any "reflexive" leaps to defend the police here. Believe me, police misconduct is my business. It does happen. However, the reflexive response here on MetaFilter is far more the other way. I see tons of people insisting they know all about the "blue wall of silence" and the like. These people watch too much TV. To speak in such terms is to ignore the real reality of the situation.

In my opinion, the best thing this country could do is start paying police more. It would help attract talent and make sure that the officers are paid relative to the very heavy burden of responsibility that they face.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:35 PM on February 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Very curious, upon going to the LAPD website to look for their General Orders, I just learned that their badge is trademarked. Ridiculous. Only in LA
posted by Ironmouth at 8:39 PM on February 25, 2010


We all know who was responsible for letting the effects of Katrina get so out of control that this would happen in the first place.

It was Nic Cage, travelling back in time, to prep for his role in Bad Lieutenant, right?
posted by mannequito at 8:48 PM on February 25, 2010


I haven't seen any "reflexive" leaps to defend the police here. Believe me, police misconduct is my business. It does happen. However, the reflexive response here on MetaFilter is far more the other way. I see tons of people insisting they know all about the "blue wall of silence" and the like.

hmm yes i agree the blue wall of silence is a fiction; every single account of it by retired officers like bouza and serpico is a filthy liberal lie
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:06 PM on February 25, 2010 [6 favorites]


hmm yes i agree the blue wall of silence is a fiction; every single account of it by retired officers like bouza and serpico is a filthy liberal lie

Frank Serpico left the NYPD 38 years ago. Police procedures are so much different now than then, mostly because of people like him. Bouza left the NYPD in 1976, 34 years ago and left the Minneapolis Police Department in 1989, 21 years ago. The stories these people tell are from an earlier era. Professionalization is the name of the game now. Organizations such as CALEA provide accreditation services and if you look through the general orders links above, you'll see that much of the basis for these orders comes from CALEA's Standards for Law Enforcement Agencies. Other organizations such as the IACP are also at the forefront of this movement.

It is much like any other work situation. Some people are willing to tell on their work friends because they see it as their duty. Others do not. Have you ever looked the other way while your friends stole or committed misconduct at your place of work? Because if you have, you have done the same thing. The same emotions go through a officer's mind during these situations. This is accentuated by the fact that there is a feeling of being cohesive within a unit. It is not easy to turn on your own friends. Having said that, a law enforcment officer holds a position of trust--in that sense it is a greater sin to look the other way for a fellow officer. He or she therefore must uphold higher standards. This is the conflict that officers face when they witness misconduct by friends and colleauges. But the emotions are the same as you and I.

But the reality is that when there is a use of force or any other misconduct, there are so many IA officers on the scene right away that it gets hard to keep the stories straight, so it happens far less than you might think. Note that IA officers can command nominally superior officers at a scene of potential misconduct. They can tell anyone but their direct boss and the Chief of Police to fuck the fuck off and nobody can do squat about it. IA officers are like any other. They want arrests and successful prosecutions and will not look the other way. Sometimes they go too far as well. I've seen it with my own eyes.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:37 PM on February 25, 2010


Ironmouth: Professionalization is the name of the game now.

Oh, BS. We are confronted monthly with cases where police misconduct is alleged, all the police involved circle the wagons and cover each other, and then irrefutable video evidence of the misconduct shows up. The obvious, recent cases I can think of are the cases where the cop shoved the guy on the bike at critical mass, the case where the cops and their ride-along buddies openly conspired to pin a car accident they caused on the (coincidentally drunk) victim, and the case where the cop murdered the clearly subdued guy in the subway. And in all of these cases, it was very clear that the corrupt police were going to get away with it until the very second the irrefutable evidence showed up.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:00 PM on February 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh and if you searched youtube for a day, I bet you could easily find 50 videos of obviously unjustified tasings where nothing whatsoever happened to the officer responsible.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:07 PM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Have you ever looked the other way while your friends stole or committed misconduct at your place of work? Because if you have, you have done the same thing.

Can you seriously not tell the difference between malfeasance at any other job and police corruption?
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:28 PM on February 25, 2010 [9 favorites]


Ridiculous. Only in LA

Only in LA because thanks to Jack Webb, it's just about the only badge design in law enforcement that has enough commercial appeal to need trademark protection.
posted by Lazlo at 11:48 PM on February 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Go Frontline!
posted by cman at 11:55 PM on February 25, 2010


Ironmouth: are you going to acknowledge the fact that this particular police force actually did put a hit on someone for complaining? Since you didn't seem to belive it.
So I think it can be said that what happened on that bridge was a very rare occurence indeed. And in those rare circumstances, people do stupid things to cover up their mistakes. Somehow, nonetheless, they were caught. The system is working.
In this case. What percentage of people actually are caught? Certainly, you hear about cases all the time where the police are not charged or even where the victim is. And we're not just talking about shootings, but also all forceful contacts, which according to your own stats involved 700,000 incidents in 2005, only 16.8% of which had a victim who said they did anything to provoke it (obviously they may be incorrect)

And anyway we are talking about one specific police department, not the whole country. The NOPD is notoriously corrupt and even I was aware that cops there had put hits on people who complained.
I have never been to NO, and I don't know anything about the police there.
So why are you talking about them?
posted by delmoi at 1:37 AM on February 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


we find that out of 43.5 million persons who had encountered police at least once in 2005, 273 were killed. Those are very low numbers given the total amount of encounters

Low compared to who, the military? Teachers and taxi drivers don't shoot hundreds of people a year. No shopkeeper ever pulled a gun on me. That was a cop.
posted by ryanrs at 2:36 AM on February 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


But you bet your ass they care during those law suits. The Department don't look kindly on officers who cost them 10 million dollars. It is incredibly stressful.
Certainly you're not suggesting the reason the NOPD internal affairs turned over a citizen's complaint to the accused officer, who in turn murdered the complaining citizen, was out of concern for fiscal responsibility? Though you may be on to something: a $50 murder is certainly cheaper than a criminal trial.
Haven't you noticed that everyone is always very sorry and serious when they are standing in front of a judge and jury facing jail time? The same is true for Tiger Woods, a thug who beat the shit out someone on the street just for fun, or the dozen cops who laughed their asses off after beating the shit out of Rodney King. For all of them it was all fun and games while they were doing it, and they obviously wouldn't have done those things if they had thought there was much chance of facing long-term consequences.

That was the point of the anecdote that officer told me. If you get on the wrong side of a police officer on the street, you will invariably lose. The legality of the police officer's actions is something that will get sorted out later (or more likely never come into question).
But the reality is that when there is a use of force or any other misconduct, there are so many IA officers on the scene right away that it gets hard to keep the stories straight, so it happens far less than you might think.
Tell that to Rodney King. Or the hundreds (thousands?) of victims of the LA "Crash" unit. I mean, just ask yourself how common and acceptable do beatings like the one administered to Rodney King have to be for officers to be comfortable joking about it over their radios, to call in other police officers to join in the fun, and then to show up at the hospital afterwards to mock and intimidate the victim? If there hadn't been a video, the officers never would have been brought up on charges, yet alone tried and convicted. Oh wait, even with the video, they were exonerated and the city I was living in went up in flames for nearly a week, until federal troops were sent in.

I'm happy to hear that everything's so clean and by the book where you are. But I suspect we have a fundamental and irreconcilable difference of opinion as to what constitutes appropriate behavior by police officers, and what they can and do get away with in terms of physical violence, bogus charges, and the like.
At any rate, NOPD isn't exactly your average police force, and NOLA isn't exactly your average city. It would have been far more illuminating if the national statistics you provided were compared to New Orleans. Otherwise we're comparing rotten apples to oranges.
posted by Davenhill at 3:19 AM on February 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


@Ironmouth, here's a small example from today.

"Put succinctly, Phuong Ho was beaten and shocked with a Taser without adequate reason. If there had not been a cell phone video, he would have been found guilty like dozens of others. It's the way our system works."

San Jose police officers are testing headcams, which I think is great, although you can bet there will be "malfunctions" when the video would have exonerated someone like Phuong Ho.
posted by Hello Dad, I'm in Jail at 3:57 AM on February 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Another point that I don't see anyone addressing is that Ironmouth's statistics are actively misleading; they very carefully point to only the times when someone died at police hands, and make the assertion that this means that police are doing a great job in this country.

There is a vast spectrum of abusive behavior that's doesn't end in murder.

Further, there's an inherent logical error here, that the results of police investigations show that the error rate is very low. But we've all seen, through many high-quality links here, that even when extremely good evidence exists, the reflex of the police department is always to lie and cover up. Only if and when there is compelling, profoundly compelling, evidence to the contrary, are police actually punished.

When we see that routine lie-and-cover-up approach even with strong evidence, what about the cases where the evidence isn't so cut and dry? What does that say about the validity of these statistics?

Right in Ironmouth's own statistics is a pretty strong data point, that he just glossed past, to wit:
"An estimated 16.8% of persons experiencing force reported that they did something to provoke the officer to use force, such as threatening the police or resisting arrest."
That means that 83.2% of people who had force used against them claim that they did nothing to provoke the violence. Obviously, some of them will be lying, but I don't think it's going to be all of them, and this shouldn't be happening at all, period.
posted by Malor at 5:02 AM on February 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


Sigh. *that doesn't
posted by Malor at 5:02 AM on February 26, 2010


From mr_roboto's link:
In a conversation between Davis, Hardy and Williams at 11:22 p.m., a thumping sound was heard on the FBI tapes. Williams later testified that it was Davis striking the hood of the car joyfully with his cellphone, celebrating Groves' murder. "It's the [expletive deleted]," Williams was heard saying. "It's confirmed, daddy." Davis joined in and shouted, "Yeah, yeah, yeah! Rock-a-bye," an expression picked up from the movie New Jack City indicating a murder has been committed.
So that's why people don't trust NOLA cops. In 1994 they were literally reenacting scenes from New Jack City. I can see how that could hurt community relations.
posted by ryanrs at 5:06 AM on February 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


My brother (white, 21 at the time) traveled round the US in spring of 1991 and went to New Orleans, where he stayed in a youth hostel a little off the beaten track. After an enjoyable evening on Bourbon Street, he was waiting at a bus stop next to a middle aged black guy, and my brother asked if he knew what time it was.

They then chatted amicably for a couple of minutes, at which point they were interrupted by a squad car, which screeched to a halt next to them. They grabbed the other guy, put him against the car and started searching him aggressively while asking my brother if the guy had directed him towards the projects.

My brother said he hadn't, and more to the point he had initiated the conversation with the guy, who until then had been quietly minding his own business. They then released the guy, grabbed my brother and stuffed him in the back of the squad car.

They demanded to know where he was staying, and when he told them, they said they'd take him there as it wasn't safe to get the bus, adding for good measure that "you can't trust these niggers."

Aside the obvious, I've never been quite sure what to make of that story.
posted by MuffinMan at 5:06 AM on February 26, 2010


Ironmouth, you're a lawyer for the PBA or its equivalent. You have a personal and financial interest in convincing the public that there is no code of silence and that police misconduct is an aberration and not systemic. But you're telling us that there is no such code, that there is no systemic problem. "everything's fine! If anything, it's IA that's too gubg-ho!" Please.

All the evidence in this thread, all the evidence in the papers and the courts: none of that will convince you. Because you know already. You don't need us to change what you think. Because this isn't about the public good. This is about your job, and about fooling the public into thinking everything is working as intended.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:55 AM on February 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


Have you ever looked the other way while your friends stole or committed misconduct at your place of work? Because if you have, you have done the same thing.

If I steal a paperclip from work, I am committing work misconduct and a crime.

If someone in a different line of work, say member of a B-52 crew, discharges a thermonuclear weapon on Manhattan, that also would be work misconduct and a crime.

Therefore, they are the same thing.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:07 AM on February 26, 2010


Have you ever looked the other way while your friends stole or committed misconduct at your place of work?

Have you ever looked the other way while your friends hired hit men to kill people?

Now, to be fair, if I were the partner of some guy who was willing to have people killed just because they complained that he yelled at them, I'd probably look the other way, too, but that only proves the point.
posted by dirigibleman at 6:58 AM on February 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


NYPD Internal Affairs leak whistleblower's name.

Optimus, that was yesterday. Yesterday is a long time ago. Starting this morning, professionalism is the name of the game.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:38 AM on February 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Internal Affairs investigators are trying to determine whether one of their own tipped off a Bronx stationhouse that a union delegate had lodged corruption allegations, sources said Wednesday.

When Internal Affairs is investigating their own for a leak like this, it isn't systematic corruption. It is the same thing as going after other bad apples. It isn't that misconduct doesn't occur--it is that now, the departments are going after it. In the Serpico era, there would have been no investigation of the leak, now they have people on it.

What you seek is a police force which never has any problems and rarely gets into any issues at all. Good luck with that, seeing as it is made up of human beings.

What I find amazing is that everyone is angry at the police for doing there job here. The guys on the bridge were arrested and now convicted. Rather than seeking to keep things under wraps, Internal Affairs investigators are seeking to catch the leaker, and the story is in the newspaper, so everyone knows what happened. Indeed, the guy who had his name leaked WAS doing the right thing. But the cops are all bad, no? Seriously, you seek a perfection that can never be there.

Police deparments have realized that due to the power police officers hold, oversight is necessary. Gigantic lawsuits and the costs of corruption on business and general welfare have made them change their tune massively.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:52 AM on February 26, 2010


Now, to be fair, if I were the partner of some guy who was willing to have people killed just because they complained that he yelled at them, I'd probably look the other way, too, but that only proves the point.

Again, I haven't seen any link to that story. If you could please give me one, I'd appreciate it. I tried several google searches and was unable to come up with anything. Even a name would help, as I could get information.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:53 AM on February 26, 2010


That means that 83.2% of people who had force used against them claim that they did nothing to provoke the violence. Obviously, some of them will be lying, but I don't think it's going to be all of them, and this shouldn't be happening at all, period.

I'd say that's a pretty straight up analysis. I can't tell you how many people are lying there, but obviously, there is use of force related misconduct. I've seen it.

There are approximately 900,000 sworn law enforcement personnel in the United States. If you are expecting that there are not going to be problems, then you overestimate humanity.

What I'm saying is that the problems are on the down curve. We have professional standards organizations, Dept. of Justice consent decrees, you name it. The last 20 years has seen a downward trend in use of force misconduct issues in the police departments of the United States.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:00 AM on February 26, 2010


Optimus,

I think you can become part of the solution. I suggest you look at getting involved with the NYC CCRB, which is the leading civilian police watchdog agency in the world. They can use dedicated help. Just going to one of their public meetings would help support them.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:02 AM on February 26, 2010


You have a personal and financial interest in convincing the public that there is no code of silence and that police misconduct is an aberration and not systemic

I am a private attorney. If you really want to look at it that way, wouldn't I be better off if there was more police misconduct? It would mean more business for me.

I have no financial interest in convincing the public of anything. I'd be putting myself out of business.

Which brings me to tort reform . . . why do all the insurance company panel lawyers support it? I never understood that. They are lobbying to put themselves out of a job.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:04 AM on February 26, 2010


Have you ever looked the other way while your friends stole or committed misconduct at your place of work? Because if you have, you have done the same thing.

If I steal a paperclip from work, I am committing work misconduct and a crime.

If someone in a different line of work, say member of a B-52 crew, discharges a thermonuclear weapon on Manhattan, that also would be work misconduct and a crime.

Therefore, they are the same thing.


Let's look at what I actually said:

Have you ever looked the other way while your friends stole or committed misconduct at your place of work? Because if you have, you have done the same thing. The same emotions go through a officer's mind during these situations. This is accentuated by the fact that there is a feeling of being cohesive within a unit. It is not easy to turn on your own friends. Having said that, a law enforcment officer holds a position of trust--in that sense it is a greater sin to look the other way for a fellow officer. He or she therefore must uphold higher standards. This is the conflict that officers face when they witness misconduct by friends and colleauges. But the emotions are the same as you and I.

So, who is really being honest here? The guy who says that police should be held to a higher standard (they are in employment law) and that it is a greater sin to do so, or the guy who compares police misconduct to the dropping of a thermonuclear weapon on Manhattan? Seriously if you are interested in debate, (1) read what I actually wrote; (2) don't use ridiculous hyperbole comparing acts of police misconduct to the dropping of thermonuclear weapons on Manhattan. I'm trying to keep this an evidence-based conversation.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:11 AM on February 26, 2010


You're better off if there's more, sure, but you want to keep that misconduct hidden - you need white upper-class juries who still trust the police. Engaging the larger community here and telling them that there is no more police misconduct makes your job easier because you're thereby more likely to influence those same upper-class whites' perceptions of the police. I'm not stupid; it's trivial to see your motives.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:15 AM on February 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


All the evidence in this thread, all the evidence in the papers and the courts: none of that will convince you.

Really? and what about my evidence? Police misconduct is my job, dude. All the evidence in the courts? I am the guy in the courts. I know damn well what the police are doing wrong. You're going to tell me that the newspapers know more about police misconduct than I do? Puh-leeze. That you do? How's that, through your vast experience with police misconduct? You ain't seen shit, ace.

How am I to be "convinced" when I see the every day issues that come up as part of my actual existence? Sorry, I'm not buying it.

And have I appealed only to authority? No. Knowing that my anecdotal evidence is not going to be enough, because you guys do not have my personal experience, I have provided some pretty relevant statistics here. Statistics that you want desperately to ignore. I'm not just making shit up, I'm going to the Bureau of Justice Statistics and pulling out the relevant data for the entire US. You are doing a few google searches and calling it evidence. If you really want to convince me, find statistics that support your position, not a few articles, all of which show that IA is doing their job.

But don't listen to only me. I suggest you talk to anotherpanacea. He used to work for a civilian watchdog agency doing the same work as the CCRB. Somewhere in here (my google-fu failed me in my 2 minute search) he has a post saying that he was really surprised at what the reality of police misconduct was relative to what he thought it was at the beginning. I would say we have different positions on the matter, but he admits the reality was way different than what he thought before he saw it.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:28 AM on February 26, 2010


where did Ironmouth say there was no more police misconduct?

i just read back thru the thread and it seems like he is trying to say that it's not as bad as used to be, a la Serpico times, but that it still exists and people take it more seriously now.


if i'm missing something let me know. i'm not trying to be antagonistic, i just want to make sure i'm getting the whole picture.


it seems like there was a culture of corruption in the NOPD for a quite a long time and that it was brought to light by some tragic events in the midst of a larger tragic event.

how are we to know that anything is really being done? people in positions of power often abuse them (finance, police, school administrators) and we only find out about it when something goes wrong. we can't point the finger at everyone in power obviously, but when people's lives are endangered by those abuses, the idea alone become monstrously frightening.

how can we keep things like this from happening? how could Antoinette Frank have been prevented? I know it says she lied about her mental issues, so how could that have been detected?

if you are afraid of the cops, why on earth would you join a citizens' watchdog group? then any rogue elements know who you are and can target you. given some of the stories on here and others i've seen in the news, that doesn't seem an unlikely scenario.

i know the police are human, but we have to expect more from them because they ARE the police. right?

i don't want to paint with a broad brush, but it seems hard not to when there's no way to know if the cop who just pulled you over is a "good guy" or not. (hell, a state trooper around here was just indicted for child molestation of several kids, including one while we was out on bail, the day before he was due back in court on the first charges.)
posted by sio42 at 8:32 AM on February 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


You're better off if there's more, sure, but you want to keep that misconduct hidden - you need white upper-class juries who still trust the police.

Your ignorance shines through. I don't practice in front of juries in my police misconduct cases. Almost none of these cases go before juries. Did you know that? Nope. The number is miniscule. By my estimation, less than 1% of all police misconduct cases go before juries. I practice in front of police trial boards, which are composed of police officials and the Merit Systems Protection Board, a federal governmental entity which hears civil service cases. You simply do not know what you are talking about.

I suggest you go through those General Orders links above. They explain the procedures of police misconduct. They will tell you what actually happens.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:33 AM on February 26, 2010


Engaging the larger community here and telling them that there is no more police misconduct makes your job easier because you're thereby more likely to influence those same upper-class whites' perceptions of the police. I'm not stupid; it's trivial to see your motives.

Please point out where I have said there is no more police misconduct. Because, unless I am totally hallucinating, I have been saying over and over and over again that police misconduct still exists but has become much more of a priority for departments and that the response to it has been professionalized. You apparently do not care to look at the statistics. You do not care to look at the multiple links to the general orders of several major city police departments. You do not care to look at the tons of evidence I have provided you. You want to keep on beleiving what you believe despite the evidence.

Upper class whites? Dude, I live in Chocolate City. This city and its suburbs are 66% African American. It is fucking impossible to get an all-white jury here. I sat on a criminal jury last year. 66% Black, just like the town.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:39 AM on February 26, 2010


Engaging the larger community here and telling them that there is no more police misconduct makes your job easier because you're thereby more likely to influence those same upper-class whites' perceptions of the police. I'm not stupid; it's trivial to see your motives.

Not only that, but you are now just attacking my motives, instead of providing evidence. Its a logical fallacy. You have to argue a case, not just snipe at me. How can you hope to convince someone that you are right?
posted by Ironmouth at 8:40 AM on February 26, 2010


Ironmouth - ever been to New Orleans? It's a different world. Corruption is the norm not the exception. In a way, it's more equal opportunity. The cops will beat up middleclass white guys too. I grew up there and even if it's 100% better than when I moved away 20-something years ago it's still worse than anywhere else I've been in the US. Still love the city.
posted by Carbolic at 8:42 AM on February 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


i know the police are human, but we have to expect more from them because they ARE the police. right?

this statement puts the point plainly, IMO. higher than what usually passes for reasonable standards of ethics should apply to those in whom we've entrusted a higher degree of authority and trust.

What I find amazing is that everyone is angry at the police for doing there job here. The guys on the bridge were arrested and now convicted.

I'm not sure how you can justify this claim, unless I'm misunderstanding you here (and I might be), since the guys on the bridge were arrested and convicted based on planted evidence and false reports filed after the fact, and apparently, the actual evidence strongly suggests they were targeted for no justifiable reason (and the police officers in question weren't even in uniform, but were apparently patrolling the streets with assault weapons in plain clothes at the time of the incident):
The documents filed by the authorities said that five of the civilians had been walking to get food and supplies, and that the other two were on their way to a family member’s dentistry office when they were fired upon by police officers. Four were seriously injured.

James Brissette, 19, and Ronald Madison, who was 40 and mentally disabled, were killed. Mr. Madison’s brother Lance, who was in the courtroom on Wednesday, was arrested and charged with eight counts of attempted murder in trumped-up charges related to the cover-up, but was later cleared.

Lieutenant Lohman, 42 and now retired, concluded shortly after arriving on the scene that the shooting was “legally unjustified,” federal authorities said. He encouraged the officers to “come up with a plausible story” that would allow him to conclude that the shooting was justified, the authorities said.

When another police investigator told Lieutenant Lohman that he was going to plant a gun under the bridge to bolster the story that the officers were being fired at, Lieutenant Lohman went along, and even asked if the gun was traceable, the authorities said.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:44 AM on February 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


So, who is really being honest here?

Me, because I'm not the one telling people that failing to turn in fellow cops for police misconduct (ie, beating people) is the same as failing to turn in co-workers for petty theft at work, and then immediately back-pedaling away from having said exactly that.

Because it isn't. A policeman failing to turn in a fellow cop for beating the shit out of someone is not the same as an office worker who fails to turn in a paperclip thief, it's the same as an office worker who refuses to turn in a fellow office worker who beat the shit out of someone. Failing to turn in a fellow worker for stealing paperclips is the same as a police office failing to turn in another cop... for stealing paperclips.

That you sort of vaguely acknowledge this later doesn't take away from the breathtaking inanity of the statement in the first place.

In any case, the difference is not in the "position of trust." Whatever position of trust you're in or not in, stealing paper clips is stealing paper clips. The difference is that police misconduct leaves people beaten or killed, and in the moral depravity it takes to turn a blind eye to that.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:46 AM on February 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


OK, I see the link on the NO IA complaints murders:

A decorated but thoroughly corrupt police officer in an American city had ordered a "hit" on an ordinary citizen; one who had reported him for police brutality only a day or two before she met her tragic end. The man hired to do the killing was a notorious drug kingpin with a long rap sheet that included other murder accusations. The third man standing accused of the murder took charge of dispensing with the murder weapon. Two other accomplices avoided murder charges in exchange for their testimony

And what was the result? Conviction. Isn't that what we want in these situations? I'm confused as to why success stories regarding prosecutions of corrupt police officers, especially ones as bad as Davis, constitute evidence that the police are getting away with massive misconduct. Look at his complaints:

An hour and a half later, Davis was having a conversation with Williams, who was off duty at that time. They discussed the situation involving Williams' assault on Nathan Norwood and Davis vented his anger against IAD and the numerous citizen complaints against him.

He's complaining about citizen complaints and IAD going after him. All of the while, the FBI was running an operation on him. In other words, an act of a desperate man who was boxed in and getting caught. And he was caught. And convicted.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:50 AM on February 26, 2010


i know the police are human, but we have to expect more from them because they ARE the police. right?

this statement puts the point plainly, IMO. higher than what usually passes for reasonable standards of ethics should apply to those in whom we've entrusted a higher degree of authority and trust.

What I find amazing is that everyone is angry at the police for doing there job here. The guys on the bridge were arrested and now convicted.

I'm not sure how you can justify this claim, unless I'm misunderstanding you here (and I might be), since the guys on the bridge were arrested and convicted based on planted evidence and false reports filed after the fact, and apparently, the actual evidence strongly suggests they were targeted for no justifiable reason (and the police officers in question weren't even in uniform, but were apparently patrolling the streets with assault weapons in plain clothes at the time of the incident):


I'm sorry, I think I was misunderstood. The guys on the bridge I was referring to were the police officers, not the victims. The police officers were caught and convicted. I want to make that clear. The law enforcement officers that were doing their job were the ones who put together the case against the officers who were committing criminal acts.

As for the higher standard, that is not only what should be done, it is what is done. If a law enforcement officer is accused of misconduct, he is held to a higher standard than a non-sworn employee. A police officer will be removed for misconduct for offenses that would only garner a suspension for a regular government employee. Here's a case that explains that.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:55 AM on February 26, 2010


Me, because I'm not the one telling people that failing to turn in fellow cops for police misconduct (ie, beating people) is the same as failing to turn in co-workers for petty theft at work, and then immediately back-pedaling away from having said exactly that.

Because it isn't. A policeman failing to turn in a fellow cop for beating the shit out of someone is not the same as an office worker who fails to turn in a paperclip thief, it's the same as an office worker who refuses to turn in a fellow office worker who beat the shit out of someone. Failing to turn in a fellow worker for stealing paperclips is the same as a police office failing to turn in another cop... for stealing paperclips.

That you sort of vaguely acknowledge this later doesn't take away from the breathtaking inanity of the statement in the first place.

In any case, the difference is not in the "position of trust." Whatever position of trust you're in or not in, stealing paper clips is stealing paper clips. The difference is that police misconduct leaves people beaten or killed, and in the moral depravity it takes to turn a blind eye to that.


I think I was very clear in explaining what I meant--that there are powerful conflicting feelings that do create situations where some people don't turn in fellow officers. Although in my personal experience, it happens far less than the people on this board think, the reason that people fail to turn in fellow police is the same reason you don't turn your friends in for taking merchandise from a store. It is hard to turn in your friends.

But they do. I've seen plenty of officers inform their superiors of misconduct. Sometimes they do not. When they do not, it is usually because they participated in the misconduct themselves. What I'm saying is simple--that the reality of the alleged "blue wall" is a lot different than what you see in movies and TV. A lot different. To wave a hand and just use that term ignores the complex reality of these cases.

As for your paper clip analogy, if a regular government employee steals a paper clip, he gets a letter of reprimand. Due to the higher standard for law enforcement officers, that same theft of a paper clip will get a police officer fired.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:05 AM on February 26, 2010


I'm sorry, I think I was misunderstood. The guys on the bridge I was referring to were the police officers, not the victims. The police officers were caught and convicted. I want to make that clear. The law enforcement officers that were doing their job were the ones who put together the case against the officers who were committing criminal acts.

Ah, now that makes more sense... Got it.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:09 AM on February 26, 2010


Isn't that what we want in these situations?

i think we DON'T want these situations.

i don't the issue anyone has is prosecution, but rather that these things happen on a regular basis with people who are being held to a higher standard than the rest of us.
posted by sio42 at 9:13 AM on February 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


i don't the issue anyone has is prosecution, but rather that these things happen on a regular basis with people who are being held to a higher standard than the rest of us.

It isn't a regular basis. If you look at the statistics above, it is less prevalent than people think. There are 900,000 police officers in this country. Some are going to commit misconduct. But it is far more rare than one would think looking at the headlines. The statistics and the oprerational aspects of the issue tell a different story.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:36 AM on February 26, 2010


I think I was very clear in explaining what I meant--that there are powerful conflicting feelings that do create situations where some people don't turn in fellow officers.

...for beating the shit out of people.

the reason that people fail to turn in fellow police is the same reason you don't turn your friends in for taking merchandise from a store. It is hard to turn in your friends.

...for beating the shit out of people.

Seriously, I disagree. Turning in your friend for beating the shit out of someone should not be that difficult. And to be sure, taking any action to shield your friend who beat the shit out of someone from inquiry, such as lying for them, is positively depraved (except in fear for your own life or safety).

I am saying nothing here about the frequency with with officers actually do the "blue wall" stuff, only disagreeing with you that when it happens it is in some way understandable.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:52 AM on February 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Seriously, I disagree. Turning in your friend for beating the shit out of someone should not be that difficult. And to be sure, taking any action to shield your friend who beat the shit out of someone from inquiry, such as lying for them, is positively depraved (except in fear for your own life or safety).

I am saying nothing here about the frequency with with officers actually do the "blue wall" stuff, only disagreeing with you that when it happens it is in some way understandable.


So, never once, in your entire life, you haven't told on a friend because you didn't want to see them get in trouble? Never once? You seem to want to deny that the same forces operate on officers that operate on the rest of us. That's ridiculous.

Everything is "understandable." Let's be clear here, I'm not excusing, I'm pointing out the pressures that create the situaiton and how those pressures play out to create the situation. Indeed, the closer you are and the worse the consequences, the harder it is to report someone. Since you were a kid you are told "not to tattle." It is morally wrong when a person does not reveal misconduct, police officer or otherwise. You hope to carve out another situation where standards that apply to police officers don't apply to the rest of us. The core of that propositon is a lie.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:40 AM on February 26, 2010


So, never once, in your entire life, you haven't told on a friend because you didn't want to see them get in trouble?

I've never seen a friend beat the shit out of someone, or electrocute someone, or murder someone, or threaten to do so. Never once in my entire life have I seen one of my friends sodomize someone with a plunger handle. Never once in my life have I seen a friend approach someone lying on the ground and beat them with a club. Never once have I seen a friend beat someone who spoke disrespectfully to them. Never once in my life have I seen one of my friends kill someone's dog where that dog could pose no reasonable threat. Never once in my life have I seen any of my friends murder anyone. Never once in my life have I seen any of my friends electrocute someone who spoke disrespectfully to them. Nor once in my entire life have I seen any of my friends or acquaintances even threaten to do any of these things.

I know myself well enough to assure you that if I did see my friend beat the shit out of someone, or electrocute them, or murder them, the only reason I would not turn them in would be fear of being myself beaten, or electrocuted, or murdered.

You hope to carve out another situation where standards that apply to police officers don't apply to the rest of us.

No, I hope to carve out an exception for beating the shit out of people or electrocuting them or murdering them or threatening them with those things.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:55 AM on February 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


You hope to carve out another situation where standards that apply to police officers don't apply to the rest of us.

Yes! Of course! Police are held to a higher standard because they are entrusted with authority and responsibility that the rest of the community are not. Anybody who is against holding police to a higher standard is an apologist for corruption and brutality, full stop.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:00 AM on February 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I know myself well enough to assure you that if I did see my friend beat the shit out of someone, or electrocute them, or murder them, the only reason I would not turn them in would be fear of being myself beaten, or electrocuted, or murdered

If all of us had such certainty. I'm sure that you've been in similar situations, right? Tell me when you haven't told on a friend. I'm saying that the people who fail to report are responding to human emotions. I'm saying that understanding this phenomenon will help us get rid of this problem and I can focus on people looking at porn or looking up their exes on police databases, rather than these cases.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:06 AM on February 26, 2010


Yes! Of course! Police are held to a higher standard because they are entrusted with authority and responsibility that the rest of the community are not. Anybody who is against holding police to a higher standard is an apologist for corruption and brutality, full stop.

I believe that police should be held to a higher standard and that is also the state of the law. However, I'm trying to help people understand why some officers do not reveal misconduct. Nobody seems to want to see how they have behaved in the same way in the past.

These are human beings. They make mistakes, like the rest of us.

Cops are like lawyers. Everybody hates them until the moment they need them and then, oh boy! they're the greatest people ever.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:09 AM on February 26, 2010


I know myself well enough to assure you that if I did see my friend beat the shit out of someone, or electrocute them, or murder them, the only reason I would not turn them in would be fear of being myself beaten, or electrocuted, or murdered.

What you're ignoring, ROU_Xenophobe, is that (in terms of understanding, not condoning) context matters. Police are trained to use violence; it's understand to be a part of their jobs. Using violence inappropriately is, from the perspective of a police officer, not often considered as big a deal as it would be for me, a web developer.

This is not to condone or excuse their actions, or even to mitigate their culpability--I agree that police are more culpable just because we should demand a higher degree of accountability from them. But to act like this is not understandable is just moral preening. Ever since the Milgram experiments it's been understood that humans are, in fact, very prone to shifting moral standards depending upon the social context.
posted by fatbird at 11:17 AM on February 26, 2010


Seriously, I disagree. Turning in your friend for beating the shit out of someone should not be that difficult. And to be sure, taking any action to shield your friend who beat the shit out of someone from inquiry, such as lying for them, is positively depraved (except in fear for your own life or safety).

Actually, in many professions, you have to fight a certain amount of cultural opposition for this. I mentioned in one of the many military abuse threads that when you place your life and your trust in the hands of a partner and the organization, you're much more likely to justify some pretty brutal stuff in the name of group cohesion and unity. While it would be much harder to justify your partner beating someone while in an office environment, the police department lives where the spectrum of violence extends all the way to use of deadly force. Therefore, fighting someone is not verboten per se, but only needs to be justified (sometimes legitimately in the sense of when someone is attacking you and you're subduing a violent suspect). So, covering for a partner in the police force is a whole different thing than covering for a fellow Starbucks employee that went ballistic on the delivery boy.

Make no mistake, it's still horrendous, but there are cultural factors why people find it harder to report. As for you, perhaps you're made of sterner stuff than most of the people in the US or most of the people in police forces. I hope so; the alternative is that many of us would look the other way is we needed to. If we were placed in a police culture like that.

I think it's disingenuous to claim that Ironmouth has a person reason to have a nuanced view of police abuse and corruption, Optimus Chyme. It sounds very petty to explain away his position because of his job. You're playing dirty pool.

And while Ironmouth fulfills the (actually voiced) need to pile on to police apologist (even though I don't think he's really even doing that), you guys can holster your weapons and go one at a time as he replies. It was like something exploded when he posted and everyone got real excited because here we go.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 11:19 AM on February 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


It was like something exploded when he posted and everyone got real excited because here we go.

When you claim that the blue wall of silence is a fiction, that it doesn't exist anymore, what kind of reaction do you expect? The NYPD IA leak is explained away by saying, "well, now they're internally investigating the internal investigators, so it's fine," all the while still claiming that there is no such thing as a code of silence. Then why the rat trap? Just a coincidence?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:40 AM on February 26, 2010


If all of us had such certainty. I'm sure that you've been in similar situations, right?

I just got through telling you that I've never been in a situation remotely similar.

Frankly, I expect that if I did see a friend beat the shit out of someone who was disrespectful to them, I might well do nothing out of fear for my own safety, since such a friend seems pretty dangerous. To the extent that cops don't rat on each other because they are themselves afraid of being beaten or murdered, that really is understandable.

Even then, though, I cannot for a moment imagine me lying to an investigator for them, or otherwise doing something to obstruct their prosecution. I'm way too officious a prig for that.

Tell me when you haven't told on a friend.

Again, first I need a friend who's beaten, electrocuted, or murdered someone.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:41 AM on February 26, 2010


Again, first I need a friend who's beaten, electrocuted, or murdered someone.

You also need to be in a situation where you or your friend might, under other circumstances, permissibly do these things.
posted by fatbird at 11:48 AM on February 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Tell me when you haven't told on a friend.

Again, first I need a friend who's beaten, electrocuted, or murdered someone.



Again, always avoiding the question. Admit that you have morally failed by not telling on a friend. Because that is what this is. You keep wanting to make a "special exception" for police, who never, ever supposedly feel this way. It isn't easy to get them to do that. But you're a special snowflake, unlike the rest of us mere mortal human beings.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:57 AM on February 26, 2010


Admit that you have morally failed by not telling on a friend.

Of course.

Because that is what this is. You keep wanting to make a "special exception" for police, who never, ever supposedly feel this way.

No, as I clearly stated earlier, I want to make a "special exception" for when the behavior not being told on puts people in the hospital or the grave. Is that really so hard to understand?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:11 PM on February 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


And for that matter, there's a vast gulf between "merely" not telling on a friend who beat or killed someone, and actively attempting to keep them from facing justice.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:21 PM on February 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


or if that behavior wrongfully incarcerates people.

even if you were exonerated, having that on your record is an incredibly thing to work around, even to get crappy jobs.

that affects the rest of someone's life in a very real, tangible way.
posted by sio42 at 12:23 PM on February 26, 2010


Effects, i mean.
posted by sio42 at 12:23 PM on February 26, 2010


ROU_Xenophobe, do you really not understand why someone would cover up a murder they should be reporting?
posted by fatbird at 12:27 PM on February 26, 2010


Cops rule! Love em
posted by Damn That Television at 12:40 PM on February 26, 2010


You keep wanting to make a "special exception" for police, who never, ever supposedly feel this way.

Are you seriously expecting us to feel bad about holding police to higher standards than non-police?
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:01 PM on February 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


ROU_Xenophobe, do you really not understand why someone would cover up a murder they should be reporting?

Why should thinking you understand what might motivate someone to commit a particular crime have any bearing on the way that crime is prosecuted, unless the individual isn't mentally fit to be prosecuted?

I can understand greed, too. It's a good, basic human emotional drive that virtually everyone's experienced and can, to some degree, relate to. Every child who's ever gobbled down more than their allotted share of candy has given in to the impulses of greed. But it doesn't make the guy who murders in service to his greed any less a murderer, nor the crime any less murder.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:07 PM on February 26, 2010


Why should thinking you understand what might motivate someone to commit a particular crime have any bearing on the way that crime is prosecuted

Who here has said that understanding the context of failing to report on police misconduct should, in any way, mitigate it? Ironmouth hasn't.
posted by fatbird at 1:23 PM on February 26, 2010


Ironmouth: And what was the result? Conviction. Isn't that what we want in these situations? I'm confused as to why success stories regarding prosecutions of corrupt police officers, especially ones as bad as Davis, constitute evidence that the police are getting away with massive misconduct. Look at his complaints:
And this is the problem with many of your posts, you are trying to make this sound like a success story (the system worked), which would seem to imply that Davis was the only bad cop on the NOPD and this was the only bad thing he ever did, and no one else on the NOPD would have tolerated this yet alone done something like this. I realize you didn't say that explicitly, but that's how it sounds when you make the assertion that 'the system worked'.

But it wasn't caught by the NOPD IAD, it was caught by a Federal sting, which is probably rarer than being hit by lightning, in terms of oversight of police misconduct.

For many of us, the Federal sting just looks like a tiny snapshot in time of the endemic, rampant, normal level of corruption and police brutality in the NOPD. The sting is the equivalent of walking into a brothel, opening a random door, and snapping a picture of two people caught in the act, and then trying to imply with a straight face that this was the only prostitute in the house, and the only time she had sex for money, i.e. Davis wasn't the only bad apple nor was it the only bad thing Davis ever did, it was just the bad thing he happened to be doing when the tapes were rolling.

Protection racket.
As a side note, NOPD officers tend to make more money moonlighting as security guards at restaurants and other businesses (they get to do their 'guard duty' in their police uniforms, and usually have their squad cars with them) than they do working as police officers. It's basically a city-wide protection racket. The police are fairly up front about it, too. They say it's a great way for business owners and police officers to get to know each other (true), and given how bad police response time* is in the city, the implication was that having a personal relationship with the department would improve that response time. In other words, if you don't hire us, nobody will show up when you need them.

* my roommate called the police when some old man was being mugged on our doorstep; the dispatcher flat out said they wouldn't send anyone because the muggers would be long gone before a car could arrive. There's a reason why my neighborhood pooled money together to hire private security guards at night.
Ironmouth: Your ignorance shines through. I don't practice in front of juries in my police misconduct cases. Almost none of these cases go before juries. Did you know that? Nope. The number is miniscule. By my estimation, less than 1% of all police misconduct cases go before juries. I practice in front of police trial boards, which are composed of police officials and the Merit Systems Protection Board, a federal governmental entity which hears civil service cases.
I don't think the name calling helps. And anyway, these kinds of review boards are part of the perception problem - that most police conduct never sees the light of day in a public court.

I would also imagine that a review board compromised of police officers might be somewhat more sympathetic to officers than a public jury, and it's not as though public juries are particularly harsh on police officers either (cf. Rodney King).

And how many incidents of police misconduct make it to these review boards? 1%? 5%? 10%? Who knows. (Also, one man's "misconduct" is another's Standard Operating Procedure). In New Orleans when Davis was an officer, the review board was working with the police officers and facilitated a murder. Nor did I notice any convictions of the people who handed over the information to Davis.

The Davis murder is an indication that these problems were structural and endemic for the entire department, and his conviction was more like prosecuting one prostitute operating inside a brothel than an example of shutting down the brothel. And if it weren't for Katrina bringing the nation's attention to New Orleans (and the feds) who is to say that something like this would ever have been investigated in the first place, yet alone prosecuted. Or at the very least, noticed.

Don't get me wrong, it's great that you're doing this work; the more checks and balances we have to ensure police conduct is both professional and effective the better. And I do believe that most police officers are doing an extremely difficult and stressful job very well, and we are all rightfully thankful for them.

But sometimes you can have a system that, while mostly filled with mostly good and well meaning people, nevertheless allows for horrible things to happen because the system itself is corrupt or broken, and isn't good at policing itself (or worse, is very good at preventing itself from being policed). That's true of institutions like congress, and true of plenty of police departments. The NOPD is just one of the more egregious examples.
posted by Davenhill at 1:26 PM on February 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


The big question is how can we cut down on police corruption and abuse. Any amount is unacceptable for these are the citizens we put guns in the hands of authority in the badge of, so what should NOPD do? I don't know how much Citizen watchdogging or Internal Affairs does (which seems to be part of the problem in NOLA). When that organization becomes so corrupt, what is the option here? Should the fed have a semi-permanent presence in New Orleans until the police are trustworthy? Should we shut down the department and start a new police department and build from scratch again? Is it one of those problems that you just incrementally work on by having higher pay and higher standards and higher education for? I really don't know. This is one of those problems where I have no earthly idea what would work. Perhaps someone people that have had experience in these areas (or maybe study criminal justice) or others just want to throw out solutions? I don't know at all.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 1:35 PM on February 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Who here has said that understanding the context of failing to report on police misconduct should, in any way, mitigate it? Ironmouth hasn't.

Well, then why bring it up at all? I don't mean to misrepresent Ironmouth's position. And I'm not at all unsympathetic to Ironmouth's arguments, believe me. But it does seem a little beside the point, legally, whether or not ordinary people can identify with the kinds of behaviors we've been discussing or not, and Ironmouth (in the snippet I quoted) did bring that question up himself, appealing to our sense of empathy (which is fine, but seems to obscure the legal issues, IMO).
posted by saulgoodman at 2:10 PM on February 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, then why bring it up at all?

Mainly because when it did get brought up, ROU_Xenophobe used it as an opportunity to declare that he could never, ever fail in the way that some cops do.
posted by fatbird at 2:21 PM on February 26, 2010


Lord Chancellor: Should the fed have a semi-permanent presence in New Orleans until the police are trustworthy? Should we shut down the department and start a new police department and build from scratch again? Is it one of those problems that you just incrementally work on by having higher pay and higher standards and higher education for?
Yes to all of this. In my opinion the only sure way to clean up the NOPD (and believe me, I understand how unprecedented and extreme this sounds - but it's a position that is something of a consensus among people I went to law school with, some of whom are now FBI agents, others working for the city of NOLA today) is to basically put the entire city under federal control, from top to bottom.

The police force is of course the biggest problem. It needs to be started from scratch. This isn't to say you wouldn't hire back many of the current officers, because there are a lot of outstanding and knowledgeable people there (the NOPD is probably the single best police force in the entire planet when it comes to crowd control, and are a hell of a lot more tolerant and easy going when it comes to drunk tourists than anyone you will meet). You need to bring in a police chief from another major city and let him rebuild it.

New Orleans came close to that - they brought in a police chief from Florida and he really started to make a big improvement in terms of the quality of protection provided to the city (the murder rate dropped significantly). Unfortunately he ran for mayor, lost, and the guy he lost to fired him and replaced him with an incompetent crony. And the murder rate shot right back up.

That's New Orleans for you in a nutshell.

Katrina should have been that once in a generation opportunity to fix the city. But we all know who was in office then.

Another major reason why the city is screwed (and a big reason why I say the Feds need to come in, not the state), is because there is a lot of antipathy for New Orleans from the state of Louisiana. Huh? That hatred is driven by religious moral superiority and racism. When I was there in the 90s the city asked the state for help to reduce the murder rate (it was the country's murder capital, or on the short list). The state basically told the city it would only send national guardsmen to patrol the streets or nothing. Given that armed soldiers would kill tourism and not really help with the problem (they can't be integrated into the law enforcement force), the city declined.

After Katrina state legislators were quoted as saying things like 'finally god did what we couldn't do through legislation', i.e. destroy the poor black neighborhoods and send large numbers of scary brown people out of the city.

So yeah, if the Feds don't do anything, nobody will. And the Feds won't, so...

(Oh, and it's not just NOLA. Other city in LA were wildly out of control. The entire city of Sulphur Louisiana, located on the I-10 on the way to Texas, was literally engaged in highway robbery. The police would pull over vehicles with out of state licenses for bogus traffic infractions, then they would use the state's liberal drug conspiracy laws to take all of your cash and impound your car based merely on the officer's suspicion that your money/car were involved in the drug trade. Well, without evidence...

Did I mention the city's prosecutors and judges were in on it? The proceeds from all money seized from drug trafficking is distributed to the courts, prosecutors, and police force, so everybody has a monetary interest in convicting you. Including the townsfolks who are working for, married to, or otherwise related to all of the above.

Oh sure, if you lived in Louisiana or Houston and had thousands of dollars to spend on a private attorney, you would probably "win" your case, or have it settled. But good luck getting your car/money back. And even if you did, well, their impound fees were astonishingly high. For a lot of people it was just cheaper to abandon your property.

There was one really sad case of a Vietnamese family who, stupidly, had $50,000 in cash on them because they were on their way to buy a shrimp boat. If it hadn't been for some 60-minutes type feature of their story on TV, they probably would have ended up in jail. As it was they got off lucky and just lost their life savings.

When I drove from NOLA to California I specifically took a different route to avoid Sulphur. I ended up getting pulled over by a small Texas town sheriff who, according to the ticket I received, had me going at 60 miles over the speed limit (crossed out), 40 miles over, 30 miles over, (both crossed out), and settled on 20 miles over the speed limit. He crossed those out as I was explaining to him that I was on my way to interview with the Houston DA (even had the names). $350. FWIW I was going 10 miles UNDER the speed limit (I was pulling a U-haul and it was a game that I was playing to keep me entertained - be going 10 MPH UNDER the speed limit when you hit the next speed sign... I was good at it). Judging by the boarded up Dairy Queen, the abandoned homes, and the speed signs that changed every 300 yards, traffic tickets are probably one of the few sources of income for the town. If I hadn't had a back story about meeting with a DA in the next major city, the 60mph over would have been enough to arrest me for reckless driving, impound all of my worldly belongings, and... well, just something to be aware of.
posted by Davenhill at 2:22 PM on February 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


(sloppiness edit - the sheriff had was listing the different speeds he supposedly clocked me at, 60mph, 50mph, 40mph, 35mph... I was going 15 in a 25mph zone when pulled over, wrote me up for 20 over that, so presumably he was deciding which zone to say I was going which speed in; on the way to Dallas off of the I-20)
posted by Davenhill at 3:34 PM on February 26, 2010


Again, I haven't seen any link to that story. If you could please give me one, I'd appreciate it. I tried several google searches and was unable to come up with anything. Even a name would help, as I could get information.
Well, it would help if you read the thread
it seems like there was a culture of corruption in the NOPD for a quite a long time and that it was brought to light by some tragic events in the midst of a larger tragic event.
I actually remember a story that came out right after the hurricane where some NOPD officers beat the crap out of some schoolteacher going to a bar for some reason. It was taped by an AP photographer (who was there to cover the aftermath) and the cops came over and yelled at the photographer, claiming that the press was "ruining" the city somehow.
I suggest you go through those General Orders links above. They explain the procedures of police misconduct. They will tell you what actually happens.
First of all, LOL. Second of all, what do the S.F. police department's rules have to do with what actually happens in New Orleans? Why are you bringing up your experience in DC with what happens in New Orleans? It's ridiculous.
He's complaining about citizen complaints and IAD going after him. All of the while, the FBI was running an operation on him. In other words, an act of a desperate man who was boxed in and getting caught. And he was caught. And convicted.
Yeah, all of this has been discussed in the thread. You seemed to have problem with believing it was even true first off, and second off he was busted by the FBI, not the local police, who had been investing him for something else. If he hadn't been, he might never have been caught. Why on earth would a "Desperate, Boxed in man" even be allowed on the force in the first place if there were no serious problems. How many other people in the NOPD were at similar levels of incompetence/malice?
If all of us had such certainty. I'm sure that you've been in similar situations, right? Tell me when you haven't told on a friend. I'm saying that the people who fail to report are responding to human emotions.
...
Again, always avoiding the question. Admit that you have morally failed by not telling on a friend. Because that is what this is
What the hell are you going on about? Your argument seems to be that because regular people cover for their friends when they do things that are unethical, it's OK for police to cover up for the friends? If that's the case, then it pretty much undermines everything else you've been saying, which is that cover-ups are rare and that police are totally professional. So I'm not sure why you're even bringing it up here.

And of course, the primary difference is that the police's job is to enforce the laws, while normal people have no such obligation.

Honestly, I have no idea why you're so hard up to defend the NOPD, despite having no experience with them and not knowing anything about them
posted by delmoi at 3:43 PM on February 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


Ironmouth: Very curious, upon going to the LAPD website to look for their General Orders, I just learned that their badge is trademarked. Ridiculous. Only in LA

No, the actual police badge is not trademarked. The City of Los Angeles's USPTO registration covers the website you cited, and was probably obtained to make it easier for them to legally protect the website and lapdonline.org domain registration from typosquatters or other unauthorized commercial users, e.g. unrelated T-shirt merchants selling "LAPD" apparel (or, for that matter, selling Viagra or just about anything) from lookalike websites that consumers might believe was the official municipal source. Not ridiculous.
posted by applemeat at 6:44 PM on February 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ironmouth: What I find amazing is that everyone is angry at the police for doing there job here.

But they didn't. The FBI did. That's important to remember.
posted by Malor at 11:53 PM on February 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


But they didn't. The FBI did. That's important to remember.

Yes, and more specifically we're talking about one specific PD not police as a whole. Different departments are going to have different cultures, different competence and corruption levels.
posted by delmoi at 1:42 AM on February 27, 2010


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