Under President Barack Obama, the Justice Department used its oversight authority to push for fundamental changes in the way local law-enforcement agencies interact with the communities they serve. Now under President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the federal government seems poised to pull back on that kind of enforcement — pleasing police officers but worrying activists.
Obama’s Justice Department greatly expanded both the number and scope of “consent decrees,” legally enforceable agreements with police departments on issues such as racial discrimination, use of force and unlawful stops and seizures. The Obama administration used the consent decree process to push for changes in places such as Chicago and Ferguson, Missouri, after high-profile killings by police.
The Justice Department’s authority to investigate police departments stems in part from an earlier high-profile incident of police violence: the 1991 Rodney King beating in Los Angeles. Congress later passed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which, among other provisions, tasked the Justice Department with investigating systematic misconduct in law enforcement agencies. To do so, the Justice Department identifies police departments that have a “pattern or practice” of violating the constitutional rights of a city’s residents and then either reaches voluntary memorandums of agreement outlining how the departments will address the problems or, if those negotiations fail, goes to court to pursue a legally binding consent decree. In cases of court-ordered consent decrees, judges often appoint monitors to make sure the changes are carried out.
Sgt. Steven Frederick replies by saying he didn’t see Holthaus’ face, but he recognized her by her backside.
Holthaus, who was 18 years old at the time, went to the police to make a report about a fight she was involved in at a Holton Casey’s General Store. Barber, in the footage, describes the incident as a “mutual brawl.”
“What do they say when it’s not recording?” Holthaus said in an interview last week. “It made me lose some faith in law enforcement.”
In the video, Frederick goes on to say that Holthaus’ baby is “destined to be a (expletive) loser.” The dispatcher, Belinda Cashman, chimes in saying, “As (expletive) up as that family is, maybe it’s his,” implying that Ashley’s father is also her baby’s father.
Holthaus said that not only is the content of the video untrue, but she was disturbed her daughter was part of the discussion.
“My daughter’s innocent,” Holthaus said. “You can not like me, but bringing my daughter into it is sick.”
Since discovering the footage through her lawyer, Holthaus has wondered whether she can rely on the police department should she need to.
Her father, Doug Holthaus, said that when he first viewed the footage it left him in disbelief.
“It really puts a distrust in public service, in your public officials,” he said.
His lawyer contacted the city. In January, Doug and Ashley Holthaus received letters of apology from the three officials in the video and Holton police chief Gale Gakle, who supervises both officers and dispatchers.
“I agree that the remarks made by those employees were unprofessional, offensive and discourteous,” Gakle’s letter reads.
Barber wrote, “The comments were intended to be private, however private or public, the comments reflect poorly on myself, the Holton Police Department and the law enforcement community.”
“Sometimes in an attempt to be witty or interesting, I cross a line and hurt people who don’t deserve it,” Cashman said in her letter. “While I can’t take back my behavior, I can promise you that I will think hard about the repercussions of my words next time before I say them.”
In an interview last week, Gakle said the employees have undergone training to address the incident and are being monitored to make sure guidelines are followed. Gakle said he believes the situation has been addressed sufficiently.
Ashley Holthaus doesn’t think the letters are enough and that those in the video wrote them only to save their jobs.
“If I were to make a comment like that, my job would be gone, and they’re public officials,” said Holthaus, who works at a nursing home. “I hold myself to a higher standard than that.”
Rob Duke's insight:
Hubris, the downfall of many a Greek hero and many a cop.
The family of a military veteran who was fatally shot by a Eugene police officer two years ago has filed a $7.5 million lawsuit against the city, a number of police officers and an emergency call taker involved in the incident. Attorneys representing Brian Babb’s family filed suit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Eugene.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – A man arrested by Englewood police has died after suffering a head injury while trying to run from officers on March 5. The 38-year-old man, whose name has not been released, was reportedly taken into custody at 9:12 p.m.
Officers in the city of Citrus Heights, a suburb of Sacramento, shot and killed more residents per capita from 2013 through 2016 than any other department of significant size in California. Citrus Heights police shot and killed the same number of people from 2013 through 2016 as the Police Department in Oakland, a city with five times as many residents and a much higher violent crime rate.
Rob Duke's insight:
6 datapoints over 4 years is not a scientific analysis. The article makes a spurious claim here that the independent variable is the Citrus Heights police when it could be any number of related factors, such as whether a gang feud is currently afoot in Citrus Heights. One of my former officers was an officer there until about 2004 when the City went from being a contract city with the sheriff to having its own department. Now, another of my former officers is there. In any case, these are professional officers and the department is well run. They're accredited and have several innovative programs including body cameras and one of the only officer sabbaticals where officers get off a full month every two years (in addition to their normal vacation time).
Kids and parents said the man was charging at them with a stick in one hand and a broken bottle in the other.
Two soccer players told CBS’s Stacey Butler that they were terrified when the man seemed to be charging at them.
“Our team like we were all toward the fence grabbing each other. All of a sudden, we just hear the guy holding a bottle. Our coach screams at us to jump over the fence. He tried to climb the bleachers. But we just heard three gunshots, and he got shot,” Miguel Carias recalled.
“I felt like he was after me. He was running towards us when we were jumping the fence,” another player said. “But we jumped over the fence before he got near us.”
“The first thing I thought was I’ve got to get my kids out of here. I yelled at my coaches to get everyone out. They tried to knock the goal over him so they could trap him,” a father said.
Rob Duke's insight:
The headline tries to paint a picture of rogue cops killing a homeless man, but the witness' statements paint a different picture:
"Our team, like, we were all toward the fence grabbing each other. All of a sudden, we just hear the guy holding a bottle. Our coach screams at us to jump over the fence. He tried to climb the bleachers. But we just heard three gunshots, and he got shot."
"I felt like he was after ME. He was running towards us when we were jumping the fence."
Even after-the-fact, these kids are relating pure terror.
Elsewhere, it says the cops tried to trap the homeless man by tipping over the soccer goal on him:
"The first thing I thought was I've got to get my kids out of here. I yelled at my coaches to get everyone out. They tried to knock the goal over him so they could trap him."
Not exactly as the paper tries to make it sound. Maybe they think that it's more likely to get picked up on the "wire" for national news this way....
SALEM, Ore. (AP) - Oregon policymakers are considering establishing a statewide data-collecting system on police stops, searches and arrests as well as requiring all law enforcement officers to undergo cultural and bias training.
Rob Duke's insight:
We should be doing all we can do to ensure that latent bias isn't creeping in and affecting the way we do our jobs.
We also must keep an open mind that we enforce laws and the best way for people to avoid being arrested is to refrain from breaking the law...
ROTHSCHILD — Police in northern Wisconsin say an officer and three other people were killed in what apparently began as a domestic dispute in a bank. Everest Metro Police Chief Wally Sparks said the slain officer was from his department. Sparks did not release the officer's name.
It just wouldn’t make much sense for him to knowingly fire a handgun at a raid team of a dozen cops. Even if he were the sort willing to kill a law enforcement officer over some pot, he was massively out-armed and out-manned.
And as it turns out, Betton didn’t fire on them. Ballistics tests later showed that his gun had never been fired. The cops then altered their story to say that Betton merely pointed his gun at them.
That still didn’t make much sense. The police claimed he did this after they made repeated knocks and announcements, and that they were wearing uniforms clearly indicating that they were law enforcement. This again would have had Betton knowingly taking on a well-armed, well-equipped tactical team with a handgun over a comparatively small amount of pot — but this time only pointing the gun at them. Also suspicious: The task force members gave strikingly similar, almost word-for-word accounts of the raid. The police also confronted one of Betton’s neighbor’s as they approached the house. That neighbor would later say he had no idea the raid team was law enforcement, and he thought he was being robbed. If the neighbor didn’t know the raid team were police officers, it’s hard to see how Betton should have.
Rob Duke's insight:
Be careful of this b.s. journalism. First, let's argue that it wouldn't be reasonable for a guy to fire a gun at a raid team of cops, then a couple paragraphs later criticize the cops for not being well-marked because that might lead the perp not to know they were cops....wait? you just argued that he didn't point a gun at the cops, but it would have been reasonable now for him to do so because the cops didn't all have uniforms? Which is it?
War on Drugs=stupid waste....and, this was a tragic ending for the guy who was shot.....but be careful of this type of shoddy journalism that argues against it. We can argue against a poorly conceived drug war with better logic and facts than this....
A California woman who was drugged along with her boyfriend and then dragged from their home described the "hell that we have survived" in emotional testimony Thursday before her abductor was sentenced to 40 years in prison in a crime so elaborate and bizarre that police initially dismisse
A federal magistrate has refused to dismiss a lawsuit by the family of an Oakland woman who was killed by Emeryville police after allegedly shoplifting from a store, saying a jury could find that she posed no threat to the officer who shot her as she lay wounded on the ground. Police said employees at a Home Depot in Emeryville reported they had tried to detain Henderson for shoplifting, but she fled. Williams and a second officer caught up to her in a parking area and told her to drop the gun she was carrying, but she refused and pointed it at them, police said. U.S. Magistrate Donna Ryu said Monday that eyewitness reports and other evidence conflicted with Williams’ account and could lead a jury to conclude that the shooting was unjustified. While Williams said he fired the fatal shot because he feared for his life, Ryu said a jury could reasonably determine “that Henderson did not pose an immediate threat to Williams because she was unarmed and wounded, and because although she had carried a gun, she had not previously fired or aimed it at him.” Emily Rose Johns, a lawyer for the children, said Tuesday that Ryu’s ruling “combats the narrative that police officers, when confronted by a person with a weapon, have the ability under the law to shoot and kill at will.”
From Wrbl.com: A little more than three years later, the dashcam video of Airman Michael Edwards being shot by Opelika, Ala., police officer Phillip Hancock on Interstate 85 has now been released to the public. A call came into the Opelika Police Department on the night of March 6, 2014 about an erratic driver on …
Rob Duke's insight:
What do you think? It doesn't look like a good shooting to me....
President Donald Trump has called for a return to “law and order” policing and shown support for stop and frisk and heavy use of force. Many modern police leaders aren’t buying in.
One non-member, nonpartisan organization conducts field studies with real cops to find more nuanced, data-driven ways to reduce crime. Police Foundation President Jim Bueermann says scientific evidence should be the criminal justice system’s first and only guide.
Rob Duke's insight:
My former Chief, Jim Bueermann, giving an interview to NPR as President of Police Foundation.
Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey today announced revisions to her office policy regarding the disclosure of exculpatory and impeachment information about peace officers and other recurring witnesses in criminal cases under the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1963 decision in Brady v. Maryland and California law. The re-examination of the policy was prompted by the June 2013 settlement of a lawsuit with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California. The revised policy also takes into account the California Supreme Court ruling in People v. Superior Court (Johnson), issued in July 2015, and an Attorney’s General opinion, issued the following October. The policy changes the standard for entering materials for consideration by prosecutors from “clear and convincing” to “a tendency in reason to potentially impeach, or is likely to lead to evidence to potentially impeach the testimony” of a recurrent prosecution witness.
Rob Duke's insight:
Yet again, attorneys doing their best to deflect the aim of Brady from prosecutorial misconduct to making it appear to be aimed at law enforcement.
Michael Kocher was a once a U.S. Marine reservist who served in Iraq, an Alaska political activist and a writer who struggled with an addiction to heroin. He died in a standoff with Denver-area police last week.
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