Friday, August 07, 2009

Why I find it easy to be cynical about government
Part 1: Cops and the Criminal Justice System

First the easy one: Cops. My standard disclaimer is to say that most cops are fairly decent folks. But they aren't all decent. Some are crooks. Some are bullies. Some are monsters. I do believe most cops are decent enough. I think the unions spend too much time keeping the bad ones employed. (See the very end of this post for what I said in 2006)

I won't repeat the link I sent in the last email. And while Most of my stories deal with Chicago - it still holds a special place in my heart - other cities are not immune. Boston shows up from time to time, as does LA, and Memphis has at least one web site dedicated solely to the shenanigans of their PD.

When I was growing up, it was sort-of common knowledge that you could get out of virtually any traffic ticket in Chicago for about 20 bucks. Though I never witnessed this because when we went into the city it was usually via the train. In the days before photo IDs, paper drivers' license were kept in little envelopes, usually with a 20 folded in behind the license.

John Burge and the Midnight Crew from Area 2 - tortured subjects to extract confessions. Some of those folks - 100% black I think - ended up on death row, until DNA and project innocence came along and proved they were NOT guilty. (Of course SCOTUS has said that being innocent shouldn't stand in the way of your execution, as long as you had a "fair trial") The statute of limitations has expired, though they are now investigating if they can prosecute "conspiracy to obstruct justice," because the conspiracy is on-going. (Interesting speculative side-note: Mayor Daley was an assistant DA, and the DAs had to know - suspects came out of interrogation, beaten bloody, broken bones in more than one case, and with signed confessions.) There are something on the order of 170 cases where the current prosecutors think they could prove a case of police brutality/excessive force - if the statute of limitations hadn't expired.

Rampart Scandal - LAPD - more like a gang with uniforms. (Just recently LAPD got out from under court supervision as a result of this)

Chicago PD's Special Operations Section - Disbanded in 2008 (maybe late 2007). Murder for hire. Home invasions and kidnapping. Extortion. Drugs. etc. All while collecting CPD paychecks.

Google will give you more than you want to know on any of these 3 stories.

Then there is the story of ex-Chicago cop (now ex-from 2 universities where he worked) who admitted beating people and using drugs as payoffs were SOP at CPD.
a former Chicago cop who allegedly has been recorded on tape telling students at Colorado State University that beating suspects and paying off informants with drugs is just a way of life for police in "Chi-town."

My own limited experience, with Chicago's Finest (among a few others) is that they would almost never come to the scene of a gay bashing. If they did, it wasn't always a good thing. (One time they actually arrested the guy bleeding on the sidewalk) If the cops don't come to the scene of a violent crime, the ambulance won't come either - not in Chicago anyway. So the hatred by police spilled over into medical attention.

The following is sort of a worm's eye view of what it looks like. To me at least. Collected along the way of doing my regular web surfing over the past few years. (my favorite - the Brett Darrow saga, or at least 2/3 of it - "I will make something up and throw you in jail.") (somethings haven't changed) (with a health care tie-in)

Evidence Techs "changing things around" (well, almost fits this category)

And the FBI/Feds get in the act as well (Witness Protection and the Outfit?) (well, an FBI connection)

The last trial, and current "big arrest" from the FBI's Operation Family Secrets was law enforcement. (The 2 above). Witness Protection inspector having a long phone conversation with a "family friend" while on duty guarding a witness against the Outfit. Said friend has ties to the Outfit. Cicero Cops interfering with an FBI investigation of a reputed Outfit hitter - an Outlaw they think fire-bombed some businesses. (The Outfit, has had many names - it is Al Capone's old organization. Think of the movie "Casino." The Outlaws are a motorcycle gang - currently being recruited by the Outfit in part as a result of losses from Family Secrets... though the Outfit was always more equal-opportunity than The Five Families)

The arrogance of lawyers...
Stare Decisis - Latin for "to stand by that which is decided" - is the doctrine that holds a bad (not horrible but bad) precedent is better than the law, or the Constitution, it was supposed to be based on. Over time, we live in the world of the Mad Hatter. "Words mean only what I say they mean. Nothing more and nothing less." The Law is what the judges (the lawyers) say it is. It doesn't matter what is actually written down...

Which leads to...

Judges - that "impartial" section of the Criminal Justice system...

For the complete list of things I covered...

On the subject of Law Enforcement Officers, I had this to say in 2006:
Are most cops bad? Of course not, but there are enough of the bad ones out there that no LEO should expect to get the "benefit of the doubt" anymore when if comes to who is a risk and who is not. A cop I meet is just the same as any other stranger, except that (A) he has a gun and (B) the "system" is not likely to hold him accountable for anything he might try.

If the LEOs of the world want to get that "benefit of the doubt" back, they need to find, and incarcerate all of the bad cops. In the story related here, officers knew what the score was. Supervisors were told what was going on. No one took action against one of their own. So much for justice in the "Criminal Justice System" (so-called).

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