CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Boston Cracks Down on Police Misconduct

From Boston police brass are stealthily hitting the streets in a sweeping crackdown on cops who fail to show up for lucrative paid details, talk excessively on their cell phones at job sites and commit other infractions that tarnish the badge, the Herald has learned.

Over the past two weeks, Superintendent Dan Linskey, chief of patrol officers, has been checking on cops on private details to ensure that they are on post, well dressed and not idling in air-conditioned cars, smoking in the street or having prolonged cell phone calls.

Any cop found not doing the job properly is reprimanded and asked not to turn in the $37-an-hour detail card for payment, Linskey said.

    Details have long posed an image problem for police departments across the state. Massachusetts is one of the only states in the country that requires utility companies, contractors and trouble-prone nightclubs to hire uniformed officers to patrol sites and direct traffic. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

August 12, 2007 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

FBI Established Public Corruption Squad in Palm Beach

From The FBI is establishing a full-time, permanent public-corruption squad in Palm Beach County, after a series of criminal cases that brought down two county and two West Palm Beach city commissioners.

"We are putting resources where the crime is," said FBI special agent in charge Tim Delaney.

Delaney said the expansion also was a result of the county's population growth, but acknowledged that the four new agents -- three investigators and a supervisor-- would focus only on corruption by elected officials. Rest fo Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

August 8, 2007 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Man With No Records Publicizes His Attraction to Minors

From Jack McClellan publicizes his attraction to young girls, does the rounds of television news and talk shows, and cooperates with the police.

When Santa Monica police confronted him last week at a Jack in the Box — after he had been spotted in the children's section of the city's main library by a nervous mother who called police — he agreed to let officers photograph him.

On talk shows, he appears unshaven and a bit dazed, but unapologetic about his attraction to little girls, admitting he might have sex with them if it were legal and leaving his interviewers blanched with shock and revulsion.

According to authorities, the 45-year-old McClellan, who appears to live mostly out of his car and favor the Westside, has no arrest or conviction record in the United States. He is not a registered sex offender.

Yet he has the Santa Monica Police Department cautioning residents, the elite Special Victims Bureau of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department researching him and anguished parents in Internet chat groups trading alleged sightings and urging that he be run out of town.

"I've been doing child abuse and sexual assault cases for 20 years and I've never seen anything like this," said Sgt. Dan Scott of the sheriff's Special Victims Bureau.

Now, two Santa Clarita attorneys have filed court papers on behalf of their daughters to get a restraining order that would keep McClellan out of establishments in Santa Clarita where children congregate. Their petition for injunction, which is scheduled to be heard Friday in L.A. County Superior Court in Chatsworth, was triggered by McClellan's public statements that he might settle down in Santa Clarita. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

August 2, 2007 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Cracking Down on Murderbilia

From Convicted murderers are profiting from their notoriety by selling "murderabilia" to the public. Texas Sen. John Cornyn has recently introduced legislation that will crack down on sellers of the merchandise and prohibit prisoners from profiting from it. Listen. . . [Mark Godsey]

July 31, 2007 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, July 29, 2007

AZ Court Says Police Cannot Routinely Search Arrestee's Cars

From recommended by Flynn Carey: Police cannot routinely search the vehicles of people whom they arrest, the Arizona Supreme Court has ruled.

In a 3-2 decision, the high court threw out the drug-possession conviction of Rodney Gant. The majority said Tucson police illegally searched his car after arresting him outside the vehicle. The search found narcotics that eventually resulted in his conviction.
Justice Rebecca Berch, writing for the majority, said police have the authority in some circumstances to search a vehicle without a warrant. But she said those instances usually are limited to situations of police safety — such as looking for a weapon in the immediate area of the person being arrested — or where waiting for a warrant might result in destruction of evidence.
She noted, though, that Gant already was handcuffed and in the back of a patrol car. That, Berch said, means the Tucson Police Department violated Gant's Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure.
Justice Scott Bales, writing the dissent, said his colleagues were misinterpreting the law. He said searches of vehicles are reasonable and legal when someone who has been in the car is legally arrested.

July 29, 2007 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Cities are Suing Gangs

From Fed up with deadly drive-by shootings, incessant drug dealing and graffiti, cities nationwide are trying a different tactic to combat gangs: They're suing them.

Fort Worth and San Francisco are among the latest to file lawsuits against gang members, asking courts for injunctions barring them from hanging out together on street corners, in cars or anywhere else in certain areas.

The injunctions are aimed at disrupting gang activity before it can escalate. They also give police legal reasons to stop and question gang members, who often are found with drugs or weapons, authorities said. In some cases, they don't allow gang members to even talk to people passing in cars or to carry spray paint.

"It is another tool," said Kevin Rousseau, a Tarrant County assistant prosecutor in Fort Worth, which recently filed its first civil injunction against a gang. "This is more of a proactive approach."

But critics say such lawsuits go too far, limiting otherwise lawful activities and unfairly targeting minority youth.

"If you're barring people from talking in the streets, it's difficult to tell if they're gang members or if they're people discussing issues," said Peter Bibring, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California. "And it's all the more troubling because it doesn't seem to be effective."

Civil injunctions were first filed against gang members in the 1980s in the Los Angeles area, a breeding ground for gangs including some of the country's most notorious, such as the Crips and 18th Street.

Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

July 29, 2007 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Shooter Freed Early Due to Clerical Error


Two-and-a-half months after being freed because of a clerical error, Willie Joe McAdams was arrested Thursday and is expected to be booked into prison to serve at least 16 more years of a 40-year sentence for shooting a Houston man in the head, blinding him in one eye.

When McAdams was sentenced in 2004 to 40 years in prison for shooting Cedric Thomas in the head, Thomas thought it was a just punishment.

While enjoying himself at a bar during the Fourth of July weekend, Thomas was shocked when McAdams approached him, shook his hand and apologized.

"What if he still had malice in his heart and wanted to kill me," said Thomas, who lost an eye in the March 2003 sports bar shooting.

McAdams was released from prison 36 years early after serving four years of his 40 year sentence because of a "clerical error," according to Michelle Lyons, a Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokeswoman. McAdams was released May 4.

Lyons said that the mistake was "human error" when keying in McAdams personal information and punishment time during intake in 2004.

Lyons said McAdams was arrested at Hillcroft and Main during a traffic stop after being followed from his home Thursday afternoon.

Gulf Coast Violent Offenders Task Force detective C.J. Mitchell said he and other officers began watching McAdams' home Thursday morning.

Lyons said she expects him to be put back in prison to serve the rest of his time. He will be eligible for parole in 16 years. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

July 22, 2007 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Police Gear Easier to Get than What you Think

From Their tools -- blue lights, badges, batons -- are easier than ever to buy on the Internet, law enforcement officials say. And their methods are frighteningly effective. Police say it takes very little to persuade motorists and others to obey commands from someone they believe is a police officer.

Two weeks ago in Chelsea, a man with a two-way radio clipped to his shirt ordered pedestrians to put their hands on a wall and give him their wallets. Then he grabbed their cash, dumped the wallets, and drove away. Working with another man who had a badge hanging around his neck, the two robbed five people, Central American immigrants they believed would be too fearful to report the crimes, police say.

Then early Sunday morning, a burly man with a crew cut used a flashing blue light on his car to stop a driver on Route 24 in Randolph. Police say the man, who wore a blue shirt emblazoned with a shield, ordered the woman out of her vehicle, then sexually assaulted her .

Authorities say the crimes emerged from a dangerous subculture of police impersonators.

While some pursue nothing more than the thrill of using a police officer's authority to get someone to pull over, others exploit the power of the badge to rob and assault, often targeting women, immigrants, and others they believe will be most likely to obey their orders.

In either case, the public's trust in law enforcement is corroded.

"All too often, we've seen it happen," said Thomas J. Nee , president of the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association. "This uniform that distinguishes us in society, and the apparatus that we use, is too easily available to the public." Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

July 15, 2007 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 9, 2007

Cali May Get More Access to Police Disciplinary Records

From Legislation that would increase Californians' access to police disciplinary records by rolling back a 2006 state Supreme Court ruling appears to be dead for the year -- the victim of formidable law enforcement opposition.

To win passage in 2007, the measure by state Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, needs to clear the Assembly Public Safety Committee by Friday. However, the panel's chairman has scheduled no further hearings on the bill, which has already passed the state Senate.

Although the measure, SB1019, has the support of many community groups, newspapers, city officials, the American Civil Liberties Union and some members of police review agencies, it is also opposed by dozens of law enforcement groups.

The fight dates back to 2003, when the San Diego Union-Tribune sought to attend an administrative appeals hearing for a deputy sheriff who had been fired.

The deputy's lawyers objected, saying that under state law, disciplinary procedures for law enforcement officers were personnel matters and thus closed to the public unless an officer wanted them open.

The newspaper was barred from the hearing and went to court. Last year, in its Copley vs. Superior Court decision, the state Supreme Court ruled 6-1 that the public had no right to obtain records of administrative appeals in police disciplinary cases. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

July 9, 2007 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Problems Surrounding Localizing Immigation Law Enforcement

From Momentum to deputize local police as immigration agents across the United States grew after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. But law enforcement officers have been reluctant to oblige. They are concerned that taking on that role would both alienate immigrant communities -- where criminals or terrorists can gain a foothold or simply find a convenient hideout -- and undermine police obligations to ensure public safety.

Several jurisdictions, in fact, prevented their officers from enforcing federal immigration laws. By mid-2004, according to the National Immigration Law Center, more than 50 localities, including some of the country's largest cities, had enacted laws, resolutions or policies limiting such activity.

Now that the U.S. Senate has killed comprehensive immigration reform, the fate of 12 million illegal immigrants in this country remains in limbo. What seems absolutely certain is that public pressure will push local, county and state authorities to address what the federal government has failed to.

Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

July 8, 2007 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Michigan Police Illegal Fireworks Raids Fizzle

From In a summer when authorities are dealing with higher crime, more parolees and tighter budgets, hunting for illegal fireworks seems a luxury more police agencies say they simply cannot afford.

Organized sweeps in years past yielded relatively few illegal fireworks, making it easier for authorities to keep such enforcement a secondary concern this year.

"I don't have a lot of extra people around to do lower priority things like this," said Wayne County Sheriff Warren Evans. "It's not that it's not important. It's just not as high on the radar screen. With any credible information about something, we'll look into it, but we're stretched way too thin."

Macomb County Sheriff Mark Hackel said he suspects there may be more illegal fireworks in his county this season, but it has to take a back seat to the high-profile crimes and other pressing problems his department faces.

"We get inundated with complaints the day before and the day of," he said. "People need to understand we're trying to prioritize." Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

July 4, 2007 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Milwaukee Homicide Review Commission Discusses Each Death

From After analyzing numbers, mapping deaths and collecting data on Milwaukee homicides, law enforcement and social service agencies have found strength in a simple approach: talking.

Each death is getting a closer look and conversation on where, how and why it happened as part of a study by the Milwaukee Homicide Review Commission, including everyone from beat cops to FBI agents to agencies such as Milwaukee Public Schools security.

"It's all about making the city a better place, reducing the violence we're seeing, reducing the homicides we're seeing," said Mallory O'Brien, a Harvard School of Public Health researcher leading the project.

O'Brien and Milwaukee police Deputy Chief Brian O'Keefe met with Journal Sentinel writers and editors on Thursday to provide a progress report on the commission's work. They will give a similar presentation to Common Council members June 28.

The commission, which its creators say is the first of its kind in the nation, started work in May 2005 using $600,000 worth of grants to fund three years of study. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

June 24, 2007 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Breath Tests and Psych Exams for the NYPD

From The New York City Police Department is moving to require officers to take breath tests for alcohol if they shoot someone and to undergo a psychological screening when they become candidates for undercover work, Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly announced yesterday. Both measures are among the recommendations of a panel created after a Queens man was fatally shot in November in a volley of 50 bullets fired by officers.

Mr. Kelly, who set up the panel in December, said he had accepted all 19 of its recommendations, which included hiring actors to help train officers in their undercover roles as gun dealers or narcotics traffickers and creating programs to teach the public about the need for such operations.

He said he would send the recommendations to senior commanders for feedback and hoped to have the changes in place quickly after he heard from them. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

June 20, 2007 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

28 States Allow Juveniles to Appear in Court in Chains

From The U.S. Supreme Court has said repeatedly that the sight of shackles on a defendant in a courtroom can unfairly influence a jury. Adult defendants may appear in court in shackles, but not in front of a jury that decides their fate.

In almost all juvenile proceedings, though, a defendant's fate is in the hands of a judge, not a jury. Juvenile court procedures vary among the states and even within counties, so it's unclear precisely how many juvenile courts routinely shackle young defendants. But USA TODAY has found that in 28 states, some juvenile courts routinely keep defendants in restraints during court appearances.

Routine shackling is a better-safe-than-sorry approach, many juvenile justice officials say. Teenage impulsiveness can lead to an escape attempt or an attack on a lawyer, judge or spectator, they say, and outdated security in some courtrooms and inadequate manpower heighten the risk.

Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

June 19, 2007 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

California Supreme Court Upholds Knock and Talk Rule

From SignOnSan The California State Supreme Court decided yesterday that police don't have to corroborate information from an anonymous tip before asking a homeowner's permission to search a residence.

The unanimous decision stems from a January 2004 arrest of an Oceanside man, Juan Rivera, and centers on a common police tactic known as “knock and talk.”

That is where police go to a home, knock on the door and ask the residents if they can come in and conduct a search. If consent is given, police don't have to obtain a search warrant. Also, it allows them to act on anonymous information without first confirming it.

The Supreme Court ruling is believed to be the first time the high court has formally said that the “knock and talk” technique doesn't violate the Fourth Amendment as long as the homeowner allows police in.

Federal courts and some lower state courts have come to the same conclusion, but Rivera's case is the first time the California Supreme Court addressed the issue.  Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

June 17, 2007 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Text Messaging 911 is Now Okay in LA

From The Los Angeles Police Department on Tuesday announced plans to pursue improvements to the city's 911 system, saying callers in the future will be able to use text messages, photos and even video from cellphones to seek emergency assistance.

Officials told the L.A. Police Commission that they were beginning to seek money to install the new system, which they believe could aid crime fighting by providing callers with alternative ways to alert authorities and provide evidence swiftly.

"Sometimes a person calls 911 and says they just saw a robbery and they've snapped an image or video of the getaway car," said Sgt. Lee Sands. "We want to find a way to get that to officers in the field as fast as possible."

Officials said there are times when it's easier for someone in need to text for help rather than call. "There are circumstances when a person during a kidnap or robbery can't talk to an operator but they can message them," Sands said. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

June 13, 2007 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Citizen Video Highlights Police Brutality

From On May Day, 2007, the Los Angeles police made front page news after clashing with protesters in a public park. Images of baton-wielding officers and cowering protesters, journalists among them, renewed an angry debate over police brutality in a city still scarred by the memory of the Rodney King beating.

Citizen video has left an indelible mark on Los Angeles. The King video is the best-known example, but far from the only one. In 2002, a tourist filmed 16-year-old Donovan Jackson being punched and slammed against a police cruiser in Inglewood. Last year, a UCLA student taped an incident in which another student was hit by a stun gun at a school library. The video spread quickly across the Internet.

"This type of stuff happens every day in L.A.," says Sherman Austin, founder of Cop Watch LA, an activist group that was quick to post images and clips of the May Day incident. "It's just a coincidence sometimes there's a video camera around to videotape." Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

June 3, 2007 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

LAPD Issues a Report About May Mishap

From The Los Angeles Police Commission issues a report on its investigation of alleged police misconduct during the May 1 MacArthur Park pro-immigration rally and march. Listen. . . [Mark Godsey]

May 29, 2007 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

NY Prison Has Center for Dementia

From Prisons have been dealing with the special needs of older prisoners for years, but the one in Fishkill, New York state prison is considered unique because it specializes in dementia-related conditions.

The unit _ 30 beds on the third floor of the prison's medical center _ is a first for New York and possibly the nation, though experts say it likely won't be the last as more people grow old behind bars.

The unit has the clean-white-wall feel of a nursing home _ but for the prison bars. A marker board in the day room includes a picture of a sun with a smiley face and a reminder to "Have a great day." The activity calendar lists puppies on Thursday and bingo on Friday. As long as they behave, patients can wander from their rooms to the day room.

"They're still in prison," said Fishkill superintendent William Connolly. "This is just a unique environment within a prison environment."

Connolly said the men's crimes are not considered in the screening process, though their prison record matters. The idea is to provide proper care and a safe environment. Rest of Article. . . [Mrk Godsey]

May 29, 2007 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Investigation into Guards Breaking Juveniles' Bones

From authorities are investigating whether guards at state juvenile detention facilities broke the bones of 60 young offenders as a result of abusive tactics. The newly disclosed review comes amid spreading concerns about the treatment of teenage inmates.

The investigation is part of a criminal inquiry into the Texas Youth Commission, one of the nation's largest juvenile justice systems, with about 4,000 offenders. It was triggered by medical reports over five years showing inmates were treated for suspicious breaks, commonly the humerus, the long bone in the upper arm, according to Dr. Ben Raimer, who oversees commission health care services for the University of Texas Medical Branch.

Investigators suspect the arm injuries occurred when guards yanked offenders' arms upward while the limbs were shackled behind the youths' backs, said Jay Kimbrough, who has been appointed by Gov. Rick Perry to direct the state inquiry.

"There are enough of these injuries to cause us serious concern," Kimbrough said.

The review has grown out of a broader investigation of sexual abuse and physical assaults of inmates and other improper conduct by the staff. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

May 16, 2007 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)