Archive for the ‘Cops’ Category

But the police are the only ones who can be trusted with guns!

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

Two Austin police officers were suspended after they fired their guns accidentally last month, according to disciplinary memos made public Wednesday.

Both officers were suspended for “accidentally” discharging their “patrol shotguns”. One was suspended for three days, and the other officer was suspended for one. (The reason for the difference is not clear. Based on the Statesman‘s reporting, it doesn’t seem that there were any injuries.)

Not gun related, but another officer is being suspended for 16 days. Apparently, he violated guidelines in his handling of a sexual assault case involving a child, and became “involved in a civil matter in violation of the department’s policy”. (These were unrelated offenses, just to be clear.)

Bad politician! No biscuit!

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

Heh. Heh. Heh. Part I:

The powerful speaker of the New York State Assembly, Sheldon Silver, was arrested on federal corruption charges on Thursday, sending shock waves through the political establishment and upending the new legislative session.

Mr. Silver’s party affiliation is given early in the second paragraph. This bit of trivia is in the fifth paragraph:

The investigation of Mr. Silver began after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in March abruptly shut down an anticorruption commission he had created in 2013.

Mike the Musicologist tipped me off to this story a while back, but I’ve been kind of waiting until something happened with it. Something did. Sort of.

State Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane could face charges of perjury, obstruction, and other crimes in connection with the leak of confidential information to a Philadelphia newspaper in an apparent bid to embarrass her political enemies, according to court documents unsealed Wednesday.

The grand jury has also recommended charges of “false swearing” and “official oppression”. Ms. Kane’s party affiliation shows up in the fourth paragraph. And the newspaper in question is the Daily News (paragraph seven).

The problem here is that the grand jury recommendation is only advisory: the decision on actually filing charges is up to the local district attorney (“Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman”), and I’m not sure what the odds are on that actually happening.

I’m going to drop this in here, even though it doesn’t fit with the “bad politician” theme, because I don’t have a better place to put it. You may be asking yourself, especially in the light of past coverage on this blog, “What does it take to get yourself fired as a cop in Philadelphia?”

Well, we have an answer to that question:

A former Philadelphia police detective will face criminal charges in connection with allegedly driving his girlfriend – a murder suspect – to Upstate New York, then hindering the homicide investigation by lying to detectives who were looking for her, The Inquirer has learned.

Random notes: January 16, 2015.

Friday, January 16th, 2015

I’ve written previously about Al Martinez and the “get the boy his peaches” story.

Recently, some questions were raised about the story over at Romenesko’s site. I didn’t post about this at the time because it didn’t seem link worthy: more “can anybody help me track down the original story” than “it never happened”.

Well, the amazing Larry Harnisch took up the gauntlet and managed to – more or less – track down the original story. Part of the problem seems to be that Al Martinez was working from memory, and apparently combined two stories into one: the dying boy and the peaches did take place, but not at Christmas. But there was another dying boy who craved watermelons at Christmas.

I can say from personal experience that after writing thousands of posts about Los Angeles crime that it’s impossible to remember them all and that the details can erode — which is why newspapers have clip files and why reporters ought to refer to them before writing anything.

Quel fromage!

A Brooklyn man who claimed the police manufactured gun-possession charges against him had his case dismissed on Thursday, amid two investigations into the practices of a group of police officers in the 67th Precinct in East Flatbush.

Random notes: January 15, 2015.

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

Obit watch: Phil Africa, “a high-ranking member of the Philadelphia-based black-liberation group Move”. You may remember MOVE from the 1985 Philadelphia police stand-off and bombing. Phil Africa was not involved in that, as he was already serving time for killing a police officer in the 1978 shootout.

It was unclear why the man was wearing body armor.

I’m just going to take a wild guess here and suggest he was wearing body armor because HE DIDN’T WANT TO GET SHOT!

(Oh, and for the record: both the gun and body armor were stolen from a sheriff’s deputy.)

Neat story:

Archaeologists conducting surveys in Nevada’s Great Basin National Park came upon a gun frozen in time: a .44-40 Winchester rifle manufactured in 1882. It was propped up against a juniper tree.

Some more detail here and here. (Interestingly, at the time I’m writing this, that story is the most-read one on the WP website.)

Obit watch: December 30, 2014.

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

Timothy J. Dowd.

Mr. Dowd was the NYPD detective who led the task force that caught David “Son of Sam” Berkowitz.

This brought a smile to my face:

Ms. Begg [Mr. Dowd’s daughter – DB] said in an interview on Monday that her father had disdained television dramas about the police because they were unrealistic about police work — all except one, she said: “Columbo.” That series, especially popular in the 1970s, starred Peter Falk as an untidy, seemingly distracted detective in Los Angeles who solved cases by poking around in a practiced but random fashion and stumbling in the direction of a solution.
“That’s how it’s done,” she said her father explained to her.

What does it take…

Friday, December 19th, 2014

…to lose your job as a cop?

If you’re the police chief in Phoenix, the answer is “insubordination”. Specifically, calling a press conference and demanding a new contract after the city manager said “Don’t DO that!” seems to be a sure way to get yourself terminated.

If you’re with the Austin Police Department, the answer is “running your mouth to a reporter”. Technically, Andrew Pietrowski “retired”, but it seems like his retirement was just ahead of “being canned by Art Acevedo”.

“Now, stop and think about this. I don’t care who you are. You think about the women’s movement today, [women say] ‘Oh, we want to go [into] combat,’ and then, ‘We want equal pay, and we want this.’ You want to go fight in combat and sit in a foxhole? You go right ahead, but a man can’t hit you in public here? Bulls–t! You act like a whore, you get treated like one!”

The way I read this, it wasn’t like Pietrowski was asked for his opinion; he just walked up to a reporter who was there for another reason and started spouting off.

The Taste of Schadenfreude.

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

From the Austin Chronicle‘s runoff endorsements for District 8:

In October, when we endorsed Scruggs, we noted his bulldog efforts to create a Demo­cratic outpost in Circle C, his attention to thorny issues like global warming and gun control, and his affable leadership style.

Ed Scruggs was also one of the people who lobbied the Travis County Commissioners not to renew the contract for gun shows at the Expo Center.

How did that work out for you, Ed?

ed

Oooooooh. Not so well.

By way of Overlawyered, here’s an Orange County Register article on the Costa Mesa PI case, which I wrote about a few days ago.

I was not aware that the law firm had shut down; that’s a good first start, but nothing in the article indicates that any of the lawyers involved have been forced to surrender their licenses.

Even after the phony DUI report, as the union attempted to distance itself form its former law firm – Lackie, Dammeier, McGill & Ethir – and the P.I.’s records show that money continued to flow from the union to the law firm to investigators.
The affidavit shows that even after the union said it fired its law firm, after word of the DUI setup got out, the union continued to pay its elevated retainer rate of $4,500 per quarter to the firm as late as January 2013. Lanzillo and Impola were paid by the law firm through January, as well.

Another thing I’m curious about: why does the Costa Mesa Police Department continue to exist? At this point, given that the department is clearly out of control to the point where they’re threatening politicians, wouldn’t it be better to disband them, fire everyone, and let the county sheriff’s department patrol Costa Mesa until they can build a new department from the ground up?

(Of course, this being California, many of the crooked cops from Costa Mesa will probably end up with jobs in the sheriff’s department or other cities in the area.)

Bad boys and losers: December 12, 2014.

Friday, December 12th, 2014

Woohoo!

Two private investigators accused of tailing an Orange County councilman with a GPS device and setting up another by calling in a false drunk driving report were charged Thursday with false imprisonment and conspiracy to commit a crime, the district attorney’s office said.

The PIs were working for a law firm that represented “more than 120 public safety unions”, including the Costa Mesa Police Association. I’m hoping that they roll, and that this ends with jail sentences and disbarment.

Philadelphia is currently 2-19. However, that might not be bad enough:

In two games on Friday, the four bottom-feeders of the [Atlantic] division will face off. The 4-20 Knicks will face the 7-13 Celtics, and the 2-19 76ers will face the 8-12 Nets. The good news is that the four teams, which enter with a combined record of 21-64, will by default improve their combined winning percentage. The bad news is that fans will be asked to watch games in which one could argue that no one is trying to win.

Has the NYPD been fabricating gun cases?

Each gun was found in a plastic bag or a handkerchief, with no traces of the suspect’s fingerprints. Prosecutors and the police did not mention a confidential informer until months after the arrests. None of the informers have come forward, even when defense lawyers and judges have requested they appear in court.

But what would be their motivation?

… a group of officers invents criminal informers, and may be motivated to make false arrests to help satisfy department goals or quotas. They also question whether the police are collecting the $1,000 rewards offered to informers from Operation Gun Stop, especially in cases where the informers never materialize.

NYPD officers faking information to collect money from Operation Gun Stop? That’s unheard of!

Steve Adler.

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

We have our first response on the Art Acevedo question, from the Steve Adler campaign.

Since I didn’t state I would be publishing the replies here in my original email, I don’t feel comfortable doing so now. But I can summarize: as you might have guessed, it was the usual politician glurge.

  • The City Council doesn’t hire or fire the police chief, the city manager does. (Perhaps so, Steve, but if the city council says they want the chief gone, I’m pretty sure the city manager takes notice.)
  • Police officers need to be held accountable. (Also, apple pie and motherhood are good things.)
  • “…we need to work diligently to improvement relations between them and the public”.
  • Gratuitous Ferguson reference.
  • Steve Adler has spent much of his life fighting discrimination as a civil rights lawyer yadda yadda yadda.

Not very satisfying.

Random notes: December 9, 2014.

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

I’ve emailed the two candidates in my Austin council district and the two that are running for mayor, inquiring about their positions on Art Acevedo. So far, I have not received an answer from any of them.

As a Libertarian, I am generally opposed to foreign military intervention, absent a direct threat to the United States. I am not convinced that it is our job to impose democracy on foreign countries.

However, if we are going to overthrow a totalitarian regime and bring about democracy, can we start here?

Obit watch: Ernest Brace. He was a civilian pilot working for the CIA in Vietnam; in 1965 he was captured by the enemy and spent nearly eight years in North Vietnamese prisons. John McCain was in the cell next to him.

I sent this to Weer’d for the “Gun Death” files, but it seems worthy of note here: Japanese “Black Widow”.

According to the police and news media reports, Mr. Kakehi was just one of six outwardly healthy elderly men who died abruptly over the last eight years after marrying or starting romantic relationships with Ms. Kakehi.

Anyone want to guess what she didn’t use to (allegedly) kill these men? Anyone? Bueller?

Also among the dead: Nathaniel Branden, “writer Ayn Rand’s former devotee, lover and intellectual heir”. I know this is a few days old, but I’ve been waiting for an obituary to be published in a reputable source that I’m willing to link to. (Edited to add: NYT obit.)

Jonathan Yardley has retired from the WP. His last piece was published this past weekend.

I wanted to make note of his retirement here because I liked Yardley’s writing very much. In particular, he was responsible for one of my favorite things ever done by a book critic: “Second Reading”, where he went back and reconsidered books he’d previously read. And he wasn’t a snob: he’d go back and re-read a classic like “Gatsby”, but he also covered Hunter S. Thompson, John D. MacDonald, Josephine Tey, and Charles Willeford. There is a very good book, Second Reading, that collects about half of these columns; the other half are available in various places on the web, or you can search the WP website. (I think the Post’s tagging of Yardley’s columns is a bit inconsistent, though.)

God bless you, Mr. Yardley. May you enjoy your retirement. And if you’re reading this and happen to find someone whose work you enjoy as much as MacDonald’s, would you drop me a line?

We could fly a helicopter, nothing left to talk about.

Friday, December 5th, 2014

Hey, speaking of Chief Acevedo and the Austin Police Department, were you saying to yourself, “Self, I wonder if the APD got any of that sweet military surplus gear, like snow pants and snow shoes?”

The answer? $2,170,190.24 worth. Including a helicopter.

apd

Also, 13 “RIFLE,7.62 MILLIMETER”. Not that I’m complaining; I own one, so why shouldn’t the APD?

Also, this is just the Austin Police Department. The Austin Community College Police Department, which is a separate entity, got some stuff too. Nothing flashy, though. The Bastrop PD got $93,180.88 worth, including 10 “RIFLE,5.56 MILLIMETER”. The Buda PD numbers look a little odd: they are reported as getting 13 “RIFLE,5.56 MILLIMETER” with a total value of $1,560 (that’s $120 per rifle; you can’t even buy a Mosin-Nagant for $120 these days) and 3 “PISTOL,CALIBER .45,AUTOMATIC” valued at $176.13 (that’s $58.71 per; I’ll buy .45 automatic pistols at $58.71 all damn day. As long as they have a serviceable frame, I don’t care if they fire out of the box; they can be gunsmithed into working guns. It’d be a good learning experience.)

One more: the Lakeway PD got 30 of those “PISTOL,CALIBER .45,AUTOMATIC” (same price per as above) and two “RIFLE,7.62 MILLIMETER” ($138 per) for a total of $2,037.30.

And why does the Leander PD need a “MINE RESISTANT VEHICLE”?

If you’re wondering about your own municipal police department or other law enforcement agency, here’s the database I drew all this from (scroll to the bottom to search).

Hattip: Popehat on the Twitter.

(Subject line hattip.)

Art (Acevedo), damn it! watch. (#Q of a series)

Friday, December 5th, 2014

Lawrence sent me a link this morning with the subject “Just go to town on this”. I see that several other folks have already.

Here’s the Statesman version:

Acevedo asked the public to be alert and to keep their eyes peeled for people who are known to be well armed and espouse extremist beliefs.
“And that’s why it’s important for us as Americans to know our neighbors, know our families — tell somebody,” he said. “If you know somebody that is acting with a lot of hatred towards any particular group — especially if it’s somebody you know is a gun enthusiast or is armed with these type of firearms and they’re showing any kind of propensity for hatred — it doesn’t mean we’re going to take them to jail, but we might want to vet these people.”

Mmmmmmmhmmmm. I could point out that anyone who purchases their firearm from a licensed dealer (roughly 80% to 90% of transactions) has already been “vetted”. I could point out that Larry Steven McQuilliams also set several fires, and that a plastic container of gasoline can be more devastating than any assault weapon. I could ask what Chief Art means by a “propensity for hatred”, or how many officers he’s going to assign to vetting people. (Here’s a hint, Chief: you’re probably going to want to start by vetting every single employee of Dell. That may be a slight exaggeration, but when I worked there, pretty much everyone in Enterprise Technical Support owned serious firepower of one sort or another.) Or I could just quote Greg Campbell:

Our civil rights are not to blame for violence and we should not feel compelled to inform on our neighbors like a modern day Stasi.

If I really felt mean, I’d point out that you’re probably in more danger from the Austin PD than any “extremist”, especially if you’re black.

But let me single out one thing I haven’t seen anybody else jump on:

And on Monday at the same press conference, he urged for people to consider supporting laws that would make illegal “straw purchasers” that help put guns into the hands of criminals.

Wow. Just…wow. Dear Chief Acevedo:

“Straw purchases” are already illegal, you fucking moron.

Perhaps if you bought your own ammunition, you would have seen one of these posters at your local gun shop. Or WalMart. Or Academy. Or maybe you could listen to NPR.

But apparently our chief does none of these things.

The city council runoff elections are a few days away. I’m going to make a point of asking the candidates in my district if they support keeping Chief Acevedo in his position. And I plan to vote appropriately.