Archive for January, 2013

Position as an Officer Used for Corrupt Practices

Posted: January 29, 2013 by urbanhermit1 in Uncategorized

Police deviance and corruption can occur in a number of facets and to various degrees involving a multitude of activities or practices. Some police agents (known as grass-eaters) engage in corrupt practice through passive means – accepting free or discounted goods and services as well as other extras viewed to simply be ‘perks’ of the job. Others, however, adopt a more active approach to corruption, proactively seeking out opportunities to engage in deviant practices (meat-eaters). Still others (birds) refrain from taking part in any deviant practices, but are aware of the presence of corruption and turn a blind eye to it.

It has been purported that such ‘grass-eating’ practices act as a stepping stone for officers to segue into more active approaches of deviance and in turn more serious forms of corruption. While a line may be drawn by ‘grass-eaters’ initially as to how far they will participate in deviant practices, it is argued that this line may be continually re-drawn by some pushing further into the ‘meat-eater’ territory.

In the instance of allegations of criminal activity against Surrey RCMP Constable David Clarke, this ‘meat-eater’ officer typology is apparent. In late December of 2010 Const. Clarke along with two other RCMP Constables were charged with a number of drug and weapons offences. In October 2010, upon receiving a complaint from a member of the public, the RCMP launched an investigation into the activities of Clarke and others. The investigation came to a close with three RCMP officers being criminally charges, most notably Const. Clarke who had 15 charges laid against him.

The umpteen charges against the RCMP officer included drug trafficking, theft of police property, possession of stolen property (including marijuana and identification documents), breach of trust, and possession of numerous illegal and restricted weapons. In this incident of corruption the officer used his position as a police authority to accumulate illicit narcotics and weaponry actively seeking to engage in criminal activities. As is indicated by the charges against Clarke, opportunistic theft of marijuana and numerous weapons occurred from police lockups, some of these stolen goods then being used to engage directly in criminal activities (drug trafficking).

The corrupt practices which occurred in this instance appear to be largely within the police domain. This type of deviance was pro-actively sought out by the officers involved for personal gain. Passive ‘grass-eating’ is not apparent in this situation nor were the officers flying above and disengaged from deviant practices.

References:

Cop Facing 15 Charges Also Named in Civil Lawsuit. (December 23, 2010). CTV News. Retrieved from http://bc.ctvnews.ca

Punch, Maurice. (2011). Police Corruption: Deviance, Accountability and Reform in Policing. New York, USA: Routledge.

Surrey RCMP Officer Facing Drug, Weapons Charges. (December 21, 2010). CBC News. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca

Police Accountability Stuck in Legal Limbo

Posted: January 29, 2013 by rachellelouden in Uncategorized

The Special Investigations Unit (SIT) of the Toronto Police serves the purpose of investigating serious incidents that occur between the police and the public. These interactions which are brought to the SIT’s attention are ones which involve death, serious injury, or sexual assault. Unlike the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) which receives complaints made by civilians, but has no power to discipline the officers who are found to have inappropriately acted, the SIT does have the authority to lay charges in serious allegations based on their investigations. This unit is a very effective method of enforcing measures of accountability for a police force as they serve as an agent to whom the police may be obliged to inform and justify their actions to, as well as, they have authority to impose consequences for inappropriate behaviour.

Although the SIT would seem as though it would be an adequate mean of creating accountability, based on an event that occurred which involved allegations of police brutality against a civilian, it may not create enough transparency of police actions.

The SIU was forced to close an investigation because of a lack of communication existing between the Toronto Police, OIPRD and the SIU. The investigation regarded Tyrone Phillips who alleged that he was brutally beaten during his arrest outside of a nightclub. He filed a complaint with the OIPRD, and an SIU investigation into the incident was opened (Gillis, 2013). What lead to the Investigation’s demise was that the police were withholding essential information regarding the incident, disallowing the complaint to be successfully investigated.

The Toronto Police state they do not have to the right to release information to the SIU; however, Peter Rosenthal, University of Toronto law professor, states that the Toronto police do have a statutory duty to provide their cooperation, and are required to disclose relevant information. This leaves the investigation stuck into a legal limbo between policies.

The question here is based around the uncertainty of whether the Toronto Police are obliged to inform. If they are and they are not disclosing the information, could it be a result of police culture? Perhaps the rule of silence (Punch, 2009) is prevalent within the force and there is a blue wall which is used to establish lack of transparency and conceal the incident from being investigated. That is not discredit the force by saying that there is definitely an established rule of silence, as it may be a result of actual confusion of policies amongst the three parties involved, it is merely a suggestion of what may have occurred that resulted in the SIU being unable to adequately investigate the complaint.

References

Punch, M. (2009). Police corruption: Deviance, accountability and reform in policing. New York, NY: Routledge.

Wendy Gillis, (2013, January 2) Public spat between Toronto police, SIU after police brutality complaint Retrieved from http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/1309667–public-spat-between-toronto-police-siu-after-police-brutality-complaint

On May 8, 2012, an article from the New York Times revealed that a group of Baltimore police officers were involved in a scheme to obtain money by leading the accident victims to the Majestic Body Shop in exchange for money. The officers have been running this scheme for about two years when an officer name Jhonn S. Corona made a deal with the owners of the shop, Hernan Mereno Mejia and Edwin Mejia. When an accident occurs, the police were suppose to call for medallion tow trucks that are authorized by the city, but instead they call the Mejia brothers who send non-medallion trucks. The reason why they initiated this plan is because it is simple and easy to earn money. As the scheme progressed from time to time, the numbers of officers involved increased as Jhonn recruited officers and the recruited officers recruited more. According to the case, there were about 59 officers involved in the scandal. Some of the officers would go to a point where they create an “accident” by damaging the cars and then leading them to the body shop. When the plan was compromised because of FBI investigations and a complaint from a towing company employee, the brothers and Jhonn pleaded guilty at the trial and received a sentence of 2 and half years along with about 30 officers.

According to Knapp Commissioner, there are three different types of typologies of police corruption. The first typology explains the types of officer, the second typology explains the categories/classification, and the third typology explains the level of deviance. In the first typology there are three different types of officers which are the grass-eaters, meat-eaters, and the birds. The grass-eaters are the officers who “did not look for graft or kickbacks but passively accepted them as natural perks that were spontaneously on offer” (Punch, 2009). The meat-eaters are the deviant officers who “set out to make deals either of mutual benefit to the parties involved or in aggressive forms of extortion” (Punch, 2009). The birds are the officers who do not want to get involved with the corruption, but at the same time do not do anything about it. If the typologies were to be applied to the group of officers in the Majestic Body Shop case, the officer would be meat-eaters because they were working with another party (the Meija brothers) and both benefit from the corruption. In the second typology there are 9 different categories. They are corruption of authority, kickbacks, opportunistic theft, shakedowns, protection of illegal activities, the fix, direct criminal activities, internal pay-off, and flaking & padding. The category that would fit for the Baltimore officers would be the kickbacks because kickbacks “gain for referring business to particular firms” (Punch, 2009). The final typology has three different levels: externally driven, within the police domain, and system failure. The Baltimore police corruption would be in the ‘within the police’ level under the category ‘volume or conventional corruption’, which is a “wider range of more serious practices such as bribery, kickbacks, and shakedowns” (Punch, 2009), because the scheme is involved with officers with kickbacks.

References:

Punch, M. (2009). Police corruption: Deviance, accountability and reform in policing. Cullompton, Devon: Willan Publishing.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/09/us/baltimore-police-corruption-case-tests-commissioner.html

http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2011-02-23/news/bs-md-towing-corruption-20110223_1_edwin-javier-mejia-majestic-auto-repair-shop-medallion-towers

http://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2011/02/23/baltimore-police-officers-arrested-as-part-of-federal-investigation/

Camden NJ $3.5 Million Lawsuit Against the City

Posted: January 29, 2013 by kbell7 in Uncategorized

Police deviance is defined as an officer knowingly doing or not doing something that is against his or her duty for some form of financial or material gain or promise of such gain (Punch, 2009). A great example of police deviance is the Camden, New Jersey $3.5 million lawsuit filed against the city on behalf of 88 individuals who were convicted and served a combined sentence of 108 years. 5 police officers, 3 of which plead guilty, 1 found guilty (convicted by a jury) and 1  acquitted, were all involved in the planting of evidence, tampering with reports and evidence and committing perjury. The class action lawsuit resulted in a $3.5 million settlement for 87 of the 88 individuals who were convicted and each spent roughly just over 14 months in jail. The settlement will net a profit of roughly $40, 229 for each of the victims of this crime. The police officers have still to be sentenced (sentencing is scheduled for October 2013) but currently the maximum penalty is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.  3 of the 5 officers have openly admitted to a variety of illegal acts which can be  found on the Gloucester County Times website.

Although there has been much speculation without any real answer as to why these police officers would commit these crimes to begin with, it has been suggested that 4 of the officers openly committed these crimes without the approval of their superiors, for personal and professional gain as well as a laundry list of other possible reasons. Although it is difficult to explain the profile of the 1 officer acquitted, for the 4 others they can be profiled and placed into multiple categories including the meat eaters category which are defined as individuals who take advantage of a position for self gain . Although there may be internal corruption, which is always a possibility, it appears as if these police officers acted alone and consulted very few in order to commit these crimes.

As for the type of corruption, it is difficult to place these officers into one category. I believe they would fit into at least 3, possibly even 4 of the types of corruption. For example,3 of the officers openly admitted to engaging in misconduct for a gain which would place those officers into the kickback category. They also admitted to using their powers in a variety of situations which would further categorize them into opportunistic. They had also sabotaged, tampered and added evidence into cases which would have resulted, if the corruption had not been identified, in these officers possibly moving up the ranks in their units. The types of corruption can be identified as the fix and internal pay-off.

Relating the 2 typologies listed previously, it is extremely difficult to identify the sources of the corruption and deviance.  The profiles of these officers and reasons for committing the crimes can be placed into all three sources of deviance which are: external drive, within the domain and system failure. External drive can relate to stress outside of the work environment, either from family, friends or pressure put on the officers from within the state, possibly the unit leaders in each division or higher up in the chain. Relating to the police domain, the corruption is identified from within the force but how far into the force is impossible to know. Typically in these types of cases, it is only ever acknowledge that the lower ranking officers committed the crimes, while it is possible and most likely that the higher ranking officers and possibly even members outside the unit or force entirely began the overall corruption. This becomes a possibility because of the large amount of cases these officers were involved in that resulted in either a guilty plea or a guilty verdict. Moving beyond the scope of these officers, like I said previously  it becomes a possibility other individuals could have been involved including the chief and prosecution. Both would end up receiving acknowledgement, professional and financial gain without a discussion leaking that they were possibly the co-conspirators. The corruption can also be identified as a system failure, which was further expressed in the ACLU article above. Because it took many years for the department to acknowledge the corruption, these officers were able to continue on and do as they please without any repercussions until now. Hopefully this will set the tone for future officers who wish to partake in illegal activity without the fear of repercussions.

References:

Punch, M. (2009). Police Corruption: Deviance, Accountability and Reform in Policing. New York, NY: Routledge.

American Civil Liberties Union (January 10, 2013). Camden Agrees to Pay $3.5M Victims of Police Corruption. Retrieved from  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2013/01/10/camden-nj-agrees-to-pay-3-5-million-to-87-plaintiffs-over-wrongful-arrest-claims/

Latest News (January 10, 2013). Camden, NJ Agrees to Pay $3.5 Million to 87 Plaintiffs Over Wrongful Arrest Claims. Retrieved from http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2013/01/10/camden-nj-agrees-to-pay-3-5-million-to-87-plaintiffs-over-wrongful-arrest-claims/

Gloucester County Times (June 29, 2010). Former Camden police officer admits planting evidence, preparing false report. Retrieved from http://www.nj.com/camden/index.ssf/2010/06/former_camden_police_officer_a.html

Sex while undercover

Posted: January 29, 2013 by gambini7 in Uncategorized

In August 2006, a group of UK police officers were conducting some undercover work. There was a protest going on in North Yorkshire and some under cover police officers were assigned to infiltrate the group. After a couple years, it was found out that some police officers, while undercover, slept with the protesters. The sexual partners of the under cover police have come together and are seeking damages because of their personal embarrassment. There has been no clear answer of whether this should be allowed within the police force. Met Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe believes that “It certainly should not be part of the strategy to do that while conducting police work” (The Guardian,2013). If sleeping with an individual while undercover is deemed illegal, its just another way for groups to figure out if someone is a police officer or not.

For typology one from the Knapp commission, I consider these undercover police officers to be grass eaters. Grass eaters are officers that “did not look for graft or kickbacks but passively accepted them as natural perks that were spontaneously on offer” (Punch,2009). I’ m assuming that they did not go out looking to sleep with the protesters but the opportunity arose and they just took what was given to them. Sleeping with the protesters is just a perk of the trade.

There are two police officer profiles that I believe can fit this article. Mr/ms average are people who are willing to bend a couple rules and are pretty laid back. These undercover officers fit this because they are willing to bend a couple rules, even if not criminal rules but internal police force rules. Sleeping with the protesters is not an illegal act but may be frowned upon within the police organization. Dirty Harry’s may fit these officers as well. A dirty harry is someone who is incorruptible but is willing to do whatever it takes to get the bad guy. It may be a stretch, but the police officers may have slept with the protesters just to get more information on what was going on and what the goals of the protest were.

For Typology two, these police officers could be using corruption of authority and kickback. Corruption of authority means that an officer receives gifts or services for free because of his authority. Sleeping with the protesters being spied on may be a form of service that these officers are taking advantage of due to their profession. Kickback means that I do something for you and you do something for me. The police officers may be have been involved with some form of give and take with the protesters. The protestors may be sleeping with the undercover officers and receiving something in return.

Typology three falls within the police domain and police institution failure. The undercover officers are classified as grass eaters who may have seen the sex as a freebie. Receiving freebies is not a criminal offense but is a form of deviance. Police institution failure means that the deviance is largely confined within the police organization. In this case, the acts of the undercover officers solely resides within the police organization and is the origin of the problem. The police organization never had rules about sex while undercover. This situation had never come up before and people within the criminal justice system have mixed opinions on what should be done about it.

Reference

Paul Lewis, Rob Evans (2013, January 17). Police spies court case suggest sexual relations with activists were routine. The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/jan/17/spies-sexual-relations-activists-routine

Punch, M. (2009). Police corruption: Deviance, accountability and reform in policing. Cullompton, Devon: Willan Publishing.

Ready, Set, Neglect!

Posted: January 29, 2013 by wrighter12 in RCMP Accountability and Oversight

In a recent article produced by CBC News, some disturbing statistics were released in regards to police misconduct by our national police force, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Although these statistics were seemingly impossible to request for and took a hefty amount of time to obtain, CBC News finally received their request after four long years. How could such a simple request take four years to be answered, especially by the agency representing our country?

A mere request for basic data ultimately turned into an investigation about how the RCMP was collecting their data about police misconduct, if they were doing any at all. A request for data on police misconduct between 2005 and 2008 took four years to collect after the files had to be created from scratch. One might think, “Hey isn’t the RCMP in charge of collecting data on crime across Canada?” This would be completely correct, yet a simple request for data within their own organization becomes troublesome to locate without having to create it from the beginning. Walter Kostekyj, an individual with prior experience as an RCMP officer said “It tells you there’s a serious problem in management”, and he continued to say “How would they measure their training? How would they measure who they’re selecting to be a police officer if they’re not keeping track of who it is they’re having problems with?” This also raises questions regarding which regions had the most misconduct by police? Which areas did the most severe forms of misconduct take place, as well as the least severe forms, and which officers were committing these acts? While these questions were left unanswered by the RCMP’s report, they did however provide the basic information about counts of police misconduct which can be found at:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2013/01/13/bc-rcmp-failed-to-track-mountie-misconduct.html

Another interesting and highly recommended page to view which takes a look at a list of internal allegations of the RCMP can be found at:

https://fusiontables.googleusercontent.com/fusiontables/embedviz?viz=GVIZ&t=TABLE&containerId=gviz_canvas&q=select+col0,+col1,+col2+from+1BK5KcWmvML7O_4ViyYXeVkEWKJzcF5MfZUfQI-Y

In regards to the three-level typology of police corruption as outlined in Maurice Punch’s text “Police Corruption”, the following article depicts different areas of these typologies surrounding the RCMP. Under the first typology by The Knapp Commission (1972), the term “Birds” could be used to describe the actions that took place because the fact that the RCMP neglected to keep tabs on police misconduct shows that many decided to ignore this and not report it until an outside organization decided to look at it, flying above the mess and not looking down at it. Looking at the second typology by Barker and Roebuck, the activities of the officers involved in the police misconduct fits under the category of “direct criminal activities” due to the fact that some forms of the misconduct would be a crime for any individual to do. A statement by Abe Townsend, who is a long time serving member of the force, read “members are being held accountable. Even when they’re off duty, officers are still subject to the code of conduct”. Finally within the third typology based on the levels of police deviance, one may argue the term “system failure” because the entire system lacks accountability with no way to hold individuals accountable if no statistics are being collected throughout the years. However, this may fit that part of the definition but does not fulfill the other portion which requires the entire system to be in crisis. From my view, I believe the level of police deviance to be externally driven, due to the pressure being exerted on the force by communities, regions, and Canada as a whole to uphold the high status of the national police force. This in turn may have directly or indirectly caused the lack of statistics regarding police misconduct by the RCMP.

References:

Punch, M. (2009). Police corruption: Deviance, accountability and reform in policing. Cullompton, Devon: Willan Publishing.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2013/01/13/bc-rcmp-failed-to-track-mountie-misconduct.html

In the case of NYPD officer Gilberto Valle and his partner Van Hise , I have found several typologies in which had lead both officers into court, with the FBI involved.

The Knapp Commission is known for having three distinct categories to describe the different classes of police officer corruption. In June 1970, Federal Judge Whitman Knapp began to do an investigation on the NYPD and concluded that there were police officers were breaking the law themselves for personal gain. He found out that police officers were unethical and instead of enforcing they law, officers would allow people to break the law, as long as the officers gained some sort of compensation or gain.

On January 24, 2013, an article was published in the Daily Mail in New York in which NYPD officer Gilberto Valle was nicknamed “Cannibal Cop”. Valle, a 28 year old officer was engaging in online chats with an individual whose user name was “Moody Blue” about how human flesh tasted and was planning how to prepare his next victim. Valle was debating on whether he wanted to put his targeted victim into the oven and baking her or cooking her on an open fire to extend her suffering. He had also been researching chemical formulas in which he could easily overtake his victims and kidnap them.

Gilberto Valle’s wife had found months of chats online in which Valle was engaged in fantasies of eating woman and children therefore she notified the FBI. Not only was Gilberto Valle charged with is charged with plotting to kidnap, torture, cook and eat at least 100 women and prosecutors, but his partner , Michael Van Hise also had charges laid against him. Hise was accused of trying to hire Valle for kidnapping a specific woman that he wanted to rape and kill. Hise was also taken to court because he was planning to use his stepdaughter as his personal sex slave, while sending pictures of his nieces online, offering them up for rape.

Maurice Punch separates police deviance into three categories; grass eaters, meat eaters and birds. Grass eaters are characterized as people who may accept bribes if given, but do not ask for them. The second category, meat eater, is when officers know of crimes being committed but do not penalize the individual as long as they make a cut from the funds. One example of this would be someone burning dvd’s and selling them in mass amounts. Although piracy is illegal, if the officer knows the individual is making a lot of money illegally, he may allow him or her to continue as long as the officer will receive a percentage every week.

I believe Valle would fit into is the meat eater category. This type of officer is one who takes advantage of their job and allows people to commit crimes as long as the officer gains money or materials. He allowed his online friend to continuously speak about the woman and children he claimed to be eating.

Along with the Knapp Comission, Barker and Roebuck created a list of eight ways police officers put their policing skills into practice. The one that stands out the most to me on Barker and Roebuck’s list is called “direct criminal activities”. This is when officers themselves, commit criminal activities. Valle allowed his online friend to engage in conversations which included kidnapping, raping, torturing and eating women and children. Not only did Valle allow his friend to speak about it, but Valle also engaged in planning to kill women using the police data base as a source to scope out victims. This is an example of Valle agreeing to commit a crime instead of stopping it. Along with committing direct criminal activities, Valle would also fall under the category of protecting illegal activities simply due to the fact that he had full knowledge that “Moody Blues” was constantly bragging about kidnapping and eating children, yet did not intend to arrest “ Moody Blues”. The prosecutor in this case, Mr. Randall Jackson, stated that Van Hise told an FBI agent that “he and Valle were ‘serious’ about their plans to kidnap and rape a woman “

Below is a direct quote from the conversations given to the court that the FBI had found on Valle’s computer. The FBI also found lists of women’s names under files saved as “Abducting and Killing ( victim name) : blue print.

“If we get someone..and we finish the meat early, would you go for another?’ wrote ‘Moody Blues’.

‘Yeah. think we would have to give it time though,’ replies Valle

‘Why? Go for a completely different type. I’d love to eat another child,’ countered ‘Moody Blues.’

Valle abused his power of authority as a police officer by looking up victims in the National Crime Database and accessing their confidential information. He targeted specific woman According to the court reports “Two of them claim to have been ‘stalked in an intimidating way’ by the police officer, who served in Harlem for six years”.

This case sets a good example of being a meat eater, because Valle did not arrest and charge “Moody Blues”, instead he gained a partner in which he could commit crimes with. He benefited from having “Moody Blues” around. It also shows that police are only human and sometimes make bad decisions, such as engaging in criminal activities themselves. Both Valle and Hise plead not guilty. The case will be heard in February.

ReferencesPunch, M. (2009). Police corruption: Deviance, accountability and reform in policing. Cullompton, Devon: Willan Publishing.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2236192/Wife-Gilberto-Valle–Cannibal-cop-accused-plotting-kidnap-wanted-girl-meat-Thanksgiving-dinner.html

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/mind-accused-cannibal-article-1.1192701