Posts Tagged ‘corruption’

Oh Johnny, oh Johnny, oh!

Posted: January 30, 2013 by tysonnesdoly in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Officer John (Johnny) Poland, with the South Lake Tahoe police department, has been arrested and charged with five counts of witness tampering after a three year joint investigation with the FBI (Swankie, 2013). This kind of headline is, unfortunately, becoming all too common. It is alleged that Poland had engaged in sexual activities with underage students of a high school while he was working as a school resource officer in 2006 (Roxas & Chhuon, 2013).

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In the years following, it is alleged that Poland had instructed several individuals to lie to investigators and dispose of, or manipulate evidence that had been revealed during department briefings that Poland had attended. Also, Poland was observed interacting with a known gang member’s girlfriend in ways that were ‘questionable’, while the gang member was the subject of investigation. He was recorded warning the woman there is a FBI investigation and “if there is anything f***ing bad on your phone, go ahead and delete it” (Campion, 2013). When situations like this arise, the how and whys seem impossible to determine and explore in a narrower focus.

Watch the News 10 video on this case for more details.

In Maurice Punch’s text “Police Corruption: Deviance, accountability and reform in policing”, he outlines several different typologies of police deviance and corruption. Punch combines his typologies with those of the Knapp Commission and Barker and Roebuck. There are three categories that cover the causes of deviance, ‘externally driven,’ which is any outside influence such as political pressure or control, ‘within the police domain,’ which includes behaviours like ‘grass eating’ and ‘meat eating’, and finally ‘system failure,’ which blames the institution or justice system as a whole. The typology that best describes the case of John Poland is the category of ‘Meat-eating: predatory (strategic) corruption,’ which is categorized ‘within the police domain’. This typology describes a police officer who actively and aggressively pursues illegal activities for personal gains. Meaning, this type of officer would affiliate with organized crime groups and even commit criminal acts themselves, such as, extortion, ‘testilying’, thefts, assaults and even murder. The use of this typology in this case is important because it offers explanations that go behind the crimes and into the mind of the offending officer. It rules out excuses such as, ‘it was just a one off mistake’ which attempts to belittle the prior intent.  This helps us see that Poland is, in fact, a predator of the vulnerable operating within a police organization. Poland is calculated and proactive in intimidating his victims and committing crimes. Interestingly, before this investigation, Poland was fired for misconduct during his years at the high school and fought the decision in court to get his job back and won (Jensen, 2009).

Now, because of the work done by Punch, the Knapp Commission, and Barker and Roebuck, we can begin to understand the causes of police corruption. And, more specifically, how officers like John Poland have become text-book examples of  ‘meat-eaters’ operating within police forces around the world today.

Further readings on this story can be found on the references below.

Campion, C. (2013). US District Court Document. Retrieved from News 10: http://www.news10.net/assetpool/documents/130123071054_TahoeCop.pdf/

Jensen, A. (2009). Johnny Be Good: South Lake Tahoe Police Officer Johnny Poland will return to work. Retrieved from Tahoe Daily Tribune: http://www.tahoedailytribune.com/article/20091029/NEWS/910299984/

Roxas, G., & Chhuon, S. (2013). South Lake Tahoe Police officer accused of witness tampering arrested. Retrieved from News 10: http://www.news10.net/news/article/226489/2/South-Lake-Tahoe-Police-officer-accused-of-witness-tampering-arrested

Swankie, G. (2013). South Lake Tahoe Police Officer Arrested . Retrieved from FBI: http://www.fbi.gov/sacramento/press-releases/2013/south-lake-tahoe-police-officer-arrested/view

The Central Field Command drug squad, Team 3, squad officers accused of beating and robbing suspects of drugs and large sums of money. after doing so they are accused of falisfying official police records to cover up their wrong doings. The charges against John Schertzer, Ned Maodus, Joe Miched, Ray Pollard and Steve Correia date back to the late 1990s. The offenses range from conspiracy to obstruct justice, to theft, assault, perjury and extortion.  The investigation started in 1997 and has gone through the courts and a verdict was handed, and there is an appeal in the process.

RCMP Chief Superintendent John Neily, handed in his final report to chief Julian Fantino, who was Toronto’s police chief until 2005, In it, he wrote that the task force had found evidence of a “crime spree” by “rogue officers.” He then went on to say “that the real victim, while initially portrayed to be drug dealers who may have lost cash, was indeed the justice system and the police service because by means of the courts, affidavits, search warrants and so on were being utilized as tools for the potential gain of the suspects,” who were all police officers. (CBC)

Throughout the investigation, the much of the information and evidence collected was circumstantial and that many of those who say they were robbed would not be reliable witnesses even if they were willing to come forward at all.

  • Allegations that members of Toronto Central Field Command’s drug squad beat up informants, stole money from drug dealers, gave false testimony, falsified documents and faked search warrants.
  • Allegations that Toronto 52 Division’s plainclothes officers demanded cash from bars in the entertainment district in exchange for protection.
  • Allegations of an improper relationship between some officers and luxury car-leasing salesman and convicted criminal Jeffrey Geller, who died in 2004.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/torontopolice/index-old.html

This is a clear form of corruption. First engaging in criminal activity and using their trust from the public and also using authority for personal gains. This falls right into the conventional definition of Corruption – An officer knowingly doing or not doing something against his or her duty for some form of financial or material gain or promise of such gain.

According to the Typology 1 –  from the The Knapp Commission (1972) this fits right into the model of Mister average, which is described as being an officer who is laidback about the rules and have the idea that “Don’t fill out form. We can bend some rules.” this become dangerous very fast. an officer choosing to fill out certain incident reports and forms can easily make an investigators job extremely difficult. by not leaving a paper trail, it is hard to prosecute and understand what happened. this is a major challenge prosecutors are dealing with in this case. These “Crusaders” saw an opportunity and used it for their own gain.

In the second typology which deal with the categories of practice, we see that the officers are using a clear Corruption of Authority. By using their authority they  are getting  personal gain by virtue of their own powers. this includes using their job tools in order to conduct business and find drug dealers and isolate business opportunities for themselves.One of the most apperant categories of practice in the second typology would have to be Opportunistic Theft which is stealing from crooks. This was exactly what the police officers did. Beating up drug dealers and crooks and taking their profit and drugs in order to sell it them selves. The officers used excessive force, unlawful searches and seizures, and theft of cash and valuables which fits right into the typologies we have discussed thus far. The officers also used The Fix, which is when evidence is sabotaged, key witnesses are made unavailable. This also fits into one of the first typologies of Corruption of authority.

In the third Category of typologies, ‘externally driven’ is most prominent. We see that the squad enforces the law when it is convenient to their own personal gain. The officers made sure that the enemies are crushed and they are not opposed in any way.

These types of typologies only scratch the surface of what is currently going on in our policing system throughout the world. only corruption rings are brought to light when the officers slip up or when an agency makes it public. we must be open to the fact that there are many more cases such as this that occur and are far more complex that involve many officers. Though they are sworn to protect and serve us, we must also effectively watch and investigate them of them doing their job correctly and within a code of conduct.

References:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/story/2013/01/04/toronto-police-officers-sentencing.html

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/story/2012/01/13/police-corruption-trial.html

Corruption time line:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/story/2012/01/13/police-corruption-trial.html#timeline

Police Corruption “is a specific form of police misconduct designed to obtain financial benefits, other personal gain, or career advancement for a police officer or officers in exchange for not pursuing, or selectively pursuing, an investigation or arrest.”  In order to find recent examples of police deviance I went online and I searched newspaper articles. One that caught my attention involved five former members of the Toronto Drug Squad who were sentenced to only 45 days of house arrest after the lengthy trial and investigation.

This investigation took over 15 years and cost over 12 million dollars before this case came to a conclusion. There is a time line of what occurred prior to case which can be seen. The initial charges included conspiracy, assault, extortion, and theft. They were all found to be guilty of obstruction of justice because they covered up entering the apartment of a heroin dealer without a warrant and three out of five officers were also convicted of perjury.

There were a series of events, which led up to this case. It started initially from 1992-1997, when 16 complaints were launched against one of the officers for “assaultive conduct“. The police public complaint bureau completed investigations for how a few of the officers arrested and detained two individuals. As the years passed there were several other issues, which came up that, had to be investigated. One of those was that the officers had searched the apartment of a heroin dealer without a warrant. In their notes they added that they had obtained a warrant when this was not the case. The dealer stated that over $2000 had been taken from him but the court dismissed this claim. These officers lied to the courts so it could be possible that they did take the money, however, it was never proven. With the evidence that was given the only charges that went through were perjury and obstruction of justice.

Looking at the first typology in evaluating the officers they had nothing to gain from searching the apartment without a warrant. The only thing they got out of it was a much quicker search, which became invalid without having a warrant. There were complaints launched against one of the officers for assaultive conduct. These officers also abused their power by making false notes, which obstructed justice. These officers can be seen as meat eaters, as they abused the power they had.

When looking at the second typology we can see this example as being “the fix.” The courts were lied to in order to make the outcome how the officers wanted. They were not honest, in their police notes they wrote down that they had warrants when really they did not.

Finally since they all went in on this together they all were corrupt and lying to the justice system as a collective. They falsified their notes and abused the power that they had. There are other allegations as well however; those cannot be proved 100% such as taking money from the heroin dealer’s apartment. However, if they lied to the courts about having a warrant before entering they may have lied about many other things as well.

References

CBC NEWS. (2013, January 4). Toronto police officers get house arrest for corruptionRetrieved January 20, 2013, from CBC News:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/story/2013/01/04/toronto-police-officers-sentencing.html

Mackenzie, P. (2013, January 4). Timeline of the police corruption case: 15 years to a sentence. Retrieved January 20, 2013, from thestar.com:  

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/crime/article/1310869–timeline-of-the-police-corruption-case-15-years-to-a-sentence

Payday in Zimbabwe

Posted: January 22, 2013 by prodigypenn in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

One contemporary example of police corruption comes all the way from Zimbabwe. Two police officers, Pearson Manwell and Kudakwahe Bere, were arrested for making a negotiation with drug dealers. A gang of drug dealers were transporting 2400 kg of mbanje (marijuana) worth 240,000 US dollars. The police officers had caught the drug dealers and then asked for 30,000 US dollars.

I think it would be best to begin dissecting the two officers from the broadest of the three typologies, the third typology. The third typology is based on levels of police deviance; the levels expand all the way from the system failure of the entire institution to corruption within the police domain. In this case the corruption is from within the police domain as it involves only the two police officers. Manwell and Bere would be classified as conventional corrupt police officers. Conventional corruption is a more serious form of corrupt practices such as the bribery used in this case.

To break this down further we can look at the first of the three typologies. According to the typology of officers, these two police officers are considered to be meat-eaters. Based on the Knapp Commission Testimony, meat-eaters are the type of people who make arrangements with criminals for personal gain. 30,000 US dollars is quite large amount money. Considering that the officers were capable of carrying out a deviant act of this magnitude it would be safe to assume that this is not the first time these officers have been involved in corrupt and deviant activities. This may be a result of a corrupt police department where these officers were told that this was the “operational code” of the department as these officers were brought to justice by forces outside of the department. This assumption cannot be confirmed without further evidence and investigation however it is one way we could attempt to understand the situation.

Based on the typology of practices, shakedowns clearly define what these corrupted police officers did. According to Barker and Roebuck, shakedowns are when a person gains from not following through on a criminal violation like an arrest. These officers were asking for 30000 US in exchange for letting the drug dealers go without penalty. The two were simply looking for a bribe in exchange for turning a blind eye. This is the most classic example of a shakedown, bribery which is such a blunt form of corruption is one of the first things that comes to mind when asked for examples of corruption. After identifying what the officers have done, the question quickly becomes why?

When considering why the police officers did what they did many people can come up with many different explanations for what took place. Aside from the obvious financial incentive why did the officers act in such a way? Sociologically speaking it could have been a number of things happening. Bere could have been in some financial trouble and due to the wages with policing he could not make ends meet which is why he purposed the bribery. Manwell could have been hesitant at the time considering that the fact that a split of 30,000 didn’t sound all that bad for letting people go just one time and when Bere took the lead he just went with what was going on. This is just one way we could look at this rather than the latter which would probably be that both officers are corrupt and evil and have always been that way and will always be that way regardless of the circumstances.

References

http://allafrica.com/stories/201301220359.html

As I read the assignment guidelines, I figured it would be extremely difficult to find a recent case of police corruption. Contrary to my belief, the first search I entered into Google brought me to the case of an Edmonton police officer named Derek Whitson. Whitson, a seven-year veteran, is currently being charged with four charges including deceit and corruption for interfering with documents in his brother, Joell Whitson’s, drunk driving case.

Corruption can be described as the abuse of authority, oath of office, and suspects and citizens. Immediately, it is clear that the category of corruption Whitson has committed is “Flaking and Padding.” This involves manipulating files or evidence for personal gain and could also include adding to evidence to increase the penalty an individual receives. In this particular case, it is clear that Derek Whitson was attempting to minimize the level of impairment of his brother in the notes in the hopes that he received a lesser charge or even acquittal. Derek Whitson has also used his authority in a corruptive manner, another one of the typologies discussed in “Police Corruption” by Maurice Punch.

Typology 3 involves the level of police deviance and corruption committed by an individual. Because an internal complaint from within his unit was received, it is evident that this is not a system failure which involves an entire organization in crisis; however, the corruption does occur within the police domain. This involves police interfering with the administration of justice. When the original officer on scene was taking notes, he was administering justice. By tampering with notes about the severity of Joell’s intoxication level, Derek knew that his brother would either be acquitted of receive a lesser charge.

In typology 1, we are introduced to the various forms typologies for officers. Among these are two that fit particularly well with this case, the first being “meat-eaters.” A meat-eater is someone who participates in illegal activity and abuses their power for self-gain. Although manipulating notes is not directly benefitting Derek, I’m sure he would slightly benefit from the fact that his brother no longer needs to serve time or pay large fines. The second typology is an “innovator and number-cruncher.” These are individuals who look for loopholes and technicalities. Having a brother who is able to tamper with records is quite the loophole is you ask me.

The various typologies are quite confusing at first glance. When I first searched for classes to join, I had no clue this one was being offered. What was most shocking to me was that the problem of police deviance is becoming a colossal problem not only in third world countries but countries like Canada. Realizing a problem like police corruption is large enough to have a whole class dedicated to it highlights how drastically this, once small, problem is growing. As human beings, we are instinctively required to look out for others, especially loved ones. In this particular case, one man was willing to put his job on the line to protect his brother. But where do we draw the line?  How far are we willing to go to help others?

REFERENCES

http://www.edmontonjournal.com/news/Edmonton+police+officer+faces+corruption+charges/7786655/story.html