Archive for the ‘Constabulary’ Category

Constabulary: Shoot First, Ask — Oops!

Friday, December 11th, 2009

Oklahoma, like a number of Wild West states, has a “stand your ground” law that permits homeowners (or homesteaders) to use whatever force they think necessary to defend their property against intruders — violent intruders, anyway. So Donna Jackson, 57, is not going to be charged for killing Billy Reilly, 53, after Reilly broke down a door and entered her house, while she was on the phone with a police dispatcher.

Jackson: “Oh ma’am, I shot him.”

Dispatcher: “It’s OK ma’am. It’s OK.” 

The real problem with this scenario — not a Wild West type of problem, though — is that we’ll never know why Billy Reilly broke into a house that was lit up like a Christmas tree so that he could see Ms Jackson on the phone.

Since the Oklahoma law was enacted, a number of alternatives to lethal weapons have been developed for these situations. Time for a re-think? (via  The Awl)

Constabulary: Coed

Friday, December 4th, 2009

This is what comes of letting women be policemen.

In her lawsuit, Hayes claims she was raped in April while on assignment near Pittsburgh as part of a 49-member State Police detail sent to honor three city police officers killed in a shootout.

According to Hayes, her boss, Lt. Thomas King, 50, got her drunk, waited for her to pass out then somehow obtained a copy of her hotel room key and assaulted her in her room.

Her attorney said Hayes, who is married, became pregnant as a result and knew the baby was King’s because she only had protected sex with her husband. She later had an abortion.

We’re kidding! But how would a police lieutenant somehow obtain a copy of a room key?


The Eileen Brennan part of the story (so to speak) is fresher, at least.

The suit contends that at the academy, Sgt. Christine Shalcross once grabbed Hayes’s necktie so hard that the clasp broke off. She said Shalcross also demeaned her by calling her “peanut” and drawing on her face with a black permanent marker. After graduation, Hayes said Shalcross, 43, whispered in Hayes’ ear and kissed her on the cheek.

It does not appear that Sgt Shalcross is a defendant.

Constabulary: Virtual No Comment

Friday, November 27th, 2009

Windermere Chief of Police Daniel Sayler sounds like a very discreet kind of guy. Explaining why Elin Nordegren Woods was “frantic, upset,” Chief Sayler observed,

It was her husband laying on the ground.

Having paused to wonder if Tiger Woods was dabbling in midnight road repair (laying asphalt, perhaps), we proceed to Chief Sayler’s exhaustive description of the damage sustained by the golfer’s vehicle.

…not real extensive, but not real light.

In other news, a man suspected of robbing a store in Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey, has been apprehended in New York State. No, it hasn’t got anything to do with anything, but we didn’t believe that there’s a town called Ho-Ho-Kus, either, until we chanced to drive through it.

Constabulary: "Police lie. It's part of their job."

Friday, November 20th, 2009

From a training manual written by retired prosecutor Val Van Brocklin:

Police lie. It’s part of their job. They lie to suspects and others in hopes of obtaining evidence. These investigative lies cover a wide web of deception – a web that can get tangled. Some investigative lies are legal, some are not, and some generate significant disagreement amongst courts, prosecutors, the public and officers themselves.

We’re big boys, so we’re not going to pretend that this is outrageous. What’s outrageous is the little quote that ends Mr Van Brocklin’s summary of a murder trial of a man named Miller that was complicated by a lot of helpful mendacity on the investigating officers’ part.

Miller appealed his conviction. A 3-judge state appellate court unanimously reversed the conviction. Based on the same facts, they ruled the detective engaged in deceptive coercion that shocked the conscience and violated due process.

End of story? Not yet. The state supreme court reinstated the conviction – but only by the hair’s breadth of a 4:3 split decision. After that, Miller took his appeal through federal district court and the United States Supreme Court, and had his conviction affirmed on procedural grounds with neither federal court addressing whether the police conduct was unlawfully deceptive.

The moral of this agonizingly long story? Courts are judges, judges are lawyers, and

You can’t get two lawyers to agree to kill a rat in a bathtub. – Karl S. Johnstone, Superior Court Judge, Retired.

We believe that open contempt for judges and lawyers has no place in a training manual. More than that, though, we’re disturbed by the writer’s disregard for standards of judicial impartiality that have, as it happens, been developed largely as an protective antidote to the thuggish, band-of-brothers mentality that Mr Van Brocklin undisparagingly imputes to police officers. (Officer; via reddit)

Constabulary: Chinese Handcuff

Friday, November 13th, 2009

It’s hrd to tell who’s the dense one here: the Chinese police or Joshua Keating. Beijing vendors have been told to take T-shirts that show Barack Obama as a Red Guard off the shelves. Are they afraid that a fad will be kindled? Who knows. Chinese bureaucrats stay fresh by throwing their weight around. Mr Keating, in contrast, reads into the ban a tender concern for the feelings of our president.

Also, while I understand that the authorities are anxious not to offend Obama on his high-profile visit, I have a feeling that the president’s seen way more ridiculous images of himself if he’s ever looked out the window of his limo on Pennsylvania Avenue. 

Surely the Chinese authorities know that, were Mr Obama to see kids wearing the shirt, he’d grin and perhaps even say, xing nan! (FP; via  The Morning News)

Constabulary: Details, details

Friday, November 6th, 2009

This week’s report involves a very seedy offense — a policeman viewing child pornography while on duty, on the computer located in the station’s evidence room (and not just viewing it, apparently) — but what caught our attention was the news item’s failure to specify just how the infraction was discovered.

Although Ryan Hutton’s reporrting is full of damning evidence against Officer Alan Vigiard, it neglects to nail down the truly interesting details, which have nothing to do with pornography or distinctive scars and everything to do with — one imagines — carelessness, and perhaps even multitasking.

Police Chief Donald Poirot and the State Police Berkshire Detective Unit began investigating after a folder containing 153 images of child pornography was copied onto CDs with evidence for a larceny case and sent to the Berkshire County district attorney’s office, according to court documents.

One would like to know more about this apparent goof-up. Did Officer Vigiard copy the 153 images onto a CD? If so, why? And who recorded the video clip, presumably taken from the evidence room’s security monitor? Screenwriters will want to know!

Constabulary: Overstepping

Friday, October 30th, 2009

Big fish in small ponds are easily lulled into forgetting that they are not actually living in ponds. This week, in Stockton, Utah:

A traffic stop involving a young officer and the son of a small-town mayor has the whole town talking. The mayor of Stockton tried to fire the officer for issuing his son a ticket.

Inevitably, the story was picked up by Salt Lake TV. So that now we and you know about what was surely intended to remain a small-town affair.

Democracy would proceed in a far more orderly fashion if only the childless could hold elective office.

Constabulary: Watch out for well-meaning men of zeal

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

That’s a quote from Louis Brandeis that we ought to keep in mind when evaluating the LAPD’s new iWATCH initiative.

The inconvenience of the correct way of doing things parallels that of democracy. Just as it would be much easier to put an effective (and benevolent) dictator in charge of things, so it would be fantastic to collect everybody’s reports of suspicious behavior.  

It’s taking people a long time to realize that there are no procedures for running a humanist society — only a handful of very clear prohibitions. Encouraging civilians to denounce each other is one of them. (via reddit)

Constabulary: La Publicité!

Friday, October 16th, 2009

Atlantic City Councilman (and Baptist minister) Eugene Robinson is all Mr Civic Pride boosterish, as his rationalization for giving a young lady a ride to her hotel shows.

“At first I kept saying, ‘No, no, no,’ ” Robinson testified. “But then I thought, If you send a tourist away angry, they’ll tell people not to come to Atlantic City. I don’t think she would have been able to convince me if I wasn’t so tired.”

The lady in question, however, was a prostitute, hired to frame the councilman.

There’s an abstinence angle to this story — and it does sound like an angle — that, if we were cruel and nasty tabloid journalists, we could exploit in order to misconstrue the following:

Though he has not asserted a cause-and-effect relationship, Robinson’s health took a drastic turn for the worse after the existence of the sex video became known. He now lives in a nursing home and was wheeled into court in a wheelchair before the jury arrived, a blanket covering his legs.

Constabulary: Smokin'

Friday, October 9th, 2009

Don’t worry about marijuana use complicating your business with the fine sheriffs of Florida.

St. Johns County, Florida   — A 20-year-old man has been arrested for misusing 911.

Deputies say Michael Kruse of Jacksonville initially called 911 because he felt sick on June 21st.

The call went into the 911 call center in St. Johns County.

Kruse’s speech was slurred and the dispatcher had difficulty understanding him.

Dispatch: “Are you sure you haven’t taken something sir? Because you’re not making a whole lot of sense.”

Caller: “I’ve been smoking marijuana.”

Dispatch: “You’ve been smoking marijuana?”

Caller: “Yes.”

Dispatch: “Do you want a deputy to come and take you to jail?”

Caller: “Why?”

Dispatch: “You just told me on a taped line you just got done smoking marijuana.”

Caller: “Awww. Are you serious?”

Sgt. Chuck Mulligan, spokesman with the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, said deputies located Kruse, took him to a family member, and gave him a stern lecture about 911.

Hours later on June 22nd, Kruse called 911 again. This time he was driving on I-95. He told the dispatcher he wanted a police escort to see the rapper, Lil Wayne, in concert in Miami.

Dispatch: “You want a police escort to take you to Miami?”

Caller: “Or, you have a helicopter?”

Dispatch: “We don’t just send helicopters up for rappers.”

Caller: “Well, I’m driving there right now. I just wanted the fastest way to get there. I didn’t want to get pulled over on the highway.”

We know: the source looks bogus. But the reporting is vintage blotter. We’re serious.

Constabulary: Opportunity

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

There are a few pearls in this story about a tax collector who collected taxes on a personal basis. Being American and all, we love opportunity.

Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor James Santulli said he was “gratified that the judge has remanded [Mikesell] to jail and has given him the opportunity to make restitution.”

And we also love the use of the verb “to fail.” It probably wasn’t the failure that Marlon Mikesell was worried about.

Authorities say that Mikesell received property tax payments that residents made in cash, handed them handwritten receipts, and then failed to enter the transaction in the computer system the borough used to track payments. The scheme netted him about $196,000 and was carried out between August 2006 and March 2007, they said.

Also: “scheme.” We love “schemes.” They’re so complicated!

Constabulary: Gamblin' Man

Friday, September 25th, 2009

In 2007, a police sergeant over in New Jersey pleaded guilty to a charge of running a gambling hall. His request to withdraw that plea, and to take the case to trial, has just been rejected by a judge. The croupier cop’s extenuating circumstances left hizzoner unmoved.

Winstock told the judge on Thursday, as he has in the past, that his wife threatened to leave him if he didn’t plead guilty, and that he believed when he did, he would receive one year probation. The judge bristled, noting that the plea agreement called for no set period of probation and up to 364 days in the county jail, which Winstock never got.

“I agonized whether I would place a person who had been a public servant, apparently a good one, and place him in an environment which would be hostile to him,” Ahto said to Winstock, in explaining why he elected not to impose time behind bars.

Winstock said he appreciated that he wasn’t sent to jail but that he now wanted the chance to tell a jury his side of the story.

Don’t miss the comments! If it had been a ring of black laborers, you can bet that the drift of the comments would have been different.

Constabulary: Rattled

Friday, September 18th, 2009

You have to admire the quiet, understated way in which Hoboken police dealt with reports that a man was brandishing a gun on his front stoop.

After the man was arrested, Hoboken police and the Jersey City police Emergency Services Unit searched the man’s house and back yard, Fitzsimmons said.

They found “a number of rifles and shotguns,” Fitzsimmons said, adding that as many as 30 were found in an initial search. “The search continues at the moment,” he said.

“There were a few hand grenades that had no powder in them, no pin,” Fitzsimmons said. The discovery of the grenades and several vintage weapons led police to believe that the man may be a collector.

Police evacuated the houses on either side of the gunman’s home as a precaution, but Fitzsimmons said it did not appear that neighbors were in immediate danger. Police officers closed the block to vehicle and foot traffic and notified nearby schools, including the Hoboken Charter School at 4th and Garden streets, the Brandt Middle School at 9th and Garden streets and Demarest High School, at 4th Street and Bloomfield Avenue, Dawn Zimmer, the city’s acting mayor, said Friday.

Neighbors and area merchants said the incident left them rattled.

Sometimes it seems as though cops just like the way they do things.

Constabulary: Planned in Advance

Friday, September 11th, 2009

A routine training exercise in the Potomac River this morning — “planned in advance” by the Coast Guard — “took on a life of its own.” Just another Friday as usual, right?

The president’s motorcade had just crossed the Potomac, on its way back to the White House after a ceremony at the Pentagon honoring those who died there, when chatter on a marine radio channel used by the Coast Guard and monitored by the media told of shots being fired on the river.

No shots were actually fired in Friday’s training exercise that appears to have been routine in everything except for the date on which it was conducted. But while the confusion lasted only a few minutes, it was enough to scramble F.B.I. agents and halt departures from Reagan National Airport near the river from 10:08 a.m. until 10:30, Diane Spitaliere, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration, told The Associated Press.

Much of the confusion seemed to have been stirred by reports on CNN, based on the radio chatter. Anyone listening to the marine frequency heard simulated instructions to fire 10 rounds at suspicious boats in the river. By the time it became clear that there actually were no shots and no suspicious boats, the confusion had taken on a life of its own, however brief.

Time to watch Idiocracy again.

Constabulary: Fire Chief Shot By Police — In Court

Friday, September 4th, 2009

Jericho, Arkansas — which, with 174 inhabitants, is no longer the cotton hub that it used to be — is the ideal spot for committing felonies that do not involve automobiles. The zealous seven-man police force spends all of its time pulling drivers over and writing traffic tickets. Fire Chief Dan Payne finally had enough.

It was anger over traffic tickets that brought Payne to city hall last week, said his lawyer, Randy Fishman. After Payne failed to get a traffic ticket dismissed on Aug. 27, police gave Payne or his son another ticket that day. Payne, 39, returned to court to vent his anger to Judge Tonya Alexander, Fishman said.

It’s unclear exactly what happened next, but Martin said an argument between Payne and the seven police officers who attended the hearing apparently escalated to a scuffle, ending when an officer shot Payne from behind.

Doctors in Memphis, Tenn., removed a .40-caliber bullet from Payne’s hip bone, Martin said. Another officer suffered a grazing wound to his finger from the bullet.

The big question, of course, is where the proceeds of all those fines has gone. The town recently missed payments on official vehicles. D’you think that Judge Tonya knows? (via MetaFilter)