Tag Archives: mass

Police Issue Important Warning About Men Challenging Passers-By to Rap Battles

Earlier this week, the police in Charlton Massachusetts issued a stern warning to residents that they should be on the lookout for groups of men roaming the city and challenging random strangers to rap battles.

In a breathless all points bulletin that was later released to the media and then the general public, a dispatcher warned officers that the men were likely armed with dope rhymes and possibly concealing phat beats that they could brandish at any moment. (That’s how I’m assuming it happened.)

Via WRGB 6 News:

Charlton police told WCVB-TV that a black SUV containing a group of men in their late teens or early 20s pulled up next to three teenage boys Saturday afternoon.

One of the men got out of the vehicle and started rapping. The other men then asked the teens if they wanted to “spit some bars” with them. When the boys declined, the men drove off.

Further details were provided by the Boston Globe:

“With something of this nature we don’t know the specific intent,” said Sergeant Gary Mason. “It could be that they just wanted to just do some freestyle rapping, but one of the concerns is that one of the occupants had exited the vehicle and asked if they wanted to come in to spit some bars.”

The people who tried to incite the “rap battle” have not yet been found, Mason said.

Police said the behavior was “suspicious” and “frightening” to the boys, but it did not appear to be an attempted abduction. Regardless, the department said it will take the complaint seriously “until proven otherwise.”

The incident prompted police to inform the public, see if any agencies had similar incidents, and encourage residents to come forward with helpful information, Mason said.

Some people might question why the police would be bothering to carry out what appears to be a low level manhunt for some guys that probably just watched “8 Mile” a few too many times (instead of using whatever resources were involved to test all those backlogged rape kits or something crazy like that). I would tell those people to be quiet and not ruin this for me.

As much as some people don’t often take the threat of drive-by rap battles seriously, there is obviously historical examples of the danger this type of urban unrest can represent. In the most well known and infamous instance, the East Coast vs. West Coast Hip Hop Wars ultimately resulted in the murders of Tupac Shakur of Death Row Records and Biggie Smalls of Bad Boy Records.

In a related incident in 2004, a group of unsuspecting young boys from Colorado got “served” by some children from a different town. When the father of one of the boys subsequently attempted to intercede on their behalf, things escalated profoundly. When all was said and done, he ended up in the hospital with what doctors described as “the worst case of having been served they had ever witnessed.”

Nor is this type of danger restricted to the United States. In a tragic incident during the “Dance, Dance Revolucion” of 2006 (not to be confused with the Dance, Dance Revolution of 2015), a young Cuban teen, who appeared to have a very bright future ahead of him, was defeated by Fidel Castro himself in a very competitive electronic dance-off. In a display of ruthlessness that often accompanies such competitions in Communist countries, the dictator then publicly executed the young man without mercy.

These type of music-based domestic terror threats are obviously nothing to be taken lightly. The police in Charlton are wisely advising everyone to be on the safe side and reminding the public that if you see something, you should spit something. Not since the Scary Anarchist Halloween Plot of 2015 has this level of fear swept through the country.

East vs. West Rap Battle

Gloucester Police Department’s “Angel Program” Sends Drug Addicts To Rehab, Not Prison

The following post was submitted to the CopBlock Network by Isiah Holmes, who has been featured several times previously on Cop Block, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page. In this post, Isiah discusses a program recently started by Gloucester Massachusetts Police Chief Leonard Campanello in which, rather than treating drug abuse as a criminal issue, it’s treated as a disease requiring treatment.

(Note: The Gloucester Police Department’s new drug program was also discussed by Deo in an earlier post published in August of last year, as well as by Dylan Donnelly in a post published in May of last year. While both the previous posts address the same topic, they were written at different time frames relative to the start of the “Angel Program” and contain different perspectives from each author.)

In The World Anew

“You cannot solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it. You must learn to see the world anew.”

No one can deny the profound reservoirs of foresight Albert Einstein surely utilized to conjure those words. In order to evolve our understanding, we must first break the rigid behavioral or ideological loop which has brought us here. No modern SNAFU is more relevant to this phenomenon than the drug war, and its human cost. It’s a war with “soldiers”, aka our police force, who no longer agree with their own method–find them all, arrest them all. In 2015, however, one Massachusetts department found breaking operational standards was worth pulling it’s heroin ravaged community back from the brink.

Massachusetts police drug addictsGloucester Massachusetts, like a growing percentage of the US, has an overwhelming opioid issue. In fact, according to VICE, the first four months of 2015 saw four local overdose deaths by either heroin or prescription drugs. The deaths, coupled with several other overdose victims who survived, compelled the Gloucester Police Department to mix things up a little. Police Chief Leonard Campanello took to Facebook: “Any addict who walks into the police station with the remainder of their drug equipment or drugs and asks for help will not be charged. Instead,” Campanello continues, “we will walk them through the system toward detox and recovery.” Amazingly, the post’s number of shares–32,000 shares–outnumbers Gloucester’s population of 30,000 people.

The Gloucester PD’s trailblazing initiative, launched June 1st 2015, is formally known as the “Angel Program”. Under the program, VICE reports, Campanello’s officers, upon making contact with a consenting addict, will transport the person to nearby Gilbert Hospital. From there, the patient is assigned an “angel”, according to the Gloucester Times, who then walks them through the rehabilitation process. Also, the Gloucester PD maintains a contingent of volunteers who stay with the patient until an angel arrives. The first patient arrived in Campanello’s station a day after the program was launched. Willfully and peacefully, the 31 year old man arrived at Campanello’s doorstep requesting help.

It didn’t take long for word of the program to start mushrooming across the nation. Out of state rehab centers offered anything they could including, VICE reports, scholarships to help pay for transport and treatment. In spite of all this, true success relies on a non-existent level of trust between the addict and the officers. “Someone has to take the first step”, says Campanello, “that’s all we can do.”

Leonard Campanello Gloucester Police Chief2The chief, aware of relations between cops and non-cops, pointed out that they must “show that we are good to our word.” This can’t happen if even dying addicts frown at the idea of surrendering, with or without drugs, inside the walls of a station. Holding true to Albert Einstein’s old quote, Police Chief Campanello insists his officers have “come to consensus as a department that we’re not going to arrest our way out of the addiction problem.” Campanello later went on record, the Gloucester Times reports, pointing out “the important piece to all of this. For law enforcement to extend a helping hand”, says the chief, “and we’ve started to do that.”

Gloucester PD also made an overdose “antidote” available at local pharmacies without a prescription. According to VICE, the nasal spray–Narcon– is capable of instantly stopping even severe overdoses. Gary Langis, Gloucester resident and harm reduction activist since the 80’s, delivers Narcon door-to-door. “I think it’s a good thing that they’re having this conversation”, says Langis, “and looking at drug users as not a criminal thing, but as people that need a little help.” Langis, like many, expresses doubts that a population which police have historically “marginalized and demonized” is going to be willing to trust them. Landis’s fears may prove valid, as Gloucester officers remain obligated to charge users they get off the street, according to VICE.

It would appear, however, that this particular police department, or at least its leader, is willing to move past this status quo. “Your life”, he says, referring to Gloucester’s addicts, CNN reports, “is more meaningful than your death. Don’t be ashamed of your illness. We are not ashamed of you, it’s time…come and get the help.” Following the Gloucester PD’s empathy fueled leap of faith, towns in 17 other states promptly adopted the Angel Program.

A large component to ending the drug war is, indeed, legalizing marijuana. Another, perhaps, vastly more profound component is caring about the people the war hurts, ruins, or kills. We have to care about one another, and America’s current narcotics policy stands as the antithesis to this end. Now, let’s use the momentum from this small victory as a point of encouragement for municipalities elsewhere to get on board with the revolution.

– Isiah Holmes

Boston Police Sgt’s Defense: My Penis Probably Wasn’t The First One 16 Year Old Girl Saw

Kenneth Anderson, the lawyer for Boston Police Sergeant Edwin Guzman, stated earlier this week that it was okay if his client sent a sixteen year old girl pictures of his penis because: “You can’t tell me someone her age has never seen a picture of a penis on the Internet.” It’s an interesting albeit not very convincing defense to say the least for Sgt. Guzman, who’s facing charges of “annoying and accosting a person of the opposite sex” and “disseminating harmful material to a minor,” but apparently is in talks with prosecutors to resolve the case. It’s not clear what exactly that means, but as you can see below, it probably means Guzman’s gonna have to ice down a sore wrist at some point in the near future.

Via : (Watch the report here)

Sgt. Edwin Guzman is accused of sending sexually explicit Facebook messages to a minor.

Guzman was promoted to sergeant in August 2014, around the same time he allegedly sent the messages to the teenager who says she considered Guzman a family friend and father figure.

“It started off we regularly chat and it’s mostly about school and how life is,” the teenager who was 16 at the time told 5 Investigates’ Mike Beaudet.

But she says the conversations kept escalating from there.

“If I gave him like pleasure and let him do things to me, he’d be willing to buy me things,” she said. “He took a picture of his penis and he sent it to me.”

Guzman was charged in Quincy District Court with sending obscene matter to a minor and accosting and annoying a person of the opposite sex.

The Norfolk District Attorney’s office has confirmed the charges were based on the allegedly explicit messages and picture.

But nearly two years later we’ve learned the more serious charge of sending obscene matter to a minor is expected to be dropped, a charge that carried a potential prison sentence of up to five years.

While officials say they believe the alleged victim’s story and they have the deleted Facebook messages, they’ve been unable to recover the naked photo.

The alleged victim’s mother is upset the case has dragged on for so long, culminating in this setback.

“I think the system’s screwed up,” she said. “I still feel like he came out winning.”

The alleged victim’s mother says the district attorney’s office has told her Guzman had indicated he would plead guilty to the lesser charge, if he avoids jail time so the family is willing to go along, rather than risk a jury finding him not guilty.

“I’d rather have him plead guilty on his own and say he’s guilty of one thing,” said the mother of the alleged victim.

“Do you think this is justice?” asked 5 Investigates’ Beaudet.

“Not at all. It’s a slap on the wrist,” she replied.

Guzman is due in court Friday morning. His lawyer wouldn’t comment on whether a plea deal could be reached by then.

Boston police tell us their internal investigators are monitoring the case and will begin an investigation which will ultimately decide if he gets to keep his job, once the criminal case is resolved.

For now, Guzman remains on paid administrative leave.

That paid vacation Sgt. Guzman has been on has lasted for just under a year and a half. That’s a nice bonus for the former Boston Police Department officer of the year (2012).

Springfield Police “Blindsided” by Retired Officer’s Theft of $385,000 From Evidence Room

Officer Kevin Burnham, who retired as the “senior officer” in the Springfield (Massachusetts) Police Department after 43 years, was exposed as a long time thief during an audit after a new commissioner was hired. Dating back to at least 2009 (it’s not clear from the article if that’s when Burnham’s hands first got sticky or if that’s just as far as they went back), the thefts total over $385,000. For 20 years prior to his retirement, Burnham had been acting as the narcotics evidence officer.

So whenever other cops found an excuse to steal money from people, via drug forfeiture, Senior Officer Burnham would take a little off the top for himself. This reportedly included “piddling amounts” of less than $100, as well as one instance in which he helped himself to almost $108,000.

It only took them six years to catch up to him and that was basically an accident rather than them noticing a shit load of cash walking out the door and bills falling out of Burnham’s pocket anytime he bent over. (The rumor I made up that Burnham’s nickname around the station was “the Rainmaker” hasn’t been confirmed.) The audit “was part of an overall plan to modernize the department, as opposed to a response to any internal rumblings about Burnham.”

Apparently though, Senior Officer Burnham was just a master thief or magician:

Police Commissioner John Barbieri said no other police officers have been implicated in the investigation. It remains a question how one officer could allegedly lift nearly $400,000 in cash under the noses of his supervisors, however.

Another $170,000 went out the window  in order to hire a private firm for the audit. It would have been crazy to have someone keep an eye on the guy accepting all the cash that the department was stealing from other people or maybe count it every once in a while to see if it was still there.

Indictment against Kevin Burnham

Abington Mass. Police Chief Proposed “Friendly” Kidnapping Competition

In the spirit of the holidays, Chief David Majenski of the Abington Police Department, in Massachusetts, sent out an email to “motivate” his officers proposing a “friendly competition” to see who could kidnap the most people within the month of October. The winner was to receive a weekend off in November as a bounty.

Somehow encouraging cops within their city to find any excuse they could to pad their arrest numbers didn’t sit well with the citizens of Abington. Although the competition is supposed to be voluntary according to Chief Majenski, it raised obvious questions about the effect it might have on the perceived objectivity of police officers and the fact that it created a de facto quota system.

Via MyFoxBoston.com:

“They are supposed to be neutral and independent when they are investigating potential criminal wrongdoing,” Krowski said.

The “friendly competition” could also impact something else; the criminal cases that resulted from those arrests.

“It shows a motive, motive and bias against the defendant. A lack of neutrality,” [defense attorney Joseph] Krowski said.

The rumors (that I just started) of another contest Chief Majenski was considering to see which officer could beat up the most minorities in the month of December have yet to be confirmed (it’s probably “voluntary,” also).

Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

Boston Cop Claims It’s Illegal to Film Him Without Informing Him First

This video from the PoliceRecording.com YouTube channel (it’s actually more of an audio recording) shows a traffic stop in Boston. The unidentified officer heard on the video notices the passenger is recording with his cell phone. He then very incorrectly states that it is illegal to do so without informing him that he is being filmed. This traffic stop obviously took place in public view. As everyone who regularly reads this site is well aware, it is therefore perfectly legal (and very much recommended) to film this police officer during the course of his duties.

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The original description included with the video:

Location: Washington St. Boston, MA
Date: September 18th, 2015, at approx. 1:15 am.

Sadly, I didn’t get the officer’s name or badge number.
Let’s just call him Officer Twat.

Rough officer description:
Black male, mid 30s to mid 40s, smelled like bacon. Drove an SUV-type vehicle.

Officer was accompanied by a white male/partner who behaved reasonably well (he never opened his mouth and gave me a good impression, overall). I commend him for it.

General video description:
My brother gets pulled over for speeding. This is NOT in the video recording, but he initially asks the cop, “May I ask why I’m being stopped?” At this point, the officer gives a rude and condescending answer, “If you would just let me do my job. Just let me do my job.” (You REALLY had to be there to catch the ugly tone.)

Sarcasm: Sorry for asking a basic and perfectly legitimate question, officer [facepalm].

The cop then walks back to his car with my brother’s license and registration. Three minutes later, he comes back and soon realizes I was (gasp!) recording the incident.

The Boston police officer gets offended because of being video-recorded. He insists I have to let him know beforehand.

In other words, the poor guy thinks I have to get his approval. Sorry, but I’m not your wife.

Other useful information, for the hell of it:

Quote from the Boston.com article, How a Boston Case Won You the Right to Record Police: “Massachusetts is a ‘two party consent’ state, which means it’s illegal to record audio without the knowledge and permission of the person you are recording — unless, as we’ll see, that person is a government official in a public space.”

For the record:

Boston drivers: Beware of Officer Twat. He clearly seems mentally unstable and gets agitated easily.

Recording Police CopBlock

Everyone else: Always video-record the police, no matter how mundane the situation may be. You never know when they might go batshit crazy and violate your rights.

Get a video streaming app such as Bambuser.

Q&A:

  • Q: You never recorded the cop’s face!
    A: I wanted to protect the driver’s identity. As a result, the focus remained on the dashboard.
  • Q: That sounds awfully hypocritical. What about respecting the officer’s wishes?
    A: In the end, citizens have the right to videotape (or avoid) whomever we choose. I was merely exercising those rights. Deal with it.
  • Q: Why is the driver so apologetic?
    A: Who knows. Maybe he wanted to defuse the situation (the wrong way, mind you). He even apologized for asking why he was being stopped earlier (which he shouldn’t have).
  • Q: I’m a cop. How can I reduce the chances of ever landing on YouTube?
    A: Let’s put it this way: The more you complain about being videotaped, the more you’re going to end up all over the internet. If you simply ignore the camera, then there’s nothing special about the encounter — thus the video wouldn’t go online.

NEVER, EVER complain about being videotaped; you’re only shooting yourselves in the foot.

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Worcester Excessive Force Lawsuit Claims Two Officers Beat Innocent Man

A lawsuit filed by Edwin Vega-Santiago claims two Worcester, MS police officers attacked him without warning and without any real justification. In the suit, Vega-Santiago states he was standing on a street corner with a friend and his girlfriend when a police car pulled up next to him and, without even saying anything, Detectives Michael Ryder and James Guittar began assaulting him.

After being slammed against the patrol car and punched several times, including twice in the groin, Vega-Santiago was knocked to the ground and his head hit the pavement. Vega-Santiago, who is an epileptic, then had a seizure. Det. Ryder can be scene in a video recorded by a witness jabbing him in the face with a baton as he has the seizure, even though they claimed in their police report that they never took their batons out during the incident.

Even though he was not arrested or charged with any crime, police also claim in their report that Vega-Santiago and the others in his group were trespassing at the time. In addition, they state that he didn’t actually have a seizure, but was just faking it because “he didn’t want to go to jail” and had “spontaneously gone to the ground and started having seizures.” However after noticing his medical alert band, which identifies him as an epileptic, they took him to the hospital.

According to Vega-Santiago’s girlfriend, when Ryder was jabbing him with his baton he called him “a scumbag piece of shit junkie.” After which, Det. Guittar told her to leave or she would go to jail and called her a “Puerto Rican [expletive].”

The lawsuit also states that the Worcester Police Department has a long history of police brutality and not holding police accountable for that brutality:
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The complaint, filed by Vega’s attorney Hector Piniero, alleges that the city and police department have a history of not investigating when officers use force against citizens.

“The defendants City of Worcester and Gemme routinely failed to substantively investigate cases of persons getting hurt by the police, even if victims complained,” the complaint reads.

The complaint also notes that there are currently 14 open civil rights cases against the Worcester Police Department and specifically references the recent charges brought against Officer Michael Motyka for allegedly beating a shackled prisoner and making alleged racist comments.

Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston