Tag Archives: Negligence

Police Wife Writes About the “Secret Epidemic” of Police Domestic Violence

This post was originally published at the “Ms. Magazine” blog in October of 2015 by and (who was married to a police officer for 20 years) under the original title “Police Wife: The Secret Epidemic of Police Domestic Violence.” (See below for their full biographies.)

Domestic violence takes place in up to a staggering 40 percent of law enforcement families, but police departments mostly ignore the problem or let it slide, write ex-police wife Susanna Hope and award-winning investigative journalist Alex Roslin in their new book, Police Wife: The Secret Epidemic of Police Domestic Violence. The following excerpt is adapted from their book, available on Amazon or as an eBook from their website, and is being published as part of the Ms. Blog’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month series.

According to Alex Roslin, “Police Wife” itself has more than 60 pages of appendices giving advice and resources to survivors, family and friends plus recommendations for advocates, police, governments, journalists and researchers.

In order to help survivors and others, they’ve made virtually all of the appendices available for free through their website. Here is the direct link to this extended free excerpt.

The propensity for police to abuse their wives, children, and other family members is, of course, no secret among people who read CopBlock.org. It’s rare that more than a few days go by without a report of a cop having committed domestic violence and several CopBlock Network Contributors have posted about the increased risk that entails marrying or having the bad fortune to be the child of a cop. Obviously, the habitual efforts of Good Cops to cover up the crimes of those Bad Apples, is also a large factor in its commonality.

Police Wife: The Secret Epidemic of Police Domestic Violence

In 2009, in Utica, New York, police Investigator Joseph Longo Jr. killed his estranged wife, Kristin Palumbo-Longo, stabbing her more than a dozen times in their home, then stabbed himself to death. One of the couple’s four children discovered the horrifying scene on coming home from school that afternoon.

Police Officer Cop BlockUtica’s then-Police Chief Daniel LaBella said the killing was completely unexpected—an incident “no one could have prevented or predicted.” But Kristin’s family filed a $100-million wrongful-death suit saying city and police officials didn’t do enough about Longo’s troubling behavior before the tragedy.

Kristin had contacted police at least five times in the weeks before she was murdered, saying she feared her husband might kill her and their kids, but police supervisors discouraged her from making reports or seeking a protection order, the lawsuit said. In a preliminary ruling, a federal judge agreed that the police actions may have “enhanced the danger to Kristin and amounted to deliberate indifference.” The city settled the suit in 2013, paying the couple’s children $2 million.

The murder wasn’t an isolated tragedy. It was unusual only because it was so public and so bloody. A staggering amount of domestic violence rages behind the walls of cops’ homes, while most police departments do little about it. In the vast majority of cases, cops who hurt a family member do so in utter secrecy, while their victims live in desperate isolation with very little hope of help. Research shows:

  • An astonishing 40 percent of cops acknowledged in one U.S. survey that they were violent with their spouse or children in the previous six months.
  • A second survey had remarkably similar results—40 percent of officers admitted there was violence in their relationship in the previous year. The abuse rate for cops is up to 15 times higher than among the public.
  • Police discipline is startlingly lax. The LAPD disciplines cops with a sustained domestic violence complaint less strictly than those who lie or get in an off-duty fight. In the Puerto Rico Police Department, 86 percent of cops remained on active duty even after two or more arrests for domestic violence.

It seems incredible that a crime wave of such magnitude and far-reaching social ramifications could be so unknown to the public and yet at the same time an open secret in a mostly indifferent law enforcement community. It is surely one of the most surreal crime epidemics ever—at once disavowed, generalized and virtually unchecked.

Aptly summing up the bizarre disconnect, retired Lieutenant Detective Mark Wynn of the Nashville Metropolitan Police Department in Tennessee told PBS in a 2013 story on the issue: “What’s amazing to me is we’re having this conversation at all. I mean, could you imagine us sitting here talking about this and saying, how do you feel about officers using crack before they go to work, or how do you feel about the officer who every once in a while just robs a bank, or every once in a while decides to go in and steal a car from a dealership? We wouldn’t have this conversation. Why is it that we’ve taken violence against women and separated that from other crimes?”

Domestic violence is bad enough for any woman to deal with. Shelters, many of them chronically underfunded, regularly turn away abused women because they’re full, while only about one in four incidents in the wider population ever get reported to police. Hundreds of U.S. communities have adopted “nuisance property” laws that encourage police to pressure landlords to evict tenants who repeatedly call 911 over domestic abuse, further dissuading victims from seeking help.

But abuse at home is far worse for the wife or girlfriend of a cop. Who will she call—911? What if a coworker or friend of her husband responds? Police officers are trained in the use of physical force and know how to hurt someone without leaving a trace. They have guns and often bring them home. And if a cop’s wife runs, where will she hide? He usually knows where the women’s shelters are. Some shelter staff admit they are powerless to protect an abused police spouse. Her abuser may have training and tools to track her web use, phone calls and travels to find out if she is researching how to get help or, if she has fled, where she went.

In the rare case where the woman works up the nerve to complain, the police department and justice system often victimize her again. She must take on the infamous blue wall of silence—the strict unwritten code of cops protecting each other in investigations. The police have a name for it—extending “professional courtesy.” In the words of Anthony Bouza, a one-time commander in the New York Police Department and former police chief of Minneapolis, “The Mafia never enforced its code of blood-sworn omerta with the ferocity, efficacy and enthusiasm the police bring to the Blue Code of Silence.”

It all adds up to the police having a de facto licence to abuse their spouses and children. And it’s a worldwide phenomenon that police families struggle with everywhere from Montreal to Los Angeles, Puerto Rico, the U.K., Australia and South Africa.

The torrent of abuse is virtually unknown to the public, but without realizing it, we all pay a steep price. Domestic violence is the single most common reason the public contacts the police in the U.S., accounting for up to 50 percent of all calls in some areas. Yet, a battered woman who calls 911 may have a two-in-five chance of an abuser coming to her door. Official investigations have found law enforcement departments that tolerate abuse in police homes also mishandle violence against women in other homes.

Abusive cops are also more prone to other forms of misconduct on the job—such as brutality against civilians and violence against fellow officers. We all pay as taxpayers when governments have to settle multi-million-dollar lawsuits with victims of police abuse or negligence. Police domestic violence also has close connections to a host of other problems—police killings of African Americans, sexual harassment of female drivers at traffic stops and women cops, and even more broadly, issues like growing social inequality and subjugation of Native Americans.

And police officers themselves are victims, too. Even though our society calls cops heroes, we give them little support to cope with the pressure of police work. A big part of the job is to wield power to control other people. As a result, policing attracts people who are good at controlling others or may have a craving for that kind of power—and then trains them to use their power better. Control is also the main driver of domestic violence. Is it a surprise then that so many cops are violent at home?

Support the Ms. Magazine Prison and Domestic Violence Shelter Program today and show women fleeing domestic violence that they’re not alone.

Susanna Hope (a pseudonym for security and privacy reasons) is a Canadian professional writer who was married for over 20 years to a police officer. She has two sons and two grandchildren.

Alex Roslin is an award-winning Canadian journalist who was president of the board of the Canadian Centre for Investigative Reporting. His investigative and writing awards include three Canadian Association of Journalists prizes for investigative reporting, a gold prize in the National Magazine Awards and nine nominations for CAJ awards and NMAs.

Carmel IN Police Department Protects Cop Accused of Stalking; Investigates Victim (2/17)

The following post was submitted anonymously, via the CopBlock.org submissions page. The person submitting it states:

You may post this because the Carmel PD will not return my calls or emails. They had their opportunity to do the right thing, but put protecting one of their own above the protection of a citizen. They showed that they have no integrity!

Date of Incident: November 5, 2015
Officers Involved: Sgt. Nancy Zellers, Officer Weigman
Department Involved: Carmel (IN) Police Department
Department Phone Number: (317) 571-2500
Department Address: Three Civic Square Carmel, IN 46032

This letter is being submitted in regards to filing a formal complaint against Carmel Police Department Sgt. Nancy Zellers with the Criminal Investigations Division. My complaint is based around the fact that Sgt. Zellers failed to conduct a thorough and unbiased investigation in reference to a complaint of stalking/harassing. Sgt. Zellers’ conduct was discriminatory in that she allowed her own personal opinions and bias to determine the outcome of this investigation. There was nothing fair or impartial about it and she turned someone who came to your department for help into a suspect of a crime. This is nothing more than malicious prosecution to help protect one of your own.

In May of 2015, I requested, via telephone, for an officer to meet me at my home in order for a report of harassment to be submitted. Officer Weigman responded to my home to where I then provided him with a statement pertaining to the stalking/harassment. I provided this officer with information needed for the investigation and offered videos and recordings as evidence for the case. Officer Weigman was advised that I did in fact want a report submitted in order to begin a “paper trail” if you will against the subjects directly involved in my case. Officer Weigman provided me with a card with his name signed to the back and a case number for the incident.

In the months that followed, I heard nothing from the Carmel Police Department and the acts of harassment and stalking had only escalated. The subjects identified as suspects in my case were continuing to harass and stalk me on a daily basis. I had accumulated recordings of what had now become a daily occurrence. The suspects in my case had established a very clear and obvious pattern of harassment and stalking. Yet still, there was no follow up, nor was an investigation initiated by your department. Simply put, you failed to protect a victim and allowed for the crimes against her to worsen and become even more dangerous.

On October 5th, 2015, Sgt. Zellers with the Carmel PD Criminal Investigations Unit came to my home to interview me in reference to what I thought was my original complaint. As it turned out, I had become the person that was being investigated. The suspects in my case became aware that I had gone to the Carmel PD. The suspect involved in my case, who is an active officer with the Indiana State Police, also became aware of the fact that I had intentions of filing a formal complaint and reference misconduct against her. The Carmel Police Department failed to investigate and offered no protection to a victim of a domestic violence crime. The department’s and Sgt. Zellers’ sheer negligence allowed for there to be an opportunity for the suspect to retaliate against me. As an attempt to discredit my complaint, both criminal and professional, the suspect filed her own complaint of harassment against me. Unlike my complaint, the suspects allegations were investigated by the Carmel Police Department, more specifically, Sergeant Zellers. The suspect had the opportunity to provide the sergeant with witness information and statements. I was never given that opportunity. I truly feel that I was discriminated against in this case because of the fact that I am not an active police officer and the suspect in this case is one. The manner in which this investigation was conducted was completely biased and extremely unprofessional. Sergeant Zellers showed extreme favoritism towards the corrupt ISP trooper simply because of the fact that she is an active law enforcement officer.

As Sgt. Zellars began to question me in reference the suspects claims, it became painfully clear that her opinions in regards to this case weren’t unbiased and that she had already passed judgment upon me prior to even speaking with me. Sgt. Zellers conducted what can be deemed as only a witch hunt in regards to her investigation. She kept things very one sided and showed no interest in obtaining witness names, addresses or accounts on my behalf. She showed no care or concern for the fact that I feared for my own safety because of what I had been put through. During the course of her interview, I even offered Sergeant Zellers the name of critical witnesses in my case and she expressed no interest in accepting this information.

I attempted to provide Sergeant Zellers with evidence related to my case. This included magazine subscriptions that the suspect had sent to my home, as well as false HOA complaints. Sgt. Zellers had no interest in accepting or collecting these items either. Sgt. Zellers was also made aware of the fact that I did have video surveillance of the stalking and harassment. She viewed many of these while at my home, but did not request copies.

Sgt. Zellers also ignored the fact that I had ties and established relationships in this neighborhood for years, even before the suspect accepted a transfer to Indianapolis. And rather than moving to an area where she could be close to her friends or things she was familiar with, the suspect chose to move to the place that I called home. Sgt. Zellers opinion in this case was nothing more than biased. She refused and failed to look into details that could confirm my relationship to this particular neighborhood and some of the people in it.

Sgt. Zellers also made it known that she had contacted my former employer and made inquiries to former coworkers during her investigation. Know that I had retired for nearly 2 ½ years. She stated that she spoke with my “friends”, but refused to tell me who they were. I explained to her that no one at my former place of employment was deemed as a friend, nor did they have intimate or personal details of my past relationships or personal life. Sgt. Zellers made it a point during her witch hunt to accuse me of a crime to my former peers and also exposed my sexual orientation and lifestyle to persons who never should have been given such privileged information. These were persons that had no knowledge of my lifestyle and we most certainly didn’t have the type of relationship that would allow for them to have access to such sensitive and personal details. Sgt. Zellers slandered and defamed my good name to members of the IMPD and she humiliated me in front of my former co-workers and peers.

Sgt. Zellers, after viewing several videos and just prior to leaving my home stated that this was all “high school” and that she wasn’t going to mess with it. She stated that they had “real crimes” to work on and that she would be in touch. Sgt. Zellers failed to see the seriousness of this incident and refused to acknowledge that I did in fact live in constant fear of what the suspect would do to me. Even in one of the videos, Sgt. Zellers could see that the suspect had come close to striking me with her police car. This was far from high school and the Sgt’s actions, or lack thereof were completely inappropriate and unprofessional. She made someone that came to your department for help never want to call the police for aid ever again.

As part of her investigation, while at my residence, Sgt. Zellers also commented on a Facebook page that was in fact active at the time. She ordered me to take down the page even though there was nothing posted on it that was illegal or deemed as threatening. The suspects involved in my case had been monitoring this page and using it as a means to cyber stalk not only me, but my friends and loved ones as well. Also note that the suspects had been using their personal Facebook pages to post inappropriate comments about me, but were never ordered to remove theirs. Sergeant Zellers failed to realize that making such an order was in fact a violation of my first amendment rights. Yet under duress and the fear that I would be arrested had I not complied, I deactivated the page.

On October 6th, 2015, I provided the Sgt. with copies of the videos that I was unable to show her the day prior to. I personally delivered these articles to the Carmel Police Department, so that the sergeant could retain them as evidence. I made it known once again that I was fearful for my safety, yet this was never made a priority. In fact, it was completely ignored. Upon receipt of these items, Sergeant Zellers didn’t even show the courtesy to acknowledge the fact that they had been received.

Over the following weeks, the incidents involving myself and my stalker again began to escalate. There were daily, nightly drive by’s on my home that were in fact recorded. There was no reason for her to drive by my home, but because the Carmel PD failed to provide any sort of mediation or take action, therefore, it was allowed to continue.

Fearing for my personal safety and realizing that the Carmel Police Department was not going to provide any assistance, I chose to contact Prevail to obtain further options. I spoke with one of the advocates via telephone and made an appointment to put together a safety plan. On Friday November 20th, 2015, I utilized the services provided by Prevail and while I was there, I provided them with copies of the same videos that I had given to Sergeant Zellers. I wanted for someone who was a neutral party in this investigation to have these videos in the case that any harm should come to me. I had no other options in that your department provided absolutely no assistance or protection from someone that I knew had the capability and means to cause serious injury and harm to me.

police-brutalityThat following Tuesday, November 24, as things continued to escalate, I chose to file for a protective order against my stalker. The order was granted by the Superior Court Judge that same afternoon. It was obvious to the judge that I was in need of protection, but sadly, your department refused to provide that much needed support and aid.

On this day, I also contacted Sgt. Zellers via telephone and requested for her to file charges against my stalker Jennifer Holt and she refused. She stated that she had conducted her investigation and that they chose to charge me with the crime of harassment, but chose not to charge the other parties involved. There was more than sufficient evidence and probable cause with the videos alone to file charges for these crimes. Adding to that, your detective, Sergeant Nancy Zellers, failed to take statements and refused to obtain information on witnesses who were willing to testify on my behalf.

I went to the Carmel PD for help prior to that and they failed to offer any assistance at all. A fair, impartial investigation was not conducted and no one in my life, none of my witnesses, were even asked for a statement. There are so many people involved in this, witnesses and people who have been exposed to what my stalker is doing. Yet, the corrupt Carmel investigator felt it was more important to protect a rogue police officer rather than protect the true victim in this crime that came to you months prior for help. I offered her the most recent videos from October 5th 2015, to current as proof and as evidence reference my case, but she refused

It became quite obvious that Sgt. Zellers was not interested in conducting a fair or impartial investigation. She made it clear that she was more interested in protecting “one of her own.” She disregarded my claims and refused to take or accept evidence pertaining to my case. She very clearly neglected to conduct a fair, impartial and unbiased investigation. Her negligence left me in harm’s way and allowed for the stalking and harassment to continue and for retaliation/escalation to occur.

Sgt. Zellers was assisted by another detective during the interview that took place within my home. Even as Sergeant Zellers violated my first amendment rights, to freedom of speech, he failed to speak up and informed her that this was in fact a violation of my constitutional rights. Sergeant Zellers partner in this case neglected his duty to protect individuals from constitutional violations by fellow officers. Note that per Section 1983, an officer who witnesses a fellow officer violating an individual’s constitutional rights may be liable to the victim for failing to intervene.

Adding to that, Sgt. Zellers neglect of duty and failure to properly investigate allowed for this rogue police officer to continue with her unlawful behavior and illegal acts against me. As a result of your department’s negligence I will make it known that specific injuries were sustained. More specifically; psychological duress, financial burden and emotional distress occurred. Sgt. Zellers slanderous and defaming comments made to former coworkers and peers also damaged my reputation. I retired from my department honorably and left with a good name. Sgt. Zellers provided very personal and intimate details of my life and sexual orientation that should not have been exposed to persons who did not have knowledge of my lifestyle or of my intimate relationships or break up. She embarrassed and humiliated me in front of a group of people that had no right to this information.

The Carmel Police department has failed to act and has failed to protect a victim of a domestic related crime, you have put my safety in grave danger. The suspect in this crime is an armed police officer, who is currently being investigated by her own department for a pattern of serious misconduct. She has a history of known violence and anger issues, as well. I have been on the receiving end of the suspect’s angry outbursts and violent behavior. And because your department will not protect me, I live each and every day in constant fear. I have had no other choice other than to retreat into my home to ensure my safety. Also, I have not been able to perform my physician ordered therapy. Know that without this physical therapy, I live a life that is filled with chronic and constant pain.

Like I’ve stated, this was clearly a very one sided investigation that was not conducted in a fair or impartial manner. Sgt. Zellers is a liability and she failed to provide me with even some of my most basic civil rights. Her investigation was nothing more than a witch hunt and she very clearly had no intentions of conducting a proper or thorough investigation. She was more concerned with protecting the rights of a corrupt police officer and ensuring that the reputation of the one holding the badge came to no harm.

I feel that it’s important for the citizens of Carmel and Indianapolis to see how a victim of the domestic violence has been treated. They deserve to see how a victim was made to feel and disregarded by an agency that has been sworn to protect and serve. This type of negative media exposure will also serve as a warning to other victims of such crimes that the Carmel police Department simply does not care and will not help them if the other person involved just happens to be a police officer.

And as you read this, know that the harassment and stalking continues. Even with a protective order in place, my safety is still not guaranteed. My stalker continues to drive by my home every night in her police vehicle and find ways to interject herself into my daily life. What the Carmel Police department has done is shameful and is what makes victims not want to come to the police for help.

Know that this trooper, even with a protective order in place has been permitted to retain her weapon and her police vehicle. She continues to use it as a means to stalk, harass and intimidate me. She continues to drive by my home and vehicle, all while recording my actions. She has used her spotlight to shine into my vehicle for no other reason other than to frighten me. ISP has done nothing to protect me from her.

  • Note that on February 23, 2016, while sworn under oath, Detective Nancy Zellers admitted that she did not conduct a thorough investigation. She never contacted my witnesses or spoke to persons on my behalf, nor did she collect evidence to support my claims. The Carmel Police Department also advised that they would conduct a thorough investigation on their sergeant’s misconduct. I submitted this formal complaint in November 2015. They have yet to address this complaint. They have gone out of their way to try and cover up not just the rogue Indiana State police officers misconduct, but now one of their own. They are shameful and disgusting. These are police officers that absolutely do not deserve badges!

The Carmel PD had their opportunity to do the right thing, but put protecting one of their own above the protection of a citizen. They showed that they have no integrity!

Boise Officers Flash-bang Wrong Apartment

Boise Police and Swat were serving a warrant inside an apartment building on July 16th for theft and drugs.  They busted down the door and threw a flash-bang into the apartment unit.  The only problem was, it was the wrong address.

Police Deputy Operations Chief Eugene Smith said Friday the error “is rare and certainly regrettable.” He says officers apologized to the apartment occupants and began to do “all they could to make it right, including paying for repairs and securing the apartment.”  Smith also stated that they are investigating the incident to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

Stories like this one are becoming all to common over the last few months.  Officers are getting warrants and going to the wrong place and tearing up people’s homes.  For Chief Smith to say that this occurrence is “rare and certainly regrettable,” is a flat-out lie.  It might be rare for that department, but this is happening more and more across the country.

The militarization of our police forces across the country and their never-ending desire to bust heads has placed a dark shadow over them and caused the current mistrust and dislike for our police.  They show no regard for the safety of the citizens that they have been charged with protecting, which shows in how sloppy they have become in the basics, such as verifying what address they are supposed to be raiding.

boise swatThe residents of that apartment are lucky to not have been injured or killed due to the negligence of these officers.  Paying for the damage is a start, but what really needs to happen is a full-scale investigation into the officers that took part in this raid and determine why they assaulted the wrong citizens, and then discipline them.

Had those people decided to protect themselves from these armed intruders, we would have seen a different headline where the officers killed armed assailants ‘trying to kill’ the police who were conducting the raid.  We would have seen a massive cover-up, and these innocent people would have been believed to be the aggressors, even though they were just protecting themselves from an armed attack.

Consider contacting your state representatives to bring legislation to the table that would hold officers accountable for these types of negligent acts and allow citizens to defend themselves from such attacks.  Indiana has already done this and it is time for the citizens across the country to have the same right to protect themselves from these armed thugs.

Dance your mouse this way and press the little button to get your shit all stickered up.

Dance your mouse this way and press the little button to get your shit all stickered up.

Lawsuit Claims Las Vegas Police Officer Pulled Down Woman’s Pants, Exposed Himself On Domestic Call

Las Vegas Police Sexual Assault Soloman Coleman

A federal lawsuit alleges a “lewd and disgusting” Las Vegas police officer pulled down a woman’s pants, photographed her, and then exposed himself.

A lawsuit filed in federal court on May 27 alleges a “lewd and disgusting” Las Vegas police officer pulled down a woman’s pants, photographed her, and then exposed himself.

Sasha Boseke says she called the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department on June 1, 2013, after a “domestic incident” with her boyfriend, who assaulted her. The boyfriend was arrested.

The lawsuit claims that after a female officer had already taken photos of her injuries, Officer Solomon Coleman waited until all other officers left, and followed Boseke to her bedroom where he told her to pull down her shorts so he could see her bruises.

When Boseke “refused to expose her body,” Coleman “forcefully pulled down [her] shorts and undergarments, and, further, told [her] to lean over her bed, which exposed her nude body” the lawsuit says.

While bent over her bed, nude from the waist down, “Coleman took photographs of [Boseke’s] nude body with a cell phone camera,” without her consent and then “exposed his penis to [her] and made lewd and vile remarks.”

“At no time did [Boseke] consent in any manner to the lewd and disgusting conduct of Coleman, nor did [she] engage in any consensual sexual activity with defendant Coleman,” the lawsuit states.

Boseke says Coleman told her, “he had to leave but that he would return that evening.” When the officer did in fact return, Boseke refused to let him in, and called the police to report him.

An internal police investigation into the incident found that, according to his activity log, Coleman remained at Boseke’s apartment for 36 minutes after all of the other officers had left.

After pictures and other materials showing the covert filming of sex acts were found on Coleman’s phone, he was indicted by a grand jury and charged with two counts of oppression under color of office, two counts of open or gross lewdness, indecent exposure, and capturing an image of the private area of another person – all misdemeanors.

Coleman, who no longer works for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, is scheduled for criminal trial on June 29.

In the federal lawsuit, Boseke is seeking punitive damages for assault and battery, emotional distress, civil rights violations and negligence.

Las Vegas police have refused to comment on “pending litigation.”

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