Tag Archives: reforms

Federal “Investigations” Only Enable Local Police Departments’ Abuses

The following post was originally posted at NationalInterest.org by  under the title “Washington Can’t Fix Broken Policing.” It addresses the idea that having a the Department of Justice (DoJ) or some other federal agency such as the FBI investigate abuses by local police or court official will lead to a fair or meaningful resolution.

Despite the prevalence of calls for the Federal Government to intervene in high profile cases, the truth is that what really happens when the Feds step in is it delays and distracts from the original issues and almost always leads to (intentionally) ineffective and superficial reform proposals, most of which are often not even adopted.

Many times after the “investigation” by federal officials has afforded time for tempers to cool and the spotlight has been removed from those on the local level, they end vindicating the abusers anyway or proposing a slew of hollow changes. When the “cavalry” arrives, they’re usually shooting blanks.

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Washington Can’t Fix Broken Policing

Federal intervention allows local officials to evade responsibility.

It has been one year since Freddie Gray died while in the custody of the Baltimore Police Department. Gray’s death sparked peaceful protests and then calamitous riots that brought international attention and prompted the deployment of National Guard units. While local prosecutors indicted the officers involved in Gray’s arrest, the federal government promised to investigate the entire police department for a “pattern or practice” of constitutional violations. The impending outcome of that inquiry seems foreordained. The real question is whether federal monitoring can truly fix a broken police department. The conventional wisdom is that it can, but experience tells us that it can be counterproductive.

Since the Ferguson riot in 2014, police departments across the country have been under unprecedented scrutiny. When a pattern of wrongdoing or dysfunction is exposed, we hear a familiar refrain: this department is so bad that it is incapable of correcting itself, so federal intervention is necessary. After some initial resistance, the city of Ferguson has now agreed to a federal monitor. Last week, Newark also agreed to a federal monitor, to oversee its troubled police force. The Justice Department has also investigated and instituted reforms in many of the United States’ big-city police departments—Los Angeles, New Orleans, Detroit, Cleveland and Pittsburgh, to name a few.

Police StateClearly, police misconduct is more widespread than many want to admit. In Chicago, the shooting death of Laquan McDonald, caught on camera, has roiled minority neighborhoods because they see it as only the most recent episode of police wrongdoing there. It is safe to say that other cities may be one incident away from similar unrest.

Mayors and city councils don’t want police misconduct to occur, but in too many cities they let the problem fester. To the extent that they’re even paying attention, the typical political calculation seems to be this: it’s better to have the support of the police department and police union come election time, so don’t take steps that they will oppose.

There is, however, a cost to that political calculation: minority resentment toward city government—especially the police. After all, the victims of illegal detention, illegal searches and excessive force have friends, neighbors and relatives. And when bad cops are not dealt with, it is not unfair to conclude that the department itself is indifferent to injustice. This explains the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.

When a shocking incident of police misconduct comes along, the fecklessness of local governance is exposed in the glare of the media spotlight. Suddenly, reporters are asking pointed questions. Exactly how many people have been shot by the police department? Why was video evidence withheld from the public? What accountability systems are in place to track and remove problem officers?

The optimal moment for police reform comes in the immediate aftermath of a police scandal. The public is aroused, and if the problems run deep into the department itself, voters want those problems corrected. Local politicians find themselves on the spot. They can’t afford to appear uninterested, but they’d rather not fight the police department either. Instead of rolling up their sleeves to make some politically difficult decisions, they posture as reformers by joining the chorus calling for a federal civil rights investigation.

When the feds do intervene, everyone seems to be pleased. The heat is off the local officials to address police misconduct. They say they’ll have to await the outcome of the federal investigation before taking any action. Federal officials are pleased because they are seen as the cavalry coming to the rescue. Civil rights activists are satisfied because they think a federal lawsuit will bring about needed reforms. The police department and police union benefit as well. The intense media scrutiny will now fade as the months roll past.

Unfortunately, federal intervention has a counterproductive “enabling” effect: it allows local officials to evade their responsibility to fix broken police organizations. When the local politicos make a plea for federal intervention, it deflects attention away from their oversight failure and actually squanders the prospect for sweeping changes at a pivotal moment.

There is a borderline reverence for federal intervention among academics and journalists, which has blinded them to political dynamics that should strike us as odd. On the surface, it appears as if the feds are imposing wide-ranging reforms on local officialdom. In truth, however, the local officials chose that outcome once the feds were invited in. Here’s the quandary: the local politicos had the capability to enact reforms all along, so why didn’t they embrace such measures to head off a federal lawsuit? Experience has shown, time and again, that local officials would rather cope with federal monitors than fight powerful police unions.

Federal monitors have not succeeded where local officials are intransigent about reform. Arizona’s Joe Arpaio, sheriff of Maricopa County, is an example. Arpaio may lose a case in court, but he remains defiant and wins reelection. There have been improvements in the cities with reform-minded mayors and police chiefs—but in those cases, federal monitors were never really necessary. The monitors merely provided the local officials with additional political leverage against the police lobby. Local political fights, however, should not be considered an appropriate basis for federal lawsuits and federal takeovers of local police operations.

Police misconduct is a serious problem. If the solution was simple, it would have already been adopted. The hard truth is that a good police department requires the sustained commitment of locally elected officials to that goal. If that commitment is absent, federal intervention will only obscure that reality, and make it more difficult for voters to hold the local politicos accountable for their neglect.

Man Beaten by Las Vegas Police For Not Moving Fast Enough Awarded $31,500 Settlement (Update)

About a year and a half ago, Las Vegas Attorney Stephen Stubbs submitted a story to the CopBlock Network about a man who had been beaten by members of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

That man, Dominic Gennarino, could be seen on surveillance video (embedded below) from the Vanguard Lounge, a bar/nightclub located on what is known as Fremont East in Downtown Las Vegas, being assaulted by a group of Las Vegas police officers. One officer in particular, identified as Officer Kolkoski, visciously jabbed Gennarino’s body with his nightstick during the attack and had to be restrained by another policeman.

Prior to that the cops had been clearing people out of the club after a stabbing (which Gennarino wasn’t involved in) took place there. Apparently, Gennarino’s “crime that precipitated that beating was that he wasn’t moving fast enough as he exited the bar, even though the video pretty clearly shows that the large crowd had prevented him from walking any faster.

Of course, once the video was made public the false charges (Obstructing a Public Officer) against Gennarino used to justifying the beating were dropped. Also, in response to the beating and the negative publicity it generated, the LVMPD promised that they were going to implement “fundamental policy changes” in their use of force policies, as well as their procedure for investigating use of force incidents. Those “fundamental” changes that were promised have since gotten some not so glowing reviews by Las Vegas residents, though.

Officer Kolkoski knocks himself down in the process of beating Domonic Generino with his nightstick

Officer Kolkoski in his enthusiasm for beating Domonic Generino knocks himself down.

Not surprisingly, given the history Las Vegas area police departments with regards to accountability, Metro’s Internal Affairs also concluded during their investigation that “the actions taken by employees did not rise to the level of misconduct or was not a policy violation” and those cops caught on camera beating an innocent man for no good reason wouldn’t face any sort of meaningful repercussions for those actions, whatsoever.

Of course, you have to consider that Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson refused to prosecute a group of police officers from the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson after they beat a diabetic driver they suspected of being drunk. The reason he cited for that inaction was because they train Henderson police to kick people in the head at the academy. So, even misconduct and policy violations are fairly hard to come by out here in Vegas with such a low bar of acceptability for pretty much whatever cops want to do on any given day.

In the latest update to this particular story, Stephen Stubbs posted to his Facebook profile on April 14th (2016) that Gennarino had received a settlement of $31,500 to compensate him for the actions taken by those LVMPD “employees.”

In that post (embedded below), Stubbs states:

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department paid my client $31,500 today. He was beaten by police because he wasn’t moving fast enough, and then the police officer lied in the official report.

A special thank you to Jared Richards. We did this case together and Justice won the day.

Dominic Gennarino certainly deserves to be compensated for the assault and wrongful arrest perpetrated against him that day and probably by even more than the amount he received. (Apparently, he was satisfied with Metro’s first settlement offer.) However, as is always the case due to qualified immunity protections, this settlement will be payed by the taxpayers and not in any genuine way personally effect those officers who actually committed the crimes against Gennarino and then lied in official police reports in order to justify doing it.

Related Posts Submitted By or About Stephen Stubbs:

Those of you that have followed CopBlock.org over the past several years are probably already aware that Stephen Stubbs is a frequent contributor of submissions to the Cop Block Network. In addition, I have personally worked with Stephen on a somewhat regular basis through Nevada Cop Block.

Therefore, there is a pretty lengthy list of posts on Cop Block involving Stephen Stubbs, his clients, and/or people or groups he is associated with. Included below are links to those posts.


  1. Full Waco Twin Peaks Biker Shooting Videos; Witness Statement Made Public
  2. Know Your Rights Seminar At Las Vegas “Rally For Your Rights”
  3. Waco, TX; Twin Peaks Shootings Arrests – June 10th Call Flood
  4. Nevada Police Chief Resigns After Protecting Animal Shelter Supervisor Who Killed Pets
  5. Fired NV Police Chief Ordered to Pay Punitive Damages in Abuse of Authority Lawsuit
  6. Las Vegas Attorney Stephen Stubbs Found Not Guilty in 5th Amendment Right to Counsel Case
  7. Game Over for Insert Coins’ and Their Abusive Bouncers
  8. Dance, Dance Revolution Protest at Insert Coins Las Vegas- Feb. 26, 2015
  9. Insert Coin(s) Las Vegas Bouncers Beat Man and Obstruct Witness Trying to Film
  10. Las Vegas Police Promise “Fundamental Policy Changes” after Dominic Gennarino Beating
  11. Las Vegas Police Beat a Man for “Not Moving Fast Enough”
  12. Las Vegas Police Agree That You Should Film Them
  13. Free Know Your Rights Seminar in Las Vegas
  14. Attorney Stephen Stubbs Arrested for Refusing to Leave His Client’s Side


Building More Prisons is Not the Solution to Prison Riots

This post was written by and originally published at the Center For a Stateless Society (C4SS) under the title “More Prisons is Not Reform.” Posts and other content can be submitted to the CopBlock Network via the CopBlock.org Submission Page. (Note: This has been posted in its original form and no edits to the original text were made.)

This post relates to recent riots within the United States prison system and specifically two riots at Holman Prison in Alabama, which took place in March of this year. Nick makes the point that it’s the underlying problems and abuses within the prison system itself and not just the singular symptom of overcrowding that caused those riots. Building even more prisons (which inevitably will also be filled to beyond capacity) is not the answer to those issues.

Previous posts by Nick Ford that have been shared on CopBlock.org can be found here, here, and here. If you appreciate the things Nick has written, you can support him directly here.

More Prisons is Not Reform

Holman Prison in Alabama is home to death row and many there have little to lose should something go wrong. Given the degrading conditions of prisons and their lack of security for prisoners, it should come as no surprise that riots took place on March 11th and 14th.

The first riot happened when a prison guard was stabbed during a fight between two inmates. A prison fire was subsequently started by inmates so they could get access to another part of the prison. The riot included 100 inmates and went from Friday night into Saturday morning before control was re-established and the prison put on lockdown.

An inmate who was interviewed by WHNT 19 News over the phone explained, “What [the officer] did was not professional. They teach them not to do what he did. He went in swinging his stick and throwing inmates around. You know, if you try being in prison for 20 years, people get tired of seeing their fellow convicts get treated that way.”

On Monday while Holman was still on lockdown, an estimated 70 inmates barricaded themselves in a dormitory room after the stabbing of another inmate. WKRG News was able to get a phone call with an inmate there who “said inmates are fed up with deteriorating conditions and overcrowding within the prison system, something even Governor Robert Bentley has acknowledged is a serious issue in Alabama.”

Unfortunately the answer by both Bentley and media like Alabama.com has been to build more prisons.

Bentley and others agree that the riots are symptomatic of a system that isn’t working. But instead of trying to reduce sentences, challenge discriminatory practices or expand alternatives we’re given the choice to expand prisons.

Then again it shouldn’t be surprising that the response from the people in power to necessary and radical action on the part of inmates is milquetoast at best. Yes, the riots were necessary, despite perhaps being inadvisable. Prison riots are acts of desperation that will more naturally occur under such brutal and repressive systems. There’s no need for moral condemnation of the inmates; desperate people act desperately in an attempt to become empowered.

The proposed expansion of prisons from Bentley includes, “merg[ing] the state’s maximum security prisons — about 14 in all — into six prisons, four of them new.” But suspiciously Bentley has also pushed for a one-time exemption for letting a single company build these new prisons. The inevitability of sweetheart deals is much too great to be surmounted by well-meaning liberals.

Governor Bentley thinks focusing on older prisons and merging some will help save money. As true as this may be it still won’t bring back all of the casualties that the Alabama system has caused.

One casualty was death row inmate Timothy Jason Jones. Jones committed suicide in 2006 before he could be sentenced to death for a murder conviction. Jones was a drug user, aggressive, and shied away from his responsibilities by fleeing the scene.

But instead of trying to understand him, prosecutors called him a “monster” and confined him in a locked cell where he eventually killed himself. My point isn’t that Jones was a good person but that instead of giving him the chance to prove he could’ve been the state decided he’d be better off rotting in a cell.

There are are other ways to deal with justice.

Organizations like Common Justice and Community Works West both specialize in alternative forms of justice and specifically transformative and restorative justice. These organizations help inmates feel they can still successfully contribute meaningful things for themselves and their communities. They involve prisoners in their local communities and try to encourage meditation as ways to address underlying issues of crime. As organizations they may not deal with death row inmates specifically but their promise is great.

The success of these models helps release pressure from the overcrowded and bloated prison systems that the inmates expressly used as one of their underlying motivators. If we can help build alternatives to prisons that use positive collaboration instead of fear and dread, perhaps we can begin to more meaningfully address overcrowding.

Instead of expanding prisons, let’s work to expand alternatives.

Report: Broken Disciplinary System Preventing Oakland Police From Firing “Bad Apples”

Seemingly, the Oakland Police Department has decided to start cleaning up its image a little by firing cops involved in high profile cases of police misconduct. However, according to a recently released report, a combination of a “broken disciplinary system” and their own lax history of enforcement against all those Bad Apples that gave them such a toxic image in the first place are preventing them from doing so.

The report by San Francisco attorney Edward Swanson uses two recent examples to detail how officers fired for misconduct are able to have those firings overturned in arbitration. Those reversals are due to bias on the part of the arbitrators involved and/or comparisons to previous lack of punishment received by officers implicated in similar instances of abuse/misconduct.

Essentially, they are circumventing new disciplinary process by taking advantage of the previous (intentionally) toothless nature of its predecessor. That along with the inherent bias of the arbitration system itself, incomplete training methods and (intentionally) inadequate investigations by internal affairs has made it virtually impossible for legitimate levels of discipline to be imposed on Oakland police officers.

Via KTVU.com:

In the first case, the department tried to fire an officer “who allegedly engaged in inappropriate activity with a prostitute.” The arbitrator determined that the alleged victim was “not credible,” Swanson wrote, adding that the arbitrator “appears to have applied an incorrect legal standard, requiring a level of proof higher than by a preponderance of the evidence.”

In the second case, the department sought to kick out an officer accused of using excessive force. But there were problems with the internal-affairs investigation, largely resulting from OPD decisions that were made “without the benefit” of city attorneys, Swanson wrote.

In his new report, Swanson said overall, the department “needs to consider thoroughly whether supervisors, and not just officers, should be disciplined when something goes wrong.”

The attorney also noted, “OPD’s discipline decisions remain vulnerable to attack at arbitration when OPD cannot prove that officers have been trained on the conduct that is the subject of the discipline. This can be improved with better tracking of which officers have been trained and of the content of that training.”

Swanson also warned that the disciplinary decisions could be successfully challenged if it’s determined that the department “did not adequately consider punishment in similar prior cases before imposing discipline on a given officer.”

Saint Rob Oakland Police CorruptionTwo previous cases, which prompted U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson to order the report, included the firing of Officer Robert Roche who threw a tear gas canister at a group of people attempting to help Iraq War veteran and activist Scott Olsen after he had been shot in the head by a bean bag round during an Occupy Oakland protest. That injury caused Olsen to suffer permanent brain damage.

Ofc. Roche was later reinstated by an arbitrator and Sergeant Rachael Sloten, who had “investigated” Roche for OPD’s internal affairs, subsequently changed her Facebook profile to a picture entitled “Saint Rob,” which depicted his face photoshopped onto a religious image and stated “well deserved victory” within the image.

The other case involved that of Officer Hector Jimenez, who had been fired for murdering an unarmed man by shooting him in the back. He too was ordered reinstated during arbitration.

Whether the Oakland Police Department legitimately wants to clean up its act or it’s just yet another empty dog and pony show, it’s rather obvious from this report that their previous lack of any sort of realistic disciplinary process along with current biases and incompetence within that process won’t even allow them to do even something as inadequate as fire cops proven to be corrupt and malicious.

Basically, those Bad Apples are continuing to benefit from the sins of the past and the system won’t allow Good Cops to do a damn thing about it, even if they do genuinely want to.

Shifting Prisoners to New “State of the Art Facilities” Won’t Eliminate Prison Abuse

This post was written by and originally published at the Center For a Stateless Society (C4SS) under the title “Tutwiler Prison Will Live On.” Posts and other content can be submitted to the CopBlock Network via the CopBlock.org Submission Page. (Note: This has been posted in its original form and no edits to the original text were made.)

This post relates to the impending closure of Julia Tutwiler State Women’s Prison, a facility located in Montgomery, Alabama that is notorius for rampant sexual abuse and other types of abuse, as well. Much like the clamoring for the closure of the detention center located at Guantanamo Bay, the perception is that simply shifting its residents to an alternate location will somehow eliminate those abuses, even though in reality the only real change will be geographical.

Tutwiler Prison Will Live On

Content Warning: Discussions of rape and sexual abuse

After over two decades of abuse, Julia Tutwiler Prison, located in Montgomery Alabama, will close. After almost two decades of prison guards sexually assaulting, abusing and raping inmates, Tutwiler prison will be closed. After nearly two decades of investigations, reformist legislature, promises on the part of the prison to improve, Tutwiler prison will close.

But Tutwiler prison will live on.

The governor of Alabama, Robert Bentley, has said in a speech that Tutwiler prison will be closed so that Alabama may have a “complete transformation of the state’s prison system.” But adds that “These aging prisons will be consolidated and replaced by four, newly constructed state of the art facilities.”

And so Tutwiler prison will live on.

Tutwiler prison maintained its rampant sexual abuse even after a 2004 bill, advocated for by Amnesty International and the C4SS’s own Charles Johnson, had been passed. The bill was aimed at terminating and prosecuting abusive guards. But within the span of 2009-2013 only 18 cases of sexual abuse were reported in a prison well known for its widespread abuse.

As Charles Johnson notes, “the first basic obstacle is no matter how unambiguously written and strongly worded the law is, it is always nearly impossible ever to safely try to get a[n abusive guard] prosecuted from inside your cell. … The same overwhelming, full-spectrum life-and-death domination that facilitates the endemic, repeated rape also makes it impossible to defend yourself from them through legal processes.”

Removing this dynamic from prisons would mean prison abolition. And since we can safely presume Governor Bentley doesn’t believe in prison abolition, it’s safe to say that Tutwiler will live on.

Last year the US Department of Justice reported that Tutwiler had a population of women living in constant fear. They were in a highly-sexualized environment where abuse was so rampant that the prison was found to be in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

But all prisons are cruel and unusual.

Because of the aforementioned dynamics between prison guards and prisoners there will always be abuse and a reluctance to prosecute the abuse. In Tutwiler, reports from victims were discouraged by perceived or actual retaliation from prison guards. Guards at Tutwiler were often allowed to resign instead of being terminated. And thus were able to easily reintegrate themselves into another prison.

In this way too, Tutwiler Prison shall live on.

To make matters worse, the claims by victims of sexual abuse were frequently dismissed as the rantings of mentally ill patients. Polygraphs, known for their unreliability, were used as primary means to determine the validity of an accusation. Most insultingly, if the prisoners said it was consensual, then it was treated as such. And all of this only happened if an investigation actually occurred after an accusation, which it more often than not didn’t.

Treating accusations like this is not uncommon in prisons. A place where the abusers hold supreme power and have he legal system backing them engenders little accountability. Abusive prison guards are akin to police officers accused of murder in that they’re rarely indicted for, let alone convicted of crimes.

So, as you might expect, Tutwiler will live on.

ABC 33/40 recently reported that the Lovelady Center in Birmingham will take more than 100 inmates from Tutwiler. Lovelady is a rehabilitation facility for female convicts. But it’s also “faith-based treatment for women” and aims at converting the female convicts to Christianity.  Anyone who is either non-religious or isn’t interested in being proselytized is likely to feel excluded.

The rest of the women who will not be taken into those relatively merciful hands teeming with religious indoctrination will suffer in other ways. They may end up another number in recidivism statistics, or if they are freed, deal with the social isolation that comes with being a convict. Given that some will have their votes taken away, their job opportunities diminished and incredible social stigma, do you think they’ll stay out of prison for long?

Through these aftereffects, Tutwiler will live on.

And it will continue to live on until we abolish prisons.

If You Want True Reform, Abolish The Police!

This post was written by and originally published at the Center For a Stateless Society (C4SS) under the title “Ferguson, Accept No Substitutes: Abolish the Police!” Posts and other content can be submitted to the CopBlock Network via the CopBlock.org Submission Page. (Note: some links have been inserted, although no edits to the original text were made.)

Back in August 2014 a man named Michael Brown was shot by a police officer, Darren Wilson. Brown was unarmed and found himself in the hostile climate that exists between people of color and the police. His resulting death was the spark that lit the fire. Protests for #BlackLivesMatter began in earnest, people rallied for justice for Brown (Wilson was eventually acquitted of any wrong-doing) and in general, folks were deeply upset with the city of Ferguson.

Whether Brown’s actions warranted the almost 10 shots he received by officer Wilson, the background context of the event couldn’t be denied. Even the Department of Justice (DoJ) noted, to quote CBS, “a portrait of poor community-police relations, ineffective communication among the more than 50 law enforcement agencies that responded, police orders that infringed on First Amendment rights, and military-style tactics that antagonized demonstrators.”

The DoJ also remarked on a broad pattern of discrimination by the Ferguson police, particularly towards people of color.

What has changed in over a year and a half?

In September, CBS reported that, “Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon recommended the consolidation of police departments and municipal courts in the St. Louis area, and decreasing the use of police force.”

But more recently and perhaps more promisingly to some, there has been a proposed agreement between the DoJ and the City of Ferguson. If approved, this agreement would postpone any sort of federal lawsuit and make changes to local policies concerning the police. CBS reported that the proposal was even brought before the public for “feedback” before its approval.

Policy changes could include mandatory body cameras and microphones for police and their cruisers. In addition, there could be more thorough training of police and possible revisions of municipal codes that allow the City of Ferguson to jail people who can’t afford fines.

All of these things, if actually implemented, might sound like decent reforms.

But as fellow C4SS writer Thomas L. Knapp wrote back in December of 2014, when it comes to body cameras and the like, “Video technology is certainly part of the solution to police violence, but that solution should remain in the hands of regular people, not the state. … Cops need to be on cameras they don’t control.”

Why would we want the police to regulate themselves on how well they’re doing? A recent example of Chicago police officers tampering with their dash cams is just the tip of the iceberg. Somehow police often “mysteriously” can’t find evidence against themselves. It seems unlikely that it’d be any different in Ferguson.

Likewise, though there’d be more thorough training of the police, who would it be by? Other police? That’s likely the end result of this supposed “thorough” training that may teach “tolerance” for the disabled and marginalized. But acceptance is a lot more meaningful than tolerance, and how can we expect either to be taught to the police in any case?

They operate in an institution founded on “I was just taking orders” as a legitimate defense to wrong-doing. They operate in an institution that, if it really only had “a few bad apples”, would’ve done something more drastic than putting murdering cops on paid vacations. They operate in an institution that lacks any sort of communal competition in many areas, giving them de facto monopoly provision of defense. This monopoly leads not only to a lack of accountability but also violence on the part of the police.

Lastly, it seems unlikely that the city would, for some reason, stop imprisoning less fortunate citizens. If they’re able to make money off of these prisoners, why would they stop it? It seems akin to asking cops to stop profiting from traffic stops.

It’s a nice gesture to let the public “look” at the document before it’s actually passed.

But that’s all it is, a gesture.

Real change won’t come from the fox guarding the hen house. Real change will come from communities coming together and modeling their efforts less on busy-body neighborhood watches and more like the Black Panthers.

Further, community involvement shouldn’t aid prisons and punishment but rather should entice restitution and resolve.

To do that, my advice is simple: Abolish the police!

Ten Puerto Rican Police Officers Arrested in FBI Corruption Sweep

Puerto Rico Police CorruptionEarlier this week, the FBI announced the arrests of ten police officers in Puerto Rico and stated that they expected there to be additional arrests forthcoming. The arrestees, including a sergeant and a lieutenant, consisted of members of the U.S. territory’s anti-drug unit.

They are accused of stealing as much as $175,000 in cash during drugs, some of which were not legally carried out. They also took bribes from drug suspects they had arrested in exchange for releasing them. In one instance, they allowed a drug-trafficking fugitive to go free in exchange for two high powered rifles. They’ve also been accused of falsifying evidence to justify raids and federal prosecutors are investigating whether people may have been wrongly convicted of crimes, as a result.

In a fairly ironic statement considering the numerous similar abuses of the “War on (Some) Drugs” in general and seizure laws in particular, U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodriguez stated:

“These officers used their badges and abused their authority. What appeared to be a legitimate police operation was nothing else but an organized criminal act.”

The Puerto Rican police chief is currently in the process of restructuring the unit in light of the arrests and widespread corruption within it:

Police Chief Jose Caldero said he will restructure the department’s 16 anti-narcotics units and require those in them to undergo polygraph tests, a first for the island’s police agency. There are currently 320 officers in those divisions.

“We will clean house,” he vowed. “We will not tolerate corruption.”

The police in Puerto Rico have a long history of corruption, murder, and civil rights abuses. The Puerto Rican Police Department is currently being monitored as part of a federally mandated 10 year reform program. That was prompted by the arrest of 89 police officers across Puerto Rico by the FBI in 2010 (see embedded video below). In the past five years alone, over 100 officers have been arrested. The reforms have been criticized heavily as incomplete and too slow.

Cover the whole everything in liberty, or at the very least, Liberty Stckers. CLICK HERE

Cover the whole everything in liberty, or at the very least, Liberty Stckers. CLICK HERE

Civil Asset Seizure Restrictions Now in Effect in Montana and New Mexico

Asset Forfeiture ProfitsOn Wednesday, laws enacted earlier in the year in Montana and New Mexico went into effect, limiting the ability of police and other law enforcement agencies to use civil asset seizure laws within those states. Civil asset seizures, also commonly known as forfeiture laws, have been some of the biggest drivers of police abuses since they were partnered with the “War on (Some) Drugs” back in the eighties. The size, militarization, and lethality of police departments have all increased in leaps and bounds over the past few decades, as a result of that unholy partnership.

Once the easy access to cash that seizure laws created became a temptation and, in many cases, evolved into a budgetary necessity for police departments and local governments across the country, abuses skyrocketed. Oftentimes, lethal raids and prosecutions have been predicated more on the desire and expectation of collecting assets from the target than ant actual strength of evidence. Along the way, there’s been numerous high profile cases where that evidence and other probable cause elements were even fabricated outright.

Civil Asset Forfeiture IncreaseThe hunger for cash has precipitated an increasing tendency toward the prosecution of victimless crimes and prohibitions. No-knock raids, carried out by heavily armed SWAT teams, have become the norm in most large cities and even some smaller ones throughout the United States, as a result. Mistakes, or even intentional acts of malfeasance, have led to an exponential growth in deaths of non-violent offenders, most of whom don’t actually harm anyone except maybe themselves, and even innocent people caught up in the deadly cross fire.

The even bigger reality is that forfeiture laws themselves are an abuse of the legal system and an affront to basic civil rights . In theory, they allow law enforcement to eliminate illegally earned assets that have been laundered and to hurt criminal enterprises’ ability to fund their operations. In practice, very tenuous links to criminal activity have been used to seize money from people with very little to no due process involved. If you set out with the express purpose of creating a police state it would be difficult to find a better method to bring that to fruition.

Completely innocent people, who happened to be in possession of what police consider to be unusually large amounts of cash, have essentially been victims of highway robbery, even when they’ve had perfectly reasonable justifications for having it and despite the fact that shouldn’t even be a requirement. Other people have had property, such as real estate or transportation equipment (i.e. planes, trains, and automobiles), stolen from them even though they were just renting it to someone else and had no actual control over or knowledge of its specific use.

Forfeiture AbusePretty central to those two abuses has been the lack of a requirement for a conviction (or even charges in most instances) for seizures to be upheld, as well as the reversal of the normal judicial roles. In civil forfeiture cases, the accused has the burden of proving their innocence and that burden is often very high and prohibitively expensive. That’s especially true since the one they are required to prove that to many times is also dependent on the ill gotten gains generated by seizure profits.

Montana’s version of seizure reform addresses some of those issues by making it a requirement for targets of asset forfeiture to be convicted of a crime before their property can be taken. It also forces prosecutors to prove that third party owners were involved in the criminal acts where their property was used, in order for it to be seized.

New Mexico went one better and took the purse strings out of the hands of local law enforcement altogether. As Montana’s did, the new law makes seizures contingent upon a criminal conviction. However, even in the event of that, funds generated by forfeiture go into a “general fund,” rather than directly to a defacto slush fund for police departments making those seizures. Not allowing law enforcement entities to fund themselves through asset seizures obviously removes some of the incentives for them to look for opportunities to bring that proverbial hammer down.

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Like most reformist measures, both of these represent a step in the right direction, but not a complete solution. Requirements for convictions and due process within forfeiture procedure can go a long way toward preventing the outright stealing of assets. However, Montana still allows police to directly profit off seized funds. While there’s more protection after the fact, the temptation to risk “breaking a few eggs” in order to make that golden omelet remains.

Also, while the general fund in New Mexico doesn’t directly finance police departments, their budgets are included within it. Therefore, the amount that is sent their way can be shifted in relation to the revenue generated by forfeiture to ensure they get their “cut” by politicians wishing to curry law enforcement’s favor and/or wishing to pump their own budgets up. Loopholes are not hard to find and they rarely take long to be exploited by people whose jobs largely consist of doing exactly that.

Beyond those issues, the real and most dire problem is that once an innocent person is killed or a baby’s face is permanently disfigured in a money driven paramilitary raid, that bell just can’t be unrung. A truer solution would be to abolish both civil asset seizure and the War on (Some) Drugs that spawned its abusive crime spree in the first place, altogether.

**UPDATE** LVMPD Promises “Fundamental Policy Changes” as a Result of Dominic Gennarino Beating

Members of the LVMPD beat a man in downtown Las Vegas because he supposedly didn't walk fast enough.

Members of the LVMPD beat a man in downtown Las Vegas because he supposedly didn’t walk fast enough.

**This is an update to a previous post which was entitled, “LVMPD Beat Man for ‘Not Moving Fast Enough.’” It was also cross posted on CopBlock.org under the title, “Las Vegas Police Beat Man for ‘Not Moving Fast Enough.’” (The original post has been included below for reference.)**

On June 4, 2014, Dominic Gennarino was beaten by members of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and arrested for “Obstructing a Public Officer”, specifically because the officers claimed that Mr. Gennarino was not moving fast enough.

The incident was caught on video. Below is the Youtube link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qfs3YLE21p8 (It’s also embedded below at the bottom of this post.)

On August 5, 2014, LVMPD Internal Affairs conducted an investigation and concluded that “the investigation failed to produce sufficient evidence to clearly prove or disprove the allegations”. Internal Affairs further concluded that “the actions taken by employees did not rise to the level of misconduct or was not a policy violation”.

On August 20, 2014, multiple media sources reported on the beating. As a direct result of the media coverage, LVMPD Sheriff Doug Gillespie ordered that Internal Affairs re-open the investigation.

On December 15, 2014, after Internal Affairs concluded their 2nd investigation, Attorney Stephen Stubbs and Dominic Gennarino met face-to-face with LVMPD Internal Affairs Officers and were informed of the following:

1)     Prior public statements by an LVMPD Officer that Mr. Gennarino was “super-intoxicated” were completely false. There is absolutely zero evidence that Mr. Gennarino was intoxicated in any way, and no allegation of intoxication was included in any of the official reports. Additionally, LVMPD Internal Affairs listened to a recorded interview with Mr. Gennarino from immediately after the incident and concluded that Mr. Gennarino spoke clearly with no signs of intoxication.

2)     There was a communication failure during the incident, and the officers should have communicated better.

3)     Officers acted on erroneous perceptions and “mistakes of fact”.

4)     Officers acted within then LVMPD policies and will not be disciplined. However, documentation of the incident is being placed in their personnel files.

 5)     LVMPD recognizes a “policy failure” and is not happy with this incident. Therefore, as a direct result of this case, LVMPD will implement “fundamental policy changes” in both its use-of-force policies and policies dealing with the investigation of use-of-force incidents.

For more information, contact Stephen Stubbs at (702) 759-3224


Original Post: LVMPD Beat Man for “Not Moving Fast Enough.”

Members of the LVMPD beat a man in downtown Las Vegas because he supposedly didn't walk fast enough.

Members of the LVMPD beat a man in downtown Las Vegas because he supposedly didn’t walk fast enough.

The video below was submitted via the “Submit Your Story” page. It involves an incident that happened shortly after a stabbing at the Vanguard Lounge, a bar/nightclub located on what is known as Fremont East in Downtown Las Vegas. While members of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department are clearing people out of the area where the stabbing occurred, Officer Glowinski apparently wasn’t happy with the pace at which a man, named Dominic Gennarino (possibly spelled differently), was moving and decided to arrest him.

What happened next is that all of the other Metro police in the immediate vicinity dove on and began beating Gennarino. In particular, one of them, identified as Officer Kolkoski, begins jabbing his nightstick into Gennarino’s body (the descriptions indicate he is hitting him in the legs, but it’s not real clear exactly where he’s being hit on the video because of the number of cops involved) with such enthusiasm that he looses his balance. The fact Kolkoski knocked himself down and appears to almost injure himself by hitting his head against a nearby table doesn’t seem to diminish that enthusiasm very much, as he subsequently has to be pushed away by another (as of yet unidentified) officer, in order to prevent him from resuming his attack with the nightstick.

The opening seconds of the video showing the crowd in front of Generino, as well as the lack of resistance described in the police report.

The opening seconds of the video showing the crowd in front of Generino, as well as the lack of resistance described in the police report.

As is mentioned in the description that was included with the submission, the video raises several questions about the “official story,” which was filed by Ofc. Glowinski as part of the police report (excerpts from which are included in the submission description). The first and most obvious is whether Gennarino should have been arrested in the first place. The claim that he “pushed back into” Glowinski is a complete fabrication that is in no way supported by the video.

Also, the idea that he should have been moving faster or refused to do so is dubious from the start because there is a rather visible and large crowd in front of Gennarino, which would prevent him from doing so, even if he wanted to. While you can see what appears to be some verbal exchange between Ofc. Glowinski and Gennarino, arguing with cops isn’t an arrestable offense and even Glowinski admits in that police report that he “complied” with his orders to leave the area. So, at best (from Glowinski’s standpoint) Gennarino was not complying fast enough to satisfy him and at worst that was simply an excuse to justify beating and arresting an innocent person because a member of the LVMPD had a personal issue with that person.

Officer Kolkoski knocks himself down in the process of beating Domonic Generino with his nightstick

Officer Kolkoski knocks himself down in the process of beating Domonic Generino with his nightstick

Secondly, in the video Ofc. Kolkoski has his nightstick out and is swinging it immediately. Prior to that, there is no visible sign of Gennarino jerking or pulling away, as claimed. The idea that he could determine that such a tactic was necessary with a half dozen other cops (none of whom are using nightsticks or any other weapon) already on him that quickly is another incredibly dubious aspect to this incident. Further, the fact another officer has to stop assisting in the arrest to restrain Kolkoski and prevent him from continuing his assault on Gennarino (about 0:30) casts doubt (to put it mildly) on that idea. That’s even more so the case, since after he is prevented from continuing his attack, he simply stands back and watches as the other cops arrest Gennarino. Also, in spite of what is stated in the report, the entire video only lasts 1:30 and the portion with the arrest takes less than one minute. So, the claim that they had to struggle for several minutes after he was on the ground is, at the very best, an exaggeration by Golkowski.

Another officer prevents Ofc. Kolkoski from resuming his assault on Generino.

Another officer prevents Ofc. Kolkoski from resuming his assault on Generino.

Of course, you can watch the video and judge for yourself (that’s one of the reasons Cop Block encourages people to record their encounters with people wearing badges) whether this was justified or yet another case of the LVMPD’s unnecessarily heavy-handed tactics that have become so common place in the Las Vegas area, especially downtown. One thing you can be sure about is that, regardless of what you or anybody else outside of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department thinks (including the department’s Use of Force Board that is supposed to prevent this type of thing, but that the sheriff is under no obligation to actually listen to, so it doesn’t), this incident will be “investigated” by other people working for Metro and then declared justified. The history of Las Vegas area police departments pretty much guarantees that. The fact that the cops working for those departments know that pretty much guarantees that these types of incidents will not only continue, but will become more numerous, unless people in Las Vegas put enough pressure on them that they have no choice but to reign their enforcers in.

The original video, which has been embedded below is available on the youtube channel of Las Vegas attorney Stephen Stubbs, who currently does monthly (every last Thursday) free “Know Your Rights” seminars within the Las Vegas area. He also was himself featured recently in a post on Cop Block and NVCopBlock.org after an incident in which he personally was arrested for refusing to leave the side of a client that had requested him as an attorney while being detained by members of the LVMPD.

The text in quotes below was included in the original submission and is included as it was received, without any editing.

Date of Incident:
Location of Incident: The Vanguard Lounge – Downtown Las Vegas
Department Involved: Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department
Known Department Employees Involved: Officer Kevin Kolkoski (P#10002), Officer Robert Glowinski, Officer Jacob Werner (P#13017)

“This poor man wasn’t moving fast enough as police tried to clear out a crime scene for investigation. So, LVMPD grabbed him and LVMPD Officer Kolkoski (P#10002) began immediately to beat him with a night stick.

In LVMPD Officer Glowinski’s own words:

“I again instructed [him] to walk towards the rear of the lounge. [He] complied, but began walking slowly.”…”Despite most people complying, [he] would not. As we reached the DJ Booth I instructed [him] one more time to move more quickly”

(Watch the video carefully to see if Officer Glowinski tells the truth in his next statement)

Officer Glowinski continues:

“[He] stopped, and leaned back and threw his back into me. I took hold of [his] right arm in an attempt to take control of him. [He] pulled away. I grabbed his right arm and Officer Werner (P#13017) grabbed his left arm. In an attempt to place [him] under arrest we instructed [him] to go to the ground. [He] refused by pulling and jerking. Additional officers attempted to assist in taking control of [him] but it was unsuccessful. [He] only began to comply after Officer Kolkoski (P#10002) used a baton to deliver focus strikes to [his] legs. After [he] went to the ground it still took me and several officers several minutes to place [him] in custody.”

If you compare the video to the official sworn statement, you will see that Officer Glowinski does not tell the truth. The victim did not “lean back and [throw] his back into [Glowinski]”, the victim did not resist (no pulling and jerking and the victims legs are completely limp after he lays on the ground), and Officer Kolkoski immediately began to beat the victim with a baton (victim had no time to comply). It did not take “several minutes to place him in custody (The entire encounter lasted a little over a minute).

The one positive part of this encounter was the officer that physically stopped Officer Kolkoski from continuing the beating.”

Metro Police Use of Force Policy Reforms Are A Grand Success

It is sorta of hard not to make huge improvements over a policy that has led to exactly zero cases in which a cop was held accountable for killing an innocent and/or unarmed person in 40 years.

It is sort of hard not to improve on Metro’s non-existent record of accountability.

The LVMPD Wants You to Know How Great They’re Doing:

With great fanfare, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department recently announced on their official FaceBook page that they have done an amazing job of reforming their “use of force” policy:
“LVMPD Praised for Use-of-Force Reforms.

See the video: http://youtu.be/ISClT3e_d7c Today, the US Department of Justice released its final assessment of LVMPD’s efforts to reduce the number of incidents involving the use of deadly force. 90% of the suggested reforms have been implemented, and efforts are underway to achieve the remaining few. Sheriff Doug Gillespie expressed his thanks to everyone who has contributed to the success of this difficult process, which has become a model of reform for other police departments around the country. You will find a copy of the complete report at www.lvmpd.com.”

Incentivising Murder

Incentivizing Murder

Of course, it could easily be pointed out that it’s really not terribly hard to improve upon a use of force policy that has resulted in exactly zero cases in which a Las Vegas area police officer has been held accountable, in any way whatsoever, for killing an unarmed person, even when that person was completely innocent of any crime, in the 40-year history of the LVMPD.

In fact, the two most recent examples of that use of force policy consist of a case in which Officer Jacquar Roston, who couldn’t distinguish between a hat and a gun, was allowed to remain on the force, despite the recommendation of the Use of Force Board that he be fired, and the case in which Officer Jesus Arevalo, who had mentioned to his wife that he was looking to kill someone while on duty so that he could get some free time off, did just that a few months later by murdering Stanley Gibson, an unarmed, disabled Gulf War veteran suffering from a PTSD induced panic attack while confined and rendered harmless inside his vehicle, which had been blocked in and immobilized by two police cars.

When the cops in Las Vegas kill people their ONLY "punishment" is paid leave.

When the cops in Las Vegas kill people their ONLY “punishment” is paid vacation.

The former resulted in a large portion of the members of that Use of Force Board resigning in disgust over the “hollow, toothless sham” that Sheriff Gillespie’s disregard for their recommendation had exposed the “flawed process” as. In an even worse injustice, the latter case resulted in Jesus Arevalo being given a $30,000 a year lifetime payday (after he did in fact receive the paid vacation he had stated he was hoping to “earn” by shooting someone for just under two years) that I’m sure exceeded even his own wildest dreams as a reward for his actions that even Metro acknowledged were not justified when they “fired” him after stalling long enough to make sure he got all his paperwork in to file for disability based on the stress he was feeling from people saying that he shouldn’t have murdered a completely innocent, unarmed person, who had already been rendered unable to cause harm to anyone.

"We Finally Won 1!"

“We Finally Won 1!”

A “Slightly” Different Take on Metro’s Use of Force Policy

It’s kinda like when the Detroit Lions improved on their winless season in 2008 by winning two games the next year. They certainly got better, but it wasn’t really anything to get that excited about. Similarly, I recently (subsequent to that celebratory announcement mentioned above) received an account of just how much the LVMPD’s use of force policies have actually changed:

“I was at the bus stop on Flamingo just west of Maryland parkway. A car blew through a red light. A cop followed with lights and sirens on. Within 35 seconds, five more cop cars descended on the pulled over and stopped car. Then six cops, guns drawn, one with a fucking shotgun, removed one driver and one passenger, threw them on the hot ground, and cuffed them. Then stand them up. Guns get put away, except for the shotgun. That stayed out and semi pointed the entire time.

Five minutes later, they release the driver, and keep the passenger for TRAFFIC warrants!!!!! They then proceeded to stand around laughing and joking for 20 more minutes…Disgusting. Literally for running a red light, two guys almost died just now. I don’t have anymore details than that because I was told to stay back and put away my phone.”

Overlooking the fact that the cops have no legal ability to overrule a citizen’s First Amendment right to record anything or anyone within a public space, the rather obvious question is if that level of force really is necessary for a non accident traffic infraction, in which not only did the driver comply by pulling over, but the cops obviously didn’t even consider it much of an offense, based on the fact that they actually allowed him to leave without even issuing a citation, when they clearly could have done so.

"We got a report of some overdue library books, sir."

“We got a report of some overdue library books, sir.”

Having a swarm of heavily armed and easily provoked people unnecessarily confront drivers that haven’t shown any signs of resisting during a relatively minor violation certainly does seem like a good way of preventing any more blatant use of force incidents. And BTW, Metro is so short of personnel that they are no longer able to respond to the vast majority of traffic accidents until we give them more tax money.

Not surprisingly, people in Las Vegas (especially those in certain neighborhoods) aren’t exactly shocked by this type of heavy-handed behavior from cops. And, outside of bragging to their “fans” on FaceBook, the LVMPD doesn’t seem terribly concerned about changing that perception in any sort of real way:

“It’s sad and maybe a statement about how desensitized I am these days to the guns being drawn, but what bothered me the most was them standing around laughing and joking about it afterwards. It seems to me that they are too far removed from the actual reality they are supposed to be “protecting” and have created this pseudo reality in their own collective self.

So is the public as a whole, so blinded by what they are brought up to believe that they really don’t see it? Or, are they just willing to “accept” it as part of what happens, as long as it doesn’t happen to them? I have never necessarily been pro-cop, for sure. But, I think I have been among those willing to turn a blind eye to the excessive and overtly hostile tactics they use, until recently. I’m not 100% sure when I changed my outlook, and started really seeing things around me, but I really don’t like what I am seeing.”

But then, a little friendly propaganda (which the local Fox affiliate can usually be counted on for) never hurts:

“Oh goody. Just saw a commercial on channel 5. They are reporting on Metro and the crime that is on the rise…Hmmm. I bet it is not a report about abuse at the hands of Metro.”

The Police are a Gang

Beware! Signs that you might have encountered a violent street gang.

However, that does tend to get wiped out by the rather well known and all too common cases of retaliation by employees of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and the complicity that local representatives of the “justice” system often play in those acts:

“My friend Chris and I got followed into a parking lot, got out of the car and then got stopped when on foot, walking out of Pizza Hut. For “checking out” the unmarked car the asshole with an ego was driving.

We both ended up being arrested for “warrants”. Even though I had proof mine were already recalled. I spent from Friday at 6:30 pm to Sunday at 5am in CCDC “waiting” for them to verify I didn’t actually have active warrants. Funny thing is that I still had to go to court to stand in front of a judge, who issued me yet another fine, for “court costs” on something I never should have had to go court for in the first place. When I told him I will not pay the fine, he told me I had 30 days to comply or have
another warrant issued.”

Personally, I just can’t understand why Metro or any of the other Las Vegas area police departments would have any sort of PR problem within the local communities they “protect and serve.” It certainly does seem like the two guys in that car, and I’m sure plenty of others in the neighborhood that day, got served.

Militarized Police

“Come on guys, let’s get that cat out of the tree!”

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