Tag Archives: taxpayers

The Many Ways That Police Brutality Payouts Cost Taxpayers

The following post was shared with the CopBlock Network by Martha K. Huggins, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page. The post was originally published at the dailygazette.com under the title, “Police Brutality Raises Costs to Taxpayers.”

Martha K. Huggins is a Tulane Professor Emerita and scholar of Brazil, who has researched police violations of human rights in Brazil for 40 years. Huggins is now transforming that work to the US, where she is studying municipal government and the insurance industry’s direct complicity in promoting, covering up, and hence rewarding police violence.

Police Brutality Raises Costs to Taxpayers

Schenectady’s City Council has voted to use the general fund to pay the already bargained 2 percent raise for police. I assume the annual $2.5 million casino licensing fee — 80 percent of it — will now go for public education? Education must never be back-staged by ravenous “public safety” interests, yet addressing a police raise from the general fund is very problematical.

About 53 percent of Schenectady’s general fund comes from property, sales and use taxes, with the general fund’s single greatest expense, “law enforcement” — mostly for police salaries and pensions.

Schenectady police enhance their salaries with overtime, which elevates officers’ base pay and raises the city’s pension indebtedness.

Chicago’s taxpayers carry multiple general obligation bond indebtedness just for retroactive pension arrears and mounting police brutality lawsuits. Schenectady’s general fund itself is burdened with police brutality payouts: one in 2015 (man’s head slammed on sidewalk), another just filed (family brutalized), and yet another moving toward filing (woman’s head shoved in fecal-filled toilet).

Schenectady’s city officials “risk-manage” such police civil rights abuses by taxpayers’ insuring against expected police brutality, suggesting that police civil rights abuses are far from unusual. Schenectady’s general fund buys police-related liability insurance — around $100,000 annually — but police brutality payouts increase premiums and reduce deductible levels. Taxpayer money covers costs from deductibles and private attorneys’ fees to defend Schenectady police.

But the bitterest aspect of “risk-managing” police brutality is that the poor — statistically most likely to be abused by police — are those whose taxes go disproportionately toward lawsuit payouts and police salaries.

Schenectady must freeze police salaries, and now that a police chief is in place, a transparent system for evaluating police merit collaboratively must be worked out among city managers, taxpayers and the Police Benevolent Association (PBA). A public educated in city schools enhances “public safety;” police who violate civil rights weaken security and are taxpayer costly.

– Martha K. Huggins

Schenectady

Former Union College Professor

Las Vegas Police Jailed Paraplegic for Two Weeks; Accused of Robbery Where Suspect Ran Away

On May 21st, Antwine Hunter was assaulted by an officer from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and slammed onto the ground outside a pizza place near downtown Las Vegas. Not long after, he found himself inside a cell at the Clark County Detention Center with the leg braces he had worn since being paralyzed in a drive-by shooting 17 years ago in California at the age of twelve having been confiscated.

Initially, he was unable to move without the braces and not much better off once he was given a cheap, undersized, and uncomfortable wheelchair to use. After being informed that he was arrested on a warrant for burglary and larceny charges, Hunter couldn’t fathom how he could be wanted for those crimes. The confusion deepened when he was told that he was being accused of running into a UPS driver’s truck, grabbing his cell phone and scanner, and then escaping by running away.

Obviously, someone who is paralyzed from the waist down couldn’t have ran into and then away from the truck. So, logic would tell you that Hunter wasn’t the man who really committed that crime. Unfortunately for him though, nobody within the LVMPD stopped to actually use logic or anything even remotely close to it.

Not the officer who sadistically threw him to the ground during the arrest. Not the detectives who issued the warrant and then never bothered to even interview him after he was arrested. (In fact, in the video embedded below Hunter states that when he tried to explain to an officer that was reading the description of the charges and the details of the allegations against him that it couldn’t have been him, he was told to “shut up.”) Not even the judge who ordered him held on a $20,000 bail, which was too high for him to pay.

Instead, Hunter suffered for two weeks in jail before he finally went before Justice of the Peace Eric Goodman to face the charges. Amazingly, once a jail guard wheeled Hunter into the courtroom everyone, including the judge, the prosecutor, and the UPS driver whose property was stolen, instantly knew he wasn’t the droid they should have been looking for.

Herbert Hutson, the UPS driver immediately informed Prosecutor Elana Graham that Hunter wasn’t the person who had robbed him. Graham quickly realized, for what should have been obvious reasons that Hunter wasn’t even capable of being the one responsible for committing the crime and Judge Goodman dismissed the case. Meanwhile, the unnamed arresting officer never even bothered to show up for court and Metro had no comment when asked about the case by the Las Vegas Review Journal.

So, how did it get to the point that Hunter was left to suffer for two weeks in jail without proper medical care or the necessary accommodations for his disability, in spite of being completely innocent and very obviously not even being physically capable of having committed the crime he stood (no pun intended) accused of? For some reason, Hunter was included within a photo lineup that was presented to the UPS driver. Even more inexplicably, when Hutson picked him out as the man he believed stole his equipment, instead of explaining that it couldn’t have been him since he couldn’t actually run, detectives simply issued a warrant for his arrest and sent an officer out to (violently) arrest him.

Prosecutor Graham called the dismissal, “a totally fair resolution.” – Because those two weeks of his life and the physical hardships inflicted upon him during his time in jail don’t really count. She also made sure to caution everybody that just because the charges were (finally) dismissed, that doesn’t mean he isn’t a criminal, just that he wasn’t THAT criminal. – Because dragging the reputation of the people accused of crimes through the mud, even if they are shown to be innocent, is kind of a tradition among prosecutors and the police in Las Vegas. You’ve gotta seize every opportunity you get, especially when someone has some old convictions for victimless crimes (that he maintains involved the use of marijuana for the pain caused by the injuries that left him severely disabled).

For his part, Judge Goodman stopped short of throwing the case out altogether. Instead, he ruled that those detectives who did such a great job the first time and/or the prosecutors could refile the charges against Hunter if some sort of evidence surfaced that he was actually involved in the robbery. So, for instance, if it comes out that Hunter has just been faking that he is a paraplegic since 1999 as part of an elaborate ruse to eventually steal a cell phone and UPS code scanner, they can send someone back down to bodyslam him again.

Meanwhile, Roy Nelson, the defense attorney that represented Hunter, stated that his client “could pursue litigation against the police,” as well he should. The only thing more obvious in this case than the incompetence and shitty job pretty much everyone involved did, is the fact that the taxpayers of Clark County, Nevada are going to have to pay a pretty penny to bail Metro out on this one.

Close behind those two factors in obviousness is the certainty that none of those people that completely screwed up this case, then abused and traumatized a completely innocent man, will suffer any sort of consequences, whatsoever. There’s no shortage of precedent for that eventuality throughout the history of Las Vegas area police.

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.

Corruption by Six Philadelphia Drug Cops Cost Taxpayers Over $50 Million

The following post was submitted anonymously, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page. The case of the six Philadelphia cops discussed in this post has been previously discussed on the CopBlock Network. Those posts can be found here, here, and here.

THOUSANDS of Philadelphia cops were involved in 600-plus dismissed/reversed cases of six narcotics cops (about 1,000 cases in total are to be dismissed/reversed, as per the Public Defender’s Association.) That is because dozens of officers were involved in each of the thousand fake cases, which were scattered throughout the city. For those reasons alone, THOUSANDS of Philadelphia cops are possibly corrupt!

The six referenced officers have cost taxpayers over $30 million (and counting to $50 million-plus) in wasted prosecution costs of over $50,000 per case (including prosecuting attorneys’ fees, court costs, incarceration costs, police compensation, etc.) and corruption/brutality lawsuit settlements.

In May 2015, the six “allegedly” crooked Philadelphia cops were acquitted by a scammed jury. Prosecutors purposefully presented an EXTREMELY weak case in order to vindicate the obviously guilty cops, with whom they had frequently worked to convict possibly innocent people. During the voir dire, prosecutors deliberately selected 11 wealthy suburban whites to be jurors (only one of the 12 jurors picked was black), knowing that such jurors would side with the crooked white cops and disbelieve the mostly black witnesses.

The sole purpose of the “prosecution” was to give the illusion that the police are being policed, while simultaneously allowing the six “allegedly” criminal cops to receive long, paid vacations. Prosecutors intentionally failed to emphasize the real evidence, which is that a staggering 19 victims gave virtually IDENTICAL accounts of their alleged victimizations, which held up even under intense and sophisticated FBI interrogations. Any seasoned lawyer will tell you that it normally takes merely TWO such corroborating witnesses (even convicted felons) to get a conviction. And many of the cops’ HUNDREDS of alleged victims are NOT criminals, contrary to the blatant lies told by prosecutors.

Do not believe the silly police excuse that the 19 witnesses were not credible because they were not completely consistent in their testimony. All witnesses are inconsistent to some degree, and no defendant would ever be convicted if complete consistency was the standard.

Screen-shot-2016-02-04-at-9.56.10-AMThe six “hero” policemen, Thomas Liciardello, Brian Reynolds, Michael Spicer, Perry Betts, Linwood Norman, and John Speiser, have since been rehired with back pay. In other words, as “punishment” for “allegedly” robbing, extorting, assaulting, perjuring, and framing citizens, as well as dealing drugs and stolen property, these six thugs in blue have each received a paid, yearlong vacation! This, despite the fact that they have cost taxpayers over $30 million (and counting) in wasted prosecution fees and lawsuit settlements. One officer, Michael Spicer, has even since promoted to sergeant!

Five of the cop thugs have even filed a laughably frivolous defamation lawsuit against Philadelphia’s mayor, police commissioner, and district attorney. We are sorry, obviously guilty but “allegedly” corrupt cops, but the truth is an absolute defense against libel and slander — and such officials are immune from such civil prosecution — so your case will be dismissed on a summary judgement. Your guilt has already been proven by the civil standard, as per the city solicitor’s de facto admission thereof via lawsuit settlements which he made with some of your “alleged” victims. Said three city officials should countersue these five scumbags in blue for malicious prosecution and other points of law.

Also, taxpayers should file a federal class action lawsuit against the “hero” officers and police union, for fraud and violations under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and other points of law, to recoup their losses. The city’s police force actually wanted to hold a parade for these six obese, vertically challenged losers, calling them “heros”.

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