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  1. #11
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    Default Re: This is Why More Police Department Transparency is Needed

    Quote Quoting Taxing Matters
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    And generally very overprotective of their own profession. You know how many doctors who commit malpractice ever have action taken against their medical license? Very, very few. The same is generally true for states in which lawyers are the only ones reviewing the alleged misconduct of lawyers, too, btw. I won’t exempt my own profession from that criticism. It is for that reason in my state that the lawyer disclpline process includes not just lawyers on the panel but members drawn from the general public too. And the Supreme Court publicly releases the written determination of the review panel in every case in which discipline is actually imposed and maintains a freely available web site that the public can search any lawyer and determine what his/her disciplinary record is. I strongly supported those changes. Exposing the profession to public review helps to ensure the integrity of the profession and holds legal profession and the Court accountable for how lawyers are regulated and disciplined.
    Perhaps when there is greater transparency in some of those professions, we might be more amenable to take the chance.

    You can point to a few specific cases where publicity screwed the professional careers of an officer. You can't prevent all instances of that. And in the case of Wilson, it was not the release of personnel documents that did that to him, so you cannot blame rules meant for transparency for that.
    Just imagine if any and all accusations against him had been allowed to be released. He may well have been smeared with false allegations that would have driven the narrative even further as clearly, the FACTS did not matter to the public at large.

    As I stated from the outset, I suspected that cops would defend the protection from release of even the limited information I suggested we ensure gets released: records of those officers who have been determined after their department’s investigation process to have committed misconduct and what discipline was handed out to that officer, and I see that the police officers of this forum have done just as I predicted. I have not advocated for release of ALL information from personnel records, just that related to officer misconduct. I guess that blue line is so tight that good officers would rather protect the bad ones than allow the public to see what happens to those bad officers. The public needs to have a way to see what their public officials do and hold them accountable for the decisions they make, like the decisions to retain on the force officers whom most would say should be fired: those that lie, those who abuse suspects, those who cheat their department out of money, etc. How can the public do that if you hide the information needed to do it?
    We believe in due process and accountability. The IA process has no guarantees of objectivity or freedom from bias. Would you be okay with every allegation against you being made public fodder, whether true or not? based solely upon the subjective evaluation of someone you may not know, or who may not even understand your profession? I suspect not. If so, then you are a better man than I am.

    Lying and cheating - if substantiated - should result in the end of a career. In fact, per Brady, it is the duty of the prosecutor in a criminal case to provide this information to the defense. As such, an officer in such a position has given up his ability to perform his job and should be terminated. Likewise an officer who objectively commits abuse - criminal abuse. The allegation of abuse is as easy as making a phone call or an anonymous letter, call, or email, in many instances.

    A policy violation is not necessarily heinous. If I failed to turn in a missing person report within 2 hours in violation of agency policy, I could be found in violation of policy. Depending upon the agency and the construct of their policy manual, that can be termed as falsifying a report. It has only been in the past few years that agencies throughout the country have moved to improve their policy manuals to reflect standardized language and best practices. Many agencies have such a mish-mosh of policies that the title can be entirely non-reflective of the actions.

    Let me ask you officers this question: how would you propose to give the public the information to hold official accountable if you protect ALL information about a police officer? Do you actually have any workable solutions that would provide useful information, or are you just giving me a knee jerk reaction that release of this information must be a bad thing and the public be damned? The federal government generally does not disclose records of mere allegations of misconduct against its employees but will release records regarding significant acts of proven misconduct; not every detail is released, but the general nature of the misconduct and the action the agency took is typicall available to the public. If the federal government can do that, why can’t state and local governments do that too?
    The problem is the patchwork of laws and policies. There are 50 states' laws and even more individual agency policies including patchwork practices and policies that permit non-sworn review board personnel to evaluate personnel complaints and even release certain information. Investigations that result in criminal prosecution should probably be made public ... others that do not result in criminal allegations, maybe not. An agency that keeps an officer who is subject to Brady is doing themselves no service as this officer is no longer able to perform the job. And any agency that does NOT disclose Brady info to the DA has bigger issues involved and the local prosecutor should probably pursue criminal charges as might be called for in such cases.

    Perhaps a system with enforceable due process protections would be acceptable along with policies that limit the amount of info that can be released. In all honesty, I have not given any real thought to a model policy or practice in this area though I am sure that there is something out there. But, given the extreme level of mistrust or trepidation between staff and their employing government agencies these days, I'd say that the trust necessary to permit law enforcement (at least in CA) to support the proscribed release of individual findings is a long way off. After all, what better way to torpedo an opponent than to release a finding that says he lied or committed some other policy violation ... never mind that he might later be exonerated in court or arbitration, the damage may already be done.
    **********
    Retired Cal Cop Sergeant & Teacher

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
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    Tacoma, WA
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    Default Re: This is Why More Police Department Transparency is Needed

    Quote Quoting Taxing Matters
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    [FONT=Garamond][SIZE=3]And generally very overprotective of their own profession. You know how many doctors who commit malpractice ever have action taken against their medical license? Very, very few.
    I would also guess that very, very few incidents of malpractice are so outrageous that they warrant revoking a medical license and ending a career. The patients who suffered and their loved ones would probably disagree. But, experienced doctors, who can objectively understand the totality of a given situation, are in a better position to determine if other remedies are more appropriate. I would say the same is true for lawyers or any other profession. I’m think I’m a pretty smart guy, think I have good judgment, and think I am fair, attentive, and objective. Nonetheless, I do NOT think I am qualified to sit in judgment of decisions made by a doctor made during a stressful and quickly unfolding trauma care ER.

    Quote Quoting Taxing Matters
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    The same is generally true for states in which lawyers are the only ones reviewing the alleged misconduct of lawyers, too, btw. I won’t exempt my own profession from that criticism. It is for that reason in my state that the lawyer disclpline process includes not just lawyers on the panel but members drawn from the general public too. And the Supreme Court publicly releases the written determination of the review panel in every case in which discipline is actually imposed and maintains a freely available web site that the public can search any lawyer and determine what his/her disciplinary record is.
    And, I ask you, are any of the “members drawn from the general public” in your state an admitted gang member and convicted felon drug dealer? Cuz, that’s what’s on the police review board in the city of Oakland. Do any of the members of your board have a clear, publicly admitted agenda against your profession (including a strong financial motivation to perpetuate a public distrust of your profession) and were placed on the board by pandering politicians to provide “unbiased” and “impartial” input? Cuz, that’s the experience across the county for cops subject to civilian review boards. Who selects the members of your board and what qualifications do they have? Would the guy who leads the local “sovereign citizen” movement, or anyone else with a history of distorted and/or exaggerated vilification of the legal profession, be welcomed on the board by the members of your profession because of the “unbiased objectivity” he would provide? I think not.

    Further, from a practical standpoint, there is a very real difference when discussing this topic as it relates to police as opposed to lawyers, doctors, or IRS accountants. The amount of hyperbole, distortion, exaggeration, and mis/uninformed hysteria as it relates to police conduct does not even compare. When was the last time an act of misconduct by a lawyer (where actual misconduct was actually proven, let alone a mere accusation) inspired someone who was not even involved to seek violence against that lawyer, the firm he/she worked for, or just some random other lawyer working halfway across the country? When was the last time there were protests with people with bullhorns shouting “What do we want? DEAD LAWYERS! When do we want it? NOW!”? (While, all the while, lawyers were blocking traffic, placing themselves between the protesters and those who opposed them, and otherwise working to ensure the safety and rights of those shouting for their murder – just sayin’) When was the last time a lawyer had to worry about the safety of his/her family because some nutjob decided to post his/her home address, along with pictures of his/her family, on the internet because of an act of misconduct (again, even a PROVEN act of actual misconduct, let alone a sensationalized but false accusation) that was made public? Actual events have shown that the stakes are a bit different.
    Behind the badge is a person. Behind the person is an ego. This is as it should be, person at the center and ego to the back.

  3. #13
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    Oct 2014
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    Default Re: This is Why More Police Department Transparency is Needed

    Quote Quoting cdwjava
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    We believe in due process and accountability. The IA process has no guarantees of objectivity or freedom from bias. Would you be okay with every allegation against you being made public fodder, whether true or not? based solely upon the subjective evaluation of someone you may not know, or who may not even understand your profession? I suspect not. If so, then you are a better man than I am.

    I’m sorry Carl, but based on your responses I believe you do not stand for accountability. You stand for hiding information from the public, thereby shielding the bad cops among you from public scrutiny and accountability. I have said repeatedly in this thread that I am not interested in having allegations of misconduct released and yet you ignore that and keep focusing on allegations. Allegations are easy to make and hard to prove, so I agree with the federal government’s reasonable position in not releasing information on allegations and rather instead releasing information on proven misconduct. The feds, legal and medical professions, and others at least go this far. Federal law enforcement, including FBI, Secret Service, and IRS agents are subject to that along with the rest of the federal government. Yet in at least NY and CA, the public can’t get information on state and local cops who have been proven to commit misconduct. And you support that lack of disclosure. You apparently would be comfortable with China’s policy of covering up all government misconduct. China famously releases nothing about its law enforcement activities. It doesn’t value transparency because it is not a democracy. It is a dictatorship. But a democracy requires that its citizens have the information needed to see how well its government functions, and yet you would deny the public even the limited information about bad cops to help the public see how a very critical part of our government — law enforcement — functions. We give the cops great power to do their jobs, and with that should come greater responsibility and accountability, yet you don’t want the accountability. You want to hide even the actions (or lack of actions, in the case of at least NYPD) against the bad actors among you. Why?

    You fall back on the argument that the IA process itself is so bad that no cop can trust it. Really? In every department, or even the majority of departments, the IA is really that bad? If that’s true, that’s very troubling and suggests three things. First, that we need to shine more light on the misconduct process, not less, in order to see what the problems are and fix them. Second, the cops are far worse at policing themselves than even doctors and lawyers are. And third, that cops should not be the ones in charge of investigating misconduct of cops — an outside agency should. Yet you tell me that we can’t shine the light on the process, it has to remain closed and that we cannot have an outside agency investigate the cops, but rather you want that same, apparently terrible, IA division to remain doing it! Whether you intend it or not, Carl, your stance smacks of protectionism of the bad. By asserting that nothing about the police misconduct process can be open to the public, that what the police do with their own must remain completely out of the public eye, you breed mistrust of the police because the only reason that I and many others could see for that position is that you want to cover up a whole lot of nastiness in the police department that you don’t want the rest of us to see.

    I happen to think that most police departments, at least most of those outside the mid-Atlantic and southern states, are not hotbeds of corruption and that most cops (other than those on those aforementioned departments) are not corrupt. I support good cops. I value the hard and dangerous work they do. And I happen to think that good departments and good cops can withstand public scrutiny. When you are doing things right you do not have to fear what others see. Not everything needs to be released, but information that is needed for the public to exercise proper oversight of government does need to be released. But when departments hide everything, it gives rise of the fears of the worst going on within the police, not the best. You see it time and time again in every arena: where information is withheld, people tend to believe the worst is occurring because if that wasn’t the case those hiding the information would not be reluctant to share it.


    Quote Quoting cdwjava
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    Lying and cheating - if substantiated - should result in the end of a career.
    But yet in the NYPD that apparently does not happen to many officers caught lying and cheating. And there is no way for the public to find that out because the laws prohibit release of even what cops were found after the full IA process and appeals, to have committed misconduct and what happened to them. So the public has to endure these bad cops still on the streets because they don’t have the information needed to tell their public officials that things need to change, that retaining these bad cops is not acceptable. And you evidently are comfortable hiding that information from the public and protecting those bad cops even as you say they should not be employed. I don’t understand why you should want to protect them. If the IA process in your department is broken, then speak out and get it fixed! But don’t use that to support engaging in Chinese style cover up of what government does.

    Quote Quoting cdwjava
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    The allegation of abuse is as easy as making a phone call or an anonymous letter, call, or email, in many instances.
    Again, to drive the point home, I am not talking about releasing allegations. I’m talking about releasing information about cops proven to have been engaged in significant misconduct (lying, embezzlement, taking bribes, abuse of suspects and violations of citizen’s rights, and other acts of corruption, not the failure to submit a report on time) and what the police department did to discipline them.

    But you apparently won’t support even that, all because of your fear of your IA department, and thus protect the bad as well as yourself. Perhaps cops are not quite as strong as I thought, if they aren’t willing to stand up and expose the bad among themselves and ensure they get kicked out.

    I’m all for kicking bad lawyers out of the legal profession and have long advocated for stronger enforcement of lawyer misconduct and public accountability for lawyers. That has not endeared me to some in my profession. But it is the right thing to do to ensure the public has good lawyers to represent them when they have a need for legal help and ensure integrity in legal proceedings. I should hope that at least some cops would be willing to stand up and advocate for that in their profession, too. And yet when I talk to cops in the places I practice, I find great reluctance among the good cops to even turn in the bad among them within their own departments, let alone seek more transparency and accountability from outside the department. I find that frankly depressing.


    Quote Quoting PTPD22
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    I would also guess that very, very few incidents of malpractice are so outrageous that they warrant revoking a medical license and ending a career. The patients who suffered and their loved ones would probably disagree. But, experienced doctors, who can objectively understand the totality of a given situation, are in a better position to determine if other remedies are more appropriate. I would say the same is true for lawyers or any other profession. I’m think I’m a pretty smart guy, think I have good judgment, and think I am fair, attentive, and objective. Nonetheless, I do NOT think I am qualified to sit in judgment of decisions made by a doctor made during a stressful and quickly unfolding trauma care ER.
    Having persons within the profession on the review panel is, of course, important. In my main state of practice the panels are made up of one lawyer, one member of the public, and the presiding disciplinary officer, a full-time employee of the State Supreme Court. Decisions are made by majority vote of the panel, i.e. 2 votes carries the decision. It is notable that neither the legal profession nor the public dominates the panel, bu the inclusion of a professional disciplinary official who is expert in the law but not a practicing lawyer is what helps ensure both expert knowledge and objectivity are present on the panel. It is as good a way as any, I think, to have an objective process. Perhaps you can think of one that is better, and if so, I’d love to hear your suggestions for how professional misconduct reviews should be done.

    Quote Quoting PTPD22
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    And, I ask you, are any of the “members drawn from the general public” in your state an admitted gang member and convicted felon drug dealer? Cuz, that’s what’s on the police review board in the city of Oakland. Do any of the members of your board have a clear, publicly admitted agenda against your profession (including a strong financial motivation to perpetuate a public distrust of your profession) and were placed on the board by pandering politicians to provide “unbiased” and “impartial” input?
    As far as I know, the answer is no. But that is simply an argument going to what standards ought to used for selecting citizen participants, not an argument against having citizens on the review panel at all.

    Quote Quoting PTPD22
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    Further, from a practical standpoint, there is a very real difference when discussing this topic as it relates to police as opposed to lawyers, doctors, or IRS accountants. The amount of hyperbole, distortion, exaggeration, and mis/uninformed hysteria as it relates to police conduct does not even compare. When was the last time an act of misconduct by a lawyer (where actual misconduct was actually proven, let alone a mere accusation) inspired someone who was not even involved to seek violence against that lawyer, the firm he/she worked for, or just some random other lawyer working halfway across the country? When was the last time there were protests with people with bullhorns shouting “What do we want? DEAD LAWYERS! When do we want it? NOW!”? (While, all the while, lawyers were blocking traffic, placing themselves between the protesters and those who opposed them, and otherwise working to ensure the safety and rights of those shouting for their murder – just sayin’) When was the last time a lawyer had to worry about the safety of his/her family because some nutjob decided to post his/her home address, along with pictures of his/her family, on the internet because of an act of misconduct (again, even a PROVEN act of actual misconduct, let alone a sensationalized but false accusation) that was made public? Actual events have shown that the stakes are a bit different.
    Those protests and other activity you cited take place even with the rules in place that shield disclosure of misconduct records. You cannot say that it is disclosure of those records that prompts this kind of activity. So that argument is a red herring. There are those out there who hate cops (and hate lawyers and hate IRS officers) and will continue to hate them regardless of what information you release to the public. Those haters are not a reason to keep the rest of the public in the dark about how professions handle misconduct.

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