OR Crime Victims Face Delays in Obtaining Police Reports

It took a sex assault victim six months to get a copy of a police report on her case. An advocate says victims routinely are denied reports “or they are told no or they don’t get any response at all.”

On the one-year anniversary of her sexual assault, Claire Rood of Portland, Or., requested a copy of her now-completed police report. It would take six months, an ombudsman and the order of the district attorney’s office before Rood would ever see it, reports The Oregonian. On July 23, 2014, Rood reported a sexual assault to police. Two months later she decided not to press the case, writing to the detective that she stood by her claims but didn’t feel supported or believed. No charges were filed. By reading the police report, Rood hoped to understand “what it was that made my allegations so preposterous to police,” she wrote on her blog. In December, her request was denied because a witness in the case didn’t want their statement released. At the Multnomah County District Attorney’s urging, on Jan. 26, the city finally released her police report.

An Oregonian columnist requested the same report recently and was denied. Portland Police Spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson acknowledged that the denial “shouldn’t have happened.” He agreed that the wait for records is too long and said police are hiring more staff to process requests faster. Attorney Jacqueline Swanson, who specializes in advocating for survivors of sexual abuse, said victims are routinely denied access to their own police reports from law enforcement agencies across Oregon. “Just in the past year alone, I can’t even count the number of women who have gone through the exactly the same thing (Rood) went through,” Swanson said. “They are denied it or they are told no or they don’t get any response at all, and the vast majority of the time they don’t fight it.” California requires law enforcement agencies to provide a free copy of incident reports to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, human trafficking or elder abuse upon request.

from https://thecrimereport.org

CA Mayor Stops Asking Police Applicants About Sex Assaults

Oakland, Ca., Mayor Libby Schaaf ordered an immediate end to a police department policy that forced job applicants to disclose information about whether they had been sexually assaulted. The mayor’s order came in response to a San Francisco Chronicle story about the practice, which legal experts said was highly unusual, discriminatory and possibly illegal.

Oakland, Ca., Mayor Libby Schaaf ordered an immediate end Sunday to a police department policy that forced job applicants to disclose information about whether they had been sexually assaulted, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The mayor’s order came in response to a Chronicle story Sunday revealing the practice, which legal experts said was highly unusual, discriminatory and possibly illegal. “Today I ordered the immediate removal of a waiver where OPD applicants authorize the release of confidential records, including those that would disclose whether they are victims of sexual assault,” Schaaf said, adding that she ordered “a top-to-bottom review of the department’s recruitment and hiring process to ensure no other barriers discourage the hiring of women or minority applicants.”

Asking job applicants to disclose whether they have ever been sexually assaulted is at best problematic. Catherine Sanz of Women in Federal Law Enforcement Inc., said questions about a woman’s ties to home and her children have long been considered inappropriate, so one would think sexual assault would also be out of bounds. “I would look at it as an artificial barrier to eliminate candidates and particularly minority candidates, which is one of the biggest problems law enforcement has,” said Sanz. Women make up only 12 percent of the law enforcement workforce. “We know gender bias has a big impact on the policies and procedures that impact the recruitment, hiring, training and promotion of women in the profession.” The Chronicle checked with police departments in the 10 most populous cities in California and could not find any that ask candidates to disclose information about prior sexual assaults. Oakland police officials said the requests were being made because they wanted to review all police reports in which applicants appeared. They insisted the candidates were not denied positions for being victims.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Collateral Damage Caused by Militaristic SWAT Policing

     After their house in Wisconsin burned down in August 2014, Alecia Phonesavanh, her husband, and their four children, ages one to seven, moved into a dwelling outside of Cornelia, Georgia occupied by two of Alecia’s relatives. The fa…

     After their house in Wisconsin burned down in August 2014, Alecia Phonesavanh, her husband, and their four children, ages one to seven, moved into a dwelling outside of Cornelia, Georgia occupied by two of Alecia's relatives. The family took up residence with 30-year-old Wanis Thonetheva and his mother. They had knowingly moved into a a place where drugs were sold by Wanis who had a long arrest record.

     Since 2002, Wanis Thonetheva had been convicted of various weapons and drug related offenses. In October 2013, a Habersham County prosecutor charged him with possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony. The felony in question involved selling methamphetamine. In May 2014, Thoretheva was out on bail awaiting trial in that case.

     Shortly after midnight on Wednesday May 28, 2014, a confidential drug informant purchased a quantity of meth from Thonetheva at his house. Once he made the sale, Thonetheva left the premises for the night. Had narcotics officers been surveilling him, they would have known that.

     Based on the informant's drug purchase, a magistrate issued a "no-knock" warrant to search the Thonetheva residence. Just before three in the morning, just a couple of hours after the meth buy, a 7-man SWAT team made up of officers with the Cornelia Police Department and the Habersham County Sheriff's Office, approached the Thonetheva dwelling. A family sticker displayed on a minivan parked close to the suspected drug house indicated the presence of children. If a member of the raiding party had looked inside that vehicle he would have seen several children's car seats. A used playpen in the front yard provided further evidence that children were in the house about to be forcibly entered without notice.

     According to the drug informant, men were inside the house standing guard over the drugs. Against the force of the battering ram, the front door didn't fly open. SWAT officers interpreted this to mean that drug dealers were inside barricading the entrance. A SWAT officer broke a window near the door and tossed in a percussion grenade. The flash bang device landed in a playpen next to 19-month-old Bounkham Phonesavanh. It exploded on his pillow, ripping open his face, lacerating his chest, and burning him badly. The explosion also set the playpen on fire.

     There were no drug dealers or armed men in the house. The place was occupied by two women, the husband of one of them, and four children.

     At a nearby hospital, emergency room personnel wanted to fly the seriously injured toddler to Atlanta's Brady Memorial Hospital. But due to weather conditions, Bounkham had to be driven by ambulance 75 miles to the Atlanta hospital. In the burn unit doctors placed the child into an induced coma.

     Shortly after the SWAT raid, police officers arrested Wanis Thonetheva at another area residence. Officers booked him into the Habersham County Detention Center on charges related to the sale of meth to the police snitch. The judge denied him bail.

     Many local citizens criticized the police for tossing a flash bang grenade into the house without first making certain children were not inside. Critics wanted to know why the narcotic detectives hadn't asked the informant about the presence of children. He had been inside the dwelling just a couple of hours before the raid.

     Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell told reporters that SWAT officers would not have used a "distraction device" if they had known that children were in the house. Cornelia Chief of Police Rick Darby said, "We might have gone in through a side door. We would not have used a flash bang. But according to the sheriff, members of the SWAT team had done everything correctly. As a result, he could see no reason for an investigation into the operation.

     As far as Sheriff Terrell was concerned, Wanis Thronetheva was responsible for what happened to Bounkham Phonesavanh. He said prosecutors might charge the suspected meth dealer in connection with the child's flash bang injuries.

     In September 2014, due to public criticism of the raid, a state grand jury began hearing testimony regarding the incident. A month later the grand jurors voted not to bring any criminal charges against the officers involved in the drug raid. 

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

New NYC Right to Know Law Explains Police Rules

The New York Police Department ordered 10 million business cards that officers must hand out to people they stop. The cards are required by the Right to Know Act, which took effect Friday. It spells out what officers must do before conducting searches.

The New York Police Department ordered 10 million business cards that officers must hand out to people they stop. The cards include the officers’ names and ranks, and are required under the new Right to Know Act. The law, which took effect Friday, spells out what officers must do before searching individuals, their belongings or their homes in cases where the person is not suspected of a crime or there is probable cause to conduct a search, the New York Times reports. The Right to Know Act was passed by the City Council in 2017 in response to the aggressive police use of stop-and-frisk tactics. A federal judge ruled in 2013 that the practice was unconstitutional and unfairly discriminated against blacks and Latinos.

The police have drastically scaled back such stops, but proponents of the law say it will further shield civilians from harassment. Police officials say the department will fully implement the measures, though the city’s largest police union maintains that they are an unnecessary burden. If an officer has a hunch that a man has a concealed weapon, the officer can ask who he is and where he is going, without having to provide any reason for the questioning. If the officer asks if the man has a weapon, or conducts a frisk, he must have an objective reason to believe that the man has committed, is committing or is about to commit a crime. If there is no objective reason, the officer must tell the man why he is questioning him and get his consent to conduct a pat-down. The new law seeks to make certain that officers ask explicitly for consent for searches that require it. The police must tell people that they can refuse a search, and that a search cannot happen without their permission.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Sessions Calls Chicago Police Reform Plan an ‘Insult’

Attorney General Jeff Sessions declares that “Chicago police are not the problem.” He blames the American Civil Liberties Union for ideas that increase crime.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions called a proposed consent decree that would reform the Chicago Police Department an “insult,’’ saying, “Chicago police are not the problem.’’ Sessions spoke to business and law enforcement representatives at an event sponsored by the Chicago Crime Commission, the Chicago Tribune reports. Sessions bemoaned the city’s spike in violence in 2016, blaming “the ACLU effect,” a reference to the city’s agreement with the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois that required police to more thoroughly document street stops. “If you let ACLU set police policy, crime will go up,’’ he said. Though he didn’t specifically refer to controversial “stop-and-frisk’’ policies backed by President Trump, Sessions said that if police “don’t stop,’’ they “don’t find’’ illegal guns and fugitives. He called the ACLU agreement a “colossal’’ mistake that reduced public safety and placed “minorities, particularly at risk.’’

Karen Sheley, the director of the ACLU’s police practices project in Illinois, blasted Sessions for repeating “knowingly false assertions about crime in Chicago.” She said, “He pushes this misinformation over and over in order to block much-needed reforms and to encourage unlawful strong-arm tactics. Sessions creates the incorrect impression that the only answer to crime is unconstitutional practices by police.” Sessions said the president has told him he is “deeply concerned’’ about the city’s violence and that Chicago residents have pleaded with Trump to do something about the problem, even “bring in’’ the military. Chicago’s proposed consent decree would aim to tighten supervision, improve training and fix the city’s police disciplinary system. “These decrees tend to drag on for years,’’ Sessions said. They are costly and use “vague and subjective’’ metrics, he added.

from https://thecrimereport.org

A Police Officer’s Strange and Unlawful Requests

     In 2014, 27-year-old Patrick Quinn worked as a uniformed patrol officer for the Cypress-Fairbanks School District in suburban Houston, Texas. On August 11 of that year, while driving his patrol vehicle, officer Quinn pulled over a m…

     In 2014, 27-year-old Patrick Quinn worked as a uniformed patrol officer for the Cypress-Fairbanks School District in suburban Houston, Texas. On August 11 of that year, while driving his patrol vehicle, officer Quinn pulled over a motorist in northwest Harris County. Following the stop, the officer examined the female driver's insurance card and found that her car insurance had expired. Quinn also informed the driver that he detected the odor of marijuana in the vehicle.

     Officer Quinn, after he secured the stopped driver's permission to search her car, placed the suspect in the backseat of his patrol vehicle. A search of the motorist's car resulted in the discovery of a marijuana grinder. Officer Quinn advised the detainee that he could arrest her for possession of drug paraphernalia. At that point the patrol officer stunned the woman with the revelation that he had a foot fetish. If she allowed him to sniff and lick her bare feet, he wouldn't take her into custody.

     Not wanting to be arrested, the motorist removed her boots and socks. But instead of availing himself of the woman's feet, officer Quinn asked her to remove and give him her underwear. Before the woman could comply with that request, the patrol officer changed his mind and let her go.

     The day following her harrowing encounter with the disturbed cop, the woman reported the bizarre and frightening incident to the authorities. Detectives with the Harris County District Attorney's Office launched an investigation.

     Police officers arrested Patrick Quinn after detectives identified him through his latent fingerprints on the victim's insurance card.

     The Cypress-Fairbanks School District fired Mr. Quinn after a Harris County prosecutor charged him with two counts of official oppression. In the course of the investigation leading up to the arrest, detectives had found three other women who had been victims of the officer's deviant propositions.

     On October 22, 2015, in a Houston Courtroom, Patrick Quinn pleaded guilty to one count of official oppression. The judge sentenced him to a year in the Harris County Jail.

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

Experts Link Mental Health Issues to Spike in Honolulu Police Shootings

The number of police-involved fatal shootings in 2018 has doubled to six, the most ever in recent history, prompting concern among criminal justice experts about whether they’re seeing an overall trend of more violence in the Aloha State. 

When  Hawaii’s new police shooting board began its work this summer, it already had a full plate.Four fatal shootings were waiting to be reviewed by August, with three of them involving the Honolulu Police Department  (HPD). 

Two months later, the number of HPD-involved fatal shootings in 2018 has doubled to six, the most ever in recent history, prompting concern among criminal justice experts about whether they’re seeing an overall trend of more violence in the Aloha State. 

It is not known if any of the six men killed were using drugs or alcohol at the time of their deaths. HPD has declined to provide details because the cases are still under investigation and they declined requests to be interviewed about the shootings for this story.

For years, the police department has tried to address encounters officers have had with mentally ill and drug-addicted individuals. In 2006, the HPD began consulting with three on-duty psychologists when encountering someone who appeared to be mentally ill. By 2008, HPD officers had placed about 26,000 calls to the on-duty psychologists. This year, the department has been part of a new initiative to divert the mentally ill who have not committed a crime but appear to be in crisis.

Launched in April, the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program has yet to divert anyone. Out of the HPD came the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training. The concept has worked well for police departments that had growing numbers of officer-involved shootings. In Miami, for example, fatal shootings have gone down since 2010 and the number of mental health-related calls resulted in far fewer arrests, also saving millions of dollars for taxpayers.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Experts Link Mental Health Issues to Spike in Honolulu Police Shootings

The number of police-involved fatal shootings in 2018 has doubled to six, the most ever in recent history, prompting concern among criminal justice experts about whether they’re seeing an overall trend of more violence in the Aloha State. 

When  Hawaii’s new police shooting board began its work this summer, it already had a full plate.Four fatal shootings were waiting to be reviewed by August, with three of them involving the Honolulu Police Department  (HPD). 

Two months later, the number of HPD-involved fatal shootings in 2018 has doubled to six, the most ever in recent history, prompting concern among criminal justice experts about whether they’re seeing an overall trend of more violence in the Aloha State. 

It is not known if any of the six men killed were using drugs or alcohol at the time of their deaths. HPD has declined to provide details because the cases are still under investigation and they declined requests to be interviewed about the shootings for this story.

For years, the police department has tried to address encounters officers have had with mentally ill and drug-addicted individuals. In 2006, the HPD began consulting with three on-duty psychologists when encountering someone who appeared to be mentally ill. By 2008, HPD officers had placed about 26,000 calls to the on-duty psychologists. This year, the department has been part of a new initiative to divert the mentally ill who have not committed a crime but appear to be in crisis.

Launched in April, the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program has yet to divert anyone. Out of the HPD came the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training. The concept has worked well for police departments that had growing numbers of officer-involved shootings. In Miami, for example, fatal shootings have gone down since 2010 and the number of mental health-related calls resulted in far fewer arrests, also saving millions of dollars for taxpayers.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Fort Worth’s Joel Fitzgerald Eyed as Baltimore’s Top Cop

Fort Worth, Tx., police chief Joel Fitzgerald will be Baltimore’s selection for the city’s next police commissioner, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price told Dallas media. Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh refused to confirm Fitzgerald’s selection.

Fort Worth, Tx., police chief Joel Fitzgerald will be Baltimore’s selection for the city’s next police commissioner, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price told Dallas media. Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh refused to confirm Fitzgerald’s selection. She said she was still in her vetting process and is on track to name the new commissioner by the end of the month after a nationwide search, the Baltimore Sun reports. The incoming police commissioner will become the fifth to lead the Baltimore department since 2015. The department has struggled with unprecedented violence while trying to regain the community’s trust after the unrest surrounding the death of Freddie Gray from injuries suffered in police custody and the federal racketeering case against members of the rogue, now disgraced Gun Trade Task Force.

City Councilman Brandon Scott, chairman of the public safety committee, said he has no information from Pugh on the choice. If Fitzgerald is chosen, Scott wants to know whether Fitzgerald’s track record is one of effectively reducing violence using community policing and if he has ever had to deal with a consent decree, as Baltimore must. Fitzgerald was also a longtime Philadelphia police officer and is from the Philadelphia area. He has previously served as police chief in Missouri City, Tx., and Allentown, Pa. He took the Fort Worth position in 2015. In Fort Worth, after the leak of body-camera footage led to the discipline of two high-ranking police commanders in 2017, two local ministers called for Fitzgerald’s removal. Also last year,  a survey of the Fort Worth Police Officers Association showed 84 percent of respondents indicating morale had declined during Fitzgerald’s tenure.

from https://thecrimereport.org

After Killings, Baltimore Moves More Officers to Streets

About 230 Baltimore Police Department officers assigned to administrative duties will leave their offices for patrol work as the department seeks to combat a spike in violence across the city. Mayor Catherine Pugh says, “We’ve gotten to a point where we’ve become desensitized to levels of violence in this city that are just totally, totally unacceptable.”

A day after 11 people were shot, including three fatally, Baltimore officials condemned the city’s drug trade and announced plans to get more police officers on the streets. About 230 Baltimore Police Department officers assigned to administrative duties will leave their offices for patrol work as the department seeks to combat a spike in violence across the city, the Baltimore Sun reports. Interim Commissioner Gary Tuggle temporarily shut down administrative operations at police headquarters and in every district. Those officers have been reassigned to the streets, bringing the number of officers patrolling the city to about 650, he said.

Tuggle and Mayor Catherine Pugh denounced the recent violence. “It’s just not acceptable, and one of the common denominators that we’re seeing with this violence is drugs,” Tuggle said. “We’ve gotten to a point where we’ve become desensitized to levels of violence in this city that are just totally, totally unacceptable.” She added, “You’ve heard about the war on drugs. There is a drug war. People are protecting their territories with guns.” Pugh has asked city agencies to look at what’s changed recently after a few months at the start of the year when the city saw violent crime trend downward. Baltimore has had 250 homicides so far in 2018. Last year, the deadliest year on record on a per-capita basis, saw 342 homicides. “We’re not accepting this,” Pugh said of the recent uptick in homicides. “There are still too many small markets in that area that are harboring those who are selling drugs,” Pugh said. “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: That is not the kind of activity we want operating in our communities.”

from https://thecrimereport.org