40
   

The Day Ferguson Cops Were Caught in a Bloody Lie

 
 
coldjoint
 
  -4  
Reply Sun 7 Dec, 2014 10:41 am
http://www.politifake.org/image/political/1203/first-lady-michelle-obama-wookie-chewbacca-politics-1331063597.png
bobsal u1553115
 
  6  
Reply Sun 7 Dec, 2014 10:55 am
@coldjoint,
Racist ******* piece of ****.
bobsal u1553115
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Dec, 2014 10:57 am
@Frank Apisa,
Frank, you oughta tell him about the arguments we used to have on Abuzz over religion.
0 Replies
 
coldjoint
 
  -2  
Reply Sun 7 Dec, 2014 11:07 am
@bobsal u1553115,
Quote:
Racist ******* piece of ****.

http://www.alien-earth.org/images/smileys/boohoohoo.gif

You are right I owe Chewbacca an apology.
bobsal u1553115
 
  2  
Reply Sun 7 Dec, 2014 11:09 am
@coldjoint,
Whatsa matter, asshole, can't stay away?

hahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!
coldjoint
 
  -1  
Reply Sun 7 Dec, 2014 11:14 am
@bobsal u1553115,
Quote:
Whatsa matter, asshole, can't stay away?
bobsal u1553115
 
  2  
Reply Sun 7 Dec, 2014 11:46 am
@coldjoint,
This time your nothing answer is nothing. What happened? Did your mother catch you on the internet again?
0 Replies
 
bobsal u1553115
 
  2  
Reply Sun 7 Dec, 2014 11:49 am

Firefighter Arrested While Helping Crash Victims
Posted on: May 11th, 2014 3 Comments
Tagged with:california police, law abuse, law enforcement misconduct, usa police

If it weren’t for the CBS reporters who filmed the whole incident while reporting on a 805 Freeway crash, it would be hard to believe that a firefighter who was helping the victims got arrested for not moving his truck.

The on-duty Chula Vista firefighter Jacob Gregoire was helping two people injured in a car crash that happened north on I-805 between Telegraph Canyon Road and East Orange Avenue.

A California Highway Patrol officer asked the firefighters to move the three fire trucks blocking the fast lane, but only two of them complied. The 36-year-old firefighter veteran Gregoire refused to move his truck and continued to provide aid to the victims.

“It’s unbelievable you guys have to treat us like this. We are trying to help you guys”, said Gregoire.

The officer’s response was: “We asked you to clear the road, you said ‘No.’ You are being arrested for not moving.”

Gregoire was handcuffed and retained in the back of a CHP vehicle for half an hour before being released.

Chula Vista Fire Chief Dave Hanneman was shocked by the way his men were treated and he praised them for protecting the accident scene with their trucks, like they have been trained to.
Representatives from the CHP and Chula Vista Fire Department met and released a joint statement in which they declared this an isolated incident and expressed the willingness to improve communication and work together toward a common goal.
0 Replies
 
giujohn
 
  -1  
Reply Sun 7 Dec, 2014 12:06 pm
@Frank Apisa,
Quote:
I APOLOGIZE.


Apology accepted.

Quote:
dedicated to trying to protect people...ALL people.


When on patrol and when I received a call I never asked the dispatcher to ascertain the color of the caller's skin. I never said, "No, I'm not going into that neighborhood." I have spent several hours talking a black homeless EDP out from under a building where he was living.

I found reasons to arrest homeless people of color in the dead of winter (against the department rules and at the homeless persons request) just to give them a warm place to sleep and a hot meal, always charging them with a simple crime where it would be "time served" after a few nights. And yes, sometimes I took the heat for doing so from the boss.

I have given mouth to mouth to numerous people never hesitating or taking much notice of skin color.

I have been spit on, pissed on, **** on, cut with a knife, and bitten by several dogs, one that was sicked on me. (and yes I shot it) I have held numerous people at gun point and had them yell at me, "Go ahead you ******* pussy, shoot me." And I have been shot at where I could not return fire because to do so would have endangered the public. (albeit the asshole was drunk and couldn't hit ****.) And yes I knocked the **** out of him when he fought going in hand cuffs. I was also suspended 5 days for punching the lights out of a scum bag who was laughing after I arrested for beating his 5 year old daughter. Yes, he was black. Racist? No. Was I wrong?...you betcha. Would I do it again?...you betcha!

I have listened to all these liberal assholes trying to make these two incidents in Mo. & N.Y. into a racial issue when none exists.

Are there racists cops? I'm sure there are. Do they seek me out? Nope. Other cops who know me know I always shoot straight action, and if they don't like it, tough ****. Do I give off duty cops a pass when I encounter them? Yes.... but only to a point. And I will lay down my life for ANY cop or civilian if needed; that's the oath I took.

Having said that, let me say this: the most important thing I learned in the Street Survival seminar lo' those many years ago is how to go home alive at the end of shift. And if someone criminally threatens my life or someone else's, I will take theirs first without any compunction whatsoever.

Do some cops need more training? Yes , we all do. But here's a thought. We also need to train people to accept authority. If the cop is wrong, the time to challenge him/her is in court, not on the street. Cops don't get paid to lose a fight.

Black people have the reputation of ALWAYS challenging ANY authority. They learn it from their parents. They do it to teachers, cops and any other people in authority; almost as second nature. The reasons are not important anymore because sometimes when they do they end up dead. When they change that paradigm then maybe cops' perception will change. But to always say the cop is a racist when no evidence exists is counter productive.

When I see someone like you who normally is more thoughtful agreeing with the likes of people like Boob, it gets my dander up. So while I will try to "tone it down" you must remember...I am after all, Italian . Wink





Frank Apisa
 
  3  
Reply Sun 7 Dec, 2014 01:33 pm
@giujohn,
Okay, John, I understand.

We are more in tune that it sometimes may seem.
0 Replies
 
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Dec, 2014 01:43 pm
@giujohn,
Quote:
We also need to train people to accept authority. If the cop is wrong, the time to challenge him/her is in court, not on the street. Cops don't get paid to lose a fight.


Said better than I did.

I have a huge problem with police tactics, but citizens should never resist arrest. The system needs to make cops accountable for bad arrests, and if it is not now then we need to address that, but we cant have fights in the street between citizens and the collectives agents.
Frank Apisa
 
  3  
Reply Sun 7 Dec, 2014 03:35 pm
@hawkeye10,
hawkeye10 wrote:

Quote:
We also need to train people to accept authority. If the cop is wrong, the time to challenge him/her is in court, not on the street. Cops don't get paid to lose a fight.


Said better than I did.

I have a huge problem with police tactics, but citizens should never resist arrest. The system needs to make cops accountable for bad arrests, and if it is not now then we need to address that, but we cant have fights in the street between citizens and the collectives agents.


If a cop tells me to sit down...I do not even look for a chair...I just sit!

But everyone is not as submissive to authority...and that should not mean that they can be shot to death for not being so.

There is a good deal of agreement here between both sides...even if neither side is willing to acknowledge it.


giujohn
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Dec, 2014 04:16 pm
@Frank Apisa,
Quote:
and that should not mean that they can be shot to death for not being so.


The problem Frank is the charaterazation that you and the media use to inflame the idiot masses. No one was killed for not being submissive they were killed for escalating the situation to the point where they were killed. In BOTH instances if the subject had simply STOPPED and put his hands behind his back they would both be alive today.

But when the incident is continuously branded as, "He was killed for jaywalking" , "He was killed for selling cigarrettes", or "He was killed because he was black.", this is what causes looting and arson, widens the divide, and fosters the wrong agrument. The real message...cops and public coming together to communicate more effectively is lost in the media bullshit in an effort to feed the beast that is the 24hr. news cycle.
BillRM
 
  0  
Reply Sun 7 Dec, 2014 04:48 pm
@giujohn,
I feel that the likelihood of myself being shot by a police officer is near zero and it is not due to my being white either.

It is due to my not dreaming of attacking a police officer or resisting arrest or for that matter being anything but polite to a police officer.

If I do have a problem with an officer interactions with myself I would take actions afterward such as filing a complain or if it very bad perhaps suing.

Mr Brown if he had not attacked the police officer would have been at worst given a slap on his wrist for his stealing of the cigars and could had gone on with his life.
Frank Apisa
 
  4  
Reply Sun 7 Dec, 2014 05:52 pm
@giujohn,
giujohn wrote:

Quote:
and that should not mean that they can be shot to death for not being so.


The problem Frank is the charaterazation that you and the media use to inflame the idiot masses. No one was killed for not being submissive they were killed for escalating the situation to the point where they were killed. In BOTH instances if the subject had simply STOPPED and put his hands behind his back they would both be alive today.

But when the incident is continuously branded as, "He was killed for jaywalking" , "He was killed for selling cigarrettes", or "He was killed because he was black.", this is what causes looting and arson, widens the divide, and fosters the wrong agrument. The real message...cops and public coming together to communicate more effectively is lost in the media bullshit in an effort to feed the beast that is the 24hr. news cycle.



In this case, John, I was not directing my comments to the two specific deaths we have been discussing, but rather to a general statement you made and to which Hawk agreed, namely,

Quote:
We also need to train people to accept authority. If the cop is wrong, the time to challenge him/her is in court, not on the street. Cops don't get paid to lose a fight.


The "real message" as you put it, is that cops have to get away from the notion that they can kill people...or use excessive force...so easily. People are not sheep. Some will not simply "accept authority" the way some of you seem to think they ought.

But it really doesn't matter what I or the others with whom you disagree say...because if cop with the mindset you seem to have continue to kill people the way they have been doing...the entire system is going to break down.
0 Replies
 
Frank Apisa
 
  4  
Reply Sun 7 Dec, 2014 05:54 pm
@BillRM,
BillRM wrote:

I feel that the likelihood of myself being shot by a police officer is near zero and it is not due to my being white either.

It is due to my not dreaming of attacking a police officer or resisting arrest or for that matter being anything but polite to a police officer.

If I do have a problem with an officer interactions with myself I would take actions afterward such as filing a complain or if it very bad perhaps suing.

Mr Brown if he had not attacked the police officer would have been at worst given a slap on his wrist for his stealing of the cigars and could had gone on with his life.


Yeah...I can tell from your posts just what an angel you are...and how anxious you are to submit to authority. (SARCASM!)

Get off it, Bill. If you were black, you'd be dead by now.
0 Replies
 
BillRM
 
  0  
Reply Sun 7 Dec, 2014 06:06 pm
No protects aim at the neighborhood drug dealers who killed let alone wound far far more then ten years of police shootings years in and years out.

An it is of course the first responsers including the police who need to go into harm way to collect the victims as in this case of the little girl.


Quote:


http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/deadline-miami/article4326284.html


A 3-year-old child was shot in the ankle Sunday afternoon in Liberty City, the victim of a neighborhood dispute that erupted into gunfire and had Miami police ducking for cover.

Miami police said they responded to shots being fired around 3p.m., found the injured child, who got caught in the crossfire, and surrounded the building at Northwest 12th Avenue and 62nd Street, even as gun shots continued to ring out.

The child was taken to the hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.

Miami Police Detective Frederica Burden said police believe it was an altercation between neighbors that escalated to a gunfight.

By 4:30 p.m., the gunfire had stopped and police were evacuating the building. But Burden said police don’t know yet if they’ve recovered all the weapons. And the shooters are not in custody yet.

“Police arrived and they were still listening to gunfire going on,” she said.

Miami Deputy Chief of Police Luis Cabrera said the shooting went on for more than five minutes when officers arrived, and that they had to escort paramedics into the building to get the child.

The scene was still active early Sunday night with SWAT team members and hostage negotiators going door-to-door trying to find the shooters. They were checking three apartments in the building at 1251 NW 62nd Street.

Police had one man detained who told them he was in the apartment where the child had been shot and left his weapon behind. Police believe the argument was over “some type of narcotics issue.”

That section of Liberty City, in and around the Liberty Square housing project, has been hit particularly hard this year with violence. Through July, the Miami Herald documented 43 shootings just in that neighborhood.

Though the shootings have seemed to quiet down since mid year, there has been another rash the past few weeks in the city's north end, with two youngsters shot in the Little Haiti neighborhood not far from Liberty Square on Veteran’s Day.

Deadline Miami

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/deadline-miami/article4326284.html#storylink=cpy
Frank Apisa
 
  5  
Reply Sun 7 Dec, 2014 06:47 pm
@BillRM,
Quote:
No protects aim at the neighborhood drug dealers who killed let alone wound far far more then ten years of police shootings years in and years out.


If they had a Pulitzer prize for sentences that make absolutely no sense at all...this sentence of yours would be a hands-down winner!
bobsal u1553115
 
  3  
Reply Sun 7 Dec, 2014 07:58 pm
The Police Are Still Out of Control

I should know.

By FRANK SERPICO

October 23, 2014

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/10/the-police-are-still-out-of-control-112160_Page4.html

In the opening scene of the 1973 movie “Serpico,” I am shot in the face—or to be more accurate, the character of Frank Serpico, played by Al Pacino, is shot in the face. Even today it’s very difficult for me to watch those scenes, which depict in a very realistic and terrifying way what actually happened to me on Feb. 3, 1971. I had recently been transferred to the Narcotics division of the New York City Police Department, and we were moving in on a drug dealer on the fourth floor of a walk-up tenement in a Hispanic section of Brooklyn. The police officer backing me up instructed me (since I spoke Spanish) to just get the apartment door open “and leave the rest to us.”

One officer was standing to my left on the landing no more than eight feet away, with his gun drawn; the other officer was to my right rear on the stairwell, also with his gun drawn. When the door opened, I pushed my way in and snapped the chain. The suspect slammed the door closed on me, wedging in my head and right shoulder and arm. I couldn’t move, but I aimed my snub-nose Smith & Wesson revolver at the perp (the movie version unfortunately goes a little Hollywood here, and has Pacino struggling and failing to raise a much-larger 9-millimeter automatic). From behind me no help came. At that moment my anger got the better of me. I made the almost fatal mistake of taking my eye off the perp and screaming to the officer on my left: “What the hell you waiting for? Give me a hand!” I turned back to face a gun blast in my face. I had cocked my weapon and fired back at him almost in the same instant, probably as reflex action, striking him. (He was later captured.)

When I regained consciousness, I was on my back in a pool of blood trying to assess the damage from the gunshot wound in my cheek. Was this a case of small entry, big exit, as often happens with bullets? Was the back of my head missing? I heard a voice saying, “Don’ worry, you be all right, you be all right,” and when I opened my eyes I saw an old Hispanic man looking down at me like Carlos Castaneda’s Don Juan. My “backup” was nowhere in sight. They hadn’t even called for assistance—I never heard the famed “Code 1013,” meaning “Officer Down.” They didn’t call an ambulance either, I later learned; the old man did. One patrol car responded to investigate, and realizing I was a narcotics officer rushed me to a nearby hospital (one of the officers who drove me that night said, “If I knew it was him, I would have left him there to bleed to death,” I learned later).

The next time I saw my “back-up” officers was when one of them came to the hospital to bring me my watch. I said, “What the hell am I going to do with a watch? What I needed was a back-up. Where were you?” He said, “**** you,” and left. Both my “back-ups” were later awarded medals for saving my life.

I still don’t know exactly what happened on that day. There was never any real investigation. But years later, Patrick Murphy, who was police commissioner at the time, was giving a speech at one of my alma maters, the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and I confronted him. I said, “My name is Frank Serpico, and I’ve been carrying a bullet in my head for over 35 years, and you, Mr. Murphy, are the man I hold responsible. You were the man who was brought as commissioner to take up the cause that I began — rooting out corruption. You could have protected me; instead you put me in harm’s way. What have you got to say?” He hung his head, and had no answer.

Even now, I do not know for certain why I was left trapped in that door by my fellow police officers. But the Narcotics division was rotten to the core, with many guys taking money from the very drug dealers they were supposed to bust. I had refused to take bribes and had testified against my fellow officers. Police make up a peculiar subculture in society. More often than not they have their own moral code of behavior, an “us against them” attitude, enforced by a Blue Wall of Silence. It’s their version of the Mafia’s omerta. Speak out, and you’re no longer “one of us.” You’re one of “them.” And as James Fyfe, a nationally recognized expert on the use of force, wrote in his 1993 book about this issue, Above The Law, officers who break the code sometimes won’t be helped in emergency situations, as I wasn’t.

On the left, Al Pacino plays Serpico in the 1973 movie. On the right, Frank Serpico leaves the Bronx County Courthouse after testifying on police corruption in 1973. | Getty Images

Forty-odd years on, my story probably seems like ancient history to most people, layered over with Hollywood legend. For me it’s not, since at the age of 78 I’m still deaf in one ear and I walk with a limp and I carry fragments of the bullet near my brain. I am also, all these years later, still persona non grata in the NYPD. Never mind that, thanks to Sidney Lumet’s direction and Al Pacino’s brilliant acting, “Serpico” ranks No. 40 on the American Film Institute’s list of all-time movie heroes, or that as I travel around the country and the world, police officers often tell me they were inspired to join the force after seeing the movie at an early age.

In the NYPD that means little next to my 40-year-old heresy, as they see it. I still get hate mail from active and retired police officers. A couple of years ago after the death of David Durk — the police officer who was one of my few allies inside the department in my efforts to expose graft — the Internet message board “NYPD Rant” featured some choice messages directed at me. “Join your mentor, Rat scum!” said one. An ex-con recently related to me that a precinct captain had once said to him, “If it wasn’t for that fuckin’ Serpico, I coulda been a millionaire today.” My informer went on to say, “Frank, you don’t seem to understand, they had a well-oiled money making machine going and you came along and threw a handful of sand in the gears.”

In 1971 I was awarded the Medal of Honor, the NYPD’s highest award for bravery in action, but it wasn’t for taking on an army of corrupt cops. It was most likely due to the insistence of Police Chief Sid Cooper, a rare good guy who was well aware of the murky side of the NYPD that I’d try to expose. But they handed the medal to me like an afterthought, like tossing me a pack of cigarettes. After all this time, I’ve never been given a proper certificate with my medal. And although living Medal of Honor winners are typically invited to yearly award ceremonies, I’ve only been invited once — and it was by Bernard Kerick, who ironically was the only NYPD commissioner to later serve time in prison. A few years ago, after the New York Police Museum refused my guns and other memorabilia, I loaned them to the Italian-American museum right down street from police headquarters, and they invited me to their annual dinner. I didn’t know it was planned, but the chief of police from Rome, Italy, was there, and he gave me a plaque. The New York City police officers who were there wouldn’t even look at me.

So my personal story didn’t end with the movie, or with my retirement from the force in 1972. It continues right up to this day. And the reason I’m speaking out now is that, tragically, too little has really changed since the Knapp Commission, the outside investigative panel formed by then-Mayor John Lindsay after I failed at repeated internal efforts to get the police and district attorney to investigate rampant corruption in the force. Lindsay had acted only because finally, in desperation, I went to the New York Times, which put my story on the front page. Led by Whitman Knapp, a tenacious federal judge, the commission for at least a brief moment in time supplied what has always been needed in policing: outside accountability. As a result many officers were prosecuted and many more lost their jobs. But the commission disbanded in 1972 even though I had hoped (and had so testified) that it would be made permanent.

And today the Blue Wall of Silence endures in towns and cities across America. Whistleblowers in police departments — or as I like to call them, “lamp lighters,” after Paul Revere — are still turned into permanent pariahs. The complaint I continue to hear is that when they try to bring injustice to light they are told by government officials: “We can’t afford a scandal; it would undermine public confidence in our police.” That confidence, I dare say, is already seriously undermined.

Things might have improved in some areas. The days when I served and you could get away with anything, when cops were better at accounting than at law enforcement — keeping meticulous records of the people they were shaking down, stealing drugs and money from dealers on a regular basis — all that no longer exists as systematically as it once did, though it certainly does in some places. Times have changed. It’s harder to be a venal cop these days.

But an even more serious problem — police violence — has probably grown worse, and it’s out of control for the same reason that graft once was: a lack of accountability.

I tried to be an honest cop in a force full of bribe-takers. But as I found out the hard way, police departments are useless at investigating themselves—and that’s exactly the problem facing ordinary people across the country —including perhaps, Ferguson, Missouri, which has been a lightning rod for discontent even though the circumstances under which an African-American youth, Michael Brown, was shot remain unclear.

Al Pacino in the 1973 movie Serpico. | Getty Images

Today the combination of an excess of deadly force and near-total lack of accountability is more dangerous than ever: Most cops today can pull out their weapons and fire without fear that anything will happen to them, even if they shoot someone wrongfully. All a police officer has to say is that he believes his life was in danger, and he’s typically absolved. What do you think that does to their psychology as they patrol the streets—this sense of invulnerability? The famous old saying still applies: Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. (And we still don’t know how many of these incidents occur each year; even though Congress enacted the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act 20 years ago, requiring the Justice Department to produce an annual report on “the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers,” the reports were never issued.)

It wasn’t any surprise to me that, after Michael Brown was shot dead in Ferguson, officers instinctively lined up behind Darren Wilson, the cop who allegedly killed Brown. Officer Wilson may well have had cause to fire if Brown was attacking him, as some reports suggest, but it is also possible we will never know the full truth—whether, for example, it was really necessary for Wilson to shoot Brown at least six times, killing rather than just wounding him. As they always do, the police unions closed ranks also behind the officer in question. And the district attorney (who is often totally in bed with the police and needs their votes) and city power structure can almost always be counted on to stand behind the unions.

In some ways, matters have gotten even worse. The gulf between the police and the communities they serve has grown wider. Mind you, I don’t want to say that police shouldn’t protect themselves and have access to the best equipment. Police officers have the right to defend themselves with maximum force, in cases where, say, they are taking on a barricaded felon armed with an assault weapon. But when you are dealing every day with civilians walking the streets, and you bring in armored vehicles and automatic weapons, it’s all out of proportion. It makes you feel like you’re dealing with some kind of subversive enemy. The automatic weapons and bulletproof vest may protect the officer, but they also insulate him from the very society he’s sworn to protect. All that firepower and armor puts an even greater wall between the police and society, and solidifies that “us-versus-them” feeling.

Serpico at his home in Stuyvesant, New York. | Photo Still of Frank Serpico from Antonino D’Ambrosio's feature documentary film Frank Serpico: Only Actions Count. Courtesy of Antonino D'Ambrosio/Gigantic Pictures.

And with all due respect to today’s police officers doing their jobs, they don’t need all that stuff anyway. When I was cop I disarmed a man with three guns who had just killed someone. I was off duty and all I had was my snub-nose Smith & Wesson. I fired a warning shot, the guy ran off and I chased him down. Some police forces still maintain a high threshold for violence: I remember talking with a member of the Italian carabinieri, who are known for being very heavily armed. He took out his Beretta and showed me that it didn’t even have a magazine inside. “You know, I got to be careful,” he said. “Before I shoot somebody unjustifiably, I’m better off shooting myself.” They have standards.

In the NYPD, it used to be you’d fire two shots and then you would assess the situation. You didn’t go off like a madman and empty your magazine and reload. Today it seems these police officers just empty their guns and automatic weapons without thinking, in acts of callousness or racism. They act like they’re in shooting galleries. Today’s uncontrolled firepower, combined with a lack of good training and adequate screening of police academy candidates, has led to a devastating drop in standards. The infamous case of Amadou Diallo in New York—who was shot 41 times in 1999 for no obvious reason—is more typical than you might think. The shooters, of course, were absolved of any wrongdoing, as they almost always are. All a policeman has to say is that “the suspect turned toward me menacingly,” and he does not have to worry about prosecution. In a 2010 case recorded on a police camera in Seattle, John Williams, a 50-year-old traditional carver of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations (tribes), was shot four times by police as he walked across the street with a pocketknife and a piece of cedar in his hands. He died at the scene. It’s like the Keystone Kops, but without being funny at all.

Many white Americans, indoctrinated by the ridiculous number of buddy-cop films and police-themed TV shows that Hollywood has cranked out over the decades—almost all of them portraying police as heroes—may be surprised by the continuing outbursts of anger, the protests in the street against the police that they see in inner-city environments like Ferguson. But they often don’t understand that these minority communities, in many cases, view the police as the enemy. We want to believe that cops are good guys, but let’s face it, any kid in the ghetto knows different. The poor and the disenfranchised in society don’t believe those movies; they see themselves as the victims, and they often are.

Law enforcement agencies need to eliminate those who use and abuse the power of the law as they see fit. As I said to the Knapp Commission 43 years ago, we must create an atmosphere where the crooked cop fears the honest cop, and not the other way around. An honest cop should be able to speak out against unjust or illegal behavior by fellow officers without fear of ridicule or reprisals. Those that speak out should be rewarded and respected by their superiors, not punished.

We’re not there yet.

***

It still strikes me as odd that I’m seen as a renegade cop and unwelcome by police in the city I grew up in. Because as far back as I can remember, all I wanted to be was a member of the NYPD. Even today, I love the police life. I love the work.

Photo Still of Frank Serpico from Antonino D’Ambrosio's feature documentary film Frank Serpico: Only Actions Count. Courtesy of Antonino D'Ambrosio/Gigantic Pictures.

I grew up in Brooklyn, and shined shoes in my father’s shop when I was a kid. My uncle was a member of the carabinieri in Italy, and when I was 13 my mother took me to see my only surviving grandparent, her father. So I met her brother the carabinieri, who was in civilian clothes but carried a Beretta sidearm. I just marveled at the respect and dignity with which he did his work, and how people respected him. My father, a World War I POW, also in his early years contemplated being a carabinieri, but he had his shoe-repair trade and became a craftsman. As a young boy I had no idea. All I knew was that I was impressed by my uncle’s behavior. This guy could open doors.

It wasn’t that I was completely naïve about what bad cops could be. As a boy of 8 or 9, returning home one evening after shining shoes on the parkway, I saw a white police officer savagely beating a frail black woman with his night stick as she lay prostrate on a parkway bench. She didn’t utter a sound. All I could hear was the thud as the wood struck her skin and bones. (I was reminded of that 70-year-old incident recently when an Internet video showed a white police officer pummeling a black woman with his gloved fist in broad daylight — have police tactics really changed?)

But I also saw the good side of cops. I saw them standing on the running board of a car they had commandeered to chase a thief. When I was a few years older, and I wounded myself with a self-made zip gun, my mother took me to the hospital and two cops showed up, demanding, “Where’s the gun?” I said I had no gun, that I’d just found a shell and when I tried to take the casing off, it exploded. They looked at me skeptically and asked me where I went to school. I said, “St. Francis Prep, and I want to be a cop just like you.” They said, “If you don’t smarten up you’ll never make it that far.” But they didn’t give me a juvenile citation, as they could have. So I knew there were good cops out there.

I wasn’t naive when I entered the force as a rookie patrolman on Sept. 11, 1959, either. I knew that some cops took traffic money, but I had no idea of the institutionalized graft, corruption and nepotism that existed and was condoned until one evening I was handed an envelope by another officer. I had no idea what was in it until I went to my car and found that it contained my share of the “nut,” as it was called (a reference to squirrels hiding their nuts; some officers buried the money in jars buried in their backyards). Still, back then I was naive enough to believe that within the system there was someone who was not aware of what was going on and, once informed, would take immediate action to correct it.

I was wrong. The first place I went was to the mayor’s department of investigation, where I was told outright I had a choice: 1) Force their hand, meaning I would be found face down in the East River; or 2) Forget about it. The rest you know, especially if you’ve seen the movie. After refusing to take money myself, but coming under relentless pressure to do so, I went successively to the inspector’s office, the mayor’s office and the district attorney. They each promised me action and didn’t deliver. The lobbying power of the police was too strong. I discovered that I was all but alone in a world of institutionalized graft, where keeping the “pad” – all the money they skimmed – meant that officers spent more time tabulating their piece of the cake more than as guardians of the peace.

Over the years, politicians who wanted to make a difference didn’t. They were too beholden to the police unions and the police vote. I wrote a letter to President Bill Clinton in 1994 addressing this very issue, saying that honest cops have never been rewarded, and maybe there ought to be a medal for them. He wrote back, but nothing changed. In New York City, then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg professed that things were going to change, but in the end he went right along with his commissioner, Ray Kelly, who was allowed to do whatever he wanted. Kelly had been a sergeant when I was on the force, and he’d known about the corruption, as did Murphy.

As for Barack Obama and his attorney general, Eric Holder, they’re giving speeches now, after Ferguson. But it’s 20 years too late. It’s the same old problem of political power talking, and it doesn’t matter that both the president and his attorney general are African-American. Corruption is color blind. Money and power corrupt, and they are color blind too.

Only a few years ago, a cop who was in the same 81st Precinct I started in, Adrian Schoolcraft, was actually taken to a psych ward and handcuffed to a gurney for six days after he tried to complain about corruption – they wanted him to keep to a quota of summonses, and he wasn’t complying. No one would have believed him except he hid a tape recorder in his room, and recorded them making their demands. Now he’s like me, an outcast.

Every time I speak out on topics of police corruption and brutality, there are inevitably critics who say that I am out of touch and that I am old enough to be the grandfather of many of the cops who are currently on the force. But I’ve kept up the struggle, working with lamp lighters to provide them with encouragement and guidance; serving as an expert witness to describe the tactics that police bureaucracies use to wear them down psychologically; testifying in support of independent boards; developing educational guidance to young minority citizens on how to respond to police officers; working with the American Civil Liberties Union to expose the abuses of stun-gun technology in prisons; and lecturing in more high schools, colleges and reform schools than I can remember. A little over a decade ago, when I was a presenter at the Top Cops Award event hosted by TV host John Walsh, several police officers came up to me, hugged me and then whispered in my ear, “I gotta talk to you.”

The sum total of all that experience can be encapsulated in a few simple rules for the future:

1. Strengthen the selection process and psychological screening process for police recruits. Police departments are simply a microcosm of the greater society. If your screening standards encourage corrupt and forceful tendencies, you will end up with a larger concentration of these types of individuals;

2. Provide ongoing, examples-based training and simulations. Not only telling but showing police officers how they are expected to behave and react is critical;

3. Require community involvement from police officers so they know the districts and the individuals they are policing. This will encourage empathy and understanding;

4. Enforce the laws against everyone, including police officers. When police officers do wrong, use those individuals as examples of what not to do – so that others know that this behavior will not be tolerated. And tell the police unions and detective endowment associations they need to keep their noses out of the justice system;

5. Support the good guys. Honest cops who tell the truth and behave in exemplary fashion should be honored, promoted and held up as strong positive examples of what it means to be a cop;

6. Last but not least, police cannot police themselves. Develop permanent, independent boards to review incidents of police corruption and brutality—and then fund them well and support them publicly. Only this can change a culture that has existed since the beginnings of the modern police department.

New York City Police Academy cadets salute during their graduation ceremony in 2013. | Getty Images

There are glimmers of hope that some of this is starting to happen, even in New York under its new mayor, Bill DeBlasio. Earlier this month DeBlasio’s commissioner, Bill Bratton—who’d previously served a term as commissioner in New York as well as police chief in Los Angeles—made a crowd of police brass squirm in discomfort when he showed a hideous video montage of police officers mistreating members of the public and said he would “aggressively seek to get those out of the department who should not be here — the brutal, the corrupt, the racist, the incompetent.” I found that very impressive. Let’s see if he follows through.

And legislators are starting to act—and perhaps to free themselves of the political power of police. In Wisconsin, after being contacted by Mike Bell — a retired Air Force officer who flew in three wars and whose son was shot to death by police after being pulled over for a DUI – I’d like to believe I helped in a successful campaign to push through the nation’s first law setting up outside review panels in cases of deaths in police custody. A New Jersey legislator has now expressed interest in pushing through a similar law.

Like the Knapp Commission in its time, they are just a start. But they are something.

(Photo Still of Frank Serpico from Antonino D’Ambrosio's feature documentary film Frank Serpico: Only Actions Count. Courtesy of Antonino D'Ambrosio / Gigantic Pictures.)

Frank Serpico is a former New York City police detective.

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Reply Sun 7 Dec, 2014 08:02 pm
http://images.politico.com/global/2014/08/15/140815_bell_lede2.jpg

What I Did After Police Killed My Son

Ten years later, we in Wisconsin passed the nation’s first law calling for outside reviews.

By MICHAEL BELL

August 15, 2014

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/08/what-i-did-after-police-killed-my-son-110038_Page2.html

After police in Kenosha, Wis., shot my 21-year-old son to death outside his house ten years ago — and then immediately cleared themselves of all wrongdoing — an African-American man approached me and said: “If they can shoot a white boy like a dog, imagine what we’ve been going through.”

I could imagine it all too easily, just as the rest of the country has been seeing it all too clearly in the terrible images coming from Ferguson, Mo., in the aftermath of the killing of Michael Brown. On Friday, after a week of angry protests, the police in Ferguson finally identified the officer implicated in Brown's shooting, although the circumstances still remain unclear.

I have known the name of the policeman who killed my son, Michael, for ten years. And he is still working on the force in Kenosha.

Yes, there is good reason to think that many of these unjustifiable homicides by police across the country are racially motivated. But there is a lot more than that going on here. Our country is simply not paying enough attention to the terrible lack of accountability of police departments and the way it affects all of us—regardless of race or ethnicity. Because if a blond-haired, blue-eyed boy — that was my son, Michael — can be shot in the head under a street light with his hands cuffed behind his back, in front of five eyewitnesses (including his mother and sister), and his father was a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who flew in three wars for his country — that’s me — and I still couldn’t get anything done about it, then Joe the plumber and Javier the roofer aren’t going to be able to do anything about it either.


I got the phone call at 2 a.m. on Nov. 9, 2004. It was my oldest daughter. She said you need to come to the hospital right away, Michael’s been shot by the police. My first gut reaction was, “Michael doesn’t do anything serious enough to get shot by a police officer.” I thought he’d gotten shot in the leg or whatever. When I arrived, I saw the district attorney huddled with about five police officers. The last time I saw my son alive he was on a gurney, with his head wrapped in a big towel and blood coming out of it. I learned that an officer had put his gun up directly to Michael’s right temple and misfired, then did it again, and shot him.

From the beginning I cautioned patience, though Michael’s mother and sister were in an uproar. They had watched him get shot. But as an Air Force officer and pilot I knew the way safety investigations are conducted, and I was thinking that this was going to be conducted this way. Yet within 48 hours I got the message: The police had cleared themselves of all wrongdoing. In 48 hours! They hadn’t even taken statements from several eyewitnesses. Crime lab reports showed that my son’s DNA or fingerprints were not on any gun or holster, even though one of the police officers involved in Michael’s shooting had claimed that Michael had grabbed his gun.

The officer who killed my son, Albert Gonzalez, is not only still on the force ten years later, he is also a licensed concealed-gun instructor across the state line in Illinois—and was identified by the Chicago Tribune in an Aug. 7 investigative story as one of “multiple instructors [who] are police officers with documented histories of making questionable decisions about when to use force.”

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Michael Bell shake hands after the former passed a bill into law mandating that investigations of police officers be turned over to an outside party. | Family of Michael Bell

From the beginning I allowed the investigation to proceed and didn’t know it was a sham until many of the facts were discovered. But before long I realized a cover-up was under way. I hadn’t understood at first how closely related the DA and the police were—during his election campaign for judge, the DA had been endorsed in writing by every police agency in the county. Now he was investigating them. It was a clear conflict of interest.

The police claimed that one officer screamed that Michael grabbed his gun after they stopped him, for reasons that remain unclear though he was slightly intoxicated, and then Gonzalez shot him, sticking the gun so close against his temple that he left a muzzle imprint. Michael wasn’t even driving his own car. He’d been out with a designated driver, but the designated driver drank and was younger, and so my son made the decision to drive.

Wanting to uncover the truth, our family hired a private investigator who ended up teaming up with a retired police detective to launch their own investigation. They discovered that the officer who thought his gun was being grabbed in fact had caught it on a broken car mirror. The emergency medical technicians who arrived later found the officers fighting with each other over what happened. We filed an 1,100-page report detailing Michael's killing with the FBI and US Attorney.

It took six years to get our wrongful death lawsuit settled, and my family received $1.75 million. But I wasn’t satisfied by a long shot. I used my entire portion of that money and much more of my own to continue a campaign for more police accountability. I wanted to change things for everyone else, so no one else would ever have to go through what I did. We did our research: In 129 years since police and fire commissions were created in the state of Wisconsin, we could not find a single ruling by a police department, an inquest or a police commission that a shooting was unjustified. There was one shooting we found, in 2005, that was ruled justified by the department and an inquest, but additional evidence provided by citizens caused the DA to charge the officer. The city of Milwaukee settled with a confidentiality agreement and the facts of that sealed. The officer involved committed suicide.

The problem over many decades, in other words, was a near-total lack of accountability for wrongdoing; and if police on duty believe they can get away with almost anything, they will act accordingly. As a military pilot, I knew that if law professionals investigated police-related deaths like, say, the way that the National Transportation Safety Board investigated aviation mishaps, police-related deaths would be at an all time low.

And so, together with other families who lost loved ones, I launched a campaign in the Wisconsin legislature calling for a new law that would require outside review of all deaths in police custody. I contacted everybody I could. In the beginning, I contacted the governor’s office, the attorney general and the U.S. attorney for Wisconsin. They didn’t even return my phone calls or letters. I even contacted Oprah, every Associated Press bureau in the nation, every national magazine and national news agency and didn’t hear a word.

But Frank Serpico, the famous retired New York City police detective, helped. He had his own experience taking on police corruption. I set up billboards and a website and took out newspaper ads, including national ads in the New York Times and USA Today, and Serpico allowed me to use his endorsement. “When police take a life, should they investigate themselves?” the ad read.

An example of one of the advertisements Michael Bell made after his 21-year-old son was shot by a police officer. | Courtesy of Michael Bell.

Finally we began to get some movement, helped by a friendly Republican legislator, Garey Bies, and a Democratic assemblyman named Chris Taylor, in August of 2012. In April of this year we passed a law that made Wisconsin the first state in the nation to mandate at legislative level that police-related deaths be reviewed by an outside agency. Ten days after it went into effect in May, local police shot a man sleeping on a park bench 15 times. It’s one of the first incidents to be investigated under the new law.

I’m not anti-cop. And I am finding that many police want change as well: The good officers in the state of Wisconsin supported our bill from the inside, and it was endorsed by five police unions. But I also think the days of Andy Griffith and the Mayberry peacekeeper are over. As we can see in the streets of Ferguson, today’s police are also much more heavily equipped, armed and armored—more militarized. They are moving to more paramilitary-type operations as well, and all those shifts call for more transparency and more rules of restraint. And yet they are even less accountable in some ways than the U.S. military in which I served. Our citizens need protection from undue force, here in our own country, and now.

Michael Bell is a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force.
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