Friday, April 27, 2012

Officer Regina Tasca Goes "Rogue"

A peace officer on duty: Regina Tasca intervenes to stop a criminal assault.

Regina Tasca is a “rogue cop” – and God bless her for it. 

Tasca is in the middle of disciplinary hearings that may result in her termination from the Bogota, New Jersey Police Department. She stands accused of “bizarre and outlandish” behavior in two incidents a year ago during which she revealed herself to be “A danger to other police officers.” 

Her first supposed offense -- which wasn't mentioned until after the second -- was a failure to assist another officer who was “attacked” by a drunken woman who was roughly half his weight and barely five feet tall. Her second was was to intervene when a police officer from another jurisdiction viciously assaulted an emotionally troubled young man who was not suspected of a crime.

“I consider myself a peace officer,” Tasca told Pro Libertate. “My thing is to help make sure that people are safe, and that they don’t have a reason to fear the police – that we treat them like human beings. The incident that started all of this was one in which I intervened to prevent excessive force against a kid who was the subject of a medical call, not a criminal suspect."

On April 29, 2011, Tasca was on patrol when she got a call for medical assistance. Former Bogota Council Member Tara Sharp, concerned about the erratic behavior of her 22-year-old son Kyle, called the police to take him to the hospital for a psychological evaluation. Requesting police intervention, particularly in cases of this kind, is never a good idea. Sharp was exceptionally fortunate that Officer Tasca was the first to respond: She has years of experience as an EMT and had just completed specialized training on situations involving psychologically disturbed people.

Once on the scene, Tasca acted quickly to calm down the distraught young man. 

“When the call came, I heard that a couple of officers from Ridgefield Park were coming to provide backup, which I thought was OK, Tasca related to Pro Libertate. “Kyle had been shouting and swearing when I got there, but I got him calmed down.” The young man’s mood changed abruptly when he saw the other officers arrive.

“He noticed them and asked me, `Why is there another police officer here from another town?’ Then he said that he was leaving, and he moved maybe two or three steps when one of the Ridgefield officers jumped him.”

Sgt. Chris Thibault tackled Kyle, wrapped him in a bear hug, and attempted to handcuff him. Within an instant, Sgt. Joe Rella piled on and began to slug Kyle in the head while his horrified mother screamed at the officers to stop.

Tasca instinctively did what any legitimate peace officer would do: She intervened to protect the victim, pulling Rella off the helpless and battered young man. Eventually the Ridgefield officers handcuffed Kyle – then turned their fury on Tasca.

“One of them yelled at me, `We can’t have this!’” she recalled. “I said, we `can’t have’ what? There was no reason to take that kid to the ground and start slugging him. This was a medical assistance call, and the mother was sitting their screaming at them to stop beating on their son. I didn’t fail to aid another officer; I acted to stop a beatdown.”

Two days later, Tasca was summoned by her captain, who informed her that she was being suspended pending a disciplinary hearing. She learned that in addition to “using force” to stop Rella’s assault on Kyle Sharp, Tasca was accused of failing to assist Bogota Officer Jerome Fowler when he was “assaulted” by an intoxicated woman on April 3.

“Nobody had said anything to me about the earlier case until after the incident with the Ridgefield officers,” Tasca pointed out to me. 

Tasca was on night patrol when she came across “this young girl walking in the middle of the street, crying, with one broken heel. She was very drunk, and the officer who had picked her up had just dropped her off at the apartment of somebody who was described as a `male friend’ – but practically nothing was known about this guy. He just left her there without finding out anything about the situation at that apartment; she could have been assaulted, raped, or killed. Whoever it was, he just threw her back out on the street – which actually might have been the best outcome. So she was crying hysterically and very distraught when I found her. I radioed HQ that I would be assisting her, and the officer who had picked her up arrived, and we went to the hospital with me carrying her in the back seat of my police car.”

The young woman was taken to the Emergency Room at Holy Name Medical Center.
“Once we got there, our job was done,” Tasca continues. “I stuck around for a little while to make sure everything was OK. There were about a half-dozen hospital security personnel on the scene, as well as about four or five EMTs and nurses there. The girl walked over to the nurse’s station, then decided that she didn’t want to go to the hospital. When Jay [Officer Fowler] reached for her, she started flailing her arms, and hit his hand, opening up an old cut he had on one of his knuckles.”

This was the “assault” that figures so prominently in the charges against Tasca. The officers who ganged up on Kyle Sharp have not been charged or subjected to administrative discipline – but Tasca’s refusal to help ground and pound a tiny, intoxicated woman who had made incidental contact with a fellow officer is being treated as a career-imperiling delinquency.

“Apparently, Jay believed I should have pushed all these people aside and help him subdue a tiny girl -- she was about five foot one, and very skinny – who had given him a scratch,” Tasca pointed out.

After being put on suspension, Tasca was subjected to a psychological evaluation by Dr. Matthew Geller, a psychiatrist who does contact work for New Jersey law enforcement agencies. Geller provided the diagnosis he had been paid for, ruling that Tasca was unfit for duty. At the same time, the Bogota PD’s internal affairs officer produced a report concluding that Tasca’s refusal to assist Officer Fowler in the April 3 incident demonstrated her unfitness. 

The internal affairs review wasn’t exactly a model of investigative rigor, Tasca observes: “There were nearly a dozen other people who witnessed the incident – and the only one he interviewed was a 14-year-old Ambulance Corps volunteer who happened to be his niece!”

Tasca, an openly gay female police officer, believes that at least some of the problems she’s experienced are the product of a cultural clash with what she describes as “the Old Boys Club.” More importantly, however, she has been targeted for the unforgiveable offense of “crossing the Blue Line” by taking the side of a Mundane being attacked by a member of the Brotherhood. 

“I’ve been an officer here in Bogata for eleven years, and spent seven or eight years as a Class 2 Special Officer in Fairview, which is where I grew up,” Tasca told Pro Libertate. “Until now, I’ve never had problems with anybody on the force, or anybody in the community. Oh, sure, when you work near people for ten or twelve hours every day, you’ll have disagreements and maybe say some things you shouldn’t, but that’s typical of just about any relationship, professional or otherwise. But never in my career had I been accused of unfitness for duty until after that incident a year ago. 

As a veteran with nearly twenty years in law enforcement, Tasca has noticed a dramatic change in the institutional culture of law enforcement in recent years.

Ramon Perez and his family.
“I think what we’re seeing is a lot of kids who are given power and immediately begin to abuse it,” Tasca observes. “Some of these guys are as young as 18 years old. You give them a uniform, and it goes right to their head. And even many of those that don’t do abusive things miss the point, which is that we’re supposed to be peace officers. They get a badge and a gun and they think they’re gods, or at least that they’re entitled to treat people like dirt. I see them as people, and insist on treating them like I’d want to be treated.”

In contemporary law enforcement, commitment to the Golden Rule is a firing offense. Just ask Ramon Perez, whose experience is strikingly similar to that of Regina Tasca.

Perez, a probationary officer who had won the top leadership award at his police academy, was cashiered by the Austin, Texas Police Department as a result of his refusal to use a Taser on an elderly, non-violent man during a domestic disturbance in January 2005. The order was unconstitutional, illegal, a violation of the guidelines in the department’s handbook and, most importantly, immoral. 

A few days after that incident, Perez was given a punitive transfer to the night shift. Two months later, Perez was told to report to APD psychologist Carol Logan to undergo what he was told would be a “communication” exercise. In fact, it was a disguised “fit-for-duty review” intended to ratify the pre-ordained decision to fire him.

Logan’s four page report focused entirely on Perez's moral and religious beliefs. Perez is a self-described non-denominational fundamentalist Christian, an ordained minister who home-schools his children. He is also firmly convinced that protection of civil liberties is the paramount duty of a peace officer – a duty he regarded, literally, as a sacred trust.

According to Logan, the depth of his commitment to his beliefs – beginning with that perennially unpopular tenet called the Golden Rule -- produces an “impairment” of his ability to absorb new facts, to communicate with his superiors, and to deal with “feedback.”
As was the case with Regina Tasca, Ramon Perez’s detractors dredged up a second incident of “misconduct” involving a refusal to use unnecessary force. 

By twice displaying a peace officer’s preference for de-escalation, Perez had established himself as a repeat offender. He was purged from the APD, a department that has since done much to distinguish itself – in the face of fierce and plentiful competition -- as one of the most abusive in the country.

A vast geographic and cultural gulf separates Ramon Perez, a Fundamentalist Evangelical from Texas,  and Regina Tasca, an openly gay Roman Catholic from New Jersey. They have at least one critically important thing in common: Both of them intervened in defense of helpless citizens facing criminal violence from fellow cops, and learned that for people who have chosen a career in law enforcement, behaving like a peace officer is a firing offense.

Thanks so much...

... to everyone who has donated to Pro Libertate! While supplies last, I'm still sending out a signed copy of Liberty in Eclipse to anyone who donates at least $20 to help keep this blog up and running. Once again, we're very grateful for your help. God bless!


Dum spiro, pugno!



Leah Hollett said...

I would love to have both of these officers working in my town. Can you ask them if they'd like to move to Jefferson, GA?

Dublinmick said...

She will find another job quickly but it does point out how many police departments are purging good officers and hiring misfits. It is part of the militarization of local police agencies in my opinion.

liberranter said...

Ditto Leah Hollett's comment. I don't think there are enough Regina Tascas and Ramon Perezes to meet the demand for peace officers that is emerging nationwide.

BTW, are either Tasca or Perez pursuing lawsuits against their respective municipalities? If so (and I hope they are), I would love to support them in their efforts.

Anonymous said...

"law enforcement"....a bad joke.

Anonymous said...

Yet another sad indication of just how corrupt "policing" has become. When the good apples are branded as rogue then you know it's rotten.

Nick said...

Wouldn't it be great to see Regina use this incident as a platform to run for Sheriff?

Anonymous said...

When I was your friend on F.B. (I gave up F.B.) you would mention the TV series Lonesome Dove a lot. I never saw the show before, until today. I only picked it up at a sale because I recalled you mentioning it.

America has lost a whole lot, hasn't it?

Some would say it's the "Wild West" I'm talking about here, but it ain't that at all. It has nothing to do with the old West and everything to do with People and culture, morals and values.

Bloodthirsty, is bloodthirsty, and it Must be resisted.

“I consider myself a peace officer,” Tasca told Pro Libertate.

Yeesh, it's as if she didn't know about, How Things Change Out From Under Us

I laughed a sad laugh when I read this, "that they don’t have a reason to fear the police – that we treat them like human beings."

The police are monsters and are a part of the big monster known as Empire.

Also, hey you F.B.I./Homeland Security guys reading this, aren't you getting it yet? Or do you go through life with your eyes closed all the time? Maybe that's where Lincoln and General Sherman, and Mao et al drew their masses from, the likes of you? Think!

`Why is there another police officer here from another town?’

I think that will be said a lot going forward. Mass-man will be surprised at how Empire arrives and... departs.

So too will others who think, "we’re supposed to be peace officers."

Ha! Peace officers! As f-ing If. You're the enforcement arm of an empire bent on subduing all and changing everything.

I really want to call Regina Tasca and Ramon Perez heroes, but I can't. They come pretty close though.

I second what MoT said.

- clark

Anonymous said...

There is no longer any room in law enforcement for good people. Those good people who are still there need to get out before the great correction takes place. When it does, there won't be time to tell the good apples from the bad.

PJL said...

“I think what we’re seeing is a lot of kids who are given power and immediately begin to abuse it,” Tasca observes. “Some of these guys are as young as 18 years old. You give them a uniform, and it goes right to their head. And even many of those that don’t do abusive things miss the point, which is that we’re supposed to be peace officers. They get a badge and a gun and they think they’re gods, or at least that they’re entitled to treat people like dirt..."

It is really too bad that we don't have more police officers like Tasca. Unfortunately, we don't. And while there are good officers and bad, my gut instinct is that there are more bad than good. I agree with her statement above. I believe that we have raised an entire generation of cops, prosecutors, and even judges on the brainwashings of shows like Law & Order - show that depict and glorify institutional abuse of an accused's rights. And when the bad ones are covered by "immunity" and are not punished when they do wrong, it simply reinforces their use of such tactics. It happened to me.

Bevin Chu said...

How depressing to see America, which used to be the hope of the world, come to this.

The sheeple assume that anyone who expresses dismay at what America has become, is a "Hate America First" type.

The truth is far more are "Love America First" types who want to restore America to what it once was -- the Land of the Free, and the Home of the Brave.

Ivan Kulak said...

Happy May Day Comrade W.N.G.! May equality of results always be achieved in your collective where selfish interests are put aside for the good of comrades. Let us crush the evil kapitalist oppressors with barbed essays from our collective people's keyboard!

Anonymous said...

It's time for blood people.

willb said...

"You give them a uniform, and it goes right to their head."

Same goes for a "black robe."

The only authority that can stop this abuse and decline refuses to do so.

Running scared: everybody.

Anonymous said...

Happy to see this story get traction over at LRC. It seems that the only way to get anything to change is to embarrass the hell out of these rats by whatever means available. Not that they have an actual conscience to be bothered. If they had their way you can be certain that everything would be swept under the rug and evidence would mysteriously, though typically, experience "technical difficulties". Oh, yeah!

Anonymous said...

MotT wrote, "swept under the rug and evidence would mysteriously, though typically, experience "technical difficulties"."

Hm, that's a perfect way to describe what happened to Daniel Chong:

DEA agents apologize for forgetting college student in cell for four days

Just objects to be swept under a rug and forgotten.

Makes you wonder if others have had the same thing happen to them only they didn't live and were later dumped on the street.

Who would know?

Neil said...

Tasca has since been fired, and there's an Indiegogo campaign that was started to help pay for her legal bills (she's suing to get her job back). Not only does she deserve to get it back, but her getting it back would help other cops who might be willing to stand up and do the right thing, but are afraid of getting fired for it. Perhaps the link could be mentioned in the body of this article?

Anonymous said...

What time do the black helicopters arrive?

William N. Grigg said...

FWIW, Black helicopters are superfluous now that drones are an option.

Anonymous said...

I hate cops for this reason! If more cops were like her than they may change my mind. But until that day happens I'll never follow someone's orders who are under contract of us the people! We don't work for the police the police are supposed to serve and protect us as us their masters! We pay their bills and they only want to hurt or push us around! I'll always hate cops and never obey as long as hey treat me the way they have the others I've seen here or in life. They are to follow the laws not think they are above it Cuz they have a badge and a gun. I believe what goes around comes around! They have to take time off so watch who and how you treat people on the job Cuz this officer should of never been fired!!!! Especially for serving and protecting her person that had a contract with her! Screw those 2 cops and all the system that let them walk away! What are you going to do when us people create our own force and take all you fake cops down!!!?

Anonymous said...

Who cares? As long as the general public continues to ignore this problem, the problem of police murdering citizens almost daily and the militarization of police departments - they deserve to be treated like slaves.

Anonymous said...

How do I get cops like these in my town? Please send them here..

Unknown said...

Sadly this doesn't surprise me, having experience dealing with both NJ and TX police I've seen the god complex in cops repeatedly and seen excessive force more times than I can count. It really is true you end up dealing with a bunch of wet behind the ears, social pariahs that were picked on in school and decided that becoming a cop, attaining the badge and gun would make them invincible and give them the authority to take their frustration out on innocent people. The bullied become the bullies and they see no problem with them doing the very same things to unsuspecting citizens that were done to them prior to their becoming "tough" & "in control" two terms I use extremely loosely when it comes to cops. Smdh...

HayZeus said...

We are living in the Golden Age of Authoritarian Incompetence.

Unknown said...

This just goes to show you that there are still some good hearted genuine cops out there. Its just sad to see that the other scum of the earth cops that are unfortunately the majority these days are putting these great people/cops' lives/reputation in danger with their despicable antics.

Anonymous said...

As always Will, you've outdone yourself.

Excellent coverage, excellent writing.

Don't we all wish we had a million bux to give Will Grigg?!?