Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Police: Useless, but not Harmless

Lying motto: "To Protect with Courage; to Serve with Compassion"

The bad news for Rafael Lopez was that the 27-year-old Iraq war veteran had been robbed and severely beaten by a gang of at least 10 men on the street outside the Aqua nightclub in Minneapolis. The good news – or Lopez initially thought – was that the assault took place less than ten yards away from the 1st Police Precinct station.

Bruised and bloodied, Lopez attempted to enter the station to file a complaint, only to be met by Officer Aaron Hanson, who angrily told him to leave. As Lopez tried to explain what had just happened to him, two of Hanson’s comrades “came out, put their gloves on and were yelling at me, telling me to get out,” he later recalled.

This was the second time that evening that the intrepid Officer Hanson of the Minneapolis PD had consciously refused to come to the aid of Lopez and his friends.

Lopez had come to the aid of his friend Joshua Rivera, whose wife Magdalena was being harassed and intimidated by a pack of street thugs. While trying to escort Magdalena to safety, he was blind-sided by several of the goons. When Rivera came to Lopez’s aid, he was swarmed and beaten unconscious. Magdalena ran to the police station to seek help. She was able to get through the front door, but found that the inner door was locked.  She managed to get Hanson’s attention and frantically gestured for him to come out, “but he just shrugged his shoulders,” she recounted.

Magdalena went back outside and borrowed a cell phone to call 911. A few minutes later – long after he could have provided any help – Hanson ambled outside. After Magdalena described what had happened to her husband and their friend, the officer blithely explained “that he didn’t need to deal with this because it happens all the time,” she testified in an official complaint. Without offering to call an ambulance, or even asking if anybody had been seriously hurt, Hanson quickly retreated into the station and locked the door behind him. It was “literally 10 seconds and he was already going back inside,” Magdalena observes.

Later that morning, Lopez went back to the station to file an incident report.
“He figured police surveillance cameras on the street and at the police station captured the assault,” related the St. Paul Pioneer-Press. “He hoped the videos would lead to the identity of the assailants, whom he suspected were members of a gang because they were all wearing white and red shirts. It turned out he wasted his time.”

A few days after the September 2, 2011 assault, the Minneapolis PD dispatched an official notice to Lopez informing him that “this case does not meet our threshold for investigative assignment at the present time.” 

If the gallant men of the Minneapolis PD can’t be bothered to investigate a violent gang rampage that took place less than thirty feet from a precinct station – in full view of the department’s surveillance cameras – how can the department justify its existence?  

As the Pioneer-Press noted, “the building would have emptied had it been a member in blue being pounced on outside.” This is proven, ironically, by the actions of Officer Aaron Hanson in an incident that took place seven years earlier.

During the May 2004 “Art-A-Whirl” festival in downtown Minneapolis, two off-duty officers --- Robert Kroll and Wallace Krueger – got their skivvies in a bind when a pedestrian named Jackson Mahaffy accidentally hit Krueger’s car with a shoulder bag. The officers tracked down Mahaffy, threw him to the ground, and began to kick and punch him on the pretext of issuing a citation for “misdemeanor damage to property.”

Kroll called police dispatch to report “damage of property and an assault” and request assistance. A few minutes later, several squad cars converged on the scene, one of which decanted the valorous Officer Hanson, who quickly established his "command authority" by beating up a woman. 

Mahaffy was kidnapped and detained by the Minneapolis PD on patently bogus charges – assault on an officer, damage to property, and inciting a riot – which were promptly dropped by the City Attorney. Mahaffy’s lawsuit against the department was dismissed on the familiar and patently spurious grounds of “qualified immunity.” 

In his lawsuit, Mahaffy noted Officer Hanson and his partner arrested him without conducting an investigation – which would have meant, at very least, hearing his side of the story and interviewing eyewitnesses on the scene. In its ruling dismissing thelawsuit, the U.S. District Court for Minnesota noted that Hanson and his partner “responded to a call indicating an off-duty officer needed assistance. Under such circumstances, officer safety is considered the first priority.” (Emphasis added.)

Of course, officer safety is ever and always the first – and only – priority.

Accordingly, when mere Mundanes were beaten and robbed in front of the precinct station, it was entirely appropriate for Hanson to cower behind a locked door, and then seek reinforcements to help repel persistent pleas for aid from the victims. For the same reason, when a Mundane was beaten by fellow officers as summary punishment for accidentally inflicting trivial damage on a cop’s automobile, however, the department responded in force when the assailants called for “assistance.” 

By coming to the aid of his friends, Rafael Lopez acted as a peace officer – an individual who interposed himself to protect innocent people from criminal violence. Officer Hanson, who fraudulently collects a tax-funded paycheck for supposedly providing that service, was studiously indifferent to any consideration apart from his own physical safety and the institutional needs of his department. This is exactly what we should expect from a state functionary of his ilk. We should be grateful to him for offering such a compelling illustration of the fact that government police agencies are useless – but not harmless.

A more recent illustration was provided last Thursday (July 26) during a drug store robbery in Portland, Oregon.

Shortly after noon, Rob Anderson, who owns a computer software store, sauntered over to nearby Central Drugs to buy some aspirin.

“I didn’t notice anything until the pharmacist behind the counter yelled for us to `Get out of here! We’re closed!” Anderson told the Oregonian. “I thought that was kind of weird.”

Anderson wasn’t aware that just a few minutes earlier, a robber — later identified as Jocelin Olson — had entered the store with his hand concealed in a pocket.

“I have a gun!” Olson bellowed. He fled with a bag of prescription drugs.
Anderson, who had seen enough to recognize that a robbery was underway, spotted a uniformed officer in a marked police car, and informed the valiant defender of the public weal that a robbery was in progress a block away. The heroic paladin of public order replied that he was off duty and told Anderson to call 911. He then rolled up his window and drove away.

“We all expect a little better from the police in this situation,” Anderson later recalled, expressing entirely appropriate disgust — and entirely undeserved confidence in the character and competence of government law enforcement officers.

While the officer, in compliance with the Prime Directive of law enforcement, “officer safety,” was making himself scarce, two employees of the drugstore — one of whom had obtained his personal firearm — gave chase to the bandit, eventually tracking him down and arresting him without the aid of the exalted personages in government-issued official attire. One of them restrained the suspect (who had only feigned carrying a gun) in a half-nelson hold until the police tardily arrived.

The Portland Police Department refuses to identify the police officer who fled the scene rather than tangle with an (apparently) armed robber. That officer would most likely have been as bold as Hector if he had been dealing with an unarmed 12-year-old girl, or a skinny, unarmed, mentally handicapped street person. 

 Portland Police Officer Chris Humphreys – who, as we’ll shortly see, is regarded as exemplary by that department -- shot the former at point-blank range with a beanbag round. In a separate incident,  Humphreys -- with the help of three colleagues -- chased down and beat to death the latter, a 145-pound schizophrenic named James Chasse.  

On another occasion, Humphreys beat a helpless man 30 times with a baton before discovering that the victim wasn’t the suspect he was pursuing.

Humphreys was placed on paid vacation after shooting the 12-year-old girl. That prompted a complaint from Sgt. Scott Westermann, commissar of the local police union, who insisted that Humphreys “exemplified everything one could imagine a police officer should be." 

Humphreys and another officer were eventually given two-week suspensions for the killing of James Chasse — a trivial "punishment" which was reversed by an arbitrator exactly two weeks before one of their comrades helpfully displayed the utter uselessness of the agency that employs them.

Upset over public criticism of his tax-funded criminal career, Humphreys filed for “stress disability,” and his brethren in the police union — insisting that he had “suffered enough” — held a rally at City Hall. Each of them wore a custom t-shirts bearing the unwittingly incriminating inscription: “I Am Chris Humphreys.”

Police departments exist to enforce the will of the municipal corporations that employ them. Any actual service they render with respect to the protection of person and property is incidental to that mission. Fortunately – albeit tardily – tax victims across the country are finally starting to understand this fact, as the financial burden of supporting the state’s enforcement caste becomes unbearable

“Traditionally, U.S. voters have backed generous pay and benefits for the cops and firefighters willing to risk their lives to keep citizens safe,” notes a Reuters report (that dutifully regurgitates the official myth that police departments actually serve the interests of public safety). “But as economic conditions have worsened and many local governments have run into severe fiscal problems, that attitude has started to change. Since the 2007 recession, some cities have tried to roll back pension benefits and pay, among the most rigid and, in some cases, highest expenses in municipal budgets.”

A suitable example is offered by the City of North Las Vegas, which -- reeling from the catastrophic collapse of the real estate market and shackled by untenable union salary and benefit agreements -- has declared itself an economic “disaster area.” 

“We are in a fiscal emergency,” City Council Member Wade Wagner told the Washington Post. “North Las Vegas is ground zero basically for foreclosures in the nation…. So because our property taxes have declined so much, we really had to invoke this [emergency statute].”

North Las Vegas spends most of its tax funding (66 percent) on “public safety." It’s not as if police officers in that city serve on sacrificial terms: A police officer like Kent Marscheck, whose base salary is $55,000, can pull down a total of $200,000 a year in overtime and other benefits, and a police sergeant like Bradley Walch -- whose base salary is $61,000 -- can receive more than $237,000 in total compensation. 

The city suspended its union contracts with the police and fire department on June 15. Predictably, the police union filed a lawsuit against the city government to prevent layoffs.

Thanks to the intervention of Sen. Harry Reid, the Justice Department’s Community Oriented Policing Services program (COPS) provided a $1.75 million grant to the North Las Vegas Police Department.  This money will go to pay the partial salaries of 14 officers – if, that is, the city government can wrangle $3.2 million in matching funds from the cash-strapped taxpayers or leery bond investors. If this deal is consummated, the result will be the worst of both worlds for city residents: They will pay more for a unionized "local" police force that is effectively controlled by Washington, and entirely unaccountable to them.

Then again, all police departments consider themselves unaccountable to the populations they supposedly serve.

 Two years ago, Chris Mesley – who serves as spokesthug for the Albany, New York Police Officers Union – gave eloquent expression to the disdain the armed tax-feeders have for the citizens whose paychecks they plunder: “If I’m the bad guy to the average citizen … and their taxes have to go up to cover my raise, I’m very sorry about that, but I have to look out for myself and my membership… As the president of the `local,' I will not accept `zeroes' [no increase in salaries or benefits]. If that means ... ticking off some taxpayers, then so be it."

In a public comment offered at a meeting of the Common Council, an Albany resident who identified himself as "Justin" pointed out that the city's median annual household income in 2009 was about $33,000. In the same year, Mesley -- who was hired as a patrol officer in 1992 -- received a base salary of $70,289, while also devouring at least another $30,000 for serving as union president. During 2008 and 2009, Mesley’s union contract  provided "retroactive raises" of four percent; this happened at time when the productive economy was shrinking and raises of any kind were practically unheard of by people who, unlike Mesley and his chums, earn an honest living.

"Chris Mesley is making three times or more the median salary and is complaining that he might not get a raise," Justin observed. "The sense of entitlement of Chris Mesley and all those who think alike has led to the pilfering of state and city coffers. They are like leeches, sucking the taxpayers dry, and that's an insult to leeches. At least leeches know when to let go."

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg played to that inexhaustible sense of entitlement when he suggested that police nationwide should go on strike until the law-abiding public disarms itself.

“I don’t understand why the police officers in this country don’t stand up collectively and say, `we’re going to go on strike,” Bloomberg blurted in an interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan. “We’re not going to protect you unless you — the public — through your legislature do what’s required to keep us safe. After all, police officers want to go home to their families.”

Given that the police don’t protect us, we’d be immeasurably better off if all of them went home to their families – permanently.

Dum spiro, pugno!


MoT said...

Will, you've once again stated the sadly obvious: No cops would be a blessing.

swiftfoxmark2 said...

When the police don't do their jobs, the public eventually starts to take the law into their own hands. And despite NYC Mayor Blowhard's wishes, even if there were no more guns except in the hands of cops, the people would still take matters into their own hands.

At this point, main street America would probably be better off with vigilante justice than the protection of their local "finest".

liberranter said...

The only problem with weaning these uniformed thugs from the public teat is that almost none of them are fit for gainful, private sector employment. The result would be roving bands of unemployed psychopaths who would not only pose a far greater danger to the community than when they hid behind a badge, but would probably have large numbers of their fellow gang-bangers still clad in blue actively aiding and abetting their marauding. The only hope of effective protection would be a citizenry armed with firepower equal to or exceeding that of the State's enforcers.

Anonymous said...

Who's Perez?

William N. Grigg said...

"Perez" was a misidentified Lopez. Thanks for the correction!

msouth said...

In case you haven't heard enough of the horror.

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

>> . . . Michael Bloomberg ... suggested that police nationwide should go on strike until the law-abiding public disarms itself.

On the one hand, I would appreciate seeing the thugs in blue and their salaries disappearing from the community.

On the other hand, as liberranter says, "almost none of them are fit for gainful, private sector employment". Meaning, of course, that in no time, the striking cops would either return to work, or turn to "illegal" crime (as opposed to the "legal" crime they currently perpetrate).

As it is, too often, the only thing separating the illegal criminal element from the law enforcement criminal element is a city-issued badge.

We'd be better off without the cops. Anyone who thinks vigilante justice would be so awful needs to read Roger D. McGrath's book 'GUNFIGHTERS, HIGHWAYMEN & VIGILANTES: Violence On The Frontier'. Don't knock it until you've done the research!

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

Anonymous said...

@ swiftformakrk2:

the problem with the statement, "taking the law into their own hands" is that it's where all laws begin--each and every mundane. so it should not be spoken as if it's some cursed thing to do when justice is either lacking or not coming.


The Black Swan said...

I remember getting my jacket stolen from work, walking the 2 blocks to the police station to report the crime and being politely told to call 911. From within the police station! Only then would something be done. Utter lunacy. But when the thief strolled by carrying my jacket and I pointed this out, there were suddenly a half dozen police officers ready to make an arrest.

Anonymous said...

Great writing, as usual Will... I look forward to every post... I wish more eyes would open to the atrocities these "heroes" commit on a daily basis... This new license plate recognition software has some frightening possibilities to further our loss of privacy and increase of harrassment... Thanks again for all your work, and I'll continue to contribute when I can...

PJL said...

I do not like the power cops and prosecutors have - it has been shown to be abused time and time again to the detriment of us. However, that said I don't think that vigilantes are the solution either.

Take for example a case of false allegation of a sexual assault (and if you think this doesn't occur regularly I encourage you to read Actual Innocence by Scheck/Neufeld/Dwyer). In the vigilante world the accused would be killed before it could be proven one way or the other. That is not the type of position we want to be in either.

So the question becomes: How do we rein in the abuses of the thugs in blue? The answer seems simple - take away their immunity from suits - and lengthen the statute of limitations to go after the abusers. When it costs governments millions to defend against the abuses, they will be much more diligent in weeding out the bad.

In my case the CT Supreme Court ruled that the prosecutor (with cooperation from the State Police) abused my civil rights - however, because more than 2 years had passed between our discovery of the problem and the ruling that cleared my name, I am unable to sue.

MoT said...

The last picture is disturbing enough. It looks like an occupation army on the prowl. Which makes the recent announcements by the Marine Corps about setting up police battalions all the more troubling. I suppose we can dispense with the antique notion that Posse Comitatus even exists as the past couple of decades has proven it, like the Constitution, hasn't stopped a thing.

lafortuna said...

Have you read this article from the times about a Mexican town that forcibly disarmed and expelled all their police, and formed their own community defense league to stave off cartels and illegal loggers?

They certainly seem happier without cops.

lafortuna said...

Oklahoma City said...

The above lin is to a new publication on the site of the International Association of Chiefs of Police - an organization I recently found out my local sheriff belongs to. Here is an excerpt from Chapter 22, which is a superb example of Orwellian gibberish which I am sure you can decode with ease:

"For chiefs who are committed to preparing for a critical incident involving use of force issues,highly specialized training is essential. For example, table top excercises in partnership with other key players such as the city manager, command staff, pbulic information officers, Department of Justice officials, and trusted partners within the media, police union, and public interest groups can be useful. Such excercises can smulate the type of pressures generated during a real crisis. Crafting a post-incident protocol in partnership with this group that fits the norms of unique communities and departmental policies and procedures would be invaluable as a guide during a real incident. Communication strategies that inform the public while maintaining the confidence of front line officers who require the chief's support require planning in advance and should not be addressed for the first time during an emotionally charged event."

Mr. Grigg, I would so like you take on this document and this organization....

willb said...

Municipal/State bankruptcy is looking more and more like a
blessing in disguise, especially if it will rid us of
these politically negotiated union contracts.

Rose Gonella said...

“I don’t understand why the police officers in this country don’t stand up collectively and say, `we’re going to go on strike,”

Oh no, Brer Fox, PLEASE don't throw us in that there briar patch!

Anonymous said...

I visit a donut snorters page from behind a proxy to laugh at the comments and get news from a non communist news source. The porker page is ran by an ex-cop who thinks all countries in the world are looking at his page when it is really people behind proxies who know he can't be trusted. Don't dial 911 dial 1911 instead.

Chas Steele said...

Bitch, Bitch, Bitch, Moan, Moan, Moan. How come no one seems to have the balls to take care of these problem cops on their own. If this happens in your A.O. then you have the authority to deal out what you get.

William Flatt said...

I think it goes without saying that the founding fathers are spinning in their graves so violently it is creating a gyroscopic effect. What the consequences will be is still anyone's guess. But as someone who is now officially a FORMER badge-wearer, there is a radical change going on right now in the public safety profession. Here in Indiana there is a purge going on. ALL the good guys are either being fired, or pushed out on disability for line-of-duty injuries (I'm the latter). Everyone that's being brought in to replace them are all "yes men" (and women, too) who will obey any orders. The Nuremberg Principle still applies, though, but enforcement of it is likely going to have to happen only after a 2nd American Revolution, if enough of us accept the reality of our current situation and the need for it.

I'm old enough to remember the old "Officer Friendly" program, and efforts by the police to build closer relationships with the public, to build trust and assert how our form of policing was different than the pre-WW2 European model, which rightly was mistrusted by the people there. I think of that and how things are now, and it's "no more officer friendly" (sorry for the mixed memes) as AmeriKa is now looking a lot like 1930's Germany. Funny thing is, I knew a Jewish fellow who survived Hitler's killing machine and who said (in the 1970's, mind you,) that America was becoming more and more like Nazi Germany. Just think about that for a minute.

In a police state, the police have unlimited power against the population, and complete immunity from their misdeeds against hapless citizens. This just confirms in my mind that we're approaching Solzhenitsyn's Lament; where people are going to start regretting NOT standing up to the police state machinery.

Then again, every year for the last 15-16 years have set new records for the amount of ammunition sold to private citizens. Perhaps there are a lot more people out there who know what's coming next than anyone is willing to publicly admit. Si vis pacem, para bellum.

Anonymous said...

Again..the people have not given the police and their minions a compelling enough reason not to brutalize them that's why they do what the do best. People. You'll be forced to deal with this sooner rather than later whether you like it or not. Force only understands force and these people will not surrender without a fight.

Anonymous said...

People just have to realize what the cops ARE and not the propaganda they send out. The cops are not there to serve YOU or help YOU, they are there to enforce the LAW and protect those the GOUVERNMENT DECIDED ARE WORTH PROTECTING.

In this framing of their jobs, it all becomes clear. You'll have the occasional decent human being who tries to help a fellow human, but overall it's not their JOB to do so. Their job is to enforce the laws and all laws are punishments by design. They'll make an arrest if it's profitable for them to do so, but the rich and famous never have to worry since the cops are working for them. Now of the gang that beat this man had some nice cars that could be confiscated during the arest or some drugs or drug money that could be taken, THEN you'll get your investigation. Until then recognice the cops as thugs for the law and remember the motto "serve and protect" is just a SAYING, not a COMMANDMENT.

Christian Gray said...

The local law enforcement system is corrupt to the core. Your readers might be interested in my interview with Robert Fingolfin on the evils of cops and the solution.