Tag Archives: police

Police ignored, mishandled sex assaults reported by disabled

via The Bay Citizen by Ryan Gabrielson

Patients at California’s board-and-care centers for the developmentally disabled have accused caretakers of molestation and rape 36 times during the past four years, but police assigned to protect them did not complete even the simplest tasks associated with investigating the alleged crimes, records and interviews show.

The Office of Protective Services, the police force at California’s five developmental centers, failed to order a single hospital-supervised rape examination for any of these alleged victims between 2009 and 2012. At most other police departments, using a “rape kit” to collect evidence would be considered routine.

The procedure, performed by specially trained nurses, is widely regarded as the best way to find evidence of sexual abuse. Without physical evidence, it can be nearly impossible to solve sex crimes, especially those committed against people with cerebral palsy and profound intellectual disabilities.

In the three dozen cases of sexual abuse, documents obtained by California Watch, sister site of The Bay Citizen, reveal that patients suffered molestation, forced oral sex and vaginal lacerations. But for years, the state-run police force has moved so slowly and ineffectively that predators have stayed a step ahead of law enforcement or abused new victims, records show.

State officials responsible for the police force would not comment about specific abuse cases but emphasized that patient protection is the state’s top priority. Officials also said they have ordered retraining for officers and added new procedures to better protect patients – moves that occurred after earlier California Watch stories.

Much of the alleged sexual abuse in the California institutions has occurred at the Sonoma Developmental Center, where female patients have been repeatedly assaulted, internal incident records show. In one case, a caregiver was cleared by the police department of assault and went on to molest a second patient.

In another case from August 2006, caregivers at the Sonoma center found dark blue bruises shaped like handprints covering the breasts of a patient named Jennifer. The patient accused a staff member of molestation, court records show. Jennifer’s injuries appeared to be evidence of sexual abuse, indicating that someone had violently grabbed her.

The Office of Protective Services opened an investigation. But detectives took no action because the case relied heavily on the word of a woman with severe intellectual disabilities. A few months later, court records show, officials at the center had indisputable evidence that a crime had occurred.

Jennifer was pregnant.

By that time, her alleged attacker had vanished.

For the parents of the 32-year-old patient, the reaction has been disbelief and anger. They are now raising a 5-year-old boy who Jennifer is incapable of mothering. The child is precocious and strongly resembles his maternal grandmother.

“Every time, I just imagine her being raped and screaming and crying for me,” said the woman’s mother, whose name is being withheld to protect Jennifer’s identity. “It just kills me.”

The Office of Protective Services has not collected physical evidence to back up cases such as Jennifer’s. In situations involving developmentally disabled patients, DNA and other physical evidence are even more important because statements from alleged victims often are treated as unreliable. Some have IQs in the single digits and cannot speak.

Detectives at city and county police departments are trained to send sexual assault victims to an outside hospital for the specialized rape examination. But the doctors and nurses at the state’s developmental centers – in Sonoma, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and Tulare counties – were not trained in dealing with sexual assault victims, records and interviews show.

California Watch shared details of the developmental center sex abuse cases with two outside police detectives who specialize in such assault investigations. The detectives said they were dismayed by the state’s actions.

“How can you do a sexual assault investigation and not do an exam?” said Roberta Hopewell, a detective at the Riverside Police Department and president of the California Sexual Assault Investigators Association.

According to interviews with former detectives and patrol officers at three of the state’s developmental centers, the Office of Protective Services did not assign its own detectives to cases that should have been investigated – nor did the force seek expert help from outside law enforcement.

One former patrol officer said administrators were afraid of bad publicity.

“They didn’t want anything to get out, so they handled it internally. They call the shots,” said Joe Guardado, a former patrol officer at the Porterville Developmental Center in Tulare County who retired in 2010.

In September, California Watch presented its findings about the handling of sex abuse against patients to officials at the state Department of Developmental Services, which operates the five centers and oversees the Office of Protective Services, its 90-member police force.

Terri Delgadillo, the department’s director, declined interview requests. Instead, the department issued a written statement saying the state is working to protect patients and ensure they receive justice. That includes hiring “nationally recognized law enforcement experts” to train police officers and detectives to better handle sex assault cases, the department said.

“In addition, training was provided to ensure that referrals for sexual assault examinations are completed by thoroughly trained personnel, and that investigations are conducted appropriately and timely,” the department said.

Studies of crimes against the developmentally disabled have found that as many as 80 percent of women in this population are sexually assaulted during their lives. Many victims suffer repeated attacks.

In a series of stories this year, California Watch has reported that sworn officers at the institutions routinely failed to conduct basic police work in cases with criminal implications, including stun-gun assaults on multiple patients and a suspected homicide.

The facilities have documented hundreds of cases of abuse and unexplained injuries, almost none of which have led to arrests. Despite its sloppy record, the force managed to collect more overtime pay than other police agencies its size.

About 1,600 patients live at the five centers, which operate like board-and-care hospitals for patients whose conditions are so challenging that they cannot live with their families or in group homes. The population at these centers has been slowly declining. This year alone, the number of patients has dropped more than 10 percent.

Investigating sex crimes against this vulnerable population falls to the Office of Protective Services, a unique police force that operates round-the-clock in these institutions.

But the detectives and patrol officers have been unprepared to undertake such cases, internal case files show. The records indicate officers have lacked the skills to competently question sex abuse victims, particularly the developmentally disabled.

 

Detectives at times closed investigations when patients appeared to get the dates and times of assaults wrong, even though the disabled frequently struggle with precise chronology.

At the Sonoma Developmental Center, which houses about 500 men and women, two patients accused a caregiver of forcing them to perform oral sex on him.

The Office of Protective Services was first alerted in February 2009. “Client reported to staff that she saw (the caregiver’s) genitals and was asked to perform oral sex for a dollar,” the records said. “Client reports that she did.”

However, the Office of Protective Services quickly closed the case, the records indicate, because the suspect was not listed as having worked in the patient’s unit, called Corcoran, on the day of the alleged abuse. The accused caregiver did often work in that unit, though, internal records show.

Months later, the mother of a second patient alerted the center that her daughter had said she had licked the same caregiver’s penis.

But by then, the accused caregiver was gone. He is not identified by his full name in state records. The center’s incident log noted that the psychiatric technician suspected of the abuse was “no longer employed” but “did work on the unit.”

Read More

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For more on Jennifer’s story see multimedia feature “In Jennifer’s Room” (also published by The Bay Citizen).

 


Justice Department To Sue Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio Over Civil Rights Abuses

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, with Cold Case Posse lead investigator Michael Zullo by his side.Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, with Cold Case Posse lead investigator Michael Zullo by his side.

 

RYAN J. REILLY  876 10

The Justice Department has given up on settling with Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaioand is planning to sue the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office for systematic civil rights abuses of Hispanic residents, a DOJ official indicated in a terse letter to Arpaio’s lawyer on Wednesday.

“It is clear that DOJ’s concerted effort to attain voluntary compliance by your client has failed,” Deputy Assistant Attorney General Roy Austin of DOJ’s Civil Rights Division wrote in a letter to Arpaio lawyer Joseph Popolizio obtained by TPM.

“It is also clear that we should not discuss anything else by telephone because you will not accurately portray those conversations,” Austin wrote. “At this point, it is best to let a court determine the appropriateness of appointing an independent monitor as well as imposing other relief in order to address MCSO’s constitutional and federal statutory violations.”

Arpaio’s office first came under federal scrutiny back in 2008, and DOJ announced in Decemberthat its probe found that Arpaio had “promoted a culture of bias” and that his officers had discriminated against Latinos. DOJ and Arpaio have been in contentious negotiations over the findings for months, but prospects now appear dim for a negotiated settlement.

Austin was writing Wednesday in response to a letter that Popolizio sent to DOJ earlier in the day. Popolizio’s missive “so obviously misstates the course of dealings between the parties that it is not worthy of a point by point refutation,” Austin wrote back. Popolizio’s letter has not been released publicly.

In opposing a federal monitor, Arpaio’s office has said that a monitor “essentially usurps the powers and duties of an elected Sheriff and transfers them to a person or group of persons selected by the federal government.”

DOJ has said that a federal monitor was a non-negotiable part of any agreement. Austin’s letter said the monitor was the first item that came up when the government summarized a proposed agreement to Arpaio’s team on Feb. 6.

“The Proposed Settlement Agreement that we presented to you is entirely consistent with the summary provided to you on February 6 and what you agreed to on February 6,” Austin wrote.

“The Agreement explicitly limits the power of the monitor to the terms of the Agreement; establishes that the monitor shall operate under the supervision and orders of a federal court; and includes specific language ensuring that the monitor will not replace the role and duties of the Sheriff,” he continued.

“Your characterization of the terms of our Agreement is inaccurate and clearly designed to mislead,” Austin wrote. “Considering that the word ‘monitor’ appears throughout the Agreement and you never gave us an opportunity to negotiate the exact language of the Agreement, it is silly for you to pretend that I or any other DOJ employee defined exactly what the duties of the monitor would have at the end of negotiations. Nothing of the kind was ever said and you know it.”


Illinois judge: law barring recording police is unconstitutional

By  | Published about 2 hours ago

In Cook County today Judge Stanley J. Sacks declared Illinois’ eavesdropping law—which is one of the toughest in the nation—unconstitutional in his ruling in the case of Christopher Drew, who was charged with the felony crime in 2009.

The eavesdropping law prohibits citizens from making audio or visual recordings of others without every recorded person’s explicit consent. Sixty-year-old artist Drew audio-recorded his interaction with a police officer who was arresting him for selling art patches at the side of the road. A police officer found the tape recorder and Drew found himself with a Class 1 felony charge, which carries up to 15 years in prison. “That’s one step below attempted murder,” Drew said in a January interview with the New York Times.

A citizen’s right to record police has certainly been a contentious topic of debate recently. The First Circuit US Court of Appeals has considered whether making recordings of police with the recording device in plain sight is considered a secret recording or not, and a Miami photojournalist was arrested and had his videos of police activity deleted while he was detained.

In this particular case, however, Judge Sacks seemed to declare Illinois’ law unconstitutional not because it’s a citizen’s right to record interactions between the police and the public, but because the law was too far-reaching.

“The Illinois Eavesdropping Statute potentially punishes as a felony a wide array of wholly innocent conduct,” noted Judge Sacks in his opinion, according to the Sun-Times. “A parent making an audio recording of their child’s soccer game, but in doing so happens to record nearby conversations, would be in violation of the Eavesdropping Statute.”


Oakland Police More Worried About 50 Protestors Than Murder Call

We know this may just sound like the Chron hating on Occupy again, but police dispatch tapes from Berkeley on February 18 — the evening that 67-year-old Peter Cukor was (allegedly) bludgeoned to death outside his home by unmedicated schizophrenic Daniel DeWitt — reveal that officers in the vicinity were aware of the non-emergency call Cukor placed, and were instructed not to respond because an Occupy Oakland march was headed to the UC Berkeley campus.

A few minutes before the fatal attack, Berkeley police officer Jerome Cobert noticed the report of the intruder at Cukor’s address on his police-cruiser computer, but he was told by a dispatcher not to respond to anything that was not a life-threatening emergency or a felony in progress, because the protest was on the move.

Perhaps this was also Cukor’s error for calling the non-emergency line and not just calling 911 to begin with, but just a few minutes after Cobert was instructed not to respond, Cukor’s wife called 911, at about 9 p.m., to report that DeWitt was now attacking her husband. At 9:04 p.m. she reports having locked herself in her home, and says she can see her husband’s body lying in the driveway. At 9:08 p.m. an officer arrived and found Cukor, who had been bludgeoned with a flower pot, and only had a faint pulse. He died later in the hospital. Dewitt was arrested near the scene.

The Occupy protest that the Berkeley police were worried about only numbered 50 people.

[Chron]


Did the NYPD’s Spying on Muslims Violate the Law?

Did the NYPD’s Spying on Muslims Violate the Law?

 

by Justin Elliott ProPublica

Last August, the Associated Press launched a series detailing how the New York Police Department has extensively investigated Muslims in New York and other states, including preparing reports on mosques and Muslim-owned businesses, apparently without any suspicion of crimes being committed.

The propriety and legality of the NYPD’s activities is under dispute. Mayor Michael Bloomberg – who claimed last year that the NYPD does not focus on religion and only follows threats or leads – is now arguing that, as he said last week, “Everything the NYPD has done is legal, it is appropriate, it is constitutional.” Others disagree. In fact, Bloomberg himself signed a law in 2004 prohibiting profiling by law enforcement based on religion.

This week, Attorney General Eric Holder told a congressional committee the Justice Department is reviewing whether to investigate potential civil rights violations by the NYPD.

To get a better understanding of the rules governing the NYPD – and whether the department has followed them in its surveillance of Muslims – we spoke to Faiza Patel, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center at NYU Law School.

The NYPD did not respond to our request for comment about allegations it has violated the law.

So Mayor Bloomberg and police commissioner Ray Kelly say everything that the NYPD did was legal and constitutional. Other people have disagreed – Newark Mayor Cory Booker, for example, said the wholesale surveillance of a community without suspicion of a crime “clearly crosses a line.” What restrictions is the NYPD operating under?

They are operating under at least three sets of rules. The first and most basic set of rules is the consent decree from the Handschu case - the so-called Handschu guidelines. This was a 1970s-era political surveillance case that was settled through a consent decree. The NYPD had been conducting surveillance of a number of political groups in the 60s and 70s. The initial consent decree regulated the NYPD’s collection of intelligence about political activity. It first said the NYPD can only collect intelligence about political activity if it follows certain rules. For example, the NYPD had to get clearance from something called the Handschu authority, which was a three-member board that consisted of two high-level police officials and one civilian appointed by the mayor.

Then, post-9/11 the NYPD went to court and asked a judge to review the consent decree because they wanted to have greater freedom in their counter-terrorism operations. What they wound up doing was adopting guidelines based on the FBI’s guidelines from 2003, issued by Attorney General John Ashcroft. These were different in several important ways. The first was that there was no pre-clearance, at all. There was no requirement that the NYPD get approval from the Handschu authority before they undertook any intel gathering about political activity. The second was that the guidelines explicitly say the NYPD can attend any public event or gathering on the same basis as another member of the public. So if I can go to a church, the NYPD can go to a church. But it goes on to say that the NYPD can’t retain the information it gathers from going to such public events unless it is connected to suspected criminal or terrorist activity.

So if you look at, say, the NYPD’s guide to Newark’s Muslim community obtained and published by the AP – which maps out mosques and Muslim-owned businesses without mentioning and suspicions of crimes – aren’t the police retaining exactly this kind of information?

There are a couple of documents that suggest they may have violated Handschu. For example, the [2006 NYPD report] on the Danish cartoon controversy, which is a collection of statements in mosques and other places that have been taken down by undercover officers or confidential informants.

What are the other rules the NYPD operates under?

The second set is that the NYPD has a profiling order in place, and New York City also has a racial profiling law. They are slightly different. The NYPD order [issued in 2002] does not include religion among the categories that they define as profiling. But the New York City lawdoes. It prohibits police officers from relying on race, ethnicity, religion, or national origin as a determinative factor in initiating law enforcement action. Normally you have quite a difficult time in racial profiling cases showing they’ve used one of these factors as the determinative factor. In this case, if you look at the documents, it seems quite clear that the NYPD had its eyes quite firmly on the Muslim community. So it’s possible it is also in violation of this law.

The third set of rules is, of course, the U.S. and the New York state constitutions. Within the Constitution you’re looking at least two broad categories of provisions – potential First Amendment claims for free speech, freedom of association, and free exercise of religion. The other piece of it would be potential equal protection claims.

There was another AP story this week reporting that a bunch of federal grant money and equipment used as part of surveillance and investigation of the Muslim community. Does that muddy the legal questions about whether they were following federal rules as well?

The federal program that was giving them money is the HIDTA program – High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. It’s geared toward providing funds to combat drug trafficking. HIDTA itself does allow for counter-terrorism spending to be an incidental purpose. It requires the HIDTA Executive Board to basically make sure that funds were being used for the purposes that they were supposed to be used for. So I think there’s a real issue about accountability and oversight of the use of HIDTA funds here.

So if the NYPD did potentially violate the Handschu guidelines and city law you mentioned, what are the penalties?

Well the Handschu lawyers already went to court last year and told the judge that the documents that had been released by the AP suggested that there had been violations of the Handschu decree. They asked for discovery so they could check the files of the NYPD to see whether they had violated the prohibition on keeping dossiers. I believe that that discovery will likely be starting soon. So there’s clearly a remedy through the Handschu mechanism. Because it’s a consent decree, it’s an ongoing thing. The judge has supervisory jurisdiction. There are also issues under the racial profiling law and under the First Amendment.

We’ve also turned to the question of oversight. The FBI, for all its faults, does have a fair amount of oversight – an inspector general internally and congressional oversight. We think a similar thing would be a great idea for the NYPD.


The truth about violence at Occupy

In Oakland, the camp coincided with a significant drop in crime. But that wasn’t the story we were told

Members of the Oakland Police Department arrest an Occupy Oakland demonstrator in Downtown Oakland, California January 28, 2012

Members of the Oakland Police Department arrest an Occupy Oakland demonstrator in Downtown Oakland, California January 28, 2012  (Credit: Reuters/Stephen Lam)

This originally appeared on TomDispatch.

When you fall in love, it’s all about what you have in common, and you can hardly imagine that there are differences, let alone that you will quarrel over them, or weep about them, or be torn apart by them — or if all goes well, struggle, learn, and bond more strongly because of, rather than despite, them. The Occupy movement had its glorious honeymoon when old and young, liberal and radical, comfortable and desperate, homeless and tenured all found that what they had in common was so compelling the differences hardly seemed to matter.

Until they did.

Revolutions are always like this: at first all men are brothers and anything is possible, and then, if you’re lucky, the romance of that heady moment ripens into a relationship, instead of a breakup, an abusive marriage, or a murder-suicide. Occupy had its golden age, when those who never before imagined living side-by-side with homeless people found themselves in adjoining tents in public squares.

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Aerial Surveillance, Snipers, Face Masks: Chicago’s Newest Anti-Protest Measures Revealed

Each time a new measure that the city of Chicago is preparing for the coming NATO and G8 summits is unveiled, the tension in the city ratchets up a notch. The latest news comes in the form of reports that Chicago has purchased face shields, and may be considering the implementation of airborne surveillance technology.

As part of the expanded powers given to Mayor Rahm Emanuel for the May summits,the city has authority to accept contracts for goods or services without approval of the City Council or the expected competitive bidding process. The face shields and aerial surveillance technology are the first use of this allowance.

Chicago police officers, and any law enforcement the city chooses to deputize under the measures put in place for NATO/G8, will be equipped with 3,000 new face shields that“will fit easily over gas masks,” according to The Chicago Sun-Times.

The nearly $200,000 contract with Super Seer, a Colorado-based company, was made as an “emergency purchase for the G8 summit,” according to Super Seer President Steve Smith.

[read more]


New York Police Caught Monitoring Muslim Student Groups Throughout Northeast

by: Amy Goodman, Democracy NOW! | Video Report

The Associated Press has revealed the New York City Police Department monitored Muslim college students at schools throughout the Northeast, including Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania. In one case, the NYPD sent an undercover agent on a whitewater rafting trip in upstate New York, where he recorded students’ names and noted in police intelligence files how many times they prayed. We speak to one of the students on the trip, Jawad Rasul. He is the only student who was under surveillance to now publicly speak out about his experience. “[This is] hurting NYPD’s try and attempt at finding homegrown terrorism, because these kind of tactics actually create more hatred towards them and the other law-enforcement agencies and really destroys the trust that any youth might have developed with the government,” Rasul said. We’re also joined by Mongi Dhaouadi, executive director of the Connecticut chapter of Council on American-Islamic Relations, which is calling for a state probe into the spying on Muslims.


Group Behind Anti-Muslim Police Training Focus On Sharia Law

 

Group Behind Anti-Muslim Police Training Says Focus On Sharia Law!

The group that hired an anti-Muslim training group to teach part of a seminar to police officers in Tennessee is defending itself against subsequent criticism by arguing that the media should really be focusing on Muslim groups like CAIR and ISNA that are trying to “infiltrate every phase of our society at every level” in order to “alter the mindset and agendas of our society for the overthrow of our Constitution and the implementation of Sharia Islamic Law.”

Last week, the Tennessee Freedom Coalition released a defense of the seminar, in response to complaints from groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, and various other Islamic groups.

The blog post, written by TFC board member Jonna Bianco, explains that it is in response to those complaints and members of the media “that simply can’t seem to get their facts straight or the truth reported accurately.”

Earlier this week, a number of police officers in Murfreesboro, Tennessee attended a training seminar that was taught by John Guandolo of the Virginia-based Strategic Engagement Group (SEG). Guandolo has claimed, among other things, that Muslims should not get First Amendment rights, and in the seminar described how Islamic centers could be potential military compounds.

“This training is based on facts, court documents, and incontrovertible evidence,” Bianco writes in the statement. “This program does not contain any information which could be remotely construed as hate speech nor is any information provided or presented not accurate and true.”


UK Police: download a file, go to jail for 10 years and pay an “unlimited” fine

By  | Published about 7 hours ago

Police: download a file, go to jail for 10 years and pay an "unlimited" fine

The initial SOCA warning page

The 70,000 daily visitors to popular music site RnBXclusive.com were met with a purposely terrifying message on Tuesday and part of Wednesday. The UK’s Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA) took the site down, arrested its operator, and threw up a splash page that warned downloaders of “up to 10 years imprisonment.” Thought statutory damages of up to $150,000 per infringement in the US were ludicrous? SOCA warns that downloaders from the site could face an “unlimited fine under UK law.”

SOCA also showed users their own IP address and warned that “the above information can be used to identify you and your location,” adding that “SOCA has the capability to monitor and investigate you, and can inform your Internet service provider of these infringements.”

Didn’t get the message? The warning goes on to say, “You may be liable for prosecution and that fact that you have received this message does not preclude you from prosecution.”

SOCA announced separately on Wednesday that the rather theatrical warning (our judgment, not their words) would only stay up for 32 hours, apparently as a way to reach the site’s regular visitors. (The notice has now been removed.)