Police Officer V. Citizen Safety

Posted in the Collin County Forum

Citizen Concerned

Frisco, TX

#1 May 7, 2008
Police Officer V. Citizen Safety

When I was a kid, a long time ago, we were taught that police officers were our “friends” and to go to them if you were ever in trouble. I know today that may sound a little “Mayberry-esque” but things were really quite different than they are now. And along the way, things have changed – slowly; but nonetheless inexorably changed.

You see back in the day, police officer’s sworn duty was to “serve and protect” the citizens of the cities and town they worked in. They were equipped with common sense, dedication, love of their community, radios and a simple .38 caliber revolver. With these few tools they did what they were supposed to do: protect the citizens. Those police officers handled everything from bank robberies to speeding tickets, hostage situations, drugs and the all the rest of the things they are confronted with. And they did the job pretty darn well and were respected.

But, as I said things have changed – and not for the good. Instead of “protect and serve” today’s police forces motto is “officer safety first”. Now one might ponder what is wrong with that? The answer is a lot is wrong with that. When “officer’s safety” trumps “protect and serve the citizens” we have a real problem on our hands.

Perhaps the best example of what I am talking about is the militarization of the police departments across the country, including right there in McKinney, Texas. Most notably this phenomenon takes on the form of paramilitary SWAT units. God only knows how much of our tax money has been and is being spent for these units to be equipped and trained as military units, instead of policemen. Such officers are now trained in military assault tactics and equipped with military rifles, grenades, explosives and sniper gear.

Now the “urban myths” are that SWAT Teams are necessary because:

• The Bad Guys Have And Use Military Equipment.

The truth is no, they don’t. Don’t believe me? Simply go to the U.S. FBI web site and look up the details of the 50 or so out of the current 900,000 or so police officers shot to death in each of the last several years. The VAST majority of death occurred by handgun’s, typically from 9mm down to .22 caliber. Most all were obtained illegally.

In my relatively long memory I can only remember one (1) incident where police anywhere, anytime in this country were confronted with bad guys with military equipment to include body armor. That incident was a bank robbery in California which occurred a long, long time ago.

• Police Officers Face Much More Risk Than Before.

The truth is no, they don’t. With all due respect to police officers a simple look at the annual report of “Most Dangerous Jobs” compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show you that is another myth. Simply go to their website and see for yourself. In fact, so few police officers lose their lives each year that not only does the job not rank in the top ten most dangerous jobs – but the number of deaths is actually “statistically insignificant”.

Now before someone gives the “knee-jerk” response of any death is one to many – I agree with you. But consider this fact which can be found simply by going to the National Transportation and Highway Administration web site: you and I “Joe average citizen’s” are three (3) times more likely to be killed in a car crash than is a cop being shot and killed. Translation for all those who say cops “risk their lives everyday”: so do all of us. In fact, we take three times the risk just by driving our cars.
Citizen Concerned

Frisco, TX

#2 May 7, 2008
(cont.)

• Cops Are Fighting Terrorist and Hostage Takers.

This one is obvious. The truth is no, they are not. There have been zero incidences of SWAT teams fighting terrorist in this country. There have been cases of the police being confronted with hostage situations for sure. But no different than the hostage situations faced 40 years ago, and these were handled by good “protect and serve” policemen – not pseudo-army men.

If we do ever have a case of urban warfare being necessary such as an invasion or the like we have the National Guard – that’s what they are here for. Their job is not to police the citizens just as it is not the job of policemen to play army.

With SWAT teams having no actual valid purpose (other than admittedly it is fun to play army with real military equipment) the following question is begged:

“Why exactly, are we equipping our police forces with military equipment and training?”

I would suggest there are two answers to this valid question.

The first one I already mentioned – it’s fun to play army. I am saying this tongue in cheek of course. But consider that in terms of "army" SWAT teams in fact face no real or equivalent enemy.(An equivalent threat or enemy would be say, fighting the “insurgents” in Iraq.) It is a fact that most SWAT teams have so little purpose that their main use today is to serve search and arrest warrants. That is certainly not the often mouthed purpose of a SWAT team and is a colossal waste of taxpayer money.

Not to mention the danger to citizens literally introduced by the SWAT teams themselves. This country and the state of Texas have a tradition of law embodied in the “Castle Laws”. Put quite simply “A man’s (or woman’s) home is his castle” and if somebody attacks it you have every right under the law to defend it with deadly force to protect the lives, limbs and liberty of yourself and your family.

When a SWAT team is unleashed to serve a search or arrest warrant here is what happens in McKinney and in cities all over the country. They create an “operational plan”– this is a military assault plan of attack similar to what our fine soldiers perform in Iraq. These assaults are almost always carried out after midnight when the occupants are asleep.
Citizen Concerned

Frisco, TX

#3 May 7, 2008
(cont.)

Within seconds, they breach the doors of the home with either battering rams or explosives. Then, they toss in highly dangerous “flash bang” grenades which produce a severe concussion wave, blighting light, deafening noise, smoke and intense heat capable of setting houses on fire. In the latter case, people have been killed by these stun grenades and houses have been burned to the ground. As an added bonus they can throw in tear gas.

Then pseudo-soldiers pumped full of adrenalin, trigger fingers twitching, in full army gear with military rifles and faces covered by ski masks attack the home Iraq style. In doing so – at their discretion – they may or may not announce that they are the police with a search warrant (the infamous “No knock/No announcement raid”). This latter point is a trifling anyway since the startled occupants by now can not see or hear anything due to the “flash bang” grenades doing what they are intended to do: disorient, blind and deafen the attacked occupants.

So here you have a ridiculously dangerous recipe for disaster:

• Pseudo-soldiers conducting a military attack on “innocent until proven guilty in a court of law” citizens, coupled with

• Citizens believing they are being robbed or worse availing themselves of their right to protect themselves against home invasions by unknown intruders.

And what has been the result? To my knowledge, at least 3 McKinney residents being shot (one to death) by the McKinney Police along with massive private property damage – all to serve a warrant. The Urquiza case is a chilling example of what I am talking about.

Which brings me back to my second answer.

In McKinney, Texas as elsewhere the number one priority of our police officers has shifted from “protect and serve the citizens” to “protect ourselves at all costs”. That is why SWAT assaults, which are military attacks using overwhelming force, are being used to serve warrants. Danger to citizens and their state and constitutional rights be dammed.

With all due respect to good and honest police men and women, SWAT team assaults on citizens are an act of outright bullying cowardice. Particularly when they are utilized to simply serve a search or arrest warrant against our “innocent until proven guilty in a court of law” citizens.

There is no valid purpose to justify McKinney’s Swat team, the danger it brings to our citizens or the wasting of our tax monies burned up maintaining it.

Yes, being a police officer does involve danger at times. That comes with the territory, just as it does for fire fighters, pilots, fishermen, construction workers and the like.

But when as a SWAT Team member you endanger the lives of our citizens and cause massive damage to private property - all to protect yourself while serving a simple warrant – you have no business being employed as a police officer. Quite frankly you are cowards.
Citizen Concerned

Frisco, TX

#4 May 7, 2008
A Great article by Radley Balko on the militarization of our police forces can be found at:

http://www.theagitator.com/2008/05/07/north-l ...

“Warrior Training” at North Little Rock PD

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

Via the comments section, here’s an troubling notice posted at the website of the Arkansas Tactical Officers Association:

“Warrior Mindset” is a class being offered by the North Little Rock Police Department. Taught by Dr. Jason Winkle, It is an opportunity to train with one of the most sought after tactical trainers in the country. Class includes topics (but is not limited to topics) on fear management, decision making, emotional survival, physical fitness as they pertain to law enforcement officers. Class is designed for all officers from patrol to investigations to SWAT. This class is limited to law enforcement and military only.

I’m afraid this intermingling of domestic police and military is well beyond the point of no return. This looks to be a class that’s taught to police departments all over the country, though the notice in North Little Rock is timely, given today’s news.

We need a hell of a lot less of the “warrior mindset” in our police departments. In far too many communities, this “us versus them stuff” has poisoned the relationship between police and the people the serve. And it fosters the kind of mentality that leads to cases like Tracy Ingle’s.
Peyton Strickland

Frisco, TX

#5 May 7, 2008
SHERIFF APOLOGIZES FOR SWAT, COUNTY TO PAY $2.45 MILLION

http://www.starnewsonline.com/article/2008022 ...

This is the final step in the SWAT murder of Peyton Strickland. The SWAT team opened fire, shooting through the closed front door of the house, killing Strickland and his dog. Why? Because a SWAT team was deployed to serve an arrest warrant against college students suspected of stealing a video game. In the execution of this daring and heroic raid, an officer was “startled” by the sound of the battering ram breaking down the front door. The same battering ram he knew was going to be being deployed. Wildfire ensued.

AND surprise! The SWAT team lied and made up all kinds of scenarios to say and make it look like reasonably “they were in fear for their lives”. Unfortunately for this screw up SWAT team, the coroner couldn’t figure out why the bullet lodged in Mr. Strickland’s brain had pieces of wood embedded in it. It seems that upon investigation, and retrieving the front door the police had “sequestered away”, it was determined that the shots were fired before or as the door was first hit by the battering ram and the police had fired through the closed front door, murdering Strickland. The SWAT cops lies were exposed and the officer originally was charged with murder/manslaughter. In the end the lying SWAT cop only lost his job. None of his SWAT buddies who knew what had happened came forward.“Startling”, huh? The “best of the best”, elite SWAT teams get “startled” by things such as their own battering rams, or their own stun grenades and bad tactics. And then, in full “protect and serve” their own asses mode, they lie about it. Feel Safe?

From the news reports:

“That closure came on Tuesday evening with a settlement of $2.45 million and a public apology from New Hanover County Sheriff Sid Causey. Additionally, Causey agreed to an independent review of the heavily armed team responsible for Strickland’s death.

Strickland’s parents, Durham lawyer Don Strickland and his wife, Kathy, had two years from the time of their son’s death on Dec. 1, 2006, to file suit. Former New Hanover County Sheriff’s Cpl. Christopher M. Long was not charged with a crime, leaving Strickland’s family without closure.

Long shot Strickland to death in the process of a raid. The sheriff’s Emergency Response Team was in the process of arresting Strickland for armed robbery. Long mistook the sound of a battering ram for gunshots.

His gear included a hood, earpiece and helmet that he said muffled his hearing (imagine that?) Strickland and two of his friends had been wanted for a November robbery of two Sony PlayStation 3 game consoles.”

ONLY AFTER the department/county were sued, did the sheriff accept responsibility for his former employee.
Paul Roberts

Frisco, TX

#6 May 7, 2008
PARAMILITARY ASSAULT TEAMS TERRORIZING AMERICA ACCORDING TO U.S. SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY

http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/january2 ...

“Former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Paul Craig Roberts highlights disturbing use and abuse of SWAT teams that carry out over 40,000 raids a year on largely innocent and non-threatening people

Roberts' article, The Empire Turns Its Guns on the Citizenry, cites a 2006 CATO report that warns against the out of control use and abuse of paramilitary police raids.

"There are now 17,000 local America police forces that are armed with rocket launchers, bazookas, heavy machine guns, all kinds of chemical sprays - in fact some of them have tanks, you have now local police departments that are equipped beyond the standard of American heavy infantry," said Roberts.

"In recent years there have been 40,000 or more callouts of SWAT teams annually - that would be 110 times a day - have you read about 110 hostage or terrorist events every day last year?"

Roberts said that SWAT teams are so prevalent yet expensive to maintain, that they are increasingly being used to handle benign situations that wouldn't cause one village cop any headaches, such as targeting recreational drug users who purchase small quantities of marijuana.

"They are serving routine warrants to people who pose no danger to the police or to the public," said Roberts.

"They break into homes and apartments in the middle of the night when people are asleep, they use stun grenades, cause all kinds of chaos and confusion and the result is a tremendous number of innocent people are murdered in their beds, brutalized, traumatized because the very high percentage of these cases the SWAT teams have wrong addresses, they get the wrong people."
Jimi

Frisco, TX

#7 May 7, 2008
MCKINNEY, TEXAS POLICE HALL OF SHAME

IT SURE SEEMS to me that we’ve seen an on-going pattern of continued corruption and criminal activity within our police department.

Examples follow below. All information is taken from published media reports, public information and internal police records – so none of the below falls into the “rumor category”.

While reading, note the lack of punishment and “deals” that these bums received for their crimes and incompetence. It is clear that the Collin County DA’s office is in bed with our PD and has forgotten their sworn oath to uphold justice.

Don’t the citizens of McKinney deserve better?

• Officer Joyce VanDertuin – Fatally Shot Innocent Homeowner; June 2001

A 31-year-old home owner was fatally shot in her home Tuesday afternoon by a police officer responding to a burglar alarm. Officer Joyce VanDeruin was investigating the alarm in the 1800 block of Meadow Ranch Road shortly before 1:30 p.m. when she saw a rear patio door ajar, said McKinney police Capt. Robert Dean.

"She called for backup and tried to enter the door," Capt. Dean said. He said the officer told investigators that the door was pushed forcefully back toward her as she tried to move through it.

"The door came back at her," Capt. Dean said, "and the gun discharged."

The bullet went through the door and struck Cathey Howard-Kalimah, who was inside the house. The bullet entered just above the deadbolt on the frame of the door and struck Ms. Howard-Kalimah in the upper chest, police said.

Apparently this officer’s training was so poor that she didn’t know enough keep her finger out of her Glock 17’s trigger guard until she had determined the need for and had decided to shoot. A Glock CAN NOT be fired unless the trigger is pulled – it is mechanically impossible. An innocent homeowner paid the ultimate price. The City settled for $1.5 million dollars to save what would have been a more costly pay out in a jury trial.

• Officer Michael Valleau – Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child; April 2004

A McKinney police officer charged with 4 counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child accepted a plea deal with prosecutors and has been placed on probation, according to Collin County court records.

Michael Patrick Valleau, who is also a U.S. Marine, will serve 10 years probation and pay fines for "inappropriate contact" with a 14-year-old female relative.

A grand jury originally indicted Valleau on four counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child. The state dismissed the second, third and fourth charges in exchange for the plea bargain.

He was indicted by a grand jury on Oct. 12 on four first- degree felony counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child, which carries a penalty of up to a life in prison and a fine as high as $10,000, according to the Texas Penal Code.

Valleau was one of two McKinney police officers who resigned from the department following allegations of sexual misconduct involving children in 2004.
Jimi

Frisco, TX

#8 May 7, 2008
(cont.)

Judged: 1
1
• Officer Ian Hasselman – Third Degree Felony Indecency with a Child; June 2004
McKinney police officer Ian Hasselman was accused of exposing himself to his girlfriend in the presence of her 12-year-old daughter in June 2004.

In that incident, a woman reported that Hasselman drove his police cruiser onto the lawn of a children's playground near her apartment in the 700 block of Bumpas Street and began fondling himself within three feet of a woman and her 12-year-old daughter.

Hasselman later resigned from the McKinney Police Department and was arrested.

He was originally arraigned on a third-degree felony charge of indecency with a child, but a grand jury lowered his charge to public lewdness, a Class A misdemeanor. Hasselman signed a plea bargain with Collin County prosecutors last May for which he received 18 months probation, six days in jail (to be served on weekends beginning this week) and an $800 fine.

• Officer Randall Robert Vandertuin – Theft, Evidence Tampering and Extramarital Affairs; August 2004

Three years after a quadruple homicide stunned McKinney, the case remains unsolved with no new suspects. If there were an arrest, some defense attorneys wonder if the prosecution would be hampered by the questionable actions of the lead investigator in the case.

Randall Robert Vandertuin surrendered his peace officer's license in 2005 in exchange for not being prosecuted for taking police evidence to a girlfriend's house, according to court records recently obtained by News 8. Vandertuin also stole property, to include a rifle scope from the police department property/evidence room.

But that coupled with the fact that records show the married man had been reprimanded for having multiple affairs - including one with the officer who oversaw the police evidence room and another with a victim in a case he was working - damaged his credibility as a McKinney Police Department leader.

In a memo recommending termination, Capt. Randy Roland wrote that the affair with the victim "crosses a line of ethical conduct that when exposed will open this department and this city to ethical questioning with each and every case Detective Vandertuin has been involved in."

The Collin County district attorney's office also chose not to pursue charges, instead offering a pre-indictment settlement.

In it, Vandertuin admits to two felony charges of tampering with a governmental record - and agreed to permanently give up his peace officers license.

Assistant Chief Rex Redden admitted that Vandertuin violated the department's policies and likely committed a theft by taking the scope.
"Under the current atmosphere, we've opted not to prosecute," he said in an email. "We just don't need anymore negative publicity."
Jimi

Frisco, TX

#9 May 7, 2008
(cont.)

• Captain Ron Jones - Sexual Harassment; May 2007

McKinney police Capt. Ron Jones, the head of the McKinney Police Department’s patrol division, was placed on a five-day suspension last month after an investigation based on allegations of “violations of the code of conduct,” said Meredith Ladd, the MPD’s attorney.

Jones, 60, was placed on the five-day suspension for violating the department’s sexual harassment and professional conduct and personal bearing policies.

MCKINNEY POLICE DIS-HONORABLE MENTIONS

• Corporal Jessie Garcia - April 2006
Corporal Garcia has been involved in a number of suspicious “events” but is always cleared and is still on the street. For example, the beating of Mr. Tarver in which Garcia pummeled the 46 year black man with a back injury in the face at least six times before “macing” him.

The police report states that Mr. Tarver had an aggressive look in his eyes - which in McKinney -apparently gives police the right to attack and beat it's citizens.

Garcia has been involved in the unwarranted shooting of at least 2 McKinney residents during ridiculous and unnecessary SWAT team raids which endangered the lives of McKinney citizens and destroyed untold dollars worth of private property.(see Urquiza case, below).

• False Arrest of Christi Hernandez - 2006

The city of McKinney has reached a settlement with a woman who was wrongly arrested and jailed in January. Neither Christi Hernandez of Princeton nor city officials would discuss the details of the settlement, which has not yet been presented to the court.

McKinney police were trying to find Christy – not Christi – Hernandez, who has a different middle name, lives in a different town and has a different license plate number. The suspect also has a tattoo, the one thing that saved the innocent Ms. Hernandez from prosecution on felony drug charges. Those charges were dismissed but still show on her record.

When this screw up became public, McKinney Police first claimed on TV that they had acted completely properly and took the opportunity to publically smear the reputation of the innocent Ms. Hernandez.

It was only after a media frenzy ensued and the threat of a civil lawsuit was made that the department admitted their wrong doing. After the settlement, if memory serves correctly, City Councilman Brian Loughmiller crowed how the City had saved money by settling rather than going to court.
Jimi

Frisco, TX

#10 May 7, 2008
(cont.)

• Bogus Military Attack Against Guillermo Urquiza 2006

McKinney police acting on information provided by an “informant” swore out an arrest warrant for 26 year old Guillermo Urquiza. They claimed Urquiza had for some reason contracted to have Detective Marco Robles killed.

Billy Urquiza had called Detective Robles to inquire about a used motorcycle he was considering buying. The price being too low, Urquiza asked Robles to find out if it was stolen. It was. Robles wanted the bike which Urquiza did not have possession of. An argument ensued after Robles allegedly threatened to have Urquiza arrested for not truning over a bike he did not have.

Apparently infuriated, Robles set up a sting operation against Urquiza using a criminal, paid informant. Despite wiring the criminal paid informant nothing audible was recorded due to “technical difficulties”.

Later this recording would be analyzed by a forensics expert who, after making over 100 attempts to decipher the recording over a period of one month, testified the recording was completely unintelligible. Detective Robles testifies later the he (and apparently only he could fully understand the defective recording and it contained a plot against his life).

They MPD did not ask for or obtain a no knock warrant but simply a regular arrest warrant.
From the outset the police planned and executed a full scale military style attack on Mr. Urquiza and his home, where his mother also resided. Other than the fact that the police were “pissed off” there appears to have been no reason for such an attack. The attack was carried out by the SWAT team who were dressed from head to toe in black including ski masks and included the use of powerful and dangerous stun grenades and automatic military weaponry.

After horribly wounding Urquiza at least 7 times, the police then tried to charge him with 9 counts of capital murder. Mr. Urquiza apparently attempted to defend himself against what he thought were home intruders. According to sources, as he was being shot to pieces, he called out to his mother to call the police.
Jimi

Frisco, TX

#11 May 7, 2008
(cont.)

A Collin County Grand Jury refused to indict Urquiza on any of the charges trumped up by the McKinney police due to lack of any credible evidence. Instead they charged him with 2 counts of aggravated assault. This charge means he tried to protect himself from harm – as the laws of the state of Texas allow. Billy Urquiza was convicted on one count of aggravated assault, which is being appealed at this time.

• Bungled Quadruple Murder Case

McKinney police arrested suspects in this infamous quadruple murders. However, they had to be let go due to lack of evidence. The case has been further set back by the actions of former officer Randall Robert Vandertuin, the lead investigator.

Mr. Vandertuin, a married man, was allowed to resign from the force after being caught in multiple affairs (one with the surviving victim of the Wingfield murder case), theft (of the rifle scope utilized in the Wingfield murder case) and evidence tampering.

• False Arrest of Paul Wooley 2002

The McKinney police held Paul Wooley in jail for at least three days after they knew he was innocent of being the shooter at the McKinney Hospital. Mr. Wooley was “tarred and feathered” by the various media outlets, supported by statements made by the police.

Mr. Wooley, with his reputation in ruins, committed suicide after his release from jail. His estate has filed a civil lawsuit against the city and the police department.

• SWAT Officer Ting Sun who discharged his firearm in a San Antonio Hotel - 2006

While wasting our tax dollars at a SWAT team "competition" junket, an unidentified McKinney police officer Ting Sun his weapon inside his hotel. Luckily the bullet lodged in a water pipe in the hotel room wall before it could have killed an innocent bystander. This from “highly trained” SWAT members? What would have happened if you discharged a gun in a htoel?

• Asst. Chief Rex Redden on why the McKinney Police Department did not charge Officer Vandertuin.

Assistant Chief Rex Redden admitted that Vandertuin violated the department's policies and likely committed a theft by taking the scope.

"Under the current atmosphere, we've opted not to prosecute," he said in the email. "We just don't need anymore negative publicity." In other words, the MPD does not prosecute police because that would cause negative publicity for them. Can WE use the same argument?

THESE ARE JUST the things we find out about, what don’t we know? And the beat goes on and on and on…………
Botched Raids

Montréal, Canada

#12 May 26, 2008
More Isolated Incidents
Monday, May 26th, 2008

http://www.theagitator.com/2008/05/26/more-is...

Radely Balko “is quoted in this article about an FBI SWAT raid gone wrong at:

http://www.nj.com/starledger/stories/index.ss...

Meanwhile, here’s another wrong-door raid in Canada at:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/...

Note that the police say they had an informant who was 100 percent reliable in the past, that they had corroborating information (though they won’t say what it is), and that they were “120 percent certain” that this was absolutely the correct address.

And yet, they admit that the people they raided are innocent of any wrongdoing.

“I was standing at the stove and I saw two men with black helmets, black gas masks and black uniforms pointing guns at me and telling me to get down,” she said.“I got down on my hands and knees and started to crawl to the bathroom. I thought I was going to be killed.”

Mr. Lebus looked up from the hockey game just as police entered the kitchen through a set of sliding glass doors.

“It was 1:47,” he said.“Seventeen minutes into the first period.”

Seconds later, another wave of riot police kicked down the front door and ordered Jean Cushing and Mr. Lebus to the floor at gunpoint as officers set about searching the house.

Ms. Cushing fought back tears yesterday as she described being led out of her home in handcuffs, past a black-clad police officer who was holding an assault rifle to the back of her daughter’s head.

So here’s an idea. Instead of shrugging this off as “the odd mistake” or “the price we pay”(both phrases used by a police spokesman in this case), why not stop using these ridiculously aggressive tactics against nonviolent drug offenders?”

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Outta Control

Frisco, TX

#14 Sep 6, 2008
SWAT GETS TANKS WITH .50 CALIBER MACHINE GUNS!

This is just Ridiculous:

http://www.policemag.com/News/2008/03/06/S-C -...

From the Agitator comes this.“The Richland County (S.C.) Sheriff’s Department has acquired an armored personnel carrier complete with a turret-mounted .50-caliber belt-fed machine gun for its Special Response Team.

Sheriff Leon Lott told the Columbia State newspaper that he hoped the vehicle, named “The Peacemaker,” would let the bad guys know that his officers are serious.

“We don’t look at this as a killing machine,” Lott told the paper.“It’s going to keep the peace. We hope the fact that we have this is going to save lives. When something like this rolls up, it’s time to give up.”

Who wants to set an over under on the first time they use this thing to bust a pot dealer?”

Can anybody seriously argue that things are not totally out of control when SWAT teams get Armored Personnel Carriers with .50 caliber, belt fed, machine guns for use in our neighborhoods?

Do you realize the power of a .50 caliber – you can shoot through brick buildings and penetrate steel a mile away!

Pete Guither found a photo of the thing, and the weird origin of the name the sheriff gave it, here:

http://blogs.salon.com/0002762/2008/09/01.htm ...
Roids Cops and Grits

Germany

#15 Sep 7, 2008
Steroids, Cops and Grits For Breakfast.

“Why only athletes and bodybuilders? Plano steroid prosecutions ignore alleged police doping

With disgraced sprinter Marion Jones heading home to Austin this week from a federal prison and the feds prosecuting amateur bodybuilders in Plano for steroid use, I continue to wonder with each new headline when the same level of attention will be focused on steroid use by police officers, particularly in the Plano case?

Steroid dealer David Jacobs and his body builder girlfriend died under suspicious circumstances that police ruled a murder-suicide soon after he accused police officers from five Metroplex departments of being his customers.(Today's coverage inexplicably doesn't mention the police angle, but see these prior Grits posts and others linked below for background.)

It's a lot more important for public safety to ensure cops aren't using illicit steroids than is policing foot races or body building competitions, but you wouldn't know that by paying attention to state and federal enforcement priorities.

After Jacobs' death, no law enforcement agency disciplined any of his alleged police officer clients; of the five, only Dallas PD implemented steroid testing going forward.

Otherwise, the officers Jacobs sold to have never been identified or disciplined, and are likely still on the force using illicit steroids.

In that light, there's a bold hypocrisy to pursuing amateur bodybuilders who were for the most part also merely Jacobs' clients.

What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

If they're prosecuting bodybuilders who bought steroids from Jacobs, the police officers who purchased from him should be pursued just as aggressively.”

Full story with links here:

http://gritsforbreakfast.blogspot.com/2008/09...
LE Support Lost

UK

#16 Sep 7, 2008
SUPPORT FOR LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT WAINS WHILE SUPPORT FOR VETERENS REMAINS STRONG

(Just another sign of people’s growing disdain for poorly run departments like the MPD. Interestingly, notice the year the club started and then notice how in recent years support has evaporated. We’ll let readers figure out the connection.)

“The demise of a longtime law-enforcement support group has given a boost to the McKinney Veterans Memorial project.

"I hated to dissolve the club. It was something that was near and dear to my heart," said George Kadera, a founder and chairman of the Collin County 100 Club. "But we're very pleased to contribute to the armed forces veterans' memorial fund."

The club gave the memorial its last $20,000, one of a handful of big donations to the project, earlier this month.

The 100 Club, founded in 2001, raised money through memberships and donations. It provided financial assistance to families of first responders killed on duty and bought supplies for underfunded agencies.

But contributions dwindled in recent years.

Dr. Kadera was ready to pass the leadership role to someone else.
When no volunteers emerged, the board voted to disband and award its bank account to the memorial, the World War II Army Air Corps veteran said.

"We've been talking about it for a long time, and now people want to see it built," he said. "I wish I could look into my crystal ball and see when we'll be ready."
Veterans Memorial Park will occupy about an acre of donated land in Craig Ranch's Town Center.

The memorial, with a wall and trails shaped to resemble the loop and tails of an awareness ribbon, will bear the names of at least 319 men and one woman from Collin County who died serving in the military.

"We wanted a world-class monument equal to the monuments they have in Washington, D.C.," said Ronnie Foster, a Vietnam veteran.“

Full article:

http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/n...
Troy Davis

Houston, TX

#17 Sep 8, 2008
Troy Davis.

(This is just sickening -- and typical)

Police in North Richland Hills, Texas raid the home of Troy Davis, based on the word of a single, anonymous informant that Davis is growing marijuana in one of the house's closets. The informant turned out to be Davis' uncle, who had tipped police off after a long-running dispute with Davis' mother.

A local municipal judge denied sergeant Andy Wallace's initial attempt to obtain the no-knock warrant, finding insufficient evidence. Wallace merely went to a second judge in Fort Worth, and got his approval.

The night of the raid, one team pried open Davis' back door while another circled around to the front. According to police, Davis came to investigate the noises outside his home while carrying a gun (his family denies he was holding a weapon). Raiding officers then shot him in the chest, killing him.

According to officers at the scene, Davis' last words were, "I didn't know. I didn't know."

Though police did find three marijuana plants, GHB, and a few small bags of marijuana in Davis' home, ensuing investigations revealed severe inadequacies in the way Richland Hills police executed the search warrant.

First, attorneys for the Davis family found that the police department had a policy of conducting no-knock raids for every narcotics search warrant issued, a clear violation of the Supreme Court's ruling in Richards v. Wisconsin.

According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, "A year before the [Davis raid], two of the team's members told superiors they were concerned that lax standards for the unit could leave it vulnerable to lawsuits."

Team leader Joe Walley later told a court that he was "very uncomfortable" about the Davis raid, and that he felt the team was "doing a tactical operation without anything to go on."

Another officer later said in a deposition of the Davis raid, We should never have been there."

According to court records reviewed by the Star-Telegram, Sergeant Wallace did little corroborating investigation after getting the tip from Davis' uncle. There were no controlled buys or surveillance.

Two police officers who revealed after the Davis raid that they had warned superiors about inadequacies with the SWAT team were suspended.

Several officers who criticized the police department quit, included one who cited harassment by superiors.

A state appeals court ruled the warrant used in the Davis raid illegal.

The court found that the warrant failed to show that the informant for the raid was reliable, and that Sgt. Wallace failed to do any independent investigation to corroborate the informant's tips.

Even after the raid and ensuing revelations about poor training and preparation, North Richland Hills officials couldn't or wouldn't say what changes police had implemented to be sure a similar mistake would not occur again.

The mayor of North Richland Hills testified that neither he nor the city council were responsible for oversight of the city's police department.

Sources:

Mike Lee, "Concerns on SWAT aired year before raid," Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Ben Tinsley, "Department still looking for closure; Deadly 1999 raid has led to departure of 12," Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Domingo Ramirez, Jr., "Police lacked cause for fatal drug raid, court says," Fort Worth Star Telegram.

Dave Lieber, "Answers hard to come by in wrongful death lawsuit," Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Rusty Windle

Frisco, TX

#18 Sep 9, 2008
Alexander "Rusty" Windle.
Hays County, Texas

(Yep, this is worth it. Criminal Informant. Entrapment. And death by SWAT over less than an ounce of weed. This is where your taxes are going. Man, these "he-man heroes" must be proud of themselves.)

After meeting him at a bar frequented by tradesmen and blue collar workers, an informant convinces Rusty Windle to get him two one-ounce bags of marijuana.

After a few tries, Windle -- by no means a regular drug peddler -- comes through for his new friend.

The police officials who hired the informant obtain a warrant, and nine police officers in SWAT gear conduct a pre-dawn raid on Windle's home.

The officers offer differing accounts as to whether or not they announced themselves before they came to Windle's door.

Windle awoke to a disturbance in front of his home, and answered the door with a rifle.

Police say that when they heard the slide action of a rifle bolt, Officer Chase Strapp backed away from the door. Seeing armed men dressed in black approaching his house, and watching one retreat from his porch, Windle pointed his weapon at Strapp. Strapp fired four rounds from his semiautomatic weapon, hitting Windle three times, killing him.

Police later discovered that Windle's weapon was unloaded, with an activated safety mechanism.

They found less than an ounce of marimuana in his home.

Others who were subjected to raids that night based on information gathered from the same informant say police never announced themselves before executing the warrants.

One man was raided for selling the informant half a bottle of Vicodin.

The same informant had also attempted to buy prescription drugs from that man's 70-year-old mother.

Sources:

Nate Blakeslee, "Drug Warriors; Zero Tolerance Takes Toll in Hays County," Texas Observer.

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