3 Upsetting New Abuses of Power by the Police
Despite being tasked with enforcing the law, certain police departments across the country have demonstrated staggering levels of lawlessness and corruption. In light of these documented abuses of power, this handful of new stories may not be entirely surprising, but they’re still no less upsetting:
1. LAPD Tracking All Drivers Like Criminals
The Los Angeles Police Department is looking more and more like the NSA with its unrestrained use of Automatic License Plate Readers. The technology allows police officers to collect data on all vehicles that their patrol cars pass and store this information for years to come. The idea is that the data can be used retroactively to place certain people at the scene of a crime or establish a pattern of behavior.
The average car in Los Angeles has already been scanned and stored 22 times, meaning that every motorist is being treated like a criminal by the LAPD. Both the ACLU and EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) are pursuing the matter in court in an effort to defend civil liberties and to hopefully shut down yet another senseless program of mass surveillance.
2. Kansas Police Could Arrest People Who File Complaints Against Them
A new bill being considered in Kansas would enable police abuse at a frightening level. The proposed legislation, clearly designed to free cops of accountability, is problematic in many ways:
- People who file complaints against officers that are later deemed “meritless” can subsequently be tried for a felony. The implicit message is “don’t rat out a cop or they will retaliate.”
- Citizens who allege wrongdoing must offer a sworn affidavit before the investigation even begins or an officer has to respond to the charges. Not only will this eliminate a way for people to file anonymous complaints, but it also provides every bit of evidence to the officer in advance. With all of the incriminating details at their disposal, the police department can better create a narrative around the existing details to excuse the behavior.
- Once one police agency finds charges to be baseless, other agencies are not allowed to investigate. If the agency in question is corrupt or looking to protect its colleague as is often the case (police departments rarely assign themselves any blame), they can say the case has no merit and end the claim altogether with no further outside oversight.
Kansas Exposed offers a clear example of just how horrible this bill is: the Wichita Police Department, known by residents for seeking revenge on people who report police abuses, has ruled that 100 out of 100 allegations of racial profiling were “false reports.” Not only would this legislation prevent an outside group of giving these reports a proper look over, but also the WPD could charge those who filed the reports with felony perjury.
3. Stealing from Latino Drivers
The immigrant community in Suffolk County, New York is being straight up robbed by local police officers. Evidently, more than a dozen Latino drivers were pulled over without reason. Officers would ask the drivers to hand over their wallet, which would later be returned to them… minus the money. Many of these incidents went unreported for a while; as undocumented immigrants, some victims were fearful of being threatened with deportation for highlighting the theft.
A sting operation confirmed that this trend is legitimate. Sergeant Scott Greene pulled over an undercover Latino detective and was caught on camera swiping $100 from him before sending him on his way. Greene, who has been with the department for 25 years, has pled not guilty to the allegations.