With a beat covering civil liberties and criminal justice, this blog will direct a lot of attention toward police misconduct and excessive force, as well as the institutional failures that allow it to happen and fail to hold police officers accountable when it does. But it’s also worth pointing out when police officials get it right. For example, today’s morning links included an article about the Los Angeles Police Department’s trial run with police body cameras. Other departments across the country are doing the same thing. It’s a praiseworthy move toward more transparency and accountability. (It also protects good cops from false allegations.)
Here are several other recent stories that I think are worth noting:
• Not only was East Haven, Conn., Officer David Cari fired after he illegally arrested a priest who was legally recording him and then wrote up a false police report, Cari was also charged, convicted and sentenced to 30 months in prison.
• In another case involving a citizen attempting to record the police, King County, Wash., Sheriff John Urquhart just fired deputy Patrick Saulet for threatening to arrest journalist Dominic Holden, who was recording him. Urquhart told Holden, “You have a constitutional right to photograph the police.” Threatening to arrest a citizen for legally taking photos of cops while on public property “is a constitutional violation, as far as I am concerned.”
• In Los Angeles, Police Chief Charlie Beck is expected to announce that the eight cops who mistakenly shot up a truck occupied by two women during the hunt for Christopher Dorner violated the department’s policy on the use of lethal force. Beck apparently overruled a panel of senior police officials who wanted to clear the cops. And LA. County District Attorney Jackie Lacey recently cleared an officer in Torrance who shot up another truck during the same manhunt. So kudos to Beck for doing the right thing. It’s unclear if or how the officers will be sanctioned.
• I write a lot about the inappropriate use of SWAT teams. But used correctly — when there’s a violent crime in progress, or about to be committed — they save lives. Here’s one such incident from yesterday.