Monday, April 12, 2010

The Status Of Crime

Camden, New Jersey has a problem.

For nine months last year, Ron Mills was locked in the Camden County Jail.

For nine months he held firm to his story that the drugs he was charged with possessing didn't exist.

Last month Mills' story was validated when a former Camden police officer admitted in federal court that for more than two years he and four other officers arrested suspects with planted drugs, carried out illegal searches and wrote false arrest reports.

Mills' story, which was detailed by former Patrolman Kevin Parry in court, is now being laid out in one of a growing number of lawsuits planned against the city.
That is the trouble with status crimes. Only a police officer is needed to give evidence. If you are going to falsely accuse some one of robbery you generally need a civilian accomplice who will testify "I wuz robbed". Somewhat more difficult than just planting evidence and making up stories. A tactic often referred to by police as Testilying.

But haven't we heard that story before?
The Rampart scandal refers to widespread corruption in the Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums (or CRASH) anti-gang unit of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Rampart Division in the late 1990s. More than 70 police officers in the CRASH unit were implicated in misconduct, making it one of the most widespread cases of documented police misconduct in United States history. The convicted offenses include unprovoked shootings, unprovoked beatings, planting of evidence, framing of suspects, stealing and dealing narcotics, bank robbery, perjury, and covering up evidence of these activities.
Those Rampart boys sound a bit excessive. Even for out of control police.

But back to Camden.
In announcing the case dismissals for the first time last month, Camden County Prosecutor Warren Faulk described their extent as "unprecedented in the state of New Jersey."

Cherry Hill attorney Michael Pinsky said in his 46 years as an attorney he has "never seen mass dismissals like this."

But the corruption in Camden isn't completely unique, as rogue officers from Philadelphia to Los Angeles have caused thousands of cases to be dismissed.

In the mid-1990s, a police scandal in Philadelphia's 39th District led to at least eight officers pleading guilty to corruption charges. Hundreds of criminal cases were thrown out by judges and lawsuits against the city tallied at least $4 million in settlements, according to media reports.
Say didn't they have problems like these during alcohol prohibition? Yes they did.
Prohibition also fostered corruption and contempt for law and law enforcement among large segments of the population. Harry Daughtery, attorney general under Warren Harding, accepted bribes from bootleggers. George Remus, a Cincinnati bootlegger, had a thousand salesmen on his payroll, many of them police officers. He estimated that half his receipts went as bribes. Al Capone's Chicago organization reportedly took in $60 million in 1927 and had half the city's police on its payroll.
One of the reasons I think police have a need for prohibition to continue for as much longer as is possible is that there are a lot of ugly things that are going to be uncovered when this rock is lifted.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

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