January 25, 2017 (Fault Lines) — What do you call it when a group of people engage in prolific criminal behavior and profit from it over an extended period of time? Most of us would recognize that as a criminal enterprise. One type of criminal enterprise includes the acts of: robbery, kidnapping, extortion, fraud, drug offenses, money laundering, murder, gambling, obstruction of law enforcement, tampering with witnesses and evidence and political corruption.
It’s called racketeering, and with increasing frequency we are learning that many police departments in America are active participants in this type of criminal enterprise. The outgoing District Attorney for Bernalillo County New Mexico, Kari Brandenburg, in a letter to US Attorney Damon Martinez, characterized the Albuquerque police department in this way:
If any other group of individuals were acting the way APD has allegedly been acting, some of us in law enforcement might refer to them as a continuing criminal enterprise.
It should be noted that Brandenburg admitted that she played along for many years by failing to prosecute bad cops. In Chicago, nobody needs the District Attorney to tell them anything about their cops. Residents have known about their corrupt police department for as long as anyone can remember: robbing and extorting drug dealers, murder for hire, stealing from citizens, assaults against innocent victims, and the list goes on.
Oddly though, the full might of the Department of Justice after a yearlong investigation resulted only in an announcement that:
The Justice Department announced today that it has found reasonable cause to believe that the Chicago Police Department (CPD) engages in a pattern or practice of using force, including deadly force, in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. The department found that CPD officers’ practices unnecessarily endanger themselves and result in unnecessary and avoidable uses of force. The pattern or practice results from systemic deficiencies in training and accountability, including the failure to train officers in de-escalation and the failure to conduct meaningful investigations of uses of force.
And there you have the typically tepid and incomplete response by the Federal Government when the rights they are supposed to protect are trampled by local law enforcement agencies.
In Orange County, California, as reported on Fault Lines previously, the DA and Sheriff were engaged in a secretive and illegal snitch program and now the Sheriff is openly defying the judge and playing hide the evidence. The Judge is considering a $10,000 dollar fine and contempt charges against Sheriff Sandra Hutchens. Judge Thomas M. Goethals seems to be experiencing some confusion over the Sheriff’s tactics:
It just boggles my mind. I just hardly know what to make of virtually all of the claims [for secrecy].
I can help. They are criminals. Like a crack dealer who has just spotted the cops, they are running, obfuscating and trying to ditch the evidence. Except document evidence isn’t always so easy to get rid of. It sort of keeps turning-up. If only there was some law enforcement agency that could get a warrant and go over to the Sheriff’s facilities and look for it.
Don’t hold your breath.
Over in Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio thumbed his nose at a judge who ordered him to discontinue his immigration patrols and he refused to give up 50 disks of evidence. The feds have announced plans to charge him with misdemeanor contempt of court or, failing that, obstruction of justice. Considering who Arpaio was stumping for in the latter part of last year, how likely is that to happen?
The Oakland Police department has been under a consent decree with the feds for more than 15 years after a false arrest, extortion and evidence-planting scandal. Some folks say progress has been made since then, and others point out that the scandals just keep coming. Now the Oakland City Council wants to suspend the contract with the federally appointed monitor because it seems to them they’re forking over a lot of money but seeing no results. It seems there is plenty of criminal activity still afoot in the Oakland Police department despite federal oversight.
Let’s not leave small town cops out of the picture. The small town of Ferguson, Missouri sucked its few citizens into a scheme of fine paying, court fees and false arrests to enrich the local politicians and police force. It was exposed but did anyone go to jail? The most they will face is a civil rights lawsuit if the city fails to comply with a consent decree put forth by the DOJ.
Small town corruption in America is a list too long for this piece, but here are just a few a few examples from recent years:
Crystal City, Texas: Has only one member of City Council not facing Federal charges.
Country Club Hills, Missouri: 26 Open arrest warrants per citizen.
Oakley, Michigan: 300 citizens, 100 cops.
What about your town? Are you paying attention? Don’t let a badge-wearing criminal organization sneak up on your community.
Engage in some good old fashioned bud nipping.
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