Sunday, March 05, 2006

Police complaint process

What's the deal with police who discourage reporting complaints that everyone (like Rumpole and David Feige) is talking about. The news reports:
[O]n occasion, a police officer and a member of the public they serve don't see eye to eye, and the citizen feels a need to complain. In many departments around the country, the process starts out simply: a person just requests a complaint form.

Police departments around the country, like here in Tallahassee, give citizens police complaint forms all the time, no questions asked. But walk into a police station in South Florida, trying to find out how to file a complaint, and watch what happens.

CBS4 News found that, in police departments across Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, large and small, it was virtually impossible to walk in the door, and walk out with a complaint form.

The I-Team conducted an extensive hidden camera test, carried out by a police abuse watchdog group called the Police Complaint Center. Remarkably, of 38 different police stations tested around South Florida, all but three had no police complaint forms.
The transcripts of these encounters are crazy!
Lauderhill P.D.
tester: Yeah, I wanted to find out how to file a complaint against an officer. I just want to find out how you do it. Do you guys have a form or something that I could take with me.
officer: Well, you got to tell me first, and then I got to hear what's going on. You've got to tell me what the complaint is.
tester: Do you have a complaint form that I can, like, fill out or something like that?
officer: Might not be a legitimate complaint.
tester: Who decides that?
officer: I'm trying to help you.
tester: Like, if there's a form, why can't I just take it and leave, right?
officer: No, you don't leave with forms. You tell me what happened, and then I help you from there. Do you have I-D on?
tester: Why?
officer: You know what? You need to leave.
tester: Why?
officer: I'm going to tell you one more time, because I can't do this anymore with you, okay. You're refusing to tell me what you want to do, okay. You're refusing to tell me who's involved, where it happened, what transpired. You'e not cooperating iwth me one bit.
tester: I was just asking if you guys have a complaint form, like if there's some way for me --
officer: Out of my way.
tester: To contact Internal Affairs.
officer: You can do whatever the hell you want. It's a free country.
man" You're cursing at me.
officer: Where do you live? Where do you live? You have to tell me where you live, what your name is, or anything like that.
tester: For a complaint? I mean, like, if I have --
officer: Are you on medications?
tester: Why would you ask me something like that?
officer: Because you're not answering any of my questions.
tester: Am I on medications?
officer: I asked you. It's a free country. I can ask you that.
tester: Okay, you're right.
officer: So you're not going to tell me who you are, you're not going to tell me what the problem is.You're not going to identify yourself.
tester: All I asked you was, like, how do I contact --
officer: You said you have a complaint. You say my officers are acting in an inappropriate manner.
officer: So leave now. Leave now. Leave now.
tester: I'm not doing anything wrong.
officer: Neither am I. It's a free country.
officer: I'm not in your face. I'm standing on the sidewalk. It's a free country. One more step forward, and you'll see what happens. Take one more step forward.
Apparently, the officer had his hand on his gun when he makes that last statement. What did the officer do when he realized that his apparent threats would air? He sued the station, as Feige noted. Check out the video. Sergeant Peter Schumanich, of the Lauderhill Police Department, follows the entirely polite guy out of the station. He berates him, tries to intimidate him, and puts his hand on a gun. All the tester was doing was trying to do was get a form!

I am outraged that there have not been massive comments from other officers deriding this guy. How can such behavior be tolerated in a free society? The officer keeps trying to couch the encounter in terms of his 'right' to follow the guy into a sidewalk, his right to say what he wants, and his right to be free from an invasion of his privacy by the newsmedia. That doesn't sound right to me. The officer's rights cannot infringe on other citizen's rights to petition the government for a redress of grievances.


Blogger Brian Tannebaum said...

Albert - great new blog - keep it up -I just linked you to my blog

6:39 AM  
Blogger ACS said...

Thanks! Ditto about your blog, I enjoyed finding it.

12:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cops behaving no different from thugs, that's why nobody should ever talk to a cop except I want a lawyer and I have nothing to say.

4:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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7:48 AM  

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