Drug Policy

Traffic Ticket to the Exciting World of Ratting on Violent Criminals

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When Richard Furlong, a Buffalo labor lawyer, found out that his 20-year-old daughter, Bianca Hervey, had been nabbed for driving without a license in Attica, New York, he was angry. Partly he was angry that Hervey had neglected to pay several traffic tickets, which resulted in the suspension of her license. But mostly he was angry that Attica police had used the occasion to pressure Hervey into becoming a drug informant. Hervey, a college student who says she doesn't use drugs and doesn't know anyone in Attica who does, told her father she signed a contract agreeing to be a confidential informant after the police threatened her with jail. Furlong had the contract rescinded, but he has been unable to convince Attica officials that it's bad policy to look for informants among people who are not involved in the drug culture. "There has to be a nexus into the drug world," a narcotics officer tells The Buffalo News. "If there is no connection, you're asking them to introduce themselves into a seedy underworld of drugs, corruption and violence, so you can gain some future targets."

Even when people are arrested on drug charges, the News notes, making them into informants can have deadly results. It cites the case of Rachel Hoffman, a 23-year-old who was murdered by alleged drug dealers in Tallahassee last year after she was busted for marijuana possession and pressured to be an informant. The incident led the Florida legislature to pass a law that tightened the rules for the use of informants. Attica Police Chief William Smith, who refuses to discuss his department's informant policy, is unapologetic about endangering the lives of naive young people arrested on minor charges. "Mr. Furlong doesn't like the way police do things, I guess," he tells the News

It's worth noting that, while police may always feel a need for informants, laws that criminalize consensual activities such as drug sales greatly magnify that need, since there are no victims to complain or provide evidence. To its credit, the News quotes Peter Christ, the former Tonawanda, New York, police captain who founded Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, regarding the seeming desperation signified by recruiting someone like Hervey as an informant. "When you have a doomed, failed policy," Christ says, "these are the kinds of things you do to try to make it seem like it's working."

Radley Balko discusses the Hoffman case here, here, and here.

[Thanks to Richard Gross for the tip.]

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  1. What’s one casualty in the noble war?

    Bah, goddamn cops and policy makers. This blatant disregard for others and lack of sense makes me want to vomit with rage. How can they rationalize any of this?

  2. You know, I ‘m a big believer in letting your kids fail, repeatedly, so that they learn how to be, well, not a helpless idiot for their entire adult life, but holy fuck.

    Sometimes I forget just how dumb as rocks kids can be about life in general. If they could just tweak out that gene that causes teenage obliviousness, we could have a race of super-beings very soon. Much sooner than we think.

    KHHHHHAAAANNN!

  3. Attica Police Chief William Smith, who refuses to discuss his department’s informant policy, is unapologetic about endangering the lives of naive young people arrested on minor charges. “Mr. Furlong doesn’t like the way police do things, I guess,” he tells the News.

    Dude was unhappy police were endangering his daughter’s life for no real reasom? What an asshole!

    1. How about driving a dozen ten penny nails through the Chief’s ballsack and into a 4×4, so he can comment on the way carpenters do things.

    2. In a just world, Furlong would be using Chief Smith’s brains as target practice, and not even a grand jury would vote to convict.

      1. Grand juries *never* vote to convict. (Instead, they vote to indict.)

        Yeah, I know. I’m being a dick.

  4. Maybe I’ve been hangin out here too much lately. Maybe my back is screaming at me today in a rare and debilitating manner.

    I, today, think anarchy is looking pretty damn sporty. May the best man win. Fuck it all.

    1. Welcome to the dark side brother ben.

      1. It doesn’t feel like the darkside today. It feels like the logical outcome of our society, given the direction we are headed.
        re: my vote 1 year ago. I apologize for my collusion in this.

        1. I guess I might as well apologize, too. I feel terrible.

        2. You guys had no really good options, even the ‘stache whom I voted for was a huge compromise.

          Don’t beat yourselves up beyond what is required by your conscious. When I voted for Bush in 2000 that was about two years of Self-flagellation with a cat o nine tails.

  5. I can’t even believe this fuck’s callousness.

    “If there is no connection, you’re asking them to introduce themselves into a seedy underworld of drugs, corruption and violence, so you can gain some future targets.”

    Are you fucking kidding me?!? This is a stellar example of how removed from our world the pigs are. I cannot believe this guy would say this out loud. Even a retarded politician would know never to say something like this.

    1. I bet Joe Biden would say it.

      Oh, wait…

    2. I read that quote as critical of the practice of using people in trouble for non-drug offenses as drug informants.

    3. Yeah, you fucked up bigtime here, Epi. Bigtime.

      1. Leave him alone. He got a friend request on The Facebook from Steve Smith last night and it’s got him all rattled.

        1. What do I do? I’m scared. If I refuse it, he’ll rape me. If I accept it, he’ll take that as an invitation to rape me, albeit in a friendlier way. And I can’t just leave it hanging there, mocking me! WHAT DO I DO?!?

          See, this is Facebook’s fatal flaw. There’s no subtle way to blow off a friend request. And Steve knows it, the bastard.

          1. Assuming he doesn’t know what you look like, accept the invitation, invite him over. Arrange Warty to come over about an hour before Smith gets there, serve him a few rufies in the obligatory wine, and tell him you need to make a quick run to the store twenty minutes before Smith is suppose to get there.

            You may lose some expensive furniture and have a ruined carpet full of Smith semen and bloody Warty sphincter chunks, but your ass will be intact, and that is the important thing.

            1. I like the way you think, alan.

              1. Thanks Epi!

                Friends really do come to me a lot to get out of bad situations because I’ll voice the mercenary, self interested voice in their heads that public education and cultural mores have taught them to suppress.

  6. The Attica cop is accountable to some politicians somewhere who can change his department’s policies. Unless the voters are so craven as to support this sort of shit, then political pressure (rallies, marches, sit-ins, election opposition) is precisely what the LP and other outraged citizens need to do.

  7. Attica! Attica!

  8. If there is no connection, you’re asking them to introduce themselves into a seedy underworld of drugs, corruption and violence, so you can gain some future targets.

    God, you pigs really are fucking disgusting creatures. It is really hard to read this and not want to godwin. That these fucking pigs would risk the life off someone over a fucking parking ticket to partake in an ineffecutal, inhumane, utter pointless, and hopelessly futile endeavor shows how little respect

    1. Once again, the officer was attacking the practice of doing that…

    2. Once again, the officer was attacking the practice of doing that…

      1. You can say that again.

  9. …my back is screaming at me today in a rare and debilitating manner.

    Sorry to hear it, bb. I hope you have enough meds to deal with it. I have a friend who used to work with UPS who now has a pretty messed up back – he hasn’t yet gotten as bad as you’ve described your injuries, but from what he said, it’s all downhill from here.

    1. Thanks for the concern. I keep a little something set aside that will render me unconscious, but I usually prefer miserable and cranky.

  10. His daughter is certainly familiar with a world of corruption.

    She just got out of being shanghaied for use as human shield for the cops because her dad’s in tight with the state, and something (unrelated!) had already given her the idea she didn’t have to pay tickets.

    But that is the overworld, not the underworld. So I guess he’s got a point.

    1. Exactly. If this were a 20-year old black guy from a family of no import driving around Attica with a suspended license, I doubt the outcome would have been so cheery. And further doubt that any news outlet would bother reporting it.

  11. “Mr. Furlong doesn’t like the way police do things, I guess,” he tells the News.

    Holy fuck.

    Pig in sack.

    Sack in river.

    1. Pig in Pit!Pig on a spit!

  12. Behind all this are the unexamined assumptions that drive the drug war. Stopping drugs has become an end unto itself, with no reflection on what purpose it (ostensibly) serves.

    1. Keeping us safe.

      1. I’m wondering how much money the Pharmaceutical companies would loose if the war on Drugs stopped??

        Imagine if Adult Americans were allowed to go back to living their lives as they feel comfortable and appropriate?

        I wonder, if a person found better results in say, a home grown plant. They might stop taking other more expensive Lab made drugs with multiple and fairly often; fatal side affects.

        What would Merc, GMK and McKesson have to loose?

  13. I took a shit in Attica once.

    Actually, way more than once. My grandparents live there, so…

      1. Is it plagiarism if it’s actually a true statement that pertains to me?

        1. If you don’t attribute it, yes…

          1. Yep, truth is no defense. 🙂 Even if it really is the best of times and the worst of times for you, you exactly say so without crediting Dickens.

            Now if you’d said “it was the best of shits, it was the worst of shits”…

            1. Er, “you can’t exactly say so”

  14. It’s even worse, BP, because no cops think they’re actually stopping drugs.

  15. What would be safer is to just offer anyone $1000.00 for information that leads to a drug arrest, and make it a felony to not report a drug crime. We need to set up an underground network of informants if we are to take drugs off the streets and keep Americans safe from drugs.

    1. Johnita?

  16. The sad thing is, most police, when confronted with actual criminals, wet their pants.

    Police, generally, are little more than a government bailout of the doughnut industry.

  17. Police, generally, are little more than a government bailout of the doughnut douchebag industry

    ftfy

  18. This is colossal stupid coercing someone to be an informant. How does it work anyway? Send her into clubs alone and point out who offers?

  19. Why risk your own tail if you can sucker some young kid into doing your job for you? Also, how could crime possibly get worse when we have a bunch of untrained 20-somethings on the job?

  20. The daughter claims she was told she was going to jail if she refused to be an informant and that if she worked for them, the tickets would go away. I’m no legal scholar so help a brother out. Is this legal?

    1. Also not a legal scholar, but something about this sounds illegal.

      1. what is illegal is the green stuff growing up and thru the woods on Nesbitt Road and Buffalo Road in Attica. Smith and his boys look the other way.

    2. Trading testimony for getting out of jail time goes on in broad daylight in every criminal court in the country, so I’m pretty sure it’s legal. Usually there’s a prosecutor involved, but the principle is the same.

  21. If I were an WC/EL insurer, not in a million years would I write a policy for the municipality of Attica, New York after hearing about this.

  22. From the article, another great Smith quote:

    “All I can tell you is that I would never, after working 32 years in the city of Buffalo and out here, I would never divulge to you, or anybody else, how anybody operates,” Smith said. “That is something that would never be divulged.”

    What a cocksucker.

  23. It’s even worse, BP, because no cops think they’re actually stopping drugs.

    While it’s hard to see how they could not grasp that they’re having no real impact other than ruining a few random people’s lives, the levels of self-deception people can attain are impressive. Look at the people who think Obama’s doing a fine job, for example.

    1. Or the people who don’t check under the bed for Steve Smith every night. You have a point.

      1. Hmmm… Attica Police Chief William Smith.

        Admittedly, it’s a common name, but I still think he could be Steve’s father.

        1. Even Grendel had a mother.

          1. Angelina Jolie?

          2. I had to put that bad bitch down!

        2. It’s not his real name anyway, just the human name that was on the driver’s license of the first poor soul he raped to death in the words.

          1. STEVE HAVE NAME! STEVE NAME NOT PRONOUNCEABLE IN HUMAN LANGUAGE! SOUND LIKE ARRRGGHHH BUT LONGER! WHEN TRANSLATED MEANS “GENTLE ONE”!

  24. Eric S., Property/Casualty insurers love municipalities. Qualified immunity limits GL / WC claims, buildings with (typically) very low fire hazards limit property claims, Auto comp / collision is usually the only potential trouble area, and that’s generally not a problem because munis have large fleets that disperse risk.

    But if I was still in insurance, I’d turn Attica down for being such pricks.

  25. No decent human being should “like the way police do things” if this is an example.

    1. See Scalia, Antonin – “the new professionalism”.

  26. I do wonder, what was the pretext for pulling her over in the first place? Is it not the case that the seizure of a traffic stop requires the cop to have witnessed a violation of some kind?

    She states that the cop claimed her lack of valid driver’s license as the reason he pulled her over, but how could he know her license had been suspended until after he pulled her over and got his hands on that license?

    If the cop just runs her plates for shits and giggles, and somehow the result is linked to the registered driver, that doesn’t mean she was necessarily the driver.

    1. I’d have to refer to the “given day/reason stated for traffic stop” chart and compare it to the day of the week she was stopped on.

  27. I don’t get the big deal. They’re just asking the public to report any fishy information. That’s national policy, now.

  28. Well, the way the cops figure it, they can risk their own lives to fight the drug war, or they can force young civilian girls to take all the risks. For them, an easy call.

  29. Ha ha, wow you guys are even funnier when I’m at home and truly baked.

  30. The Attica police chief exhibits the same “circle the wagons” mentality for Bianca as the Tallahassee police chief did for Rachel. The same leadership that forced these young women to snitch.

  31. How many people are going to get on this guy’s bandwagon – giving him more ammunition for his b.s. lawsuit against the Village of Attica? It’s a pile of crap – but the worst of it is how EVERYBODY is believing this woman and NOT asking pertinent questions such as: “What is her criminal record – particularly vis a vis DRUGS?” No cop in their right mind tries to thrust “Little Mary Sunshine” into a rats den of drug dealers. It’s a crock and EVERYBODY is joining the “This POOR girl is just an innocent caught up by the NASTY Police intimidation squad.”
    Gimme a break…

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