Police

Paying for Bad Cops

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Walter Olson points to a case in Colorado, where a police officer kneed a handcuffed woman in the face, breaking her eye socket. He also didn't bother to report her injuries. The Aurora police chief sensibly fired the officer, and the city paid the victim an $85,000 settlement. But then . . .

That was not good enough for the civil service panel considering the officer's firing, which said excessive force had not been proved to its satisfaction. It did find that the officer had violated a number of department policies — he should have reported the woman's injuries, for example — but said termination was too severe a penalty; instead, it said, he should be docked 160 hours of pay and made to undergo training. The docking of pay seems to be of a somewhat notional variety, however, given that the commission ordered him awarded back pay for the salary he would have earned had he not been dismissed in June 2010 (the underlying incident took place in February 2009).

As Olson points out, the citizens of Aurora get screwed in a number of ways, here. They have to pay for the settlement. They pay for the city's case against the cop, and they pay for the cop's defense. And now, they get to pay the cop's back pay. And what do they get for all of that? They get to know that there's a cop now back on the force who is capable of kneeing a handcuffed woman in the face, fracturing her orbital bone, and not paying the blood coming out of her head enough mind to bother reporting her injuries.

On a similar note, a police pension board in Chicago has voted to uphold the $3,000/month pension of disgraced Sgt. Jon Burge. Burge oversaw a team of cops who for more than a decade routinely tortured murder suspects during questioning. Several of the people Burge and his men tortured into false confessions were sentenced to death, then exonerated years later. Because Chicago public officials and U.S. attorneys never bothered to investigate the torture allegations when they happened, the statute of limitations expired before Burge and his men could be charged. Instead, Burge was convicted on perjury charges for lying in a federal lawsuit brought by his victims. The citizens of Chicago paid for the defense of Burge and his men in that case, and will also pay out a $16.5 million settlement to as many as 500,000 victims.

And now, unless Attorney General Lisa Madigan wins a court challenge, they'll also be paying for Burge's pension.

Finally, a reader sends this story from Elkhart, Indiana, where two police officers face termination, one for forging a check in his ex-wife's name, and the other for coercing a woman into sex while on duty. Even though they may be terminated, both officers may also still be eligible for a disability pension, "because they believe they suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder."

It's unfortunate when the "sacrifice of public service" is borne by the people allegedly being served.

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  1. “tortured murdered suspects during questioning”

    unfortunately, it is the only way to get already dead suspects to talk

    1. She is made of sterner stuff. Cardinal Biggles, fetch the … comfy chair!

    2. a stealth correction to the article has made my comment unamusing

    3. Hey, I was wondering how you can use Media-Matters as a legitimate source for attacking James O’Keefe? I think you don’t like Mr. O’Keefe because he was effective, especially concering ACORN. Mr. Balko you are a fake libertarian, full-time Washington Post wannabee! If it wasn’t for your bashing of the right, you’d have no blogger buddies.

  2. 234,812 words in ObamaCare bill
    1 picture = 1,000 words
    6 pictures per comic book page

    So he’s making a 39 page graphic novel… sounds attainable.

    1. Ooops, wrong post.

      1. For a second, I thought the police were doing their own comic book: The Blue Villain

        1. Did I mention I’m a super hero? Bow before… The Gaping Cunt! Along with my trusty sidekick, SukiJohn, the sentient real-doll!

          READ MY BLOG.

          1. helle, my little bitch, when are we having our nails done?

  3. They get to know that there’s a cop now back on the force who is capable of kneeing a handcuffed woman in the face, fracturing her orbital bone, and paying the blood coming out of her head enough mind to bother reporting her injuries.

    There’s a crucial modifier missing from this sentence, Radley.

    1. Nah, because next time he’ll report it. Right?

      1. Right. Presumably he was and is capable of paying it mind. He just chose not to because he is a horrible person. Why should horrible people be discriminated against so unjustly?

  4. Bookmark this for the next time some asshole says “Somolia”!

    OK, drink anyway.

  5. I hear what you’re saying here, Radley, but frankly, the citizens of Chicagoland are reaping what they have sown, here. They have tolerated brutality and corruption for decades, so I have a hard time feeling too bad for them when the bill arrives.

    Now, what does piss me off is that these thugs are being rewarded, not punished, for what they have done. That’s an outrage. The poor baby taxpayers of Chicago having to pay completely predictable damages and pensions, not so much, if you see what I mean.

    1. Meh, I don’t know. As a Chicagoan I certainly won’t complain about paying for the settlement, but this pension is really beyond the pale. I don’t know any cops, but Burge seems to be universally acknowledged as one of the most evil scumbags ever to have lived. To my mind it’s hardly about the money. The issue is, who the hell thinks anyone should do anything at all helpful to a person like this? The cops on the pension board who voted to give him the money…I can’t imagine how far from the average person’s thought processes you’d have to be to do that.

      I mean we are talking about a massive, incredibly well-known case that led directly to a years-long moratorium on and eventual overturning of the death penalty. The public thinks it’s crazy that this guy won’t spend his life in jail.

      1. I can’t imagine how far from the average person’s thought processes you’d have to be to do that.

        Not that far. It’s just an “us vs. them” mentality. It’s prevelent in just about every major city in the country. Which is why I find anyone who’s not a cop and doesn’t see police as default dangerous to be denser than neutronium.

    2. “”I hear what you’re saying here, Radley, but frankly, the citizens of Chicagoland are reaping what they have sown, here. “”

      Bingo.

    3. What makes you think this woman should have her complaint ignored because the Chicago PD has a long history of brutality and corruption? Because some collective of millions of citizens that you label “Chicago” did something you label “tolerating” over some unspexified period? Are ordinary citizens somehow endowed with the power to cure their police department of brutality and corruption, but only in Chicago? Listen to yourself, and read Radley’s posts. Brutality is far too common in places large and small, democratic and republican, urban, suburban,exurban, and rural, white and black, etc.
      Whatever issue you have with Chicago, why has that ttanslated, in your mind into callousness toward a Chicagoan who was viciously maimed by a law officer who plainly abused the awesome powers conferred on him? Just because Obama is from there does not make it cute.

    4. > I hear what you’re saying here, Radley, but frankly, the citizens of Chicagoland are reaping what they have sown, here. They have tolerated brutality and corruption for decades

      Citizens have been brutalized by government in the past, therefore [ an only slightly overlapping set of ] citizens deserve to be brutalized by government in the present?

      Delightful moral theory you’ve got there.

    5. They have tolerated brutality and corruption for decades,

      More likely they have been coerced into tolerating it.

  6. Jeepers, Radley, proofread this stuff, wouldja?

    I thought I was reading one of Doherty’s posts.

  7. And of course, whining about proofreading is merely a vain attempt to stave off the inevitable apoplectic rage these stories induce.

  8. and will also pay out a $16.5 million settlement to as many as 500,000 victims

    I got tortured by the Chicago Police and all I got was this $33 T-shirt

      1. good afternoon psycho

      2. Good mourning, Angel!

    1. Yeah, $33 seems like a pretty paltry settlement for being tortured.

  9. Buy an editor.

  10. The Aurora police chief sensibly fired the officer

    Why the fuck didn’t he arrest him, and take the case to the district attorney?

    ps- fuck you, dunphy.

    1. Why is Dunphy responsible? Is he supposed to be blamed for ALL corruption and brutality?

      Are you to blame every time a woman doesn’t have an orgasm?

      FUCK YOU P BROOKS 😉

      1. “Are you to blame every time a woman doesn’t have an orgasm?”

        It would help were you to relax more.

  11. Don’t get me started with librarians in Florida, they get 100 SICK DAYS a year! What are they sick of? Working?

    http://libertarians4freedom.blogspot.com/

  12. I got tortured by the Chicago Police and all I got was this $33 T-shirt

    You’ll get a coupon for five dollars off a $33 t-shirt if you buy it from the Chicago Police?and if you don’t buy it, “your” lawyer gets five dollars.

    U-S-A!

  13. That was not good enough for the civil service panel considering the officer’s firing, which said excessive force had not been proved to its satisfaction.

    “That woman was stoked to the gills on PCP! She was as strong as ten men. It was unmitigated horror, I tell you.
    She dove at me, trying to bite my patella off; I just barely managed to squirm out of her sharklike jaws, and when I did, she rammed face first into my knee.

    “And THAT is how she was injured, Your Honor.”

    1. STOP RESISTING!

    2. Yes, your honor. That’s exactly how it happened. I shouldn’t have been so clumsy and emotional and disrespectful.

  14. You may have heard of the woodcarver here in Seattle that was shot by a SPD cop. During the inquest the police hired an “expert witness” in folding knives to testify that the knife the guy was holding COULD have folded itself when it dropped on the ground. The poor taxpayers are paying for this crap. All of it.

  15. Don’t forget the standard comeback – “Oh noooo – they are heroes!!!11!”

    Unfortunately the flat-out evil criminals who use their badge to perpetuate these crimes are treated just like the heroes when it comes to long-term access to the public trough.

    No one ever really has a comeback rebuttal when you start plucking these cases out as grist for reigning in cop salaries/pensions/powers…

    1. They should just divide up a quarter of what the city pays as a “bad cop” penalty among all LEO’s paychecks and pensions, and make it the full amount if someone other than the offender’s own department got the ball rolling on charges or if there was any evidence of coverup.

      1. This is a good idea….

  16. I’m glad to see you highlighting this and would like to see more reporting on it in the future. I think it’s too easy for people to think, “That only happens to other people, and they’re probably doing something wrong anyway.” The point that bad cops cost all of us money needs to be repeated until it gets through. I’d love to see the data collected and charted by municipality so we can see how much of our tax dollars go to court expenses and paying off the victims of police abuse.

  17. This is what happens when people don’t have principals. Police Union: He is in the union so we will defend him.
    Is there no action, or crime, where the police union can’t say, “hey, you brought this on yourself, you diminish all of us, we don’t defend lawbreakers”

    Wakes up – Awww, I was having that dream where I’m the warden of the naked hot babes between 20 and 30 prison.

    1. This is what happens when people don’t have principals

      I had a principal when I was in high school, but since then I’ve only had deans and managers.

      1. Maybe he likes to role play principal and the very very naughty student.

    2. “Is there no action, or crime, where the police union can’t say, ‘hey, you brought this on yourself, you diminish all of us, we don’t defend lawbreakers'”

      I can only think of one circumstance when the union will not back an officer; when he tells the truth about crimes or misconduct committed by other officers.

  18. Triple punch – can’t wait for tomorrow

  19. I’m really interested in the PTSD claims. I spent a few years working in a lab researching PTSD and I met a psychiatrist who mostly works in research but also does forensic testimonies about PTSD. So I find this interesting in general, always.

    I’m interested in the PTSD, and what incidents they claim caused it. I’m more interested, however, in how it might or might not be relevant to disability (assuming they are being truthful).

    PTSD can be disabling, although most people do better if they can get back to work, not everyone can. But if something on the job caused PTSD, I wonder if they were still working after it happened. If they could handle working, and it was work related, then I think it is far less likely to be disabling.

    And even if not, since PTSD is memory specific, many people with workplace related PTSD can actually do well in new jobs (assuming they aren’t too hypervigilant to do ANYTHING successfully).

    You need alot more details to even begin to know what’s going on, but without some severe symptoms, I’m not sure they really need disability at all.

    1. Just to clarify, I think they could be suffering awfully with PTSD, and still not be disabled in, at least, the non-legal usage. In that they could still work, and such. Not sure how that works legally though.

    2. Just to clarify, I think they could be suffering awfully with PTSD, and still not be disabled in, at least, the non-legal usage. In that they could still work, and such. Not sure how that works legally though.

    3. I’m pretty sure they don’t, and if their “disability” was brought on by the stress they endured while committing crimes, then they especially don’t deserve a lifetime pension for it (which is what “disability” is for pub-sec types) .

      1. This.

        But that would entail admitting that they committed crimes under color of authority, now wouldn’t it?

        1. Because of their low pay and substandard benefits, they had no choice but to commit the crimes.

    4. Or they could just man up and deal with it.

  20. Here’s my favorite: Woebcke v. Department of Homeland Security, 2010 MSPB 85 (5/6/10).

    Federal air marshal solicits hooker in between flights. Only problem, she’s the Hawaii 5-0, so Marshal has to miss his return flight to plead nolo contendere (in lay terms, that’s same as guilty). DHS fires him right? Wrong!

    The Merit Systems Protection Board says termination for missing work while you’re breaking the law is too harsh for an Air Marshall. Besides, Marshall Woebcke had a good excuse: he was so depressed from his wife’s miscarriage of his twin boys, he was entitled to a lapse of judgment.

    That’s right, the only guy on the plane who is hired to be armed and make life and death decisions is okay to be depressed and have just one lapse in judgment.

    There’s even more goodness in the decision (e.g., DHS hadn’t fired other air marshalls for missing flights for being hung over after banging whores).

    1. There’s even more goodness in the decision (e.g., DHS hadn’t fired other air marshalls for missing flights for being hung over after banging whores).

      Application for Federal Marshal here.

  21. It did find that the officer had violated a number of department policies

    Didn’t I say something in a previous thread a few weeks ago about how cops are largely immune from regular criminal charges because a lot of their job is about following “policies and procedures” and as long as they follow those they will escape criminal charges, whereas a normal private citizen who only has The Law to follow would go to jail?

    What’s more important to note is that even if an officer is found to have violated the “policies” (as noted above), the remedy is usually “more training” because he didn’t violate The Law, he only violated a “policy” and we don’t fire people or throw people in jail for merely failing to follow procedure.

    It’s lose-lose-lose for civilians, and win-win-win for cops.

  22. Hey, they aren’t trained to adjust to working anywhere else.

    They need our support.

  23. Damn, is it Friday already?

  24. Oww my nuts, my nuts. Thanks radley

  25. Cops are just tarted up bullies with too much power and no accountability.

  26. Clark County, Nevada is reaching close to $10 million in settlements in the 2000’s. With four multi-million dollar claims still pending, it was shocking when the Sheriff actually asked for an increase in the 2012-2013 budget.

    http://clarkcountycriminalcops.wordpress.com/

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