Florida

Florida's Weird, Unfortunately the Police Misconduct's Not

Though Florida has its share

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florida's finest beating up a homeless guy
SCAT

Slate has been running a regular feature this month called "Oh #Florida," with Tampa Bay Times staff writer Craig Pittman explaining (in 17 parts so far) what makes Florida so weird. Today Pittman focused on Florida's crooks and cops, who don't quite match the image of Florida police popularized in Miami Vice. Pittman writes:

We've had cops who got in trouble for hanging out in a strip club while on duty and driving around with mattresses on top of a marked police cruiser. We've even had cops get in trouble for trying to keep one another out of trouble by faking a crime scene—or as one put it, "do a little Walt Disney." (Uncle Walt would've warned you to keep an eye out for when the camera is running.)

Even the upper echelons of Florida police departments can fall prey to sex scandals—some of them rather spectacular in their unraveling.

It's easy to say that these examples are just a few bad apples, but the problems can be broader than that. For instance, a newspaper investigation found that a lot of our worst speeders are cops. The Justice Department just released a report blasting the Miami police for a pattern of using excessive force and repeatedly dropping the ball on investigating officer-involved shootings. Meanwhile, most of the Lakeland Police Department is tied up in a bizarre sex scandal that prompted the New York Daily News to dub them "Florida's Horniest." Still, it's better than back in the 1980s, when so many drug dealers dropped off Burger King bags full of cash at Key West's city hall that the FBI labeled the entire police department a "continuing criminal enterprise."

Pittman also highlights the case of Officer German Bosque, who was fired five times and arrested three times over a twenty year period. Read the whole thing here.

Police who "veer to the wrong side" of the law, as Pittman put it, are, of course not limited to Florida, even if that state is often cited as the country's weirdest.

More Reason on Florida here.