New York City

Brickbat: …Where Everybody Knows Your Name and Badge Number

|

A group of New York City sheriffs created a "man cave" at a city storage facility and stocked it with booze and tobacco products seized from stores and bars they raided and closed for violating COVID-19 shutdown orders. They reportedly blocked off the security cameras so they could drink and smoke in the area. The Department of Finance, which employs the sheriffs, has refused to release their names, and department Commissioner Preston Niblack declined to discuss the issue with local media. But officials say that twelve sheriffs were suspended for 30 days without pay over the matter, and none were charged with any crimes.

Police Abuse

Brickbat: Injustice Is Blind

|

Darien Harris spent 12 years in prison for murder but was freed last year after it was discovered an eyewitness against him was legally blind. Court records show the man denied under oath that he had vision problems. In fact, he had advanced glaucoma and had been declared legally blind nine years previously. A second eyewitness denied Harris was the shooter. Harris is now suing the Chicago Police Department for violating his civil rights.

Legislation

Brickbat: Naked and Afraid

|

U.S. Reps. Grace Meng and Tim Kennedy, both Democrats from New York, have introduced a bill that bar the sale, transfer, or possession of Level 3 body armor to anyone but the military or police officers. Level 3 armor is designed to stop rifle rounds such as 7.62 mm. The bill is named for Aaron Salter Jr., a retired police officer who died trying to stop a 2022 mass shooting in Buffalo. Kennedy said Salter fired on and hit the gunman but the gunman was wearing body armor and was not stopped.

Legislation

Brickbat: Get 'Em Next Time

|

New York lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow evidence of past sexual offenses to be introduced in sex crimes trials. The bill is named for Harvey Weinstein, the movie mogul whose rape conviction was tossed out by the state Court of Appeals because the trial judge allowed testimony about alleged incidents that were not part of the case. The bill has passed the state Senate, but it has met resistance in the Assembly, where some members have expressed concern it could have a disproportionate impact on men of color. But Assembly member Amy Paulin (D–Westchester), one of the bill's sponsors, says those concerns are overblown. "Most rapists that are serial rapists – which is what we're talking about here because multiple victims – are privileged white men," Paulin said.

Public schools

Brickbat: Intemperate Talk

|

Linden, New Jersey, Mayor Derek Armstead has apologized for making disparaging remarks about Hasidic Jews. In a secretly recorded conversation between Armstead and local Board of Education President Marlene Berghammer, Berghammer said, "If it's in a neighborhood school district, it should be, we don't mind if it is a black person or a Haitian-speaking person." Armstead replies, "That is what has to happen in order to keep our community from being taken over by guys with big hats and curls," an apparent reference to the city's growing Hasidic Jewish population. Armstead apologized for the remarks but said it is part of an extortion scheme: The comments were first revealed in a $950,000 lawsuit brought by former assistant superintendent Paul Oliveira, who claims he was forced to leave his job for opposing a scheme to keep Jews from being hired.

Police

Brickbat: I Had No Suspicions

|

Police Scotland initially declared the death of Brian Low to be "non-suspicious and medical-related." But a medical examination found "he had injuries consistent with being fatally shot." His death certificate says he died of a shotgun wound to the neck and chest. Three months later, police arrested a man in connection with the death. Scotland's Police Investigation and Review Commissioner has confirmed it is looking into the way the crime scene was handled.

Alcohol

Brickbat: Three Strikes

|

Police Officer Noah Werner of Goodlettsville, Tennessee, arrested Jeff Adams for DUI in 2023. Adams asked for but was not given a breathalyzer at the scene. It took four months, but lab tests eventually found Adams was not intoxicated. But in the meantime, he was suspended as an Uber driver, and while he wasn't fired from his day job as a teacher, he says he still fears the arrest hurt his reputation. WSMV, Nashville's CBS affiliate, reports that Werner arrested two other people for DUI in 2023 who turned out to be sober. "I certainly regret that, and I really deeply hurt for what they went through," said Police Chief Gary Goodwin. The station reports that police departments throughout Middle Tennessee have arrested sober people for DUIs. It also found that many drivers ask for but do not get breathalyzers because departments do not use them. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation told the station that because of a backlog it can take up to eight months to get alcohol reports back.

Police Abuse

Brickbat: Getting Criminals Off the Street

|

Former Columbus, Ohio police vice detective Andrew Mitchell has been sentenced to 11 years in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of depriving individuals of their civil rights while acting under color of law and one count of obstructing justice. While working as a plain clothes officer, Mitchell kidnapped two sex workers: He detained, handcuffed, and questioned them before ever identifying himself as an officer. Last year, Mitchell was acquitted of murder and manslaughter after shooting and killing a woman in his unmarked police car during a prostitution investigation.

Police

Brickbat: All Hands on Deck

|

A Portland, Maine, police department after-action report on a mass shooting last year describes a scene of "utter chaos" with officers who had not been dispatched showing up in civilian clothing, some of them dressed similarly to how the gunman was described as being dressed. The report said this could have led to an accidental friendly fire incident. It also said a tactical team from another agency almost crashed its armored vehicle into another police vehicle. Officers also reported smelling alcohol from inside that tactical team's vehicle, and members of the team said they had just come from a funeral.

Police

Brickbat: When Seconds Count

|

When two masked men broke into a woman's Chicago home, she called 911. And then she called again. And again. In total, she spoke to 911 operators six times over the course of an hour. At one point, a supervisor explained they had no police units to send, blaming cuts to the police department; he even recommended she call her alderman and ask him to give the police more funding. Fortunately for her, the intruders left after spotting her. Officers did not arrive until more than three hours after her first call to 911.

Pennsylvania

Brickbat: Mistyped Tickets

|

When Caroline and Matt Ydstie got a ticket for running a red light in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, they were confused: They live in the Pittsburgh area and say they have never been to Philadelphia. What made it even more confusing is that the ticket was for a white Ford. They drive a blue Honda Civic. When the Ydsties called to find out what was going on, the Philadelphia Parking Authority told them to contact the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. PennDOT told them they'd have to go to court to challenge the ticket. Caroline Ydstie said that would cost more than the ticket, so she called a local TV station. The station found the problem began with the person who typed in the ticket, which was generated by a red light camera. That person got one letter of the license plate wrong, tying the ticket to her vehicle

Warrants

Brickbat: Just a Piece of Paper

|

Sheriff Calvin Hayden of Johnson County, Kansas, has admitted that a warrant he claimed to have allowing him to seize election ballots was not signed by a judge. Since 2019, Hayden claimed to be investigating election fraud, focusing on a software company the county used to manage poll workers. No charges have come from that investigation. While state law requires the county to destroy the ballots, the elections office had held off because of Hayden's purported investigation. But when they never received that warrant, and after being reminded of the law by the secretary of state's office, they destroyed the ballots, leading Hayden to accuse them of destroying evidence. During a candidates' forum, former Kansas GOP Chairman Mike Kuckelman asked Hayden which judge signed the warrant he claimed to have had. "There's no judge," Hayden replied. Kuckelman pointed out that a judge has to sign a warrant for it to be valid. "I didn't say it was valid," Hayden said.

Police

Brickbat: Teaching the Test

|

Toronto Police Service Supt. Stacy Clarke has pleaded guilty to seven counts of professional misconduct, including breach of confidence, discreditable conduct, and insubordination. Clarke, the department's first black female superintendent, provided questions and answers to a sergeant's exam to six black constables before they took the exam. At a tribunal hearing, her attorney said she was frustrated at how long it was taking to diversify the department and claimed she was trying to fight systemic racism. The prosecution asked that she be demoted to staff sergeant for at least two years before being allowed to reapply to become superintendent, with no guarantee of regaining the job. Her attorney is asking that she be demoted to inspector for up to 18 months and then automatically reinstated as superintendent.

Diversity

Brickbat: Apply Now!

|

The University of New Brunswick, a public university in Canada, is seeking a research chair in quantum sensors for space application. According to the job posting, "The successful candidate will bring a record of leadership in multidisciplinary and collaborative research achievements in quantum sensing technologies that shows global impact." Oh, and that person must be a member "of gender equity deserving groups (including cisgender women, transgender women, transgender men, two-spirit, and non-binary)" and/or not white.

Police Abuse

Brickbat: No Keys? No Problem.

|

Raul Ortiz and his mother have sued the Elyria, Ohio, police department and three officers after they entered his home without a warrant and tased and arrested him. Ortiz's ex-girlfriend had contacted police and told them she previously lived at his house and wanted to retrieve her belongings. When they met her there, Ortiz refused to allow them in. (The landlord later confirmed she had turned in her keys and was no longer a resident.) One of the officers encouraged the ex to kick in the door, and they all rushed in. Ortiz demanded to know why they had kicked in the door, which led to a struggle in which one of the officers used a Taser on his bare stomach as he protested that he had a pacemaker. Police charged Ortiz with five felonies, including three counts of assaulting an officer, and his mother with felony obstruction for demanding to know why her son was being arrested. Prosecutors dropped all charges, but only after Ortiz had spent nine days in jail.

Police

Brickbat: Typo Trauma

|

A typo apparently led Pinellas County, Florida, sheriff's deputies to pull a man and his epileptic teenage daughter from their car at gunpoint. A local TV station reports that a deputy ran the car's tag and it came back stolen. But about 10 minutes after deputies pulled over the driver, dashboard and bodycam video showed the deputy who entered the tag number realizing he'd typed it in wrong. Another deputy can be heard complaining about deputies "not knowing what they're doing." "People make mistakes," said the deputy who ran the tag number.

Animals

Brickbat: Don't Have a Cow, Man

|

In Pennsylvania, Rusty Herr and Ethan Wenthworth spent almost 30 days in jail for contempt of court after the State Board of Veterinary Medicine claimed they failed to respond to a subpoena for records relating to their use of ultrasound to perform pregnancy checks on cows. The two run a business that helps dairy farms manage their cows' pregnancies. The Pennsylvania Veterinary Medicine Association has filed complaints with state regulators claiming that by using ultrasound for pregnancy checks, the two are engaging in the unlicensed practice of veterinary medicine. A lawyer for the men has taken the case to the state supreme court.

USPS

Brickbat: Missed Delivery

|

Police in Cobb County, Georgia, have arrested former U.S. Postal Service carrier Ebony Williams on charges of theft and forgery. Police saw Williams getting into a car that had been reported stolen. When they approached her, they saw letters scattered around the interior of the car. After getting a warrant, they found ripped-open checks among the mail in the glove compartment and trunk. Police believe Williams stole the checks instead of delivering them.

Warrants

Brickbat: Sign on the Dotted Line

|

Jeremy Haney, a former police officer in Appleton, Wisconsin, has pleaded no contest to felony misconduct in public office for falsifying information in a report. Haney forged the signatures of a prosecutor and a judge on paperwork to authorize placing a tracking device on a suspect's vehicle as part of a drug investigation. An assistant district attorney spotted the discrepancy when he was reviewing the documents and realized they were not the ones he signed. Haney claimed that he lost the original paperwork, so he reprinted it and forged the signatures. He will receive no jail time but will have to pay fines and fees totaling more than $1,000.

Retail

Brickbat: Never Low Prices

|

The French government has banned supermarkets from offering discounts of more than 34 percent on shampoo, toilet paper, toothpaste, and other personal items. The law effectively bans "buy one, get one" discounts, and it has applied to all food items since March 2023. Supporters of the law say it protects small stores that cannot compete on price with large retailers.

Health

Brickbat: Say Your Prayers

|

Following numerous complaints about lengthy response times, Meigs County, Tennessee, commissioners are looking at ways to improve their emergency medical service. But EMS Director Tony Finnell doesn't seem very concerned about the issue: Chattanooga's ABC 9 reported that when he was confronted about response times by a resident at a public meeting, Finnell said, "Ma'am we're all gonna die. My suggestion to you is to get your heart right with God."

Automobiles

Brickbat: Backseat Driver

|

Starting July 6, all new vehicles sold in the European Union and Northern Ireland will come with mandatory intelligent speed assistance, which will cause the vehicle to beep or vibrate and eventually slow down if the driver exceeds the speed limit. The technology was introduced as an option by many manufacturers in 2015. It was mandated by the E.U. in 2022, but drivers at that time had the option of switching it off.

Politics

Brickbats: June 2024

News of politicians, police, and bureaucrats behaving badly from around the world.

|

In England, the Dacorum Borough Council issued fines for littering to multiple men who pulled off the road in a rural area to urinate, including one with a weakened prostate. A BBC report later found the council had issued hundreds of fines for public urination along the same road. The Telegraph reported that at least three other councils also treat public urination as littering.

A man says he was threatened with arrest after his dog urinated on a public street in Bournemouth, England. Steve Schuurman said a Dorset officer shouted at him to "clear your fucking dog piss." When Schuurman complained that he wasn't sure how the officer expected him to clean urine, another officer threatened to have him arrested if he did not move on.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles may have improperly charged tens of thousands of drivers late fees for their vehicle registration. A Los Angeles news station found that the DMV often rejected electronic checks even when the account had sufficient funds and there were no other issues, then charged late fees.

The New York City government refuses to reimburse Adam and Elizabeth Rizer for the loss of their car, which was totaled during a police chase. An officer pursuing a suspected stolen car through an intersection T-boned a Hertz rental car and then struck the Rizers' parked Jeep. The city says that the rental vehicle actually struck their car and the Rizers should contact Hertz for compensation. The city comptroller later told a reporter that "there were multiple parties and complex circumstances that prevented a pre-litigation settlement."

Melissa Evans worried when her dog Spotty got away that she might never see him again. Then Oklahoma City Animal Welfare called to let her know it had picked up her dog and she could get him back if she got him neutered, which she agreed to do. But when she went to pick him up, staff told her they had mistakenly euthanized him. The city animal welfare superintendent said another dog, which was scheduled to be euthanized, looked like Spotty, and staff "went into the kennel and mistakenly pulled the wrong dog out."

Italian aviation officials blocked a British Airways flight from leaving Milan for London after a surprise inspection found some of the seat cushions were too thick and too wide. Cushions on exit rows over the wings are supposed to be smaller to create more room in case of an evacuation. The flight was delayed for an hour until the crew was able to locate enough cushions to swap out.

The Scottish Ambulance Service fired Christopher Gallacher after finding he had an on-duty emergency dispatcher pick him and his family up at the airport after a vacation. According to a disciplinary tribunal, there were a "high number of calls" that evening and patients were waiting for "lengthy periods of time." The dispatcher was away from his post for 45 minutes.

United Airlines was forced to ground its brand-new Airbus A321neo planes, but not because of safety issues: A 1990 federal rule requires "No Smoking" signs to be operated by the flight crew, even though smoking on airplanes has been banned for decades. The A321neo uses software that keeps the "No Smoking" sign on continuously during flights. United previously received an exemption to the rule, but the exemption only applied to aircraft it listed at the time, requiring the airline to request another exemption for the new planes.

Taxes

Brickbat: Low Taxes for Me, Not for Thee

|

Justin Champlin, the former chief deputy tax assessor in Ascension Parish, Louisiana, has been arrested on two counts each of injuring public records and computer tampering, as well as malfeasance in office. Police said that on two different occasions, Champlin illegally reduced the assessment on his property to lower his tax obligation. Champlin was fired from his job in early April following an internal audit.

Grocery stores

Brickbat: Robot's Day of Rest

|

A German court has ruled that the robots at the Tegut supermarket chain must be given Sundays off, just like human workers. Under German law, retail stores must close on Sundays and Christian holidays in order to give employees a day of rest. Tegut has gotten around that law by fully automating its stores, and it gets 25–30 percent of its sales on Sunday. A union that represents shop workers filed suit to force the stores to close on Sundays, saying it fears the company's success could undermine support for the nation's blue laws.

Drunk driving

Brickbat: This Blows

|

Hawaii News Now (HNN), a news service operated by a consortium of TV stations, reports that in 2022 and 2023, Oahu police arrested almost 300 people for driving under the influence who had breathalyzer scores below the legal limit of 0.08, 69 of them with scores of 0.00. "When I was a policeman, I never had anybody blow triple zeros," said Jonathan Burge, a defense attorney specializing in traffic cases and former Honolulu Police Department (HPD) officer. Burge claims there are unofficial quotas for officers, particularly for those working DUI task forces funded by federal dollars. Deputy HPD Chief Keith Horikawa, in a statement to HNN, said "supervisors may have goals and standards that are pertinent to their unit to help guide the personnel under their command." HNN reports that even when charges are dropped, the arrest remains on the records of adult drivers unless they pay to have it expunged. Last year, the Honolulu Prosecutor's Office rejected more than 80 percent of the DUI cases referred by HPD.

Local Food

Brickbat: We All Scream

|

In Italy, the Milan city council is considering a law that would ban the sale of ice cream, pizza, and other takeout food and drinks after 12:30 a.m. on weekdays and 1:30 a.m. on weekends and holidays. The move is aimed at reducing people congregating on the streets and creating noise late at night. The law is particularly unpopular among gelato merchants, who have long sold the treat late at night.

Plastic Pollution

Brickbat: It's Not Easy Being Cheesy

|

A leading environmentalist says one of the goals of New York's proposed Packaging Reduction and Recycling Infrastructure Act is to end individually wrapped single slices of cheese. "We have to do something about the plastic crisis," said Judith Enck, president of  Beyond Plastics and former Environmental Protection Agency administrator. "These companies have to take responsibility for producing the waste. They're getting a free ride right now." The bill would mandate that food producers and distributors with net incomes over $1 million reduce plastics and other packaging that ends up in landfills by 50 percent over the next 12 years. The bill would also fund recycling programs by imposing a fee on companies that use plastic packages.

Housing Policy

Brickbat: Sit and Stay Awhile

|

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has signed a law limiting landlords' ability to evict tenants. Under the law, landlords can evict a tenant only for not paying the rent, destruction of property, disturbing the neighbors' peace, or another a substantial violation of the lease. The law also says landlords must renew a tenant's lease when it ends. The only exceptions are if the property is being sold, demolished, substantially renovated, turned it into a short-term rental, or if the landlord plans to move family in. And when those exceptions do apply, landlords must give tenants a 90-day notice.

Prisons

Brickbat: The First Rule of Fight Club

|

The Los Angeles County Probation Department has placed 12 officers on administrative leave pending an investigation of violence at the Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall. Video taken in December 2023 showed officers standing around watching, and perhaps encouraging, fights among the youth housed at the facility. "We will not tolerate misconduct like that depicted in the video, nor will we tolerate a lack of urgent response, if and when these incidents happen," said Probation Chief Guillermo Viera Rosa in a statement.

Protests

Brickbat: Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign

|

In England, a judge has ruled that London's Metropolitan Police cannot bar Niyak Ghorbani from attending pro-Palestinian protests. Ghorbani, an Iranian dissident, has become famous for attending such protests while carrying a sign that reads "Hamas is terrorist." He has been arrested by Met police three times at those protests. At his last arrest, he did not have the sign, but he was arrested for refusing to stand where a police officer told him. After that arrest, the police gave him a piece of paper saying that one of his bail conditions was "not to attend any protest relating to Israel or Palestine in the City of Westminster." The judge said that condition was not "necessary or proportionate."

Federal agents

Brickbat: Close Enough for the Feds

|

Federal agents arrested Penny McCarthy at gunpoint outside her home in Phoenix. They insisted that she was Carole Anne Rozak, a fugitive wanted on a 1999 warrant for probation violation in Oklahoma. At first, the U.S. Marshals Service said McCarthy's fingerprints matched Rozak's, but they later admitted the prints did not match, and a judge dropped all charges against McCarthy. A Phoenix TV station reports that the Marshals Service blamed a glitch for the initial fingerprint misidentification. In later court filings the service said that Rozak had stolen McCarthy's maiden name, blaming the mix-up on that. But McCarthy said they have refused to provide her with any information that links Rozak to her identity. "I no longer trust the people who govern me," she said.

Automobiles

Brickbat: Baby, You Can't Drive Your Car

|

German Transport Minister Volker Wissing has warned lawmakers he will ban driving on weekends if they cannot agree to a planned amendment to the nation's Climate Protection Act. Wissing said that is the only way to meet the emissions goals called for in the law. Negotiations over the amendment have stalled over whether the government should look at overall carbon dioxide emissions and allow the government to decide what actions to take if they don't meet targets for two years in a row or whether it should set individual standards for each sector of the economy. Julia Verlinden of the Green Party said that rather than ban weekend driving if an agreement can't be reached, Wissing could reduce the speed limit.

Children

Brickbat: Bus Stopped

|

Littleton, Colorado, police have arrested Kiarra Jones on charges of third-degree assault for crimes against an at-risk juvenile. Video captured Jones, a paraprofessional with Littleton Public Schools, slapping a 10-year-old boy with autism in the face, stomping his feet, and elbowing him in the stomach as they rode a school bus to a school for students with autism. The parents of that boy and two other students who rode that bus said they have complained for months about injuries to their children.

Authoritarianism

Brickbat: Stop the Music

|

A Belarusian court has sentenced the members of dissident rock band Nizkiz to two years of prison labor after finding them guilty of "organizing and plotting actions grossly violating public order." After President Alexander Lukashenko won a sixth term in the country's disputed 2020 election, mass protests broke out. Nizkiz released the song "Rules," which became a protest anthem, and filmed the song's music video at the site of one of those demonstrations. The government also placed the band on its official registry of extremists, effectively banning its music and making its fans targets for prosecution.

Homelessness

Brickbat: Who's Counting?

|

An estimated 171,000 Californians are homeless, making up about 30 percent of all homeless people in the U.S. The state spent $24 billion in fiscal years 2018–2023 on 30 different programs for the homeless. But a state auditor's report found the agency responsible for coordinating the effort to reduce homelessness stopped tracking the programs' spending and their impact in 2021. The audit also looked at spending on the homeless in San Diego and San Jose and found officials in those cities also failed to adequately track spending, as well.

Protests

Brickbat: 'Openly Jewish'

|

London's Metropolitan Police Service has apologized for threatening to arrest a Jewish man at a pro-Palestinian protest. Video showed police officers telling Gideon Falter that his "quite openly Jewish" appearance risked provoking the protesters and threatening to arrest him for "causing a breach of the peace" if he didn't leave the area. After the video was released, the Met first apologized for the officer's language but said counter-protesters needed to be aware "that their presence is provocative." It later deleted that statement from social media and apologized again: "In an effort to make a point about the policing of protest we caused further offence," it wrote in a statement. "This was never our intention. We have removed that statement and we apologise. Being Jewish is not a provocation. Jewish Londoners must be able to feel safe in this city."

Michigan

Brickbat: Keeping Drugs Off the Street

|

Tressa Beltran, former police chief of Hartford, Michigan, has been charged with multiple felonies, including delivery of narcotics, larceny, extortion, using a computer to commit a crime, embezzlement over $50 by a public official, and three counts of drug possession. Beltran reportedly admitted stealing from the drug disposal box at the police department. Now a new lawsuit against Beltran and the city claims she coerced Hai Quoc Le Jr. into providing her with pain medication he was prescribed for a torn ACL. Le is on parole, and according to his lawsuit, Beltran threatened to make his life "a living hell" if he didn't provide her with drugs, by reporting him to his parole officer and charging him criminally. Le says Beltran was often in her uniform and on duty when she met with him.

Hate crimes

Brickbat: You Hate To See It

|

Police Scotland received thousands of complaints under the nation's new hate crimes law just in the first few days after it took effect. Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf told The Telegraph that "a tiny percentage" of the numerous complaints are "turning into actual investigations," but control room staff is running up overtime weeding through them. Yousaf, who backed the law, said that even if complaints start to dwindle in the future, it will take "weeks or months" and cost "hundreds of thousands of pounds" to work through the backlog.

Prosecutors

Brickbat: Freeze Frame

|

In England, Swansea Crown Court Judge Geraint Walters wanted to know why prosecutors dropped charges against photographer Dimitris Legakis on the eve of the trial. Legakis had been arrested for taking photos near a crime scene and charged with assaulting an emergency worker, obstructing or resisting a police officer, and using threatening or abusive words or behavior. A prosecutor said charges were dropped because the officer's original statement differed from a later one. But Walters said that after reading the record, he believed that Legakis was arrested because a police officer "took offence" to him taking photos. He said he believed prosecutors knew early on that "there was no evidential basis" to charge Legakis.

Police

Brickbat: Timely Manner

|

An internal investigation by the Connecticut State Police found that four troopers entered hundreds of fake tickets into agency records systems in 2018 in an effort to make their productivity look better. Investigators found the officers' actions may have been felony crimes, but they did not alert prosecutors to the results of their investigation. Chief State's Attorney Patrick Griffin said he only found out about the scheme in late 2022, years after the investigation, when a local newspaper began asking about it. Griffin opened a criminal investigation at that time, but he said recently that the troopers will not face charges because the statute of limitations has run out. Two of the troopers retired without punishment and are each collecting nearly $70,000 in annual pensions; the other two received brief suspensions—one for 10 days and the other for two days—before being transferred to new units.

Music

Brickbat: At a Medium Pace

|

The Chechen government has banned all music it deems too fast. Or too slow. Minister of Culture Musa Dadayev said that from now on, all music in Chechnya must have a tempo ranging from 80 to 116 beats per minute. This includes vocal performances and music that backs dance performances. Dadayev says this requirement conforms to "Chechen mentality and musical rhythm" and will bring "to the people and to the future of our children the cultural heritage of the Chechen people."

Police

Brickbat: There for the Taking

|

An officer with London's Metropolitan Police, whose name has not been released, was placed on restricted duties after being accused of taking money from a dead bicyclist's wallet. Claudio Gaetani suffered a heart attack while riding his bike. Officers who responded to the call took his passport and wallet but allowed his friends to keep his bicycle and his backpack. When one of his friends later went to collect the wallet, she claimed money was missing from it. The case has been referred to the Crown Prosecution Service after surveillance footage allegedly showed an officer counting money.

Food

Brickbat: Too Sweet? Too Harsh.

|

In Nigeria, Chioma Okoli faces up to three years in prison and a fine of 7 million naira (around $5,600 U.S.) after posting on Facebook that she found a tomato puree made by local company Erisco Foods Limited to be too sweet. Police have charged her under the nation's cybercrimes law with "the intention of instigating people against Erisco Foods." The company has also filed a civil lawsuit against her.

Police

Brickbat: Missed It by That Much

|

In May 2023, the St. Louis County SWAT team used a battering ram to knock down the door to Brittany Shamily's home in Ferguson, Missouri. Cops detained her and her family while they ransacked the place, searching for evidence related to a carjacking that had happened earlier that day. One of the victims told police his AirPods were in the car. They used the Find My app to locate them. It seemed to indicate they were in the home, according to a federal lawsuit filed by the family. But the Find My app isn't quite that precise: Police didn't find any evidence related to the carjacking, but according to the lawsuit, they did find the AirPods in the street near the house.

Police

Brickbat: Information Is Dangerous

|

Police Scotland says it will no longer investigate minor crimes, but it refuses to say exactly what constitutes a minor crime. In response to a freedom of information request by a local newspaper, the police force said releasing that information would give a "tactical advantage" to criminals. Officials said the move is aimed at freeing up resources to investigate major crimes. Don't worry: Police officials say they will continue to investigate all reported hate crime incidents even if they don't meet the charging threshold.

Politics

Brickbats: May 2024

News of politicians, police, and bureaucrats behaving badly from around the world.

|

Michael Cassidy was charged with criminal mischief after destroying a Baphomet altar erected by the Satanic Temple of Iowa in the state capitol in 2023. Since Cassidy "destroyed the property because of the victim's religion," they tacked on a hate crime enhancement, increasing the charge from a misdemeanor to a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and up to $10,245 in fines.

Illustration: Peter Bagge
(Illustration: Peter Bagge)

For three years, the Bond family requested permission to remove two trees on their property that they thought looked dangerous. But the Portland, Oregon, Urban Forestry Commission denied their requests, saying it would "significantly affect neighborhood character." Then during a storm, one of those trees fell onto the Bonds' home, forcing them out. A city arborist advised the family that they will have to apply for a permit to remove the remains of the tree and pay to have a tree planted to replace it. They were also advised to remove the second tree from their property and apply for a retroactive permit, but if that permit is denied, they could be fined for removing the tree.

Christina Lea Gilchrist is a Canadian sex worker who offers a 25 percent discount to customers in the military. Although her sex work is legal, the military claims that her ads—which depict Gilchrist in uniform—are illegal. As a result, she says Canadian military police threatened to press charges against her and warned soldiers not to use her services.

Illustration: Peter Bagge
(Illustration: Peter Bagge)

Former Miami-Dade School Board Vice Chair Lubby Navarro faces charges of fraud and grand theft. Prosecutors say she used her school system credit cards to make $100,000 in illegal purchases, including two fake pregnancy bellies that she used to try to convince her ex-boyfriend she was pregnant with his child.

Video showed reporter David Menzies approaching Canadian Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland with a microphone and walking alongside her on a public sidewalk, asking questions about government policy. Menzies seemingly bumped into a police officer who stepped into his path; that officer then shoved Menzies against a wall and told him he was under arrest for assault. Ontario police later dropped the charges, saying "no credible security threat existed."

A jury convicted former House of Representatives of Puerto Rico member María Milagros "Tata" Charbonier of conspiracy, bribery, and money laundering, among other charges. While in office, Charbonier increased her assistant's biweekly pay from $800 to between $2,100 and $2,900. But the assistant kicked back between $1,000 and $1,500 of each paycheck to Charbonier, her husband, and their son.

Illustration: Peter Bagge
(Illustration: Peter Bagge)

Atlanta developer Jeff Raw had a water meter installed on a vacant lot he owned. Over the next five months, he received bills totaling nearly $30,000. A city inspector verified there were no water lines or leaks on the site and the utility sent Raw an email admitting there was a leak in its part of the system, but officials still insisted he pay those bills.

Before taking her oath of Canadian citizenship, Maria Kartasheva learned she had been tried in absentia in Russia, her home country, and found guilty of "public dissemination of deliberately false information" for social media posts she made while living in Canada opposing the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Canada has a similar law, and those charged with an offense that would be a crime in Canada may be denied citizenship. After several media outlets picked up her story, the government agreed to let Kartasheva become a citizen after all.

More