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Impound competitions

2007-10-05 21:55:30.066751+00 by Dan Lyke 3 comments

LA Times reports on a leaked memo that showed deputies having competitions for numbers of arrests and number of car impoundments:

"It's just a friendly competition to have a little fun out here," Tatreau said. It was Tatreau who sent the e-mail about the booking contest Aug. 15. Tatreau said he viewed the games, which began in July, as a morale booster for overworked deputies who, because of staffing shortages, are required to work four overtime shifts a month.

Via, which also includes a copy of the email proposing the competition. Ahhh, the good old LA County Sheriff's department, making the LAPD look like Mayberry police. And it sounds like Tatreau is one of those efficiency expert types who thinks that policing can be measured by number of arrests. Hopefully this'll be as far as he goes in his career, but I'm not that much of an optimist.

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comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2007-10-05 22:54:58.450454+00 by: m

And people wonder why even some upper middle class white seniors have become more afraid of the police than of criminals. And my most serious infractions have been a couple of parking tickets -- not even a moving violation.

Yet I have had problems with the police. One who trashed my car and briefcase when I was changing a tire off a parkway. I was in business clothes, and gave him nothing but courtesy even after his abysmal behavior. Another, who tried to push me to identify a suspect that I told him I had not seen except for the lower half of a black panted leg. The guy he had picked up was not even wearing black pants. The telephone calls demanding donations to PBAs and Fraternal orders of police, several times not even in the town that I lived in. Some of which became threatening.

Being present while four detectives attempted unsuccessfully to force my lab director to test and testify (decided even before the testing was approved) to an incredibly ridiculous microbiological congruence between two rolls of bills. He was sweating, but he stood his ground. The existence of police "courtesy cards" so that friends and relatives of police would not be pinched for misdemeanors and violations. Other professional (mine) contacts with police. Personally knowing a couple of police. One, a relative that I always thought would end up in prison for life. A couple of FBI agents, IRS special agents, and ADAs as well.

I am even more concerned about those who do not have the advantages that I do in any contact with police. To my personal knowledge, younger professionals who worked for me sometimes suffered serious harassment without cause. Especially those who were not white.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-10-05 23:32:54.582291+00 by: Dan Lyke

I suspect that to some extent it's that most of us middle class white folk only see the police when something bad's happening, and the more law abiding we are, the more that we're likely to have encounters that have no justification.

I don't go to bad neighborhoods. I obey traffic laws. Heck, California doesn't even require that police show up to accident scenes. So unless there's some sort of community policing initiative (or I'm on my bike and stop to say "thanks for bustin' the chops of speeders in my neighborhood"), the only time I interact with the police is when they're trolling for something that isn't there.

And I'm not sure how to fix this because "community policing" can have its own set of issues.

On privilege, yeah, my grandfather had what he called a "Mickey Finn" card. Of course he'd also taught most of the cops in the New York metropolitan region, so there's little reason he'd ever have to pull the card out, but it existed.

What shocks me most about these sorts of situations is that it isn't self-correcting. I'd hope that the negative publicity from this sort of thing would bring enough of a backlash from the peers of the offenders. If there were a place to play fast and loose with the law and its enforcement, I'd hope it'd be when the defenders of the law make law enforcement officers in general look bad.

#Comment Re: Bad neighborhoods made: 2007-10-06 21:05:00.941985+00 by: m

I spent 20+ years in a public health lab in a really run down town. One day a pimp cut the throat of one of his hookers while I was watching though my office window. Close enough to get blood on the glass. Over the years there were a couple of bodies found in a lot across the street, and I would see a couple of the Medical Examiner's office techs I knew, who were working the scenes. There were also some shootouts in the area. The more mundane street people do not require description.

Being an assistant lab director, as well as chief cook and bottle washer for lab automation systems, I had occasion to be in at all kinds of hours, and never had a problem with anyone on the streets except for the cops. Neither did anyone else at the lab, but there was a lot of police harassment. One day they tried to arrest three of our guys who were unloading supplies from a truck at our loading dock, claiming they had mugged a person a half a mile away. Their displeasure with us probably stemmed from our unwillingness to provide testing for their criminal lab fantasies. And some of them were pretty fantastic. One time they wanted us to identify chicken bones as being from human fingers. And, since we had good relations with the police lab and the Medical Examiner's office, we knew they only came to us after the ME and the police lab refused to the nonsensical testing they had dreamed up.

I had occasion to work with some cops that I respected, seemed to be decent, and interested in truth above arrest statistics, the validation of their preconceived notions, or just saying the suspects were guilty of other things anyway so what difference did it make. But there were too many lousy cops. Their attitudes and behavior have left me with a realistic fear of the police, and what they are willing to do if you just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.