portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article commentary united states

government | police / legal

25 Books to Help Us Understand Police Abuse and Corruption

Police abuse and corruption is being protested across the nation. But this is not a new problem, rather it is a problem that has gone unaddressed and uncorrected for years. To understand how our rights are being trampled under the jackbooted feet of government enforcers (the police), these books can help.
Illegally gathering information about individuals, maintaining unauthorized records, conducting illegal investigations, and submitting false police reports is an on-going problem at Fort Lewis (now Joint Base Lewis-McChord, (JBLM). The Olympian Newspaper, in Olympia, WA reported: "A former Joint Base Lewis-McChord employee who spied on war protests in Olympia helped compile detailed information on protesters, including their names, photos, addresses and, in some cases, Social Security numbers, according to 133 pages of law enforcement records released by the City of Tacoma... The detailed information collected about the protesters continues to be stored by area law enforcement agencies." (Pawloski 2011)

Heidi Boghosian, the former director of the National Lawyers' Guild, wrote in her book, Spying on Democracy:
"A civilian employee of the Fort Lewis Force Protection Division in Washington State struck up friendships with many peace activists. For at least two years, he posed as an activist with Port Militarization Resistance (PMR), a group in Washington opposing the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions. He gave information about planned protests to his supervisor, Thomas Rudd, who wrote threat assessments that local law enforcement officials used in harassment campaigns that included "preemptive arrests and physical attacks on peaceful demonstrations, as well as other harassment". One individual was arrested so many times that his landlord evicted him... In the words of the government agencies involved, they aimed to neutralize PMR through a pattern of false arrests and detentions, attacks on homes and friendships, and attempting to impede members from peacefully assembling and demonstrating anywhere, at any time. Harassment was systematic and pervasive. PMR participants were arrested not just locally, but in other venues, including the Denver Democratic National Convention in 2008 and a San Francisco protest at which they were the only ones arrested... The case revealed that today's military has continued to engage in COINTELPRO-type operations and shows the extent to which the lines between the military and civilian law enforcement have blurred. Forces now used against ordinary people engaged in free speech and protest include, increasingly, weapons and tactics used by the U.S. military for combat missions. The drift from passive intelligence gathering to offensive counterintelligence is one manifestation of the difference between civilian law enforcement principles and the military's exclusive focus on defeating perceived enemies through combat, propaganda, and covert operations... The role of civilian law enforcement, in theory, is to protect the public and the Constitution whereas the role of the military is to identify the enemy and neutralize them... When the military starts identifying peaceful dissenters here as the enemy, God help us all." (Boghosian 2013, 107-108)

In his book A Toast to Silence, Peter Baskin, an attorney with more than 50 years' experience, wrote that the police method "consists of the universally recognized and approved practice of deception, manipulation, misrepresentation, and any and every trick, tactic and seductive lie in order to get people to talk and give evidence against themselves".

Regent Law School Professor James Duane wrote in his book You Have the Right to Remain Innocent: "Do not think for a minute that you can trust a police officer who seems to be open minded and undecided about whether he will arrest you after you are finished with an "interview" - the police are trained to act that way, to get you to talk with them for many hours until you finally give up in exhaustion." Laura Coates, CNN Legal Analyst and former Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia wrote in her book You Have the Right: "A police officer can try to trick you or lie to you or mislead you to get you to confess something... "

Not only can the police lie to you, they can also lie about you. Norm Stamper, a former Chief of Police for Seattle, WA, wrote in his book To Protect and Serve: How to Fix America's Police, "For anyone who has practiced criminal law in the state or Federal courts, the disclosure about rampant police perjury cannot possibly come as a surprise. "Testilying" - as the police call it - has long been an open secret among prosecutors, defense lawyers, and judges." Stamper continued, "In my professional experience, there are too many cops who become habituated to lying... Even as they put innocent people behind bars, or in the ground."

Gerry Spence, a legendary trial lawyer who has been practicing law since 1952 and has never lost a criminal case, wrote in his book Police State: How America's Cops Get Away With Murder that he had "never represented a person charged with a crime in either a state or federal court, in which the police, including the FBI, hadn't themselves violated the law - and on more than one occasion, even committed the crime of murder." Mr. Spence went on to say that while he was speaking to a couple hundred criminal defense attorneys he said to them,"please stand up if you can honestly represent to me that in every one of your cases the police or prosecutors have in some way violated the law" I couldn't believe what I saw [said Mr. Spence]. All but four stood up, men, women, older lawyers and young, all with sad, serious faces looking directly at me. I turned to the four who remained seated. What about you? I asked. Why aren't you standing? The lawyer seated closest to me said, Well, Mr. Spence, you said in every case the cops violated the law. I've had a couple where they didn't. The other three nodded their agreement."