Tag Archives: Police Department

White House Sets New Limits On Federal Distribution Of Military Equipment To Police

On Monday, the White House announced new restrictions on federal programs that supply local police forces with military-style equipment, after a report was released from President Obama’s “Task Force On 21st Century Policing.”

The Hill reported that after four months of study, a Cabinet working group tasked by President Obama has come to the conclusion that local law enforcement will be banned from acquiring eight categories of military supplies through federal funds, including “grenade launchers, tracked armored vehicles, armed aircraft, bayonets, and guns and ammunition of .50 caliber or higher.”

The Washington Post noted that other equipment, such as tactical vehicles, explosives and riot equipment, “will be transferred only if local police provide additional certification and assurances that the gear will be used responsibly.”

In order to obtain equipment including drones, Humvees and flash-bang stun grenades, Politico reported that local police departments will have to be approved by a civilian governing body, such as a city council, and they will have to provide a “clear and persuasive explanation for why the controlled equipment is necessary.”

Among other recommendations, the report from the task force suggested that research conducted to “evaluate the effectiveness of crime fighting strategies” should specifically look at the “potential for collateral damage of any given strategy on community trust and legitimacy.”

The report also recommended that law enforcement agency policies for training on use of force should “emphasize de-escalation and alternatives to arrest or summons in situations where appropriate,” and should “mandate external and independent criminal investigations in cases of police use of force resulting in death, officer-involved shootings resulting in injury or death, or in-custody deaths.”

The Department of Defense Excess Property Program, or the 1033 program, which supplies the military gear to local police forces, captured the nation’s attention in 2014, when local police in Ferguson, Mo. responded to protests, by using military-style equipment including armored vehicles and flash grenades, against American citizens.

While new limits are being set on the 1033 program, The Hill noted that the White House has “stopped short of eliminating the program,” due to the report’s claims that the equipment “enhances the safety of officers” who are responding to dangerous situations.

Investigative journalist Ben Swann discussed the root of police militarization in Dec. 2014, on an episode of Truth in Media. Swann described the federal program as one that “provides surplus DoD military equipment to state and local civilian law enforcement agencies for use in counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism operations, and to enhance officer safety.”

Watch the full Truth In Media episode on the Root of Police Militarization:


After Killing of Two Officers, NYPD Union Declares Itself a “Wartime” Police Department

Following the shooting that killed two New York police officers, the NYPD’s union has issued a statement announcing that in response, it has become a “wartime” police department.

As previously reported, Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were killed by Ismaaiyl Brinsley, after he who ambushed and shot them both, in an alleged attempt to avenge the death of Eric Garner. Brinsley’s ambush of the two officers occurred shortly after he shot and wounded his ex-girlfriend in Baltimore, and then posted his plans to strike back at the police to her Instagram account.

According to the New York Post, Liu and Ramos were “working overtime as part of an anti-terrorism drill in Bedford-Stuyvesant,” when they were “shot point-blank in the head” by Brinsley.

Newsmax reported that the NYPD’s union, the New York Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, issued a statement regarding the way the department is responding to this incident, and the way it is working to prevent future threats:

Starting IMMEDIATELY: At least two units are to respond to EVERY call, no matter the condition or severity, no matter what type of job is pending, or what the opinion of the patrol supervisor happens to be.”

The statement went on to say that from this point forward, there would be no unnecessary arrests by New York police officers:

IN ADDITION: Absolutely NO enforcement action in the form of arrests and or summonses is to be taken unless absolutely necessary and an individual MUST be placed under arrest.”

The statement noted that these precautions were ones that had been taken in the 1970s, when “police officers were ambushed and executed on a regular basis.

The union concluded its statement by criticizing New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, and blaming him for the fact that the NYPD has become a “wartime” police department:

The mayor’s hands are literally dripping with our blood because of his words actions and policies and we have, for the first time in a number of years, become a ‘wartime’ police department. We will act accordingly.”

Report Finds Police Departments Making Their Own Rules, Not Reporting Hundreds of Homicides to The FBI

A recent analysis found that the killings of hundreds of individuals by law enforcement officers have not been reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The study, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, stated that after looking at records from 105 of the nation’s largest police forces, there was a gap of 583 homicides that were not included in the FBI’s records from 2007 to 2012.

The analysis found that the departments recorded 1, 825 officer-involved killings over the five-year period, which was 45 percent higher than the tally of 1,242 that had been reported to the FBI.

According to Yahoo News, this massive gap “makes it nearly impossible to figure out how many people cops kill – justifiably or not – every year.

The Wall Street Journal reported that local police departments are not required to provide the FBI with either statistics or detailed records on how many individuals are killed by police officers.

According to CBS News, police departments have “developed their own policies that generally permit officers to use force when they reasonably fear imminent physical harm,” which ultimately gives officers “the benefit of the doubt by prosecutors,” and makes and grand jurors “reluctant to second-guess their decisions.”

This is evidenced in the case of Michael Brown, who was shot and killed by Officer Darren Wilson during a confrontation in Ferguson, Missouri, on August 9. The Grand Jury chose not to indict Wilson on murder charges, sparking riots and protests throughout the country.

Another instance that recently ignited protests from the American public is the case of Eric Garner, who was choked to death by Officer Daniel Pantaleo in New York City, on July 17. The Grand Jury chose not to indict Pantaleo, despite the fact that unlike in Wilson’s case, Pantaleo’s actions were caught on video.

In addition to the freedom local police departments are given regarding their policies for use of force, they are also given a great amount of freedom when deciding how to use the military equipment they obtain with grants from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

As previously reported, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is in charge of providing grants for military equipment, does not have a system in place to determine the extent to which police departments use the equipment, and as a result the grant program “exists with little oversight.”

In the newest episode of the Truth in Media Project, which will be released on December 10, Investigative Journalist Ben Swann looks at the root of Police militarization, and the effect it is having on society. Watch the trailer below:

New York Lawsuit Fights for Right to Record Police Officers

New York – Last week, a Federal lawsuit was filed against the New York Police Department, which requested that individuals are granted the right to film or record officers working in public places. The suit lists several accounts of arrests where people recorded confrontations with police, and it was filmed by one of the people arrested.

According to the New York Times, the suit “seeks a permanent injunction barring New York City employees from retaliating against those who record them in public.”

Despite the fact that New York’s Police Department Patrol Guide says that “taking photographs, videotapes or tape recordings” is not probable cause for an arrest, the lawsuit maintains that there is still “a widespread policy, practice and custom” of police intervention with those who choose to record them.

The lawsuit contained eight accounts where individuals were recording police activity in public, and were ordered by the police officers to either leave the scene, or to delete the data.

The testimonies ranged from Debra Goodman, who was arrested in 2013 for taking a video of emergency medical technicians speaking to a woman in a wheelchair, while police officers watched, to Diego Ibanez, who was arrested in 2013 for recording videos of police officers making arrests inside of a subway station.

One of the lawyers involved in filing the lawsuit, Norman Siegel, hopes the City of New York will adopt a policy along the same lines as the one used by the Baltimore Police Department.

After dealing with a lawsuit in 2010, in which a Baltimore man claimed that the police had taken his cellphone and deleted a video he had taken of an arrest, the Justice Department concluded that people have the right to record police officers.

In a letter regarding the decision, the department wrote, “the justification for this right is firmly rooted in longstanding First Amendment principles.

FBI Report Allegedly Exposes 2 Florida Cops’ KKK Membership

According to The Orlando Sentinel, two Fruitland Park police officers are no longer on the force following FBI allegations that the two were members of the Ku Klux Klan. One of the reported Klan members, Deputy Chief David Borst, denied the allegations but resigned immediately. Borst also resigned from his position as the city’s fire chief. A second officer, George Hunnewell, was fired by the department.

The FBI submitted a report to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement containing evidence allegedly connecting Hunnewell and Borst to the KKK. The report was delivered to Fruitland Park Police Chief Terry Isaacs, who took action last Friday. After consulting with Chief Deputy State Attorney Ric Ridgway and City Manager Gary La Venia, Police Chief Isaacs fired Hunnewell, citing his long record of workplace misconduct and recent demotion as the basis for his dismissal. Said Isaacs of Hunnewell, “I just had no faith in him.”

Deputy Chief David Borst, on the other hand, was Isaac’s second-in-command and trained a significant number of the department’s officers. The Orlando Sentinel notes that Isaac said of Borst, “It’s a tough situation. He was my assistant. I’m not saying I believe him. I’m not saying I don’t believe him. But I’ve read the report, and it’s convincing.”

This is not the first time that the small, 18-officer Fruitland Park Police Department has faced allegations of KKK connections. In 2009, another officer on the force, James Elkins, voluntarily stepped down after photos emerged depicting him wearing a Klan hood and robe over his police uniform.

Though Isaacs avoided directly mentioning the KKK in his comments, he indicated that the allegations pertained to the officers’ membership in a “subversive organization.” According to Click Orlando, it was the FBI, by way of an informant, and Florida Department of Law Enforcement spokesperson Chantal Hauser who specified the allegations of Ku Klux Klan connections.  Reportedly, the two officers were involved in the KKK from 2005-2009.

Following the report, the Lake County Office of the State Attorney is reviewing all of the officers’ arrests to determine whether or not racial profiling might have taken place. Said Chief Isaacs, “The last thing I was expecting to hear in the year 2014 was for a professional law-enforcement officer to be a member of a subversive organization.” He also told local affiliate News 13, “We are here, we are in place, and I want the public to know this type of conduct will not even be remotely tolerated.”

City Manager Gary La Venia issued a statement in response to the report, “The city of Fruitland Park is a diverse, tolerant, welcoming community. We cannot, nor will we tolerate any philosophy that is inherently morally corrupt, one that espouses bigotry, or intolerance aimed toward any groups or individuals because of their race, ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual orientation, or even the appearance of such in our ranks.” Technically speaking, none of the officers with alleged KKK ties were fired specifically for those ties, as two, including Officer Elkins from 2009, resigned voluntarily, and the third had already received enough disciplinary violations prior to the allegations to merit dismissal.