Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

A former sheriff’s sorry record

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Radley Balko shows the state of lawlessness in the Prince George’s County, Maryland, sheriff’s department:

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake recently testified before the Maryland House Appropriations Committee about police misconduct to point out how difficult it can be to fire bad cops. She met with some resistance from police unions and a few state representatives. One state delegate in particular stood out.

Del. Michael A. Jackson, a former Prince George’s County sheriff, said he had not had any difficulty in removing bad personnel under the existing system. The Prince George’s Democrat contended that officers accused of wrongdoing actually have fewer constitutional rights than other citizens, who are not required to speak to authorities if charged.

This is a slight misstatement of the law. Cops also aren’t required to speak to authorities in the context of a criminal investigation. In some cases, in some jurisdictions, they can be required to cooperate in internal investigation into possible violations of police agency policy. But if a cop is suspected of committing a crime, he doesn’t lose his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination because he wears a badge. In fact, cops often get advantages regular citizens don’t. They can get free legal representation from the police union, for example. Some jurisdictions give officers in use-of-force/shooting cases a “cooling off period,” during which they can’t be questioned. (A more cynical observer might call it a “get your stories straight period.”)

But I want to focus on Jackson in particular. It’s unfortunate to see him now opining on and making public policy on policing issues as legislator. Because Jackson was a pretty awful sheriff. (If this were D.C., we’d call it “failing upward.”) Here’s a post I wrote about Jackson in 2009.

Last month, a jury in Prince George’s County, Maryland awarded Kimberly Jones $260,000 in a civil rights suit. In 2006, sheriff’s deputies from the county had forced their way into Jones’ home, blasted her with pepper spray, beat her with batons, punched her in the face, then arrested her for assaulting a police officer. Though the charge resulted in Jones being fired from her job at a shelter for homeless children, it was later dropped. Reason? The cops had the wrong house.

In the ensuing civil case, the jury determined that the deputies were well within the protocols of the Prince George’s County Sheriff’s Department. It was the department’s guidelines that the jury found unconstitutional.

The man who oversaw those policies? Michael Jackson. His policies took victims all over Prince George’s County. It didn’t seem to matter if they were black or white*.

Rawlings-Blake was testifying after a Baltimore Sun investigation discovered that Baltimore City had paid out more than $6 million to settle police brutality lawsuits since 2011. But from 2000 to 2006, Prince George’s County paid out more than $16 million. Jackson took office in 2002. More from his tenure:

A year after the wrong-door assault on Jones, Jackson’s deputies conducted another botched raid, this time on Accokeek couple Pam and Frank Myers. The two were home watching TV when the deputies came into their home and held them at gunpoint. The police were looking for a man wanted on drugs and weapons charges. They had the wrong house. The correct house was clearly marked, two doors down. During the raid, one of the deputies went out into the Myers’ backyard, despite warnings from the couple that their five-year-old boxer Pearl was outside. The raid team shot Pearl dead. According to the Myers’, the deputies left without even an apology.

Jackson’s department is also facing a lawsuit stemming from a May 2007 warrantless raid on the home of Upper Marlboro resident Amber James. They were looking for James’ sister, who didn’t live at the house. According to the lawsuit, the deputies told James they’d be back the next day, and when they returned, they’d kill her dog.

But the most embarrassing raid conducted under Jackson’s watch came in 2008. . .

Continue reading.

Notice any similarities to a police state.

Written by Leisureguy

13 March 2015 at 11:37 am

Posted in Law Enforcement

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