Saturday, April 17, 2010

Bad Reputation

Knowing that the BART shooting that took place last year is still a rather heated topic, I have been avoiding it. Although, as the topic of this blog pertains to police corruption, I believe this is an essential incident to include.
On New Year's Day in 2009, several BART officers pulled two groups on men off a BART train when they were engaged in a conflict. Among the men who were pulled off the train was an African American male, Oscar Grant. Grant and the officers were verbally engaged with one another when Grant stood up and was therefore physically forced to the ground by a few officers. As Grant was lying face down on the platform, one of the officers, Johannes Mehserle, took a step back, pulled out his gun, aimed it at and shot Grant in the back.
Those who witnessed the incident and heard about it shortly after were outraged. The first thing that came to everyone's mind was police corruption. In today's society, anything that pertains to a police officer being in the wrong is automatically viewed as police corruption, whether it was intentional or not. Demonstrators held violent protests in Oakland and continued to make their voice be heard. The violence and death threats were so bad that the trial of Mehserle was moved to Los Angeles.
It is understandable that people are upset, mourning a loss, and even angry. It is also understandable that the whole BART shooting was a mistake. Watch the video and pay close attention to Mehserle's face. He reaches for his taser in the midst of struggling with Grant, points it at him, and pulls the trigger. Immediately after the shot rang out, you can without a doubt see the panic set in. Mehserle was shocked. He had grabbed his gun instead of his taser. Any person who really pays attention can see how his reactions clearly show that pulling out his gun and shooting Grant was not Mehserle's intention. Although, it does not matter what Mehserle's intentions were, all that mattered was that he just fatally shot a young man.
Due to the history of police corruption and brutality, people think that the police are out to get them. The police must be horrible, untrustworthy people. The police are always corrupt and kill innocent people. The truth of the matter is that police are people. The police are not perfect, they make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes are bigger and worse than others.
There is no way to bring back a person who has passed, and it is a shame that Mehserle made a mistake. It is a shame that everyone points fingers at him and label him a "murderer."
The history of police corruption has made every mistake an officer does, a crime.


KGO-TV, Officer-involved shooting at bart station kills one. January 1, 2009.

Bulwa, D., Burress, C. Stannard, M.B., and Kuruvila, M. Protests over bart shooting turn violent.
San Francisco Chronicle. January 8, 2009.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Unethical and Illegal

Law enforcement personnel who are stealing drugs is a very common form of corruption. A law enforcement employee usually steals drugs for one of two reasons: 1) for personal use or 2) to sell them. Drugs play a large role in the American society and police are always confiscating drugs from people they come in contact with, therefore the drugs are definitely available.
A recent case that was highly publicized is that of the San Fransisco crime l
ab technician, Deborah Madden, who was caught stealing small amounts of Cocaine that was intended to be evidence. The scandal was a huge embarrassment on behalf of all law enforcement officials in San Francisco and now the community has lost trust in them. The scandal has jeopardized other areas of the crime lab as well, including the DNA and firearms sections. The District Attorney's office felt as if they could not trust the evidence that was being evaluated at that crime lab due to the tampering, resulting in 550 cases that have either been dropped or not charged and another 1,400 that are being reviewed still. (Collins & Donald)
The crime lab technician was using the stolen Cocaine for her own personal use. The employee
obviously had an addiction to the Cocaine since she continuously stole it. How come none of her coworkers noticed something was off? It is understandable that Madden was good at hiding the scandal she was committing, but what about the way she acting due to using the Cocaine? The evidence was not being taken care of as well as it should have been. If the evidence was monitored more closely and more rules were in place then this would not have gone undetected as long as it did. The evidence needs to be seen and measured and analyzed by more than one technician. The evidence tape that seals the bag needs to be taken more seriously. There needs to be documentation of who has what evidence and what they did with it and the data they collected for it.
When there are so many problems with the process in which evidence is handled then it is understandable that the public would lose trust in the system. Why should they believe that everything is being done correctly when the corruption in the crime lab is exposed. Of course, not all employees are going to try and run a scandal, but one person ruins it for the rest and may make their jobs a little bit harder and more tedious. The only way to get rid of corruption problems is to have more of a checks and balances within each department, so it is not so easy to get away corrupt activities.


Collins, Terry and Donald, Brooke.
Sf crime lab scandal strains justice system. Sacramento Bee. April 2, 2010.

Carter, David. Drug-related corruption of police officers: A contemporary typology. Journal of Criminal Justice. Volume 18. Issue 2. July 16, 2006.