DOJ Investigates Law Enforcement Agencies All Over The Nation But Can't Be Bothered To Police Itself
from the backyard-due-to-be-condemned-for-lack-of-upkeep dept
The Justice Department will be investigating the Ferguson PD in the wake of an unarmed citizen’s shooting by Officer Darren Wilson. Already, news has surfaced that the police force has a history of discriminatory actions and a problem with deploying excessive force. But should we even trust the DOJ to do this? If the DOJ is going to police the nation’s police, then it should be holding its own agencies and employees to the highest standards. But it doesn’t. It doesn’t even come close.
Documents obtained by McClatchy News Service [pdf link] reveal incident after incident of misconduct uncovered by the Office of the Inspector General. They range from the merely questionable to the wholly unacceptable, but one thread holds them all together: a nearly complete lack of accountability.
The records, which cover the period from January 2010 to March 2014, detail some 80 cases, only a few of which appear to have been previously made public.
The accused officials work for agencies that include the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
In at least 27 cases, the inspector general identified evidence of possible criminal wrongdoing but no one was prosecuted.
According to the most recent report by the office, the Justice Department’s inspector general received nearly 5,900 allegations of misconduct, opened 195 investigations and was involved in 32 arrests and 38 convictions from October through March.
Cases referred to the IG involved anything from inappropriate relationships to murder-for-hire. An assistant US attorney general was accused of withholding information about her husband’s embezzlement from investigators. Another federal prosecutor recused herself from a case when it was revealed she had a “personal relationship” with the investigation’s target. This same prosecutor also divulged sensitive information about the case to her husband — who subsequently passed this information along to the target.
Gifts and paid trips were accepted by employees in violation of agency ethics policies. An FBI agent used his government-issued Blackberry to pursue relationships with 17 different women. Another FBI agent misused agency resources to participate in three extramarital affairs. An ATF official worked for Morgan Stanley while on paid leave from the agency. The DHS, ATF and FBI are all called out for engaging in retaliatory behavior against protected whistleblowers.
On and on it goes for 42 pages. Bureau of Prison personnel stole or misused government-purchased equipment. Ethical standards violated. Investigations interfered with. Abuse of position to get out of traffic tickets or obtain goods, services… even surveillance tapes from a private business.
In the end, though, only a few cases were recommended for prosecution. In many cases, the employees retired ahead of pending punishments. In others, employees received nothing more than “oral admonishments.”
And then there’s this complete bullshit:
Sometimes, alleged misconduct by prosecutors and investigators might be handled less aggressively because of concern that it would taint criminal cases, [former Dept. of Interior Inspector General Earl] Devaney said. At trial, defense attorneys are permitted to learn of serious misconduct of the agents and prosecutors involved in their cases.
There’s that infamous criminal justice system again. In order to avoid “losses,” government agencies are burying misconduct allegations or issuing “oral admonishments” to avoid leaving damning paper trails that might call the integrity of their prosecutors and investigators into question. To sum up: the government would rather prosecute a citizen than hold one of its own fully accountable.
When the DOJ starts looking into Ferguson, it had better hope the PD doesn’t just hold up a mirror and dare it to meet its own gaze.