Law Enforcement 'Training And Expertise' On Parade!

from the all-the-ineptitude-that's-fit-to-print dept

This is just a periodic reminder that these are the sort of people whose "experience" and "expertise" are routinely granted massive amounts of deference by judges (and stenographers pretending to be journalists). Warrant affidavits providing more detail about the requesting officer's law enforcement career than the target of the search are often rubberstamped into actionable pieces of paper. (But not always!) And yet, these experienced experts look far more mortal when their actions are given something more than a cursory examination.

Exhibit A: the Odessa PD's crack team of trained experts who participated in a daring no-knock raid of an empty motel room.

The search warrant was executed on Jan. 29 at the America's Best Value Inn, 3023 E. Highway 80.

Police officials say the officers involved in executing the warrant "used an unauthorized cooperating individual," and the cooperating individual did not have the required file.

The Professional Standards Unit Investigation also found that the officers involved failed to correctly identify and confirm the location of the criminal activity.

During the search, officers entered room #225 which was vacant, according to previous reports.

Officers then reportedly made a "split-second" decision and breached the next room (#226) at the hotel where suspects were located.

When reviewing the warrant, officers realized that on the warrant room #225 had been listed, police say.

The suspects in the room were held "pending the production of a second search warrant," police say in a release.

Post-facto warrants are seldom as legally-sound as warrants obtained before a search. Sometimes affidavit errors are excused but this case involved a confidential informant of uncertain trustworthiness and a lack of proper documentation. The officers are being lightly disciplined for their Keystone SWAT effort, but the department has cleared itself of any wrongdoing after investigating itself.

In the investigation, police determined that the breach of room #226 was "not illegal because the conduct of the officers prior to their entry into room #226 was lawful, there was no violation or threatened violation of the Fourth Amendment, and therefore the exigent circumstance rule applied and allowed for the entry and securing of room #226," the release reads.

I imagine any evidence will be challenged in court, despite the PD's claim no Fourth Amendment violations took place during the department's botched raid. We'll see how much claims of officer training and experience will hold up under judicial examination. (Sadly, they'll probably hold up much better than they should. While typos are an inevitability, the use of a CI with no pedigree or paperwork puts the warrant on severely shaky legal footing.)

Exhibit B: the cop who justified the frisk of someone with statements that immediately undermined the asserted justifications. Here's the court explaining to the officer why the frisk wasn't reasonable:

Officer Kim’s testimony about seeing the handle of a gun protruding from Smith’s pocket is not credible. At the evidentiary hearing, Officer Kim testified that she could see the black handle of a gun protruding from Smith’s pocket. However, in her arrest report, written shortly after the incident, Officer Kim wrote “[t]he handgun was concealed inside his pocket in such a manner as not to be discernible by ordinary observation.” (ECF No. 18-1 at 3) This statement directly contradicts her testimony. It is unlikely that Officer Kim, approaching a poorly lit landing in the wee hours of the morning, would have been able to discern a black gun handle allegedly sticking out of Smith’s pocket.

[...]

Indeed, Officer Kim acknowledged in her police report she only became aware of the handgun after she began the pat down.

The question that must be asked (but can't be answered) is: how many times has this sort of thing happened? Only a very small percentage of frisks receive courtroom challenges. And stop-and-frisk programs have been heavily criticized for their routine abuse of civil liberties. There's no expertise on display here: only the inability to work backwards from an illegal search, even when given a chance to "correct the record" post-search by aligning the paperwork with a less-unconstitutional narrative.

And, finally, Exhibit C: Police chief vows to make the same horrendous mistake if that's what it takes to somehow make a dent in sex trafficking.

"Everybody's like, 'Don't move, don't move or we'll shoot you,'" Noel Navarete told local 4 News. His brother Isaias, 18, said he was in the bathroom when police kicked down the door.

According to family matriarch Maria Navarete, police told her to "shut up, you have no rights" when she asked what was happening. She claims police never showed her or anyone in the household a warrant.

Police apologized, explaining that a mysterious heroin-addicted woman in a local hospital said she and several underage girls had been held against their will and forced into prostitution; the woman (visually) identified the Navarete's place as where it went down. That night, police began observing the house, soon witnessing two girls get dropped off by an SUV and go inside. Apparently, that was enough to warrant a furtive, middle-of-the-night raid on the place.

The kicker here is the apology came packaged with the police chief's assertion he would handle things EXACTLY THE SAME WAY in the future. Somehow, this department will stamp out the scourge of sex trafficking using proven law enforcement tools like "mysterious heroin addicts" and several minutes of results-oriented investigation.

These are just a few of the experienced experts serving the public -- men and women whose testimony is often considered unimpeachable and nigh unto God in terms of trustworthiness. Men and women whose errors ruin lives and whose shortcuts use the Constitution as a doormat.

Filed Under: law enforcement, police


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  1. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 22 May 2017 @ 3:42pm

    Law Enforcement has become a victim of gameafication.

    The headlines matter more than the facts.
    Fact - A drug addict 'identified' a house.
    Fact - They saw 2 girls dropped off at the house.
    Fact - To win headlines about stopping traffickers, the violated an innocent citizens rights & pledge to do it again.

    Headlines matter more than actual police work.
    Courts far to often give a pass to these sorts of antics & we create time gaps where officers can review reports & recordings to make sure their narrative now fits.

    The family who was fucked over might manage to win some civil settlement & people will over look the 'you have no rights' and we have no warrant. They thought they were saving sex slaves, so your rights stopped mattering. The city will pay out, this family will most likely be harassed by cop supporters who will attempt to justify these illegal actions.

    If we violate the law (even laws that only exist in the heads of officers) we can be beaten, detained, abused... Cops violate the most basic laws of the land, they get re-purposed military ribbons and promotions. (Unless what they did somehow was REALLY beyond the pale but the pale now includes emptying a weapon into a car from the hood & boiling a prisoner to death)

    They wonder why the public has no respect for them, while handcuffed people are still being mysteriously beaten to death on video & no charges get filed.

    Perhaps its time to consider that protecting the few bad apples to protect the image of police has destroyed public trust & they need to clean house.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 22 May 2017 @ 3:53pm

    In the mean time

    Legislators pass laws that make the cops more of a protected class than they really are. Thin blue line, thin black line (the courts), what do we call the thin line the legislators create?

    That each and every participant in these types of situations, from the cops, to prosecutors, to court clerks, to judges, to appeals court judges all swore oaths to, amongst other things, uphold the Constitution and fail to follow that oath time and time again. Warrantless searches, and statements like "you have no rights" fail at both the constitutional level and the human level.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 22 May 2017 @ 3:56pm

    Re: In the mean time

    Dang it, already are.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 May 2017 @ 3:57pm

    "ordinary observation"

    Officer Kim wrote “[t]he handgun was concealed inside his pocket in such a manner as not to be discernible by ordinary observation.”

    You are forgetting that police officers have magical powers of detection. https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20170513/20274537360/magical-cop-detects-drugs-better-than-blood-t ests-continues-to-lock-innocent-people-up.shtml

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 May 2017 @ 4:35pm

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 22 May 2017 @ 4:57pm

    Experience: I believe I can smell drugs in your blood, and the entire legal system should believe this also. Expertise: I am not actually required to know the laws I am theoretically enforcing; in fact, i can make up laws on the fly on good faith. Also I know how to get away with beating the daylights out of you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 May 2017 @ 5:05pm

    police determined that the breach of room #226 was "not illegal because the conduct of the officers prior to their entry into room #226 was lawful,

    What? The actions of the police prior to breaking the law are, by definition, lawful. Otherwise those actions wouldn't be classified as occurring prior to breaking the law...

    If this is all it takes, then nobody has ever committed a crime, because their actions prior to committing the crime were lawful.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 22 May 2017 @ 5:10pm

    Re: In the mean time

    Ah, the mythical thinness of that line...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 May 2017 @ 5:32pm

    Re: In the mean time

    That thin line is called a garrote.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 May 2017 @ 5:37pm

    Re:

    Their logic train does barrel rolls to reach a logical conclusion.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    Bergman (profile), 22 May 2017 @ 5:57pm

    Every criminal is a law-abiding citizen

    At least, right before they break the law, anyway. If the following statement is accurate, and acting lawfully prior to a violation of the law excuses breaking the law, then there is no such thing as a criminal.

    "In the investigation, police determined that the breach of room #226 was "not illegal because the conduct of the officers prior to their entry into room #226 was lawful,"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 May 2017 @ 6:24pm

    Ah - I get it!

    Law Enforcement 'Training And Expertise' On Parade!

    Because every circus starts with a parade!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    My_Name_Here, 22 May 2017 @ 6:47pm

    Again, Tim Cushing continues to criticize law enforcement based on nothing more but his short-sighted perspectives. Here at Techdirt, criminals are regularly cheered when they use technology and red tape to mask their activities. Is it any surprise that the police would decide to take shortcuts after being thwarted and trolled at every turn?

    Also, fuck you Leigh. I know you're going to hold this comment for moderation. Nobody is going to engage me in conversation, thanks to you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 22 May 2017 @ 7:39pm

    Re:

    Nope. But will laugh at your hilarious parade of highly flammable strawmen.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. icon
    murgatroyd (profile), 22 May 2017 @ 8:38pm

    Boy, am I glad that comment was held for moderation; otherwise, I might have had to actually read it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 May 2017 @ 11:07pm

    Complain all you want

    You can't fire the bad cops. They continue to get away with it because they can, and no amount of bile or name calling is going to change that.

    They're union, baby. Suck it up.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. icon
    Bergman (profile), 22 May 2017 @ 11:49pm

    Re:

    The difference between a burglary and a legitimate, lawful search is the presence of a search warrant. I don't know why you're so much in favor of criminals MNH, but the law enforcement exemption to that particular law requires things they did not have when they entered room 226.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. icon
    PaulT (profile), 23 May 2017 @ 12:27am

    Re:

    "Here at Techdirt, criminals are regularly cheered"

    Citation needed.

    "Is it any surprise that the police would decide to take shortcuts after being thwarted and trolled at every turn?"

    Police break the law because other people state their dislike them breaking the law to get results? Circular reasoning or just a moron spouting off?

    "Also, fuck you Leigh. I know you're going to hold this comment for moderation"

    ...and after moderation your idiocy is freely visible to everybody. Like now.

    "Nobody is going to engage me in conversation, thanks to you."

    Nah, just due to your lies and childish behaviour. You're freely mocked for such things, though.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Cowardly Lion, 23 May 2017 @ 12:30am

    Somewhere, Judge Dredd's face hits his palm

    "...Is it any surprise that the police would decide to take shortcuts after being thwarted and trolled at every turn?..."

    More than any other branch of officialdom do I expect the police to follow the most stringent letter of the law. Seriously, how can anyone not get this? Let me try and emphasize this for you; UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCE SHOULD THE POLICE BEND, CIRCUMVENT, WARP OR DEVIATE FROM THE LAWS IT IS THEIR SWORN DUTY TO ENFORCE.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 May 2017 @ 5:12am

    Re:

    Again, Tim Cushing continues to criticize law enforcement based on nothing more but his short-sighted perspectives.

    It's kind of sad that expecting law enforcement to adhere to the rule of law is a short-sighted perspective in your world.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. icon
    TheResidentSkeptic (profile), 23 May 2017 @ 6:15am

    Re: In the mean time

    The "Thin Line" the legislators have created is called the "DC Beltway"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 May 2017 @ 6:16am

    Re: Complain all you want

    By not being able to fire bad cops, it means no one can trust any cop and therefor all cops are bad cops. They did it to themselves.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 May 2017 @ 6:18am

    Re:

    Welcome to your new job as a law enforcement officer.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 May 2017 @ 6:21am

    LEOs do follow the law ... when engaging with rich folk, everyone else gets the boot.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. icon
    Cdaragorn (profile), 23 May 2017 @ 7:34am

    Re:

    Yep. Cause those fancy rich folk you love to hate have Lamborghini's that need confiscating so the cops can get that nice new theater sized TV they've been eyeing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 May 2017 @ 12:22pm

    Re: In the mean time

    A skid mark?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 May 2017 @ 1:30pm

    Re:

    LEOs do follow the law ... when engaging with rich folk, everyone else gets the boot.

    Kim Dotcom would likely disagree. He was quite rich when local law enforcement conducted a dangerous and illegal raid in reaction to prodding by Hollywood.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 May 2017 @ 3:40pm

    "By not being able to fire bad cops, it means no one can trust any cop and therefor all cops are bad cops. They did it to themselves"

    Using the same logic, all protestors are equally untrustworthy of not being destructive and criminal, since you can't trust them not to set the Quickie Mart on fire after looting it at any given upset.

    Blindly hating a huge, diverse group of people for the actions of a minority subset of them isn't the answer. Focusing on the changes needed to remove that subset, and the barriers to doing so, is much more productive.

    Think about any lazy, corrupt, self-serving, back stabbing asshole you have to work with and how much you'd like to get rid of them - you think cops feel any differently? That they think "Yeah! You go dude, act like a douchebag and make everyone hate us! Let's ALL crap all over our reputations!"

    Please. That's just stupid.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29. icon
    JMT (profile), 23 May 2017 @ 6:28pm

    Re:

    "Again, Tim Cushing continues to criticize law enforcement based on nothing more but his short-sighted perspectives."

    Actually Tim was criticizing the police based on three examples that are described in the article that you clearly didn't read. And how exactly is that short sighted?

    "Here at Techdirt, criminals are regularly cheered when they use technology and red tape to mask their activities. Is it any surprise that the police would decide to take shortcuts after being thwarted and trolled at every turn?"

    First, can you actually provide any examples of this "cheering"? And second, it takes a massive leap of logic to conflate using technology and red tape to mask activities and the examples of police incompetence above. They have literally nothing to do with each other. Nobody was thwarted or trolled. But no I'm not surprised the police take illegal shortcuts, because that seems to be pretty typical these day.

    "Also, fuck you Leigh. I know you're going to hold this comment for moderation. Nobody is going to engage me in conversation, thanks to you."

    Allow me to engage you in conversation to point out what a whiny little snowflake you are. And note that for an actual conversation to occur you need to reply.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30. icon
    PaulT (profile), 24 May 2017 @ 12:23am

    Re: Re:

    Exactly. He might have been fairly rich, but he had nothing compared to the corporations who wanted him shut down. So, they deferred to the richer client. Had it been individual musicians and businessmen attacking him directly (instead of, ironically, profiting from the site site despite what the corporations claimed), they might have taken his side.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 May 2017 @ 5:14am

    Re:

    Using the same logic, all protestors are equally untrustworthy of not being destructive and criminal, since you can't trust them not to set the Quickie Mart on fire after looting it at any given upset.

    You hit the nail on the head there - which is why the police aren't very popular, because that's exactly the kind of "everybody must be a criminal" mindset the police have.

    Focusing on the changes needed to remove that subset, and the barriers to doing so, is much more productive.

    Except that as the article states and other countless anecdotes have proven, this doesn't happen. Bad cops are either impossible to fire under rules that are impossible or reluctant to get changed and the police as a whole shrugs their shoulders and accepts it as status quo.

    Think about any lazy, corrupt, self-serving, back stabbing asshole you have to work with and how much you'd like to get rid of them - you think cops feel any differently? That they think "Yeah! You go dude, act like a douchebag and make everyone hate us! Let's ALL crap all over our reputations!"

    In the absence of public statements this is very, very meaningless. Any supposed desire to get rid of bad actors is never actively stated when bad apples in the force are discovered. It's always blithe statements such as "we're reviewing it", or worse still, "despite the footage obviously implicating our officer(s) we are adamant there must be more to the story to explain why an unarmed, fleeing person was shot because our officer felt under threat".

    Please. That's just stupid.

    No, what's stupid is expecting everyone to accept the status quo.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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