from the citizens-paying-for-the-dubious-privilege-of-being-lied-to dept
Cops lie. It’s a statement more factual than statements cops — the people given the biggest benefit of a doubt in “your word against mine” courtroom showdowns — tend to make when testifying or filling out reports.
Here’s the most recent example of cops lying. And it’s only one of several.
A Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper who faced multiple misdemeanor charges amid allegations of falsifying traffic stop reports has pleaded guilty.
That would be Sgt. Zachary Czerniewski, a 10-year veteran who had been promoted twice before admitting to altering traffic stop reports to alter the race of drivers (from black to white), and cover up warrantless searches of vehicles. The former alterations likely stemmed from previous discipline the trooper had received for “stopping a disproportionate amount of minorities.” The trooper was allowed to resign.
This trooper is just one of the Thin Blue Line guys. Cops lie all the time about the most basic function of law enforcement: stops of individuals and/or vehicles.
Here’s a report about Norwalk, Connecticut cop from February:
[Norwalk police] ran an audit and made a strange discovery. Traffic Division Officer Edgar Gonzalez had entered multiple warning tickets into the system, all for out-of-state motorists, without ever actual stopping the drivers.
Norwalk police said they don’t know how Gonzalez obtained the names of the drivers he allegedly entered into the system, or why those particular drivers were chosen.
Gonzalez also resigned while under investigation. He is also facing criminal charges.
Five Arlington police officers who had been accused of falsifying traffic stops have surrendered their state peace officer licenses to dodge criminal charges.
The officers were indicted Friday, records show, but charges of tampering with government records have been dismissed. Eleven other officers also gave up their licenses so their cases wouldn’t go to a grand jury, said Sam Jordan, a spokeswoman for the Tarrant County district attorney’s office.
Dace Warren, 46, faced 15 counts; Christopher John Dockery, 32, faced 14 counts; and Dane Alan Peterson, 33, faced 10 counts. Brandon Christopher Jones, 33, and Christopher Michael McCright, 47, each faced five counts. The offenses were alleged to have happened in the first half of 2016, according to the indictments.
In May, the Arlington Police Department announced that it had suspended 15 officers after an internal audit found evidence of phony traffic stops. A 16th officer was put on leave later.
That’s a pretty (un)healthy concentration of lying cops. And, again, most were allowed to avoid criminal charges or license revocation by resigning while under investigation.
From 2020, here’s some LAPD officers making the local gang database even shittier, raising the number of officers accused of falsifying information on in-person stops to twenty:
Three Los Angeles police officers were charged Friday with falsifying records and obstructing justice by claiming without evidence that people they stopped were gang members or associates, Los Angeles prosecutors announced Friday.
Why do they do this? Well, first: it’s easy to do. Lots of stops happen. Very few are audited. Second, it helps officers achieve the ends they desire, whether it’s too look less bigoted or to ensure a steady flow of meaningless work by filling crime databases with junk data.
In other cases, it’s simply to cover up wrongdoing.
Two New Jersey police officers were found guilty of tampering and other official misconduct Thursday in a June 2012 traffic stop on the Garden State Parkway.
Essex County prosecutors said dashcam video disproved Bloomfield officers Sean Courter and Orlando Trinidad’s claims that Marcus Jeter tried to grab Courter’s gun and hit Trinidad. The footage shows Jeter holding his hands up in his car and yelling out “I did nothing wrong!” as officers pull him out of an SUV and cuff him.
A similar situation, this time on the other side of the nation:
Former LMPD officer Matt Dages has pleaded not guilty to falsifying a report in the arrest of Amaurie Johnson near the Grossmont trolley station on May 27, 2020.
Dages, a three-year veteran of the force, accused Johnson of smoking on the trolley platform, leading to a confrontation between the two men. In bystander video and body-worn camera footage released during an investigation, Dages can be seen pushing Johnson to sit before his arrest on charges of resisting and assaulting an officer.
Eventually, charges were dropped against Johnson and a charge was instead filed against Dages for falsifying a police report. District Attorney Summer Stephan said Dages mischaracterized Johnson’s actions that day.
Sometimes the falsification of reports serves to directly enrich officers.
Two former Rohnert Park police officers are facing federal corruption charges of conspiracy, extortion, falsification of records and tax evasion, all tied to an alleged years-long scheme to pull over and rob people of cash and marijuana.
Brendon Jacy Tatum and Joseph Huffaker were assigned to Rohnert Park’s drug interdiction team at various times between 2015 and 2017, according to a federal criminal complaint unsealed Friday.
Sometimes it appears to be nothing more than laziness.
A Delaware state trooper who received several traffic commendations has been indicted in a fraudulent traffic warning scheme in which at least two of his victims were fellow law enforcement officers, the Delaware Department of Justice announced Tuesday.
Cpl. Edwin Ramirez, who was stationed at Troop 9, was charged with misdemeanor and felony tampering with public records; issuing a false certificate, a felony; and official misconduct, a misdemeanor. If convicted, he faces up to nine years in prison.
As state police continued to investigate, they found that in April alone, Ramirez issued more than 30 fraudulent warnings, according to the Justice Department. In some cases, motorists were not informed of the warnings.
In other instances, prosecutors said, the traffic stop never happened.
Here’s a false report that was undermined by surveillance footage captured by a nearby homeowner’s camera. Here are two Philly cops being busted for writing a bogus report to justify their suspicionless stop of a city resident. Over in Florida, two more cops are caught handing out fake tickets, including 24 to the same driver. A California police officer was indicted for performing bogus traffic stops to rob drug dealers of money… at the behest of other drug dealers. Here’s a cop who was fired for covering up his assaults of citizens by writing false reports.
It’s not an epidemic. But it’s also just the tip of the iceberg. This is only a few of the notable symptoms of law enforcement rot. These are just some of those who have been caught and disciplined. Others have been caught and their punishment — what there is of it — have flown under the press radar. Others will never face punishment for their actions because their violations haven’t been egregious enough.
But this sort of behavior doesn’t arise in a vacuum. This happens because officers feel comfortable doing it. They feel confident their fellow officers will say nothing about it. And they feel assured the consequences will most likely be minimal. Even those who have been indicted or convicted resigned during investigations to avoid having a firing on their record or, in some cases, to avoid having their law enforcement certification stripped.
As police accountability efforts move forward, we will see more of this. If these efforts can be sustained, we hopefully, at some point, will see reports of this behavior decrease. But, at the moment, we’re stuck in the middle. We’re years away from better policing. And we’re still suffering the side effects of a police culture generated by decades of nearly nonexistent accountability.