Saturday, May 1, 2021

Police Beat: Why does the barrel still reek?


By Scott V. Sandford, Justice Correspondent with
Police Reporter Francis X. Dreben and Larry Lowell in Boston

Now that cold-blooded killer and proud Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has been convicted and fitted for his orange jumpsuit, we can all rejoice.  The bad apple has been removed from the barrel and all those good cops we see every night on every crapcan prime-time police drama (not to mention the endless repeats broadcast by the dregs of basic cable) can get back to work serving and protecting, right?

We asked a cross-section of your fellow Americans whether they felt the system had worked and if they now felt safe from police violence.

Here's what they had to say:

Ma'Khia Bryant:  No comment, having been shot to death by police at the age of 16 on the streets of Columbus, Ohio.

Daunte Wright: No comment, having been shot to death by police in Minnesota at the age of 21 while unarmed.

Andrew Brown, Jr.: No comment, having been shot in the back of the head by police in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.

Proud Yale Law School grad and professional man of the people J.D. Vance: “whatever you think of the Derek Chauvin verdict, the outcome, like you said, cast a pall over the entire justice system. ”

Well, that settles it.  

But most still living white people seem to have settled on a narrative along the lines of having purged the barrel of a bad apple like Chauvin, the rest of the barrel remains sweet and delicious.

To which we say: applesauce, as the following clip from that well-known outlet of Antifa disinformation, KTRK-TV Channel 13 in Houston, suggests:


In fact the crises of police violence against people of color and general impunity remains no closer to a lasting solution. 

There are a number of systemic factors (white racism chief among them), but the most powerful constraint on effective police reform remains – the police.

So let's look at the rest of the barrel.

Recently in Boston, a plump old white man was arrested on serious child sex abuse charges.  But there was more to the story, as The Boston Globe told us:

A father and his teenage daughter walked into the Hyde Park police station last August and reported a heinous crime.

The girl said she had been repeatedly molested from age 7 through 12 by former Boston police union president Patrick M. Rose Sr. Five more people soon came forward, accusing Rose of molesting them as children over the span of three decades, including the girl’s own father.

Rose being tagged as a child sexual abuser was news to the city when he was arrested and charged last summer. But it wasn’t news to the Boston Police Department where Rose served for two decades as a patrolman.

A Globe investigation has found that the Boston Police Department in 1995 filed a criminal complaint against him for sexual assault on a 12-year-old, and, even after the complaint was dropped, proceeded with an internal investigation that concluded that he likely committed a crime. Despite that finding, Rose kept his badge, remained on patrol for another 21 years, and rose to power in the union that represents patrol officers.

Asked if she was satisfied with the Chauvin verdict
Sandra Bland was unavailable for comment

Today Boston police are fighting to keep secret how the department handled the allegations against Rose, and what, if any, penalty he faced. Over the years, this horrific case has come full circle: The father who brought his daughter in last summer to report abuse by Rose was the boy allegedly abused at age 12 in the 1995 case. The department’s lack of administrative action back then may have left Rose free to offend again and again, from one generation to the next.

Prosecutors now say the boy recanted his story under pressure from Rose, a common phenomenon for young survivors of abuse when faced with demands from their abuser. Though the criminal case against Rose was dropped as a result, a separate police internal affairs investigation went forward and concluded Rose broke the law. 

Gee, and you thought that witness tampering was a separate and independent crime.

By the way you'll never guess what happened to that internal investigation.  We'll let The Globe's Editorial Board shock and surprise you:

In the small tranche of documents released this week from the Boston Police Department internal affairs investigation file on Rose, one stands out as particularly horrifying, but also telling about the mindset and priorities of union leaders. It’s from a letter sent by a lawyer representing the BPPA to then-Police Commissioner Paul Evans in October 1997, threatening to file a grievance on behalf of Rose if he is not reassigned to full active duty.

Keep in mind that Rose was accused of the sexual assault of a 12-year-old boy in 1995, and . . . by 1996 internal affairs investigators had sustained the allegations. All that time, Rose remained on administrative duty — collecting his usual paycheck. But that wasn’t good enough for the union and its then-president, Thomas Nee.

“For approximately two years, Officer Rose has been . . .not permitted to work paid details or street duty (thereby depriving him of court overtime) and received only limited station overtime,” wrote union lawyer Alan H. Shapiro, setting a deadline for the commissioner’s response to the “financial hardship visited upon Officer Rose.”

So the BPPA was more concerned with getting one of its members back on the department’s notorious overtime/paid detail gravy train than with unleashing on an unsuspecting public a possible pedophile dressed in blue.

Rose, who eventually became head of the BPPA, today stands accused of 33 counts of molesting six children ranging in age from 7 to 16. 

Why was the police union so eager to file a grievance? Because it knew that a grievance would be decided under the police union contract not by the representatives of the democratically-elected Mayor and City Council of Boston but in secret by some jamoke whose paycheck was contingent on pleasing police unions.  It also knew that these arbitrators have a reputation for knocking down punishments to the satisfaction of badge-wearing child molesters, racists, or cops who claimed that they thought their heavy metal handgun was a plastic Taser.  Oops!

In practice, again according to The Globe:

We left several messages for Breanna Taylor
asking for comment on the Chauvin verdict
and will let you know if we hear back

But even when the department does sustain allegations of law-breaking against officers, punishments internally are often mild. Offending officers are almost never fired. In the few instances when the department takes action and fires an officer, it can get overruled by arbiters and the state Civil Service Commission. Records show this happened in three of the six firings in the last decade.

That's a pretty good percentage.

Now the right to escape condign punishment through the secret corrupt private arbitration system is not engraved in stone tablets.  It's a right that cops fight for and get in their contracts:

When pressure builds for change, public safety unions have long used collective bargaining and state arbitration to delay, water down, or leverage new policies to gain pay hikes and other benefits. In the parlance of collective bargaining, it can seem like almost anything can be quid — something of value traded in a quid pro quo.

At least in Massachusetts, the right to arbitrate discipline for sexually abusing a child or murdering a person of color is embedded in contracts between the relevant police union and the city or town.  So why can't cities and towns just wait for the contract to expire?

Funny story: under Massachusetts law, if a city and its unions can't agree on a new contract, normally the provisions of the old contract continue until a new one is reached.  Mass. G.L. c. 150E sec. 7(a).  So once cover-up arbitration is embedded in a contract, it can't be removed without the consent of the police.  Which thus far has happened exactly never.  Of course, in case of impasse the city and the cop union can agree to, wait for it, binding arbitration!

The legal structure that insulates bad apples like convicted murderer Derek Chauvin is therefore made possible only with the active support of – all those good apples in the barrel who whine whenever they are lumped in with the killers of Floyd, Bland, Braynt, Wright, Brown, and the thousands of others, mostly powerless and people of color, victimized by police violence.

So if the police really want to persuade us that they are truly concerned about violence and racism in their ranks, they will agree to end binding arbitration of discipline related to violence and racism.  

A word of advice: don't hold your breath.  

It didn't work for George Floyd.

No comments:

Post a Comment