Archive for April, 2015

Feds Crafting Race-obsessed Guidelines for NYPD

April 24, 2015

From The New American by Selwyn Duke, April 21, 2015

The feds may soon be coming to a police force near you. And if you live in New York City, they’re already present, trying to foist politically correct standards on Big Apple law enforcement.

The proposed central-government guidelines — which a court-appointed federal “monitor” overseeing their implementation claims were made with the cooperation of the NYPD and City Hall — are the consequence of a 2013 ruling that the department’s stop-and-frisk practices are “unconstitutional.” Of course, what’s certainly unconstitutional is federal control of local police, irrespective of whether or not, as the Barack Obama administration purports, the goal is to eliminate discrimination.

The New York Daily News reports on the story, writing:

The monitor, Peter Zimroth, asked Manhattan Federal Judge Analisa Torres on Monday to approve the stack of new training materials that will be presented to the class of cadets graduating in June.

He included in filings more than 75 PowerPoint slides that delve into the nitty-gritty of police work, detail constitutional stop-and-frisk practices — and give remedial directions that, it is hoped, the officers already know.

And what do these guidelines, formulated (at least partially) by the federal government, overseen by a federally appointed monitor, and to be approved by a federal judge, prescribe for the local police? Some rules are innocuous and reasonable, such as “Remember[,] most people are good, law-abiding citizens” and “don’t hassle people for no reason,” as the News puts it. Then there are the generic statements, one of which the News reports as being “Don’t be racist.” This is reminiscent of a line from a purposely ridiculous They Might be Giants song that instructs “Nice is better than mean.” Except that “mean” has clearer meaning and “nice” is less nebulous than “racist.” Does racism here merely refer to bigotry, the embrace of negative opinions about a group that have no basis in reality? Or, as many insist on doing, will unfashionable truths — such as blacks and Hispanics being responsible for 96 percent of all crime and 98 percent of gun crime in NYC — be labeled “racist”?

Speaking of which, another guideline states, “Don’t target certain races because they appear more often in local crime stats.” Is this “target” in the sense of harassment or simply viewing certain races as more likely to engage in certain behaviors? Some critics would reject the legitimacy of even the latter, but perspective is lent by altering the injunction: “Don’t target one sex or the other because it appears more often in local crime stats.” Should men’s greater tendency to engage in violent crime or the fact that most prostitutes are women be ignored by criminal science? If not, why should different standards apply to the races?

In the same vein, another guideline states, “Avoid expressing stereotypical assumptions” such as “He’s Irish but I’ve never seen him drunk” (or, presumably, “He’s a leftist politician but I’ve never seen him pick anyone’s pocket”). But is “stereotyping” being conflated with “observing characteristic group tendencies”? After all, if there weren’t differences among groups, we couldn’t even identify them as “groups.” And would this prohibition include not assuming that every white cop who shoots a black suspect is a “racist”?

Not surprisingly and continuing the obsession with race, another guideline reads, “Do not engage in racial profiling.” Again, though, definitions matter. What does “racial profiling” really mean other than that activists succeeded in mainstreaming an emotionally charged term? As I wrote in 2010:

There’s no such thing as “racial profiling.”  Rather, there are only two types of profiling:

Good profiling and bad profiling.

… Profiling is simply a method by which law enforcement can determine the probability that an individual has committed a crime or has criminal intent. And when making this determination, good profiling considers many different factors, such as dress, behavior, the car being driven, tattoos, sex, age, race, and ethnicity. Whatever the details, however, good profiling is practiced in accordance with sound criminological science. 

And because that science has been applied, I continued,

group-specific profiling is nothing unusual; for instance, law enforcement looks more suspiciously upon men and young people because those groups commit an inordinate amount of crime. Yet do we hear complaints of “sex profiling” or “age profiling”? Of course not, as we know that such practices are just common sense. But if this standard can be applied to men and youth, it’s only fair and just to apply the exact same standard to all other groups that commit an inordinate amount of a given crime. And when we refuse to do so — when we say that certain groups must receive a special dispensation from life’s realities because they enjoy privileged status — that is where the real discrimination lies.

Yet many today dismiss the above argument. When I gave a speech on profiling in Toronto, Canada, years ago and made the sex-profiling/double standard point, an opposing speaker dismissed it simply by saying, “What we’re talking about here is racial profiling, not sex profiling.” It was akin to justifying discrimination against one family and preferences for another by stating, “We’re talking here about Smiths, not Joneses,” as if the double standard’s legitimacy is self-explanatory. But why is it moral to profile one group but not another? If the determination isn’t being made based on the objective measure of crime statistics, what yardstick is being used?

Attorney, former law professor, and admitted ex-Marxist Jack Golbert provided the answer last Thursday: We’re no longer a nation of laws.

We’re a nation of status groups.

Addressing the recent cases wherein the government has punished Christian businessmen for not servicing homosexual affairs, he writes at American Thinker, “Not even the facts matter anymore. All that matters is status.” He then provides some examples:

White cop vs. black teenager: Who wins? You don’t even have to know what happened.

Privileged white males vs. black female: Who wins?

Hispanic vs. black teenager would be problematic because of the relatively equal statuses. So the media invented the status “White Hispanic” to decide the case against George Zimmerman for the death of [Trayvon] Martin. No need to know what happened, is there?

So now we have white Christian florist vs. gay couple getting married. The content of the law is irrelevant. What does your gut tell you about a case of Asian Muslim florist vs. gay couple getting married? It doesn’t feel the same as a white Christian florist, does it?

“Feel” is the right word. Research shows that a vast and growing majority of Americans now make decisions based on emotion, and what feels right today — especially to the elites — is political correctness. Of course, having safe streets feels right, too. But this just brings us to another reason why allowing Washington bureaucrats to control local police from afar is folly: It’s easy to advocate policy that yields unsafe streets when you don’t actually have to walk those streets.

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U.S. Supreme Court Rejects “De Minimis” Extension of a Traffic Stop to Deploy a Drug Dog

April 22, 2015

From http://www.nccriminallaw.sog.unc.edu by Jeff Welty, April 22, 2015

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Rodriguez v. United States, an important traffic stop case that changes North Carolina law as it pertains to certain drug dog sniffs, and perhaps other investigative techniques as well.

Facts. Just after midnight, a Nebraska law enforcement officer saw a vehicle veer onto the shoulder of a state highway, then pull back onto the road. Nebraska law prohibits driving on the shoulder, so the officer stopped the vehicle. The driver provided the officer with his license, registration, and proof of insurance. The passenger provided his license as well. License and warrant checks on both men apparently came back clean, and the officer issued a warning ticket to the driver. The officer suspected that the driver might be involved in drug activity, so he asked the driver for permission to run the officer’s drug dog around the vehicle. The driver said no. The officer then called for backup and detained the driver for a few minutes until another officer arrived. At that point, the officer walked his dog around the vehicle twice and the dog alerted. The alert led to a search and the discovery of methamphetamine. The total delay to allow the drug dog to sniff the car was seven or eight minutes.

Procedural history. The defendant was charged in federal court with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. He moved to suppress. The district court denied the motion, ruling that the delay to allow the dog sniff was “de minimis” and did not implicate the Fourth Amendment. The defendant pled guilty and appealed the suppression issue. The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The Supreme Court agreed to review the case, because courts across the country have divided regarding the permissibility of brief extensions of traffic stops to conduct investigation unrelated to the original basis for the stop.

The majority. Justice Ginsburg wrote for herself and five other Justices. She concluded that a stop may not be extended beyond the time necessary to complete the “mission” of the stop, which is “to address the traffic violation that warranted the stop . . . and attend to related safety concerns.” That is, “[a]uthority for the seizure ends when tasks tied to the traffic infraction are – or reasonably should have been – completed.” A dog sniff is not such a task “tied to the traffic infraction,” as it is “aimed at detecting ordinary criminal wrongdoing.” Therefore, if such a sniff prologs a stop at all, it violates the Fourth Amendment. There is no exception for “de minimis” delays.

The majority remanded the case to the court of appeals to determine whether, based on facts not summarized in this post, the officer’s decision to detain the driver might have been supported by reasonable suspicion.

The dissents. Justice Thomas wrote the principal dissent, arguing (1) that the 29-minute total duration of the stop was reasonable “for a traffic stop by a single officer of a vehicle containing multiple occupants”; (2) that the majority’s rule makes the permissible duration of a stop dependent on the identity of the officer, with an efficient officer who can address the traffic infraction quickly limited to a short stop, while a slower officer is permitted additional time; (3) that the majority draws a doubtful distinction between dog sniffs (not allowed, because they target ordinary criminal activity) and warrant checks (allowed by the majority as discussed further below, though arguably also addressing criminal activity rather than roadway safety); and (4) that the majority fails to differentiate between traffic stops based on reasonable suspicion, which might be more constrained, and those based on probable cause, which constitutionally could culminate with an arrest and so may be more expansive. Justice Thomas also believed that reasonable suspicion of drug activity supported the continued detention of the driver in this case. Justices Kennedy and Alito joined Justice Thomas, with Justice Alito writing a separate dissent that makes many of the same points made by Justice Thomas.

Effect on North Carolina law. At a minimum, Rodriguez effectively overrules State v. Brimmer, 187 N.C. App. 451 (2007) (“Courts . . . have held . . . that if the detention is prolonged for only a very short period of time, the intrusion is considered de minimis. As a result, even if the traffic stop has been effectively completed, the sniff is not considered to have prolonged the detention beyond the time reasonably necessary for the stop.”), and State v. Sellars, 222 N.C. App. 245 (2012) (similar).

But the impact of Rodriguez extends beyond dog sniffs. If an officer can’t extend a stop to deploy a dog, he or she can’t extend the stop to ask drug-related questions or seek consent to search, either. Professor Orin Kerr argues here that the case “is more important for its impact on police asking questions than [for its impact on the] use of drug-sniffing dogs,” because dog sniffs are uncommon but questions about matters unrelated to the basis for the stop are asked “all the time.” As noted in my paper on traffic stops, which is linked here, though now I need to revise it again, North Carolina law tended not to support delays for additional questioning even before Rodriguez, but the case certainly draws a line in the sand. It remains to be seen how much general chit-chat about travel plans and the like courts will permit incident to traffic stops.

So what’s an officer to do? Although Rodriguez is mostly about what officers can’t do, it also makes clear that officers certain activities are related to the “mission” of an ordinary traffic stop, so a reasonable amount of time may be spent on these activities:

  • Checking the driver’s license, registration, and insurance
  • Checking for outstanding warrants against the driver
  • Taking actions necessary to address safety concerns, such as ordering the driver out of the vehicle

Furthermore, officers may undertake investigative activities that do not relate to the original basis of the stop so long as the activities themselves do not implicate the Fourth Amendment, and so long as they do not extend – at all – the duration of the stop.

My guess is that many officers will respond to Rodriguez by multitasking: deploying a drug dog while waiting for a response on a license check, or asking investigative questions of the driver while filling out a citation. Defendants may argue that such multitasking inherently slows an officer down, and I can imagine difficult-to-resolve factual disputes about that.

I should also note that nothing in Rodriguez changes the rule that once a stop is complete and the driver’s paperwork has been returned, the officer may seek consent to pursue further investigation.

A word about warrant checks. Finally, I wanted to touch on a point of dispute between the majority and the dissent. The majority stated that an officer may check for outstanding arrest warrants for the driver during a traffic stop. That is apparently a common law enforcement practice. But, as noted by the dissent, it does not align very well with the majority’s reasoning that a stop should stay focused on its “mission” rather than general crime detection. The majority’s justification for permitting warrant checks is that they add to roadway safety by allowing an officer to determine whether a driver is wanted for other traffic offenses. That strikes me as a pretty weak argument – how many outstanding warrants are there for speeding? Furthermore, the principal authority the majority cites for that idea is Professor LaFave’s treatise, but Professor LaFave himself doubts whether warrant checks should be permitted. Wayne R. LaFave, The “Routine Traffic Stop” from Start to Finish: Too Much “Routine,” Not Enough Fourth Amendment, 102 Mich. L. Rev. 1843 (2004) (stating that “a rather compelling argument” can be made for abolishing warrant checks as insufficiently directed at the purpose of the stop, though noting that “there are at least some rational arguments” to the contrary).

A better argument might be that a warrant check is appropriate as an officer safety measure, i.e., that officers need to know whether they’re dealing with a fugitive who may have an incentive to assault, resist, or run from law enforcement. In any event, a majority of the Court has ruled that such checks are permissible, and perhaps the holding is more important than the reasoning.

On 20th Anniversary of OKC Bombing: Unanswered Questions Haunt Family of Murdered Oklahoma City Police Sgt. Terrance Yeakey

April 19, 2015

From http://www.tytruth.com, April 23, 2012, By Wendy S. Painting

On May 11, 1996, the New York Times ran a story with the headline ‘A Policeman Who Rescued 4 in Bombing Kills Himself’  that said: Sergeant Terrance Yeakey, Oklahoma City Police Department, (OCPD) was 30 years old and was about to receive the police department’s Medal of Valor for his heroic rescue efforts the day of the Oklahoma City bombing, which occurred on April 19, 1995.  Instead, his mother, Loudella, was given the Medal of Valor at Sgt. Yeakey’s graveside burial ceremony just hours before the official awards ceremony would take place in Northeast Oklahoma City at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame Complex.

Yeakey was the first to arrive on the scene that terrible day and saved the lives of 8 (eight) people from the rubble of the building and the horrific effects of the explosion.  The article says Yeakey committed suicide because he was living emotional pain because he could not do more to help the people injured in the bombing, and that he was suffering from intense survivor guilt which he was unable to manage.

But others in Oklahoma City, including the family of Terrance Yeakey, claim that his death was not a suicide at all, but a brutal murder, and indicate that local law enforcement were complicit in covering up this murder.

On September 26, 2009 the Yeakey family spoke out for the first time on video for an interview with activists from We Are Change Oklahoma (see: http://wearechangeoklahoma.org) and an American Studies PhD student from the University of Buffalo who is writing her dissertation on the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

What these researchers found was that the facts surrounding Yeakey’s death are quite disturbing, and that the treatment of the Yeakey family in the aftermath of the death was beyond appalling.

It is important to note how, exactly,Yeakey is supposed to have killed himself.  He was said to have slit his wrists and neck, causing him to nearly bleed to death in his car, and then miraculously climb over a barbed wire fence. He then was purported to have walked over 1-1/4 miles distance, through a nearby field, eventually shooting himself in the side of the head at an unusual angle.

Startlingly, no weapon was found at the scene of the body, no investigation was conducted, no fingerprints were taken, and no interviews with family members or friends were conducted to try to determine why Yeakey would have been suicidal, or if he had, in fact, been suicidal at all.  Instead, the conclusion that Yeakey’s death was a suicide was reached immediately, without an autopsy.

Yeakey had witnessed things during his response to the bombing which did not agree with the ‘official version’ of events touted by the national media and law enforcement at that time.  Yeakey was in the process of collecting evidence which supported and documented the inconsistencies he witnessed the morning of the bombing at the scene itself.

Far from being suicidal, Yeakey was in the process of achieving some major life goals. He was scheduled to be interviewed a final time with the FBI in Irving, TX.  He was planning on working for the FBI in Dallas and moving there with his sister and brother in law.  Yeakey, a Gulf War – I veteran who had served as an M.P. for two years in Saudi Arabia, was also a seven year veteran of the OCPD and had just been promoted to Sergeant (November of 1995).

Several weeks before his death he had been awarded the Key to the City of El Reno, OK for his heroism during the aftermath of the OKC bombing. Additionally, Yeakey had reconciled with his ex-wife and plans were set to remarry her shortly after his move to Dallas, TX.

Despite all of this, Yeakey was living under constant scrutiny for his refusal to go along with official versions of events during and after the OKC bombing; and because of his refusal to change his story about what he saw that fateful day, he was the target of horrific persecution from his brothers in law enforcement, up to and including Oklahoma City Police Chief Sam Gonzales, his Commanding Officer, Lt. Joann Randall, his alleged ‘good friend’ Jim Ramsey as well as several others on the force at that time.

Although he was looking forward to his new job with the FBI, Yeakey was described by his family as a man who was also living in great fear at this time, and who was preoccupied with the harassment he was being subjected to on a daily basis.

When Yeakey showed up to his oldest sister’s home the evening before his alleged suicide, he was physically ill.  When she attempted to take him to the emergency room, Yeakey would not allow it because, he told her, “they can find me there”.   Yeakey never told her who “they” were in an attempt to protect her.

Sgt. Yeakey left his sister’s house that evening, and was found dead the next day in a remote field in El Reno, Oklahoma less than two miles from the front gate of the El Reno Federal Penitentiary; thirty-two miles due west of the OKC bombing site in downtown Oklahoma City.

Immediately after his family was notified of Terrance Yeakey’s death they insisted that they did not believe Yeakey had killed himself.  Their conclusion was based on the manner of death, Yeakey’s personality, his recent statements about the future, and the lack of investigation and autopsy.

At first they tried to get answers to their questions: Why wasn’t there a proper investigation? Where was the weapon he supposedly shot himself with?   Why wasn’t an autopsy conducted?

As they continued to ask questions in the following days, they would sometimes be approached by others in the police department, who told them in no uncertain terms, but off the record, that Yeakey had been murdered.

As a result of their inquiries they were harassed and followed by Oklahoma City Police and others.  Unmarked cars sat in front of their homes for hours and this stalking was caught on video by the family.

Shortly after his death, Yeakey’s ex-wife had her home broken into and a balloon was left in her house.  Written on the balloon in black marker were the words, “we know where you are.”  This harassment and surveillance had a chilling effect on the surviving Yeakey family and on their inquiries into Terrance’s death, which were in effect shut down… until now, fourteen years after the fact.

Yeakey’s 91 year old grandmother, Mary Kuykendahl, says that it is important that she knows who killed her grandson and implores anyone who can help her:  “From my heart I want something to happen to show he had no right to be killed. His life was taken away for nothing.”

His oldest sister, Vikki Yeakey, speaking out again after all of these years, states that she knew as soon as she was told by the OCPD that Yeakey had committed suicide that it was untrue, “I screamed out ‘He didn’t take his life. Someone murdered him.”

Yet detectives told her that she was crazy and that she watched too much television. “I had just seen him the night before. He was mentally fine…I wanted answers that night.” But, she says, they rushed her through the paperwork all the while telling her she was “crazy.” She asks, “Who was he running from? Who was he trying to protect?…I am doing this interview to reach out to the world, to anyone that can help.”

Another sister, Lashawn Hargrove, says, “He was an awesome older brother. He was always all about his work. He was serious about being a cop.” When she received news of his death she says she dropped the phone and “began to sob.” She felt nauseous. She needed to get to her family.

Later, OCPD Officials would approach her and say “sorry for your loss,” but soon after, she says, the family was told that they needed to “keep our mouths shut,” and were continuously told that the death was a suicide. She feels that her brother’s death deserves answers and an investigation that were never provided, “I want justice for his life. He needs to have his story told. I wish I had him back.”

When Yeakey’s mother, received a call notifying her of the death she was told by the OCPD not to drive anywhere and that a car would come to pick her up. This was around 10 PM, but by 1 AM the promised transportation had not arrived.  In fact, they never showed up for Yeakey’s grieving mother,  “No one ever came.”

Yeakey’s mother says that for the last fourteen years she has been “going over and over something I don’t believe to be true. I believe it to be murder. I don’t know who did it. [That’s] why we need answers…you need to put your child to rest and without knowing what happened [we can’t]…I vowed I will never give up. I need answers.  If there’s ANYONE who could help I would appreciate it.”

The family says that the death of Yeakey is a taboo subject in Oklahoma City.  There is a saying: “if you don’t want the Terry Yeakey done to you…keep your mouth shut.”

Yeakey is not the only suspicious death which has occurred due to the attempt to find answers about the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, and it is not the only one to be called a suicide: the strange and grisly torture/murder of Kenneth Trentadue being another.  The suspicious death of  Kenneth Trentadue  at the Oklahoma City Federal Transfer Center in August 1995 would be ruled a suicide despite the opinion of the Dr. Frederick Jordan, the Oklahoma State Medical Examiner (see:  http://kennethtrentadue.com).  After examining the body of this brother, it became clear to Attorney Jesse Trentadue that his brother had been tortured and murdered. Jesse had received chilling information from Timothy McVeigh (convicted and executed for his role in the 1995 bombing) that his brother’s murder was related to the bombing and its subsequent mis-investigation.  Subsequently, Jesse began a quest to determine why exactly his brother had died, leading him to file many Freedom of Information Act Requests about the bombing and related matters.  Then, after filing a wrongful death lawsuit, the Trentadue  family was awarded $1.1 million dollars for emotional distress caused by the authorities mishandling of the death.  On September 28, 2009, attorney Jesse Trentadue made national news when  portions of surveillance tapes  of the bombing were begrudgingly released by the FBI under the orders a Federal Judge.

Like Jesse Trentadue, and those who lost family members in the Oklahoma City bombing, the surviving family of Terrance Yeakey is seeking answers which they feel will help them achieve closure, justice and peace of mind.

The Shocking Thing a Cruise Operator Told a Father Whose Cop Son Was Killed in Training Accident

April 15, 2015

From http://www.theblaze.com by Liz Klimas, April 15, 2015

Timothy Haley was supposed to be looking forward to a cruise vacation to celebrate his 60th birthday next week. Instead, he found himself in mourning this week as he buried his son, a Florida cop killed in a training accident.

Now, his family feel they cannot emotionally take that cruise vacation, but Haley is having to fight the company for a refund.

Oscala Police Department Officer Jared Forsyth was killed in a freak accident April 7. According to Bay News, a fellow officer was unloading his Glock when a bullet ricocheted on a bench and hit Forsyth. He was wearing a bulletproof vest at the time, but the bullet missed the protective barrier. Forsyth died while in surgery at an area hospital.

Jared Forsyth was killed in an accident during training earlier this month. (Image source: WKMG-TV)

Jared Forsyth was killed in an accident during training earlier this month. (Image source: WKMG-TV)

WKMG-TV reported that Haley, a platinum member of Carnival Cruise Lines, said he tried to have his upcoming trip refunded, but the request was initially refused.

“I needed help, and with something as tragic as this, and all I got back from Carnival was how much of my money could they keep,” Haley told WKMG, which noted that it was supposed to be Forsyth’s first cruise.

“There’s no way to schedule the accidental shooting of this police officer. There’s no way you should make a dime off of this,” Haley said.

Haley said he told an operator to turn on the news as proof he wasn’t lying about his son’s death or service.

“And when I said that, she said, ‘Well, if you want to play the dead son angle…,’ and I just lost it,” Haley recalled to WKMG. “I called her a bad name and hung up.”

Shortly after the news station contacted the cruise line for comment, it was told that a full refund was granted to Haley’s family.

“Our most heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to Mr. Haley and his family during this tragic situation,” Carnival told WKMG in a statement.

However, Haley said he will still be charged the insurance fee, which will be more than $1,000. It’s something he told WKMG he will continue to fight.