Close Enough For Police Work? Denver Police Arrest Mother on Way to Pick Up Daughter At School — Despite the Fact that She Looks Nothing Like Suspect

Christina FourHorn is suing the Denver police department in a bizarre mistaken identity case that led to her jailing — and an alleged refusal of police to listen to repeated efforts to show that they had the wrong person. It is only the latest in such mistaken identity arrest cases.

FourHorn was surprised by three police cars that came screeching into her front yard as she was setting out to pick up her daughter at school. They arrested her for robbery and threw her into jail for five days. It took five days for her husband to get loans from friends to bail her out.

She and her family repeatedly tried to get the officers at the scene and at the station to give them some idea of what she was being accused of but were rebuffed. It turns out that they were looking for a Christin FourHorn, who happens to live in Oklahoma. A Christina FourHorn in Colorado was deemed close enough. It did not matter that Christina is about 100 pounds heavier than the suspect, has a different middle name, does not have a telltale tattoo, is seven years older, and looks nothing like the suspect.

The ACLU is taking the case and charges that such mistaken are all too common in Colorado — the organization has identified 237 such cases.

Not only that, her family will not get back the $3,500 that they paid the bondsman to get her out of jail.

For the full story, click here.

53 thoughts on “Close Enough For Police Work? Denver Police Arrest Mother on Way to Pick Up Daughter At School — Despite the Fact that She Looks Nothing Like Suspect

  1. Cops: the new criminal class.

    Defund your local police. Send them out to find honest work like the rest of us must do.

  2. I strongly disagree with Tootie. The majority of police do a great job and it does a great disservice to everyone to lump them all into one big group. Of course there are lazy idiots out there, and some of them happen to be police officers.

    Look around your office, if you can’t find the lazy idiot(s), it might just be you.

    Then again, if the police didn’t screw up now and again, what fun would Professor Turley’s web-site be.

  3. Out of the article, this was a 2008 case and she settled, but still won’t get back her bail money. Well depending on how much was settled for it might not make too much of a difference.

    “We are trying to demonstrate that this is a widespread practice,” said Mark Silverstein, an ACLU attorney who filed FourHorn’s suit in 2008. FourHorn’s case was settled, and the terms remain confidential.

    All too often, people complain about the cases that the ACLU takes, etc. I do remember a case a few years back where a black fellow at the ACLU represented a Klansman right to burn crosses.

    http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2472&dat=19981114&id=svAyAAAAIBAJ&sjid=oggGAAAAIBAJ&pg=7048,3279712

    If I also recall his name was Baugh or something like that. He was an Appointed Federal Defender. He basically called a White judge a racist on the record soon after he found himself with a discipline, removed from his appointment and in private practice.

    He is damn good by the way. If he is still living and you get in trouble in the VA area, he is the one you want.

  4. Years ago, in college, I was almost arrested under similar circumstances. That I had ID and was younger and had a somewhat different name didn’t make any difference to the sherrif’s deputies. This was in a small college town in Ohio. The problem isn’t that law enforcement officers area “bad group”. It’s that they get away with this staff and always have. There’s an unwillingness to anatagonize them, as they often will stand behind someone who’s obviously a screw-up. DAs want that FOP endorsement and other people don’t want the potential of police harrassment the next time they have a burnedout headlight.

  5. I agree with Rich that the problem is that police get away with this stuff. It was a huge missed opportunity when President Obama boneheadedly got himself involved in the Henry Louis Gates incident last year. Out of personal regard for Obama (in my opinion), Dr. Gates went along with appeasing the cop by going to Obama’s inane “beer summit” rather than sue the cop and the Cambridge police force. Dr. Gates had the law on his side; the case would have been high profile; and the result would have been real change because the department and the individual cop would have been held accountable.

    Obama’s handling of that incident put an end to me thinking he was smarter than I am, Columbia College, Harvard Law Review, University of Chicago notwithstanding.

  6. “Then again, if the police didn’t screw up now and again, what fun would Professor Turley’s web-site be.” – Jay

    “now and again”?

    Do you read this blog?

    Try every stinkin day.

    In fact, read the last 5 article entries.

    3 out of the last 5 are about police abuse.

    Police arrests grieving father for not being “calm” while watching his son dying.

    Police run over citizen, then claim intoxication is an excuse.

    And this one, police arrest someones MOM, and toss her in jail for 5 days for nothing.

    As Rich pointed out, cowtowing to them is not the answer. Calling every day incidents “now and again” is little more than bootlicking and does little to help return America to a free state instead of the police state its become post 911.

  7. Gerty,
    Don’t forget the bride groom in NYC that was shot over 50 times with no fault found on the part of the police officers.

  8. K. Santel
    I agree with Rich that the problem is that police get away with this stuff. It was a huge missed opportunity when President Obama boneheadedly got himself involved in the Henry Louis Gates incident last year. Out of personal regard for Obama (in my opinion), Dr. Gates went along with appeasing the cop by going to Obama’s inane “beer summit” rather than sue the cop and the Cambridge police force. Dr. Gates had the law on his side; the case would have been high profile; and the result would have been real change because the department and the individual cop would have been held accountable.

    Obama’s handling of that incident put an end to me thinking he was smarter than I am, Columbia College, Harvard Law Review, University of Chicago notwithstanding.

    ===============================================================
    Agree

    This was the first inkling I had that the President, the man I voted for, was not the stellar intellect advertised. That moronic beer-fest was pure high school.

    Dr. Gates eventually came out looking best but only because he sent flowers to the woman the police and news media scapegoated and the President ignored.

  9. Actually, I think this is a societal problem that we could fix by changing the law. The problem is that if the police have the right person but don’t make an arrest because they are uncertain, they will never hear the end of it. On the other hand, if they simply make the arrest, even a sketchy arrest, there are few consequences for them.

    A contributing factor in this problem is that the police have only two choices, arrest or not–its all or nothing–and once they make the arrest, it takes on a life of its own (arraignment, bail, criminal charges, an entry in the newspaper’s police log, inquiries from friends and neighbors, mugshots on thesmokinggun.com, an arrest record that remains the rest of person’s life, etc.)

    My proposed solution is to address that contributing factor. Instead of making it all or nothing, give the police a tool to detain someone without arresting them while the facts are sorted out. For example, the police could be permitted to detain someone for up to four hours while they gather info and apply to a judge for further detention. With the court’s permission, the maximum period of detention without making an arrest could be as long as 48 hours, and repeated detentions of the same person for the same suspected crime would be prohibited. This would be a win-win situation for both the suspect, society and the police. I personally would much rather be detained for a few hours than to be arrested, with all that entails. Of course, if the police abused the detention process to harass someone, that would still be subject to a civil tort.

    What say ye?

  10. I say that sounds like a pretty reasonable approach towards reform.

    Wish I’d thought of it.

    I do think however it would need to be supported by the return of 4th Amendment protections and a stricter oversight for abusers.

  11. Alan

    Don’t we have that now? I’m not an attorney, but it seems to me the police CAN detain individuals (“holding a suspect for questioning”; “…in a holding cell”, etc) and have some number of hours tually or days to actually charge that person with a crime or release them. Perhaps my understanding or my terminology is wrong and they must actually ARREST the person and wait for specific charges.

  12. @ Jay – I completely disagree. I have known many cops, both in my family as well as casual aquaintenances over the years. To a person, every single one can cite stories about thier fellow cops that take advantage of thier powers in some illegal manner. So while there may be idiots in my office, there two things that are worth pointing out keeping that in mind:

    First, my coworkers don’t carry a gun, a baton, a tazer and the general intimidation factor that goes along with being a cop which includes the ability to take away someones rights – violently if you do not cooperate as nicely as they would like regardless of your innocence or guilt. Second, IF one of my co-workers was stealing or committing a crime, and I DIDN’T report it – I would be fired and in my professional industry likely subject to criminal prosecution as well. That’s different for cops. They willingly and enthusiastically look ther other way and are all too comfortable covering (lying) for one of thier own (ever notice how different police accounts are of incidents compared to when all of sudden a video shows up?).

    So even the ‘clean’, responsible, and upstanding cops are almost always dirty in my book – because they knowingly and passively allow thier co-workers to violate peoples rights and break laws. It’s better to just assume you are dealing with a dirty cop and later be proven wrong than to be in a cop-said/perp-said situation.

  13. The officers in this case didn’t want to arrest the wrong person. Anyone who says they did is obviously letting their animosity color their logic. No one wants that sort of thing on their service record. The Police Department obviously didn’t want this to happen, either. No P.D. wants to look incompetent and then pay out a huge settlement.

    The fact that these cases of mistaken identity happen despite the fact that no one wants them too tells me that it’s not a matter of malfeasance. Something is wrong with the system by which individuals’ identities are verified.

    Having formerly been a police dispatcher, I’m curious as to how it took 5 days for this to be cleared up, since the suspect clearly didn’t have the same social security number or date of birth as the wanted subject. Also, you can gain or lose weight, but how do you completely lose a tattoo without even a mark to show for it?

    It sounds to me like DPD might need to adjust its policies for identifying suspects. If the officers didn’t follow the policies, they need to be disciplined and possibly terminated. Extrapolating the actions of these officers to even the other 1500 officers of the DPD, let alone the hundreds of thousands of police officers nationwide, is ridiculous and counterproductive.

  14. “It sounds to me like DPD might need to adjust its policies for identifying suspects. If the officers didn’t follow the policies, they need to be disciplined and possibly terminated.” -Coloradan

    Gee ya think?

    “Extrapolating the actions of these officers to even the other 1500 officers of the DPD, let alone the hundreds of thousands of police officers nationwide, is ridiculous and counterproductive” – Coloradan

    No one is extrapolating the actions of these officers to the other 1500 officers of the DPD, or the hundreds of thousands of police officers nationwide.

    No one is doing that.

    Its the thousands and thousands of OTHER actions in addition to these that people are talking about.

    Helps if you read the comments prior to calling them ridiculous.

  15. “Instead of making it all or nothing, give the police a tool to detain someone without arresting them while the facts are sorted out.”

    **********************

    I have no idea why Alan would want to give a government agent with no probable cause to arrest the “right” to detain someone for up to four hours. The reason that the cops have the probable cause standard is that we have a fundamental distrust of the government’s coercive powers. We have seen in our history that no matter how benign at the outset the “reasonable safety measure” appears, it inevitably degenerates into abuse. See FISA Court as just the most recent example where we gave an inch and the government took a mile and then said that a mile wasn’t enough.

    How about we make the cops follow the law that has served us well for centuries and quit making excuses for folks whom we pay and provide guns to as they exercise police powers in our name?

    “Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victim may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

    ~ C.S. Lewis

  16. I am waiting for the next “mistaken” identity victim to end up in Gitmo. The real problem here is not only that the police are “bulletproof” when they screw up, but that the public has gotten ambivalent to these abuses, unless it happens to them.

  17. “No one is extrapolating the actions of these officers to the other 1500 officers of the DPD, or the hundreds of thousands of police officers nationwide.” – Gerty

    “Helps if you read the comments prior to calling them ridiculous.” – Gerty

    “So even the ‘clean’, responsible, and upstanding cops are almost always dirty in my book – because they knowingly and passively allow thier co-workers to violate peoples rights and break laws. It’s better to just assume you are dealing with a dirty cop and later be proven wrong than to be in a cop-said/perp-said situation.” – AJ

    Yeah, I stick by my comments, Gerty. Ridiculous.

  18. “The real problem here is not only that the police are “bulletproof” when they screw up, but that the public has gotten ambivalent to these abuses, unless it happens to them.” – rafflaw

    Since the court found in the plaintiff’s favor, it doesn’t appear the police ARE “bulletproof.” Based on the comments to this post, I would also argue that the public isn’t ambivalent.

  19. ” “No one is extrapolating the actions of these officers to the other 1500 officers of the DPD, or the hundreds of thousands of police officers nationwide.” – Gerty

    “Helps if you read the comments prior to calling them ridiculous.” – Gerty

    “So even the ‘clean’, responsible, and upstanding cops are almost always dirty in my book – because they knowingly and passively allow thier co-workers to violate peoples rights and break laws. It’s better to just assume you are dealing with a dirty cop and later be proven wrong than to be in a cop-said/perp-said situation.” – AJ

    Yeah, I stick by my comments, Gerty. Ridiculous.” -Coloradan

    No what’s ridiculous is trying to conceal the fact that you were wrong, and no one was accusing all the police over this one incident by quoting AJ.

    His comment doesn’t change the fact that no one was accusing all cops based on this one action as you incorrectly boasted.

    You were wrong. No one was extrapolating what you claimed.

    AJ’s comment deals with something police constantly accuse citizens of, i.e. “guilt by association” so its not even applicable to the point.

    The fact that AJ considers all cops guilty by association has nothing to do with your ridiculous claim that we were extrapolating the actions of these officers to the other 1500 officers of the DPD and the hundreds of thousands of police officers nationwide.

    We were not.

  20. “Based on the comments to this post, I would also argue that the public isn’t ambivalent.- Coloradan

    Why would they be?

    The public are the ones getting falsely imprisoned, beaten, tasered and killed. Who’s ambivalent about a nylon night stick upside the head? Or seeing their 72 year old grandfather being tasered by a bunch of cops? Who would be ambivalent about that?

    The public’s not ambivalent.

    The public’s afraid.

  21. All cops are crooked and screw up all the time, but I’m not painting them all with the same brush!

    Whatever. You win. Can’t argue with logic like that.

  22. No, you can’t win with someone who when cornered turns to inventing imaginary sentences like “All cops are crooked and screw up all the time”.

    I never said that first of all there deputy dawg, so please keep your accusations straight.

    And since that’s not what AJ said either, apparently when cornered you turn to lying.

    Facts are what I deal with sir, so keep your facts straight.

  23. You were wrong. We did not extrapolate what you claimed based on this one action by the DPD.

    And AJ did not say they all screwed up. He said they were guilty by association for allowing it and not doing enough to combat it.

    And what’s more I have yet to see anyone endorse that sentiment of AJ’s.

    I’m not sure why you came in to mock everyone on this article but you ended up mocking yourself, as there’s nothing more ridiculous than making baseless claims and then calling everyone else the ridiculous ones.

  24. “The public are the ones getting falsely imprisoned, beaten, tasered and killed. Who’s ambivalent about a nylon night stick upside the head? Or seeing their 72 year old grandfather being tasered by a bunch of cops? Who would be ambivalent about that?

    The public’s not ambivalent.

    The public’s afraid.” – Gerty

    Actually, the vast majority of people (90%) who have contact with the police state that the police acted properly:

    http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=653

    Furthermore, most people favor expanded powers in a number of situations:

    http://www.albany.edu/sourcebook/pdf/t227.pdf

    By all means, don’t let the facts get in the way of your hysteria.

  25. “Actually, the vast majority of people (90%) who have contact with the police state that the police acted properly” -Coloradan

    That’s a pretty big number. 90 percent.

    Kind of like the numbers you see in dictatorships, where the people are afraid, huh?

  26. After all, if they are afraid, then that’s the only answer they’re likely to give now isn’t it?

    They’re sure as hell not going to complain.

  27. “I never said that first of all there deputy dawg, so please keep your accusations straight.

    And since that’s not what AJ said either, apparently when cornered you turn to lying.” – Gerty

    First… “deputy dawg”?

    Second… perhaps the problem is that I am unable to determine what exactly you *are* trying to say. Clearly, you *don’t* have an deep-seated animosity against all law enforcement, despite statements you have made that would lead any reasonable person to believe exactly that.

    Law enforcement is necessary, unless your one of those people who believe that society would be crime free if we would only resort to an honor system. Rather than hysterically reacting to individual incidents, it might be better to:

    1. Note that the vast majority of police contacts do not involve malfeasance or incompetence.

    2. Do what we can to reduce the incidents of improper police conduct to the extent possible.

    3. Realize that this reduction will never be to zero, since any system involving decisions being made by human beings is necessarily flawed.

  28. “After all, if they are afraid, then that’s the only answer they’re likely to give now isn’t it?

    They’re sure as hell not going to complain.” – Gerty

    Of course! 90% of all Americans are so afraid of law enforcement that they will lie on a survey about their attitudes toward law enforcement. Okay. That seems unlikely, but if that’s what you believe there’s nothing else to say.

  29. “First… “deputy dawg”?” -Coloradan

    It’s a joke. Lighten up.

    “Second… perhaps the problem is that I am unable to determine what exactly you *are* trying to say. ” -Coloradan

    Well the reason you’re having problems determining what I’m saying is because you keep merging it with what other people said. Classifying me by someone else’s sentiment is sort of in the spirit of what you’re in here claiming to be condemning, isn’t it?

    “Clearly, you *don’t* have an deep-seated animosity against all law enforcement, despite statements you have made that would lead any reasonable person to believe exactly that.” -Coloradan

    Clearly I don’t.

    And clearly what I do have based on my comments is a deep-seated hatred of corruption.

    As does every decent red blooded American.

  30. “2. Do what we can to reduce the incidents of improper police conduct to the extent possible.” – Damage Controller

    You mean like outlawing the very act of video taping them breaking the law, like they’re doing in Beantown?

    Like that?

  31. Who is Damage Controller? That was my quote.

    No, I imagine we agree on this one. Video taping the police should be legal unless you’re actually getting in the way.

  32. How on earth can they not get back the 3,500?! Then at least give her about 35,000 in compensation for jailing her for no reason. This is insane.

    Not that I’d be too good a cop to make such a move, ofcourse. For instance, if I saw a loyal Bushy, I’d always immediately jail them for war crimes, grand theft treasury, treason and genocide, even if they sounded like reasonable people. But that’s just the risks of the profession I guess.

  33. The article says the details of the settlement are confidential. Based on settlements for other wrongful arrest stories I’ve heard, I imagine she got much, much more than her $3,500 back.

  34. @Coloradan – I stand by what I said too.

    You say that I am painting with too wide of a brush, so lets be absolutely clear – do you disagree with me that the average LEO doesn’t know who the ‘bad/dirty’ LEOs are on thier force? They don’t know who takes a little more liberty with certain suspects and is a little quicker to pull out the tazer (and fail to report it)? Or the cop who decides to let another cop call his wife to come pick him up and ‘sleep it off’ rather than cite him for the DUI – the same cop who would quickly put you or I (well maybe not you if you whipped out your dispatcher credentials) in jail for the identical offense? If I knew someone was stealing from my work and I did not report it, I would be fired too – and because of my fiduciary responsibilities and legal obligations to my clients, I could even potentially face criminal charges if I didn’t report it – thats not the same for cops. I could literally link hundreds of stories backing up this claim – and those are only the ones that came to light usually because of video or audio evidence, how many thousands never make it to the surface. The culture of cops is to look out for thier own even if it means looking the other way or lying – do you disagree?

    Let me paint with an even broader brush for you, I prefer to avoid ANYONE who is openly carrying a collection of weapons including a gun on thier hip. To whatever extent legally and reasonably possible, it is better to have no contact or conversation with someone carrying a collection of weapons on thier hip with extrordanary powers to potentially take away your rights. I encourage everyone to do the same – and I would expect that the majority of people visiting a blog discussing legal theory would tend to agree.

  35. “do you disagree with me that the average LEO doesn’t know who the ‘bad/dirty’ LEOs are on thier force?” – AJ

    I don’t know the answer to that question, and my point is that neither do you. Bad/dirty officers exist. It stands to reason that some other officers may know about them and be complicit in their silence. What I can’t know – and neither can you – is whether that includes *all* officers or even the “average” officer. It may be all of them, it may be a small percentage. I’m not willing to make assumptions based on incomplete data.

    You could as easily say that the “average” fast food worker knows that one of their co-workers spits in the special sauce, or that the “average” bank teller secret knows that a fellow bank teller sells people’s routing numbers to the highest bidder. I can’t prove you wrong, but you can’t prove you’re right. It’s not a worthwhile argument.

    “I could literally link hundreds of stories backing up this claim – and those are only the ones that came to light usually because of video or audio evidence, how many thousands never make it to the surface.” – AJ

    There are hundreds of thousands of law enforcement officers employed in the U.S. I would be shocked if you couldn’t find hundreds of stories on the subject. That still doesn’t prove that a majority of them are complicit. Would you include the stories where the malfeasance came to light because of internal investigations, where fellow officers turned them in or where the department itself was trying to weed out their bad seeds? Those stories exist, too – hundreds of them, as you say. I doubt either of us have enough information to say which version of the story is more common.

    For that matter, the story referred to in this blog post doesn’t appear to be malfeasance. It looks more like incompetence, either on the part of the officers or on the part of the police departments policies and procedures (or a combination of both). That doesn’t excuse what happened – either way, it needs to be fixed – but you can’t assume that every mistake made by law enforcement is a sign of corruption.

    “The culture of cops is to look out for thier own even if it means looking the other way or lying – do you disagree?” – AJ

    I’ve never been a cop, so I don’t have first-hand knowledge. I used to be a police dispatchers, so I’ve worked with a lot of cops in the past, and I think most of them are pretty decent. A smaller subset of cops, based on my anecdotal evidence are over-aggressive pricks. I never had first-hand knowledge of any of them being outright dirty. Again, it’s anecdotal, but no, I don’t think there is a universal corporate culture that encourages cops to engage in illegal behavior.

    My guess is that the “culture” will depend on the area and the agency the LEO works for. A law enforcement agency with a stringent internal investigations process a zero-tolerance approach to intentional dishonesty or illegal behavior will likely have a much cleaner patrol staff than an agency that whitewashes every incident and promotes based on popularity rather than ability and integrity.

    You’re basing your assumption that all cops are dirty or are complicit in other cops’ illegal behavior based on what seems like overwhelming evidence from the media, but when you consider the huge number of LEOs in the U.S., the evidence becomes anecdotal. It’s not statistically significant. Based on the same thinking, you might assume that every child who is left alone for five minutes will be abducted by a pedophile because every time it happens, you hear about it. The media, by its nature, provides a view of the world that is skewed toward the sensational.

    “To whatever extent legally and reasonably possible, it is better to have no contact or conversation with someone carrying a collection of weapons on thier hip with extrordanary powers to potentially take away your rights.” – AJ

    I guess my question for you would be, what’s your alternative? Do you believe that if we did away with law enforcement, the vast majority of the population would follow the law on the honor system? Or perhaps you think we should just do away with all laws and ask people to be nice to each other? Those are nice sentiments, but I don’t think most people would find them very realistic.

    If, on the other hand, laws and law enforcement are necessary to protect citizens from impinging on each others’ rights, then we need to do what we can to ensure that laws are fair and law enforcement is held to the highest standard possible. I believe this can be done, and should be done, without resorting to hyperbole and without a disregard for the facts.

  36. “I guess my question for you would be, what’s your alternative? Do you believe that if we did away with law enforcement, the vast majority of the population would follow the law on the honor system? Or perhaps you think we should just do away with all laws and ask people to be nice to each other? Those are nice sentiments, but I don’t think most people would find them very realistic.” -Coloradan

    Well I’m not going to defend AJ’s position but I do question why you have to respond like this as if this were the only alternatives available. How about we reign in the freedom we gave cops post 911 to invade our privacy and detain first, ask questions later? How about we reign in the Tasers? How about we introduce some legislation giving citizens the right to protect themselves and other citizens from cops who are assaulting them? How about we introduce some legislation to give citizens the right to redress grievances, particularly since that’s a founding principle of our country?

    How about some of that? Why pretend that the only option is to throw out the baby with the bathwater?

  37. “Why pretend that the only option is to throw out the baby with the bathwater?” – Gerty

    I’m not. I think there is a lot of room for improvement in how law enforcement is administered in the U.S.

    “How about we reign in the freedom we gave cops post 911 to invade our privacy and detain first, ask questions later?” – Gerty

    Local law enforcement really doesn’t have significantly more power than it did before 2001. In fact, the Supreme Court decided in Brendlin v. California 2007 that police making traffic stops have for all purposes “seized” the occupants of the vehicle and aren’t allowed to hold them any longer than necessary without further probable cause. What this essentially means is that local law enforcement can’t detain someone without probable cause.

    On the other hand, federal law enforcement has a lot more power than it did pre-9/11. Warrantless wiretaps, detaining terror suspects without charging them, and having free access to phone records are all unconstitutional, in my opinion, and I would love to see them rolled back.

    “How about we reign in the Tasers?” – Gerty

    I agree. Given a choice between shooting a suspect and Tasing them, I think most people would prefer an officer tase them, but it does seem that they have been misused in a lot of cases. I’d like to see some federal guidelines on the when the use of Tasers is appropriate and how they should be used.

    “How about we introduce some legislation giving citizens the right to protect themselves and other citizens from cops who are assaulting them?” – Gerty

    I would be interested in reading that legislation. I don’t think legislation encouraging people to get into physical altercations with law enforcement would be a good idea for anyone involved, but maybe that’s not what you’re talking about.

    “How about we introduce some legislation to give citizens the right to redress grievances, particularly since that’s a founding principle of our country?” – Gerty

    Sure, but don’t forget the options you already have for redressing grievances. For one, citizens can sue, and they do, frequently. Sometimes they win. Second, they can report police abuse to the officer’s agency, usually through their internal investigations department. Third, they can report police abuse to higher law enforcement agencies (like reporting a local cop involved in illegal behavior to the FBI). Fourth, they can report police abuse to their elected officials. City councils ultimately employ the police. The sheriff employs deputies. The governor is ultimately responsible for state law enforcement. The president ultimately responsible for federal law enforcement. If you don’t like how they’re running things, call them, write them, sign petitions… and if they don’t change, vote them out. It’s democracy in action.

    Some communities have gone further and implemented citizen oversight boards to review complaints against the police. It sounds like a good idea if it’s done well. My point is, you have a lot of options for redressing grievances already, but if it’s not enough, by all means, suggest legislation to your city council, state legislators, or federal legislators to create more. Just don’t forget the options you already have.

    While we’re at it, how about another suggestion? A lot of law enforcement agencies have installed cameras in their patrol cruisers to record every traffic stop they make. How about cutting out a slice of that stimulus money to pay for every agency to have those? It’s a lot easier to ensure the police are behaving properly if you can review the video. From there, let’s extend it to other police contacts. Maybe video’s not practical, but how about wiring officers for sound recording? Officers who are following protocol have nothing to fear. As a 9-1-1 operator, everything I did was recorded. You get used to it.

  38. ““Why pretend that the only option is to throw out the baby with the bathwater?” – Gerty

    I’m not. I think there is a lot of room for improvement in how law enforcement is administered in the U.S.” -Coloradan

    I’m sorry that is not an answer.

    That cookie cutter talking point in no way whatsoever addresses your comment where you attempted to pigeonhole AJ into a ridiculous position that omitted all the other possibilities for reform.

    You simply invented a preposterous scenario, then lectured him on how it wouldn’t work.

    As if he had proposed it.

    Which he did not.

    And as if it were the only alternative.

    Which it is not.

    Here. Since your memory is short I’ll reprint your comment for you so as to help you remember.

    “I guess my question for you would be, what’s your alternative? Do you believe that if we did away with law enforcement, the vast majority of the population would follow the law on the honor system? Or perhaps you think we should just do away with all laws and ask people to be nice to each other? Those are nice sentiments, but I don’t think most people would find them very realistic.” -Coloradan

  39. “Local law enforcement really doesn’t have significantly more power than it did before 2001.” Damage Controller

    Utterly false.

    Clearly you don’t know what you’re talking about if that’s what you think. Local law enforcement now has capabilities that include sophisticated eavesdropping capabilities, no knock access in the event anything “terrorism” related is “suspected” and the ability to read your mail, email, bank statements, etc. All in the name of national security.

    Don’t believe me.

    Ask Professor Turley.

    He’s spoken and written extensively on this both in here and on television.

  40. You quoted two sentences out of my long response and said, “That’s not an answer.” Here, I can do it, too:

    “Which he did not.

    And as if it were the only alternative.” – Gerty

    What does that mean, Gerty? That doesn’t even make sense!

    1. AJ had made it clear that law enforcement in general was at best a necessary evil and at worse just an evil. I think given that, it is a valid question to ask what the alternative is.

    2. Are you AJ’s legal counsel, big brother, alter ego, or can you just not stand to be part of the discussion?

  41. “I think most people would prefer an officer tase them” – Coloradan

    Oh yea.

    I was just thinking to myself the other day how I would like a nice tasing.
    :|

    I think most people would prefer they learn how to treat citizens with respect again, even the irate ones and learn how to deflate situations without acting like a bunch of pussy’s.

  42. “AJ had made it clear that law enforcement in general was at best a necessary evil and at worse just an evil. I think given that, it is a valid question to ask what the alternative is” – Coloradan

    Of course its a valid question to ask.

    What’s not valid is then proceeding to pigeonhole that alternative into a completely ridiculous scenario, and then lecture him on it as if he had proposed it.

    That’s called a strawman argument.

  43. “Are you AJ’s legal counsel, big brother, alter ego, or can you just not stand to be part of the discussion?” -Coloradan

    Nice 4th grader insult.

    Of course if you could retain more than two consistent thoughts at a time you’d know what I was discussing as I made it clear repeatedly that I wasn’t defending his position or him.

    I’m simply correcting your fallacies.

  44. You know, if you’re going to continue to take my quotes out of context, I’ll take my ball and go home. The full quote was, “Given a choice between shooting a suspect and Tasing them, I think most people would prefer an officer tase them.” If you’re saying you’d rather be shot, have at it. Obviously, the best option is to de-escalate the situation to where no level of violence is needed, but that option isn’t always available. If you read the rest of my comments, I called for federal guidelines to reduce the misuse of Tasers. I’m just saying having a level of force between asking nicely and shooting them between the eyes seems like a good idea.

    “Local law enforcement now has capabilities that include sophisticated eavesdropping capabilities, no knock access in the event anything “terrorism” related is “suspected” and the ability to read your mail, email, bank statements, etc. All in the name of national security.” – Gerty

    Yeah, I don’t think so. If you wanted to provide some evidence to back that assertion up, that would be great. Local police don’t go into full-fledged investigations of suspected terrorists without taking their cue from the feds. All of the things you just mentioned are powers that the feds have taken on since 9/11, much of it due to the Patriot Act, and I agree with you that those are powers that should be scaled back, but let’s not confuse the matter by making people think Barney Fife has the right to hack their email.

  45. “You know, if you’re going to continue to take my quotes out of context, I’ll take my ball and go home. The full quote was, “Given a choice between shooting a suspect and Tasing them, I think most people would prefer an officer tase them.” If you’re saying you’d rather be shot, have at it.” -Coloradan

    I wasn’t taking it out of context. I knew what the next line was. I was pointing out the ignorance of that statement.

    See, tasers are for NON LETHAL situations.

    They don’t replace a gun.

    They replace a baton. They’re supposed to replace beating.

    So you were again offering a strawman argument, pretending that the only choice was between being shot, or being tased, when in fact that’s not usually a choice at all.

    Because the taser is for NON LETHAL situations.

    If you pull a gun on a cop you’re still going to get shot.

  46. ““Local law enforcement now has capabilities that include sophisticated eavesdropping capabilities, no knock access in the event anything “terrorism” related is “suspected” and the ability to read your mail, email, bank statements, etc. All in the name of national security.” – Gerty

    Yeah, I don’t think so. If you wanted to provide some evidence to back that assertion up, that would be great.”

    You’re kidding me right?

    There’s been several articles in this blog alone regarding the misuse of the patriot act by local law enforcement. Did you miss the hubbub about thermal imaging from cruisers?

    If you’re truly not aware of any of this then please go study on the topic and when you actually know something about it then come talk to me.

    When you know something.

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