State trooper Lisa Steed is the first woman to be selected as Trooper of the Year in Utah for her record of hundreds of DUI arrests. She was celebrated as having a type of sixth sense for drunk drivers that allowed her to rake up an unprecedented number of hundreds of such arrests in a year. She is now a former trooper after her arrests were found to be invalid. What is striking is how prosecutors long suspected that Steed was unreliable as a witness but she was allowed to continue to abuse citizens. Ironically, in an interview during her illustrious career, Steed referred to her work as a “numbers game,” where she assumed that one in every 10 drivers stopped for a violation is driving impaired.
Steed is trying to get her job back as various drivers are suing the state for her false arrests. One lawsuit recounts how drivers faced employment and financial ruin over their false arrests while Steed was being celebrated as a supercop. The lawsuit notes that Steed was off the charts in her raw number of arrests but the Utah Highway Patrol made no inquiry as she set a state record of 400 arrests. She made some of these arrests after drivers passed sobriety field tests.
Lt. Steve Winward simply told the press at the time that “with her training and experience, it’s second nature for her to find these people who are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.” It now appears that the “second nature” was to simply arrest everyone to the applause of people like Winward.
In May 2010, a memo written by Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Rob Nixon raised Steed’s “pattern” of questionable DUI arrests. The memo noted that she relied on impressions that were unreliable and found flawed. Yet, the UHP allowed her to continue to abuse citizens. In April 2012, prosecutors admitted that they would not rely on Sneed due to her dubious arrests that often were thrown out in court. Yet, she was allowed to continue to abuse citizens.
It was not until April 2012 that Sneed was finally taken off patrol and then fired in November 2012.
The scandal shows how much of our enforcement efforts are driven by pressure to “get the numbers up” on arrests. The UHP was obviously not particularly concerned about the abuse of citizens as it was rewarding officers for maximizing arrests. Sneed is not the only officer who should be fired given this record.
81 thoughts on “The “Numbers Game”: Utah’s Trooper Of The Year Fired After Being Accused Of False DUI Arrests”
A conspiracy is simply two or more persons plotting to commit a crime or other wrong. Usually this is done in secret but when the conspirators are brazen or feel secure enough they may do their plotting openly – “in your face.”.
In my experience, and I’ve had a lot of it because I don’t believe I need the government’s permission to travel by the most convenient means (a.k.a. drivers license), cops always–no exception–lie when they testify in court. Always!!!
To understand better why police officers (and other gov’t. officials) think they can lie and present false evidence with impunity, study the following:
“Police Officers’ Perjury Immunity” Supreme Court case:
BRISCOE v. LaHUE, 460 U.S. 325 (1983) http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=us&vol=460&invol=325
The Supremes’ researchers found no instances in which an enforcement official was prosecuted criminally for shading testimony to the prejudice of the accused.
Arecent instance of this extremely rare action is the case of Mark Fuhrman, who inflicted severe damage on the O.J. Simpson murder prosecution by lying when asked if he had used the “N”-word in the previous 10 years. As his testimony was needen to place Simpson at the scene of the crime at the time of the crime, this critical piece of evidence was placed in doubt. The prosecutor, angered at the loss of the case, took out her fury on Fuhrman as the only person on whom she could “nail” the blame.
“Former criminal defendants may well wish to avoid further entanglements with the legal system and are unlikely to have the resources needed to pursue such suits. Lawyers will probably have little incentive to become involved in actions against the police, and those that do face an uphill struggle.” Footnote 44
A major reason for allowing suits against officers for alleged perjury is that the damages are not seized from the officer but are paid by his/her agency or by a risk management pool.
“Police officers and other government officials differ significantly from private citizens, around whom common-law doctrines of witness immunity developed. A police officer comes to the witness stand clothed with the authority of the State. His official status gives him credibility and creates a far greater potential for harm than exists when the average citizen testifies. The situation is aggravated when the official draws on special expertise. A policeman testifying about a fingerprint identification or a medical examiner testifying as to the cause of a death can have a critical impact on a defendant’s trial. At the same time, the threat of a criminal perjury prosecution, which serves as an important constraint on the average witness’ testimony, is virtually nonexistent in the police-witness context. Despite the apparent prevalence of police perjury, prosecutors exhibit extreme reluctance in charging police officials with criminal conduct because of their need to maintain close working relationships with law enforcement agencies. The majority thus forecloses a civil sanction in precisely those situations where the need is most pressing.”
“… the danger that official witnesses would be inhibited in testifying by the fear of a damages action is much more remote than would be the case with private witnesses. Policemen normally have a duty to testify about matters involving their official conduct. The notion that officials with a professional interest in securing criminal convictions would shade their testimony in favor of a defendant to avoid the risk of a civil suit can only be viewed with skepticism. In addition, police officials are usually insulated from any economic hardship associated with lawsuits based on conduct within the scope of their authority.”
“Police officers are generally provided free counsel and are indemnified for conduct within the scope of their authority.” Fn. 38
“Sheriffs, having eyes to see, see not; judges, having ears to hear, hear not; witnesses conceal the truth or falsify it; grand and petit juries act as if they might be accomplices” Fn. 31
“[T]he courts are in many instances under the control of those who are wholly inimical to the impartial administration of law and equity” Fn. 31
“judges exercise their ‘almost despotic powers . . . against Republicans without regard to law or justice’ ” Fn. 31
“The outrages committed upon loyal men there are under the forms of law. It can be summed up in one word: loyal men cannot obtain justice in the courts . . .” Fn. 31
Darren – Congratulations on the new two-story outhouse; you have, as they say, arrived. Also, please extend my condolences to Mr. Cooper… Sorry it didn’t work out D.B. 😉
I grow up in Eastern Warshington. It is a spaycial place, plenty of k-eye-yotes to hunt with our salt rifles or are aught-sixes. That’s what we do when we aint huntin rattlers down in dry cricks or flushin chuckers out of corn shocks.
We don’t need no gov’t conspiracy theories, that’s for hicks.
Otteray Scribe observed:
“Bill has been dead now for seven months, rest his soul. He must be posting as a zombie”
Undead, yes. Zombie, doubtful. I have it on good authority zombies eat brains, something clearly lacking in bill’s world
Yeeeeee haw. I heard it told EVERYONE up north there wears ‘shoes’, and witches read EEElectronic books. Shit… the dog jus’ spilt maws mason jar.
I am a hillbilly. We pronounce it, “ignernt” here in the backwoods. We ain’t no sissies either. We don’t drink none of that tea stuff. That’s for Englishmen what sips it from cups with their pinkie finger stuck out. We have good ole corn likker. In towns in the south, I hear they make tea so sweet it will take the enamel off your teeth.
bill, I just want to know one thing. Can you see your reflection in a mirror?
I have a patch of garlic out back. Wanna come over to my house and pick some?
And again, TEA PARTY? NNNNEVER been so insulted. I literally removed Fox News from my guide because it’s basically fictional television trying to spread propaganda under the guise of proper news. Reminds me a bit of a certain person on a certain blog web site that I occasionally frequent.
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