Police corruption problems from coast to coast


From the West Coast, via ProPublica:

There are numerous law enforcement scandals unfolding in Northern California.

Last month, San Francisco fired its police chief after a string of officer-involved shootings and two separate episodes involving officers sending racist text messages to one another. In Oakland, the mayor recently ousted two police chiefs in the span of five days amid a widening investigation into allegations that 14 city officers — as well as law enforcement agents from at least three other jurisdictions — had sex with a teenage prostitute. And sheriff’s deputies and corrections officers in San Francisco, Alameda County, and Santa Clara County are facing criminal charges ranging from assault to murder.

While this collection of ugly incidents will continue to generate headlines for months to come, many of the key facts are likely to remain permanently shrouded by California laws placing tight restrictions on the release of law enforcement records and information related to criminal investigations. The state, as an investigation by WNYC radio noted, is one of 23 that deem police misconduct records to be confidential; the only way to obtain such documents is through litigation in the course of a criminal case or civil lawsuit — and even then, the material often must be kept out of the public eye.

This isn’t apt to change any time soon: A California Senate bill aimed at making misconduct and disciplinary information available to the public died in committee last month.

And from the East Coast, via Vice News:

Three top officers in the New York City Police Department and one Brooklyn businessman were arrested on Monday morning as part of a widening federal corruption probe into New York’s power brokers.

Deputy Chief Michael Harrington and Deputy Inspector James Grant allegedly took extravagant gifts — including pricey dinners, tickets to the Super Bowl, and a vacation in the company of a sex worker — in exchange for providing official services. Sergeant David Villanueva, who is linked to the department’s gun licensing division, was the third officer arrested.

Jeremy Reichberg, a Brooklyn businessman and prominent fundraiser for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, was also taken into custody. Reichberg is known for having close ties with the upper ranks of the NYPD. In April, he got police helicopters to fly over his cruise boat as it floated down the Hudson River, just to impress a crowd of around 100 guests onboard.

Earlier this month, federal agents arrested Norman Seabrook, the president of New York City’s powerful correctional officer’s union, on corruption charges. Seabrook allegedly funnelled $20 million in union pension money to a hedge fund in return for lavish vacations and generous kickbacks.

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