Remember the Good Old Days: The Police Used To Be Our Friends

Remember the Good Old Days: The Police Used To Be Our Friends.

Because police officers who abuse civilians, typical arrest their victims (the innocent civilian) is becoming more common every day; notwithstanding the fact that most adults now possess the ability to quickly video record events that we confront (i.e. Smartphone video recordings.) However, so has public acceptance of the use of: 1) brutal and disproportionately excessive use of, or the threatened use of weapons; 2) disproportionately restrictive methods of immediate restraint (i.e. handcuffing for “officer safety” purposes, as general precautionary practice, in citizen street contacts),  3) shooting persons who the police say that committed a “furtive movement“ (usually the suspect moved his / her hands by or in the waistband nonsense; in 2010, the LA Sheriff’s Department killed 15 unarmed people this way, and they haven’t stopped), and the spectrum of “overkill” police techniques, that we’ve grown-up with over the past 30 plus years. We think that dispatching the SWAT team on a call of, “grandpa has Alzheimer’s and locked himself in the bathroom with a kitchen knife”, is normal. We see this as normal, because over the years, case by case, right by right, new weapon by new weapon, we have seen the Executive Branch of government, the police, just doing these acts; especially in the movies and television.


We also see, that when civil and criminal litigants challenge these acts, that our so cherished federal constitutional rights are usually are cast aside either:

* 1)     By Issuing Appellate Court rulings that allow for the warrantless and often even suspicionless searches and seizures of persons, places and property, in the name of “Officer Safety.”

* 2)    To further some sort of executive efficiency:

The Supreme Court doesn’t want cops to have to learn their state laws; too difficult; notwithstanding the fact that the cops are not only responsible in their own states to know what state public offenses are, and are not, jailable under state law, but they actually do know. SeeAtwater v. Lago Vista, 532 U.S. 318 (2001) (‘The Fourth Amendment does not forbid a warrantless arrest for a minor criminal offense, such as a misdemeanor seat belt violation punishable only by a fine”); Atwater v. Lago Vista, 532 U.S. 318 (2001). Atwater is a repudiation of over 200 years of Supreme Court jurisprudence, holding that searches and seizures of persons must be “reasonable.” Atwater allows the police to arrest civilians for anything that the law prohibits; parking ticket, bald tires, taillight out, and the like. Justice Souter’s rationale for permitting admittedly “unreasonable seizures” of persons like Atwater (a soccer mom, arrested for violation of the Texas seat belt statute; the maximum punishment for violation of which was a $50.00 fine) is not grounded in reality, and really set the stage of the Rise of the Police State, following the World Trade Center Terrorist Attacks of September 11,  2001.) Atwater v. Lago Vista, 532 U.S. 318 (2001.) The Fourth Amendment no longer forbid a warrantless arrest for a minor criminal offense, such as a misdemeanor seat belt violation punishable only by a fine”; Atwater v. Lago Vista, 532 U.S. 318 (2001); In her stinging dissent in, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the Republican Conservative first female Justice of the Supreme Court, appointed by Ronald Reagan, on recommendation from Mr. Reagan’s mentor; Barry Goldwater (former Sen. R-AZ), warned about the import of Atwater:

“Such unbounded discretion carries with it grave potential for abuse. The majority takes comfort in the lack of evidence of “an epidemic of unnecessary minor-offense arrests.” Ante, at 33, and n. 25. But the relatively small number of published cases dealing with such arrests proves little and should provide little solace. Indeed, as the recent debate over racial profiling demonstrates all too clearly, a relatively minor traffic infraction may often serve as an excuse for stopping and harassing an individual. After today, the arsenal available to any officer extends to a full arrest and the searches permissible concomitant to that arrest. An officer’s subjective motivations for making a traffic stop are not relevant considerations in determining the reasonableness of the stop. See, Whren v. United States, supra, at 813. But it is precisely because these motivations are beyond our purview that we must vigilantly ensure that officers’ post stop actions–which are properly within our reach–comport with the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee of reasonableness.

The Court neglects the Fourth Amendment’s express command in the name of administrative ease. In so doing, it cloaks the pointless indignity that Gail Atwater suffered with the mantle of reasonableness. I respectfully dissent.” O’Connor, J., Dissenting.

*3)    To refuse to suppress evidence in criminal cases. There is a natural reluctance by any judge to exclude evidence of criminal activity at a criminal trial because the evidence was obtained in violation of the Constitution.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently found a way around Atwater to some degree in their recent case of Edgerly v. City and County of San Francisco, Case No. 11-15655 (9th Cir.  April 10, 2013.) Edgerly held that since under Cal. Penal Code § 853.5, a police officer cannot take a person to jail for an infraction (i.e. simple speeding ticket, with no possibility of any jail time) unless the person fails to provide the officer with some sort of reasonable identification, then the Fourth Amendment is violated when an officer arrests another for any such infraction. However, Edgerly only provides that such a violation is grounds for a state court claim under California state law (i.e. a state law false imprisonment claim.)

The Cops Are Never Wrong.

Plain and simple. If grandpa is held-up in his bathroom with a kitchen knife, it’s safer to come into a restroom with grandpa in it with a machine gun. But what’s the goal. The police routinely bust into the restrooms in such scenarios, and then shoot and kill grandpa, because grandpa raised his kitchen knife at officers wearing Kevlar helmets and stab-proof vests. This is no joke, and guess what? The cops get immunity in many cases in California, for police shootings that were caused by the police, because their use of deadly force is to be judged only at the time that the force was used; even if the cops created the need for the use of force to begin with. See, Munoz v. City of Union City, 120 Cal.App.4th 1077 (2004.) They certainly did their job. They prevented grandpa from committing suicide (the cops’ homicide of grandpa took care of that), but they also got to get home that night. Believe it or not, in most such situations just described, not only will the cops be exonerated from any departmental discipline, but the entity will back them all the way; lies and document destruction be damned.

Accordingly, because the courts have refused to restrain what used to be considered police outrages, the police have become “gang bangers with badges”. The days of the cop walking his beat with his .38 caliber revolver, and twirling his baton, are long gone. Even on police television shows such as Dragnet, Adam 12 and CHPs, the FCC banned the police drawing their pistols out, because the shows were shown on prime time TV during family hours. The Police used to be our friends. Now, anyone that they violate (i.e. beat-up or falsely arrest) is their enemy; a threat to them.

Modern Times; The Rise Of The Police State in America.

The Los Angeles Police Departments (LAPD’s) motto is: “Wer’e the badest gang in town.” A recent study of the Los Angeles Sheriffs Department (LASD) that was commissioned by the Board of Supervisors actually found that there is a culture within the Los Angeles Sheriffs Department of various “gangs of officers”, who routinely beat, torture, maim and kill members of the jails, and of the community, for fun; for the honor of the gang. Everybody is a scumbag, and have no rights.

Some of the LASD gangs of these gangster cops are: The 3000 (the deputies who worked the third floor of the L.A. County Men’s Central Jail), The Grim Reapers, The Little Devils, The Regulators, The Vikings and The Jump Out Boys. After the FBI had announced that it had infiltrated the Los Angeles County jail and can now prove that the LASD Men’s Jail was essentially a torture chamber, with gangs of sick and sadistic guards, Paul Tanaka still showed his grit, as an LASD “gansta”, by addressing the command staff of the sheriff’s department, about the LASD internal affairs bureau. He mentioned that their were 45 LASD Internal Affairs Bureau investigators, and that was 44 too many (you’re got to have at least one to have a bureau.) One might think, why are these cops acting like Nazis? Why is this allowed to persist?

Things have gotten so bad at the LASD that now the U.S. Department of Justice has indicted 18 LASD deputy sheriffs and supervisors, on charges ranging from Obstruction of Justice and torturing prisoners. See, “18 Los Angeles sheriff’s officials indicted, accused of abuse, obstruction”, LA Times, December 9, 2013″ “18 Los Angeles sheriff’s officials indicted, accused of abuse, obstruction”, LA Times, December 9, 2013″. These Indictments have also resulted in the resignation of Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca. See, “Embattled Los Angeles County sheriff to retire” (See, .)

In 2014, six LASD Deputy Sheriffs were convicted of obstructing the FBI’s investigation of the torturing of prisoners at the Los Angeles County Jails. That’s not the end of it. Former LASD Deputy Sheriff Noel Womack pleaded guilty in June of 2015to federal charges of lying to the FBI about systemic LASD torturing and framing of inmates at the Los Angeles County Jails.

The recently forced-out Undersheriff, and recently one of the leading unsuccessful candidates for Sheriff of LA County, Paul Tanaka, is a Viking (at the Lynwood Sheriff’s Station; these gentlemen bore tattoos of the Minnesota Vikings Football Team logo on their lower legs, and were found by U.S. District Judge Jesse Curits to be a Neo-Nazi / White Supremacist gang within the ranks of the Sheriff’s Department; See, Thomas v. County of Los Angeles, et al; 978 F.2d 504 (1992).) Former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, along with a retired LASD Captain, were indicted on May 13, 2015 by a federal Grand Jury for Obstructing and Conspiring to Obstruct a federal Grand Jury investigation of the rampant torturing of  inmates at the Los Angeles County Jail (See, Paul Tanaka Indictment of May 13, 2015. 

Paul Tanaka was convicted by a jury in April of 2016violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371(conspiring to obstruct justice) and 18 U.S.C. § 1503(a) (obstructing justice), for not only obstructing an FBI investigation into years of beatings and torturing of inmates at the L.A. County Jail, but also Tanaka and other high ranking Sheriff’s Department officials threatening one of the FBI agents involved in that investigation, with arrest for continuing that investigation. In his trial, Tanaka admitted that he still had the Minnesota Vikings Logo tattoo on his leg; a tattoo that he described as a member in a club; the “Vikings”; a tatoo that the federal courts have held is the gang taoo for a “neo-Nazi white supremacists gang within the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. See, Thomas v. County of Los Angeles, 978 F.2d 504 (1992).

Things have gotten so bad at the LASD that now the United States Department of Justice Indicted 18 LASD Deputy Sheriffs and their Supervisors on charges ranging from Obstruction of Justice and torturing prisoners. Moreover, Former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, along with a retired LASD Captain, were indicted on May 13, 2015 by a federal Grand Jury for Obstructing and Conspiring to Obstruct a federal Grand Jury investigation of the rampant torturing of inmates at the Los Angeles County Jail (See, Paul Tanaka Indictment of May 13, 2015.)

On February 10, 2016, former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca pleaded guilty to violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001(a)(2); lying to FBI agents and federal prosecutors investigating the beatings of inmates and visitors at the Los Angeles County Jails. As part of a surprise plea deal with the U.S. attorney’s office, Sheriff Baca admitted that he took an active role in trying to stymie the federal probe into his deputies routinely beating and torturing inmates at the Los Angeles County Jails and in having his deputies hide an FBI informant – jail inmate from his FBI handlers. He admitted even approving a team of his deputy sheriff’s attempting to interfere with the government’s investigation by threatening an FBI agent at her home with arrest.

One might think, why are these cops acting like Nazis; literally, not metaphorically? Why is this allowed to persist?

There are several reasons for this. In 1968, in Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968), the U.S. Supreme Court for the first time allowed the seizure of persons by police officers, without a warrant, on less than probable cause; the standard settled upon for police seizures of persons, at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1791 (“To give the police greater power than a magistrate is to take a long step down the totalitarian path.”, Douglas, J. Dissenting.)

This has turned-out to be  the most prophetic dissenting opinion of the Warren Court era. It deals with the basic relationship between innocents and their police / regulators.

This author watched a 1998 C-Span reunion of the United States Supreme Court Law Clerks, who actually wrote the majority and dissenting opinion in Terry v. Ohio, 391 U.S. 1 (1968.) Although “Terry stops” are as much a part of what is considered normal and basically universally accepted part of proper police practices, those law clerks all stated that Terry v. Ohio, was supposedly to have been a “stop and frisk” case (of persons reasonably suspected of being, armed, dangerous, and presently involved imminent criminal activity, and not some generalized authority to detain civilians on less than probable cause.

In the 1970s, we saw a shift in policing, from protectors of you and I, to oppressors of you and I.

In the 1980s the U.S. Supreme Court starting chipping away at our basic liberties, such as the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement and the Sixth Amendment’s confrontation clause (the right to cross-examine your accusers). The television show S.W.A.T. and its progeny caused the American people to accept the militarization of the police as normal in American society.

In Anaheim, California, there were seven shootings of persons by the Anaheim Police Department in 2012. The Orange County District Attorneys Office won’t criminally prosecute any of these officers, because that’s something that they just don’t do.

Over the past few years, there has been a dramatic increase in perception shootings ; shootings where a police officer shoots a civilian, and claims that the thought the person who he shot, was armed and some danger to him, who turn-out not to be. In fact, in 2010, the Los Angels Sheriff’s Department shot 15 unarmed people to death, who they claimed were reached for their waistband; that’s 15 people; dead. There has never been a criminal prosecution in Orange County, California of a police officer for an on-duty shooting. There have been a few criminal prosecutions of police officers in Orange County for a “duty related activity” (i.e. using force on persons during detentions or arrests) but, they were either “token” prosecutions (i.e. prosecuting an officer here and there to appease the body politic), or video and/or audio recorded so as to be simply undeniably outrageous behavior, such as the Fullerton Police beating Kelly Thomas to death. However, the Fullerton Police Department officers were acquitted of even using unreasonable force upon Kelly Thomas, because the jury pool in Orange County, California, simply will not convict a cop of a crime for even murdering a civilian, so long as the cops murdered the civilian in the course of his police duties.

Moreover, there is an inherent conflict of interest in every public prosecution for crime. If the District Attorney’s Office actually went after police officers for criminal conduct, they would eventually have to show how creepy and crooked the entire police community is. For example, when they went after the audio and video recordings and records that the police routinely destroy if they had arrested you or me (i.e. “My batteries must have been dead”), they would find them altered, stored under phony case numbers [to secrete them from location], lost, destroyed and otherwise concealed from location. That is the real world police system. If the cops want it lost, it gets lost, and in the real world, no judge or politician, is going to do anything about it. That’s reality.

Thus, the DA’s office would eventually destroy the credibility, and future usability at all, of the very persons that it depends upon to criminally prosecute you and I. The District Attorney represents one party (i.e. The People of the State of California), and it is not out to destroy the the credibility of the very system and police agencies, upon which it relies in being able to successfully prosecute you and I. Guess who wins the allegiance? It’s not you and I.

The fact is, that if a cop beats you up for fun, while on duty, and arrested you for some imaginary failure to immediate comply with an outrageous “police order” (i.e. “get down on the ground now”, when you have no clue as to what’s going on), and you have a black eye and your teeth knocked-out for daring to question the peace officer about what is going on, don’t be looking to the government to go after your oppressors; the police. Remember; they are the police. If you are reading this article, you probably would have never believed that the police really are “gangstas with badges”, if you or your loved one had not personally experienced police outrages.

If you’ve been falsely arrested or beaten-up by the police, please call the Law Offices of Jerry L. Steering for a free phone or office consultation, to get some justice. We can live without a lot, but we can’t live without justice.

Jerry L. Steering, Esq.