PoliceOne Daily News
Should police use social media to 'expose' people in arrests? Calif. city council debates
Tue, 25 Sep 2018 14:27:55 GMT

By Ashley McBride and Michael Cabanatuan San Francisco Chronicle

BERKELEY, Calif. — The battles between far-right activists and their opponents that have roiled Berkeley in the past two years have been organized on social media. They’ve been debated on social media. And they’ve often played out live on social media.

The question now is whether Berkeley police should be using social media to expose people they arrest in the sometimes violent clashes. The City Council will consider Tuesday whether to ban police from posting names, mug shots and hometowns of people taken into custody “unless they pose an imminent threat to public safety.”

The proposed policy stems from an Aug. 5 protest planned by two far-right-wing groups — one dubbed the Proud Boys, which didn’t show up. Still, the day drew about 400 counterprotesters who called themselves anti-fascist, or antifa.

While the demonstration was largely peaceful, police arrested 21 people and posted their booking photos, names, cities of residence and other basic information on Twitter. All were anti-fascists, according to the National Lawyers Guild, and no one has yet been charged by the Alameda County district attorney’s office.

The postings, the Lawyers Guild says, are a form of “doxing,” the practice of using social media to post personal information about a person to embarrass or discredit them. Berkeley police ended up removing the posts after complaints from city residents.

Those who back the ban on such posts include the mayor, two council members and the Lawyers Guild, which held a rally Monday challenging city leaders to step up protections for protesters who show up to fight against racism. They say the prohibition of such social media posts by police will protect such individuals from being threatened, harassed and intimidated from participating in actions protected by the First Amendment.

The council may apply the ban to protest-related offenses or extend it to all crimes. Regardless, critics of the ban worry that it would withhold public information and contribute to a less transparent Police Department.

Tweeting the mug shots and identifying information was an effort not only to satisfy media requests for public information, said Matthai Chakko, a city spokesman, but also to discourage violent conflicts in Berkeley that have been inflamed by social media.

“Berkeley has been the focus of unprecedented social media narrative used to organize conflicts and justify the use of weapons and armor in Berkeley,” Chakko said. “We wanted to send a message over social media that we do enforce laws.

“We released public records (mug shots and basic identifying information) over a media channel that people were using to foment violence.”

But people whose names and photos were splashed across the internet say the police action exposed them to threats. Jason Wallach was one of the 21 people arrested, and he no longer closes his bike shop in East Oakland alone.

After he was taken into custody during the Aug. 5 protest on suspicion of possession of a banned or dangerous weapon, Wallach’s booking photo, name and personal information were posted on Twitter. People flooded his business’ Yelp and Facebook pages with negative reviews, and he said he received threatening anonymous phone calls and texts. Now he makes sure to have someone else with him when it’s closing time.

Wallach told his story Monday at a news conference organized by the Lawyers Guild at Berkeley’s Civic Center , which is near the site of the Aug. 5 protests and other violent clashes last year between right-wing and anti-fascist groups.

“It’s pretty spooky,” Wallach said. “You don’t know the origins, you don’t know how far they’re going to go, so you have to be vigilant.”

Kate Brenner, 70, said she was arrested Aug. 5 for possession of a banned weapon, which was a banner with cardboard poles weighted with two rocks to keep it unfurled.

“When I told the police the handcuffs were too tight on me and that I was 70 years old, they said, ‘Maybe you shouldn’t have gotten yourself arrested.’ None of the fascists were arrested,” Brenner said. “As a Jew, I can’t stand on the sidelines. I won’t let the state attempt to silence me or intimidate me.”

Chakko declined to discuss individual cases. He noted that the city made it clear anything that could be used as a weapon, such as a broom, would be banned from protest sites. A long list was posted around the city, as well as on social media and in the press.

Councilwomen Cheryl Davila and Kate Harrison proposed a resolution that would direct the police to refrain “from publishing or releasing the addresses or photos of people arrested under the special circumstances of civil conflicts, particularly when one party is likely to do harm to another, specifically under threat of harm from people who spread hate.”

Their proposal would also restrict police from providing identifying information requested through the California Public Records Act.

Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin has suggested a revised policy that would restrict police from “proactively” publishing mug shots on social media or other identifying information of people arrested in events protected by the First Amendment. However, police could still release the information to the media and in response to Public Record Act requests, he said Monday afternoon.

“We should not be impeding the First Amendment,” Arreguin said. “When the media wants information, they should have access, but we don’t want our Police Department tweeting out information and mug shots and creating a chilling effect for participants in protests.”

David Snyder, executive officer of the First Amendment Coalition, said it’s not clear whether media outlets have a legal right to booking photos, but names, cities of residence and other information on people who are arrested should always be disclosed.

“These are protections for both the public and the person being arrested,” Snyder said. “We don’t do secret arrests in this country.”

Detroit cop who posted about policing 'zoo animals' suspended
Tue, 25 Sep 2018 14:21:52 GMT
Leaders of Mich. police impersonators get probation
Tue, 25 Sep 2018 13:41:49 GMT

Associated Press FLINT, Mich. — The leaders of a group of police impersonators who fooled police, firefighters and the public for three years in and around Flint, Michigan, have avoided jail time.

The Flint Journal reports Willie Strong III and Auston Rose were each sentenced to five years of probation Monday after earlier pleading guilty to impersonating a peace officer . Genesee County Circuit Court Judge Celeste Bell also ordered them to turn over all equipment used while posing as officers.

Strong and Rose both apologized in court.

The sentences of probation were part of an agreement with prosecutors. Authorities say the impersonators were members of a group calling itself the Genesee County Fire and EMS Media-Genesee County Task Force Blight Agency. They were acting as police at parks, house fires, vehicle crashes and crime scenes.

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Police union challenges firing of Ore. police recruiter who gave applicant interview questions
Mon, 24 Sep 2018 14:40:26 GMT
Author: Mike Callahan

By Maxine Bernstein The Oregonian

PORTLAND, Ore. — A Portland police recruiter who gave an applicant the questions and score sheets that would be used for an entry-level job interview and offered to pay for a hotel room to help her prepare for the police exam was fired this year for his "significant misuse of authority.''

The Police Bureau this month posted a summary of the case along with other discipline cases examined by its Police Review Board, but didn't name the officer.

However, The Oregonian/OregonLive has confirmed that the recruiter fired was Officer Timmy Evans, a nearly 24-year veteran of the bureau who served as a bureau recruiter for at least five years. He was fired on May 10.

"I did give her the information,'' Evans said in an interview Sunday. "I was truthful about that.''

Evans also provided the applicant with confidential information on why she had failed a prior background inquiry done in 2010 and 2011, according to the bureau's summary of the case.

A citizen complaint prompted the bureau to conduct an internal affairs investigation. Members of a Police Review Board, which examined the bureau's investigation, noted that the officer gave the applicant an "unfair advantage'' in the testing process that potentially compromised the test for all candidates.

Board members acknowledged that Evans had a "passion for helping women and underrepresented people'' get hired by the police force, but his actions represented a "significant misuse of authority, unethical behavior, a "willful disregard of police bureau values'' and a "serious lack of integrity, ethics and character.''

Evans said he believed the bureau's testing process was unfairly eliminating people of color and women. "I chose to do what I could to get those people in the door,'' he told The Oregonian/OregonLive. However, he said he didn't assist other applicants.

The review board also considered whether Evans was seeking sexual favors by offering to share a hotel room, in exchange for helping the applicant in the testing process. The board did not sustain that allegation, but did find evidence Evans had offered to share a hotel room with the applicant in Los Angeles.

Evans told The Oregonian/OregonLive that he offered to have the woman share his hotel room in Los Angeles so she could take the exam there and be considered earlier for a vacancy, instead of waiting until the exam was offered again in Portland later in the year. He said he didn't think the woman could afford paying for a room. The woman didn't accept his offer, but did take the exam in Los Angeles. She passed the exams, but was disqualified during the background inquiry.

The board recommended the Police Bureau examine why it allowed Evans to serve in a recruiting position for the police force given his prior disciplinary history, which it did not describe. Evans said he received command counseling or a letter of reprimand for accepting food, a burrito, from a previous applicant, who tested well on her exam.

Evans' termination was one of several cases summarized in a report made public this month on the police bureau's website that were reviewed between Oct. 13, 2016 , and Jan. 10, 2018.

Evans said the police union has filed a grievance, challenging his firing. Officer Daryl Turner, president of the Portland Police Association, declined comment on Evans' case, noting it's an ongoing matter. The challenge may allege that other officers who've taken similar actions were not terminated.

Among the other cases were:

The firing of Officer Dan Chastain, who was off-duty when he was arrested in Clackamas County after crashing a city-owned car on April 25, 2016. The car overturned, coming to rest on its top. Chastain's blood-alcohol content was .256 percent, according to the bureau's summary. The legal limit is .08 percent. An open beer can was found near the scene. Chastain was off-duty at the time but on call. Chastain, convicted of driving under the influence of intoxicants and sentenced to 32 days in jail, was fired Aug. 1, 2017, according to state records. The firing of Sgt. Gregg Lewis, who was reported by other officers to have made an inflammatory remark during Central Precinct's roll call regarding the use of force against a black man. The remark came just three days after the Feb. 9, 2017 fatal police shooting of a black teenager, 17-year-old Quanice Hayes. The review board found Lewis' remarks brought discredit to the bureau. One board member called Lewis' comments an "egregious, abhorrent act' that has no place in the police bureau. Lewis, who retired from the bureau Oct. 31, 2016, was rehired in December 2016. He was fired Feb. 2 of this year. Command counseling given to Lt. Mike Leasure, who signed then-Chief Mike Marshman in on a log as having attended a training though the chief never showed. The so-called ''command counseling'' is on the low-end of bureau discipline. The board noted that Leasure was unable to explain why he signed the chief in on the attendance log and gave "ambiguous'' answers to investigators' questions. Board members did not find Leasure was untruthful, but were critical of his "bad decision-making and poor leadership skills'' as a supervisor. One unnamed officer resigned after the bureau determined he had done an unlawful search of a vehicle, described in the report as a "dirty search.'' A citizen who was on a ride-along reported the search, and the officer never documented it in a police report. Another unnamed officer received a one-week suspension without pay for responding on a missing person case that involved an extended family member. The officer, who was off duty, went to a strip club in his partial police uniform to help search for the missing person, an employee of the club, but never told a supervisor of his response, the board report said.
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