Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Fort Collins Gets a New Police Chief

Want to know where your tax money is going, Mr. and Mrs. America? It goes to pay off settlements in police brutality lawsuits. Read up on it some time. Google "taser + sodomized," for instance. But that's a subject for another day.

Back in December of 2009, a federal appeals court in California said law enforcement personnel should not use a taser unless the intended target is posing an immediate threat.
Officers cannot shoot someone with a Taser, the court ruled, if they are just acting erratic or refusing to obey orders. This ruling by the San Francisco appeals court could set a new standard for law enforcement training concerning this "less-than-lethal" weapon.
Could have set a new standard, but didn't, as statistics show. Although peace-loving citizens throughout the country regarded the ruling as a major step forward (or maybe back, toward something resembling the long-lost civilization that used to be America), others were indifferent to it. In Austin, Texas, KXAN interviewed that city's Commander John Hutto, who said,
There's no reason to think that it will change the way we conduct business or alter our policies or procedures… It certainly prevents many many more injuries than it's ever caused…
Yeah, right. The taser has prevented so much mayhem that would otherwise have been committed by grannies and wheelchair crips and unarmed kids and naked crazy folks. Who could make such a claim with a straight face? Well, Commander Hutto has no problem with championing the taser, even when a federal judge says different. So far, we're getting a picture of a man who is not overly impressed by court rulings. This may be a personal trend.

John A. Salazar wrote about some Austin police officers who thought a couple of teenagers were checking out vehicles with an eye to potentially breaking into them. There was an abortive car chase and a shootout that left a 20-year-old dead, and a 16-year-old wounded by police gunfire, and an officer slightly injured.

The incident happened in June of this year, not long before homeless schizophrenic Kelly Thomas was tasered 4 or 5 times and fatally beaten by police in Fullerton, California. Did the word go out this summer to police nationwide, that suspicious activity around parked cars is a great excuse to beat the shit out of people? And the beauty part is, nobody can ever prove the victims were not doing something suspicious! Anyone who gets anywhere near a parked car is fair game for cops eager for a workout and a chance to put some mileage on their shiny expensive new gear. Let's rock'n'roll!

Last month in Austin, the grand jury who looked into it couldn't find anything to charge the 16-year-old with, and Assistant Chief John Hutto didn't like that. His reaction was:
This young man whose actions led to the injury of an officer, basically will not have to answer to those actions.
The comment adds a brushstroke to the portrait of a man who sees the judicial branch as a nuisance, and the police as always right. Exactly whose actions can be said to lead to what, in situations like this? Sounds like the only thing the 16-year-old could possibly have been charged with was injuring an officer who wanted to charge him with -- with what? Thinking about doing something wrong? The 20-year-old was never charged with anything, but he got the death penalty.

Last winter, the city of Austin received official word on the use of force by its police during 2009. Tony Plohetski wrote,
Austin police reported using more force against suspects in 2009, an increase that officials attribute to a change in how officers document such instances… The number of reports rose to 1,703 last year from 1,152 in 2008 after police began requiring officers to electronically log such incidents from their patrol car computers instead of on paper…
Assistant Police Chief John Hutto is quoted as saying that before the new procedures were introduced,
There was a greater chance that something could get misplaced.
An ACLU member, in private correspondence, characterized this as a "the dog ate our reports" excuse for the formerly less conscientious recording of police violence.

Online, we can read a paper written by Chief Hutto in pursuit of a post-graduate degree. It's about the dangers faced by police, and it takes a close look at Austin's new Risk Management Bureau. The Introduction says,
Law enforcement agencies and their personnel engage in a variety of activities on a daily basis which involve, and sometimes create, a multitude of hazardous situations. These hazards are both physical and financial. The potential impact of these hazards is not just to the individuals but to the organization as well… The overarching authority of the organization (local, state, or federal government), the people, those working within the organization, and those served by it, are potential victims.
Hutto's "Risk Management in Law Enforcement: A Model Assessment Tool" isn't only about the police as potential victims of the public. Cops are also, notoriously, victims of alcoholism. A section of the Austin PD's "General Orders, Policies and Procedures" is quoted.
Drinking alcohol by adults is a widely practiced social activity which does not violate any law and is often considered a natural part of participating in group recreational activities. As a result, there is more social pressure to drink than to be disciplined in drinking… Because of its short-term numbing effects, alcohol is also used to relax and to manage mental stress and emotional pain. As a result, people can develop a dependence on alcohol to relax or to avoid the discomfort of stressful living.
See, when a cop drinks, that person is engaging, perhaps under social pressure, in a legitimate recreational activity which is also a relaxation technique for the management of mental stress and emotional pain. When a street person drinks, that person is a scumbag who needs to have the crap knocked out of him.

To sum up, it would appear that, in addition to writing papers on applied research projects, the new Fort Collins police chief is a taser-happy cowboy who doesn't care what the courts say. Great. Just what we need, in a town full of college students and retirees.

Especially in the light of the current effort to close down the Medical Marijuana Centers (whose fate at the moment of this writing is not yet known.) If the MMCs stay, Hutto doesn't sound like the type of guy to be very cooperative with their existence. If the MMCs go, a whole lot of local patients will be starting grow rooms in their homes, and this dude sounds like exactly the wrong kind of police chief to be turned loose around that situation.

Maybe these few internet finds have given a slanted impression, and John Hutto will turn out to be the best possible police chief a city could wish for. Maybe he's a great guy. Perhaps pessimism is unwarranted.

And maybe it's just me, but this whole risk assessment palaver sounds like fancied-up academic talk for what has become the main feature of the police culture, showing it to be just as fucked up, in its own way, as the criminal culture. Probably 99 out of 100 law enforcement officers believe that making sure they don't get hurt is the most important part of the job. Since touching an officer is the most heinous crime possible to commit, any cop has an irreproachable, irrefutable excuse for beating the shit out of anyone. Given the merest shadow of a suspicion of a threat to a cop, all bets are off -- it's open season and anything goes. And once a perpetrator is known to have done some actual damage, however slight, a cop can get away with murder.

With all due respect to good cops, there is something wrong when officer safety is the number one priority of the policing job. Firefighters also risk their lives, and lots of them lose their lives. But even if a firefighter bumps into an arsonist at the scene of a raging inferno, there is no blanket permission to summarily execute that arsonist for endangering the lives of firefighters. EMTs, doctors, and nurses are in constant danger of being infected with life-threatening conditions through their contacts with sick and injured people. But they're not allowed to pull out a gun at the emergency room door and shoot an accident victim who happens to have AIDS. Even teachers are at risk. But they don't have the right to show up at school armed for self-protection.

When a police force exists with the primary mission of protecting its own members against the populace, something is direly out of order. Why do police get a free pass to kill?


Related recommendation: Debbie Russell's articles on the doings in Austin

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Why This Gang Must Go

Looking Back on Broderick, by Pat Hartman
based on a news article from 1999
Just a little reminder of why this gang must go.
Terence "Terry" Gilmore, James "Jim" Broderick, Jolene Blair

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Gregg Leverett - June 2, 2010

Hello Everyone,

This group has been active for some time now. I know that the immediate goal is to have judges removed. I would like to encourage others to start expressing ideas about what this group can do in the future. As Judicial Justice/Reform is the goal, that means that talking about other problems or areas of concern should not be put on hold until after the current elections. As discussion about other ideas and topics, like the role of the DA's, County Attorneys, Larimer County Board Members, Larimer County Manager, private attorney's, and others. The reason that I would encourage this kind of debate on this forum is that they are all tied together. Ideas/solutions that come from other problems can cross into future and current topics of concern. Some of the reasons that I feel more should be done about this are;

1. Most of the people that are the problem with the current situation in Larimer County are public officials, and as such work for the public, and must hear what the public has to say about their job performance.

2. As this group starts showing these officials that the group has an agenda that goes beyond the upcoming election, they may then take more action about what is being debated here with more concern.

3. As this debate extends to other areas, it should cause more people to become involved. As the problem extends into all areas of the court system, and judicial system in Larimer County, this group should not limit the debate to just the retention of judges. These other problems, should be part of the current planning for after the election for the retention of judges, that I feel are part of the system and the problem. As an example, I for one have to question the federal grants that are coming into Larimer County that support/pay for many of the decisions made by judges.

4. I would like to see something that places one person from the courts, DA's Office, County Attorneys, etc. into the spot light each month. Kind of a "Wall of Shame", type of thing. I think this would increase members, and show that we are going after any type of injustice in Larimer County.

These are some of my ideas, and I would like to see this group become successful at making the changes that need to be done not only in Larimer County but the State as well. I for one do not care if anything I provide/write is used by any other member. If you have questions about that please contact Darrin and Rosemary. I would like to show the courts in Larimer County that the problems extend past just the retention of judges, but that the legal system in Larimer County is having a negative impact on the lives many citizens of Larimer County.

Gregg Leverett

Gregg Leverett - May 31, 2010

Hey Everyone,

I would like to comment on the attachment "Feb 10 2010 LC BOCC Settlement". I found it interesting, that the comments from the lawyers representing Blair and Gilmore said they could have won the case.

In the early 80's my father sued the town I grew up in. This was over some zoning and building permit issues. I had people that I went to high school with tell me that we should not sue the town, and give up on the lawsuit. The town attorney told the Board that he could win the case, the insurance company advised the town not to pursue the case.

It went to federal court, and my parents won the case. As the insurance company had advised the Board not persue the case, the insure company did not have to pay the settlement. So, my parents received a check from the town, the check could not clear the bank".

The point is not so much settling a case, or pursuing a case. The point is that these types of cases should never be advanced to the point that courts need to become involved. If the LC BOCC was truly looking out for the welfare of the citizens of Larimer County, then these types of cases would never happen. If the LC BOCC would take a more active role in who is allowed to become judges, and would exercise more control of what these judges are doing. Then these types of cases could be avoided. It is not the judges who have to pay for these lawsuits, it is the citizens, and as such, this falls under the control of the LC BOCC, performing their duty of fiduciary responsibility.

I feel that this lack of looking after the welfare of citizens of Larimer County, extends to DHS and child welfare in Larimer County, and the current LC BOCC is willing to place children in danger in order to protect the flow of State and Federal grant funds to be used for purposes other than intended in Larimer County.

From a recent article in the Coloradoan, "Larimer County braces for budget cuts", by "BY KEVIN DUGGAN . MAY 11, 2010". The reporter wrote the following quote from Sheriff Jim Alderden;

"Sheriff Jim Alderden suggested the county should look into whether reserves held by the human services department, which gets most of its funding from state and federal sources, could be used as the matching funds required of the county to free up money for other departments."

I have to ask as DHS employees at both the county and state level spent two days telling the Senate Committee that they need more funding. I have to ask why would Sheriff of Larimer County suggest that funds used to assist the needy and children should be diverted to help make up fiscal shortfalls of the County. I think that these funds should be used for their intended purpose. the question then becomes are these funds being diverted currently, in the past, and is this not some form of fraud being used in the current financial funding of Larimer County?

That is my thoughts, and hope to hear feed back, both positive and negative.


Response to May 29, 2010 Public Hearing

Carol Davy of LaPorte wrote to the local paper:

"Thumbs-up to all the residents who attended the public hearing for the retention of judges Terence Gilmore, Jolene Blair and Gregory Lammons of the 8th Judicial District. These brave, sincere, pain-stricken residents who told of their experiences of injustice at the hands of these judges came to this hearing to be heard, seen and to give touching testimonials of their personal agony, suffering and emotional distress. They are Sandy Lemberg, Rosemary Van Gorder, Lee and Kathleen Winfield, Colleen Masters, Betty Schneider, Ruth Craft and many other anonymous, ordinary residents of Larimer County who stepped up to the plate. Bless you all, each and every one of you."

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Next Meeting of Judicial Justice in Fort Collins

Our next meeting will be Monday, May 24, at the HARMONY Library meeting room. We plan to show the 48 Hours video at this meeting and in June too. I believe it has some excellent footage of Masters attorneys Fischer, Wymore, and Liu.

Our June meeting will be back at the main library. we have to alternate locations because meetings of given group at each location can be held only once every 5 weeks. We have a choice of 2 June dates --- June 21 or 28. If you have a preference, please post it on the Yahoo list (SEE BELOW) and we will decide on the basis of those responses.

We expect to have a website up and running in about a week and you will be notified once it is up.

We have a Yahoo discussion group set up which you are urged to join as soon as possible to facilitate communication.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Terence Gilmore and Jolene Blair retention hearing, day after

Yesterday's public retention hearing re: Blair and Gilmore

Gilmore could maybe - MAYBE - be forgiven for his part in railroading Masters if he had known nothing of the case, if the cops had brought it to him, "Here's what we got," and he just went on what they told him, and they lied to him.

But that's not how it was. Gilmore actively helped to build the case from Day 1. He conspired with fanatically obsessed cop Broderick, and that joke of a forensic psychologist Reid Meloy. They met, had phone conferences, kept each other updated with letters, and plotted --  not how to solve the Hettrick murder, but how to nail Tim Masters.

 All you need to know about Jolene Blair is her abysmally stupid closing argument as prosecutor at the Masters trial.

“No one in the world could have committed this homicide in this way, in this location, but Tim Masters.”

No one in the world? Except somebody Peggy Hettrick met at one of the several bars she visited that night. Except some random stranger traveling down College Avenue, aka US 287. Except the pervert eye doctor who lived across from where Peggy's body was found, who secretly videotaped women using the toilet in his guest bathroom. Except Donald Long, who confessed to two other murders of women around that time, and who was supposedly eliminated as a Hettrick suspect, except that to this very day, nobody can explain or document why he was eliminated. Except the boyfriend who was bored with Peggy and trying like hell to shake her off.

“No one in the world could have committed this homicide in this way, in this location, but Tim Masters.”

Except, he didn't.

"I think one of the problems in this country is that too many people are screwing things up, committing crimes and then getting on with their lives. What is really needed for public officials who shame themselves is ritual suicide. Hara-kiri. Like those Japanese business executives who mismanage corporations into bankruptcy. Never mind the lawyers and the public relations and the press conferences, get that big knife out of the kitchen drawer and do the right thing." 
George Carlin