Articles Tagged with police corruption

Since 2020 this country has seen thousands of protestors standing up to excessive police use of force. The aim was to bring awareness to a serious issue affecting countless communities across the United States and to get the police to rein in tactics that historically resulted in serious injury or death during police encounters.  Have the protests made a difference? 

Racial Statistics

Police killings of civilians topped out in 2022 with 1,176 deaths.  But that number exploded to over 1,200 in 2023, making it the deadliest year for deadly law enforcement actions in the last decade. It is likely no surprise to many that Black people fared the worst:

  • They are the most likely demographic to be killed by police in numbers disproportionate to their population;
  • The rate at which they are killed is triple the rate for white people;
  • They are more likely to be unarmed than white people;
  • The biggest group of unarmed people who were killed were people of color;
  • Most killings by police occur as a result of non-violent offenses, mental health checks, or relating to traffic stops.

Other Facts

While killings are on the decline in urban areas, they are on the rise in rural areas. The numbers remain steady in suburban zip codes. More incidents are occurring involving county sheriff’s offices. Over 30% of victims were killed while fleeing from police on foot or in a vehicle. 98.1% of deaths related to law enforcement interactions have not resulted in criminal charges for any officers involved in the incident.

California’s Numbers

The statistics here in California are nothing to shout about. Of 1,478 killings by police, Black people were nearly four times as likely to be killed, and Latinx people were 1.5 times more likely to be killed than white people. However, not all police misconduct results in death. Of more than 60,000 complaints of police misconduct over a five-year period, just nine percent of cases were ruled in civilians’ favor. In terms of use-of-force complaints, only 3% of the more than 4,500 complaints ruled for civilians. Overall, the state of California earned a score of 35% by the Police Scorecard based on data from both local and state law enforcement. The lower the score, the more spent on policing, the more arrests for low-level offenses, the more use of force, and the less likely errant officers are held accountable for their actions. On a bright note, the racial disparity in police killings is below the national rate—though still high enough to be of serious concern. Continue reading

According to an Associated Press investigation, police officers across the country misuse confidential law enforcement databases to get information on romantic partners, business associates, neighbors, journalists, and others for reasons that have nothing to do with their police work. Through multiple public records requests to state agencies and major-city police departments, AP found that officers were fired, suspended, or resigned over 325 times between 2013 and 2015 for misuse of confidential databases for personal gain. Unspecified discipline was also imposed in over 90 instances.

It was reported last year that in California, specifically, there is also rampant misuse and lack of oversight in the state’s Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (CLETS) network.  Confirmed cases of misuse in the state’s unified law enforcement information network have doubled over the last five years, according to public records requests obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation pursuant to the California Public Records Act. There are 389 cases between 2010 and 2014 in which an investigation concluded an officer broke the rules for accessing CLETS. And these figures only represent what was self-reported by the government agencies to the California Attorney General, so they are likely underestimated.

No single agency tracks how often the abuse happens nationwide, and record-keeping inconsistencies make it impossible to know how many violations occur.

These Actions Can Lead to Criminal Charges

In 2010, an officer had been sending his ex-wife abusive text messages and using CLETS to obtain information on her new boyfriends. He ultimately pled no contest to a misdemeanor harassment charge, but the charges for violating CLETS were dropped. It is against police department policy and state law to access CLETS for personal reasons. Currently, the CLETS Advisory Committee (CAC) has sole jurisdiction to investigate misuse investigations.

Other Penalties: Violations of State Ethics and Corruption Laws

All too often, misuse of confidential databases and information is connected to other behavior that can lead to criminal charges for corruption. For example, if one obtains confidential information about another state employee, juror, arbitrator, judge, or investigator for the purposes of bribing them, that is a felony that can be punishable by two to four years.     Continue reading

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