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Real public servants are free enterprising individuals who, inspired, embrace challenge, take risks, and create, sometimes big, and often, they create jobs in the process, all out of their ideas, and self initiative...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bell Shows Value Of Open Records

SEPT. 21, 2010 By TORI RICHARDS
When Bell city officials starting raking in obscene salary amounts, it’s a safe bet that they never considered the California Public Records Act. The law that discloses almost anything related to politicians’ lives would prove to be their undoing when placed in the hands of an enterprising journalist. Eight Bell officials were arrested today for the misappropriation of $5.5 million. Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley called the Bell scandal “corruption on steroids.”

Bombshell allegations of wrongdoing are always followed by a media frenzy of damning proportions and the inevitable probe by prosecutors. And in this case, the repercussions have reached to the state Legislature, where lawmakers — who make paltry salaries by comparison – work feverishly to right the wrongs by refunding taxpayer dollars and closing loopholes that allow such behavior to flourish.Click here to read more.
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Botched Paramilitary Police Raids: An Epidemic of "Isolated Incidents"

"If a widespread pattern of [knock-and-announce] violations were shown . . . there would be reason for grave concern." —Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, in Hudson v. Michigan, June 15, 2006. An interactive map of botched SWAT and paramilitary police raids, released in conjunction with the Cato policy paper "Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids," by Radley Balko. What does this map mean? How to use this map View Original Map and Database

Key

Death of an innocent. Death or injury of a police officer. Death of a nonviolent offender.
Raid on an innocent suspect. Other examples of paramilitary police excess. Unnecessary raids on doctors and sick people.
The proliferation of SWAT teams, police militarization, and the Drug War have given rise to a dramatic increase in the number of "no-knock" or "quick-knock" raids on suspected drug offenders. Because these raids are often conducted based on tips from notoriously unreliable confidential informants, police sometimes conduct SWAT-style raids on the wrong home, or on the homes of nonviolent, misdemeanor drug users. Such highly-volatile, overly confrontational tactics are bad enough when no one is hurt -- it's difficult to imagine the terror an innocent suspect or family faces when a SWAT team mistakenly breaks down their door in the middle of the night. But even more disturbing are the number of times such "wrong door" raids unnecessarily lead to the injury or death of suspects, bystanders, and police officers. Defenders of SWAT teams and paramilitary tactics say such incidents are isolated and rare. The map above aims to refute that notion.

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