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Monday, July 25, 2011

Making Public Pay for Budget Cuts | CalWatchDog

By Steve Greenhut

Police officials are blaming budget cuts for their cutbacks in service, but it’s hard to accept this explanation. The other day I saw an officer giving tickets to three teen-agers who were caught riding their bicycles without helmets. One downtown Sacramento officer rides around on a horse and gallops after people who jaywalk. There’s clearly the manpower to hand out tickets (but not to clean up the piles of manure the horses leave behind). It’s a question of priorities.

A recent Modesto Bee report points to this trend: “The California Highway Patrol is handing out more traffic citations than it did a few years ago, and that has generated tens of millions of dollars in revenue for state and local governments.” Another relevant statistic:

The average CHP officer who has retired in the past couple of years is bringing home a guaranteed pension of $98,000 a year (after 25 years of work), with automatic cost-of-living increases.


Click to read the column.
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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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