Public Safety Internal Affairs Institute • www.psiai.us • 317-386-8325

Lou Reiter, Director

August 2020 News Letter

This is a new resource for public safety employees who have attended LLRMI Internal Affairs training in the past.  Lou Reiter, Director of the Public Safety Internal Affairs Institute, will be selecting several current news source articles concerning incidents involving IA issues.  His commentary will highlight some of the more relevant areas of concern.

Police misconduct in Philadelphia: Unsealed records name the city’s most cited cops

Billy Penn

Philly Police Officer Sharrod Davis, who had joined the force three years prior, told investigators that Slaughter abruptly turned and pointed a gun at him, …

(Excerpt from article) “Mayor Jim Kenney recently pledged to increase transparency around officer discipline and create an “early warning” system that sounds strikingly similar to the one the city was supposed to have implemented two decades prior.

Financial records show that, as of 2018, the IAB unit was paying around $28,000 in annual licensing costs for software known as “IA-Pro.” But both Kenney and recently-appointed Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw appeared to be unfamiliar with the existing alert system.

Outlaw later clarified that she meant the current system needed improvement, and that something new “will be better able to identify and modify behavior that requires correction, while also recognizing performance that merits encouragement, reward, and replication,” per a statement.

Even these yet-to-be-implemented plans do not go as far as other cities. And the cycle has repeated so often, some critics say it inspires little hope.

“They were supposed to do early warning years ago,” attorney Rudovsky said. “Why haven’t they?”

Commentary: This is a very in-depth media report that crunches data directly from the Police Department.  We have to wonder why agencies don’t do their own analysis?  IaPro is a powerful Internal Affairs system that, unfortunately, gets set aside when the initially trained personnel leave the unit.  I’m familiar with one of major city that failed to implement some early warning/identification system because they couldn’t agree on the thresholds to use. It’s not meant to be a static system and can change with critical use and reflection.  When your agency has the tools to use to identify significant issues and then fails to use them reasonably all you’re doing is increasing the potential of civil liability.

Police chief in California launches inquiry into alleged badge bending rite to indicate fatal shootings

WRCB-TV

The police chief in the Northern California city of Vallejo announced an … Whitney, according to the report, said he was fired from his position after …

(Excerpt from article) “California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced last month that his office would review the department’s policies and practices amid a string of shootings by officers.  A 2019 investigation by NBC Bay Area found that per capita the Vallejo Police Department had the highest number of people shot by police officers in Northern California, and the third highest number in the state.

Commentary:  While there are many issues in this article that need to be fully validated, the City did recently settle the rapper OIS fatal for $5M.  These are the types of incidents that are generating the calls for outside investigations of critical incidents.  The City has sought a third party to conduct an investigation into these allegations.  If the prior Chief did conduct an investigation when the allegation of ‘bent badges’ first arose, it should be produced.  A police agency is supported when it conducts a reasonable and professional administrative investigation into any allegation of misconduct.

Police Shootings in Suburbs Seldom Scrutinized or Punished

Better Government Association (BGA)

The debate over police actions, tactics and discipline may seem like a big-city problem, but in the Cook County suburbs high-profile cases show a …

(Excerpt from article) “The dangerous places are not the big places,” said Wesley Skogan, professor emeritus at the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University. “The dangerous places are the mid- to small-sized places. They get into more trouble, relative to the number of people they police.”

Skogan, a preeminent police researcher, said small departments have fewer resources than larger counterparts and therefore have less training, supervision and pay.

Two years ago an investigation by the Better Government Association and WBEZ found that between 2005 and 2017 police in the Cook County suburbs were involved in 113 shootings where victims included criminal suspects, innocent bystanders and sometimes even fellow cops. Nearly two-thirds of the victims were Black, the investigation found, and the vast majority happened in south and southwest suburbs with large minority populations.

In not a single case was an officer disciplined, fired or charged criminally.

Following the series, the state General Assembly passed a law requiring local police, beginning in 2019, to conduct detailed reviews in all police shooting cases to determine whether policies and procedures were violated. That is in addition to the investigations usually conducted by the state police into whether an officer who shoots someone broke the law.

Since the publication of the BGA/WBEZ series, records show, there have been at least 22 additional shootings by police in the Cook suburbs, including six that proved fatal. There have been no charges filed or discipline levied in any of these cases, though 11 of the criminal investigations into officer conduct are still ongoing, according to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office.

Using public databases, FiveThirtyEight.com, a website dedicated to statistical analysis of political polling and other issues of public interest, found that while the total number of police shootings nationwide held steady from 2013 through 2019, the number of incidents in large cities fell while numbers grew in suburban and rural areas.

Commentary:  This article supports some information I used in my webinar on ‘Defund/Disband the Police.’  There are more fatal police shooting in smaller agencies when compared to rates of homicides.  This article is specific to the Chicago area.  What is significant is the amount of money spent on outside legal support for these civil actions.  Another issue that in spite of a requirement to conduct an administrative analysis of the shooting incident, some agencies simply don’t.  It goes along with the recent report that 40 percent of police agencies don’t report use of force to the FBI.  Data like this will continue to pressure states to adopt legislation mandating an independent outside investigation of police critical incident.

Federal judge: ‘Obvious differences’ in investigation into McGuffey vs. other deputies

Cincinnati.com

But Dlott noted that McGuffey had received a report from Cincinnati police complaining about Durham. Internal affairs, in fact, explained to Durham that …

(Excerpt from article) Federal judge: ‘Obvious differences’ in investigation into McGuffey vs. other deputies.

The investigation that led to Charmaine McGuffey’s firing showed “obvious differences” compared to others conducted by the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office and may have been “pretextual” – intended to justify demoting her – a federal judge said in advancing McGuffey’s lawsuit to trial.

McGuffey, a former major who is running for sheriff, filed the lawsuit in 2018 saying some within the agency didn’t like that she is an openly gay woman. She also said top officials retaliated against her for raising concerns about use of force. She was fired in 2017 after refusing to accept a civilian position following the internal investigation.

In a ruling released Thursday, U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott pointed out that several other investigations by the sheriff’s office into hostile work environment complaints were less than five pages. The investigation into McGuffey “spans a massive 108 pages,” Dlott said.

“In sharp contrast to the (Internal Affairs) investigations of heterosexuals and males, IA sought out and questioned numerous people who never filed a complaint against McGuffey,” Dlott said. “The obvious differences in the way these investigations were conducted raise genuine issues of material fact as to pretext.” Dlott also said the investigation’s conclusions offer insight into whether McGuffey was treated differently than heterosexual or male employees who engaged in similar or more serious conduct. Dlott cited instances where someone was interviewed about a years-old incident, even though they never filed a complaint against McGuffey.”

Commentary: Of course, we don’t know the actual facts of this incident, but the Federal Judge was obviously moved by the pleadings and supporting documentation.  If true, this is consistent with so many other public safety employee retaliation cases.  Internal Affairs becomes an integral catalyst for the employee’s proof of retaliation.  That’s why I always recommend that the Chief or Sheriff authorize this type on IA and that serious considerations be given to whether or not to proceed when the employee has filed a retaliation civil complaint.  These types of employee generated civil litigation end up costing a lot of money, even if you are successful in defending the case.