Posts tagged “stop and frisk

SF Encourages a Vote ‘No Confidence’ on October 30

On October 30, the Milwaukee Police Association — the union representing the Milwaukee Police Department’s rank-and-file — will hold a vote regarding their confidence in Police Chief Ed Flynn. While retirees do not have a vote, SF would encourage active officers to register a vote of ‘no confidence.’

Clearly, the termination of Officer Christopher Manney is premised on political correctness. Supporters of Flynn’s irresponsible firing of Manney claim that politics had no role in the chief’s decision; however, the record shows otherwise.

“We’ve been placed in an almost impossible position,” Flynn is quoted in the April 3, 2013 edition of the New York Times, where he was listed as an “advocate of pedestrian stops, who said that stopping the tactic could harm the low-income, high-crime neighborhoods that civil rights groups say they want to protect.”

Then, in an August 2013 article in InPublicSafety.com, Flynn seemed to endorse New York City’s controversial stop-and-frisk initiative.  “That’s what worries us about what’s happening in New York,” said Flynn.  “It would  be a shame if some people decided to put us back  in our cars just answering calls and ceding the streets to thugs.”

Yet when his own officer, seeing “bulges” in the pockets of a man who appeared unstable, dared to conduct a same type of frisk that Flynn had previously supported, the chief terminated the officer’s employment.

As is the case with politicians, it is important to pay little attention to what they say but, instead, watch what they do. Flynn likes to talk tough and support his fellow east coast chiefs. But back in Milwaukee, where the rubber meets the road, the chief didn’t flinch when tossing a veteran officer under the bus to appease interest groups.

Milwaukee does not need a politician running its police department. Last year, the city’s per capita homicide rate surpassed Chicago’s.  In 2014, the Milwaukee Police Department’s homicide clearance rate is a dismal 40 percent. In the 1990s, when I served as a detective in the homicide unit, the clearance rate for murders was over 80 percent.  Under Chief Flynn’s leadership, a once nationally recognized detective bureau has been run into the ground, an officer now has been terminated for simply doing his job, and Americans have more confidence in Congress than Milwaukee officers now have in their police chief.

The time to act is now. On Thursday, SF encourages rank-and-file Milwaukee officers to register a vote of ‘no confidence.’

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at Amazon.com.

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit www.badgerwordsmith.com and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2014


How Can Ed Flynn Sleep at Night?

On Wednesday, Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn terminated the employment of Police Officer Christopher Manney for conducting a frisk of Dondre Hamilton — a troubled man with psychological issues — in Red Arrow Park.

According to the Milwaukee Police Department’s Internal Affairs complaint:

During the April 30 incident, Hamilton resisted Officer Manney’s attempted pat down by putting “his arms down and a confrontation ensued.” Manney drew his baton and, after delivering a strike to Hamilton’s arm, Hamilton disarmed Manney and struck the officer in the neck with the baton. Fearing for his life, Officer Manney shot Hamilton numerous times.

Mr. Hamilton later passed away from injuries sustained in the shooting.

On September 23, 2014, Deputy Inspector Michael Brunson, the commanding officer of the Internal Affairs Division, alleged Manney “failed to adhere to policy when he failed to have a reasonable suspicion that Mr. Hamilton was armed with a weapon or posed a threat to him.” However, during a compelled interviewed with Internal Affairs, Manney told investigators that he observed “bulges” in Hamilton’s pockets.  In a response to the charges, Manney noted that Hamilton was lying down in a public park “in the path where the public walks” and that the officer “immediately suspected” that Hamilton “wasn’t in a normal state.”

Having over 30-years of law enforcement experience, I believe Manney followed the edicts of the courts during his contact and subsequent pat down of Dondre Hamilton. The burden of proof needed to conduct a frisk is a reasonable and articulable suspicion that a person MAY BE armed — an evaluation that is determined by the totality of the circumstances.  Bulges in the pockets of a seemingly unstable person in a public place could certainly lead a reasonable police officer to believe a person may be armed.  Moreover, I have yet to speak to a single officer — not a one — who believes Manney’s frisk of Hamilton was unjustified.

Consequently, Chief Flynn’s decision in this matter merits scrutiny. In situations such as the shooting death of Mr. Hamilton, rank-and-file police officers soon learn if their police chief is a dedicated law enforcement officer — a person who once toiled in the field and likely conducted dozens of frisks in a similar manner as Officer Manney — or a politician with a badge.  In this instance it is obvious that Flynn is a politician in a blue uniform.

So, I have a few questions for Chief Flynn:

Sir, how can you sleep at night knowing full well that you have thrown a police officer under the bus for simply doing his job?

Chief, do you actually believe that the rank-and-file officers of the MPD — the men and women who put their lives on the line policing troubled areas of Milwaukee — have any confidence in your leadership?

And how will your officer’s react knowing that you, sir, are willing to end their careers to appease City Hall political operatives, the press, and some disgruntled members of the public?

Chief Flynn, what incentive do the officers of your department now have to stop and question potentially armed and dangerous individuals, when, career wise, a better decision might be to drive right on by?

Chief Flynn, as a cop, you have lost your way. While I generally do not purport to speak for others, I feel confident in noting that your decision to fire Officer Manney for seeking to protect his person while performing a dangerous job is an embarrassment to those of us who have worn an MPD uniform.

Chief, with a 2014 homicide clearance rate of just 40 percent, and a per capita murder rate that rivals Chicago’s, maybe it is time to pack it in and call it a career.

Only the bootlickers on the seventh floor of the PAB or the Internal Affairs ‘yes men’ will bother to wave goodbye to Ed Flynn as he trots off to the east coast for a cushy consultant’s position.

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at Amazon.com.

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit www.badgerwordsmith.com and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2014


Does Police Chief Flynn Believe the Constitution is Irrelevant?

There was a time, and it wasn’t that long ago, when members of the local police proudly served their communities free from the yoke of federal law enforcement.  In the 1980s and 1990s, cops on the beat and detectives hunting down suspects kept a distance from the likes of the FBI—an agency that routinely looked down their noses at ‘the locals.’

When watching a television drama, such as Criminal Minds, I sometimes chuckle when the FBI’s 20 and 30 something agents make veteran police investigators look like second-rate cops.  When it comes to clearing a serious crime, I would much rather have a core group of Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) homicide detectives working with me than a slew of FBI agents, many of whom rarely work the streets, and then rib the handful of their colleagues that actually do.

After 9/11, however, the federal government realized that its agents desperately needed the intelligence gleaned by ‘the locals,’ whose officers pounded the pavement 24 x 7.  In order to bring state and local law enforcement agencies into a national fold, Uncle Sam dangled billions of dollars in grants in front of the noses of mayors and police chiefs.  This “free money,” as it is insanely described by the likes of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, became a powerful drug that quickly turned some police chiefs into addicts constantly on a lookout for their next fix—another federal government handout.

In the interim, having taken the federal government’s money, local police agencies now served two masters—the residents of their communities and the US Justice Department.   Milwaukee’s chief of police, Ed Flynn, took the fed’s bait money and established an “intelligence fusion center,” an operation staffed by federal agents, members of the National Guard, state agents, and several members of the MPD, even though, in many instances, those who summon the services of the Milwaukee police often wait hours for an officer to respond.

Moreover, as federal, state and local law enforcement morphed together, the decentralization of authority—a concept our nation’s founders saw as a buffer against tyranny—has ebbed to the point where leaders of police agencies in New York City and Milwaukee apparently no longer believe that the Fourth Amendment is relevant and sacrosanct.

On June 11, Wall Street Journal reporter Heather Mac Donald profiled the case of Floyd v. New York, a federal lawsuit brought to “specifically target” the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy.

A “stop,” based on a “reasonable suspicion” of wrong doing, and a “frisk,” premised on an officer’s “reasonable and articulable” belief that a person might be armed, was a practice upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark case of Terry v. Ohio.

In New York City, however, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly’s stop-and-frisk policy omits the “reasonable and articulable” part of the equation.  In plan speak; the NYPD’s policy thumbs its nose at the Fourth Amendment and the judicial precedents established by our nation’s highest court, which, prior to the Patriot Act, was respected as the rule of law.

In her article, Ms. Mac Donald appears to find a prominent supporter of Ray Kelly’s frisk without cause policy on the seventh floor of Milwaukee Police Administration Building.

“Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn has said that it will be a “tragedy” if his city is forced to curtail the pedestrian stops that have reduced crime in inner-city neighborhoods,” wrote Ms. Mac Donald.

“That’s what worries us about what’s happening in New York,” Chief Flynn told the Los Angeles Times in April. “It would just be a shame if some people decided to put us back in our cars just answering calls and ceding the streets to thugs.”

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324063304578525850909628878.html

Asking the police to follow the guidelines put in place by the U.S. Supreme Court that frisks should be based on an officer’s “reasonable and articulable suspicion” that an individual is armed hardly equates to shuttering officers inside their squad cars.  Chief Flynn, as Commissioner Kelly, took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States.  Ray Kelly’s willingness to trample on the Fourth Amendment, and Chief Ed Flynn’s apparent support for such a policy, illustrates why public officials should be viewed skeptically when they ask the public to trust them with the use of drones, cellular telephone monitoring technologies, and widespread government data collection.

This new American age of Machiavellian-type governance; whereby, the “ends justifies the means,” might work well for autocrats in China, Russia, and Cuba, but should have no relevance in the United States, where our nation—once the home of the free—has, in a historical blink of an eye, mutated into the land of the watched.

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest print edition only book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at Amazon.com.

http://www.amazon.com/Best-Spingola-Files-Volume-Steven/dp/0979683998/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1364048098&sr=8-1&keywords=best+of+the+spingola+files

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit www.badgerwordsmith.com and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013