Spokane Police Abuses: Past to Present

The People of Spokane vs. Law Enforcement Abuse, Impunity, Corruption, and Cover-up

Archive for May, 2008

Lies encouraged in police Special Investigations Unit — 60 Minutes, June 1, 2008

Posted by Arroyoribera on May 31, 2008

Chicago Cop: Lies Were Encouraged

May 30, 2008

(CBS) Indicted Chicago police officer Keith Herrera says his superiors knew and encouraged him to lie on reports so questionable arrests would stand up in court.

In his first interview, Herrera, who also admits to stealing money, takes Katie Couric inside the Special Operations Section, an elite group of officers, some of whom he says profited during their quest to take criminals off the streets in one of the city’s largest police scandals.

The report will be broadcast on 60 Minutes this Sunday, June 1, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Herrera and six fellow SOS members were charged with crimes including armed robbery and aggravated kidnapping – many against suspected drug dealers. They have all pled not guilty. They are also accused of routinely lying on police reports. “Creative writing was a certain term that bosses used to make sure that the job got done,” he says. His bosses, says Herrera, wanted the cases to stick in court. “I didn’t just pick up a pen and just learn how to [lie on reports]. Bosses, guys that I work with who were older than I was…It’s taught to you,” he tells Couric.

The SOS mission was to get drugs and guns off the street, he says, “at any cost.”

Getting the job done often entailed breaking the rules, says Herrera. He describes to Couric a hypothetical scenario where to make a case stick against a gunman who tossed his weapon, a cop would lie in the police report and say that the gun never left the man’s hand. “Do you want that guy…that just shot somebody to not go to jail because he threw the gun? Or do you want him to go to jail because he never let the gun out of his hand?” asks Herrera. “I know what I’ve got to do.”

Pressed by Couric that his implication was that few or no officers went by the book, Herrera responds, “Maybe [some obey the rules]. This isn’t…Podunk, Iowa. This is the city of Chicago….You’ve got to do a job,” he says. And he says he was told he was doing a good job. “I got high-fives and honorable mentions and department commendations,” says Herrera.

Eventually, Herrera tells Couric, he went way over the line, sometimes taking money stolen from suspects. Herrera rationalized his first cut of illicit money. “I’m going to go tell a supervisor? No. And you just tell yourself it’s not going to happen again…No one is going to know,” he tells Couric. It did happen again and often, says Herrera. According to prosecutors, SOS members stole hundreds of thousands of dollars.

On these raids and in the unit’s street work there was a senior officer in SOS, Jerry Finnigan, who, though not a sergeant was effectively “in charge” says Herrera. Officer Finnigan was indicted with the rest and accused of being their ringleader. He was once an idol of Herrera’s. “To me he was like Superman,” he tells Couric. But, he says, Finnigan went too far. According to Herrera, Finnigan came to him last summer with a plan to deal with two former colleagues set to testify against them. “Jerry Finnigan decided that they didn’t need to be breathing anymore,” says Herrera.

This was a tipping point for Herrera and a moment to seize some kind of redemption. “I don’t have my star or my gun, but I’m still a cop. I’m going to stop you from doing this,” he says he thought at the time. He went to the FBI, who gave him a device to record Finnigan. On the recording, says Herrera, “he called [the alleged murder plot] a ‘paint job.’ He just said ‘some really good painters [would do the killing]. We’d never have to paint again,'” Herrera says Finnigan told him. Herrera says Finnigan even spoke of killing two more former Chicago cops from SOS. Finnigan was charged by federal prosecutors with planning a murder for hire based on Herrera’s recordings – a charge Finnigan denies.

Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis, brought in to stabilize the department after the SOS scandal, says Herrera’s story of street misconduct rings true. “I think there probably was an atmosphere…. ‘Maybe we are breaking the laws, but look what we’ve accomplished.’ They lost their way and it saddens me,” he tells Couric. Of the charge that supervisors knew and encouraged the misconduct, “That is horrific in my eyes,” says Weis.

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley acknowledges the taint on his police department left by the SOS indictments, but says his officers primarily help the public. “It could be 10 or 15 or 20 [misconduct incidents] but every day we’re answering thousands of calls….You don’t allow a series of things to overcome the police mission of serving and protecting the people of the city of Chicago,” he tells Couric.

Produced by Tanya Simon, Andrew Metz and Michael Radutzky
© MMVIII, CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Posted in Corruption, Ethics, Independent Oversight, Know Your Rights, Lies Damn Lies and ..., Testimonies, Unanswered Questions | Leave a Comment »

Former Spokane Police Officer and Military SpecialOps veteran replaces non-Spanish speaking member of Governor’s Hispanic Commission

Posted by Arroyoribera on May 31, 2008

The Washington State Hispanic Commission has chosen to replace its non-Spanish-speaking northeastern Washington representative (covering Spokane and surrounding counties) with a veteran cop and military special ops “expert”. Bob Cepeda is a former Spokane Police Officer and comes to the Governor’s Hispanic Commission at a time when the Spokane Police Department is involved in extensive controversies including unresolved killings of disable individuals, illegal strip searches of minority individuals, spying and civil liberties abuses, and charges of corruption and abuse of authority, as well as the recent forced resignation of a Hispanic member of the Spokane Police Advisory Committee due to accusations of corruption against her. The presence of Cepeda on the Governor’s Commission should be cause for concern given his extensive connections within various police and military agencies, as well as for the intense focus of the commission on gangs, a topic championed by the commission’s former chairwoman, Yvonne Morton-Lopez. Now chairwoman of the Washington State Human Rights Commission, Morton-Lopez has continued to press the focus towards gangs, a topic which in a state where minorities are grossly under-represented in law enforcement is fraught with serious dangers for communities of color. Why did the Governor consider a career cop to be the appropriate representative on her committee in this moment? When will the Governor consider someone who is actually from the community to be a “commissioner”?

http://www.cha.wa.gov/english/yvonne.shtml

Bob Cepeda

Ex-Spokane Police Officer and Military Special Ops named to Washington State Hispanic Commission

Counties: Ferry, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Spokane and Stevens

(Term Expires 8/01/08 – 1st Term)

Work: Gonzaga University

502 East Boone

Spokane, WA 99258

Telephone: 509-323-3998

Email: cepeda@gonzaga.edu

Commissioner Cepeda is a born and raised native of New York City (Harlem) who currently resides in Spokane with his family.

Mr. Cepeda has over twenty five years experience working in the criminal justice field and seventeen years in military special operations. He is a current consultant and trainer on gangs, terrorism, ethics, crime prevention, and use of force issues. He is a subject-matter expert with the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission.

________________________________________________________________________________________________

(translation to Spanish by David Brookbank)

Comisión Hispana del estado de Washington reemplace a Comisionada quien no habla español con ex-policía de Spokane

La Gobernadora del estado de Washington ha nombrado al ex-policía y militar de carera Bob Cepeda como representante de la Comisión Hispana, reemplazando a la ex-comisionada Yvonne Morton-Lopez — quien no habla español — en el noreste del estado de Washington y Spokane.  Cepeda, ex-policía de la ciudad de Spokane y ‘experto’ en operaciones militares especiales, llega a la comisión en un momento en que la policía de Spokane esta involucrada en extensas controversias, incluyendo homicidios no resueltos de individuos incapacitados, cateos ilegales de minorías, espionaje y violaciones de derechos civiles, y cargos de corrupción y abuso de autoridad, igual como el caso reciente de la renuncia obligatoria de un miembro hispano del Comité de Asesoría Policíaca por acusaciones de corrupción en su contra. La presencia de Cepeda en la comisión de la Gobernadora ha de ser causa de preocupación dado a sus extensos vínculos dentro de varias agencias policíacas y militares, igual como su enfoque intenso en pandillas, un tema promovido en gran parte por la ex-presidenta y representante del noreste en la Comision Hispana, Yvonne Morton-Lopez. Ahora como presidenta de la Comisión de Derecho Humanos del estado de Washington, Morton-Lopez ha seguido enfocándose en el tema de pandillas, un tema lleno de peligros serios para las comunidades minoritarias, especialmente en un estado en donde las minorías culturales y raciales son severamente sub-representadas en las agencias policíacas locales, estatales y federales. Por que nuestra Gobernadora consideró un policía de carera apropiada para esta región en este momento? Cuando va a considerar la Gobernadora una persona de veras de la comunidad apropiada para ser “comisionado” o “comisionada”?

Posted in Corruption, Espanol, Ethics, Gangs?, History of SPD Abuses, Know Your Rights, Photographic Evidence, Racism, Unanswered Questions | Leave a Comment »

 
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