Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Possession of sandwich baggies with intent to distribute.

Possession of sandwich baggies with intent to distribute.

Now this is an old story that I had to dig out, cause really, in the latest light of the Florida police department not giving a shit about a boy getting killed while holding skittles, this needs to be brought up. Because NPR went all the wire on the Philadelphia police and even though it's a 40 minute listen, it's well worth doing so as NPR says Fuck da Police
May 3, 2010

Philadelphia Daily News reporters Barbara Laker and Wendy Ruderman received the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting for the 10-month series "Tainted Justice," an expose of alleged corruption among members of an elite narcotics squad on the Philadelphia police force.

During their reporting, Laker and Ruderman uncovered allegations against officers that included committing sexual assaults, disabling surveillance cameras during drug raids to hide their misdeeds, and filing fraudulent warrants. During several raids, the police allegedly stole thousands of dollars in merchandise and money from small retailers.

As a result of Laker and Ruderman's investigation, hundreds of drug cases in Philadelphia have been re-examined, and in some cases thrown out. In addition, the Philadelphia police launched a task force, which includes members of the FBI, the force's Internal Affairs division and the city Inspector General's Office, to investigate the allegations.

Five of the officers involved officers remain on desk duty; more than 15 civil suits have been filed in federal court against members of the force.
Interview Highlights

On informant Ventura Martinez, who alleged that he and narcotics-unit officer Jeffrey Cujdik fabricated evidence in at least two dozen cases

Wendy Ruderman: "He had come into our office looking for protection. He was terrified that he was either going to be killed by a police officer or he was going to be killed by a drug dealer on the street. ... He alleged that ... when [he and Officer Cujdik] couldn't make drug buys out of a house, the officer told him to go buy drugs elsewhere."

On fact-checking Martinez's story

Ruderman: "We went to the homes — every single house — where he said he didn't [really] make the buy [that Cujdik claimed he did in a warrant]. People had been locked up, but we talked to relatives, and we asked them what happened during the raids."
Drug baggies
Philadelphia Daily News

Mom and pop shops in Philadelphia were busted for selling ziplock baggies like the ones pictured here. Police say the baggies are used to package marijuana and cocaine.

On how the victims of the false warrants felt

Ruderman: "They knew that something wasn't right. They had told their attorney something wasn't right. But who's going to believe them? The system is entirely stacked. ... It's the police officer's word against your word, and you can get up there and say, 'Yeah, I sell drugs, but I don't sell that kind of drug' — and you know, who's going to listen to you?"

On finding out about the alleged sexual assaults that took place during some raids

Ruderman: "Just by chance, the wife of the man who was arrested told us that she was home alone at the time with her children, and that this one officer took her to a back room off the kitchen — and none of the other officers were with her — and he fondled her breasts [and] lifted up her shirt. She feared she was going to be raped. He commented on her tattoos. Asked her to pull down her jeans a little so he could see her tattoo. She was petrified. Absolutely petrified."

On the victims of other alleged sexual assaults they found

Ruderman: "Two went on the record. The third we did grant anonymity to, because the allegation was that the officer shoved his hand up her vagina. And she was petrified, and went to the hospital that night, and they did a rape kit. Because of that, she was scared, and we granted her anonymity. The other two were courageous women and gave us their names and told us their story with their faces, names and everything."

On the Philadelphia police knowing about the officer's alleged sexual misconduct

Ruderman: "It was like an open secret. It was almost like, 'Well, this is just what that cop does.' And all of the women felt the police department wasn't hearing them, because they couldn't identify the officer by name. But when they went to Internal Affairs, they were shown an array of 80 photographs of police officers, and a lot of the photos dated back years — when the officers first joined the police department — so they didn't look like they looked now."

On alleged thefts during raids against mom and pop stores
Video still from bodega surveillance camera
Enlarge Philadelphia Daily News

A surveillance still from a bodega in Philadelphia shows an officer minutes before he tries to cut the wires. The video stills, says Ruderman, turned "criticism into silence."
Video still from bodega surveillance camera
Philadelphia Daily News

A surveillance still from a bodega in Philadelphia shows an officer minutes before he tries to cut the wires. The video stills, says Ruderman, turned "criticism into silence."

Ruderman: "The police would record that they [seized] $1,000, but actually the store owners were alleging that, 'No, I had $7,000 in my store.' A lot of these store owners dealt in cash. They paid their vendors in cash. They didn't trust banks. ... So in addition to just having their stores left in shambles, they allege that thousands of dollars were gone. And when they told their attorneys about it, their attorneys said 'Well, everybody says that. Everybody says that all the time. How are you going to prove it? It's your word against their word.' "

On how finding surveillance videos changed that story

Barbara Laker: "A lot of people who were skeptical at first, with the first [cash-theft] story, when they could see visually that these were officers disabling cameras in stores, it was incredible. They could see it and believe it. Any kind of criticism [we had] gotten before from the police department went away."

On how they felt when known drug dealers were released from prison

Laker: "I definitely struggled with it. And it helped when we found the [mom and pop] merchants who had been raided by the same squad. Because they were not drug dealers. It put my mind more at ease. We were on to something that involved innocent people who had been victimized. ... So we did feel guilty about the [drug dealers], but once we found these merchants, I think in my mind and Wendy's mind it relieved our anxiety a little, because we felt like we'd found truly innocent people."

Mom and pop shops in Philadelphia were busted for selling ziplock baggies. Police say the baggies are used to package marijuana and cocaine. And apparently this was perfectly legal. Yeah. Reminder that it is literally illegal to sell ziplock bags in Philadelphia because of this.

So yay! Go for it, war on drugs, I feel safer already!
PHILADELPHIA- In a daring predawn raid, police seized over 20 pallets of ziploc baggies from a local Costco. Estimated (full) street value was 3.2 billion dollars, making this the largest seizure in Philadelphia county history.
Fuck. It's sad that every cop knows they are a good cop in this world gone bad and that's what scares me. Because they actually believe this shit.

Hey, the reporters already won the Pulitzer for this and an ineffectual bullshit response has already taken place. It's cool that some cases got thrown out, I guess, but the cops involved are probably not going to be meaningfully punished and no systematic changes are going to be made in light of this investigation

My favorite police corruption story is how a police department in some (i think) Illinois town was acting like taxi cab drivers for drug dealers. They literally stole the idea from the movie "The Usual Suspects".

All we need now is there to be a revelation that the Philly cops robbed an Armenian money train to complete this 'life imitates art' story that they're doing so well in stealing from The Shield writers. But hey, maybe they'll put them at desk duty where they have the opportunity to falsify more paperwork all day long.

As a journalist I should be shocked. I mean, one of the journalists was put on a list by the police because of it.
"They said nasty things, like 'I hope she gets raped or robbed and needs a police officer and no one comes to her aid'"
Seriously, fuck these people.

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