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Santa Cruz Indymedia

Commentary :: Police State

When can the police break the law?

Many time I observe police officers, whom are paid for by our tax dollars, breaking the very laws they are paid to enforce. When is this allowable?
The answer is never. One of the founding principles of this country is that it is by the people and for the people. That no person, not even the President, is beyond the reach of the laws of this nation. Unfortunately, nearly every day I witness officers running red lights without lights or siren, driving the wrong way down one way streets without lights or siren, running stop signs without lights or siren, driving at nearly double the speed limit in residential areas without lights or siren; all actions that would leave an ordinary citizen with legal and severe financial repercussions. Over the course of 100 yards of driving last night, I observed a police officer violate over 15 sections of the vehicle code, from failure to stop at a red light to reckless driving. For a normal citizen, this behavior would result in thousands of dollars in fines, court costs, and insurance premium increases over the next five years. Do not be afraid to report illegal behavior that you observe! It is our responsibility as citizens to police the police.

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Re: When can the police break the law?

Here is the URL for the Independent Police Auditor of Santa Cruz:

The "Independent Auditor" is useless; post on indymedia or call Free Radio

In some circumstances violating traffic laws (either by police or private citizens) is obviously justified to deter a greater threat (say getting someone to the hospital). However police routinely exert privilege (double parking on Pacific Avenue) where it doesn't seem necessary or appropriate. Such practices can only be detered by documentation and publicizing the cases.

In 2003 the Rotkin-Mathews City Council (then chaired by Reilly) unanimously voted to dismember the Citizen Police Review Board. The CPRB had been looking into issues of selective police enforcement, failure to document their use of weapons, racial discrimination, and other systematized police misconduct. (see "Santa Cruz Lays Waste To Police Oversight" by Mark Halfmoon, former chair of the CPRB and briefly chair of the extremely short-lived CPRB-in-exile, also "CPRB Records To Be Destroyed" by R. Norse, "Letter to Scott Kennedy, Killer of Citizen Police Review" by Becky Johnson

As a sop, City Council spent half the $80,000 previously allotted the CPRB on an "independent auditor", Bob Arenson, previously the lawyer for the CPRB. Arenson showed up once a month at the old CPRB office and (sometimes) returned calls.

In 2004, they cut Arenson's hours and salary again by half. All his reports are in-house and kept from the public.

In theory it's not a bad idea to file a police complaint with Arenson (or the Internal Affairs Dept. of the SCPD), since such complaints are then ultimately accessible to defense lawyers (or folks acting as their own attorneys) in Pitchess motions in the future.

In practice, Arenson is an overpaid bureaucrat who should have refused to take the figleaf position of "auditor" when Reilly's Council killed the CPRB. His secret reports are not available to us, as far as I know.

Direct Action gets the goods.

Immediate copwatching when police misconduct is happening is far more effective. Leave specifics of what you've observed here on indymedia and/or call Free Radio Santa Cruz at 831-427-3772.


when can police break the law? any time they want


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