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On TV series like Chicago PD and Blue Bloods, which are the most realistic in portraying the idealism and dedication, or, contrariwise, t…   no comments

Posted at 3:24 am in Uncategorized

Answer by A Quora admin:

Neither program is especially realistic.

Chicago PD has one unit of five or six people involved in running gun battles and shooting multiple bad guys just about every week. That makes for exciting action sequences, but the entire Chicago Police Department (probably, all the police departments in Illinois) doesn't see that much action.

The sergeant in charge of the unit was in jail for making threats against a firefighter, before he cut a deal with Internal Affairs to spy on other cops. He takes in orphans who grow up to become cops and eventually come to work in his unit. He has a safe in his basement that contains hundreds of thousands of dollars procured from who-knows-where, along with other mysterious packages that are probably not the family china or really good chocolate.

The jail stint and extortion scheme alone would almost certainly mean the end of his career. If he did manage to make it back to the PD, he certainly wouldn't be running an elite team of cowboy gunfighters. He also wouldn't be allowed to have his former foster daughter working for him.

Blue Bloods portrays cops in a more favorable light, but not a true one. NYPD commissioners rarely rise up from the ranks. Commissioner  Frank Reagan often says he does not get involved with incidents involving his sons, but he is almost always involved with incidents involving his sons. I'm not certain that NYPD would allow the sons of a sitting commissioner to work at all, but that's speculation on my part. Certainly, the kids of the commissioner would be told to lie low, as any questionable incident involving them would be front page news.

Danny and Jamie Reagan (the sons) also seem to shoot a lot of people. A cop who is involved in one shooting is watched carefully. If a cop was to rack up two or more in a comparatively short time, he would be transferred to some isolated assignment in the third sub-basement of a building to get him out of the spotlight. He might never been seen again until he retired.

I also find it a little specious that a Harvard Law grad, even one from a legendary, multi-generational cop family, would decide to be a uniformed patrolman. He would have difficulty just making his student loan payments on a cop's salary, while he was passing up lawyer jobs paying 2-3X what a patrolman makes, and potentially millions as an eventual partner in a large law firm.

The Reagan daughter, Erin, is an assistant district attorney. The various DA's offices have hundreds of attorneys working for them. She would never be allowed to touch a case involving one of her immediate family, even though the TV character has this happening nearly every week.

Frank Reagan is the chief/commissioner every cop wishes he had. He spent time on the streets, has never forgotten his roots, meets personally with cops who are in difficult situations (sometimes to their benefit, sometimes not), and constantly stresses ethics and integrity, both for himself and his troops.

He's a little too good to be true, especially for a big city chief. The bigger the law enforcement agency, the more of a politician you have to be in order to run one. Guys like Bill Bratton, Ray Kelly, and Charles Moose are much better politicians than they are cops. I think Frank Reagan is too much of a boy scout. In an organization as large and complex as NYPD, he would be eaten alive.

Actual corruption, like cops taking bribes, stealing evidence, informing for mobsters, etc. is much more subtle than you see on Chicago PD. It has to be kept within a few people, because otherwise someone will get stupid or sloppy and ruin the scheme. In the few instances where I saw it happen, no one outside the inner circle had a clue about it.

Conversely, investigative work is not as straightforward as Blue Bloods or any other TV show makes it seem. The detectives on Blue Bloods work only one case at a time, and they're always resolved within a few days, at most. Actual detectives have many cases open at any moment, and have to divide their time. When they go to interview someone, they aren't at home, or they're out f town for two weeks. People move and don't leave a forwarding address. Your suspect does capers in other precincts, or even other cities and states, and you may not know about it. While there are truly dedicated and talented detectives (and patrol officers), most of their cases resolve over weeks and months, not days, and there are far more than a single two-detective team involved.

I watch and enjoy both programs, but TV is entertainment, not education. If you want to truly understand how things work, you need to go to the police academy and work the street for a while.

On TV series like Chicago PD and Blue Bloods, which are the most realistic in portraying the idealism and dedication, or, contrariwise, t…

Written by Tim Dees on January 3rd, 2015

Is it right to body slam and arrest a professor for Jaywalking around the construction zone near the university?   no comments

Posted at 4:57 pm in Uncategorized

Answer by Tim Dees:

The requirement to carry identification was ruled unconstitutional in the decision for Kolender v. Lawson, over 30 years ago. Arizona may have some workaround law that the officer was making reference to, or the officer may have been bluffing. Personally, I'd be interested in reading the statute he was referencing (and that the professor was supposedly charged with violating).

The officer does mention she was walking "on a public thoroughfare." There may be a requirement to carry identification when you are walking in the street, as opposed to a sidewalk intended for foot traffic. I'm speculating here; I know close to nothing about Arizona law.

One question I'd have, and that was not answered in the news report or video, is whether there was a designated foot path around the construction. At most construction zones where the sidewalk is obstructed, there is a prescribed alternate foot path for pedestrians. Did the professor walk into the street because she found the alternate route (if there was one) inconvenient?

She tells the cop something like, "Everyone is doing it," [walking in the street]. "Everyone is doing it" is not a valid defense. If everyone is looting the stores in a neighborhood, that's not going to help you if you're the one the cops manage to catch doing it.

As for the officer's use of force: yes, it was justified, providing he stopped her for a legitimate violation of the law (as I mentioned above, I'm not clear this was the case). If a police officer tells you to stop, you had best stop. If you don't, he's going to use force to make you stop, and he will escalate that to whatever level he needs to in order to effect the stop (which, by this time, will be an arrest, even if it wasn't before). Police officers are not going to allow you to defy them and walk away smirking. To put this in a different context, say an officer pulls you over for suspected drunk driving, and when the officer asks them to step out of the car, you say, "I don't think so. Bye." and he drives off. The cop isn't going to say, "Guess he showed me," and resume patrol. He's going to pursue you, call as many other cops as might be necessary to assist him, use tire deflation devices to disable your car if he needs to, and otherwise will do everything he can to take you into custody. By this time, the charges will be a lot more serious than simple DUI.

The cop could have been more diplomatic, but the professor was clearly not going to submit herself to the officer's authority. This is a pretty common reaction from college professors, particularly those in the liberal arts. They often do not like cops, and will make any confrontation a Battle Royal if they can manage it. University cops generally know this, but they don't always recognize professors and staff. It shouldn't matter, as everyone is bound to obey the same laws, but some people put themselves above such things.

I've said this before: if you don't like what a cop is doing or saying to you, make a complaint, and/or contest the action in court. Do not defy or physically resist the cop, because he is going to escalate the level of force used, and 99% of the time, he's going to win. The professor could have taken her ticket or warning, and then made a complaint about the officer the next day at the police station. I imagine she was aware that the campus police have dash cam recorders, so there would be an impartial record of what happened. As it is, she fought with the cops, lost the fight, got arrested and jailed, and now has to defend herself in court. Her complaint is going to have that much less credibility.

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Written by Tim Dees on June 28th, 2014

How do plea bargains work in US Law?   no comments

Posted at 11:53 pm in Uncategorized

Answer by Tim Dees:

A plea bargain usually involves a guilty plea to one or more charges, with other charges possibly being dismissed. In exchange, the state agrees to recommend a sentence that is less harsh than what the defendant could expect if he is found guilty at trial. The state saves the time and expense of a criminal trial; the defendant spends less time in jail, or suffers a reduced penalty of fines, probation restrictions, etc.

Defendants are often offered plea bargains when they assist the police in ongoing investigations, e.g, become an informant. This is especially common in narcotics cases, where investigations often require personal introductions or transactions made by someone known to the seller. Sometimes an undercover police officer is introduced to a source known by the informant, but more commonly, the informant himself makes the transaction, using marked money and possibly while wearing a recording device or radio transmitter.

Judges are not always required to accept plea bargains. In a typical hearing, the prosecutor might tell the judge, "Mr. Doe has agreed to plead guilty to counts one, three, and five of the indictment, with the state moving to dismiss the remaining counts. In exchange, the state will recommend probation in lieu of prison time." In most cases, the judge will accept the plea bargain. However, if he feels the crime merits a harsher punishment or he wants to force the state to prove their charges at trial, he can reject the plea bargain. Exactly how this works varies from one state and even one courtroom to another.

Plea bargains are often made so a defendant can get out of jail. If a defendant has been unable to make bail and has been sitting in jail for weeks or months pending trial, he is likely to accept a plea bargain, even if the state has a weak case. If he pleads guilty, he gets time served and leaves jail on probation immediately. If he decides to wait it out, he could be in jail for months longer, and serve more time while waiting for a trial date than he would if he pleaded guilty to the charge without a plea bargain. Of course, taking the plea bargain also means that he will have the conviction on his record, which will affect him for the rest of his life. For poor defendants unable to make bail, it's not a terribly fair system.

If not for plea bargains, courts would be even more crowded and slow than they are now. There are simply not enough courtrooms, judges, or prosecutors to take every case to trial.

It's not uncommon for a case to be plea bargained moments before trial. I have come to court many times, ready to testify, only to find that the defendant has suddenly changed his mind and has decided to enter a guilty or nolo contendere (no contest) plea. When faced with the spectre of having the evidence against them presented to the court, and risking being sentenced to the maximum penalty allowed by law, defendants often get cold feet. This is one of the reasons it's so difficult to get a case into court quickly. The judge in the case has to set aside time for the trial, and when the defendant suddenly pleads guilty, there are no other proceedings scheduled for that time. It's a tremendously inefficient system.

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Written by Tim Dees on June 26th, 2014