The Santa Ana Police Department’s No Good, Very Bad Day
Aug. 7, 2015 (Mimesis Law) — I’m an old school kind of guy. I remember when all phones had cords attaching them to a wall, and then later when the first bag cell phones came out. I didn’t get a cell phone until my department made me get one. When I started in police work, everybody carried a wheelgun because that’s all the department would allow officers to carry. My grandson programed my DVR. I didn’t get Twitter until my editor twisted my arm and forced me to sign up. (OK, until he somewhat mildly suggested it, but the first sounds so much better.)
So I’m looking at the Twitters and I see one where a police union has sued to keep the Santa Ana, California Police Department Internal Affairs from using a surveillance videotape in its investigation into officer misconduct. And the first judge, Judge Ronald Bauer, to hear the matter appears inclined to issue a temporary restraining order. Superior Court Judge William Claster, who stepped in for the first judge, was skeptical of the union’s request, but continued the matter until August 13th, when Judge Bauer returns.
Basically what happened is that a medical marijuana dispensary was operating in Santa Ana without the appropriate business permits, and the police department couldn’t have that. So the police got a search warrant and executed a full-out SWAT raid on an open business, full of customers. Then the police destroyed (or rather tried to destroy) all of the businesses video cameras. And then the police got the munchies, and started to allegedly eat some of the marijuana laced food that the business had for sale. Idiots.
So the business’s attorney, Matthew Pappas, promptly released that video on Youtube, starting the SAPD investigation, the union lawsuit to suppress, and all of the jokes about the police eating the evidence.
Of course, in my view, that’s not the real issue. The real issue is what gives the police the authority to destroy private property and impede the preservation of evidence? I’m not talking about the entry into the business, although stupid and unnecessary. It is authorized by the existence of a search warrant. Nor am I talking about officers and the munchies. What I’m talking about is the destruction of the CCTV surveillance cameras by the police. We see the police officers beating on the cameras with a crowbar, basically just destroying the business owner’s property.
I understand this for external cameras during a raid on a drug house, it prevents the occupants from being able to prepare an armed defense and goes to officer safety. Once police have secured the premises, the officer safety basis for the destruction of cameras is eliminated. They are going to come back with a comment on off-property monitoring and officer safety, but that’s crap. I would challenge them to provide a single example where off-property monitoring led to an armed attack on officers—and I would lay odds that they can’t provide even one instance.
Even were such a justification actually exists, there is no need to destroy the cameras, every Wal-Mart in the country sells black plastic trash bags and duct tape. Bag ‘em if you have to (and can actually justify it).
Instead, what the police are doing is tampering with evidence. In my part of the country, that’s a felony, and a much more serious crime than selling MJ brownies without a business permit.
So instead of having officers who are here to protect the public, to be guardians so to speak, you have officers who have appeared to have maliciously destroyed private property, eaten drug laced food, tampered with evidence, and who are now complaining of investigations into their conduct. It makes me very upset that the profession I gave most of my life to has to deal with officers like this.
Maybe my grandson can program my Twitter to filter this stuff out, and we can all sing Kumbaya again. Or maybe police officers can stop doing stupid crap—nah, that won’t happen. It will take the public to hold the officers accountable.