Florida Cops Intimidate Would-be Complainants

Via Boing-boing, a link to this absolutely amazing piece of investigative reporting: Police Station Intimidation-Parts 1 and 2 in which “CBS4 News found that, in police departments across Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, large and small, it was virtually impossible to walk in the door, and walk out with a complaint form.”

Given I am currently doing work on ID cards, I was particularly struck by this transcript of the reaction of the Sea Ranch Lakes PD in Broward County, not all that far north of here:

cop; We don’t give you — we don’t give you a form. Where do you live?
tester: I don’t want to say.
officer: You don’t want to say?
tester: Where are you going?
officer: You want to play hardball? We’ll play hardball. I want ID.
tester: For what?
officer: I’m asking you for ID right now, that’s why. Here, hand it to me. Hand it to me.
tester: Are you kidding me? Here.
officer: I said, hand me your ID. What are you doing here? This is —
tester: I came to ask you how to file a complaint.
officer: This is very suspicious.
tester: Asking how to file a complaint is suspicious?
officer: Why don’t you shut up?
officer: I say this is very suspicious, that you pull in here at this time of night —
tester: Eight o’clock?
officer: You’re constantly butting in.
tester: I’m constantly butting in?
Mike: Sir, I would like to leave.
officer: I would love it, but he’s got your driver’s license, so you’re just going to have to stay.
Mike: Sir, are you detaining us?
officer: Okay, could I give you a ticket right now for improper backing.
Mike: You can do whatever you want, I suppose.
officer: Okay, that means yes, I guess you’re saying, right? ANd for backing up, correct, yes?
Mike: I was backing up, sir, because I was leaving.
officer: But because I’m a nice guy, okay, I’m going to give you a warning. Is that fair?
Mike: Yes, sir.
officer: Okay.

The TV station that broke the story reports that “Remarkably, of 38 different police stations tested around South Florida, all but three had no police complaint forms” yet it nonetheless felt obligated to introduce its report by saying that “Most police officers are a credit to the badge, serving the community and the people who pay their salary, getting criminals off the street, making the community safer for everyone.” Guess none of those guys happen to work the front desk, eh?

And much of the report is also devoted to quoting Miami police chief John Timoney saying that stuff like this can’t and shouldn’t happen, if it did it would surely have consequences. Not one suggestion that maybe Timoney himself might be a poster child for intimidatory policing.) To be fair, though, Timoney’s department, the City of Miami was one of the few south Florida jurisdictions that actually had complaint form on hand, and trilingual ones at that. Could be due to the high demand?

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