Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Arkansas Bad Cop Week

It has been a bad week for the image and fact of justice in Arkansas, as law enforcement officers continued to commit serial abuses of power. Of course, one poster commented earlier that it is a good week for the people when the cops don't shoot and kill an unarmed mentally-handicapped citizen who has committed no crime.

The buzz is all about
Cpl. Jarrod Hankins of the Washington County Sheriff's Office and Bailiff for the Circuit Court. He locked Adriana Torres-Flores, a woman who had entered a not guilty plea to selling pirated CDs, in a holding cell without food, water, or restroom facilities from Thursday until Monday. He says he forgot to call the Sheriff's Office to have her transported and forgot that he had locked her in the cell at the courthouse. Forgetting about people is a passive abuse of power, but it is a common one among public officials.

Then there is
Josh McConnell, another of Washington County Sheriff Tim Helder's boys and detective with the 4th Judicial Drug Task Force. He provided false information to have his sister's ex-husband stopped for a drug search by both the Sheriff's Office and the State Police. Washington County Deputy Steven Walker stopped the "suspect" for the amorphous charge of "careless driving" and wrote four tickets, and he also denied knowing fellow deputy McConnell. Then McConnell called Walker a liar for saying he had tipped him on the stop. As Rick Hoyt understated, there is "an integrity issue" with all of these cops, and there is a management issue with the Sheriff who cannot control such abuse by his personnel.

Former Springdale Police Officer
Donald Lee Stevens was arrested as a suspect in a bank robbery this week. Stevens was on probation for a 2004 case where he initially was charged with commercial burglary, theft, and breaking and entering for using keys and pass codes to plunder several Arvest bank machines in Springdale. In 2005 he pleaded guilty to one count of bank larceny and was sentenced to 18 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Wonder who was supervising him?

On Monday in Benton County, Arkansas State Trooper Brian Garrett pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated assault and second-degree battery. If convicted, he could receive a sentence of up to six years on each of the felony counts.
Mandi Garrett of Bella Vista claimed that her husband physically abused her and was abusive toward her three children. Garrett is also accused of placing the muzzle of his duty revolver against his wife's face after he had been drinking.

Local hero Colonel Winford Phillips, head of the State Police, was backed up this week by the State Police Commission for firing State Trooper
Roderick L. Trotter, who abused his power and admitted seeking a three-way sex encounter between his wife and two women in a car he had stopped for driving with expired tags. Phillips said, "It bordered on soliciting prostitution," and that Trooper Trotter's actions were "unprofessional and unacceptable." Trotter's lawyer, J. Leon Johnson who is an Outstanding Alumnus of Harding University and was appointed Arkansas Attorney General by Governor Mike Huckabee, fought the firing and said Trotter's offense wasn't as bad as another state trooper who had sex in his patrol car when Huckabee was governor.

We're still waiting on Colonel Phillips' response to the investigation he ordered on abuse of power by Trooper
Thomas Weindruch, who was off-duty and showed up uninvited at a house fire to arrest a newspaper reporter on the bogus charge of "obstruction of government operations," the ubiquitous charge that is used when cops get mad and can find no crime. The judge dismissed the charge back in December, and Phillips directed that the investigation of Trooper Weindruch’s behavior by the Internal Affairs Division be made a priority. Three months with no action hardly seems like it was a priority.

How can people be expected to respect the police when the cops don't respect the fundamental rights of the people?

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