6 Corrupt Police Forces That Didn't Even Pretend to Give A F
In the last few years, there seems to have been a drastic increase of police violence plaguing the United States, as if everyone with a badge is auditioning to become Mad Max in the pending societal breakdown. However, the even more depressing truth is that things haven't really gotten worse. Quite a few cops have been dragging their asses way over the thin blue line since time immemorial. For instance ...
The Denver Police Force Straight-Up Robbed People
Most people know about the widespread corruption of the Los Angeles Police Department in the late '90s, thanks to pop culture touchstones like The Shield, Training Day, and Demolition Man. For a time, the LAPD had decided that the only way to handle gangs was to become an even bigger, more dangerous gang -- one which could arrest, attack, and even rob criminals with impunity. What most people don't know is that almost the same thing happened with the Denver Police Department 30 years prior, except that they didn't even bother with the "fighting fire with fire" shtick. Nope, they cut out the middleman and started robbing businesses themselves.
Between 1961 and 1962, the Denver Police Department ripped off more than 200 businesses every which way they could. First, an officer or two would get friendly with the owners, asking questions like if they had security guards or silent alarms, or which character they identified most with in Ocean's Eleven. If the answers were "no," "no," and "Andy Garcia," the cops would break into the building, crack the safe, and make off with their cash. Everywhere certain Denver police officers went, loss of money followed. Seems like an easy pattern to crack, but the cops found it quite easy to keep the ruse going, on account of frequently being assigned to investigate their own crimes.
Like this crime against both literature and Photoshop.
That is, until officer Art Winstanley and his accomplice sped away from two non-crooked cops, causing a stolen safe to careen out of their trunk and nearly hit the pursuing patrol car. As you may have guessed, Winstanley was eventually arrested.
It was the most dangerous (and least sexy) way to "make it rain" ever.
At first, the department tried to pin all their crimes on this one bad seed -- which wasn't hard, since Winstanley was the kind of guy who would (and did) rob a drug store while he was out on bail for robbery. Following the inevitable investigation, however, 30 officers confessed and nearly a dozen resigned from the force, an act that would ironically do more to clean up the streets than anything they had done as actual policemen.
A Cop (And KKK Member) Frames Dozens Of Black Texans As Drug Pushers
It's hard to tell how exactly a bona fide Klansman would ever be allowed to carry a gun and badge, but that's exactly what happened in Tulia, Texas. In 1998, literal card-carrying racist Tom Coleman unleashed his backwards prejudice on a slew of innocent people like a bigoted hurricane.
Or, like, pretty much any other far less offensive analogy.
In an investigation that lasted a little over a year, Coleman hauled 46 drug dealers to prison. Did we say drug dealers? We meant "completely innocent people who happened to be black." In a small town of 5,000 people with only around 400 black residents, we're sure that wasn't a coincidence. Fortunately for Coleman, his position as an unsupervised drug enforcement agent / dude with a mustache and a gun didn't really require him to have a motive, reason, or even evidence to arrest people.
Walker, Evil Ranger
Coleman simply made his own evidence by lying his ass off in court repeatedly, claiming "suspects" sold him drugs even when they had ironclad alibis, like being at festivals miles away from Coleman or having time cards which proved they had been at work when he swore they were selling him drugs. He would even invent suspects and then simply arrest any black person he felt like arresting, even though they didn't fit his own description. But before you start thinking the good state of Texas would ignore this monstrous behavior, rest assured that Coleman was given the Texas Department of Safety's 1999 Outstanding Lawman of the Year award -- though they did let Chris Rock host the 2000 OLY's to prove that they themselves weren't racist.
He told people this shack was home to a bigger cocaine kingpin than Tony Montana, and people believed him.
Eventually, after a retired district judge started digging around, Coleman's cases were finally exposed as bullshit. Most of the "felons" he arrested were pardoned and compensated, seeing as how there wasn't a single shred of evidence against them. You might now be wondering why you never heard of any famous trial against the KKK cop. That's because that part never happened. In 2005, Coleman was finally convicted ... for perjury. He was then sentenced to 10 years probation, which means he only would have gone to jail if he had committed another crime. Luckily, it seems a guy like Coleman can't get arrested in Texas.
D.C. Police Try To March Prostitutes Into The Next State
In June of 1989, the Washington, D.C. police force was fed up with all the professional sexing going on in their jurisdiction, so they decided to gather up 24 local prostitutes and make them march their way over the state line into Virginia. Maybe they believed this meant no one would ever sell sex to a politician ever again, thereby creating more job opportunities for ambitious interns. Either way, in the painfully early hours of the morning, an army of leather mini-skirted women walked over 1.4 miles at the behest of a handful of police officers who told them it was walk or be arrested. Perhaps these law enforcers didn't realize there's a specific law (appropriately called the Mann Act) which forbids the transportation of prostitutes over U.S. state lines. So in addition to being lousy cops, they were also technically sex traffickers.
Also, walking a mile and a half in high heels is a motherfucker.
The officers' ploy nearly worked, too, but when the march was nearing the border, a photojournalist jumped out of the bushes and starting snapping up shots like a madman. The policemen desperately tried to convince the photographer to leave and forget what he had seen, in case he "messed up" what the officers were "trying to do" (which was forcibly relocating a bunch of American citizens). Being a journalist, the photographer decided not to mind his own business, because that's kind of his job. The cops hightailed it out of there, and the women turned around and went right back to D.C.
One Crazy Arizona Sheriff Has Turned His County Into A Bizarre Dystopia
No matter where you stand on the treatment of criminals, most of us can agree that people should only be treated like convicted felons after they've been convicted as felons -- preferably by someone wise in a black robe speaking in a pleasant Southern drawl. But some people, like longtime Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, America's self-proclaimed "toughest sheriff," feel that something as silly as due process is for other, lesser folk. Which is probably why he rules over his county like a syphilitic Roman emperor.
Arpaio's got some opinions on jail time and rehabilitation, and all of them are terrible. Like his highly controversial and utterly terrifying "Tent City" -- a two-decade-old makeshift prison where both petty first-timers and hardened criminals are subjected to pink underwear, rotten food, and 130-degree temperatures.
"If you don't want to do the time, stop being so dang brown."
In 2001, Arpaio thought he would try to prevent would-be criminals from criming by showing them the inside of an real live holding cell. So he set up webcams around the jail and streamed video of detainees being booked and led to their cells. Sure, this may scare a few troubled teens out of their shoplifting black eyeliner phase, but it turns out that broadcasting the most humiliatingly desperate moment in a person's life before they've even been convicted of anything is fucking illegal.
Defending himself with "BUT THE SOLDIERS," because Joe doesn't need to arrest you to exploit you.
Not that something as trivial as the law ever stopped a lawman like Arpaio, especially since the law has never tried to stop him. All the way back in 1999, Ol' Joe was gunning for reelection and must have thought to himself, "People always try to assassinate great leaders like Lincoln or Hitler, so being almost un-alived would be great for my career." He then faked an assassination attempt like any irrational, power-hungry dictator would. And because assassination attempts need assassins to be believable, he also framed some poor sap for trying to kill him.
The victim remained in prison for four years before everyone came to the conclusion that Arpaio was a raving lunatic. Arpaio was sued, but was able to pin the blame on some subordinates and remained in office. If you think this sounds like an awful lot of illegal/controversial activity for one police department to undertake, you're right! If you're wondering if there's are countless more atrocities committed by Joe and his posse, there are! If you think Arpaio is shaking in his snakeskin boots, keep dreaming! He's more than confident that his pink underwear will keep him in office year after year, because people like Arpaio and Kim Jong Il know the sad truth: It's only news if people haven't already grown accustomed to your particular brand of insanity. Otherwise, it's just Tuesday.
Every time an Arizona citizen participates in a local election, some random guy gets a pair of pink underwear.
A Los Angeles Jail Keeps An FBI Informant From Snitching By Locking Him Up Under False Names
When the FBI caught wind of the mistreatment in the Los Angeles jail system in 2012, they decided to place an informant on the inside. But after jail officials discovered that inmate Anthony Brown was working for the Feds, they freaked the fuck out and ordered their sheriffs to make Brown disappear -- literally. To accomplish this, the officers made it look like Brown had been released from prison, but in reality had him moved to another facility in the boonies where they could interrogate and intimidate him in peace. There, they booked him under an alias, putting down a different height, weight, age, and ethnicity in order to throw people off his trail. Inmates are expected to be fingerprinted within 48 hours of being booked, so to avoid having to place Brown's fingerprints on file, they would simply "release" him every two days and rearrest him under a new, false identity.
Pictured: The only middle-aged white-brown teenage old man 20-something juvenile Chinese girl in history.
They managed to keep this up for 18 days, until the U.S. Marshals finally caught wind of their scheme. Much to the jailers' surprise, kidnapping and interrogating an FBI informant only made them look more suspicious. The officers claimed they weren't trying to hide Brown from the FBI, but were merely trying to keep him safe from other officers who wanted to harm him for snitching. Under increasing pressure, the officers eventually handed Brown over to the state, but not before stalling long enough to set all Brown's booking information back to normal.
Ex-LA Sheriff Lee Baca, proving once again that self-awareness has absolutely no place in law enforcement.
The investigation into their misconduct is still ongoing in 2016, so it's anyone's guess as to when any of these officers will actually be arrested for kidnapping a man and hiding him from the federal government.
Philadelphia Police Bombed A Neighborhood Over Noise Complaints
U.S. law enforcement has a spotty record when it comes to dealing with organized movements. Whether they be nonviolent college protesters or bizarre religious cults, the strategy is almost always "Kill everyone involved and try to find a way to blame it on them." The response was no different on the 13th of May, 1985, when it came to the Philadelphia group MOVE. The "black, militant, back-to-nature" activist group lived together in a fortified compound and organized anti-police protests. Sadly, you can probably guess what happened just by reading that last sentence.
The answer is this. This happened.
Back in the '70s, MOVE had been a pretty dangerous group. They'd even killed a police officer during a shootout. But nearly a decade later, MOVE's members spent most of their days protesting zoos, letting their naked children play with rats to boost their immune systems, and generally being a nuisance to their middle-class neighbors. They did most of that from the relative safety of their survival compound (which was in fact a fortified row house in the middle of the burbs), complete with rooftop bunker, a stockpile of recycled goods, and speakers that constantly blared anti-police sentiments. When the neighbors got sick of it and called the cops to complain about the noise, the police came to the MOVE fortress with plenty of guns, a long memory, and no patience.
However, rather than throwing all of the members into a shady secret prison or kicking in the door and shooting everyone before planting ten bricks of cocaine and a suitcase of machine guns in the basement, the cops simply blew the place up. That's not hyperbole -- when they couldn't force the group to leave their fortified house, the Philadelphia Police Department dropped a bomb on the families inside, burning down 65 homes in the process. Then they sifted through the rubble to arrest anyone who was still alive, which was almost no one.
To recap: They dealt with a noise complaint by adding 200 decibels worth of noise.
Thirty years later, barely anyone remembers that this massacre took place. It's true that details about the siege are still as hazy as a person suffering from shell shock. But what we do know is that the cops fired at least 10,000 bullets at the compound before the bomb was dropped. And that they (intentionally or not) shot at people trying to escape the blast and resulting fire. We also know that the fire department opted out of fighting that particular fire, that six adults and five children were killed during the chaos, and that despite all of this, not one police officer or city official has ever been held accountable. But at least they resolved that noise complaint.
Carolyn has nothing but complete respect for law enforcement on Twitter.
Deep inside us all behind our political leanings, our moral codes and our private biases, there is a cause so colossally stupid, we surprise ourselves with how much we care. Whether it's toilet paper position, fedoras on men or Oxford commas, we each harbor a preference so powerful we can't help but proselytize to the world. In this episode of the Cracked podcast, guest host Soren Bowie is joined by Cody Johnston, Michael Swaim and special guests to discuss the most trivial things we will argue about until the day we die. Get your tickets here!
For more things you don't know about the police (but should), check out 6 Completely Legal Ways The Cops Can Screw You and 7 Bullshit Police Myths Everyone Believes (Thanks to Movies).
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