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Proviso Probe

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Judge Ginex rewards cops for destroying evidence

There's a rumor that Forest Park police officers are systematically violating village policy on the use of video recording devices in squad cars. These cameras are supposed to begin recording when the officer turns on the cars sirens. The officers are disabling the cameras.

See Forest Park Review (Bob Skolnik):
[Officer Biel] failed to record the arrest with a dash-mounted camera. Department officials have said Biel was disciplined for the violation, but declined to discuss what action was taken against him.

Albukerk wanted to gather evidence to argue that Forest Park police officers had a systematic practice of not turning on the dash-mounted video recorders in their squad cars. Albukerk subpoenaed Deputy Police Chief Tom Aftanas, Lt. Steve Weiler, civilian employee Jane Maxwell, and village mechanic George Prescott, along with records of how many times the tapes were changed in squad cars for a four month period in 2006.

Judge Gregory Ginex disallowed the defendant from making this argument.

I'm not a lawyer (IANAL), but there is a principle in contract law that if there is ambiguity in a contract the courts resolve the ambiguity against the party that wrote the contract.

To me, it seems like the same principle should apply to the Forest Park Police Department. If FPPD officers willfully disable there cameras, it should be assumed that they are up to no good. Courts should, when there is a conflict of accounts between FPPD officers who turned off video equipment and others, resolve the conflict by assuming the others are telling the truth.

Ginex's ruling rewards the police officers for essentially destroying evidence. The Village of Forest Park has paid for these cameras that turn on automatically. The police officers--I suspect with the approval, if not the explicit instructions of the ethically challenged chief of police--are disabling the equipment because the courts give the officers more credibility than the suspects.

If the courts have a policy of deciding against police officers who disable their cameras the police will stop disabling their cameras. It's really pretty simple.

Maybe there's some legal nuance I'm missing, but from my perspective Ginex looks lazy, foolish, ignorant or crooked.

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  • Where does one begin to critique your over the top rant. For starters, throwing allegations out there for the sake of building an argument is intellectual dishonesty at its highest level. Second, do you even know how this technology is supposed to work? Could it be that these cameras don't automatically turn on, but instead require someone to actually press a button to activitate it? And if so (likely), could it be that this officer merely failed to remember to turn on the equipment. And finally, if the police officer did not turn on the video recorder (or if it just wasn't recording), then no tape of the incident would exist. You cannot destroy "evidence" that doesn't exist. Please practice your logic skills, Nyberg.

    By Anonymous carlsnuts, at 6:53 AM, September 19, 2007  

  • The discussion is mostly happening of Forest Park Forums.

    By Blogger Carl Nyberg, at 9:57 AM, September 19, 2007  

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