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Police Brutality Makes a Mockery of Criminal Law

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Detroit, MNCriminal law is always subject to interpretation—if the current debate over the so-called 'honest services law' is any indication. That said, if you are accused of a crime, arrested and incarcerated you are still innocent in the eyes of the law until proven guilty by a judge or jury. It doesn't help when alleged police brutality is involved.

It's a sad truism that some police forces operate above the law. Yesterday's issue of the Detroit Free Press makes reference to the conduct of the Prince George's County Police Department in Maryland. In 2004, "cops were shooting or roughing up too many civilians, residents were up in arms and the US Department of Justice swooped in to force the suburban Washington, DC, police department to clean up its act," according to a story appearing yesterday.

It's one thing for an individual to circumvent the law. It's quite another for a police force to bend the rules. Imagine what the testimony of a police officer with a chip on his shoulder could do to your case? Thankfully a good lawyer can often diffuse such a situation.

Still, there should be no room in our society for corrupt cops or a loosely run force. To that end a monitoring team that successfully addressed the issues with the police force in Maryland will be attempting to achieve a similar result in Detroit.

Police Brutality an Affront to Criminal Law

As reported in the Detroit Free Press, a recent federally mandated effort to reform the Detroit Police Department recently stalled.

A new team led by Robert Warshaw, identified by the Free Press as the former deputy drug czar under President Bill Clinton, will include five former chiefs of police and three top-level police and executives from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

"These monitors understand what it takes to make a police department more professional," Detroit Assistant Chief Ralph Godbee said Friday.

A representative with the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality appeared skeptical, given that the monitoring team lacks ordinary citizens. However, the president of the Suitland Civic Association in Maryland indicated Detroit could look forward to good things. Melvin High, the former police chief in Prince George's County, is a member of the Detroit monitoring team.

"He's the best of the best," said Elsie Jacobs. "He really cleaned up the problems here, and the community loves him."

Richard Jerome, a former Justice Department official and deputy police monitor in Cincinnati, said of the incoming Detroit monitoring team, "they're very qualified, they have a good sense of what needs to be done and how to make change happen."

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