Saturday, January 29, 2011

It's good to be a cop

A few items to compare and contrast.

First, there's this:

Trying to win some internet cash prize, Juan Rodriguez streaked an Obama rally in Philadelphia in October. He was sentenced to two years probation - but prosecutors had wanted to see him jailed for nearly two years.

Then there's this:

Two Japanese men have been indicted in Los Angeles on charges of animal smuggling, conspiracy, and wildlife trafficking for allegedly smuggling more than 50 live turtles and tortoises into the US. If convicted on all charges, they each could be sentenced to 26 years in prison.

And then again, there's this:

In 1993, Chicago police commander Jon Burge was fired over the case of Andrew Wilson, who an investigation found had been beaten and tortured while in police custody in the unit Burge oversaw, part of what another investigation said was a "systematic" pattern of abuse within the unit over more than a decade.

A slowly building case against Burge related to more than 100 cases of serious abuse - all of them against black men - hit a roadblock in 2006 when it was determined that the statute of limitations had expired on most of them. However, federal prosecutors found a way around that:
Burge was not charged with abuse; he was charged with lying about it. The allegations of perjury and obstruction of justice were based on answers he provided in a civil lawsuit filed by a freed death row inmate when Burge denied he and other detectives had tortured anyone.
Last summer he was convicted, and last month he was sentenced - to 4½ years in prison. After being involved with and/or deliberately turning a blind eye to and helping to conceal the torture, the quite possibly racially-biased torture, of over 100 people.

In fairness to the judge, as I understand it, the sentence was relatively tough considering the actual charges on which he was convicted. But it is still true that that occurred after Burge walked on what should have been the charges when earlier investigators found "a wall of resistance" among cops.

Less than a week after Burge was sentenced, a move to deny him his pension failed on a tie vote when the police pension board ruled that his conviction, which was for lying about a pattern of torture committed under his watch, was unrelated to his role as a police officer. He will receive about $3000 a month for the rest of his life.

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