By Kenneth Cooper
So there’s this toddler, running wild in the store, unsupervised, terrorizing the aisles, parent nowhere to be found, or if nearby, staring down at their phone while all this is going on. You watch this kid, as he rips items down from the shelves, kick boxes over, shouts out gibberish with no audible regard. You think about slapping him, but of course he’s not yours, so maybe you’ll register a complaint instead. Something like, “Hey, will you come get your goddamn kid?”
But you realize that your complaint will probably be ignored – lost in a sea of dissolving neurons – or met with hostility, so you just push your basket down the aisle, choosing to mind your business instead. Later, at home, it hits you, and you’re like, Wow, this kid demonstrated all the qualities of being a NOPD Task Force officer.
While some police departments around the country seem to suffer from systemic racism, the NOPD seems to suffer from a lack of systemic supervision. That’s the synopsis of a Special Report by the Monitoring Team assigned to track the NOPD’s compliance with the federal consent decree it’s been operating under since 2012.
Task force officers routinely terrorize neighborhoods like toddlers in a supermarket, or as the report states: Community members often raised specific concerns over task forces, whose members wear distinctive military-style uniforms and are referred to throughout the City (and colloquially within the police department) as “jump out boys.” One sergeant, assigned to a community relations position, acknowledged that the task forces “are perceived by the community as jump out boys, dirty cops, the ones who are going to be brutal.”
“…the ones who are going to be brutal.”
Often this brutality goes undocumented, via shoddy record keeping, or “issues” with the body cameras. Supervisors apparently spend more time looking at their phones than they do supervising the task force they’re assigned to. The report, though general, documented a systematic failure that allows task force officers to just run wild.
The Monitors audited 4 districts over a 6-month period, November of 2019 – April 2020. They audited districts 2, 4, 6, & 7. Some highlights:
Two sergeants’ Daily Activity Reports could not be located.
“…could not be located” (like at all, like they did no work in 6 months)
One Task Force shift had no Daily Activity Reports from any supervisor for the entire week, although the Daily Lineups indicated a supervisor was working.
One sergeant worked six of seven days during the audit period, but, according to his/her records engaged in almost no supervisory activity during that time. Other supervisors similarly spent significant periods of time with no records of engaging in supervisory activities. Two Task Force officers openly discussed on their BWCs “what we should do today,” strongly suggesting the officers were not given any particular mission or assignment.
During this time task force officers also chased two minors who had stolen a car until they (the minors) crashed into a beauty salon, killing themselves and a lady who was getting her hair done. Another task force, served a warrant, i.e. possibly kicked in somebody’s door, “without supervision, without a plan, without proper uniforms, without vests, and without an appropriate focus on officer or civilian safety.” That’s the type of police work that got Breonna Taylor killed in Kentucky.
Maybe we should file a complaint. I wonder if it would be ignored or met with hostility. All tasks force operations have been temporarily suspended while the NOPD accesses the situation, and the 40 page audit ends with an 11 page declaration from the NOPD to conduct a thorough review and a vow that if the the task forces are reinstated their supervisors will do what they should’ve been doing all along — their jobs. We’ll see. Meanwhile, stay woke and tuned in.