Challenges and Changes in Police Work

A police car in Washington, D.C.
A police car in Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)




Challenges and Changes in Police Work


I recommend reading the whole article. This police officer has gone through the last twenty years, some of the most turbulent years in the history of policing. His observations are enlightening and intelligent.


James Pilant


A Frontline Officer on Challenges and Changes


Entering my third decade in policing, I had an epiphany about how much my profession has changed since I learned to write reports on manual typewriters in my 1989 recruit class. Like every other industry, policing has seen such dramatic changes that what we imagine for the next 20 years is as surreal as the idea of people travelling to space on paid space shuttles was two decades ago. Two decades ago society would not have tolerated the idea of conducting business from home and having meetings as avatars in virtual environments, yet many businesses now operate this way.


Law enforcement has evolved from paper reports and filing cabinets, to body worn cameras and global positioning in a digitally connected universe. Most North Americans use smart phones that connect them immediately with information that we could not have imagined in previous decades. Police officers now must assume that an action they take in the street may be replaying in the media before they get back to the office to write a report about it.


In the 24 years of my own policing career, I’ve had a front-row seat to the changes that have occurred and have witnessed how these changes present challenges that cross every industry and  confront administrators in both the public and private sectors. Two decades ago administrators made decisions about what information to release, whereas now they must manage information that is already out there.


– See more at:!


From around the web.


From the web site, The Thin Blue Line.






On a police networking site recently, the above question sparked a mass

of interesting responses from all ranks and many from outside parties.

Here at

we are asking the same questions. We would be particularly keen to hear

from front line officers from all forces with their informed views.

Imagine you had the opportunity to have your views heard, without

recrimination, by Theresa May and Nick Herbert. We will collate the

responses and forward them to Theresa and Nick and let you know the

outcome. We will also be asking these questions on other forums such as Police Oracle and would be keen to elicit the support of police blog sites.



New York Detective Helped Convict the Innocent


c37aNew York Detective Helped Convict the Innocent

This officer’s work apparently involved railroading the innocent with the full cooperation of a number of prosecutors in more than fifty cases.
I hope you have the opportunity to work in a prosecutor’s office. I believe in justice but prosecutorial discretion is too broad and the desire not for justice but for a good “kill” ratio often outranks justice as a priority in some of these offices.
Here is an important quote from the article:

“The prosecutor’s duty to the truth arises from several sources,” Gershman wrote. “The most important source is the prosecutor’s role as a minister of justice. In this role, the prosecutor has the overriding responsibility not simply to convict the guilty but to protect the innocent. The duty to truth also derives from the prosecutor’s constitutional obligation not to use false evidence or to suppress material evidence favorable to the defendant. The duty to truth also arises from various ethical strictures that require prosecutors to have confidence in the truth of the evidence before bringing or maintaining criminal charges. The duty is found as well in the prosecutor’s domination of the criminal justice system and his virtual monopoly of the fact-finding process.”

This quote parallels my views on the subject. Justice is not equal to God but stands high in its importance to morality and a life worth living.

Please read the full article.

James Pilant

From around the web:

From the web site, TOT Private Consulting –

The NYPD detective whose corner-cutting investigative work, combined with a community’s blood lust for quick justice, put an apparently innocent man in prison for 23 years insists he’s being scapegoated by the very district attorney who pushed for the conviction.
“They threw me under the bus,” Louis Scarcella told The Post yesterday after DA Charles Hynes indicated he’d asked a judge to vacate David Ranta’s conviction, more than two decades after Ranta was found guilty of murdering a prominent rabbi in Williamsburg.

“I was appalled when I got the news,” the retired cop said outside his Staten Island home. “I stand by the confession 100 percent. I never framed anyone in my life. You have to be a low devil to frame someone. I sleep well at night.”

While Scarcella was sleeping, Ranta, 58, was languishing in a Buffalo prison, convicted of the February 1990 murder of Rabbi Chaskel Werzberger after a botched jewelry heist in the Orthodox Jewish community.
From the web site, General Strike –

An ‘overwhelmed’ David Ranta left prison with a small bag of belongings and  family members ecstatic to see him outside of his cell. His conviction began to  fall apart when it was revealed that case detectives used questionable tactics  in his case, including coaching witnesses.

An innocent man was sprung from prison Thursday — more than 20 years after he  was wrongfully convicted of killing a beloved Brooklyn rabbi.

David Ranta, 58, could barely contain his excitement, smiling broadly at  relatives who hadn’t seen him as a free man since his 1991 conviction. Ranta was  found guilty of shooting Rabbi Chaskel Werzberger in a botched jewelry heist in  Williamsburg.

The conviction crumbled after a year-long investigation revealed case  detectives coached witnesses, did not keep notes and gave incentives to felons  who provided information.

And from the web site, From the Trenches –

Heyward is not alone in his suspicion of foul play in Hynes executions of justice. The DA has recently come under great scrutiny for spending years refusing to review convictions that he and his predecessor obtained through working with a homicide detective of such dubious repute. Last week, the Hynes office was forced to reopen 50 cases in which NYPD Detective Louis Scarcella was involved, after the Times uncovered that he obtained false confessions, lied, and relied on testimony from a single, crack-addicted prostitute to obtain a number of convictions. While families of those convicted through Scarlla’s police plan to start bird-dogging Hynes, others, like Heyward, have vowed to win justice for those they will never see again.

“It doesn’t matter how long I have to be out here fighting and exposing the reality of what happened. I’m going to keep at it,” said Heyward who believes there is a clear conflict of interest between New York City’s DAs and the NYPD since they are both on the same side of the law. “When cops are involved, it’s like district attorneys forget how to prosecute.”

“I’m overwhelmed,” Ranta said outside a courtroom in downtown Brooklyn,  carrying a purple laundry bag with all his belongings. “Right now, I feel like  I’m underwater, swimming.”

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Change the Legal System?

109Change the Legal System?

Commentary: Right to counsel? It’s stacked against the poor | McClatchy

It turns out there is a gulf between the 1963 promise and the 2013 reality. It turns out one lawyer can be expected to try 400, 500, 600 cases a year. It turns out public defenders are so underfunded and overwhelmed it is not uncommon for a defendant to meet his attorney for the first time in court. It turns out the situation is so dire that in at least one jurisdiction a judge pressed tax attorneys and property lawyers into service in criminal court. It turns out poor people’s justice is to justice as monkey business is to business.

Ask Clarence Jones, who spent over a year in prison just waiting for an attorney — and was still there as the book went to press — on a charge of burglary.

Ask Carol Dee Huneke, a novice lawyer with no experience in criminal law who was hired as a public defender on a Thursday and assigned a case that began Monday. She had never even seen a trial before.

And ask Greg Bright, who spent 27 years in prison on a murder charge he might have easily beaten, writes Houppert, had his court-appointed attorney done even minimal investigation on his behalf. As a later attorney discovered, the single witness the state’s case hinged upon was a mentally-ill heroin addict with a history of hallucinations who physically could not have seen what she claimed she did.

Twenty-seven years. “Make me wanna holler,” indeed.

What is reflected here is not simply incompetence but disdain, contempt for the rights, lives and humanity of the less fortunate. And perhaps your instinct is to look away, secure in the naïve delusion that no one gets arrested unless they’ve “done something.” Truth is, it happens every day.

Commentary: Right to counsel? It’s stacked against the poor | McClatchy


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Law School Can Work

img165Law School Can Work

Political Animal – Why Law School Doesn’t Work Anymore

The supply of lawyers has made the quality of a legal jobs dramatically worse. Graduates of lower-tier law schools often now toil in contract positions as document reviewers, “who sit in horrible little basement rooms. They are performing mindless work in Dickensian conditions, stuck in there” explains one law professor with whom Stevens spoke. These jobs are dead-end ones, with no potential for career advancement; they merely pay the bills. And the bills are really high. The average student loan burden of new law school graduates is $125,000.

I’ve written about this problem before but I admit that when I’ve addressed this I’ve probably focused too much on the education debt part of this, and the way law schools keep churning out more lawyers despite knowing that the career prospects for most of them aren’t very good.

One thing I’ve missed is how actual law firms operate in this system. I assumed that the problem was simply that many of these lawyers couldn’t get jobs. What Harper emphasizes is that the supply of lawyers means even graduates of good law schools who have jobs at the top firms aren’t doing as well.

Political Animal – Why Law School Doesn’t Work Anymore

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Individual Responsibility Except for Banks

Individual Responsibility Except for Banks

Justice Department’s New Get-Tough Policy Is, Well, Not | Matt Taibbi | Rolling Stone

I get that regulators are worried about job losses. They should be. But the long-term job losses are going to be much greater when investors around the world lose confidence in the U.S. financial system because they recognize that individuals do not face punishment for criminal activity. The individual incentive not to commit crime on Wall Street now is almost zero. Even the worst of the worst – like, say, a certain unindicted co-conspirator in an evolving insider trading case – is only threatened with individual prosecution after years of monstrous and obvious market manipulation, resulting in massive profits that he’ll almost certainly get to keep most of, by the way, if previous settlements are any guide.

It continually amazes, the way all of these law-and-order types are so willing to pontificate about the importance of taking individual responsibility for one’s actions, until the guy in their crosshairs is someone he/she went to college with, or a former client of his or her law firm. Then, suddenly, their idea of drastic justice becomes maybe yanking the license of a foreign subsidiary.

Justice Department’s New Get-Tough Policy Is, Well, Not | Matt Taibbi | Rolling Stone


Two Standards of Justice
Two Standards of Justice

Two standard of justice exist in this country. One for those in the government and the higher circles of income and influence and another for the “common” people. If you have been following my blog for the last few years, you will encounter wrong doing among the banking fraternity and the government going unpunished on a regular basis. When there is some justice, it is almost pathetic how little penalty the investment banks and their enablers face. 

But study crime in the United States, and you will note vast penalties handed out for very small crimes indeed particularly drug crimes. My personal favorite is the woman doing fifteen years for a third possession of marijuana. This is what passes for justice.

This poem is from the 17th Century.

The law locks up the man or woman
Who steals the goose off the common
But leaves the greater villain loose
Who steals the common from the goose.

The law demands that we atone
When we take things we do not own
But leaves the lords and ladies fine
Who takes things that are yours and mine.

The poor and wretched don’t escape
If they conspire the law to break;
This must be so but they endure
Those who conspire to make the law.

The law locks up the man or woman
Who steals the goose from off the common
And geese will still a common lack
Till they go and steal it back.

Have things changed all that much?

James Pilant


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Make as Much Money as Possible–Typical Business Rule?

029-1Do businesses have ethical obligations beyond what the law and shareholders require? | The CQ Researcher Blog

“In a free-enterprise, private-property system,” Friedman wrote, “a corporate executive is an employee of the owners of a business. He has direct responsibility to his employers. That responsibility is to conduct the business in accordance with their desires, which generally will be to make as much money as possible while conforming to the basic rules of society, both those embodied in law and those embodied in ethical custom.”
In this view, going beyond those basic requirements — for instance, as Friedman wrote, spending more to reduce pollution than “the amount that is in the best interests of the corporation or that is required by law” — amounts to improperly spending money that belongs to the shareholders.
The U.S. concept of free-market capitalism is not, of course, universally accepted. Karl Marx, the intellectual father of communism, saw profit as the result of capitalist exploitation of workers. Socialist and communist systems assert that some or all of business profits rightfully belong to society.
But among those who embrace capitalism, many say ethical obligations go well beyond simply making a profit.
A survey of business executives from around the world by consulting firm McKinsey & Co. found that only a minority wholeheartedly embraced Friedman’s view. Sixteen percent of respondents agreed that business should “focus solely on providing the highest possible returns to investors while obeying all laws and regulations.” But 84 percent said the role of large corporations should be to “generate high returns to investors but balance [that] with contributions to the broader public good.” [Footnote 14]

Do businesses have ethical obligations beyond what the law and shareholders require? | The CQ Researcher Blog

Does business believe in the absolute pursuit of profit to the exclusion of all other goals? A study by McKinsey and Co. indicates otherwise. This is an unexpected result based on my perceptions but, of course, I live in the Southern United States where free market worship is one very short step below the more traditional forms of worship.

I hope the study is correct. We need business leaders willing to be valuable members of our communities. Without their participation, the ties that bind us together as a people, a civilization, weaken.

James Pilant

From around the web.

From the web site, Business Talk.

Wealth maximization is long term process. It refers the value of the company generally expressed in the value of the stock.

Value maximization says that managers should make all decisions so as to increase the total long run market value of the firm. Total value is the sum of the value of all financial claims on the firm- including equity, debt, preferred stock and warrants.

Here, the executives undertake investing in new projects, maximizing profits from existing products and services, controlling cost, and adding value to the company through process, which reflects in the price of the stock, but always in the increase in Net Asset Value and Equity Per Share.

The wealth of corporate owners is measured by the share price of the stock, which in turn is based on the timing of returns (cash flows), their magnitude and their risk. Maximizing share price will maximize owner wealth.

Cash flow and risk are the key decision variables in maximizing owner wealth.

When investors look at a company they not only look at dollar profit but also profit margins, return on capital, and other indicators of efficiency. Profit maximization does not achieve the objectives of the firm’s owners; therefore wealth maximization is better option than profit maximization.

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Employment at Will is not the Law in the United Kingdom – Read About Unfair Dismissal!

Below is short segment from a web site in United Kingdom. It is explaining in layman’s terms how the law on unfair dismissal works. Don’t expect to see any of this apply in any way in the United States.We have the doctrine of Employment at Will.


You may be eligible for unfair dismissal compensation if you have been fired illegally. If you believe that your employer has no reason to fire you because of your job performance, it is a good idea to get a lawyer to protect your rights. Sometimes, the employer does not follow the proper procedure of firing, and due to some reason that have nothing to do with you, you are fired without given a due notice. In case you want a leave and get fired, the ground of firings may not be legal. If you live far and get late to work and have been asking to change your timings and get fired instead of getting flexible timing, you may be eligible for compensation.

Codes of conduct of employers are part of written law and anyone can challenge acts of employers if they feel they have been treated unfairly. Proper dismissal procedures are required to be followed, or else the dismissal might be considered unfair.  When you do not get a proper notice of dismissal, or do not get paid the notice period, your employer has breached the employment contract. You will be eligible to get compensation in such a case. If some compensation has been paid but is not the right amount, you can still sue the employer over short paying you. You can make two claims, for unlawful dismissal and breach of contract as well. It is important for all fired employees to seek legal help, so they can get unfair dismissal compensation.


I had already encountered in Australian law the idea that a worker cannot be fired for anything but cause or serious financial problems in the business. I have now discovered the same kind of laws in the United Kingdom. I will be doing more searching on this set of laws in the future. I do believe these kinds of laws strongly point to the injustice of the doctrine in the United States of “Employment at Will.”

James Pilant

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Zach from comments on a previous post.

The post commented on was Student Loan Debt a Lifetime Burden for Middle Class but Major Money Maker for Goldman Sachs.

Here’s Zack!

While the student loan problem needs to be addressed in some way, I don’t think giving student loans dischargeability in bankruptcy is the right way. I think bankruptcy courts should be able to modify student loans, but not completely whipe them out. Whiping out student loans would lead to just a lot of abuse. All of us would pay in the way of higher interest rates and fewer students would qualify for loans. I could get a full education without paying a cent knowing I can just declare bankruptcy and by the time I would have paid off my student loans (10 years), the bankruptcy would be off my credit report by then.

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Another White House Sell Out on the Big Banks

Shouldn’t bankers be held to the same laws the rest of Americans have to obey? This is a no-brainer except in the Washington beltway where banks are considered the basis of the Republic rather than the modern equivalent of train robbing Western desperados. I don’t understand. Why is no one being prosecuted? I once lied to a judge. I didn’t know it was a lie until later. When I found out, I called him up (I was working for the state and dealt with the judge regularly) and explained and apologized. He reminded me that I could have gone to jail for that. I told I was well aware of it. And yet here, banks who lied to the judge, to the courts of the United States, are simply walking away. Unlike me, they knew they weren’t telling truth and unlike me, they were making enormous sums of money by lying, and they are not apologizing. Do you see anywhere in the agreement that they have to say, “I’m sorry.” I don’t see it.

There is a dual system of justice in this country, one for me and you, and one for the 1%. It’s very sad. We have been told that we live in a nation of laws, not of men. But the fact is we live in a nation of men, where one class is better than another in the eyes of the law.

James Pilant

Robo-Signing Bank Settlement is a Criminal Sell Out | Better Markets

“Let me help a few victims I created by ripping them off and illegally throwing them out of their homes by false court filings that I swore were true.”  That’s what the so-called mortgage settlement talks are really all about:  fraud, perjury and crimes.  That’s what these banks did and that’s what they are trying to buy their way out of.

The settlement discussions are the same: eliminate all or almost all liability for the bank and, most importantly, all bank officers and employees in exchange for a loan forgiveness or modification program.  Think about this:  the banks engaged in a years-long pattern and practice of what can only be described as fraudulent if not criminal conduct that would put anyone else in prison for years if not decades, yet banks get to buy off the cops with some money to help the victims they created.

Robo-Signing Bank Settlement is a Criminal Sell Out | Better Markets

Mortgage Settlement Is Great – For Big Banks

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My Welcome to My New Students in Criminal Justice!


I want to welcome you to this class. I always consider these joint endeavors in which both you and I trying to learn something in a complicated and exciting field.


Studying criminal justice is illuminating. It is a difficult field for many reasons. It deals with subjects that may have personally affected us. It deals with injury and death, often with the most unseemly of human actions. It also deals with psychological problems of the most serious and disturbing kind.


Please be aware that much of what you have seen on television is rank nonsense to those educated in the field. On television and often in movies, the law is often interpreted incorrectly, serial killers are portrayed as geniuses moving effortless through the population killing at will, and forensic crime solving is portrayed as well funded and almost always successful in finding the perpetrator. We will learn better.


Criminal justice in America is executed through thousands of law enforcement agencies in a bewildering set of jurisdictions often governed by contradictory and controversial laws. That it works at all is surprising and that is that it has serious problems a given.


You are going to be the future of criminal justice. As professionals, you will advance to become decision and policy makers. The understanding you acquire now may very well change the lives of thousands in the course of your life time.


I salute your willingness to engage in this difficult area of study and a lifetime of service to society at large.


James Pilant

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