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This is why the history of the Sanford, Florida Police Department is in question. [View All]

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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-21-12 03:54 PM
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This is why the history of the Sanford, Florida Police Department is in question.
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Adam Weinstein at Mother Jones has done some fine investigative work here:

March 18, 2012

Why is the history of the Sanford Police Department in question?

Sanford PD's officers have suffered a series of public missteps in recent years, according to local reporters. In 2006 two private security guardsthe son of a Sanford police officer, and a volunteer for the departmentkilled a black teen with a single gunshot in his back. Even though they admitted to never identifying themselves, the guards were released without charges. In 2009, after an assailant allegedly attempted to rape a child in her home, the department was called to task for sitting on the suspect's fingerprints, delaying identification and pursuit of the attacker.

Perhaps the most significant incident occurred in late 2010: Justin Collison, the son of a Sanford PD lieutenant, sucker-punched a homeless black man outside a bar, and officers on the scene released Collison without charges. He eventually surrendered after video of the incident materialized online. The police chief at the time was ultimately forced into retirement. "Bottom line, we didn't do our job that night," a Police Department representative told WFTV of the incident. The TV station later learned that the Sanford patrol sergeant in charge on the night of Collison's assault, Anthony Raimondo, was also the first supervisor on the scene of Trayvon Martin's shooting death.

As a result of these incidents and their initial handling of Martin's death, the Sanford Police Department has been under increased scrutiny. Martin's parents have suggested they might call for Police Chief Bill Lee to resign.


From some late updates at the end of the piece:

UPDATE 11, 7:00 p.m. EDT, Tuesday, March 20:

Mother Jones has received an exclusive statement from NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous, weighing in on Trayvon Martin's death:

It appears that Trayvon Martin was stalked and murdered by a neighborhood watch volunteer. In recent years, people with connections to the Sanford Police Department have gotten away with assaulting and even killing black men. We requested and welcome the Department of Justice's involvement. Trayvon's killer must be brought to justice. The people of Sanford deserve to understand why the police did not lock him up the day the killing happened. And the nation must ensure that this pattern and practice of people attacking and killing black men with impunity is ended.

From TIME:

March 20, 2012


As astonishing as it sounds, Sanford police have refused to charge Zimmerman although the state attorney's office now says it will convene a grand jury next month to investigate the case. The cops have been balking in large part because, under the stand-your-ground statute, they're virtually obligated to accept his argument that he was acting in self-defense even if it was Martin who may have felt more threatened, according to recordings of 911 calls by neighbors that were released over the weekend. The 2005 Florida law permits anyone, anywhere to use deadly force against another person if they believe their safety or life is in danger, and it's the state's usually futile task to prove that the act wasn't justified. Little wonder the St. Petersburg Times found that five years after the law was signed by then Governor Jeb Bush who called it a "good, commonsense anti-crime" bill claims of justifiable homicides in Florida more than tripled, from just over 30 to more than 100 in 2010. In that time, the stand-your-ground defense was used in 93 cases involving 65 deaths and in the majority of those cases, it worked.

Pro-gun advocates like the National Rifle Association, which pushed hard for stand your ground, say it simply broadens citizens' capacity for self-defense. But if Dooley and now Zimmerman do walk, there may be an understandable public backlash against a statute that in reality has made the streets, bars and parks of Florida and of the at least 16 other states that have enacted similar laws since 2005 more dangerous spaces. Stand your ground, which many Floridians sardonically call "shoot first," didn't broaden self-defense as much as it broke with centuries of British and American common (and commonsense) law that absolved such deadly force only in cases involving the "castle doctrine," that is, defending one's home against a violent intruder.


This is what we have:

1. A local police department that has a questionable history of protecting its officers who have committed improper, some racially motivated, actions against the community it is sworn to serve and protect.

2. A controversial state law pushed through the Florida Republican legislature in 2005 at the bidding of ALEC and the NRA and signed by Jeb Bush, that enables more of that behavior, with impunity, by like-minded vigilantes across the state.

Swift and decisive action must be taken to combat this.

Let's start with an arrest and prosecution of one George Zimmerman.

Then, a repeal of the "Stand Your Ground" abomination.

Then, an investigation into the Sanford Police Department.

Then, this November, vote out every last one of these harshly ideological conservatives who have ripped the throat out of Florida from the comfort of their leather chairs in Tallahassee since 1999.

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