Just another city in the long list of major drug-war-related law enforcement scandals.
Scandal Roils Tulsa Police by Stephanie Simon in the Wall Street Journal gives a good overview of the situation.
A federal investigation into the Tulsa Police Department that began nearly two years ago has unearthed a flood of corruption allegations.
Federal prosecutors allege that a handful of veteran officers, aided by a federal agent, fabricated informants, planted evidence, stole drugs and cash from criminal suspects, coerced perjured testimony, intimidated witnesses and trafficked in cocaine and methamphetamine.
The drug war corrupts. Sure, we don’t have it nearly as bad as in parts of other countries where entire police forces have been bought off, but still, in the drug war, there are enormous sums of money involved, there’s political pressure to make lots of arrests, there’s a culture that treats a certain part of the population as sub-human scum, there’s a sense of real and sometimes unaccountable power that we give to law enforcement, and finally, there are the tactics that are used to enforce drug laws (because the transactions are consensual) that encourage law enforcement to lie and cheat to accomplish goals.
It’s a recipe for corruption.
It’s not like there are full-blown corrupt individuals being recruited into the police force. Many times it’s much more subtle and gradual than that. I often turn to this particular section of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition’s video that explains how it can start.
But, the question you may ask is, how does it get as big as the apparent scandal in Tulsa without somebody noticing?
Until you reach a certain critical mass of scandal, there’s very little to be done, because the police officers hold all the cards.
Several Tulsa-area criminal-defense lawyers say their clients had long alleged that police had fabricated evidence and attributed it to anonymous informants. But they could rarely make a judge take notice, not when it was a suspect’s word against an officer’s.
“You going to believe the police, or someone from the ghetto who has been in trouble before?” said DeMarco Deon Williams.
As it is, that culture may still protect some of the officers on the edge of the scandal.
Four additional officers and one retired officer are under indictment on multiple charges including depriving suspects of their civil rights and distributing drugs. Trials are set for January. All five men deny wrongdoing.
Officer Phil Evans, president of the police union, says he has a hard time believing the allegations. And attorneys for the indicted officers predict vindication. They say the evidence against the officers is flimsy—and relies heavily on the word of convicted criminals.
“This will be a credibility contest and, quite frankly, we welcome that,” said Stephen Jones, who represents indicted Officer Jeff Henderson
Credibility. Yeah. You know, it means more than just whether you wear a uniform (or work for someone who does).
As the property tax rates in Tulsa go up to pay off the inevitable lawsuits, the homeowners should start asking about the credibility of those who sold them this drug war.