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Friday, May 04, 2007

Florida's Corrupt Police

Yesterday the news discussed an incident that happened in Tampa five months ago. Melissa Langston was in a rush to get to the emergency room because her father was having a heart attack and DRIVING HIMSELF to the hospital. In a panic, she broke the speed limit in an attempt to get to him before anything worse happened.

A Tampa police officer pulled her over and, when she explained in a panicky voice, he was rude, ignored her pleas, and coldly asked for her license and registration, instead. When he got back in his car, she took off again (the hospital was right there) to scan the parking lot and see if her father had made it.

NOW Deputy Kevin Stabins was REALLY angry. Why, that upstart woman was defying him! She had the nerve to drive a couple of feet away, through the parking lot, looking for her potentially dying father! How DARE she?!

So, Stabins dragged her out of her car, threw her onto it, roughly cuffed her, and dragged her to jail. Her poor father saw the entire thing happening through his hospital window. Her mom went to bail HER out, while her sister stayed with her dad. In the car on the way to the jail Stabins still ignored her pleas, telling his partner that he didn't care if her story was true or not.

Stabins has been suspended: Too bad he can't be flogged. Luckily the entire family survived the ordeal and we all can see it on video, since police cars now automatically tape such scenes. To read more about it, go here.

Sadly, Stabins is NOT the exception. I lived in Tampa years ago, and had an acquaintace that was a waitress near Bush Gardens. Her restaurant was a favorite hangout for their police officers, and so was she (if you get what I mean). She had so many affairs with married cops that she didn't have time to date any eligible guys. For anyone who is morally bankrupt and wants to try the argument that what a cop does on his own time is his own business: Tell it to his wife. And if a cop is willing to leave his morals at the door of a restaurant, where else might he leave them?

On the other side of Tampa Bay, the city of Largo has the dirtiest cops on record. There are attorneys at the local Court House who have countless stories about clients who struck drug deals with the Largo undercover cops so that they could get a reduced sentence. They go out with the Largo cops, set up drug deals, the cops make the subsequent arrests and then deny all knowlege of the co-operating addict. The co-operating addict can't complain publicly, because the guys who got arrested will know who to come after: And the Largo undercover cops get to rake in all the glory. Now you know what you get if you work with the police in Largo: It's a lesson to be learned. Sadly, I have a friend (who is a good man) who works there, and he's tarred with the same brush.

Of course all police organizations will have crooked cops: Absolute power corrupts absolutely. But when they're allowed to overrun the good cops, we have a police force that is out of control. Tampa should never have waited 5 months to suspend Deputy Stabins. When police department administrators turn a blind eye to the rot in their own ranks, the entire police force becomes ...er... rank.

16 comments:

Hans said...

How many times do you think that Deputy Stabbins had heard some B.S. story from a woman (or man) trying to get out of ticket? Factor in these guys get juiced up everytime they walk up to a car because they don't know what they are walking into.

I have some very close friends who are with the SO, Clearwater and Tarpon Police Departments. For the most part they are really good guys but they are a little jaded because of the people they have to interface on the job. The dregs of society on one hand and rich arrogant a**holes and teenagers on the other.

Clearly the officer in this case overreacted but a share of the blame goes to every person he's pulled over with some sad b.s. tale.

The situation could have been avoided if the woman had just complied as you should. Roll down the window and put your hands on the steering wheel and follow the instructions. There is a time and place to contest the officers behavior and it's not on the side of the road in the heat of the moment.

Matt said...

Sauer--

Not too long ago, I saw a Fox show where a cop did the same thing. But it resulted in death. The driver's husband (30 year marriage) died there of a heart attack.

Normally, deputy-dawgs love to help in a crisis but there's always some yoyo....

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Hans on this one, although some cops are bad and some definitely take it too far, what the general population fails to realize is how high stress their job really is. My boyfriend is a police officer and I have gone on several ride alongs with him and the be all and end all of it is, you never know what someone is going to do. You never know which person is the one that is going to pull a gun/knife or other weapon on you. Police officers have every right to overreact that is how they stay alive. My boyfriend has chosen to work for a department that has an exemplary reputation; he respects the people that respect him. If you treat him with disrespect your fine or situation will be that much worse.
Ange

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Humans are corrupt, hence so are the cops.

The Lazy Iguana said...

The problem here is that a cops job is dangerous. You can never tell exactly who you have, or what they may or may not be doing.

Another problem is the kind of person drawn to be a cop. School bullies need jobs too. Not all cops are like this, but some really are just a gangster with a badge. They have a sour attitude.They are cops because they LIKE the power it gives them.

A judge and jury will end up sorting this incident out, unless the State Attorney's office drops all charges or a deal is struck.

PS Miami has the BEST corrupt police. Do a google news search.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Lazy, as always, we see eye-to-eye. Thanks for the additional input. Yeah, I've heard Miami is corrupt.

Daniel, very true. But THEY have the power the average schlub doesn't.

Ange, your boyfriend is an exception. I know of exceptions as well. But, I disagree with what you said: Police officers have every right to overreact that is how they stay alive. The truth is, the laws say they DON'T have every right to do so. And for good reason: It's unjust. I understand they are always in potential danger, but they understand that too, and they took the job knowing that. It doesn't justify brute behavior.

Hans, no matter what may have caused the cop to behave the way he did, he was still wrong. I could have a very bad day or a bad job, and if *I* attacked someone I wouldn't be given any breaks, either.

The Lazy Iguana said...

Is the guy's name really "Stabbins"?

Senor Caiman will probably make a stabbin joke about this.

daveawayfromhome said...

Cops have a duty to remain professional at all times, whether they're pissed off or not (just like everyone does, I might add). Soldiers have high-stress jobs, but that doesnt excuse events like Haditha or My Lai, which is really just a higher level, but similar event. If you cant take the stress and remain professional, get another job.
Funny you should mention the level of corruption amongst Florida cops; seems almost every book I read set in Florida involves crooked cops (and politicians, and developers, and...) But maybe I should read less Hiaasen.
As for the high level of stress, not only is a cop's job dangerous, but due to years of tax-cutting, we've got fewer police than we ought to (2.3 per 1000 on average, about the same as Turkey)(yet another in a series of humiliating statistics), which cannot help but make the job more stressful.
Finally, I think that this story (along with this one) illustrate a larger problem, one brought on by the current Authoritarian attitude of the Republican party and that +/-25% of the nation that thinks with it's minister (and other Righteous Leaders) rather than it's own brain. I think much of the crime and out-of-control leadership (both government and business) can be attributed to a feeling that Might does Make Right. That can "trickle down" to the street level in the form of systemic police brutality. Are we there yet?

Hans said...

Saur-

"Clearly the officer in this case overreacted but a share of the blame goes to every person he's pulled over with some sad b.s. tale."

I believe that I acknowledge that the officer is wrong nor do I contest the punishment handed down. You were casting a wide net and I was trying to reel you in. There were two sides to this story and the driver's behavior is the one to set it off. This isn't like the off duty cop in Chicago who pounded the little bartender woman a few months back.

Everyone hates the police until you need them.

Hans said...

Lazy-

The name "Stabbins" was a hard one to let go over the plate without taking a swing.

Senor Caiman said...

Saur,

It’s not like me to speak badly of the police but most of them are corrupt. Let’s understand why though. It’s because they spend most of the day dealing with worthless Homies. It really only takes about 6 months of constantly dealing with worthless Homies to grow hard and uncaring. The police force either needs to rotate officers out of black areas or we need to send the worthless Homies to another planet.

My experiences with the police have not been positive outside of one experience that did occur in Largo. A Largo Policeman actually saved my life. I will always be grateful to him even if he did have sex with one of the hot explorer chicks. In his defense they were very close in age but it was still wrong.

One other thing, those security guards in the bank that you laugh at because you think they’re too old to do anything. Most of those guys are ex-Vietnam Dudes, so show them some respect.

Cranky Yankee said...

I think this entire issue speaks to the personality types, intelligence and education of the people who choose "law enforcement" as a life mission.

In the military all the cops, SPs, MPs, etc were the bottom feeders and always seemed to have a chip on their shoulders toward others, especially if you were on the operations side. The military used to be a good microcosm of our society.

Now I think it is worse, because in this new world certain types are drown to it and certain types avoid it. I think the same thing is happening to police departments. This whole "war on drugs, war on terror" police state that is developing is luring a certain jack-boot type into the ranks.

michelle said...

I actually had a different take on this one. The woman drove away after she already stopped for the officer. It was his job to make sure she did not have a warrent out for her arrest. Had she given him the time to find out she had a clean record, then perhaps he intended to verify the health emergency. No one will know because she did drive away. He wrongfully handled her too harshly, but other than that, she was wrong. She was speeding and she drove away from an officer, that both against the law.

Private Eye said...

The deputy had many other options. He could have ~
• Investigated her claim, by making one inquiry with the hospital thru his dispatch.
• Shed some grace.
• Used common sense.
• Used spirit of the law, rather than the letter of the law.
www-hi-caliber.org

Anonymous said...

yes, the girl was nervous and in distress, the policeman is a professional and has training to deal this situations, he should carefully assessed the situation, call the emergency room and verify the story, he obviously profiled her before she started to talk and did not care what she was saying. Policeman think that they have all the power to tell you what to do and do not let you talk, YOUR BATCH DOES NOT GIVE YOU THE RIGHT TO PROFILE A PERSON AND ARREST THEM BECAUSE THEY ARE TALKING BACK TO YOU" YOU ARE A PERSON LIKE OTHERS NOT A GOD WITH A BATCH, YOU ARE NOT THE JUDGE.EITHER..THEREFORE HE SHOULD BE NOT ONLY SUSPENDED BUT FIRED FROM THE JOB.HE CAN NOT HANDLE STRESSFUL SITUATIONS LIKE HE WAS TRAINING, SHOULD BE IN THE POLICE DEPARTMENT.

Anonymous said...

Regarding. The. Largo police of Largo Florida, there is a five-time home invasion felon living caddy corner to my house. I made tapes of drugs and money exchanging hands and turned them over to an officer of Largo Police. Starting the very next day I received bad names being thrown across the street at me from the people on the video they were dealing in the driveways.

furthermore my son while I was at work was taking out under the oak tree in broad daylight and question by the so-called Largo detectives unit. very trustful friend in the department ran through the logs of that day and showed nothing in the logs regarding questioning my son. I have calls on other occasions for burglaries and attempted burglary by this felon which have been witnessed not just by myself. and the latest incident after I asked to be anonymous because I don't want a war in the neighborhood police showed up and help him find his dog. the very next day of course guess who's yelling profanities at me from across the street even though I asked to be anonymous. this certainly makes me think twice before calling the Largo Florida police department.