The DOJ is following the Springfield (MA) PD Consent Order with an investigation into the Worcester PD > Massachusetts

of the I guess there’s no need to buy anyone a flight home dept

Two years ago, the DOJ launched an investigation into the Springfield, Massachusetts Police Department targeting the ailing drug division. Like far too many other drug-related units, the Springfield Narcotics Unit was filled with officers who had routinely committed rights violations.

Narcotics Bureau officers routinely beat people in the head and neck without any legal justification. The routine reliance on beatings in arrests and other encounters that we found during our investigation suggests a propensity to use violence impulsively rather than tactically, as part of a command-and-control approach to the use of force rather than as an approach who uses force only when necessary to respond to a specific threat.

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Contrary to law, SPD policy, and national standards, Narcotics Bureau officials routinely hit people’s head areas with closed fists as an immediate response to resistance without attempting to elicit compliance through other, less serious uses of force. Of all 84 Narcotics Bureau prisoner injury files from 2013 to 2019, approximately 19% of the acts of violence reviewed involved blows to the subjects’ heads, and approximately another 8% involved injuries to the subjects’ heads from some other form of head blow. In a significant number of these cases, such violence was unreasonable.

That investigation expanded to the rest of Springfield PD, which the DOJ reasonably assumed also had problem officers. Two years later, the DOJ applied a Consent Decree aimed at bringing the PD back in line with the Constitution. Whether this will change the way the PD deals with its bad cops is unclear, but the PD’s decision to simply rename the Narcotics Unit “Firearms Investigation Unit” suggests this won’t be the last is that the DOJ is visiting Springfield.

It’s not just a Springfield problem. It’s a Massachusetts problem. More specifically, it’s a law enforcement issue. If there’s one bright spot, this new investigation by a Massachusetts police department (just months away from the Springfield investigation) suggests Justice Department investigators never had a chance to board a flight out of the state, perhaps to taxpayers saves some money.

Just months after the Justice Department completed a full investigation into police brutality in the Bay State’s third-largest city, Springfield, it opened a new one in its second-largest city, Worcester, on Tuesday.

In addition to investigating what it described as a pattern or practice of excessive force by Worcester police officers, the department said Tuesday it would investigate whether there had been discriminatory enforcement based on race and sex.

The Worcester PD is in trouble. The DOJ did not provide many specifics in its announcement of this investigation, but there is plenty of information that fills in the gaps in the DOJ’s vague account.

Perhaps one of the most benign allegations is that one officer, Rodrigo Oliveira, routinely threw noisy, annoying, and crowded parties at his home – parties at which guests tended to roam the street annoying people and neighbors hoping Having a peaceful night’s sleep saw those plans fizzle out as Oliveira and his guests were wasted. But unless you’re willing to monitor the little things internally, you’re unlikely to be willing to hold officers accountable for the violations they commit on duty.

The lieutenant instructed neighbors to call the police if problems persist. He also alerted the dispatcher that a supervisor should always answer Oliveira’s address on future calls.

“Officer Oliveira said he understood,” the internal affairs report said.

In January 2020, the report concluded that Oliveira was “acquitted” of charges of “rudeness” and “awareness of the activities.”

However, records show that the parties and the calls to 911 continued even as the COVID-19 pandemic hit. An incident history at Oliveira’s address, following the internal investigation, listed eight separate “loud party” calls.

Then there’s a wrongful arrest lawsuit that was filed by Dana Gaul after Worcester Police ruled he fit the description when in fact he didn’t fit the description.

Witnesses at the scene described the perpetrator as a thin, Caucasian or white male, approximately 5 feet 7 inches (1.7 meters) tall, while Gaul is black, weighs 200 pounds (91 kilograms) and is 5 feet 10 inches tall ( 1.8 meters) tall, his lawyers said.

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Investigators forced some people — none of whom were actually at the scene — to say the suspect’s grainy surveillance video looked like Gaul, according to the lawsuit filed by Debra Loevy and Mark Reyes.

In addition, DNA found on the victim’s body and clothing was compared to Gaul’s DNA but did not match, according to his attorneys. Gaul did not know Rose and was not near the crime scene, his attorneys said.

It also appears that the city is willing to step in for the PD to hide evidence of wrongdoing from public record requesters.

A judge condemned Worcester for its unlawful three-year campaign to keep records of police misconduct secret from a local newspaper, writing in a recent ruling that a city attorney had tried to mislead the court and “not in good.” acted in faith”.

Worcester Superior Court Justice Janet Kenton-Walker ordered the city to pay $101,000 to cover legal fees for its Telegram & Gazette document. To hold the city accountable for its intransigence, she also ordered it to pay $5,000 in punitive damages.

It’s the third time in two decades that T&G has taken the city to court for issuing records of police misconduct — and the third time the newspaper has been successful.

3 times. If you want evidence of “pattern and practice,” this series of complaints about PD opacity will give the DOJ some investigative ammunition.

Here’s more: City residents are on the hook in another wrongful conviction lawsuit over an $8 million settlement. That won’t get the wrongly accused back 16 years of freedom, but it’s a start.

A jury has awarded Natale Cosenza of Worcester $8 million in punitive damages and $30,000 in a lawsuit involving two Worcester Police Sergeants.

The jury found that Sergeant Kerry Hazelhurst had withheld evidence and fabricated evidence in the case that led to Cosenza’s conviction. The jury also found that Hazelhurst and Sergeant John Doherty conspired to hide and fabricate evidence. Six others from the Worcester Police Department were removed from the original complaint before the trial.

Cosenza served 16 years in prison for assault and assault with a dangerous weapon and armed burglary of a woman before being released in 2016.

Other “model and practice” evidence: This case involved an officer who contributed to another wrongful conviction.

Doherty was one of the interrogators who extracted a confession from then-16-year-old Nga Truong in 2008. Truong spent three years behind bars awaiting trial before a judge found the confession “was the result of deception, subterfuge, and tacit promises made to a frightened teenager,” according to it WBUR. The City of Worcester settled that lawsuit in 2016 for $2.1 million.

The Worcester PD has launched dozens of civil rights lawsuits, forcing residents to pay millions in settlement payments. This history of abuse prompted residents to petition the DOJ to investigate the department. Whether or not that petition played a role in the Justice Department’s investigation is unknown, but the bottom line is that a department that has ceded control to its officers, no matter how much damage they cause, must explain to federal investigators , why their workforce is so terrible to respect rights.

The end of this investigation is still years away. And it will likely be another half decade before the DOJ gets a consent decree that has little chance of actually reforming the Worcester PD. But for now, the Worcester PD is making national headlines for all the wrong reasons. Hopefully this will generate the heat and friction needed to move the department towards better relationships with the people it serves and a greater respect for their rights.

Filed under: Consent Decree, Doj, Massachusetts, Police, Springfield, Worcester

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