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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Hide and Convict - by Daniel L. Price Esq.

Is Michigan law enforcement Criminal Racketeering?  I recently read an article about an Ottawa County officer who turned off his dash and body cams during the search of a motor vehicle.  A search is a critical point of the invasion of the motorist’s privacy, and in generating revenue for the state.  The federal 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against this defendant essentially stating that turning cameras off did not amount to hiding evidence.

As an attorney, and a citizen, I want mandatory body and dash cams for all law enforcement.  I believe they protect all concerned, as they provide evidence that can either support a conviction, or dismissal of false charges.  They can also exonerate an officer accused of excessive force, or show officer and/or department fraud and misconduct.

I’ve watched footage of dash cams since 2000.  It’s often disturbing to watch.  For instance, I represented a DUI defendant in Van Buren Twp., MI in the mid-2000’s.  The officer stated on dash cam that he “radar timed” the Defendant speeding.  Interestingly, the camera also showed the officer attempting to obtain a breath sample while the EMS technician administered breathing treatments on the driver as she suffered a severe asthma attack.  The EMS technician rightly told the officer to back off.

Even more, the camera showed the radar unit was not on at any time.  But worse, the officer had no training to use a radar device.  It gets much worse.  Turns out the local newspaper reported that the minutes of township meetings stated a group of officers were hired to generate traffic ticket revenue, and if they did not generate a minimum amount they would be fired after one year.  Ironically, I later observed a Van Buren TWP Police car traveling in excess of 90 mph as it traveled eastbound on I-96 from Grand Rapids, after officers received awards for traffic safety from then Governor Granholm. 

Another example is in early 2017, a Berrien County Sheriff’s deputy pulled me over.  His first question was, “how long has it been since you had a speeding ticket”?  Interesting!?!?  In any event, he cited me for going 5 mph over the speed limit.  Before my hearing the prosecutor told me that if I did not admit guilt she would have the officer write another ticket for driving 68 mph, instead of the 5 mph over, which he did.
I viewed the dash cam footage prior to entering the courtroom and it showed the radar unit was not on at any time.  Moreover, the deputy testified to having over 10 years in law enforcement, and had been fully trained in traffic safety and in the use of radar units.  Yet, the deputy testified he could not state the manufacturer’s name for the unit, or the manufacturer itself.  He further testified that it is the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department’s policy to have radar units turned off at all times.
Let that sink in.  The department takes from us hundreds of thousands of dollars for radar units, officer training, and officer salaries for traffic patrol.  Yet, the department’s policy is to not use the radar units, and the so called “training” results in an over 10 year veteran not knowing the radar unit which he is commanded not to use.

Warrants and tickets in Michigan state that the officer swears under penalty of perjury that the statements he/she writes on these are true.  In both cases above, the officers knowingly committed fraud/perjury themselves in writing the citations.  Moreover, their respective departments did as well, when they took money from us to pay for salaries, training, radar units, and patrol vehicles.  And, it is only due to the word count limitation in this article that I cannot show many more instances of this kind of practice.

Black’s Law Dictionary states, “Fraud consists of some deceitful practice or willful device, resorted to with intent to deprive another of his right, or in some manner to do him an injury.”  In Merriam Webster’s dictionary it is defined as, “Wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain”.  Further, that one who engages in this is a, “racketeer”, “cheat”, and “charlatan”, among others.

There are laws against quotas, fraud/perjury, and racketeering.  One must wonder, is the primary purpose of the state to deny citizens’ rights, or protect these rights?
How many have paid fines, suffered convictions, jail time, or job loss, because of this racket?  How many can’t pay for kids’ braces, school clothes, or a decent meal because of this? 

Fight those tickets!  There is a good chance there is no evidence against you.  Isn’t it cheaper than allowing your freedom and your wallet to be robbed from you with your consent?  Freedom is not free!  Giving up the fight costs you your money and freedom.

Till next month, as always, keep rolling on.

Disclaimer:  This is an informational article only.  It is not to provide individual legal advice.  If you need legal services, feel free to contact me, or any attorney of your choosing.