On March 7, 2015 Cezan “CJ” Stock and a group of friends were hanging
out in their neighborhood in Columbia, MO when they noticed a Columbia
Police Department patrol cruiser approach.
Sergeant Roger Schlude and Street Crimes Officers Chris Papineau were
in the area on a “Check Subject” when they parked and began observing
the teenagers. Upon spotting the officers, CJ and several other
teenagers began using their camera phones to record the officers.
Schlude responded by exiting his vehicle and pointing his service
weapon at CJ, while demanding he take his hand out of his pocket. The
teen complied but the weapon remained aimed at CJ while the two
debated the officer’s actions. Schlude repeatedly tells the teen to
CJ’s mother, Andrea Brookins, says her son is known for filming his
encounters with law enforcement to hold the police accountable for
their actions. She believes this has garnered ill-will with members of
CPD and leading to situation such as this. “These officers were trying
to intimidate my son from filming the police,” she said in an
interview with CFJ.
As the situation unfolded Officer Papineau engaged in a verbal
argument with CJ, threatening to “mop the floor” with the teen and
making fun of his weight, as well as that of a fellow teenager on the
Schlude claims that CJ had been arrested for concealing a firearm on a
previous occasion, leading him to fear CJ. Reports indicate the
firearm was located in the glove box of his mother’s vehicle, which CJ
was driving her vehicle at the time.
Andrea says the firearm belonged to her, stating she has a Second
Amendment Right to bear arms. “I have a right to defend myself and
they used that to arrest my son in retaliation for his filming the
police,” Brookins said. This gun case against CJ was later dismissed
Missouri Law specifically states that an individual has a right to
keep a firearm concealed in their vehicle, whether or no they have a
Conceal and Carry Permit: http://bit.ly/2b1EmIb
Brookins filed complaints against the officers for their actions.
Her complaint against Officer Papinuea for Discourteous,
Disrespectful, or Discriminatory Treatment of Any Member of the
Public, and Guidelines for Corrective Action were sustained. He
received a Written Warning.
Her complaint against Schlude for Excessive Force (Response to
Resistance) was marked as Exonerated and cleared of any wrong-doing.
Several months later, officers attempted to pull CJ over while he was
on lunch from his job. Based on this situation, CJ drove to his
mother’s house where he peacefully surrendered as Brookins filmed. “I
wanted to ensure his safety. He was scared and I could understand
why,” Brookins said.
As she filmed, Sergeant Schlude charged and shoved Brookins. Her video
of this situation can be seen here: http://bit.ly/2bk84Ls
For those who are unfamiliar with asset forfeiture, I’ll try and explain it in a proverbial nutshell. Before I do that, it is important to thank the policy analysts at Americans for Forfeiture Reform for their work on this subject. Without them, I doubt many people would be talking about the evils of asset forfeiture. For those who would like to learn more, AFR has a very informative website.
In a nutshell, as promised, asset forfeiture is the means by which the government circumvents the 4th, 5th, and 10th Amendments to the United States Constitution to steal property from its citizens as it makes unreasonable seizures without due process and overrides the Missouri Constitution. If property is suspected to have been used in the commission of a crime or gained as the proceeds of illegal activity, that property can be seized by the government. More on that later.
There are two problems with asset forfeiture. First is the problem of where the money goes. Second is the problem of how the money is taken.
All interest accruing from investment of the county school fund, the clear proceeds of all penalties, forfeitures and fines collected hereafter for any breach of the penal laws of the state, the net proceeds from the sale of estrays, and all other moneys coming into said funds shall be distributed annually to the schools of the several counties according to law.
So, according to the Missouri Constitution, moneys confiscated via asset forfeiture is to be sent to the schools. With this being the case, how are law enforcement agencies in Missouri able to pay themselves from these funds?
The answer is a federal loophole known as equitable sharing. Equitable sharing basically works like this. When local law enforcement finds some good stuff while investigating a crime, they take it and process the forfeiture through the federal government. Most law enforcement agencies have federally deputized officers who can process the forfeiture. Sometimes it’s merely a matter of paperwork. When this happens, the feds take a small cut of the proceeds and give the rest back to the participating law enforcement agencies. This allows for an end-run around the Missouri State Constitution. The money is effectively laundered through the Department of Justice.
Initiated in 1986, the Equitable Sharing Program was designed to foster cooperation between state and federal law enforcement agencies in the war on drugs. Few states had forfeiture laws at the time and state and local agencies that participated could receive a portion of the income generated from federal forfeitures. Since then all 50 states have passed either civil or criminal forfeiture laws and now the equitable sharing program serves not only to foster cooperation, but as a way for state and local law enforcement agencies to circumvent their own state forfeiture statutes.
Once local law enforcement hands a case over to the feds, state law ceases to apply. This means that police departments in California, North Carolina, and Nebraska do not have to convict a person before taking their property. Agencies in Hawaii stand to receive as much as three times the amount of money from a forfeiture processed in federal court than they would if done through their own court system. State mandates to avoid policing for profit, such as in Missouri where forfeiture proceeds are supposed to be deposited in a fund for education, are bypassed as well.
Instead of going to schools, the money is funneled back to local police, either as grants or as cold, hard cash. As Columbia’s Police Chief Ken Burton described it, it’s like “pennies from heaven.”
I’d argue that these funds are really pennies from hell, usually stolen from citizens, but we’ll get to that later.
Not only are the forfeiture funds not going to our school children, the equitable sharing process sets up a system of policing for profit which further degrades our local political system that should be answerable to the people. Funding is one way the people of a community possess to maintain local sovereignty and control or support of local law enforcement. When law enforcement uses equitable sharing of forfeiture dollars to self-fund, the community loses one check and balance and the police have a perverse incentive to prosecute profitable crimes or wait to act until certain crimes become profitable.
Case in point: Columbia’s infamous Kinloch Ct. S.W.A.T. raid. One of the main problems with this raid was that the police supposedly had reliable intelligence from a confidential informant who stated that there was a large amount of cannabis at a residence. The police waited 8 days after the warrant was issued to kick in the door with guns-a-blazin’, shooting two dogs in front of a small child only to find a small amount of cannabis and no cash.
So why the delay? While it was explained away as a staffing problem, the real reason was likely the hope of finding piles of cash. If the police know there is a big pile of drugs at a dealer’s house and they send S.W.A.T. in immediately, all they find is the drugs. If they wait a week, hopefully the drug dealer has sold enough of his product to amass a big pile of cash — cash that can be used to buy cool new Department of Homeland Security toys and tools like the Lenco Bearcat.
There’s just no money in rape and murder these days.
We’ve established that there is a problem with where the money goes. It’s not going to our school children as directed by our state constitution and it establishes a means of self-funding for law enforcement, circumventing local control and creating perverse enforcement incentives. Now let’s tale a look at how the money is taken in the first place.
To keep things simple, let’s divide asset forfeiture into two categories — criminal asset forfeiture and civil asset forfeiture.
Criminal asset forfeiture is when property is seized by and forfeited to the government when the owner of such property is convicted of a crime. There are some reasonable arguments that can be made in support of this system. When a person is convicted of a crime, forfeiting property can be part of the punishment. Of course we’ve discussed the problem with self-funding above, but when we look at it as punishment, regardless of where the money goes, it seems to make sense. When a profitable criminal gets out of jail, they should not be able to go home to a mansion purchased with the proceeds of his/her criminal activity.
Civil asset forfeiture is the real problem. In a civil asset forfeiture proceeding, a citizen does not need to be convicted of a crime to have their property taken by the government. In fact, the accused doesn’t even need to be tried and acquitted. All that really needs to happen is an arrest, justified or not, and the government seizes property.
Since the forfeiture is made in civil court, the old “innocent until proven guilty” protection that we all learned in 6th grade does not apply. Cases are literally made against the property and read like, “United States of America v. United States currency in the amount of $638,202.00 et al.” To get their property back, property owners must hire a lawyer to argue for the innocence of their property, which is assumed in civil court to be guilty. Sound absurd? Well, it is absurd.
The case listed in the preceding paragraph as to do with property taken from a local Columbia business owner during a raid executed by the Boone County Sheriffs Department. Kevin Bay, co-owner of a local business, BoCoMo Bay, was suspected of a crime. Once arrested, the charges against Mr. Bay were quickly dropped, but not before several million dollars worth of cash, precious metals, collectible coins, and collectible firearms were seized and made subject to civil asset forfeiture.
That’s right. Mr. Bay was arrested, never officially charged with a crime, yet faces a lengthy federal court battle to have his rightful and legal property returned to him. This is theft, plain and simple.
While it might be worth it, although a hard stone to chew, for Mr. Bay to spend tens of thousands of dollars to get his millions returned, if he is successful, imagine a case where only $10,000 worth of property is seized. Why would a victim if civil asset forfeiture spend $20,000 in legal fees fighting for the return of $10,000. In these cases, the only choice is to forfeit the money.
This happens all the time. Click here to see a raid where a grandmother’s $5000 dollars was seized because someone in her house had a crack rock and pipe in his pocket. That money is gone, no matter what.
At last week’s Columbia City Council meeting, the council approved the use of $36,505 of asset forfeiture funds to purchase an APC for the CPD. Here is the council discussion regarding the purchase during which Michael Trapp leads the charge for accountability in the use of the vehicle. Asset forfeiture gets a mention during the discussion, but comes up later, in a meaningful way.
During the public comment portion before the vote, Keep Columbia Free’s Treasurer Elect addresses the council.
Keep Columbia Free President Mark Flakne also addressed the council.
And it looks like someone on the council heard us. At the end of the meeting, Councilperson Laura Nauser asked for a staff report on the use of asset forfeiture dollars in the City of Columbia. She expressed an interest in starting a public discussion centered around asset forfeiture to see if it is something that our community wants to use as a source for funding police.
We have also heard from another councilperson, who shall remain nameless for the time being, who said that he is open to the idea of championing asset forfeiture reform in Columbia, especially with the passage of the 911 tax which will allow for the return of funds to the city that can be used to replace forfeiture funds.
Please help educate your friends and family about civil asset forfeiture. Sadly, the majority of folks in Columbia and across the country simply have no idea what asset forfeiture is. Thanks to Americans for Forfeiture Reform and other groups like the Institute for Justice, people are waking up to this practice and overwhelmingly finding themselves to be repulsed by it.
Now is the time to call your councilperson and let him/her know in no uncertain terms that it is time to end the use of asset forfeiture to fund our local police. We should fully fund our police department through traditional means. Using asset forfeiture as a funding mechanism, while technically legal, is a morally abhorrent practice. We should all be demanding local sovereignty, government accountability, and local control of our law enforcement.
The screen shot below was captured on 3/27/2013 at 8:20PM on the personal Facebook page of Dale Roberts, Executive Director of the Columbia Police Officers Association F.O.P. Lodge #26, A private organization that is not part of the Columbia Police Department. Although the CPOA is a lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, the organization claims not to be a labor union. The overwhelming majority of C.P.D. officers are members — I’ve heard 98%, but can’t back that up.
Before going any further, it is important to note that CPOA Executive Director Roberts is not a cop. According to KOMU, along with his position at the helm of the CPOA, Roberts is “currently the vice president of the Missouri Highway Patrol’s Citizen Alliance Alumni Association. In the past, Roberts served as the Assistant Chief of Investigations for the Missouri Department of Insurance, the director of a state-wide law enforcement agency and the Chief Judge of a 9-judge panel. He is also a former member of the Missouri Police Chief’s Association. Roberts has been an adjunct assistant professor with the University of Missouri for more than 20 years, teaching law courses.”
The screen shot above comes on the heels of some rather unbecoming comments made on the official CPOA Facebook page, comments that were called satire by some, including Roberts, and racist by others, including Mayor Bob McDavid after the post made national news.
Here is what McDavid had to say…
Roberts did issue a formal apology saying, “Although intended to be satirical in nature, the post was taken out of context and perceived to be quite different than intended.”
After the armored personnel carrier comment made national news, the CPOA Facebook page was overrun with comments from outraged folks around the country. Those comments were promptly (and wisely) purged along with other mildly offensive posts.
Interestingly, as of tonight, 3/27/2013, posts like this one were still active.
The Columbia Police Department seems to have a habit of targeting its critics. Recently a strange and alarming document surfaced from the deepest reaches of the CPD offices. The document, a sort of wanted poster, bears the face of local activist and police watch-dog Matt Akins, founder of Citizens For Justice.
His website and Youtube channel together form an exhaustive database of information on our local police force. Matt and his small army of citizen journalist volumteers answer calls from concerned citizens and, with video camera in hand, keep an eye on the actions of the CPD.
Needless to say, Mr. Akins is not too popular with the local cops.
The following is from Matt Akins’s Facebook page:
This poster was prominently displayed in several locations throughout the Columbia Police Department during the Fall of 2011 while a group of Shepard Boulevard Elementry School students were given a tour of the department. cfjweb.ssos.us was the original home of Citizens For Justice (now located at www.CFJComo.com). This site was never public, but had been being tracked by the CPD/CPOA(Columbia Police Officers’ Association) as they sent emails letting us know this (Scare tactic? Maybe).
The arrest being referred to occurred in May of 2010 and was one of the primary reasons I started Citizens For Justice.
I was LEGALLY carrying a concealed weapon on my person within the confines of my vehicle (as defined under Missouri’s Peaceable Journey Statute), but the arresting officer didn’t agree with me and went so far as to supplant evidence against me by loading a round into the chamber and reporting he had recovered it from me this way. My car was impounded, I was booked for unlawful use of a weapon, and had to hire an attorney for the 6 month legal battle that would ensue.
After repeatedly asking for the footage of the arrest to show the officer engaging in misconduct, I was told that it either had been deleted, disappeared, or never existed AND MY CASE WAS DROPPED.
I believe that makes this a closed record(and therefore a HUGE violation of my civil rights), but I’m not an attorney so I could be wrong. Either way, the poster was used to make me look like a wanted criminal to a bunch a elementry school kids and I couldn’t even get an answer as to who created it or put it up.
Thanks a lot CPD!
This is not the first time the CPD has targeted a local critic. In 2010, in the wake of the infamous Kinloch Ct. SWAT raid and dog shooting, a local citizen was targeted by an officer for merely exercising his right to free speech.
Local citizen Greg Williams attended a demonstration condemning the dangerous, bumbling raid and was immediately targeted by CPD Officer Robert Fox. Officer Fox ran background checks on the protesters, found that Williams had a juvenile record, and then released those records in the comment section of the Columbia Daily Tribune. To the credit of Chief Burton, Officer Fox was reprimanded for releasing the sealed juvenile records in a public forum.
Officer Fox escaped prosecution because he claimed that he received his information from a dispatcher who did not alert him to the fact that the records were sealed.
From the Tribune:
Fox is a member of the six-man SWAT unit that entered the southwest Columbia home of Jonathan Whitworth in February.
Williams, with his pit bull, was protesting the death of a pit bull and injuries to another dog as a result of the raid.
Fox responded to a previous posting that said, “Seeing the people of Columbia stand up to this totally unacceptable police brutality refreshes my pride in America.”
“Hahahahahah!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Fox responded. “The guy with the ‘stop the brutality’ sign has multiple convictions for assaulting people with guns!!! I’d like him to stop the brutality of humans!
“Your case has never had any solid basis other than you didn’t like seeing what’s required to police Columbia and you want weed to be legal. The majority of the people in Columbia don’t care enough to comment, go to a meeting or protest at the post office. You’re all irrelevant. We need to move on.”
A commenter later wrote back to Fox, “Greg Williams in the picture, can file a defamation of character and slander against you … so maybe a retraction should be in order.”
Fox responded by posting, “It ain’t slander if it’s true. It is.”
More troubling than the release of juvenile records is the notion that police are openly investigating citizens for merely exercising their God-given right to free speech. Officer Fox looked into Greg Williams’s juvenile record in hopes of finding information that could be used for intimidation. The posters of Matt Akins that were prominently displayed by the CPD in areas frequented by civilian visitors indicate a clear plan to target Mr. Akins.
Shouldn’t our police be protecting the fundamental natural rights that are the underpinning of our free society? Shouldn’t our police be ensuring that our rights to free speech and to petition our government for the redress of grievances are protected? Instead it appears that at least some of our local police are determined to use their considerable power to violate these rights.
Today, Ashley Cuttle, the paid director of the local police labor union, the CPOA, renewed and doubled down on her attack on Columbia Police Chief Ken Burton. Burton has done his best to reform a troubled department despite the foot-dragging of veteran officers. Change never comes easy, especially in government, but when the pant-suited pit bull Cuttle is leading the charge against that change, there is a recipe for trouble.
To assist her in her character and career assassination of Burton, Cuttle has enlisted the help of labor leader Kevin Albrand, President of the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police. The two appeared on the Gary Nolan Show following their meeting with Mayor Bob McDavid and City Manager Mike Mathes where they lobbied for Burton’s termination.
Mitch Richards of Keep Columbia Free called the show and artfully challenged the legitimacy of the CPOA argument during the second half of the radio segment. You can stream to the radio interviewHERE or go directly to the mp3 download by clicking HERE.
While the CPOA has fought Burton at every turn, the real attack started after Burton fired Rob Sanders. Sanders was fired following his brutal assault of an unarmed and detained suspect after which he laughed about the incident as the suspect writhed on the floor in agony stemming from a broken neck.
Please show your support of Chief Burton by signing our online petition. Click HERE to go to the petition.
Here is the video of the brutal attack at the hands of Rob Sanders.
It looks like Keep Columbia Free has worked its way under the skin of the police brutality apologists. This is a screen-shot from a Facebook page run by disgruntled ex-CPD officers. It’s a little flattering to have made their hit list alongside the Chief of Police, the City Manager, and the Editor of the Tribune.
Keep Columbia VP, Abhi Sivasailam, is featured in this ABC 17 news story talking about why we support Chief Burton.
Here’s another video of former officer Rob Sanders in action. This time he’s not violently assaulting an unarmed, detained citizen, but he is harassing local police watchdogs, Citizens for Justice , instead of serving and protecting the public…
TheColumbia Daily Tribune recently reportedthat Karen Taylor’sKeep Columbia Safe PAC has offered to donate nearly $3000 to the City of Columbia for the purchase of a more technologically advanced surveillance camera for use at the intersection of Tenth and Cherry. The camera would upgrade the existing stationary camera with a unit capable of panning, tilting and zooming.
This new camera would allow Columbia police officers to sit in front of a computer screen, joystick in hand, and zoom in on the peaceful day-to-day activities of law abiding citizens in real time.
During Karen Taylor’s campaign to have the cameras installed she and her comrades repeatedly stated that the cameras would only be used to record video and the recordings would only be accessed if needed to solve a crime. Of course, once the ballot initiative passed, the police violated the sanctity of the voting booth and changed the plan as they began the live monitoring of Downtown Columbia. Now Keep Columbia Safe is jumping on the bandwagon of live video by offering to buy a camera capable of zooming on the plunging necklines of young college coeds and perhaps detecting a few facecrimes.
The following video captures one of the countless times Karen Taylor promised the voters of Columbia that her beloved cameras would not be used for live surveillance.
Campaign promises are sacred!Taylor and her cohorts have violated the trust of the voters by outwardly promoting live surveillance after promising the opposite. By accepting these funds and using them to promote further live monitoring of law-abiding citizens, the Columbia City Council has betrayed the citizenry whom they serve. If we, the citizens of Columbia, cannot believe the Council about this issue, why should we beleive them about anything else? Their credibility with voters is at stake.
More generally business owners should realize that this tool allows for the existence of a more onerous regulatory and enforcement environment that is more likely to victimize business owners by dragging them through the process than protect public safety. After all, the City Council has official dubbed the surveillance cameras as Safety Cameras, not Regulatory Cameras.
Of course, this $3000 Keep Columbia Safe donation is funded by private dollars which can be spent however the private organization wishes. Yet, it is incumbent on us not to sit silent when these private funds are going toward furthering the police-industrial complex that is beleaguering us so with its liberty-crushing weight.
And the fact remains that cameras on public streets and sidewalks have beenproven ineffective, time and time again. In these sparse budgetary times, our city cannot afford to waste any sum of money on technology that has been proven fruitless. The only studies that claim public cameras on public streets deter or solve violent crimes are studies funded by camera companies and the like. It is, however, important to note that our Safety Cameras have reportedly been used to keep the public safe from a dangerous litterbug.
There is simply no replacing the traditional methods of policing when it comes to keeping us safe. Columbia’s so-called “Safety Cameras” are a waste of money.
A few days ago at a local holiday party I was introduced to an area law enforcement officer, not an officer of the CPD. I was actually a bit surprised and somewhat flattered when she told me that she reads this blog. After a bit of casual conversation, this officer made the comment that the Columbia Police Department is “dirty — one of the dirtiest departments” she’s encountered in her many years working in law enforcement. After making this statement she made it clear that her comments were strictly off the record.
In fact, she was afraid of the repercussions that would come her way for making such a statement. The good-ol’-boy, fraternal, police union, us v. them atmosphere in law enforcement should be frightening to us all. There are good officers who cannot speak publicly about corruption for fear of losing their career of even their life. Even First Ward City Councilman Fred Schmidt expressed a fear of reprisal from the local police after making statements condemning a recent act of police brutality. (click HERE to skip to 3:10 in this video to hear what Fred has to say about his fear)
It is time that the citizens of Columbia realize the high costs of allowing this canker of cop corruption to continue to fester as it has for the last forty years.
A source very close to the Baker camp told KCF that there is a gag order in place and the settlement was actually $750,000 along with an agreement to drop all pending charges against Baker, including his failure to pay child support which he will presumably now be able to pay with our tax dollars.
So, besides the obvious monetary costs, keeping a violent bully like Rob Sanders on the force for the past 18 years has not only cost we the taxpayers, three quarters of a million dollars, it has allowed a noted, dangerous miscreant, Kenneth Baker, to freely walk the streets among us instead of remaining behind bars where he obviously belongs. Columbia is a more dangerous place, in more ways than one, thanks to Rob Sanders and officers like him.
And Sanders, his wife, his ex-cop buddies, and the CPOA thugs have the gall to condemn Burton for firing Sanders and demand that Sanders be reinstated as an officer. If Sanders wants his job back, he should start by coughing up $750,000. I want my money back!
Sanders should have been fired years ago along with any other officer who thinks and acts like him. Let’s hope that any remaining officers who subscribe to the Sander school of police work have the moral wherewithal to change their ways or face immediate termination by Chief Burton.
If you are interested in supporting Chief Burton in his battle to reform our police department against the will of the police unions, pleasesign this petition.