While there are certainly some “good guys” employed as police officers in this state, when we only hear about the bad apples, it does nothing to improve police-community relations. Unfortunately, there’s another bad apple to add to the barrel—former East Washington Police Chief Donald Solomon, who was sentenced this week to more than 11 years in prison. [Read more…]
An estimated 850 police departments in the United States mandate video recordings of interrogations. They do this for a variety of reasons, but mainly to ensure accountability on both sides of the questioning table. Still, the Philadelphia Police Department doesn’t. They maintain they simply don’t have the money for it, ignoring the possibility that such documentation could actually save costs in the long run. [Read more…]
In the current climate, where Washington and Colorado recently legalized recreational marijuana, there is a clamor to see which state will be next. Many have their sights set on freeing up pot, but advocates and supporting lawmakers alike are cautious as such legislation won’t be popular with everyone. Still, Pennsylvania State Senator Daylin Leach (D-17) has taken an assertive step forward, introducing a bill that would make his state next in line. [Read more…]
A former Philly police lieutenant was found not guilty of assault last week when Municipal Court Judge Patrick F. Dugan said the case wasn’t a “social media contest.” A video of the officer made its rounds after the incident took place at last year’s Puerto Rican Day parade. And though the video clearly shows the officer knocking the woman flat, the judge determined it didn’t tell the whole story. [Read more…]
If you’ve never heard of John Hirko, Jr., it’s time you did. He was a young man from Bethlehem. He had no criminal record. He was killed by the Bethlehem SWAT team.
According to a running series from Radley Balko at the Huffington Post, this is only one of countless raids-gone-wrong over the past few decades—raids that demonstrate the growing militaristic police force and the dangers we all face when confronted by them. [Read more…]
District Attorney Seth Williams has dropped at least 11 drug cases in recent weeks. The reason? He says that six narcotics officers that worked to build these cases have lost credibility and would not be called as witnesses, making the cases against the defendants too weak to try. But what the officers did to lose this credibility is still in question. [Read more…]
Civil liberties advocates and citizens are finally waking up to the issues and concerns about passive government surveillance happening with police automatic license plate scanning systems. [Read more…]
Only about a month after the governor’s Justice Reinvestment Panel set forth its recommendations, many of those recommendations are fixed to become law. The prison reform bill was passed by the Senate this week and by the House of Representatives earlier in the month. Now it awaits Governor Tom Corbett’s signature. [Read more…]
July 17, 2008 – Comprehensive article on DUI Enforcement in York County, and across Pennsylvania. Interesting points include:
- Police statewide are stepping up DUI enforcement , sobriety checkpoints/roadblocks, and roving patrols
- Greater effort is going into getting convictions, including better police training in arrest procedures, and more resources for court officers to prosecute the cases
- There is no evidence any of these tactics are making the roads safer, or reducing drunk driving
- Proposed tougher drunk driving legislation includes impounding vehicles, and stricter ignition interlock laws
- There are also more innovative ideas for rehabilitation, including increased treatment programs for alcohol addicted repeat offenders, new technology monitoring devices, such as SCRAM alcohol detecting ankle bracelets, and proposed dedicated DUI courts, to better implement these ideas. The theory that has been successful in other states is that the DUI courts promote rigorous alcohol treatment and monitoring, instead of pure punishment.
All in all, it is an interesting article worth the time to read for anyone interested in the state of drunk driving law in Pennsylvania.
March 8, 2008 – Crawford County, PA has started a DUI task force. With a funding grant from PennDOT, local police departments will coordinate on DUI enforcement and deterrent efforts, that include additional DUI patrols and sobriety checkpoints and roadblocks. According to the Crawford county district attorney, one third of the district’s prosecutions are DUI related. [news here].
March 6, 2008 – There is a new DUI court in Lebanon County, PA dedicated to second offense DUI/drunk driving offenders. Instead of mandatory jail time, participants are able to engage in a two year intensive alcohol treatment program. The new court is similar to what some counties (Bucks county) have for a drug court, offering treatment programs instead of harsh sentences for drug possession. See this news article for more details.
December 16, 2007 – An article in the Philadelphia Inquirer talks about how new technology automatic license plate scanners are being employed by Pennsylvania police departments. If you have an outstanding warrant for your arrest, your car can be flagged simply by driving down the street if you pass by a police cruiser equipped with one of these devices. This makes it all the more imperative that you get legal help if you have a warrant for your arrest for failure to appear in court.
July 31, 2007 – An Article on DUI Convictions in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that cites statistics directly from MADD. In the article, MADD claims that there were 1,616 traffic deaths in Pennsylvania in 2005, 636 of which were “alcohol-related traffic deaths”. What is the source of the alcohol statistics? What is the definition of alcohol related? Does that mean that someone may have had one drink? The phrase alcohol related seems to be too closely chosen to be believed. If there is proof that the accidents they cite were caused by drunk drivers, why wouldn’t they say that?