Author Topic: Breaking Rank by former Seattle police chief, Norm Stamper  (Read 2236 times)

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Offline Antigen

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Breaking Rank by former Seattle police chief, Norm Stamper
« on: June 25, 2005, 02:54:00 PM »
DRUG TRUTH NETWORK UPDATES:  

The Cultural Baggage 1/2 hour program for 06/24/05 is now online featuring Norm Stamper, the former police chief of Seattle Washington and author of the powerful new book "Breaking Rank". http://www.edunow.com/1560256931.shtml

MP3: http://www.drugtruth.net/MP3/FDBCB_062405.mp3

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Our next Cultural Baggage will be Live, Friday July 1 @ 7PM Central.

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Offline Paul

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Breaking Rank by former Seattle police chief, Norm Stamper
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2005, 05:10:00 AM »
Here is a quote from someone who recently heard Norm Stamper make a presentation:

"I heard Chief Stamper at the City Club of San
Diego June 17 -- one of the best speeches I ever have heard.

As one who grew up around cops, I find his
critique of policing practices and his proposals for reform right on target.

His book is worthy of the attention of anyone
with a commitment to improving the urban quality of life.  We are lucky to have had him for a time, as Assistant Chief, shaping the development of the SDPD, which he now pronounces one of the cleanest in the nation."
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Offline Antigen

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Breaking Rank by former Seattle police chief, Norm Stamper
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2005, 02:40:00 PM »
Yeah, I find it so encouraging when leos come out of the closet on this issue. It's a sensitive issue. Fact is, there is no possible way, under current policies, for a cop to play by the rules and to be ethical. The rules just don't allow for it. So there are various kinds of corruption; some easier to live with than others (depending on your perspective).

Is SDPD among the cleanest in the nation?

There never was a good war or a bad peace.

--Benjamin Franklin, (1773)

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Offline Paul

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Breaking Rank by former Seattle police chief, Norm Stamper
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2005, 07:17:00 PM »
Quote
On 2005-06-26 11:40:00, Antigen wrote:


Is SDPD among the cleanest in the nation?


I was surprised by that statement. I dont' think I
can answer that in comparison to other municipalities.

I do know there used to be lots more trouble with the San Diego Police Department. Now they do outreach to the community and have listened, and
have adapted their training to include what they
heard.

There have been no mega scandals, now that I think of it, not even little one's.

Hmmm, perhaps it is true.

We have had a lot of good Chief's and Assistant Chief's the last two decades. Norm Stamper was one of them. He had a great reputation and some where bummed that his timing to be chief didn't peak at the same time as the job opening in Seattle.

I think I will read the book!

Paul
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Offline Paul

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Breaking Rank by former Seattle police chief, Norm Stamper
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2005, 11:16:00 AM »
Ginger,

I am so glad that you posted this book.

I guess I am victim of no longer thumbing
through the newspaper everyday, rather, trying
to read it online. I no longer see every article.

The couple of articles in the San Diego Union-Tribune are worthy of posting, they shall
follow.

Paul
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Offline Paul

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Breaking Rank by former Seattle police chief, Norm Stamper
« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2005, 11:23:00 AM »
http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib ... 9rank.html

Seeing Red

Former SDPD officer Norm Stamper's memoir 'Breaking Rank' is an angry eye-opener about police culture

Reviewed by Neal Matthews
May 29, 2005


Norm Stamper earned this book. His career in law enforcement spanned a reformist era in policing, and he was a reformer. For 30 years he moved upward against the grain of traditional police culture, most of it as the resident liberal of the San Diego Police Department.

Stamper was passed over for chief here when Jerry Sanders got the job in 1993, and he became police chief in Seattle in 1994.

Six years later, his career went down in the flames of the World Trade Organization riots, when his department was shown to be embarrassingly underprepared to prevent civic chaos.

Unreconstructed cops everywhere enjoyed a nip of schadenfreude at Stamper's expense, but he seems to have retired to the San Juan Islands without much bitterness. Now comes his memoir, "Breaking Rank," which manages to avoid score settling but still strips away the carapace of police culture to confirm some of our worst fears about the way power is wielded behind the badges.

"Even today," Stamper writes, policing "serves the interests of politicians over 'the people,' landlords over tenants, merchants over consumers, whites over blacks, husbands over wives, management over labor ? except when 'labor' is the police union."

Coming from a lefty egghead, this would be predictable ranting. But reading page after page of penetrating (but always constructive) criticism coming from a former police chief is like going on a bender with a get-out-of-jail-free card. I wanted to stand up waving a lighter as I read passages detailing police racism, homophobia and hatred of political dissidents, and Stamper's radical notions of reform ? like doubling police pay to $100,000 a year.

"The paramilitary bureaucracy" of police departments, Stamper writes, "is a slow-footed, buck-passing, blame-laying, bullying, bigotry-fostering institutional arrangement, as constipated by tradition and as resistant to change as Mel Gibson's version of the Catholic Church. I cannot imagine other essential reforms in policing ? improved crime-fighting, safety and morale of the force, the honoring of constitutional guarantees ? without significant structural transformation." Italics his.

Using as a structural skeleton his own transformation from a bigoted rookie to an outspoken reformer, Stamper knits together chapters that roam widely from policing domestic violence to the power that police unions have to strangle reform. He also lays into what he believes underlies the worst impulses of police culture ? bad laws.

"By any standard, the United States has lost its war on drugs," Stamper writes. His solution: decriminalization of most forms of dope. He sees it as a question of free will for adults to be able to decide for themselves what to ingest in the privacy of their homes, as well as a way to attack a form of structural racism that refracts from society and tilts the justice system. "[P]oor blacks smoke cheap crack, upscale whites snort the spendy powdered version of cocaine. And who goes to jail? For longer periods of time? Blacks, of course." And then he backs up his argument with solid statistics.

He also thinks prostitution should be moved from the streets and made legal if practiced indoors, and that capital punishment is a cruel failure with no value as a deterrent to crime. He cites evidence of race and class discrimination in meting out the death penalty, the incompetence of public defenders, the higher cost of execution vs. lifetime incarceration, and the fact that as of 2003, 132 people who had been sentenced to die have been found to be innocent.

He calls execution "the coward's way out." "How can we justify killing someone whose threat has ended with incarceration? In my mind it's an extension of the mentality of child abusers who know their victims can't fight back. Or of a cop who beats a handcuffed prisoner."

In many of his short, sometimes too-sketchy but always engaging chapters, Stamper uses local cases to help make his points. So we get to revisit, from a cop's perspective, the two cop killings in September 1984 by Joselito Cinco in Grape Street Park, and the serial prostitute murders of the late 1980s that involved some locally prominent people and ignited the career of prosecutor (now district attorney) Bonnie Dumanis. Stamper has a gift for scene-setting and storytelling, and his insider's perch adds some valuable missing pieces that help round out San Diego's late 20th-century history.

Stamper makes a lot of unflattering admissions in this book: to brutalizing people who gave him lip as a rookie cop, to an addiction to pain medication, to drinking confiscated booze after hours at headquarters with other police brass. (SDPD HQ is now dry.) He's

also painfully candid about his killing of an unarmed man in University Heights. But when he fesses up to being a member of the department's notorious Red Squad of undercover operatives, he adds important new information to the history of the antiwar movement here.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, SDPD's "dirties" were part of the large-scale official effort (it included the FBI and other law enforcement agencies) to infiltrate and spy on local anti-Vietnam War activists, the Black Panthers and far-right bomb throwers. The chapter on his year working undercover as a spy in the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) chapter at UCSD is by turns harrowing, funny and sad. Stamper says he is ashamed of what he did, given his basic sympathy with the antiwar cause. "How could I spy on my ideological allies?" he asks himself. He reports that most of his police colleagues wrote off all antiwar protesters as "rich spoiled brats or social misfits. As individuals, some of them may have been just that, but most of the people I befriended and spied upon were among the most dedicated, hardworking, and morally upstanding I've ever met."

Technically, Stamper broke the law when he took part in the student takeover of the UCSD registrar's office in 1969 at the height of the fervor involving leftist professors Angela Davis and Herbert Marcuse. The two of them had been red-baited relentlessly by San Diego media ? which reflected the stark conservatism of most of the community, to be sure ? and Stamper spent much of his time trying to sniff out rumors about people planning to attack the professors.

The story of his undercover experience, which includes organizing a troop of armed undercover narcs to attend a rally at UCSD in order to prevent a supposed assassination attempt on Davis, is fascinating, as far as it goes. But Stamper doesn't have much to say about other undercover informants who committed serious crimes while on the police and the FBI payroll, though he does use those abuses to argue against the post-9/11 pressure on police agencies to start spying again on peaceful protest groups.

"In police work you get all kinds of chances to choose between two wrongs: do

something when you should do nothing, do nothing when you should do something," Stamper writes. In many places throughout the book he is searingly honest about actions that seem abhorrent ? like spying on friends and harassing gays in Balboa Park ? but you end up feeling sympathetic because he seems to gain insight and even wisdom from his experiences. His reformist zeal does go to his head a little bit, as when he devotes a whole chapter to his disillusionment with the press (based on some rough treatment in the Seattle papers). And he edges toward pomposity when he starts lecturing on sole-source reporting and the use of anonymous quotes.

This good book could have been marvelous had Stamper kept to his spare, anecdote-based peregrinations on hard-won lessons from the front lines, and not bloviated in chapters about the press, community policing and the need for better police leadership. But these are quibbles; Stamper's passionate voice of reason deserves a place in the annals of police reform.

Neal Matthews is a freelance writer in San Diego.
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Offline Paul

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Breaking Rank by former Seattle police chief, Norm Stamper
« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2005, 11:28:00 AM »
Breaking Rank
A Top Cop's Street Smart Approach to Making America a Safe Place ? For Everyone
Norm Stamper
Nation Books, 416 pages, $26

Excerpt from breaking rank

The first dirty got burned the moment he walked on the square [at UCSD]. An angry ex- girlfriend. "Narc! Narc! Narc!" she bellowed. Loud enough to be heard over the bullhorned incendiary comments of the first speaker. Loud enough to be heard in Bakersfield. "Narc" didn't stick around to protest. I watched as he pivoted and split, with deliberate haste ? cops don't run unless they have to ? toward the north where he'd come from.

Moments later, not knowing at the time what had caused the first cop's exit, I spotted a second one powerwalking his way back to the lot on the east side of campus. I chalked this one up, erroneously it turned out, to his attire: Hawaiian shirt, Bermuda shorts, a Panama hat (a Panama hat for chrissakes!). What was he thinking? It's a wonder he wasn't sporting black socks and black leather shoes. (He'd also been burned by an ex, an ex-wife who was putting herself through school and who'd been trying to collect child support from the cop, a deadbeat dad. If he wouldn't cooperate with her she saw no reason to cooperate with him.)

Two down. I'm leaking confidence. ... If those dudes from Santa Barbara showed up now [to kill Angela Davis] we'd be at half strength. Even as I was lamenting the odds, they got worse. Forty-five minutes into the detail, a third cop got burned. This was beyond bizarre. Had members of the crowd swept the square with some magic narc-detector device? The third guy fell when an old pal recognized him. "Jimmy!" he'd yelled. "Jimmy, you old ****'er, you! What's it been? Three, four years? You still with the PD? What's with the beard? Oh, I'll bet they fired your ass, didn't they?" A vocal subset of the crowd started pointing and chanting, "Pig! Pig! Pig!" Jimmy quickly walked to his vehicle, a few diehards escorting him all the way.
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Offline Paul

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Breaking Rank by former Seattle police chief, Norm Stamper
« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2005, 06:56:00 PM »
Quote
On 2005-06-26 11:40:00, Antigen wrote:

"Yeah, I find it so encouraging when leos come out of the closet on this issue. It's a sensitive issue. Fact is, there is no possible way, under current policies, for a cop to play by the rules and to be ethical. The rules just don't allow for it. So there are various kinds of corruption; some easier to live with than others (depending on your perspective).



You are absolutely right on here.

As a result of you posting the book here I did a search on the San Diego Union and found a long article that was a special report.

It turned out to be very significant to me. The police attend our mental health meetings quite a bit. We can also meet with them at anytime. Three of us mental health clients met with Chief Lansdowne when he first took over. He was very cordial and we ran out of things to say ... then he got us coffee, and said stay another couple of minutes and just chat about anything you want, I am new here. He was great.

After reading the special report now I understand their motivation. Wow, wonderful!!!

Paul
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Offline Paul

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« Reply #8 on: June 27, 2005, 06:58:00 PM »
This is the introduction to the special report:

http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib ... olice.html

Special report
December 12, 2004

Few things are more important to a city and its people than law enforcement. Protecting lives and property and enforcing the rule of law are government's first responsibilities. The San Diego Police Department is the agency chiefly responsible for fulfilling this trust on behalf of this city's 1.29 million residents.

Every San Diego mayor in memory, most city managers and most members of successive city councils typically declare public safety a top priority, if not the top priority.

Yet, there is ample evidence in recent years that the city has skimped on resources and funding devoted to the SDPD. That San Diego nonetheless enjoys the second lowest overall crime rate among the top 10 U.S. cities, and the lowest rate of violent crime among the top 10 cities, is in part a tribute to how well the SDPD does its job despite being underfunded and understrength.

This special report examines the San Diego Police Department in detail; the job its police officers do and the challenges they face.

Insight section editor Robert J. Caldwell spent more than a month interviewing police from patrol officers and sergeants to the city's new police chief.

The men and women of the San Diego Police Department routinely put themselves at risk to enforce the law and protect the people of this city.

That's their job. This is their story.
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Offline Paul

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« Reply #9 on: June 27, 2005, 07:04:00 PM »
http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib ... olice.html

This is a long article, over 2,200 words.

I find it very interesting. It explains
the origin of community based policing,
and managing a large city police budget
on a shoestring. Utilizing the community
groups, such as my own exposure via the
mental health communtiy, and volunteer
police.
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« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2005, 06:13:00 PM »
http://www.mapinc.org/tlcnews/v05/n1633/a01.html?128326

16 Oct 2005

OPED: LET THOSE DOPERS BE
by Norm Stamper, Los Angeles Times
LET THOSE DOPERS BE

A Former Police Chief Wants to End a Losing War by Legalizing Pot, Coke, Meth and Other Drugs

SOMETIMES PEOPLE in law enforcement will hear it whispered that I'm a former cop who favors decriminalization of marijuana laws, and they'll approach me the way they might a traitor or snitch.  So let me set the record straight.

Yes, I was a cop for 34 years, the last six of which I spent as chief of Seattle's police department.

But no, I don't favor decriminalization.  I favor legalization, and not just of pot but of all drugs, including heroin, cocaine, meth, psychotropics, mushrooms and LSD.

Decriminalization, as my colleagues in the drug reform movement hasten to inform me, takes the crime out of using drugs but continues to classify possession and use as a public offense, punishable by fines.

I've never understood why adults shouldn't enjoy the same right to use "verboten" drugs as they have to suck on a Marlboro or knock back a scotch and water.

Prohibition of alcohol fell flat on its face.  The prohibition of other drugs rests on an equally wobbly foundation.  Not until we choose to frame responsible drug use -- not an oxymoron in my dictionary -- as a civil liberty will we be able to recognize the abuse of drugs, including alcohol, for what it is: a medical, not a criminal, matter.

As a cop, I bore witness to the multiple lunacies of the "war on drugs." Lasting far longer than any other of our national conflicts, the drug war has been prosecuted with equal vigor by Republican and Democratic administrations, with one president after another -- Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush -- delivering sanctimonious sermons, squandering vast sums of taxpayer money and cheerleading law enforcers from the safety of the sidelines.

It's not a stretch to conclude that our draconian approach to drug use is the most injurious domestic policy since slavery.  Want to cut back on prison overcrowding and save a bundle on the construction of new facilities? Open the doors, let the nonviolent drug offenders go.  The huge increases in federal and state prison populations during the 1980s and '90s ( from 139 per 100,000 residents in 1980 to 482 per 100,000 in 2003 ) were mainly for drug convictions.  In 1980, 580,900 Americans were arrested on drug charges.  By 2003, that figure had ballooned to 1,678,200.  We're making more arrests for drug offenses than for murder, manslaughter, forcible rape and aggravated assault combined.  Feel safer?

I've witnessed the devastating effects of open-air drug markets in residential neighborhoods: children recruited as runners, mules and lookouts; drug dealers and innocent citizens shot dead in firefights between rival traffickers bent on protecting or expanding their markets; dedicated narcotics officers tortured and killed in the line of duty; prisons filled with nonviolent drug offenders; and drug-related foreign policies that foster political instability, wreak health and environmental disasters, and make life even tougher for indigenous subsistence farmers in places such as Latin America and Afghanistan.  All because we like our drugs -- and can't have them without breaking the law.

As an illicit commodity, drugs cost and generate extravagant sums of ( laundered, untaxed ) money, a powerful magnet for character-challenged police officers.

Although small in numbers of offenders, there isn't a major police force -- the Los Angeles Police Department included -- that has escaped the problem: cops, sworn to uphold the law, seizing and converting drugs to their own use, planting dope on suspects, robbing and extorting pushers, taking up dealing themselves, intimidating or murdering witnesses.

In declaring a war on drugs, we've declared war on our fellow citizens.  War requires "hostiles" -- enemies we can demonize, fear and loathe.  This unfortunate categorization of millions of our citizens justifies treating them as dope fiends, evil-doers, less than human.  That grants political license to ban the exchange or purchase of clean needles or to withhold methadone from heroin addicts motivated to kick the addiction.

President Bush has even said no to medical marijuana.  Why would he want to "coddle" the enemy? Even if the enemy is a suffering AIDS or cancer patient for whom marijuana promises palliative, if not therapeutic, powers.

As a nation, we're long overdue for a soul-searching, coldly analytical look at both the "drug scene" and the drug war.  Such candor would reveal the futility of our current policies, exposing the embarrassingly meager return on our massive enforcement investment ( about $69 billion a year, according to Jack Cole, founder and executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition ).

How would "regulated legalization" work? It would:

1 ) Permit private companies to compete for licenses to cultivate, harvest, manufacture, package and peddle drugs.

2 ) Create a new federal regulatory agency ( with no apologies to libertarians or paleo-conservatives ).

3 ) Set and enforce standards of sanitation, potency and purity.

4 ) Ban advertising.

5 ) Impose ( with congressional approval ) taxes, fees and fines to be used for drug-abuse prevention and treatment and to cover the costs of administering the new regulatory agency.

6 ) Police the industry much as alcoholic beverage control agencies keep a watch on bars and liquor stores at the state level.  Such reforms would in no way excuse drug users who commit crimes: driving while impaired, providing drugs to minors, stealing an iPod or a Lexus, assaulting one's spouse, abusing one's child.  The message is simple.  Get loaded, commit a crime, do the time.

These reforms would yield major reductions in a host of predatory street crimes, a disproportionate number of which are committed by users who resort to stealing in order to support their habit or addiction.

Regulated legalization would soon dry up most stockpiles of currently illicit drugs -- substances of uneven, often questionable quality ( including "bunk," i.e., fakes such as oregano, gypsum, baking powder or even poisons passed off as the genuine article ).  It would extract from today's drug dealing the obscene profits that attract the needy and the greedy and fuel armed violence.  And it would put most of those certifiably frightening crystal meth labs out of business once and for all.

Combined with treatment, education and other public health programs for drug abusers, regulated legalization would make your city or town an infinitely healthier place to live and raise a family.

It would make being a cop a much safer occupation, and it would lead to greater police accountability and improved morale and job satisfaction.

But wouldn't regulated legalization lead to more users and, more to the point, drug abusers? Probably, though no one knows for sure -- our leaders are too timid even to broach the subject in polite circles, much less to experiment with new policy models.  My own prediction? We'd see modest increases in use, negligible increases in abuse.

The demand for illicit drugs is as strong as the nation's thirst for bootleg booze during Prohibition.  It's a demand that simply will not dwindle or dry up.  Whether to find God, heighten sexual arousal, relieve physical pain, drown one's sorrows or simply feel good, people throughout the millenniums have turned to mood- and mind-altering substances.

They're not about to stop, no matter what their government says or does.  It's time to accept drug use as a right of adult Americans, treat drug abuse as a public health problem and end the madness of an unwinnable war.
Powered by MAPMAP posted-by: Richard Lake



Pubdate: Sun, 16 Oct 2005
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Page: Part M, Page 1

Copyright: 2005 Los Angeles Times
Contact: http://www.latimes.com/

Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/248
Author: Norm Stamper
Note: Norm Stamper is the former chief of the Seattle Police Department. He is the author of "Breaking Rank: A Top Cop's Expose of
the Dark Side of American Policing" (Nation Books, 2005).
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« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2005, 10:42:00 PM »
Fuck mere "legalization".  Drug use should be mandatory for everyone.  Then we'll be able to use those drug test kits to "weed out" those who don't partake.  We'll send 'em to special camps, sorta like Straight but where we force them to get high on drugs.
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