Protesters block Public Square in Cleveland during a protest over the police shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice. File: AP Photo
S T. LOUIS: Timothy loehmann he wanted to be a cop like his father. Got a job in Independence OhioBut his supervisors allowed him to resign after he suffered a “dangerous lack of composure” during firearms training.
Cleveland Police did not check Loehmann’s story. So it was Loehmann who responded in the fall of 2014 to the Cleveland park where a 12-year-old boy Tamir rice he was playing with what turned out to be a toy gun. Loehmann shot him dead.
“Wandering cops” who lose their jobs in one location only to be rehired represent a persistent obstacle to police accountability.
There is a simple solution, experts say:
– a national database open to the public with the names of all officers who have incurred misconduct;
– a requirement that all law enforcement agencies consult this database before hiring.
A study of roving officers in the Yale Law Journal last year found a bigger problem than expected. About 1,100 officers in Florida walk the streets after being fired in the past, 800 for misconduct.
A national database, the nonprofit National Decertification Index (NDI), collects police decertification records from 45 states. He now has records of 30,172 officers.
But the database has many flaws, experts say. Most departments don’t verify it before hiring. The database names are not public. And, some of the largest states in the country: California and New Jersey among them – they are not in the system.
In St. Louis, roving police are so common it has a name: Muni-Shuffle. St. Ann, a small suburb near Lambert Field, is a haven for exiled officers.
One was Eddie Boyd III, who, as a St. Louis officer, hit a 12-year-old girl with a pistol in 2006. He said it was an accident. In 2007, he struck a boy in the face with his gun and handcuffs before falsifying a police report, according to state records.
St. Ann hired Boyd, who made his way to nearby Ferguson in 2012 and was in the force that led to the death of Michael Brown. When a federal worker got into his car after a basketball game, Boyd tried to cite him for not wearing a seatbelt. Boyd drew his gun and pointed it at the man’s head when he used his cell phone.
Another St. Louis police officer who found refuge in St. Ann was Christopher Tanner, who shot Milton Green, a former black St. Louis officer at Green’s home in 2017. A police chase was rushed through the neighborhood of Green while off duty working on his car in his driveway. Tanner told him to drop his service revolver and immediately shot him.
Then there was Jonathan Foote, who resigned from the St. Louis Police Department after a traffic stop caused an accident in which a bystander was killed, and Christopher Childers, fired from the St. Louis department after assaulting another officer. firing a stun gun. here.
St. Ann Police Chief-Elect Aaron Jimenez also hired Officer Ellis Brown. Brown was forced to leave the St. Louis apartment after lying about a 2016 incident in which he followed a car, which accelerated, crashed and began to burn. Brown left the scene instead of asking for help and later claimed that he had not been there.
In 2017, St. Ann hired Mark Jakob, one of two St. Louis County police officers fired for lying about a high-speed chase that ended in two deaths.
Chief Jimenez’s department favors aggressive tactics like police chases. Despite their small size, the St. Ann police carry out as many high-speed chases as the nearby St. Louis and St. Louis police departments, which are 20 times the size.
Roger Goldman, emeritus professor at Saint Louis University School of Law, is not surprised by St. Ann. He’s been on a cross-race to stop errant cops.
The crusade began 41 years ago when two bullets from Joseph Sorbello’s Bridgeton Terrace service revolver pierced the body of an alleged car thief in Maplewood, Missouri.
Goldman recalled that Sorbello had lost his police job at Maplewood in 1977 after it was revealed that he allegedly pointed his gun at the head of a prisoner in a game of one-way Russian roulette, a game that resulted in another police officer from Maplewood shot and killed Thomas Brown at police headquarters that year.
Goldman wondered how a neighboring department could have hired Sorbello. Weren’t there safeguards against dangerous police officers, such as dangerous doctors and lawyers? He found there were none and spent the next several decades getting police licensing laws passed in Missouri, Illinois and Indiana.
“My job is not anti-police. It is a good pro cop,” he says.