Police Camera

Farmington Police Unveil Body Cameras

Add the Farmington Police Department to the growing list of law enforcement agencies in Minnesota who have adopted police body cameras.

Farmington is following in the footsteps of Burnsville and will likely be watched closely by Minneapolis, who just recently approved a pilot program to outfit a few officers with the video recording equipment. Unlike the Minneapolis project that has a rather extensive budget, Farmington had to make due with much less, purchasing 17 mountable cameras and a year of video storage for $13,000. Despite to bill, Sgt. Gary Rutherford expects the cameras to pay for themselves by showing judges and juries exactly what happened and what pressure situations his officers were faced with.

“The judge and jury will get to see that genuine terror that we see, as opposed to just reading our own words on paper,” he said. “It’s just such a great evidence tool.”

Farmington Police Sgt. Jim Constantineau added that the recordings will keep officers and citizens on their best behavior.

“We’re all professionals,” Constantineau said. “These are going to protect all of us — law enforcement officers and citizens — and make it more efficient for us to do our jobs.”

How They Work

As we’ve documented in the past, the body-mounted cameras clip onto an officer’s cap, collar or a set of clear glasses and record every detail of a citizen encounter. The department began exploring the idea of body cameras after deciding that dash camera footage simply couldn’t provide the necessary evidence that a moveable camera could.

“These days, society is video-driven,” Rutherford said. “This technology is small enough and affordable enough, there was no reason not to go with it now. And it’s such a great evidence collection tool.”

The cameras are expected to help sort out he said-she said affairs and protect the officers against unwarranted claims of misconduct or excessive force, but police also believe the cameras will be especially helpful in cases of domestic abuse. Oftentimes a victim will recant their statement out of fear of retribution, but the cameras will help record the initial interaction that can better portray scenes of abuse or domestic violence. With video evidence, judges and juries will hear honest testimony and see firsthand accounts of what transpired, which should help keep victims from being manipulated by their abuser.

Farmington police have been using the cameras for three weeks, and by all accounts the initial adoption has been a success.

“I can’t imagine life without one now that I have it,” said Rutherford.

Related source: Pioneer Press

NFL Arrests

Vikings Most Arrested Team in NFL

The Minnesota Vikings have been in the news lately, and for all the wrong reasons. First there was the controversy surrounding Adrian Peterson, and just yesterday we posted a blog about the most recent arrest of now-former Viking Jerome Simpson. So it should probably come as no surprise that an analysis of NFL arrests over the last 10 years revealed that the Minnesota Vikings are the most arrested team in the league.

The data compiled by the Dayton Business Journal found that the Vikings are tied with the Denver Broncos for the most arrests over the last 10 years, but it’s certainly possible that the list didn’t include Simpson’s arrest which came to light on Friday.

NFL Teams With The Most Arrests

Here’s the list of the 10 franchises that have had the most players arrested over the last decade.

1. Minnesota Vikings (32 arrests)

1. Denver Broncos (32 arrests)

3. Cincinnati Bengals (31 arrests)

4. Tennesse Titans (30 arrests)

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (26 arrests)

6. Jacksonville Jaguars (25 arrests)

7.  Chicago Bears (20 arrests)

7. Miami Dolphins (20 arrests)

9. Cleveland Browns (19 arrests)

9.  Indianapolis Colts (19 arrests)

9. San Diego Chargers (19 arrests)

9.  Seattle Seahawks (19 arrests)

According to the website, the worst year for the Vikings came in 2011 when seven players were arrested on a litany of charges. Over the past decade, Vikings players have been arrested for a slew of crimes, including child abuse, domestic abuse, driving under the influence, possession of marijuana and disorderly conduct.

Related source: Dayton Business Journal

Jerome Simpson

Vikings Cut Simpson After Marijuana Arrest

The Minnesota Vikings parted ways with troubled wide receiver Jerome Simpson on Friday after it was revealed he was arrested for marijuana possession this offseason.

Simpson would have rejoined the team today after being suspended for the first three games of the season for a DUI arrest, but the team decided to cut the problemed receiver before he could be reinstated.

Already embroiled in the controversy surrounding suspended star running back Adrian Peterson, head coach Mike Zimmer issued a statement saying the team wants to find players who are committed to being examples on and off the field.

“We’re going to look for high-quality guys. We’re going to keep guys who care about football, guys who are passionate about playing the game. We’re going to continue to get those guys and keep working. There’s really nothing I can do about what everybody else says. All I can do is what I think is best at the time,” Zimmer said.

Latest Incident

Simpson’s most recent run-in with the law occurred on July 7 when he was stopped in Bloomington, Minnesota. According to the arrest report, Simpson was charged with possession of marijuana, driving with an open intoxicant, and violating driving restrictions.

Instead of being open about the arrest, Simpson decided to keep the incident under wraps. Head coach Mike Zimmer was informed of the incident on Thursday, and unlike other NFL executives, he decided to take swift action and release Simpson from his contract the following day.

This is the second time Simpson has been found to be in possession of marijuana. In 2012, authorities intercepted a 2.5-pound package of marijuana en route to the wide receiver’s home. He received a three-game suspension from the NFL for that incident as well. Simpson again faces the possibility of a suspension for his latest arrest.

Simpson is set to make an initial appearance in Hennepin County on November 3.

Jonathan Dwyer

Cardinals RB Dwyer Booked For Aggravated Assault

The dark cloud hanging over the NFL two weeks into the season grew more ominous on Wednesday after Arizona Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer was arrested on charges of aggravated assault.

The incidents in question occurred back in July, so it’s either a smart move by the prosecutor to finally move forward with a case during one of the most tumultuous weeks in NFL history, or the league is simply on the wrong end of an unfortunate coincidence. Things don’t often happen by chance in the legal world.

According to the police report, neighbors called police after hearing a loud argument between Dwyer and his girlfriend. Police arrived on scene but left without making an arrest because Dwyer allegedly hid in the bathroom while his wife told police she was arguing with someone on the phone. A second incident supposedly took place the following day. Dwyer’s girlfriend said the running back threw a shoe towards his son and broke her cellphone so she could not call the police. The woman moved out of the state shortly thereafter, but came forward with the allegations last week, saying Dwyer, “was going to harm himself because of what had been going on.”

who throws a shoe gif
“Who throws a shoe? Honestly!”

Slew of Charges

Dwyer faces many charges for his actions, including:

• One count of aggravated assault causing fracture.

• One count of aggravated assault involving a minor.

• Two counts of criminal damage.

• One count of preventing the use of a phone in an emergency.

• One count of simple assault.

Dwyer was freed on $25,000 cash bond early this morning and ordered to wear an electronic tracking device. He has been forbidden from contacting the victims, from traveling out of the state of Arizona, and from using alcohol, drugs or possessing a weapon.

Dwyer admitted to police that arguments occurred during the two days in question, but he denies physically assaulting either his girlfriend or child.

NFL Future in Doubt

Dwyer was immediately deactivated from the team after the Cardinals were made aware of the incident, which they say they only learned about yesterday.

“Given the serious nature of the allegations we have taken the immediate step to deactivate Jonathan from all team activities,” the Cardinals announced in a statement. “We will continue to closely monitor this as it develops and evaluate additional information as it becomes available.”

The NFL also announced it would review the arrest under the league’s revamped personal conduct policy.

Related source: ESPN

Josh Gordon

Josh Gordon Pleads Guilty to DWI

Troubled Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon pleaded guilty to a DWI charge in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Tuesday. Gordon was originally arrested for driving while intoxicated over the July 4th holiday weekend.

Gordon will avoid jail as long as he follows through with the conditions put forth in his plea agreement, which include:

• 12 months of unsupervised probation

• $100 fine

• $290 in court costs

• Driver’s license suspension

Gordon also received a 60-day suspended sentence, meaning he’ll be forced to spend two months in jail if he violates his probation.

Further NFL Punishment?

The NFL has already suspended Gordon for the first 10 games of the season for a second failed drug test, and it’s possible that the league could impose an additional suspension. Gordon was originally suspended for the entire season, but he had his suspension reduced after the league and the NFL Players Association came to terms on a new drug policy that, without getting too into the details, lessens penalties for recreational or “party” drugs while taking a stronger stance on violent behavior and Human Growth Hormone testing.

The new policy would tack on an additional two games to Gordon’s suspension, but the deal has yet to be officially finalized, so it’s possible that his suspension will remain unchanged.

An NFL spokesperson declined to discuss further punishments for Gordon, saying, “We’ll decline to comment as we work through the revisions to the drug policy.”

Attorney Geoff Saltzstein, a lifelong Cleveland Browns fan, said he doesn’t believe Gordon will receive an additional suspension for his DWI.

“I think the league took into account all of Gordon’s off field issues when they reduced his suspension to 10 games,” Saltzstein said. “Some believed Gordon would have his suspension cut in half to eight games, so the reduction to 10 likely means the NFL took note of Gordon’s recent off field antics. I think his suspension will remain at 10 games.”

Related source: ESPN

Police Body Cameras

Minneapolis Approves Police Body Camera Program 

Minneapolis officials have taken the next step in equipping the city’s police force with body cameras after they approved a $170,000 pilot program to set 36 officers up with the surveillance equipment.

The Minneapolis City Council Committee approved the plan on Monday, and the council is set to finalize the pilot program’s plans by the end of the week. The council plans to evaluate the success of the program at six- and nine-month intervals to determine if the city should continue with the program or make strategic changes.

The city believes the program will be a success, and they have already begun taking measures to budget for additional body cameras. Minneapolis will provide an additional $1.1 million to the program in the fall of 2015.

The city will equip officers with two types of cameras to determine which capture the best picture and are less of a hindrance to the officer. One type of camera will attach to the front of an officer’s uniform, while the other camera will be clipped onto eyeglasses. The city will test out both methods during the pilot program.

Officers in Duluth and Burnsville are already using body cameras, and although statistics aren’t yet available, if it’s going anything like the program in Rialto, California, citizen complaints are likely down.

Avery Appelman comments

This is a step in the right direction for justice. Cameras mean that both officers and citizens will be held accountable for their actions by an unbiased third party. These cameras will clear up any question as to what events transpired.

I have little doubt that the pilot program will be successful in reducing complaints against officers and excessive force suits, as both parties will be on their best behavior. 10 years from now I think police body cameras will be the norm.

Related source: Pioneer Press

 

Adrian Peterson Child Abuse

Adrian Peterson Reinstated After Child Abuse Charges

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is expected to be back on the field Sunday when Minnesota takes on New Orleans after being reinstated by the team. Peterson was held out of this week’s game after he was indicted by a grand jury in Texas on charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child.

The decision to reinstate Peterson is making waves among the talking heads at ESPN and other sports media outlets, and the Vikings owners made it clear that they understand the severity of the charges but they also want to let due process run its course.

“Today’s decision was made after significant thought, discussion and consideration. As evidenced by our decision to deactivate Adrian from yesterday’s game, this is clearly a very important issue,” owners Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf said in a statement. “To be clear, we take very seriously any matter that involves the welfare of a child. At this time, however, we believe this is a matter of due process and we should allow the legal system to proceed so we can come to the most effective conclusions and then determine the appropriate course of action.”

Child Abuse Charges

The public first learned of the child abuse charges Friday afternoon, and the Vikings quickly made the decision to deactivate Peterson for the Sunday’s home opener. According to a statement from his attorney Rusty Hardin, the charges stem from an incident where Peterson used “a switch to spank his son.” For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a switch is basically a small twig or tree branch.

“Parents are entitled to discipline their children as they see fit, except when that discipline exceeds what the community would say is reasonable,” Hardin said about the incident. According to the grand jury, Peterson’s actions exceeded a reasonable standard.

Peterson will make his first appearance on Wednesday, where he is expected to enter a plea. Peterson will appear in court over the next several weeks, but many involved in the case believe it will be a few months before the case goes to trial.

Child Abuse Penalties

Peterson was officially charged with one count of injury to a child and could be sentenced to up to two years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000. He could also be placed on probation and be forced to attend counseling.

In addition to penalties levied by the state of Texas, Peterson could face additional discipline from the NFL. The league recently announced a new domestic violence policy that includes any physical harm, so it’s certainly possible that Peterson would be subject to penalties. Under the new policy, a first time offender would receive a six game suspension and a second violation would result in a lifetime ban.

Related source: ESPN

Twin Towers

9/11 – 13 Years Later

For some, September 11th, 2001 seems like decades ago. For others, it still seems like yesterday.

13 years ago our country was rocked by a national tragedy. More than 3,000 Americans lost their lives  in the Trade Center attacks, at the Pentagon, and in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. September 11 also took a toll on our bravest, as it stands as the deadliest incident for firefighters and law enforcement officials in the history of the United States.

In the wake of the tragedy, Americans rallied together to stand as one. We did what we always do – We persevered. Those we lost that day will never be forgotten, and their loss led to sweeping changes in the way the United States protects its citizens from domestic attacks. Airports added advanced security measures, baseball and football stadiums added metal detectors and reduced what could be brought into games, and the US revamped its efforts to prevent and identify terrorist activities before they occurred.

So today, in honor of those we lost and all those affected by the events of September 11, we ask you to take some time out of your day and think back to that day 13 years ago. Think about where you were, how you felt, and what you did in the following days.

The below video will take you back to that day. As you can probably guess, some of the footage may not be suitable for all ages, but we think it’s worth sharing on the anniversary of 9/11.

 

 

Thank you to all those who gave their lives on that day. We will never forget.

2009-05-07_TCF_Bank_Stadium

Vikings Home Opener: Guns at TCF Bank Stadium?

The Minnesota Vikings will make their home debut in the elements at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday, and city officials and law enforcement say they are prepared to handle the large crowd and a few unruly spectators. Uniformed officers have a number of ways to control a drunk or violent guest, as they are permitted to carry lethal and non-lethal weapons into the stadium, but a decision by a Minnesota judge has called into question whether off duty officers should have similar privileges.

As it currently stands, the National Football League bans off-duty police officers from carrying handguns into games, but that policy may soon change. Last week, Hennepin County Judge Ivy Bernhardson ruled that state-law trumps the NFL rule. Under Minnesota law, off-duty licensed peace officers are allowed to carry weapons including firearms into private establishments, even if the business bans guns.

The ruling only further muddles the legal battle. Despite making the ruling, Judge Bernhardson didn’t determine how and when the law would be enforced. While the dust is settling, the University of Minnesota plans to combat the ruling. They are expected to argue that they have autonomy under the state Constitution to ban guns from Vikings games in their stadium, which will host games until the completion of the new stadium.

In spite of the ruling, off-duty officers cannot bring firearms into TCF Bank Stadium until further court action. Judge Bernhardson stopped stop of demanding that off-duty officers be allowed to bring their weapon to the game, saying that those individuals have other ways of keeping up with the Vikings if the want to do so with a holster on their hip. She said the TV, Internet or radio will have to suffice in the meantime.

Avery Appelman comments

It goes to show that state-law still trumps private businesses, even those as large as the NFL. With all the new precautions NFL stadiums are adding to prevent individuals from bringing weapons into the game, I don’t necessarily see the need for off-duty officers to bring their weapon into the game, but I certainly understand their right to do so.

It will be interesting to watch this legal battle unfold in the coming months. Go Vikings!

Ray Rice Elevator

Ray Rice Cut By Ravens, Suspended by NFL For Domestic Violence

The NFL and the Baltimore Ravens took action against Ray Rice after new video evidence emerged showing the runningback punching his now-wife in a casino elevator.

The video, which can be seen below, shows Rice and his fiancé Janay Parker embroiled in an argument in a casino elevator. Parker moves towards Rice, and he throws a hard punch with his left hand. Parker strikes her head on the handrail as she falls, and she remains unconscious for a few minutes.

 

 

Rice was originally charged with felony assault, but Parker refused to testify and the charges were later dropped on the condition Rice seek court-supervised counseling. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Rice for two games for the incident, which led to stark criticism from public. Feeling that he made a mistake in only suspending Rice for two games, Goodell created new suspension guidelines for anyone found guilty of domestic or physical assault. Still, the general public felt that both the NFL and the Ravens, who didn’t administer any further punishment, had dropped the ball in regards to Rice’s situation.

That is until yesterday, when “new” video surfaced that showed the punch in its entirety. Sensing that they could salvage their public image, the Ravens released Rice and Goodell suspended him “indefinitely.”

“It changed the course of things,” Ravens coach Jim Harbaugh said of the video.

Cut the Crap

While some will argue that in the end, the team and the league made the right move to cut and suspend Rice, as attorneys, we don’t just look at the end result; we examine the whole process.

The biggest issue I have is that it’s impossible for me to believe that the NFL and the Ravens did not know this video existed prior to yesterday. For starters, the incident happened in a casino elevator. Everyone knows that there are cameras everywhere in a casino. Why would the elevator be any different? At the absolute least, the NFL should have inquired about the existence of a video recording inside the elevator. The casino surely knew they had video, so why did it take six months for the video to surface?

TMZ was the first to release the video to the public, and they took a strong stance against the NFL’s claims that they had no idea the video existed. TMZ’s Harvey Levin said the NFL knew of the video, and he claims to have proof of their knowledge.

“Prosecutors had this, police had it, I know people had this video, too,” Levin said. “The NFL, it almost feels like they didn’t want to know.”

It will be interesting to see how the situation unfolds if TMZ can back up their claims. At this point though, I must agree with Keith Olbermann, who blasted those who turned a blind eye to this domestic violence, including the league, the NFL, and the county prosecutors.

 

 

Related source: NY Times

by Appelman Law Firm