Policing the Police

January 14- The Concord (NH) Monitor reports: A Deerfield police officer known for working with kids is being held at the Rockingham County jail on a pair of domestic violence-related charges. Paul C. Tower, the town's juvenile officer and the DARE instructor in the local school, was arrested by the state police Thursday on felony charges of threatening to commit a crime and tampering with a witness.

On the evening of Nov. 21, Tower, 34, allegedly threatened to grab the steering wheel of his wife's 1997 Volvo sedan while she was driving, telling her, "How's it feel to die today?" according to a complaint filed by state police Trooper Jill Rockey. He then grabbed the wheel, saying, "I could just veer the car," Rockey wrote.

Later that night, Tower allegedly warned his wife not to report the incident, telling her that he would have her arrested. When she replied that she had done nothing wrong, Tower apparently told her "they're not gonna know that" and "I'm gonna tell them you stole my phone," causing his wife to avoid calling the police, according to the complaint.

Tower is being held in Brentwood on $100,000 bail.

Tower has received a couple of commendations for his police work, including a "Looking Beyond the Traffic Ticket" award given last spring by the state Police Standards and Training Council. The award recognized Tower for investigating and arresting a couple that had been growing marijuana at home after the couple first called to report a burglary.

January 16- The San Jose Mercury News reports: Citing evidence of a massive cover-up within the highest levels of California's corrections department, a court-appointed investigator has found that the state's prison system has "lost control'' of its ability to investigate and discipline guards for abusing inmates and is in dire need of major reforms.

The 80-page report, prepared for a San Francisco federal judge and released Thursday, is a scathing denunciation of the California Department of Corrections. The report suggests that top officials, including recently resigned CDC Director Edward Alameida Jr., could be prosecuted for defying court orders to clean up Pelican Bay State Prison and for lying during a probe into how the CDC handled ongoing misdeeds by prison guards at the state's toughest maximum-security prison, located near the Oregon border.

The report describes a CDC administration under the control of the state's powerful prison guard union and willing to abdicate its internal discipline procedures to maintain a dangerous "code of silence'' about inmate abuses such as beatings and staging fights among prisoners.

Among other things, the report accuses Alameida and his top lieutenants of killing an internal probe into whether Pelican Bay guards lied during a 2002 federal criminal trial of two guards ultimately convicted of civil rights violations.

The report was prepared by John Hagar, who monitors conditions at Pelican Bay for U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson. Hagar said the "code of silence'' hinders the ability of investigators to pursue claims of prison guard misconduct, a problem not just at Pelican Bay but at prisons throughout the state.

Hagar's report found that the code of silence is carried out, unchecked, by the state's politically influential prison guards' union, a strong supporter of former Govs. Gray Davis and Pete Wilson.

The CDC's top brass backed the code of silence to the point of bowing to union pressure and squelching an internal probe into allegations of perjury, according to the report.

The perjury allegations arose during the 2002 trial of two former Pelican Bay guards, Edward Michael Powers and Jose Garcia, who were convicted and sentenced to federal prison for violating inmates' rights by attacking them or letting other inmates attack them. After the trial, CDC officials met with federal prosecutors to review concerns that some Pelican Bay guards lied during the proceedings to cover up for Powers and Garcia.

Send tips and comments to Kevin Nelson (drugwarbriefs@yahoo.com.
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