Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Canton, Ohio Update

As discussed here previously, Officer Daniel Harless (with 16 Internal Affairs complaints since 2000 according to the local Canton rag) of the Canton, OH Police Department was very naughty indeed a few weeks back - and horror of horrors, not just word of the naughtiness leaked, but so did video. His partner, Mark Diels, was only marginally less naughty in failing to intervene when Harless went off the tracks and in participating in an unlawful search.

Oddly enough, the community of firearms owners across the United States were less than favorably impressed with Harless' conduct, and the passive
approval of Harless' partner. Comments and predictions ranged from outraged fury to bitter predictions that at most Harless would get a few days behind a desk for his egregious misconduct.

In a stunning hint that a culture that endorses the actions of Harless exists in Canton, OH, City Council President Allen Schulman, let fly with an outburst that leaves one wondering whether the culture that allows, or even encourages, a cop like Harless might perhaps originate a bit higher than a mere police chief.

Certainly, an investigation by an outside agency of a municipal culture that appears to so freely deride and disregard the civil rights of its citizens with such callous disregard and contempt for said citizens would appear to be an appropriate first step.

Prosecutions and injunctions seem a fair bet, should such an investigation turn up the kind of institutional ineptness and hostility towards civil rights as Schulmans tirade leads me to expect. But that's just a passing glance at an admittedly flawed crystal ball - I'm just not optimistic in the face of Schulman's tirade.

Every arrest, prosecution, and investigation touched by Harless and Diel need to be revisited in the face of Harless' expressed willingness to violate the law, tamper with evidence, and generally misbehave with enthusiasm. His implication that Diel would go along with his actions is not particularly reassuring.

Further, every injury or death of persons in the custody of the Canton, OH police also is likely worthy of a second glance - as well as the treatment of any potential witnesses against Canton police officers or elected officials.

Our leaders and our law enforcement personnel in *every* city in our nation must be above reproach - at least in terms of a culture free of "street justice", witness intimidation, bullying, and extortion.

The actions of those in Canton at this point seem to me to be grounds for significant skepticism.

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