Diop Kamau's BSO Police Abuse Investigation: Shall We Revisit?
|Kamau: Keeping an eye on BSO|
Diop Kamau is your go-to guy.
Kamau is CEO of policeabuse.com and former head of the Police Complaint Center in Washington, DC. Kamau, who got his training as a California police detective, now runs an office in Tallahassee devoted to investigating complaints of police misconduct across the country. And then posting videos of that misconduct on his website. And working to persuade sheriff's and police departments that they can do better.
It's not that he's anticop. In fact, Kamau is quick to point out that most police departments are doing great work. It's just that he takes it sort of personally when he finds precincts that are behaving less than professionally.
We contacted Kamau to ask if he'd had any information about BSO's North Lauderdale district. We'd run across four separate complaints in the district involving police use of excessive force. We knew that residents had filed internal affairs complaints -- we had seen the close-out memos. But when we requested the Internal Affairs summaries on three of the officers involved, the summaries didn't list the incidents. We were curious to know if Kamau had any thoughts on why that would happen (we're also waiting on an explanation from BSO).
Kamau spent four years investigating BSO under former Sheriff Ken Jenne. "Everything you're saying is exactly why we came to BSO in the first place," Kamau says. He found that citizen complaints filed with the Sheriff's Internal Affairs Office "were going nowhere." But he's quick to point out that once he presented BSO with the evidence, "upper management worked hard to make corrections."
"With internal affairs complaints, there was a serious gap between what was written on the final reports and what was actually taking place," Kamau says. "There were numerous examples of police misconduct, and the office wasn't making thorough investigations." Even worse, citizens attempting to make complaints were getting the brushoff. In one case, he says, a tester trying to make an Internal Affairs complaint was threatened with arrest and thrown out of the station (this seems to happen to Kamau's testers with some regularity all over the country.)
But Kamau is full of praise for BSO's cooperation. "They were fully committed to revising their policies and committed to change," he says. "They were willing to do what needed to be done to correct the problems." In fact, BSO's cooperation was such that Kamau says he closed out his investigation in 2007. The question is, has the Sheriff's Office slid back into its old ways under Al Lamberti?
Below: video of some of Kamau's BSO investigation. Hilarious, if not so sad.