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by Peter Moskos

December 16, 2015

"What led to a mistrial"

Luke Broadwater and Ian Duncan summarize the issues in The Sun.

13 comments:

Concerned citizen said...


I wish the defense had built a full-scale plywood mockup of the narrow tunnel-like confines of the transport wagon and used a couple of people to demonstrate what is actually like to enter that tunnel and commit both of your hands to attempting to seat-belt a potentially kicking/head-butting/biting/spitting arrestee...with your face right in front of his face while you're sandwiched between him and a metal divider that's inches away from your back.

If I'm exaggerating the physical challenge and risk of seat-belting a prisoner in a narrow prisoner transport area, I welcome being corrected.

Peter Moskos said...

You are not. Those things were cramped before they put a divider running down the center. And I know I can get my cuffed hands on your gun before you belt me in.

Peter Moskos said...

Those things were cramped before they put a divider running down the center.

Concerned citizen said...

Here's a link to an overhead view of the prisoner transport area, provided by the vendor of the conversion module that is inserted into a Chevy Express cargo van.

Unfortunately, no dimensions are given.

But I think all will agree, it's VERY tight.

http://www.havis.com/products/PT_100_50_H_2_COMP_2_DR_GSRS_SP-122906-51223.html

Concerned citizen said...

If procedure allowed it, the defense should have required that the BPD parked a transport wagon outside the courthouse so that the jurors could have spent five minutes pretending to seat-belt each other while hunched over in the cramped space.

To a legal ignoramus such as myself, this seems like a slam dunk.

Peter Moskos said...

Well, they did *see* the van...

Concerned citizen said...

Here's a pair of CNN segments focusing on the transport vans.

The second one is narrated by Anderson Cooper.

The space is much more cramped than I had envisioned.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUOOq6hOpLY


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCSdWBL83m8

Peter Moskos said...

It's perfectly reasonable for an officer to be worried about a head-butting spitting gun-reaching prisoner.

Notice none of those video actually show two people in there, one crawling over a resisting prisoner to get him seatbelted.

On the plus side, I do like watching Gary Truchman bang his head against the wall.

Peter Moskos said...

All that said, in a civilized society there needs to be a transport system where cuffed prisoners are safely restrained.

john mosby said...

Why not a bar that comes down on all prisoners, like on a roller coaster?

The advantage is that you can operate it without getting close to the prisoner.

The disadvantage is that either everyone's restrained or no one is. But you might be able to have several bars, one for every 2-3 guys...

JSM

Adam said...

I like that idea! I'm sure that would be a lot more expensive than seat belts, but $6 million civil judgments are expensive, too...

Concerned citizen said...

I think the low cost fix is to remove the interior partitions that run down the middle of the BPD transport wagons.

Currently, officers using the BPD wagons are crammed face-to-face with the prisoner in an approx. 30" wide space when they apply a seatbelt. If the prisoner resists (e.g., head-butting, biting, kicking) the officer cannot back off.

I assume that officers are more or less comfortable with seatbelting prisoners into the backseat of a police car because even though they're face-to-face with the prisoner while fastening the belt, nevertheless their legs are outside the car and they can quickly pull their head and shoulders out of the car.

By removing the partitions, officers will not only be safer, but will perceive themselves to be safer, which will enable them to buckle up the prisoners.

Peter Moskos said...

15 years ago there were no partitions and most prisoners were seat belted. It was still cramped but yes, there was much more room. Exactly twice as much, I venture to say.

Ironically, I assume the partitions are justified by the need to protect prisoners from each other. So the guy across from you doesn't keep spitting on you or kicking you. So they're put there to protect people from dangerous prisoners. And yet cops aren't allowed to be concerned about the very same danger that justified the partition.