The Costa Mesa Syndrome

Reuters on the phenomenon of police harassment of local political opponents (earlier here, here, etc.) By no means are the reports limited to California:

There also have been allegations of intimidation by police in Cranston, Rhode Island.

On Jan. 9, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung announced that state police will take over an investigation into a flurry of parking tickets issued in the wards of two council members. The pair claim the tickets were issued as retribution after they voted against a new contract for police that would have given them a pay raise….

Major Robert Ryan, a spokesman for the Cranston Police Department, said: “The matter is under investigation, and pursuant to law enforcement’s bill of rights, no-one is going to comment on this.”

As readers may recall, those high-sounding “law enforcement bill of rights” gimmicks serve mostly to entrench law enforcement personnel against consequences or accountability for misbehavior, and thus have less than nothing to do with the Constitution’s actual Bill of Rights. More: Radley Balko.


  • Not only does it safeguard police (their Bill of Rights), it also gets them a paid vacation when things go wrong. The Cranston police chief was suspended — with pay — while the state police investigate, which could take months. How about suspension without pay (which would be held in escrow) pending final judgment?

  • and as usual a government agency gets to “investigate” itself. And as usual it will no doubt find no wrongdoings, except maybe that some minor official has been slightly overzealous who will get a stern warning and a promotion out of it (masked as “moving him to another position with different responsibilities to prevent it happening again”).