by Limus Woods
African-American Comedian Dave Chappelle did a standup special once called “Killin’ Them Softly”. In it, there is a part where he jokes about police and how they would act if they shot him or knocked him out by mistake. He said that, to cover it up, the cops would probably simply walk away, saying “No, no need to do any paperwork, just sprinkle some crack on him and let’s get out of here…” The crowd laughed at the edgy joke, but the comedian was not far from the truth. Police planting drug evidence is something that has come to the light recently across the United States.
This past year, the place that has gotten some of the most negative publicity about this is Baltimore, Maryland. In the disturbing video that was caught by a police body camera last fall, you can see the policeman walk into the junky backyard and begin looking around. One of the cops then plants drugs in a small can, walks away from the scene, flips his body camera back on, then walks back to the can with the drugs in it. The cop then picks it up off the ground and pretends that he has just found it.
There was another incident in Baltimore that happened earlier this year that got the city even more negative attention for police planting drugs. It involved the cops pulling an African-American man over, then asking him to get out of the car. The cameras on the police uniforms again go off for a short while during the stop, right when one of the officers was kneeling down at the driver seat from outside the car door’s entrance. He was obviously unaware that he was being recorded, but suspiciously stood back up and walked away. The cameras then come back on with an officer “finding” the drugs in the vehicle. You can clearly hear the man telling the officers on the scene how he felt about them planting drugs in his car in the video. “You’re crooked!”, he said. “You set people up, that’s what you do!”
When police are responding to a situation, they are required to turn on their body cameras, and are required to keep them on. There is no turning them off and turning them back on at will – cops are not supposed to do that. Still, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that cops planting evidence is something that has been going on for a long time, although it has been terribly unreported.
According to the Huffington Post, there is a name for this type of bad police behavior. Steve Anderson, an ex-NYPD detective, said that it is called ‘flaking’, and basically said he and other officers (back when he was on the force) engaged in flaking causally, with no emotion. Anderson bluntly said that the cops he worked with during his tenure just saw it as the arrested person was going to probably get released from jail the next day anyway, so flaking was no big deal. But, drug charges remain on a person’s record, meaning that when they go look for a job they will likely have to mention that they have been arrested on their application, making it harder to get hired.
2017. Video Shows Cops Allegedly Planting Drugs. USA Today. Retrieved from https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=0aSvjic1kso
2017. Video Apparently Shows Baltimore Police Planting Evidence. CBS News. Retrieved from https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=uBMfzs9Nf7s
Lee, T. 13 Oct 2011. Stephen Anderson, Ex NYPD Cop: We Planted Evidence, Framed Innocent People To Reach Quotas. Huff Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/13/ex-nypd-cop-we-planted-ev_n_1009754.html
Stello, T. 1 Nov 2011. Detective Is Found Guilty of Planting Drugs. NY Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/02/nyregion/brooklyn-detective-convicted-of-planting-drugs-on-innocent-people.html
Limus Woods is a Professional Writer/Editor and member of the International Association of Professional Writers and Editors (IAPWE https://www.iapwe.org/9061511.html). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.