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  1. #1
    Johnmelissa is offline Member
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    Deface/damage Public Property

    California - Carl, I know you know. My neighbor/cop drilled 2 holes in the gutter concrete in front of his house. He put threaded studs in and installed a vertical metal plate which he secured with hex nuts. The Public Works Dept. came out to his house, had a discussion, removed the plate and studs and "began an investigation." This act was witnessed and was clearly done by the neighbor. I doubt he would deny doing it.

    This is clearly, by any interpretation of the English language, a violation of the municipal code and the CA Penal Code. It was deliberate and malicious in that the "law" was ignored by an off-duty, "sworn police officer." I think the damages will likely be under $400.

    Should the neighbor be cited by the city and/or arrested and prosecuted for vandalism and defacement of public property? The same laws are enforced vigorously against graffiti and tagging even if the writing is just a small gang logo.
  2. #2
    FlyingRon is offline Senior Member
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  3. #3
    CdwJava is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnmelissa View Post
    California - Carl, I know you know. My neighbor/cop drilled 2 holes in the gutter concrete in front of his house. He put threaded studs in and installed a vertical metal plate which he secured with hex nuts. The Public Works Dept. came out to his house, had a discussion, removed the plate and studs and "began an investigation." This act was witnessed and was clearly done by the neighbor. I doubt he would deny doing it.

    This is clearly, by any interpretation of the English language, a violation of the municipal code and the CA Penal Code. It was deliberate and malicious in that the "law" was ignored by an off-duty, "sworn police officer." I think the damages will likely be under $400.

    Should the neighbor be cited by the city and/or arrested and prosecuted for vandalism and defacement of public property? The same laws are enforced vigorously against graffiti and tagging even if the writing is just a small gang logo.
    As a "cold" (previously occurred) misdemeanor, it is unlikely that an arrest will occur. In many cases of non-malicious vandalism to city property, the jurisdiction will usually accept payment to repair the damage in exchange for no charges being filed. This is pretty common fare everywhere. I suspect that, at most, the city will ask him to pay for any repairs that have to be done, and that will be the end of it.

    - Carl
    A Nor Cal Cop Sergeant

    "Make mine a double mocha ...
    And a croissant!"

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM
  4. #4
    Johnmelissa is offline Member
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    Deface/Damage Public Property

    Three points:

    If this is cold, it is by 24-48 hours only because the city is closed Sunday.

    The perpetrator is a "sworn police officer" who has committed similar misdemeanors multiple times over the past 9 years and has NEVER been charged or otherwise held responsible for his crimes. WHY???

    CA authorities purport to actively prosecute "taggers" who paint graffiti. How is this not as serious to authorities?

    THANKS!
  5. #5
    Johnmelissa is offline Member
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    Four points:

    If this is cold, it is by 24-48 hours only because the city is closed Sunday.

    The perpetrator is a "sworn police officer" who has committed similar misdemeanors multiple times over the past 9 years and has NEVER been charged or otherwise held responsible for his crimes. WHY???

    CA authorities purport to actively prosecute "taggers" who post graffiti. How is this not as serious to authorities?

    Is it NOT malicious for a police officer to IGNORE the law, take the law into his own hands and do what he wants with city property? What's the difference between malicious and non-malicious?

    THANKS!
  6. #6
    CdwJava is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnmelissa View Post
    Three points:

    If this is cold, it is by 24-48 hours only because the city is closed Sunday.
    An officer cannot generally make an arrest for a misdemeanor not committed in his presence. It would have to be forwarded to the DA for charges. There are exceptions, but this would not be one of them.

    The perpetrator is a "sworn police officer" who has committed similar misdemeanors multiple times over the past 9 years and has NEVER been charged or otherwise held responsible for his crimes. WHY???
    Most of what you have described previously were not crimes, they were civil issues. As to why he was not charged if any crimes could be articulated, that is something you'd have to ask the local prosecutor. But, this is not a crime for which most cities would seek charges against anyone.

    CA authorities purport to actively prosecute "taggers" who paint graffiti. How is this not as serious to authorities?
    Because of the intent.

    What was the purpose of this metal plate? To act as a ramp over a curb? Was it a plate with a number? I'm not sure what this thing was ... can't quite picture it in my not-yet-caffeine-filled mind.

    And the legal definition of "malice" per PC 7 is:

    The words "malice" and "maliciously" import a wish to vex,
    annoy, or injure another person, or an intent to do a wrongful act,
    established either by proof or presumption of law.

    Even if the act might have been a knowing and intentional act of destruction, it was not meant to vex, annoy or injure the city so much as it was to selfishly do something he wanted done. It is commonplace for cities to ask for restitution as opposed to prosecution ... it is cheaper, too. Prosecution takes money ... seeking cooperation and restitution does not.

    - Carl
    Last edited by CdwJava; 12-13-2008 at 01:31 PM.
    A Nor Cal Cop Sergeant

    "Make mine a double mocha ...
    And a croissant!"

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM
  7. #7
    Johnmelissa is offline Member
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    Defacement/Damage To Public Property

    Excellent! The plate was to vex me. I've told you numerous times before, the neighbor/cop washes the gutter down to my driveway apron to keep my family's 3 cars in mud as we drive from the street, up our driveway and into our garage. I wash it back to clear our driveway. The neighbor/cop drilled holes, installed studs and a vertical plate and secured the plate with hex nuts. This plate was installed deliberately and maliciously by a "sworn police officer" to redirect water and debris in the gutter back to my driveway apron.

    THANKS!
  8. #8
    CdwJava is offline Senior Member
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    From the city's perspective, it is still a defacement of their property and not something you have any real say in.

    You are free to use this in a civil suit for ongoing harassment, but the victim of the vandalism is the city, and they generally have some say in the decision whether to pursue the matter or not, and most cities would not pursue this as a crime for a number of reasons.

    - Carl
    A Nor Cal Cop Sergeant

    "Make mine a double mocha ...
    And a croissant!"

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM
  9. #9
    Johnmelissa is offline Member
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    Defacement/Damage To Public Property

    OK. Gotcha. But just to focus like a laser, was he or was he not malicious. On that point of malice, given the fact that he was IGNORING the law as a "sworn police officer" and VEXING my family with the intent of installing a plate to redirect mud and debris into our driveway apron, was his crime of damaging public property MALICIOUS?

    THANKS!
  10. #10
    CdwJava is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnmelissa View Post
    OK. Gotcha. But just to focus like a laser, was he or was he not malicious.
    Maybe so. But, as is the case with most misdemeanors, the DA ain't touching it unless the victim wants to pursue charges. If the city does not pursue it, then any crime of vandalism is a dead issue. And, in my nearly 18 years of public service, I can't recall a municipality I have worked for ever pursing something like this. Possible? Sure. Likely? Nope.

    On that point of malice, given the fact that he was IGNORING the law as a "sworn police officer" and VEXING my family with the intent of installing a plate to redirect mud and debris into our driveway apron, was his crime of damaging public property MALICIOUS?
    Perhaps it was ... if said malicious intent can be demonstrated o inferred to a court's satisfaction. Let us assume that the element of malice can be met (and in the case of vandalism, it is actually a pretty low standard so could probably be met in this case) ... now what? If the city does not want to prosecute, then a criminal action is almost certainly out of the question. The DA is not going to go out of his way to pursue a misdemeanor that the victim is not interested in pursuing. You can not force the city to pursue criminal charges.

    Again, you are left with the civil arena, and, perhaps, another complaint to his employing agency.

    - Carl
    A Nor Cal Cop Sergeant

    "Make mine a double mocha ...
    And a croissant!"

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM
  11. #11
    Johnmelissa is offline Member
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    Defacement/Damage of Public Property

    EXCELLENT! Thank you very much for a thorough and accurate assessment. You must be a very HIGH level of NorCal Cop Supervisor! Your response sounds like "the book" and real life. I appreciate your superior effort. In my layman's opinion, you've got it exactly right. I may request that the entities involved see this as a crime against a city with malicious intent against the neighborhood. The neighbor on the other side of the adverse one, came up to me last week and strongly criticized the guy between us whom he said had leafblown and washed debris onto his property, made persistent nuisances with noise, light and debris deposits and, tellingly, said the bad neighbor acted as though he were a "tough guy." He also said he would gladly SIGN any letters I sent on this subject. So the truth is getting out and I'll take this additional, offended neighbor to the authorities with me. At some point, some responsible party is going to bring some measure of justice to bear on this "bully" cop. I'm 58 and I always had full respect for authority, officials and the law. But this neighbor has made a mockery of the realm and tainted the image of "sworn police officers." In my world, that would be enough for removal. The military I was in, decades ago, would have had severe internal discipline meted out to this individual a long time ago. Would that be a code of honor? Something like that.

    P.S. The past acts of the neighbor WERE crimes such as ASSAULT of my wife by running up to her and shoving his face right in her face in her garage, TRESPASSING by coming on our property after being instructed not to and VANDALIZING or destructing part of our fence and digging a hole on our property without permit or permission. Then there was ILLEGAL DETENTION of my daughter's friend and BATTERY (garden hose water). It's all in the CPC.

    P.P.S For your edification: My wife and I have gone before the City Council and Code Enforcement to request action against the neighbor's multiple and nuisance producing recreational vehicles; from motorcycles, both street and dirt, sand rails and hauling trailers to compressors, impact wrenches and high pressure sprayers to 40 foot, 14 foot high motor homes, even ski boats, ALL on a 60' city lot. 5 Cul-de-sac streets in this small, 2-story tile roof, quiet and attractive neighborhood, and he's the ONLY ONE!

    THANKS!
  12. #12
    CdwJava is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnmelissa View Post
    I may request that the entities involved see this as a crime against a city with malicious intent against the neighborhood.
    Request away. Don't be surprised if they do not wish to pursue criminal charges, however.

    He also said he would gladly SIGN any letters I sent on this subject. So the truth is getting out and I'll take this additional, offended neighbor to the authorities with me.
    More grist for a civil suit, but not necessarily enough to make the city seek, or the DA pursue, criminal charges.

    At some point, some responsible party is going to bring some measure of justice to bear on this "bully" cop.
    Maybe. But, from what you have said before, I wouldn't hold my breath. And criminal charges in this sort of instance would be the exception as opposed to the norm.

    But this neighbor has made a mockery of the realm and tainted the image of "sworn police officers." In my world, that would be enough for removal. The military I was in, decades ago, would have had severe internal discipline meted out to this individual a long time ago. Would that be a code of honor? Something like that.
    Even the military has a procedure they must go through to take action - even the military had "due process". It may have been expedited and easier due to the fact that the serviceman gave up many rights by signing his life away to the military, but there was a process. Law enforcement officers do NOT sign those rights away in the same manner. And, like with ANY employer, there must be a nexus to the job to allow for any discipline to take place. Like we have discussed a multitude of times previously, the fact he is an officer does not mean he is automatically subject to discipline because he as an obnoxious ass at home. By law (i.e. pursuant to statutory and case law authority) the agency cannot just fire him - or even apply discipline - without due process and without establishing this nexus.

    P.S. The past acts of the neighbor WERE crimes such as ASSAULT of my wife by running up to her and shoving his face right in her face in her garage, TRESPASSING by coming on our property after being instructed not to and VANDALIZING or destructing part of our fence and digging a hole on our property without permit or permission. Then there was ILLEGAL DETENTION of my daughter's friend and BATTERY (garden hose water). It's all in the CPC.
    But, as I recall, he was never charged for those. I also seem to recall that on at least one occasion his Chief DID hold him accountable for something.

    P.P.S For your edification: My wife and I have gone before the City Council and Code Enforcement to request action against the neighbor's multiple and nuisance producing recreational vehicles
    And, they did ... what? Nothing, apparently.

    Try and get more neighbors on board this crusade.

    - Carl
    A Nor Cal Cop Sergeant

    "Make mine a double mocha ...
    And a croissant!"

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM
  13. #13
    Johnmelissa is offline Member
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    Defacement/Dlamage to Public Property

    Carl, I lost my last post. This site is difficult for the casual user. Thanks for all your information. It is very effective to discuss the legalities and realities with you. The Sheriff will enforce what he wants. I was told once about someone arrested, recently, for spitting on the sidewalk. Seems like they would go after a "sworn police officer" (he likes to call himself that) for defacement/damage of public property as witnessed, investigated and reported on by the city. The crimes he's committed are prohibited in the CPC and are there for anyone to look up. Enforcement is a wholly different matter, unfortunately. This is just another case of the neighbor/cop breaking the law, clearly, and the Sheriff refusing to enforce the law. As usual, you are correct and I appreciate your effort to educate me.
    THANKS.
  14. #14
    CdwJava is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnmelissa View Post
    Carl, I lost my last post. This site is difficult for the casual user.
    It can be difficult to navigate at times even for those of us that regularly peruse it.

    The Sheriff will enforce what he wants.
    Kinda sorta ... there is discretion, but a lot of this is set by policy as handed down by city and county administrators (my city, for instance, is forcing us to be anal on weeds and aesthetic code issues), and then there is modification by DA and court policies and practices, and even case law. If your reviewing DA ignores certain types of cases, the local agency may not waste time pursuing those cases. Mine makes the effort because one day this DA policy here will backfire and we don't want to be sued, so we do what we must even for cases that will not be pursued.

    I was told once about someone arrested, recently, for spitting on the sidewalk.
    We have that one in our municipal code, too - along with another about cursing in the presence of women and/or children. Neither would likely survive a Constitutional challenge, but they can theoretically be enforced until ruled unlawful.

    Seems like they would go after a "sworn police officer" (he likes to call himself that) for defacement/damage of public property as witnessed, investigated and reported on by the city.
    But, as I said, this is not common practice. It often costs more to pursue the criminal case then it does to just have the person pay back the cost of repairs. Plus, if they pursued him he might have a case against the city for choosing to pursue him and not others who have done something similar or worse. Now, if he fails to pay, or if the city has a policy and practice of criminally charging folks int he same situation, then prosecution would seem to be the acceptable alternative.

    The crimes he's committed are prohibited in the CPC and are there for anyone to look up.
    Not everyone who commits a crime is prosecuted. Most are not prosecuted, in fact.

    - Carl
    A Nor Cal Cop Sergeant

    "Make mine a double mocha ...
    And a croissant!"

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM
  15. #15
    Johnmelissa is offline Member
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    Defacement/Damage to Public Property

    Carl, we've pretty well covered everything. The "law" can be many things to many people. The damage in the city property caused by the neighbor has increased because of cracking so I'm gonna ask Public Works to review the damage and supplement it investigative report to Code Enforcement/Community Safety which is, by extension, the Sheriff. Maybe this increased damage will motivate them to cite the perp.

    I'll conclude with this observation of "big picture" law. Jerry Brown, the new CA AG, just indicated that HE is going to OVERTURN the will of the people as decided in the recent election of Prop. 8. I don't really have a "dog in this fight" but I think Jerry Brown should be recalled immediately for a gross usurpation of power. The people's decision MUST trump any "decision" made at any level. What if a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs arbitrarily decided that he should run things for a while. Sorry, I just heard this report on the news. The chinese well wish was, "may you live in interesting times." That, I think, we do.

    THANKS
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