Monday, June 02, 2008

Officer Steps forth and admits he was encouraged to Lie

An indicted Chicago police officer said his supervisors in the Special Operations Section encouraged officers to lie on police reports to cover up illegal searches for guns and drugs, according to the CBS News program "60 Minutes."

Keith Herrera, who was interviewed by CBS anchor Katie Couric for a story set to air Sunday, said supervisors encouraged falsifying reports to make cases appear more solid in court.

" 'Creative writing' was a certain term that bosses used to make sure that the job got done," he said. "I didn't just pick up a pen and just learn how to [lie on reports]. Bosses, guys that I work with who were older than I was ... It's taught to you."

Herrera faces as many as 30 years in prison if convicted of armed violence, home invasion, robbery and other charges brought in 2006.

Herrera described lying as a means to get criminals off the street, even if officers did not have solid evidence.

"Do you want that guy ... that just shot somebody to not go to jail because he threw the gun?" Herrera said in the interview. "Or do you want him to go to jail because he never let the gun out of his hand? ... I know what I've got to do."

According to a partial transcript released Friday by CBS, Herrera acknowledged he stole money.

Herrera, 30, is the first of seven indicted officers to speak publicly about the investigation since they were charged in September 2006.

Police spokeswoman Monique Bond said that the charges against Herrera were partly the result of a police internal investigation and that accountability measures instituted under new Supt. Jody Weis "have been enhanced and implemented to ensure the highest level of professional conduct and moral integrity."

In the interview, Herrera said he was the FBI informant who secretly recorded indicted officer Jerry Finnigan planning to hire a hit man to kill a fellow officer.

Officer Accused Of Exposing Himself

A Woodburn, Oregon police officer accused of exposing himself was arrested at his home in Salem on Saturday night.

Neighbors said they called police when they saw Jose "Tony" Rodriguez standing in his doorway with his pants down, inappropriately touching himself.

When Salem police arrived at the home, Rodriguez admitted to the lewd act, police said.

Officers said Rodriguez told them he was depressed.

Rodriguez has been placed on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the criminal investigation, a police department representative said Monday.

Mayor and Police Officer both Indicted

Victoria, Texas Mayor Will Armstrong has been indicted in a widening probe accusing top city officials, including the police chief, of tampering with a criminal case against a former sheriff facing child sex charges.

Armstrong and Victoria police Lt. Ralph Buentello were indicted Friday on conspiracy and other charges tied to the investigation last year of former Victoria County Sheriff Michael Ratcliff, who was accused of sexually assaulting a teenage boy.

Earlier this week, Victoria Police Chief Bruce Ure and former city attorney David Smith were indicted on charges alleging they leaked information about the case to a local reporter.

The charges facing the four men have rattled this South Texas town and widened a rift between city leaders and Victoria County prosecutors. City officials say they became involved in the Ratcliff investigation amid concerns over a lack of progress.

"We have not been presented with any evidence indicating their actions failed to comply with the law," City Attorney Miles Risley said in Saturday's editions of the Victoria Advocate.

Risley read the statement to a crowd that included more than 50 police supporters.

Ratcliff was indicted in October on three counts of sexually assaulting a teenage boy. He was accused of offering the boy a swap of sexual favors for a nicer cell in the hospital wing when the boy was an inmate.

Prior to his arrest Friday, Armstrong had strongly defended Ure and Smith and accused District Attorney Stephen Tyler of playing politics.

Tyler has called the May 2007 trial of a Victoria police officer, who was acquitted of sexual harassment, as the start of a rift between him and Ure. Tyler was highly critical of the city for keeping the officer on the force.

Armstrong was indicted on misuse of official information and criminal conspiracy, both felonies. Buentello faces the same charges, plus he was indicted on aggravated perjury, tampering with a witness and official oppression.

Armstrong said he had been advised not to comment. Buentello said he thinks "everything is going to be fine," the newspaper reported.

The mayor, police chief and Buentello will continue working despite their indictments this week.

Tyler said the indictments prove the laws apply to everyone.

"We are all supposed to live and comport ourselves with the law," Tyler said. "All of us. No exceptions."