Sunday, December 11, 2011

EXPLOSIVE NEW VIDEO: Connects Columbia police to notorious lynch mob, Part 2

Short documentary raises troubling questions all around, Continued from Part 1 

COLUMBIA, 12/11/11  (Beat Byte) --  Another credibility issue appears about a quarter through the video. 
 
Akins films his arrest on an outstanding warrant and flashes a Wanted Poster explaining that he has a record for weapons violations, carries a concealed pistol, and runs the Citizens For Justice (CFJ) website.  Court records indicate that "Matthew Stephen Akins" of Columbia has served jail time on recent drug convictions and faced both eviction and other creditor proceedings. 
 
"For many police officers, it probably makes them question Akins' motivations more than if he had never been arrested," CPD's Schlude told the Heart Beat.  "Based on the large number of officers I have talked to about this, they are less open and friendly to Akins because they are suspicious of the motives of CFJ." 
 
Akins (above) said that he is on "municipal probation for driving without insurance and possibly a couple of other tickets," but that he was not aware of the outstanding warrant that led to his arrest.   "At no time was I even alerted to the fact that I had a warrant, and municipal warrants don't show up on Casenet," he told the Heart Beat. 
 
He was also disappointed that schoolchildren touring the police department saw the Wanted Posters, which listed a previously unlisted Citizens for Justice website. 
 
"The poster indicates that I 'run the cfjweb.ssos.us website,'" Akins explained.  "This was the unlisted version of CFJComo.com that we never promoted and was never found by search engines, but that had been monitored by the Columbia Police Officers' Association (CPOA) since at least December of 2010, when they sent us an email about it." 
 
Including Akins' CFJ affiliation on the Wanted Poster served a "two-fold" purpose, Schlude explained.   "One was to let officers know who he was in the event he approached them on a call, or they saw him video-taping.  The last thing we wanted was a situation escalating if we could avoid it," she told the Heart Beat.  "Second, we do have fairly frequent contact with Akins and he did have an active warrant." 
 
Though CPOA representatives declined to issue a position on the Sheriff vs. Police comparison, Akins' credibility, or the other charges, "We acknowledge that certain individuals have been following police and sheriff's department officers to document what they believe to be problems in the system, which is their constitutional right," CPOA executive director Ashley Cuttle told the Heart Beat.  "We are working energetically toward a more positive relationship with the community where there may be conflict." 
 
 
On the charge that CPD is less professional than its BCSD counterpart, Schlude said the comparison is like "apples and oranges."   Unlike most of his night-time CPD encounters for instance, Akins instead approached Sheriff deputies during the day, which may account "for police officers using their lights or being more cautious."  
 
A daylight encounter between CFJ and CPD Chief Ken Burton goes well, in fact.  He smiles, quips, and greets the filmmakers on his way from a downtown event. 
 
Citizens for Justice has also made several CPD officers targets of inappropriate private information publishing, Schlude added.  "Officers have expressed concern with some of the information CFJ has posted on their website," she told the Heart Beat.  "Many feel like their police career and job are one thing, but personal information -- even legally-gathered public records -- are not relevant to CFJ's stated cause." 
 
On possible criticism that "because of my run-ins with the law, I just don't like cops," Akins said that while he welcomes critics to form their own opinions, his legal encounters "have given me a wider view of the behaviors and attitudes exhibited by law enforcement officers." 
 
He also stands by the professionalism comparison, both from his filmed documentaries and personal experiences. 
 
"I've been pulled over by the Boone County Sheriff Department multiple times, and regardless of whether or not I receive a citation, Boone County deputies have always shown me a high level of respect and professionalism," Akins told the Heart Beat.  "The only complaint I really have is that they confiscated my police scanner as evidence at a checkpoint.  I was found to be in possession of marijuana." 
 
The Boone County Sheriff Department did not respond to requests for comment.  
 

 
VIDEO:  Boone County Sheriff's Department vs. Columbia Police Department:  Is There a Difference?
 
Citizens for Justice

3 comments:

  1. The daytime / nighttime distinction is compelling. Based on my personal experience, though, I would guess that it would not hold up to further scrutiny.

    I have been approached by both City and County police on my personal property, the City during the day and night, and the County during the day, and in every encounter the behavior of the officers was, at least initially, what I would consider to be overly aggressive.

    I understand, and am thankful, that my experiences seem harmless when compared with the way other citizens have been treated by the police. But, it didn't take long after moving to Columbia for me to realize that interactions with the police here can be difficult. I suspected, and still do, that it had to do with their training, but I realized that if I did not submit verbally and physically and immediately, I was quickly perceived as suspect and therefore dealt with harshly. Even when the police were called to the situation by individuals who were known to be involved in criminal activity, and I was simply working in my backyard, during the day, when approached, I was treated with very little respect.

    This makes me wonder again what Mr. Akin's personal legal history is being scrutinized and used to call into question the legitimacy of the work being done by Citizens For Justice. While I would have preferred a little more consideration from the officers I referred to interacting with above, and I understand that some officers have certain suspicions about Mr. Akins and may have acted in a questionable manner based on those suspicions in the past, I think it is clear to most of us, with perhaps a few exceptions (with the author of this article appearing to me to be one), that the work of Citizens For Justice cannot, whether we like it or not, be judged according to what we may think about Mr. Akins' cases. I am not interested in labeling Mr. Akins as a “criminal,” and will add that it seems very likely that in his cases justice has been or will be served, why, if the police can be called to take action by criminals, should citizens interested in justice and police who may be behaving inappropriately be held to a different standards?

    As far as the personal histories of individual police officers is concerned, it may seem to those involved as an irrelevant, if not at the very least an unfortunate consequence of investigative journalism; but, as this discussion of Mr. Akins' personal history demonstrates, it is necessarily part of the process.

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  2. First things first...

    Where on the poster does it say wanted? Yes, Hughes says in the video that why it's up, but less than 5 minutes later we have him on camera saying he's never seen or heard of the poster, LOL.

    A poster, I might add, that probably would never have hit the media had I not released it(Matt@CFJComo.com if you want a copy). After all, what type of person would I be to demand accountability and transparency, and not hold myself to the same standard? ...


    The concealed weapon charge was dismissed without prejudice, being that I was legally aloud to have a concealed weapon concealed anywhere within my vehicle(including on my person) under Missouri's Peaceable Journey Law, this, as well as many other aspects of the situation, were explained very clearly to you Mr. Martin, yet you still chose to cast me in the light you did. For the rest of you, the video will be out soon.

    Not 100% sure on this, but I believe dismissals w/o prejudice are a sealed record, so I would wonder, if this is in fact the case, would bringing an elementary school class through the department constitute an improper release of records?...

    A large part of the "inappropriate private information publishing" was info that was voluntarily released by the officers to other media outlets. We conducted a search for each officer's name in the Columbia Tribune, Columbia Missourian, GoColumbiaMo.com, and Google and non-biasedly databased the results. NO OFFICERS WERE MADE A "TARGET" OF ANYTHING.

    In any event, the information that officers complained about was removed. Is there something we've missed Sgt. Schlude?

    Also Mr. Martin, you mention I have "served jail time on recent drug convictions". I spent 21 days in Boone County Jail in 2009 for marijuana possession. Great use of our tax dollars, huh?

    For 21 straight days, I was surrounded by BCSD, and I still make a statement such as this: "Boone County deputies have always shown me a high level of respect and professionalism."

    Makes you think...

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  3. Great comments gentlemen.

    I have no record at all. One speeding ticket.

    And I have a big issue with CPD. I know a few officers who have diplomacy, tact, who are personable, and who seek justice. I suspect and will assume that they all want to do it as well. But that is not the case.

    I have personally witnessed abuse, and have had many people come to me, asking and pleading with me to help them with the brutality, disrespect, and ill treatment from the Columbia Police Department. Most of these people dont want to use the tools in place for such complaints, because they think that it will not resort to justice and would actually end up harming their well-being. All of them were scared of retaliation by the same folk who are hired to serve and protect.

    I have come to respect Mike's journalism, to the highest degree, so I dont have any qualms about your story.

    I do however see between the lines and of all of the times that I have been wrong, lazy and just inept at something, I have apologized and promised myself and the ones that I hurt, that I would do better. I can not say the same for the Columbia Police Department.

    I am hopeful in the leadership shown by Ken Burton, and hope that he can continue to push the envelope of excellence instead of fading back to the lackluster status quo.

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