Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?
User Journal

Journal ShakaUVM's Journal: Police Accountability, and the story of Sam Knott

(In regards to the ratemycop story.)
The police internal review system is totally incestuous. Policemen will never give each other a fair review unless there's a tremendous amount of outside pressure applied to the department.

One of my dad's friends was a guy named Sam Knott. On my 9th birthday, his 20 year old daughter was pulled over by an unstable CHP officer named Craig Peyer. He killed her by a bridge overpass.

The real sticking point for Sam was that the CHP has received a large number of complaints about the guy's aggressive and threatening personality. Not only did they not even bother to investigate any of them, they didn't even have a system for tracking them. They all went into a filing cabinet and ignored. Sam investigated the black hole of police accountability, and really didn't like what he found, and crusaded tirelessly for the next 20 years to reform the system. He showed up at city hall meetings, befriended politicians, antagonized police chiefs that were desperate to preserve their above-the-law status, and got the bridge where she was killed renamed after her (it's a couple miles from my house). He got the laws changed, too.

He died from a heart attack in 2000 while cleaning up the bridge where his daughter was killed.

There's countless other examples of police being never held accountable - you can watch videos on Youtube of some black guys trying to file complaint reports, and being dismissed or turned away. Hell, my dad was held at gunpoint by a Texas Ranger because he didn't think he should have to fill out his SSN on the speeding ticket he got (for doing 70 on the highway). When we called to complain, they said, yeah, he's been having some psychological issues. Kind of an understatement - the guy turned purple with rage when my dad just questioned if he could be asked for his SSN, and they guy drew his gun and threatened to throw him in jail for the night.

But Texas still let him go on patrol -- he was just having "some issues".

So yeah, sites like ratemycop which provide even a totally unofficial level of police accountability should desperately be encouraged. In fact, something like this should be mandated to be part of every department's internal affairs office.

It's sad that the epic story of Sam Knott's crusade for reform doesn't get a wikipedia article, and there's just a brief stub for Craig Peyer (who once claimed, "There are two people you don't piss off in this world: God and a Highway Patrolman-and not necessarily in that order."), even Sam was tremendously influential and the stories got a lot of press. I guess having one's daughter murdered by an evil cop and having the father campaign for and win systematic change isn't as notable as a pokemon character.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Police Accountability, and the story of Sam Knott

Comments Filter:

Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later. -- F. Brooks, "The Mythical Man-Month"