Sunday, August 28, 2011

Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon's Son, Police Officer Jeff Gordon, Receives Four-Day Suspension for Sexual Acts Performed On-Duty, in Uniform

Phoenix Police Officer Jeff Gordon, son of Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, received a four-day suspension after an internal affairs investigation revealed the junior Gordon was giving and getting oral sex and engaging in other sexual acts on several occasions in 2007 and 2010, while on duty.

Gordon admitted to some incidents, but there are other allegations that remain unresolved, according to police reports.

Among them are that on December 1, 2010, he had non-consensual sexual contact with a city employee. The allegation is that he slipped his hands under the blouse of a Phoenix employee and actually touched her breasts as he was giving her a massage -- while he was on-duty, and also sent her two pornographic video texts.

Gordon told investigators that he and the female employee were talking about how stressed out she was, and he started giving her a massage. He admitted that his hands moved from her neck and shoulders to her "upper chest" around her "clavicles" because "he believes it feels good when done to him and would serve as a good de-stressor."

He denied grabbing her breasts, but he did tell detectives twice that he "possibly" might have touched the tops of her breasts while he was massaging her.

The female employee told a different version:

"And all of a sudden (Officer Gordon) just went down with his hands, uh, under my blouse and into the bra. And I said, 'Hey, hey, hey.' I said, 'Watch it there.'"

She told detectives that he immediately withdrew his hands and asked her, 'What am I watching?' as he pulled the neckline of her shirt away from her chest as if he was looking down her shirt.

After the incident, he called her and asked her if they were okay, and the woman told cops that he asked if she was going to report him and "mentioned not saying anything to his wife."

Jeff Gordon got married in September 2010, three months before the massaging incident.

Prior to that incident, in January 2010, Gordon had sent the employee two pornographic video texts. When he was questioned, he said that if he did send them, it was an accident.

He told investigators that "he may have intended to send the texts to a friend immediately above or below" the woman's contact information in his cell phone.

While cops were investigating the incident with the city employee, they came across information that indicated Gordon was also engaging in sexual activity in 2007 or 2008 with women who worked at an apartment complex on his beat.

He French-kissed one employee during that time in the rental office at the apartment complex while both were on-duty.

Gordon admitted to kissing her while he was on the job and in uniform, but said it only happen twice.

And, in what appears to be a third incident, Gordon was performing oral sex on another woman inside one of the apartment complex models, also while he was on-duty.

She also performed oral sex on Gordon, and even displayed a picture he sent her of his penis on her office computer at the apartment complex.

While that employee denied doing anything more than hugging Gordon, he admitted to investigators that the two "fooled around."

"He described the encounter as oral sex that he and [the woman] performed on each other while on-duty in a vacant apartment. Gordon said he touched her breasts, and made direct contact, by hand, with each others genitalia," according to the investigative report.

Gordon said he did send her a picture of his penis, but said he sent it to her personal e-mail account. He also said he took -- and sent -- the picture while he was off-duty. He couldn't remember if sending the photo of his business was his idea or the apartment employee's idea.

In another incident, while he was on-duty, he and the second apartment complex employee were French-kissing and touching each others dirty bits inside a complex office.

Gordon met these women when he responded to a call for service at the apartment complex.

Another allegation that remains unresolved is that Gordon used the police department's computer database on two occassions in 2007 to get information about one of the women he was sexing while at work.

He says he did access her personal information, but only because she asked him to.

Gordon, who has been with the Phoenix Police Department for six years and is assigned to the Estrella Mountain Precinct, will serve his suspension from September 27 to September 30. He has 14 days to appeal his discipline.

Gordon was placed on paid administrative leave in January after allegations against him surfaced.

Phoenix police officials started investigating the junior Gordon in late December or early January. The investigation was delayed after Jeff Gordon -- who was installing hardwood floors at his home while on leave in April -- accidentally severed some of his fingers with a saw.

Sergeant Tommy Thompson, a police spokesman, said that Gordon's discipline was determined by a seven-member panel that includes members of the public, police officers, police commanders and an assistant police chief.

Read the full Internal Investigation
Read the summarized Notice of Finding

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Phoenix police apply for grant to buy on-officer video cameras

While the social and economic aid programs are defunded or shut down one by one, the Phoenix PD drop half a mil on control technology

Phoenix police officials have applied for a $500,000 grant that would allow them to buy on-officer video cameras for as many as 50 officers.

Officials expect to hear by early September whether they will receive the money through a partnership with Arizona State University and the U.S. Department of Justice called the Smart Policing Initiative grant.

Earlier this year, Phoenix officers tested the system, in which small video cameras are attached to an officer's uniform. The pilot program was conducted for free, with 18 officers split between the Cactus Park and South Mountain precincts.

"Talk about increasing transparency," Phoenix police Lt. Mike Kurtenbach said. "You don't get much more transparent than video."

The three-month trial that ended in June resulted in 860 hours of video. From that, footage is being used as court evidence in 62 cases, Kurtenbach said. Those cases are still working their way through the system. Attorneys have told Kurtenbach that having video footage is a powerful piece of evidence, he said.

The camera is worn like a Bluetooth device, around the head and over the ear. The officer controls when it is turned on and off through a remote control on his or her chest. A video monitor is attached to the belt.

"A unique feature is that once activated, an officer can't delete or edit the footage," Kurtenbach said. "So we have it all."

Arizona law requires that only one person be aware that they are being recorded, but officers answered questions when asked if they were recording.

"Some citizens keyed in on it right away and asked if the officer was wearing a camera," Kurtenbach said.

There were instances when the cameras were turned off: for example, during interviews with children or during bathroom breaks.

Phoenix police tested Scottsdale-based Taser International's Axon cameras, but there are other companies who sell similar versions.

The grant doesn't specify what brand of cameras would be purchased, but an Axon camera costs about $1,700, plus an annual $1,200 each to store the footage. The federal Smart Policing grant requires police agencies to enlist a research partner - in Phoenix's case, it's ASU - to collect and analyze the data and measure the effectiveness of their efforts.

The on-officer video-camera pilot program was one of 34 Phoenix-wide recommendations developed by a city task force in January to improve relations between the Police Department and community. Kurtenbach was a member of the task force.

The City Manager's Community Engagement and Outreach Task Force was established in April 2010 after several police incidents angered residents, including a March 2010 incident in which City Councilman Michael Johnson, who is African-American, was wrestled to the ground and handcuffed by a White officer.

Man shot by Mesa police was unarmed

A 38-year-old man who was shot by Mesa police Thursday had threatened to kill them, but was not armed when he was shot.

Police originally said Thursday that Phillip A. Trimble was shot by three officers when he dropped a cellphone and pointed a gun at them.

But after further investigation, homicide detectives discovered Trimble had only simulated a weapon, acting as if he was grabbing a handgun tucked in his waistband before officers opened fire.

"It appears that he just simulated the weapon with his hand," said Detective Steve Berry, a police spokesman.

"He made the statement, 'I've got a .357 magnum, I'm going to shoot you guys," Berry said. "That why we had such a heightened response, because he made threats at officers."

Berry said officers discovered Trimble was not armed when the Maricopa County Medical Examiners Office arrived on the scene and moved the body.

The shooting occurred at 2:36 p.m. Thursday after police had convinced Trimble to step outside his home in the 9000 block of East Glade Avenue, near Southern Avenue and Ellworth Road.

Berry said Trimble had appeared unstable during a series of phone calls he made to police, starting at 1:13 p.m. He initially reported a robbery.

Berry said police found evidence that Trimble had been drinking prior to the shooting.

Officers wanted to help Trimble and only shot him when they perceived a threat to their own lives, he said.

"The ultimate goal is to help, not to hurt," Berry said. Police will review the case to see if there were other tactics that could have been used.

He said officers were too far away from Trimble to have used a Taser to subdue him.

Court records show Trimble had no prior history of violent acts. He had been sentenced a year ago in Maricopa County Superior Court to four months in prison after pleading guilty to aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, but the sentence was suspended and he was placed on probation for two years.

Surprise police sergeant who was under investigation resigns

A former assistant police chief in Surprise who was undergoing a department investigation abruptly resigned Monday.

Police Chief Mike Frazier would not say why Scott Connelly was being investigated.

Connelly, who was contacted by The Republic on Tuesday, would say only that his resignation was for "personal reasons." He declined to comment on the internal investigation.

"You'll need to check with them on it," he said. "I'm not sure what it is they're going to release."

Frazier said he was considering firing Connelly before he decided to resign.

"It was in my hands," he said. "That was an option on the table. Before we got to that point, he resigned."

Frazier would not say what time period the investigation covers.

He said he couldn't say when the case will be resolved, but he would release details at that time.

"I don't want to cross any lines and say things I shouldn't, but I think it's going to get hung up for a little while."

Connelly was demoted to sergeant in January at his request, according to department officials at the time.

The Republic requested Connelly's personnel records after he was demoted.

City Attorney Michael Bailey denied the request, saying Arizona law limits the public's access to official records "when the documents are made confidential by statute, involves the privacy interests of persons, and disclosure would be detrimental to the best interest of the state."

The Republic filed another request in August. The request is pending.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Judge tosses case against 4 Phoenix police officers

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Karen O'Connor ruled this week that the due-process rights of four Phoenix police officers may have been violated by a biased grand-jury presentation that resulted in their indictments in a case involving off-duty work assignments.

In documents released Friday, O'Connor explained why she tossed out the case against the four officers.

The indictments obtained by the Arizona Attorney General's Office stemmed from an investigation by the Phoenix Police Department of allegations that some officers did not work off-duty hours they claimed to have worked and for which they were paid. Charges included theft and fraud.

The officers were accused of "submitting hours prior to the scheduled shift and then only working a portion of the hours," according to investigative records.

One officer left the force, but the other three were placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of their case.

In tossing the case, the judge said in a court document released Friday: "The defendants are entitled to due process. Due process requires a fair and impartial grand-jury presentation. This was not done here."

The document lists several missteps the prosecution made in its presentation to the grand jury, including prosecutors' failure to reveal that there is no Police Department policy or requirement for off-duty service agreements to be in writing.

Also, the court document says, the department has no policy requiring the defendants to document their hours on the days they actually worked, and there is no policy requiring the start and stop time to begin and end on the work site.

"The judge has granted the defendants' motion to vacate all future court dates," said Phoenix attorney Craig Mehrens, who represents one officer. "There are no pending court dates. Now it remains for Arizona Attorney General's Office to return the case to the grand jury if they so desire, or drop it."

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne said Friday that his staff had not yet digested O'Connor's ruling, but he expected that a decision would be made by Tuesday on whether to take the case back to the grand jury or to drop it.

Mobile biometrics to hit US streets: Despite fuzzy legality, US law enforcement will soon be able to perform mobile iris scans and fingerprinting.

We're fast approaching a time when law enforcement will no longer need to ask you for your identification - your physical self, and the biometric data therein, are all that will be required to identify you.

A gadget attached to a mobile phone can photograph and plot key points and features on your face (breaking the numbers down into biometric data), scan your iris and take your fingerprints on the spot.

This gizmo doesn't exist in a futuristic world - it's already been prototyped and tested. By autumn, the Mobile Offender Recognition and Information System (MORIS), which will allow 40 law enforcement agencies across the US to carry out such biometric diagnostics, will be rolled out. So far, the 1,000 units on order - at $3,000 and 12.5 oz per device - will be going to sheriff and police departments.

Proponents of the technology figure the deployment is a plus - having biometric data available almost instantly might prevent an officer from mistakenly identifying someone (via, say, a driver's license, which could be forged) and unnecessarily hauling them in for processing.

Scans taken on the road are checked against a database of stored scans from those who have in the past been or are currently incarcerated. Essentially, the idea is to see if a suspect has a prior record.

It's accurate. It'll keep us safe. It'll help law enforcement do its job.

But given that two of the three functions of the MORIS could legally be considered to be the sort of "search and seizure" covered by the US Constitution's Fourth Amendment (meaning that a person could, in theory, decline to have their iris scanned or fingerprints taken), law enforcement's ability to use them as intended seems questionable.

"The collection of personal biometric data has many privacy and civil liberties concerns attached to it, including scalability, reliability, accuracy, and security of the data collected," said Amie Stepanovich, national security counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), a Washington DC-based public interest group focused on privacy and civil liberty issues.

A key concern, said Stepanovich, is that this technology was essentially developed for a military environment and not for domestic use.

"The potential of this technology for use to track and monitor innocent individuals' personal information cannot be overshadowed. To prevent misuse, warrant requirements must be strictly enforced."

Looming legal questions

Does this gadgetry provide Americans with greater protection or does it allow the state - or unscrupulous law enforcement officials - to take advantage of loopholes left by laws and a Constitution drafted in a more technologically simple age?

While Sean Mullin, the president of the Massachusetts-based BI2, the maker of the MORIS device, said that the constitutional issues surrounding such mobile search devices "have already been addressed" by the courts. He told Al Jazeera that he did not anticipate any problems with the technology, though he did submit that policy issues connected with the use of the device would have to be determined by lawmakers.

"This technology, though remarkable, does not change 200 years of constitutional law in the United States," said Mullin.

Legally speaking, there are grey areas when it comes to if and how road-side iris scans and fingerprinting can be carried out by law enforcement.

The Fourth Amendment in the US Constitution offers protection against "unreasonable"searches - this typically includes fingerprints.

But where does an iris scan fit in?

"An iris scan is almost certainly a 'search' within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. The closest analogy is of course a fingerprint," said Laurence Tribe, professor of constitutional law at Harvard Law School.

Tribe said that even the ways in which an iris scan could be distinguished from fingerprints - it is newer technology that does not require physical contact with the suspect - weren't constitutionally relevant, as using an iris scan would still be used to "provide accurate non-public information about the person's true identity" while obtaining "information that is not as accurately obtainable by mere observation of what an individual chooses to expose to the world at large".

EPIC's Stepanovich also says that certain constitutional protections are attached to the process of being taken into police custody, and that law enforcement ought not be able to bypass those protections by carrying out searches outside of the police station.

"Law enforcement officials must be clear with an individual about what they are consenting to - by performing these searches, which have historically been executed only at a police station, outside of police custody, many people may not be made aware of the scope of the search or their right to refuse. Well-accepted constitutional safeguards must be preserved," she said - adding that while a person can waive his or her Fourth Amendment rights, "it may be unclear to the individual what he or she is consenting to".

Expanded use

Mullin said that while, so far only sheriff and police departments have placed orders with BI2, there "has been a great deal of interest from the federal government, including the Department of Homeland Security".

The Department of Homeland Security did not respond to requests for an interview or for information on whether it had ordered any of the mobile biometric units, although Animetrics, the company selling facial recognition software (which can be used on the mobile device) promotes its products as being highly useful not only for police departments, but for the DHS - as well private security firms.

Paul Schuepp, president the New Hampshire-based Animetrics, readily acknowledges that private security firms, the US defence department and various local law enforcement agencies have purchased the facial recognition software, but remained tight-lipped when questioned specifically on whether the DHS or contractors such as Xe (formerly known as Blackwater) have ordered any of the handheld devices.

"That's a difficult one to answer … those are the ones that I can't even talk about - there's high interest from intelligence agencies, which is all of the above," said Schuepp.

The company has a number of facial recognition products on the market - everything from a free phone app that allows people to see which celebrity they resemble the most (Schuepp says his own facial biometrics resemble those of Kevin Costner and George Clooney) to software currently being tested in Iraq and Afghanistan, where Schuepp says he hopes his company will score lucrative contracts.

Massachusetts Plymouth County Sheriff's Department participated in BI2's promotional video [Youtube]

As with the the iris scan, Animetrics' mobile applications would not store the biometric data of a person who is not already logged in some sort of penal system database.

While Mullin said private companies would not have access to the iris database, it's worth noting facial recognition is employed by private companies, who, Schuepp said, might want to keep a "white list" of those who ought to have access to their facilities and "black list" of those they'd like to keep out.

When it comes to his own moral position as a developer, putting technology that could be misused into the hands of the government and private sectors alike, Schuepp said he had faith in the system.

"I'm counting on our government being honest, whether it's law enforcement or the military, trying to find people who threaten our lives," he said.

Mullin, too, takes a pretty easy moral position on his company's product.

He said the only significant difference between the MORIS and what already exists is its "miniaturisation".

Still, Mullin acknowledged that there's nothing to stop an individual officer from misusing the device - coercing a suspect into submitting to a scan, for example - but said the device itself can only be used by authorised personnel, with five layers of verification and security to prevent "just anyone" from being able to access the iris database.

Indeed, the Pinal County Sheriff's Department is among the agencies that has ordered the handheld devices. Given that Arizona last year passed the most stringent immigration law in the country - one President Barack Obama said "threatened to undermine basic notions of fairness" - it seems worth examining how these devices might be used in different jurisdictions.

The Pinal County Sheriff's department did not respond to numerous requests for an interview on its guidelines for using the device.

Constitutional watchdogs, as well as civil liberties groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, have long had issues with the use of biometric data, even when collected at international borders, fearing that the data could be misused.

"There is a greater risk of abuse with greater technological functionality, including unconstitutional targeting of persons in specific religious clothing or attending controversial events, or instances where the technology is used to [further] the personal ends of a law enforcement officer," said Stepanovich.

"Wide spread data collection often turns up a few cases of people who may or may not be guilty of criminal activity, but if that is done at the cost of frequent surveillance of the general public then it is not in line with constitutional principles."

Building a biometric arsenal

We are living in the surveillance age. Google Street View vans roam our streets, mobile phone companies track our movements and most are even being watched by our social network, with Facebook allowing third parties to use facial recognition software to tag users without their consent.
This "Tag Suggestion" feature has attracted some negative attention, and at the behest of the Connecticut office of the attorney general, the social networking site earlier this month agreedto run adverts on its pages, informing users on how to opt-out of the tagging feature.
The uproar surrounding Facebook's facial recognition feature might be what has prompted Google to hold back on its facial recognition tool, although the company did not respond to a request for an interview.

But a type of biometric census has been in wide use by US and NATO forces, which have been using registering to millions of Afghans and Iraqis in their own countries for some time. It's not only the criminals who are processed and entered in these databases - it's entire populations, although the focus seems to be on males of "fighting age".

The New York Times recently reported that one in every 20 residents of Afghanistan has been registered in the massive biometric database. In Iraq, one every 14 have been entered.

Within the US, the database of iris scans and facial data is expanding too.

The military has used different versions of iris and facial scanners in Afghanistan and Iraq for years [Reuters]

"In the fourth quarter of 2010 the system performed 3.2 billion – that's billion,with a 'b' - successful cross matches with one false accept [a false positive match]," said Mullin, of the iris database which is already employed in 47 states (the exceptions being Alaska, Hawaii and Delaware), although not in every jurisdiction in each state.

"The size of the database is growing very rapidly," said Mullin, who also said that the iris scanners are incredibly accurate and have a minute rate of "false accepts" - mistakenly matching an iris scan with one already in the database.

But not everyone is convinced of the accuracy of biometrics - a wide field that includes everything from voice and gait recognition to iris scans - as a whole.

A 2010 study done by the National Academy of Sciences found that technologies behind biometric data gathering are "inherently fallible". "The scientific basis of biometrics - from understanding the distributions of biometric traits within given populations to how humans interact with biometric systems - needs strengthening particularly as biometric technologies and systems are deployed in systems of national importance."

The study also highlighted that a subject might feel coerced into submitting to a scan due to "the possibility of negative consequences for nonparticipation", while instinctively wanting avoid a scan fearing "mission creep" - meaning that their data could be used for something other than the stated purpose.

Indeed, the notion of implied consent is where it gets sticky.

Tribe said that even within the context of what is considered a lawful stop and frisk that probable cause and a search warrant might still be required in order to compel someone to submit to an iris scan.

Scan first, apologise later?

The US isn't unique in it's use of on-the-go fingerprinting - UK police are also using mobile fingerprinting application, despite objections from civil and immigrations rights groups.

Still, use of such data continues to grow in the US.

Massachusetts, for example, was already using facial recognition software, and according to James Walsh, the executive director of the Massachusetts Sheriff's Department, the state is looking to expand its database with a recent $250,000 grant from the US justice department.

Walsh was quick to point out that the grant did not include any MORIS units and that individual sheriff's departments in Massachusetts may have, independently, ordered some of the devices - but said he could not be sure.

They have.

John Birtwell, the director of public information and technology at the Plymouth County Sheriff's Department told Al Jazeera that the county will get "more than a handful … at least three" of the devices.

But that's just about all the certainty Birtwell had to offer on the topic, as he seemed unclear as to whether officers would inform suspects of their Fourth Amendment rights to refuse to undergo impromptu fingerprinting and iris scanning.

He also seemed unsure as to what the protocol would be in the even that a suspect declined to be processed in such a manner.

"I'm dancing on the head of a pin here because I'm not a constitutional scholar," said Birtwell.

"The first or second time these devices are used, there would be some sort of appropriate constitutional test to make those bright lines [guidelines for field use] clear," said Birtwell, who said officers would be issued guidelines on when and how they could legally use the devices. He just wasn't sure when that would be - or what those guidelines would look like.

"All of these questions involve constitutional issues and protections and they should be addressed … nobody wants to make a bad arrest, nobody wants to violate anybody's rights."

Follow D. Parvaz on Twitter: @DParvaz

The Fourth Amendment to the
Constitution of the United States

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The Fourth Amendment, while prohibiting unreasonable searches and seizures, does not define what a "reasonable" search might be.

The Supreme Court, however, has ruled that warrants are not required for all searches, depending on the level of probable cause and the expectation of privacy - by the target of the search as well as by society - in what is being searched.

As Laurence Tribe, professor of constitutional law at Harvard, puts it: "The law determining what makes a search 'reasonable' or 'unreasonable' is enormously complex." It's difficult to determine if "the application of the relevant principles might be affected by any of the specific characteristics of this particular kind of search and by whether it is administered in a way that gives the person being subjected to it clear notice that the person's iris is being scanned by an identity-detecting device".

Monday, August 1, 2011

DPS officer accused of inappropriately touching woman at bar

An off-duty officer from the Arizona Department of Public Safety is accused of inappropriately touching a woman at a Flagstaff bar, authorities said.

A 30-year-old woman at the Greenroom Bar says she confronted a man after she was touched inappropriately on Saturday. She told bar employees, who then called police, according to the Flagstaff Police Department.

The man, 32-year-old Robb Gray Evans, identified himself to police as a DPS officer. He was charged with sex abuse and booked into the Coconino County Jail on $50,000 bond.

Evans, who has been a DPS patrolman for 11 years, is on paid administrative leave pending the Flagstaff police investigation, according to Capt. Stephen Harrison, a DPS spokesman.

DPS plans to have its own investigation, he added,

Sheriff Joe Arpaio Faces New Lawsuits Over Last Year's Arrest of Demonstrators at Jail; One Protester Claims He was Beaten by Guards

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is being sued again -- this time by four immigration activists arrested last summer during a protest at the 4th Avenue Jail.

Two of the plaintiffs are lawyers who acted as legal observers during the protest; one demonstrator claims he was beaten by guards.

Their allegations stem from a July 29, 2010 demonstration near the "sally port" driveway entrance to the jail, where some activists chained themselves together to protest the state's hotly contested anti-illegal-immigrant law, SB1070, and the state's "climate of hate." Dozens of protesters were arrested by Phoenix police and sheriff's deputies, including local activists Salvador Reza and Alfredo Gutierrez.

Two of the lawsuits were filed in federal court and two in Superior Court.

Gustavo Ramirez, a California resident, claims he wasn't blocking the sally port entrance before being arrested and thrown headfirst on the concrete of an "isolated" part of the jail's garage. As one deputy pressed his head to the ground, according to Ramirez's lawsuit, others "made sport out of kicking him in the back, legs, abdomen and other parts of his body, including his hands."
protest shot lemons small.JPG
Image: Stephen Lemons
The scene was tense on July 29, 2010, as police and anti-SB1070 protesters squared off near the 4th Avenue Jail.

Ramirez describes how he was traumatized and bruised by the alleged beating and 20 hours of incarceration, but it's unclear if he required medical treatment.

Audrey Williams, 57, of Santa Barbara, California, claims in her lawsuit that she was among those protesting SB 1070 at the jail when she was arrested. She says she was detained for 26 hours and denied the medication she uses to control the pain from her fibromyalgia and arthritis, resulting in extreme discomfort and humiliation.

The lawyers, Sunita Patel and Roxanna Orrell, claim they were supporting the protesters as clearly identified legal observers, but weren't themselves protesting.

Patel, an immigration activist and staff attorney for the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, states in her federal complaint she'd been photographing and videotaping the protesters on the sally port entrance before her arrest.

She admits that she walked onto the driveway after jail staff warned that anyone doing so would be arrested, describing how she'd just intended to the names of protesters she felt were about to be hauled off. Though she'd moved back onto the sidewalk, deputies singled her out and arrested her, she states.

During her 15 hours in jail, Patel claims, deputies grilled her about her place of birth. She refused to answer their question, at first. A judge later ordered her to be released on her own recognizance, but jail staff told her she couldn't leave until they determined her immigration status, "at which she point she relented and responded to their questions," the lawsuit says.

In the fourth lawsuit, Roxanna Orrell notes that she's a licensed attorney in Texas and Minnesota, and says she was working as legal observer on July 29, 2010, photographing the demonstrators. Orrell states that she was careful to obey all of the orders given by deputies at the scene, but was arrested anyway as she stood on a public sidewalk near the jail's entrance. Besides abusing her civil rights with the arrest, the jail staff kept her detained too long and kept losing her paperwork, she claims.

All of the criminal charges levied against the four protesters, including failure to obey a police officer and obstructing a governmental operation, were later dismissed in court.

They're seeking punitive damages and other remedies for their troubles.

Taxpayers ought to hope the county's kept its insurance premiums paid.

Ex-Glendale sergeant pleads no contest to assault charge

A former Glendale police sergeant has pleaded no contest to domestic-violence assault.

Brent Thomas, 43, was arrested in April after he allegedly assaulted his live-in girlfriend in Oregon and fled.

Lincoln City police found dozens of loaded firearms in Thomas' home, which were not there when they returned to search the house.

Thomas was barred from possessing weapons because of an order of protection filed by his estranged wife in Arizona.

Thomas, a 14-year Glendale officer, resigned from the Police Department last November amid an investigation sparked by an anonymous report he had abused his wife.

The couple were in the midst of a divorce when the allegations surfaced. Thomas' wife said he had abused her for years and shared pictures of her injuries.

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office decided in February that it would not file charges against Thomas.

Thomas, a former Glendale SWAT officer, later moved to Oregon.

On April 10, police responded to Thomas' new home to find his 27-year-old girlfriend's face covered in blood and her eyes swollen, according to Lincoln County Circuit Court records.

Thomas was held without bond in the county jail on suspicion of three counts of felony assault and misdemeanor counts of domestic-violence assault, menacing, strangulation and harassment. He also faced 71 misdemeanor counts of continuing to possess weapons.

Last Tuesday, Thomas agreed to enter a no-contest plea for misdemeanor assault as part of an agreement with prosecutors. All other charges were dropped and Thomas has since been released from jail.

Court records show the former officer was ordered to complete a batterer's intervention program, undergo an alcohol evaluation and to return his firearms to his estranged wife in Arizona.

He will also be required to return police uniform patches seized during the investigation to the Glendale Police Department and to pay more than $11,000 in fines, according to records.

Last month, Thomas agreed to permanently surrender his certification to serve as an Arizona police officer.