Recently we got documents from Memphis Police Department using “Authorization of Agency” as a search key, and we obtained an excerpt of MPD’s “Uniform Patrol Station Standard Operating Procedure”. The extract was very helpful as it outlined the procedures for Authorization of Agency, which we wrote up in our blog.
A word about MPD’s FOIA policies.
The City has always been slow with their FOIA responses. They are required by law to produce documents in seven working days, but often take a year or more. Back in the day, say 2017 or 2018, they’d put the electronic version of the FOIA results on their server and send you a secure link. No muss, no fuss. Now, they send the electronic version to MPD’s Central Records Office on the seventh floor of the Downtown cop shop, print them on their printer and charge 15 cents per page. It costs the public more, and a hard to park visit downtown, and it costs the City more. This is an attempt to hide the public’s data from the public.
What really piqued our interest in the UPSSOP was they waited seven weeks, told me the UPSSOP was ready to be picked up for ten bucks, and gave me a CD with a copy of the P&P manual. A sternly worded follow-up FOIA got the UPSSOP gratis in two days, so they knew what I wanted.
CALEA and the UPSSOP
In the introduction on page 3 of the UPSSOP, the reason given for the creation of the UPSSOP was to “meet CALEA standards”. The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies is a rather ineffective organization which purports to ensure that local police organizations meet certain standards. CALEA comes to Memphis annually to “audit” MPD’s standards compliance. In 2018 the CALEA public input session was arbitrarily canceled without notice, and members of the public who turned up to the meeting were turned away. The 2019 session was attended by two members of the public. CALEA is more of a whitewashing organization and we will audit one of CALEA’s own audits later in this piece.
Interesting Chapters in UPSSOP
Chapter XIII covers the procedures for Body Worn Cameras and In Car Video, with obvious reference to the police shooting of Martavious Banks.
Chapter XIV sets out procedures for the investigation of fatal officer shootings.
Chapter VI section D (omitted from the list of contents) describes the organization of the Task Force, i.e. the Multi-Agency Gang Unit (MGU) and Organized Crime Unit (OCU). Section 52 of the Paperwork Routing chapter describes Authorization of Agency, a much-abused process at MPD.
Paperwork and system identification
Those of us who like to obtain MPD information via FOIA know that, to get the information you want, you must specify the datum exactly, and this document is like a roadmap of MPD’s systems and their contents. Various systems and data repositories are named, e.g. the Command Drive, Oracle and others. Specific reports are named, e.g. Chapter VII section 9 is the Response to Resistance form. Section 26 is the Hearing Summary for disciplinary hearings. And there are references to juvenile arrests and interrogation throughout the document, especially in the General Investigative Bureau section on page 55.
The UPSSOP will help advocates create their FOIAs to obtain the MPD information they want. It will help document MPD abuses which are violations of the UPSSOP.
UPSSOP: Auditing the CALEA audit.
When we obtained the section of the UPSSOP dealing with Authorization of Agency we did our own audit based on the AoA database with 2,230 AoAs we assembled from three FOIAs dating back to 2017. We collected all the information in our AoAs and compared the data to the UPSSOP requirements. We were not able to check all the requirements, but we did find that 93% of the AoA forms were deficient in at least one regard.
The 93% failure rate for AoA paperwork sounds incredible. It is largely explained by the fact that the standard AoA form, AA 0306, does not have a place to record the AoA target’s age. Only a few of the officers recorded the defendant’s age, but the majority of the AoAs also had other defects.
MPD introduced a new, long-form version of AA 0306 in mid 2019. 100% of the new version also failed muster, because the new version also omits age, and weight and height as well, which had been included in the old version of the form.
We were unable to check every requirement in the UPSSOP, because they would require field interviews to determine the sequence of events. For example, the UPSSOP requires the defendant to be notified by the complainant in the presence of the MPD wtness. We were able to follow up with 45 AoA recipients and found that this required three-way physical meeting never took place in all 45 cases. It would not surprise us if the entire sample in our ongoing field interviews failed the very specific notification requirement. In other words, it is possible that 100% of the AoAs are invalid according to the UPSSOP. The failure rate will exceed the 93% we measured.
The data we used to perform our audit is available on request. We plan to publish it in due course.
Conclusion of our audit of CALEA’s audit
Even the most cursory internal MPD or CALEA audit of the AoA data would have revealed the same thing our audit did.
- 93% of the AoAs had deficient information collection that rendered them invalid
- In the sample of 45 AoAs where we could determine the mandatory meeting of complainant, defendant and police witness, not one of these notifications were performed correctly.
- Both versions of form AA 0306 omitted required fields, even the 2019 corrected version. MPD systems are not compliant with the UPSSOP requirements, and their forms design is amateurish.
- Even the most cursory sample audit on these data must surely have revealed these deficiencies. Our analysts had no trouble finding them.
The CALEA audit process is a sham, designed to certify deficient police operations and give them a veneer of respectability. They are actively hiding police malpractice.
And feel free to contact CALEA if you notice police activities or documents which are not compliant with the UPSSOP.