Beyond the recent bouts between peaceful protestors and police in SF, the city is currently awaiting the verdict in another police corruption case. Two long-time SF police officers (names withheld to protect the accused’s privacy) are now in the midst of trial proceedings against them for having allegedly made use of their confidential informants (commonly known as “CIs”) to commit crimes instead of preventing them. The charges in the case all relate to the theft of drugs, property, and cash that were discovered or used during the course of what was meant to be the investigation of crime scenes and to allegations of mafia-style extortion. The eyewitness testimony of several different persons involved in the case seems to corroborate the story of the CI who is the star witness for the prosecution.
The theft or misuse of monies, etc. gained from an investigation may be one matter, but extortion is another. According to California Penal Code 518 (“Extortion and Blackmail”), the crime of extortion involves the use of either threats or of force to coerce another person into giving you money or property. Usually, this particular violation of the law is treated as a felony. Penalties include up to 4 years in county jail and a $10,000 fine. What happens, however, when the person who is extorting or blackmailing another is supposed to be a respected member of the community, like a law enforcement agent? The result could be a further lack of trust in the police to act as responsible citizens and in the system as a whole.