Sunday, March 2, 2014

Police Abuse Drastically Reduced By Use of Cameras; Would it have changed the course of history for Tim Vander Plaats?

Use of force dropped over two-thirds with cameras
Would you like to see police bullying and abuse of power become a thing of the past in Lafayette?  There's no denying we have a problem in our community, and the recent incident was not an isolated one.

 Perhaps it's time for citizens to demand that Lafayette-area officers be required to wear cameras on their uniforms.  It would certainly be a much better use of tax dollars than the recent army tank purchase by the WLPD.

Cameras worn on uniforms have proven to be effective in other areas, including Rialto, California, where wearing cameras resulted in more than a two-thirds reduction in use of force by police officers there.

In addition, it was also reported that the officers who did not wear cameras used force twice as much as those who wore the cameras.  This would imply that most use of force is unncessary and overkill. 

Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union,  told a New York Times reporter that he believes this type of practice could benefit all parties involved.
"We don't like the networks of police-run video cameras that are being set up in an increasing number of cities," Stanley said.  "We don't think the government should be watching over the population en masse, but requiring police officers to wear video cameras is different.  When it comes to the citizenry watching the government, we like that."

Stanley said that all parties benefit because the public is protected from police misconduct, and officers are protected from bogus complaints.
"There are many police officers who've had a cloud fall over them because of an unfounded accusation of abuse," said Stanley.  "Now police officers won't have to worry so much about that kind of thing."
So, if this is a benefit to society and police, why do most police unions fight mandates to wear cameras?

That's a very good question.  It would suggest that many of them might have something to hide.

Would Cameras Have Changed the Course of History for Tim Vander Plaats? 

How might mandatory cameras have changed the course of history for Timothy Vander Plaats?

There is plenty of hard evidence that a violent crime was committed, and any rookie police officer would agree that even the circumstantial evidence appears to surpass the "reasonable doubt" threshold.

There was motive and there was certainly opportunity since one of the officers in question was reportedly working the beat in the area where Vander Plaats was attacked.  The innocent man wasn't robbed of any personal effects.  And why did multiple 911 calls go unanswered? 

Were Vander Plaats' body and clothing examined at a police crime lab for traces of DNA or other evidence?  If not, why? 

LPD Chief Patrick Flanagan could only say he didn't have evidence that one of their officers threw any punches that landed Vander Plaats in the hospital.  What he couldn't say; however, was that it never happened beyond a reasonable doubt.  That's a question the jury will have to answer, if it ever gets that far.

What would have happened had a private citizen threatened to kill a police officer for hugging his girlfriend?  Most likely, every charge imaginible would have been levied against the private citizen.

More than likely, it would have been prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and rightly so, because threatening to kill someone is a serious crime.  But, how well would it have gone over with police officers if the prosecutor failed to file charges against a citizen-on-cop crime?

These types of double standards are repugnant to the public-at-large, and rightly so again.  The criticism for it is long overdue and certainly justified.

Unfortunately, the Tippecanoe County prosecutor passed the buck to a special prosecutor from out-of-town.  He made a determination that no crime was committed even though much of the damning evidence came in after his investigation.  No follow-up was reportedly pursued by the prosecutor or the police. 

Don't you think that Tim Vander Plaats, a law-abiding citizen, deserves to have his case reviewed and investigated by an unbiased police agency?  This is long overdue and the case is growing cold. 

An independent police force, such as the state police or FBI must investigate this case if there's the slightest hope that justice will be served.  Without such an investigation, no citizen should feel safe in the LPD jurisdiction and even beyond because of the close personal connections the officers in question have with surrounding police agencies.

Unless these things happen, justice will likely remain elusive for Tim Vander Plaats and for the citizens of Lafayette as the unspoken code of silence remains in full force. 

There will remain two sets of standards in Lafayette, one for the police, another for the citizenry.

This case will likely be settled out-of-court for an undisclosed amount of cash and the incident swept under the rug with all the other police misconduct cases that are unanswered for. 

The bad apples will go on bullying because of their connections within the police community.

We'll hear more stories of cops being derelict in their duties to help little girls like Aiyana Gavin, more stories of citizens being harrassed by abusive cops, and more stories of them not being held accountable, because apparently they are above the law in Lafayette, Indiana.

The citizens of Lafayette deserve so much better.  It's time we stand together and demand accountability.  After all, these public employees are paid with the hard-earned tax dollars of Lafayette citizens.

What Can We Do?

Ask the FBI to investigate this matter of serious public concern. 

FBI Phone:  317-595-4000

Ask the police chief and Lafayette City Council to authorize and mandate the use of uniform cameras for police officers.

Ask Mayor Tony Rowarski why these officers are still working for the LPD? 
He can be reached at (765) 807-1002 or email to:

And by all means, do not give up and do not let them put you off.

Tim Vander Plaats could be your son, grandson, brother, or friend.  Next time it could be someone you love.


  1. I have written the police chief about this and his response was disgusting, disturbing and makes me fear that we have the wrong people in charge. I can post all of the letters and his responses if you would be interested. From the things he says in response to my letter you can tell he does not have the communities best interest in mind.

  2. Yes, please, the responses should be made public!! Thank you!