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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 82588 Find in a Library
Title: McAllen Tapes - A Department Rebuilds After a Very Public Scandal
Journal: Police Magazine  Volume:5  Issue:3  Dated:(May 1982)  Pages:19-25
Author(s): R Bernard
Date Published: 1982
Page Count: 7
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: A description of the events leading to the complete reorganization of the McAllen Police Department (Texas) following revelations of police brutality is accompanied by an analysis of the department's problems that permitted such brutality to occur and the results of the reorganization.
Abstract: The brutality was revealed in March 1981 when local and national television stations broadcast videotapes made by the McAllen Police Department between 1974 and 1979. The tapes had been made by a television camera set up over the booking area at the police station to protect officers from frivolous brutality claims. The tapes showed numerous sequences of police officers beating prisoners, often on slight provocation. The revelations led to the resignation of the city manager and the police chief as well as the eventual conviction of two former officers on Federal civil rights charges. The events led to a complete restructuring of the department, which faced numerous problems besides brutality. Among these problems were a general lack of discipline, a top-heavy organizational structure, absence of a coherent set of internal policies and job descriptions, and confusion about the lines of authority and responsibility. In addition, infighting had become rife within the department. Political intervention from city officials was also a major problem. Moreover, the department lacked an effective grievance procedure and appropriate officer training. These problems, which were enumerated in a study by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education, were addressed in the reorganization. The new structure drastically reduced the size of the upper echelon of the department. All current supervisors were allowed to compete for the new supervisory positions using an assessment center procedure. Those who failed to win supervisory positions were demoted to patrol officers but did not have their pay cut. In addition, the department has a new chief, a new police academy, a new human relations training program, a procedures manual in development, and a new public relations campaign designed to win back public support. Despite the sweeping changes in the department, the American Civil Liberties Union lawyer involved in suits against McAllen police officers is skeptical that the current lack of police brutality will continue. However, another analyst believes that after more time passes department morale will continue to improve, especially among the officers who came out poorly in the reassessment. No references are cited.
Index Term(s): Complaints against police; Human rights violations; Police Brutality; Police management; Police organizational structure; Police reform; Texas
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