Via America’s LawyerMike Papantonio and Trial Magazine Editor Farron Cousins discuss how an online database dubbed the ‘Plain View Project’ compiles social media posts flagged as racist or bigoted from police officers across the country. Plus, Mike Papantonio is joined by legal and media analyst Lionel, to dive into an internal audit by the Department of Health and Human Services which details over 6,000 cases of nursing home abuse which went unreported in 2016, causing a spike in ER visits as well as Medicare expenditures which may very well have been preventable.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio:             Every story you hear about a corrupt abuse of police officer tends to get written off just as one bad apple, but the truth is that we have an epidemic in our law enforcement agencies that few people can comprehend. But a new group called the Plain View Project have started tracking these police officers and I have Farron Cousins from the Trial Lawyer Magazine to talk about that. Farron, you’ve done plenty of stories on this for the national Trial Lawyers Magazine. These stories that, we’re not seeing as many. We’re not hearing about as many as we heard.

It was like a rash of these stories that came out where they were more than just more than just social media problems. I mean we, where people getting killed from police officers that never should have been wearing a uniform. I look at this story and, you know, having been a prosecutor, I can tell you this is not typical of most police officers. It just isn’t. But the numbers seem to point that we got a big problem. Tell, tell me about this Plain View Project and what’s happening here.

Farron Cousins:                  Well, what the Plain View Project is doing, which I think is, you know, great work, is they’re going through social media groups. You know, these private message boards that these police officers and other law enforcement officials are using. And what they’re finding is that there is a lot, you know, a lot more than people should be comfortable with of blatant racism, sex, sexism, Islamophobia. All kinds of things that show that some of these officers involved in this, which right now they have thousands are, are clearly biased.

You know, they don’t like this group of people, they don’t like this gender, they don’t like this religion. And that obviously is going to present a massive problem for this person whose job it is to go out there and uphold the law.

Mike Papantonio:             And do a good job.

Farron Cousins:                  Right, and it’s nearly impossible. So the Plain View Project came along and was founded to try to keep track of this and to alert these police departments that, hey, you have a lot of people in your department that are making these comments. Here they are, we’ve, we’ve printed them out, we’ve sent them to you. You, you need to address this and figure out how to make things better. This isn’t about shaming the officers or exposing them. This is about trying to get the police departments themselves to work on these people, work with these people or if necessary, remove these people from the line of duty.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah, I think you have to put it in context. First of all, Lornet Turnbull did this great article and in this article it talks about one situation where there, this is a very typical thing that I’m about to read. There was a meme of a police, police dog and trying to run after something and the meme came from a police officer says, I hope you run. He likes fast food. Now that’s the least offensive of all of these.

Farron Cousins:                  Right.

Mike Papantonio:             If you see this article, it’s just “N” word everywhere. It’s a, it’s almost they’re equal, whether it’s Latino. It’s, as I read this, it’s almost as if the, it’s almost as if the, the hatred has turned as much to Latinos is it has African Americans. And we’re seeing in Philadelphia, 72 officers actually reassigned,. Now that bothers me in and of itself, reassigned. Talk about that a little bit would you.

Farron Cousins:                  Right, right. What we just saw in Philadelphia, which was a result of what the Plain View Project is working on is they removed 72 officers from the streets. Unfortunately these 72 officers whose comments that were actually mentioned in a different article, horrendous, they’re just on desk duty. So they’re still employed. They’re still, you know, working in law enforcement and eventually, yes, they’re going to find their way back onto the streets where they’re going to be armed with their guns and their tasers and their mace, and whatever it is.

This is all just a temporary band-aid that these police departments typically engage in to say, okay, look, this is a bad person. We’re sending them on a paid vacation for awhile. We’re putting them on desk duty. As soon as the public stops looking, all right, go on and get back in your vehicle. Get out in the field.

Mike Papantonio:             I love, I love this. In Saint Louis, there was a prosecutor who said, you know what, I’m there, she, she had a list of 22 officers. And she says, and these 22 officers, I’m going to stop bringing charges where that officer makes the case. I’m going to stop allowing warrants to be issued where that officer is involved. I’m going to stop letting that officer testify as a witness because these particular 22 officers has, have this history of, of these types of social media memes. Now you see the problem the, the problem is the whole, the whole system just crumbles on itself.

Farron Cousins:                  Right.

Mike Papantonio:             You know, here’s, you got a prosecutor that says, I, I, I, I’m not gonna use these people because I don’t believe them because they’re racist. Because it doesn’t make any difference whether they’re Latino, African American, White, you know, whatever it is, these people show really bad history. And so, you know, I, I saw an article, not long ago where they were trying to defend this on a free speech issue. That is a loser. There is no free speech here. This is not a free speech argument. You can’t just willy nilly say what you want to say in a setting like this.

Mike Papantonio:             The inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services released an audit last week. It points to over 6,000 cases of elder abuse in skilled nursing facilities that have been, had been unreported and underreported in 2016. This lack of accountability has created staggering costs from Medicare programs, meaning a greater economic burden to taxpayers and healthcare providers. According to the IG’s report, as many as one in five Medicare claims tied to high risk emergency room visits in 2016 were a direct result of unreported abuse or neglect suffered in nursing home facilities.

Joining me to talk about this right now is Lionel from Lionel Media. Lionel, let me ask you, this is, this is a topic people hear bits and pieces about, but they never really figured out who, who is responsible. First of all, for identifying and documenting abuses that occur in these skilled nursing facilities that go on, on and on year after year, the numbers continue to climb as baby boomers get older. Who is it?

Lionel:                                      Emphasis on, on unskilled, you know, what we need to do, Mike, I think is important, is to extend statutorily the definition of caregivers to make individuals who work at these facilities have an affirmative duty like teachers and caregivers to identify anything that should reasonably get their attention. And we need to get some type of an extension of the federal misprision laws and make it a crime for you to know that somebody was injured.

Know that somebody was raped, sometimes murdered by these weird psychological Munchausen’s by proxy and, and other forms of demented behavior and make them statutorily and criminally liable if they don’t turn in their fellow skilled caregivers. It’s that simple.

Mike Papantonio:             Hmm. Yeah. Beyond the obvious spike in emergency room charges that result from these abuses, you know, can prosecutors pursue any criminal charges for the failures to report as you’re, as you’re pointing out, they, that’s where we have to begin. We have to have legislation that says the failure to report begins in house. But here’s what, here’s what everybody’s missing. Here’s what everybody’s missing about this. What these, what these facilities do is they pass on all the horrible things they do or fail to do to tax payers.

It’s called externalizing costs. In other words, they have a patient that requires emergency care. They, end, end of life kinds of problems that are caused in house. And the problem is taxpayers pick up a lot of this because they’re paying for a lot of these costs. It’s not the facility that should be on the hook. It ends up shifting that responsibility over to taxpayers, doesn’t it?

Lionel:                                      It does. And the inherent irony of these citizens, in fact, many of these have already been taxed by virtue of Medicare in the first place, and other forms of, of, of guarantee payment. But to think that we have to pick up the tab for greater exacerbated injuries from a skilled caregiver. You know, not only this Mike, but throughout, I’m familiar with prosecutors and individuals and trial lawyers who have gone after not only this case, but the weird, the avenging angels, the Munchhausen’s by proxy. That the, this, this is very quiet.

You’ve got these strange nurses. Sometimes they’ll want to play God. And then when you warehouse these people and you hire very sub par staff, and let’s face it, nobody looks to working sometimes in a, some of these facilities, which God bless these people. They, most of them, 90% of them are great. But when you have these folks, these sometimes annoying old people that sometimes have forgotten and you are in this facility every day, you know, this is bound to happen.

Public has to be more aware of this. And by the way, just peruse. Go online and look at all of the plaintiff’s lawyers who are handling this particular area. If you don’t think this is a burgeoning area of concern, just look at the number of people and the incredible settlements that the, that the plaintiff’s bar thankfully has brought to the public attention.

Mike Papantonio:             Thank you for joining me. Okay.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.