08/01/23 Kim Ogg

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Kim Ogg

Kim Ogg is the District Attorney of Harris County/Houston Texas.  Topics include Prosecutors for Prosecutors to assist Afghan prosecutors now facing retribution from the Taliban, Texas legislature, Tuttle family murders, cops fearful of interviews, my forthcoming book: Forever Salem, much more.

Audio file

Dean Becker: (00:00)
Hello, my friends. I am Dean Becker, the Reverend Most High, and welcome to this edition of Cultural Baggage Round. We've got a, a super show lined up for you. We have the District attorney of Houston Harris County, Ms. Kim Ogg is with us today. But first I want to read my quote for the day, who knows why we were taught to fear the Witches and not those who burned them alive. Uh, it's kind of the heart of my book, which we'll talk a little bit more about here in a little while. But before we jump into drug war investigation, I want to thank, in fact congratulate you, Kim, and all the other US prosecutors now standing up for our allies, the Afghan prosecutors, prosecutors for prosecutors. Please tell us a little about that effort.

DA Kim Ogg: (00:49)
It's good to see you, and thank you for asking me about this important effort when the United States pulled out of Afghanistan, as we know, many of our allies who are Afghan themselves were left behind. There's problems getting visas, there's delays. And each day that these folks who we've left behind remain in Afghanistan, those who were known to be prosecutors are themselves being hunted, tortured, and murdered along with members of their family. So a group of prosecutors, local folks like me from around the country, have joined together to try and raise about $15 million to try and get these people out. They are United States trained. They embraced our concept of justice, and they pursued accountability against the Taliban. And now that we have departed Afghanistan, we prosecutors think that those people should be aided by the United States. And because there's difficulties in doing that through the government, we've decided to do it on our own with their aid. And we will also be trying to employ them when they return here or come here because they are trained as prosecutors. So that's the commitment of local elected das around the country. I'm one of them, and I'm honored to be involved in that kind of humanitarian effort.

Dean Becker: (02:14)
Oh, and I, I'm, as I said, I'm proud of you and, and all of these others for having that, uh, that awareness, that commitment, because those people stood with us. They committed towards our concept of justice. They stood against the Taliban and they deserved respect and, uh, you know, uh, support. They

DA Kim Ogg: (02:31)
Deserve to live. And many members of the Taliban who were convicted, jailed, and imprisoned because of their work were released. Those people are out for vengeance and blood. And, and unfortunately they're getting it. So we want to help our, uh, brother and sister prosecutors get out of Afghanistan.

Dean Becker: (02:51)
Um, there's another, I don't know, round of news that's breaking. The Texas legislature is wanting to change the property taxes, but it seems the governor wants to control the way you do your job. He seems to think that you're too lenient in some ways, that you need to be more draconian and and need his help. Well, your response to that thought,

DA Kim Ogg: (03:12)
Well, I think you're referencing what the governor is calling the Rogue Prosecutor Bill. And it's actually aimed at prosecutors who have written policies declining prosecution on things like shoplifting. John Cruzo in Dallas was one of the original prosecutors who signed off on that policy. Joe Gonzalez in San Antonio had some non-prosecution policies of his own. Our programs here in Houston were all done through and with consent of law enforcement. And that kind of collaboration, as you know, is not easy. No, it's not fun. But we've reached agreements on mental health and marijuana that fortunately fit into the exceptions against rogue prosecutors. 'cause the idea is they want us to follow Texas law. Well, I have a message for our governor. We take a duty, we take an oath that swears us to a duty to follow and uphold the law. But we also, by law and in the concept of balancing of powers, we have the discretion when we review the facts with the law applied.

DA Kim Ogg: (04:22)
And if we don't think it's appropriate to prosecute, then we lawfully have the discretion not to. This bill, I think, is aimed at written and verbal policies, but it will be politically weaponized by both sides against elected das. And it has very little to do with our daily work. It will be a distraction that I am warning the public about. But I will tell you, when I took my oath, uh, I understood that we are to prosecute cases, whether we like the laws that we utilize or not. Yeah. But that doesn't limit our discretion. And prosecutorial independence is something that is so important to freedom in this country that when you start trying to pinch at the edges of it, you really throw the whole system into a risky situation of falling apart.

Dean Becker: (05:16)
Well, thank you for that. And well then, if, if the governor wasn't specifically going after the, your use or the, the means of, uh, drug law enforcement, there are others, perhaps some of those that are challenging you for district attorney or considering it others that are quarreling with you, that you're too lenient. Am I right?

DA Kim Ogg: (05:35)
Well, some are saying I'm too lenient and some are saying I'm too harsh . And so I'll tell you what I'm doing. I'm applying the law to the facts. We have about 340 prosecutors. They have way too high caseload. It's very unfair. And they do their best daily to exercise good judgment. We do our best to recruit and retain them. But this is a tough time to govern. And so what I would tell the public is that we are following the laws, and we are taking cases that where the evidence supports prosecution. We unfortunately see a lot of violence in our community. I'm against that. We're holding violent offenders accountable. And part of the way we do that, Dean, is by being reasonable about our nonviolent law violators. And that's where drug laws come in. We're also taking a new look at fentanyl, and I want to talk about that. Sure.

Dean Becker: (06:26)
And I, I wanna first preface the, the discussion about fentanyl with the fact that fentanyl is a good medicine. It works for thousands of people across America when it's used appropriately per doctor's instructions.

DA Kim Ogg: (06:39)
Amen. But it's, it's a really great thing that doctors have, along with propofol and a array of drugs that when used properly, can be lifesaving. Unfortunately, when, uh, introduced into the black market through illegal drugs, that can be deadly.

Dean Becker: (06:55)
This, this is about the, the Tuttle, um, raid from however many years ago. Here we go. But

Joe Gamaldi: (07:02)
Now, but now I wanna speak on behalf of the 5,200 brave men and women of the Houston Police Department and the other 800,000 police officers that are working these streets every single day putting their lives on the line. We are sick and tired of having targets on our back. We are sick and tired of having dirt bags trying to take our lives when all we're trying to do is protect this community and protect our families. Enough is enough. And if you're the ones that are out there spreading the rhetoric that police officers are the enemy, well just know we've all got your number. Now. We're gonna be keeping track all y'all, and we're gonna make sure that we hold you accountable every time you stir the pot on our police officers. We've had enough folks. We're out there doing our jobs every day, putting our lives on the line for our families. Enough is enough.

Dean Becker: (07:47)
Alright, en enough is enough. That was recorded the evening after the murder of the Tuttle family by the Houston Police Department and Narcotics Group. And he was trying to defend what they did, the murder he was trying to go after people like me who want to challenge their methods and, and, uh, the way they do things. And, and I guess it's a warning from Joe. He was then head of the Houston Patrolman's Union. Um, they killed their dog too, on a ton of false information. They were lying to judges, stealing overtime, doing all kinds of things. And it turns out that he was defending murderers. Uh, I, I hope that the representatives, the mayor, the sheriff, the police chief will all hear our discussion today. And I want to send an invitation to Sheriff Gonzalez, to Chief Finn and Mayor Turner. They all ignored my invitations to visit this program.

Dean Becker: (08:42)
I wanna make a promise to them. If they will come on the show. I will not talk about the thousands of drug busts that were set up, just like the Tuttles with lies, deception, theft, and violence. I just wanna talk about the Tuttle Bust and every bust going forward. I, I wanna leave it there. Too often cops group think an idea gets thrown out in any other cops that gather round glom onto it and once proven wrong. Uh, they, once they're shown to be off track, they're quick to reach for any other reason to justify the stop. And that just gets kind of silly at times. I, I know you don't get involved with the misdemeanors and the, the cop squabbles and that kind of stuff, but you hear stories about it, do you not? Well,

DA Kim Ogg: (09:22)
Not only do we get involved, we have an entire civil rights prosecution division with six senior lawyers assigned two investigators and support staff. And our civil rights division is dedicated to prosecuting police officers and other public servants who violate our citizens or visitors civil rights. So the total case is being prosecuted as a felony murder against Gerald Goines. And the voice of Joe Aldi should be a warning to any leader who steps out early to take a position when the facts aren't actually known. And at that time, he was quote, a leader of the police union. Uh, I will tell you that, uh, he's from New York, doesn't know our community and clearly had no clue about the facts of this case. So I look forward to the day we finally get this case to trial. We are also prosecuting 10 other police officers who were also on squad 15 with Gerald Goines. And we are, for the most part, not able to talk about anything related to that case, uh, because the lawyers will say that we're trying to poison the jury pool. But what I would tell you is that those families await justice, the Nicholas and Tuttle families and our Civil Rights Division intends to hold those accountable who caused the murder.

Dean Becker: (10:56)
I, I am so pleased to hear that. And look, I, I admitted on air, uh, just about every week. I am addicted to First Amendment auditors. Uh, they're on YouTube. They, they, they get out there, they squabble with the cops. They, they show up with a camera and the cops, well, usually the, the, uh, the business owners or the post office owners, the, the police station, they go to all these kinds of places and they freak out. You can't be here with a camera. And I, I want to go over with you, uh, a couple things. Public pho, public photography is just plain legal anywhere, isn't it?

DA Kim Ogg: (11:34)
Yes. As long as it's done in on public property. And we don't have any rights as citizens to privacy when we're out in public, obviously lewd pictures, things that are inappropriate interfering with an arrest, I would encourage people that, yes, you should exercise your first Amendment rights, but let's be reasonable about it. If there's a public safety situation going on, consider that. Consider everybody's right to be safe, including the police officers. So police officers should not stop people from filming, especially when they're out in the public. They themselves wear body cameras for the purpose of making their actions with the public available and transparent. And I think that most good cops would tell you, Hey, we act the same whether we're on camera or off camera. And so we don't fear that, you know, not everybody subscribes to that. And it's not a Pollyanna view, it's an optimist view by a law enforcement leader. That's how we want our law enforcement to feel and to behave.

Dean Becker: (12:42)
Uh, the, the focus is not on Houston so much, though I have seen, ah, half dozen Houston, h p d officers mostly working for organizations, maybe guarding oil companies out on a highway somewhere that, you know, squabble on the side of the highway, that kind of thing, and, and don't understand or just do the wrong thing. But in general, it's, it's more, I don't know, Galveston and Baytown and the surrounding areas where I, I see a lot of just cops not knowing the constitution, not knowing their job, and just messing up, uh, on a regular basis. Uh, I, I know you don't get those cases, but what would you say to those other das that are allowing those situations to occur and to, you know, grow?

DA Kim Ogg: (13:26)
So the prosecutors that I know believe in civil rights, we believe in due process for people. And we encourage our police officers to be transparent. Again, they're wearing a body camera, so there's nothing really to be afraid of when somebody else is filming us. But there are inappropriate times and places when that occurs. So what I would say to my fellow prosecutors is, let's keep pushing transparency in policing and in prosecuting where we can. There's so much we can't say when it comes to evidence. Grand juries, uh, gag orders from judges. But there's a lot that we can tell our community and show them, because their trust is what gives us the authority to act on their behalf. And all elected das know this. And I would hope that those who work for us under understand that's our obligation to the public. That includes cops and prosecutors.

Dean Becker: (14:23)
Thank you. I, yeah, I think about it. Uh, and, and usually it's smaller departments, uh, I don't know, not not major cities, I guess where I, you run into this situation where maybe the lieutenant and then the sergeant doesn't know, and they train their, their, uh, employees to, uh, go, go about it the wrong way. And, and, you know, they wind up getting sued and it cost the city and, you know, the, the citizens money to pay for the insurance. And on down the line. It's, it's a major draw from the, uh, the economy, isn't it? Well,

DA Kim Ogg: (14:55)
We, in law enforcement would tell you, we need every dime. Uh, there is a spike in violent crime going on. There is a spike in certain kinds of drug deaths, and there's a spike always, it seems like, in Houston, related to the burglaries of automobiles and homes. And so these are the types of crimes that, along with rape and robbery, we're focused on to do that with so few prosecutors, in so many cases, we have to look and treat certain old problems in our social, uh, set up like drugs and their possession, like prostitution and, and the spinoff crimes of human trafficking. Mm-hmm. , there's just so many things we need to look at in an out of the box way. And that's what I've tried to do as a prosecutor. We have to make our resources go as far as we can for the violent, what can we do about the nonviolent? And so, as you know, I'm super proud of our marijuana diversion program. Oh yeah. It's not just for adults anymore. It's also for juveniles. And we have the best practice with our police of anywhere in the state when it comes to dealing with, when anybody who's caught with under four ounces of marijuana,

Dean Becker: (16:07)
I, I don't know if you heard or I've mentioned it today. I, I'm writing a new book. It's a tentative title forever, Salem, the American Inquisition. And in it, I say it's the persecution of witches. I e druggies is really what it's about by a certain group of inquisitors, I'll call 'em crusaders, who think it's their right, their obligation. They're, they, they have the ability to persecute other people. There. There's a lot of similarities to the way Hitler persecuted Jews. 'cause he just didn't like 'em. He didn't like their lifestyle. He, and we have this situation where drug warriors, people who want to stop drug users think they have the right, the obligation to, uh, stop. So far they've stopped 50 million citizens who simply wanted to live the American dream of life, liberty, and to pursue happiness. And I've been saying for years now, the drug war is evil, a crime against humanity. Any response to that

DA Kim Ogg: (17:05)
? Yes, I have a response to that. So our legislature at the state level, our congress at the federal level has a lot of work to do when it comes to a reasonable approach to drug usage, drug trafficking, and drug treatment. And none of these things come easily or cheaply. So when it comes to drug enforcement, what we've done is take a punish the user approach. I'm for something different. I'm for punishing the people who are trafficking illegal narcotics and making lots of money off the addiction and the expense sometimes of their lives of users. We're trying to retrain our population of prosecutors, and I hope law enforcement to look at drug users who die as a result of ingesting something they thought was substance A and it turned out to be fentanyl or some other poisonous substance. Yep. Not as people who invited the danger.

DA Kim Ogg: (18:07)
Yep. They took a risk, but did it really deserve the death penalty? So we're trying to get our folks to understand that addicts, while they're not necessarily victims to, uh, their drug addiction, or, or maybe they are, they are certainly victims when they die of being poisoned by someone who is making counterfeit drugs to ensure greater profitability in the black market. And so I wanna go after the people making money off our misery, the people who are dealing poison into our streets to an unsuspecting public. And I wanna take that kind of lack of blame approach and talk about human trafficking for a minute. For years, we put prostitutes in jail and we ignored the buyers. Then the legislature made the buying of sex a felony. Okay. We say we can prosecute that. And what we find is that most of our buyers are first time offenders with jobs and families who they support.

DA Kim Ogg: (19:08)
And so we end up diverting into programs to try and reeducate sex buyers about the harm they're doing. We try and work the women and men in prostitution, sex workers back into our society through treatment and support by NGOs, by nonprofits. But what do we do about the people making all the money? That's where I want to go with prosecution. The illegal traffickers who don't care, who dies, who gets hurt and could care less if that's your daughter or your son. Yeah. And so those profiteers of pain are the folks who our prosecutors are being trained to go after. And so we've created this division with a narcotics and homicide prosecutor to go after these fentanyl cases, more like homicides than, uh, than the way we used to treat them, which was the user was blamed and the dealer got off scot-free. That's wrong. We're changing it.

Dean Becker: (20:09)
You know, to me, I, I wanna sum up legalization. Legalization. Merck makes meth. Pfizer makes, um, cocaine. I don't know. Bayer makes the heroin. They sell it at the drugstore for a penny on the black market dollar to adults or none. And that's just the way I see it, that we have this idea that we need to control the habits of our fellow man and we don't what gave us that. Right. That's my concern. Well,

DA Kim Ogg: (20:32)
Maybe your book is, uh, since I obviously haven't read it because not out yet, but I will Yeah. Is about early morality policing. And what we've seen is that morality policing, whether it's prostitution, which is, is now called human trafficking, whether it's drug use, um, this type of focus on individual use or action is not effective unless you get to the source of the problem. So it's not manufacturing drugs legally, that's the problem. It's illegally manufacturing them. It's not selling them legally through your local C v s or Walgreens. It's selling 'em out on the street when the buyer has no idea what they're purchasing. So I think that instead of trying to control the moral climate of America, that what I've done is just focus on people's actions. But I want to focus on the right people, not the end game user, not the folks who really don't control anything. It's, there's people making lots and lots of money illegally, and that's who we're going after.

Dean Becker: (21:45)
Well, I, I, you know, it's hard to pin it down. There is no, you know, accountant tracking all of this, but they say it's 300, 400, $500 billion a year that's flowing into the pockets of terrorists and cartels and gangs and street corner sellers. It's a, it is a lot of money. Well,

DA Kim Ogg: (22:02)
I'm for regulation of, of, uh, narcotics. I think that, you know, in states where marijuana has been legalized and regulation is enforced evenly, and I hope it is, that perhaps there's less of an impact by the black market. I think we have something to study from those states. And I wish Texas would get on with it. We have plenty of violent crime and gun violence to prosecute without having to concern our police who are also too few out on the street with these kind of infractions. I, I want 'em to go after the real crooks.

Dean Becker: (22:40)
I, I'm gonna say something here because part of my book is going after that thin blue line, this destruction, or this desecration, I think is a better word of the US flag that, uh, a lot of police departments have, you know, adopted these days. The US flag code specifically states quote, the flag should never have placed upon it, nor any part of it, nor attached to it. Any mark insignia a letter word figure, or design. Now, I, I say the 200 wussy cops that gathered in Valdi to hear the screams of dying children are prime representatives of this thin blue line. And Kim, there's no need to respond to that. But I'm just saying the drug war has ruined the mindset of cops. It has made it where if they can plan ahead and kick in the door of people who don't know they're coming, they're perfectly willing to do it. But if there's somebody they know has a gun, 200 of them couldn't do the job. No need to respond. Yeah.

DA Kim Ogg: (23:36)
But I want to tell you, I still know a whole lot of law abiding good people who are cops. So when we paint with the broad brush, you get everybody. I understand, Dean. I just wanted to put my plug in there for the folks I do know who are trying every day to keep us safe.

Dean Becker: (23:52)
No. And, and um, again, that was just 200 wussy cops. I I know a lot of cops who are good people, intelligent, um, you know, positive folks. But I, I just, I know that this thin blue line is just a means to, uh, separate the cops from the people again, which the drug war has done that from the beginning. It's now why they wear these, these bulletproof vests and they're got magazines and loaded up with two guns and all of this stuff. They look like they're ready to go to Afghanistan. And I just feel like that's, that's overkill. It's, it's frightening the people. It's not the way to have a good relationship. Your your response to that thought,

DA Kim Ogg: (24:34)
Please. Well, the militarization of police and policing, especially post 9 1 1 is a fact.

Dean Becker: (24:43)
I got, I know you wanna leave here, uh, before the top of the hour. A couple of questions, just a yes or no, maybe. Do passengers need to show their id?

DA Kim Ogg: (24:52)
Uh, not unless an officer has reasonable suspicion to believe that the passenger could be involved in the crime, but this is what I'd tell you. Passengers, show them your id. Don't fight about it out on the street. Try and deescalate every situation, too many guns, too much fear. Let's deal with it in court. And if you were righteous and didn't have to show it and they made you show it, then that's something that can be addressed in court and through training and even administrative sanctions by their own police department if they were wrong,

Dean Becker: (25:26)
Do you have to take your hands outta your pocket? 'cause the cops scared?

DA Kim Ogg: (25:29)
Hell yes. Okay, now look, let me say something. The law of self-defense gives any citizen the right to respond with force commensurate to the force they reasonably fear. I want you to think about that. So many instances, one citizen reaches in his pocket, he's been arguing with somebody else. The other guy pulls out his weapon because he thinks he's about to be shot. Is it reasonable? You ask a grand jury these days? And of course, I can't ever disclose what grand juries say, but I would say that folks are much more lenient about the notion of self-defense when crime is high. So why should you take your hands outta your pockets? Is it because you have to, it's considered a reasonable command to protect the safety of the officer stopping you. So please cooperate.

Dean Becker: (26:20)
Okay. Do you have to sit on the curb if they tell you to ,

DA Kim Ogg: (26:24)
This is starting to sound like Simon says, well, it's, it says, I've got the same advice, cooperate out on the street. It may not seem reasonable, it may not be reasonable, but there is a time and place to dispute all of that. And what I'm promoting is peaceful and civil, uh, dis discussion and relief in court. That's what it's for. The streets. We, we just wanna keep everybody safe on the street.

Dean Becker: (26:49)
Well, I, I got too much Ray Hill in me to just bow down, but, okay. Uh, once again, friends, we've been speaking with Kim Ogg, she is the district attorney of Harris County, Houston, Texas, and Kim, as always, should you get a reasonable opponent who's worthy of it, I'd be willing to moderate a debate between you guys, should that occasion come up.

DA Kim Ogg: (27:09)
Well, I wanna thank you for letting me be on your show. I wanna say that I never want to, uh, make you stand down. Dean, we, we love your fiery independence and your drug war warrior mentality. And as your district attorney, I welcome your perspectives and your views. I think it makes life a lot more interesting if we can talk about things.

Dean Becker: (27:33)
Thank you, Kim Ogg. I sure appreciate it. Alright, friends, that, once again, that was Kim a our district attorney here in Houston, and, uh, she's the best. I've interviewed, well, every district attorney since, uh, what was his name? Chuck Rosenthal, who had to quit because of his own drug problem. Folks, remember that, uh, you know, it's, it's just a case of, uh, you know, uh, do as I say, not as I do. And, and that's what this whole drug war is about. And I, I, I just know that when the time comes, when we pull the plug on this drug war, well, you're all gonna say, oh, do what were we thinking? Because there is no legitimacy, no rationale, low lo, no logic, no reason for this drug war to exist other than the fact that a hundred years ago, a bunch of moralists and charlatans frightened the people into believing it to be necessary.

Dean Becker: (28:25)
We love you. I do this show because I love you. I, I, I want to save you and your children's lives. I want to make this a better county, state, nation world. And the fact of the matter is the drug war is never going to make it better. It's just going to continue to make it worse. Um, I, I guess it's about time to wrap it up. I'll do a couple of my closures. One is because of prohibition. You don't know what's in that bag, and I urge you to please be careful. And the second one more appropriate to, uh, uh, the moral high ground show is because nope, nope. Euphoria is a blessing, not a crime.