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In Touch With LifeSavers features in-depth accounts of babies who have been saved and women who have been helped by LifeSavers Ministries, along with news about upcoming LifeSavers events and other ministry news. In Touch With LifeSavers is published occasionally, when funds allow.
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Weekly Ministry Focus

Bakersfield Police officer commits theft and battery,
then threatens prosecution against LSM ministry leader

A key ministry tool was stolen from LSM leader Terri Palmquist on Monday, March 20, by Bakersfield Police Sgt. Roark outside the Family Planning Associates abortion chamber. Terri's digital voice recorder has become a priceless ministry tool because of the way it facilities easily documenting events (positive and negative) which take place in the ministry each week.

Voice recorder stolen by Bakersfield Police Officer Sgt. Roark

Voice recorder stolen by Bakersfield Police Officer Sgt. Roark, worth $150, along with extremely valuable personal recordings.

The information made available with the recorder has enabled Terri and her husband Tim to successfully prepare a defense against various accusations against them, including abortionist Kenneth Wright's false accusation of a death threat in 2002 and the bogus trespassing charges in 2004-2005. "Without the availability of the documentation this recorder provides, we would be sitting ducks for the false accusations we often face," commented Tim Palmquist. "We also would not have as much information available for our Weekly Ministry Focus newsletters, and the recorder also helps us to keep track of the women who have requested our help."

Update: recorder returned (4/11/06)

Because of the fact that the Palmquists often face harrassment from hostile police officers, the recorder is also used to document encounters with police on the public sidewalks. Tim Palmquist was quick to point out that some BPD officers do conduct their duties professionally without allowing their personal opinions to interfere with their responsibilities. "Thankfully, not all of the officers are cut from the same cloth," Tim noted, "but sadly in our experience the officers who conduct their duties professionally have been the exception rather than the rule."

On Tuesday, March 14, the unprofessional behavior of two BPD officers outside the FPA abortion chamber prompted Terri to call BPD headquarters to complain. Sgt. Roark returned Terri's call, claiming that she was committing a felony by recording her conversations with police officers on public sidewalks. When Tim spoke to Lt. Cantrell in the BPD Internal Affairs division about Roark's claims later that day, Cantrell was quick to assure Tim that conversations on public sidewalks between officers or any other individuals are assumed to be public and that recording such public conversations is legal. Cantrell stated that Sgt. Roark was clearly mistaken, although he later said that Roark claimed to have a different version of the facts. Cantrell encouraged Tim to become familiar with California Penal Code 632 which governs such recordings. Only recordings of conversations with a reasonable expectation of privacy are prohibited.

Sgt. Roark angrily accosts Terri Palmquist after committing theft and battery against her

BPD Sgt. Roark angrily accosts Terri Palmquist after committing theft and battery against her (note the cars passing by in what clearly is a public area).

On Monday, March 20, BPD officers were called out on a peace disturbance being created by a pro-abortion man shouting "choice!" in the parking lot of the FPA abortion chamber. After a brief discussion with the man, Sgt. Roark confronted Terri as she stood on the sidewalk, asking Terri if she was recording the conversation. When Terri replied "yes," Roark grabbed Terri's hand (which was holding the recorder) and twisted it. Roark made no request for Terri to surrender the recorder, nor was there any kind of warrant for the recorder or its contents. When officer Sean Underhill, who was nearby, requested Terri to let go of the recorder, she immediately complied. Later at BPD headquarters, Terri attempted to file a police report for the crimes of theft and battery, but the desk officer refused to take a report for the crime.

Watch KGET TV-17
news report on
this incident

Terri experienced pain in her hand for several minutes after Sgt. Roark's battery. After Roark confiscated the recorder, Terri informed Roark that another officer had told her husband Tim that recordings of conversations on public sidewalks are legal. When Terri attempted to call Tim to obtain the name of the officer (which was Lt. Cantrell), Roark refused to allow her to use her phone. "Am I being detained?" Terri asked.

"Yes," Roark replied. He asked for Terri's ID and informed her that he will be sending the case to the District Attorney for prosecution. DA Ed Jagels has publicly acknowledged that he has a personal bias against the Palmquist family in the past, and convictions obtained by Jagels' office in past illegal recording cases have been overturned by the courts due to prosecutorial misconduct. (Bakersfield journalist Jerome Valenta was sentenced to over seven years in prison for such a crime, but he was freed after 35 months in prison when an appelate court threw out the conviction, ruling that the Kern County District Attorney's office had committed numerous violations in pursuing the case against him.)

"We have never violated anybody's privacy by recording them," Tim emphasized, "and we never will."

In the meantime, the Palmquists wait to see if District Attorney Jagels will seek to pursue another series of false charges against them. "We trust God to bring justice, even when the system seems determined to railroad us," Tim said.


More news from Weekly Ministry Focus Vol. 6 No. 2
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