Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A Few Good Apples

A Few Good Apples

When we are in danger, or desperately need assistance, we call the police.
Without an organization of well trained, abundantly equipped  and  disciplined officers, our communities would turn into Mad-Max chaos.
That’s why we have a police force. 
It’s no accident we call it a  FORCE.

We give each officer extraordinary  power, support, and authority in order to maintain safe conditions in our society. 
In return, we expect that the power and authority provided to each officer be used in a fair and judicious way…realizing and allowing that  mistakes could happen and mis-judgements could be made.

But  when an officer blatantly and deliberately abuses that vested authority, especially in a life-threatening way, a most serious crime has occurred.
Furthermore, when a police officer commits a felony that is covered-up by another police officer, duel felonies have been committed. 
It’s not professional courtesy, it’s complicity.
Yes, body-cameras might help, but the best remedy would be breeching the blue wall of silence.

February 27, 2011, Huntington Station, New York, around 1:10AM

Two  bar-hopping off-duty cops are driving in their  civilian  cars.
They cut off a cab and  get into a yelling match with the driver.
Both cops, and the cab driver get out of their cars. Realizing he’s outnumbered, the cabbie retreats to his cab.
One cop,  gun in hand, approaches the cab which is backing up. 
He empties his .38 caliber Smith and Wesson, hitting the cabbie twice before he ducks down.
The shooter proceeds to smash the cab driver’s window, starts beating the cabbie with the gun, and breaks  his nose.  
The cabbie backs up, turns, and drives to the hospital. 
The cop calls 911 for help.
Up to 20 police officers correctly race to the scene, fearing that a fellow officer was in dire trouble. The police call an ambulance for the two cops, and arrest the cabbie at the hospital where a blood test is ordered and  administered.
The results are negative.
The cop claims that his life was in danger.  
He says the cabbie was revving his engine in preparation to run him down.
The cab was a Prius…which doesn’t rev.
No blood test is ordered nor did fellow officers perform a sobriety test on the cop, who refused the doctor's request for blood and urine tests
The  medical staff enters notations that he smells of alcohol.  The attending physician’s  medical report states that patient is, "Slurring words at times with smell of alcohol on breath," and that he is sweating and had bloodshot eyes. The doctor’s report  refers  to him as,  "Hostile" and notes that his, "Psychiatric insight and judgment is impaired."
The shooter  later admits   to the district attorney  that  had up to ten drinks before the incident.
Internal affairs officers bring a pre-written statement to the hospital for the cabbie to sign. He has 2 bullets in his body and is on a morphine drip.  
His request for a lawyer is denied.
After being lied to that the statement clears him of responsibility, he signs it.

Where were all the good apples we hear about?

To read the full, ugly story, click below


Purple Haze said...

Is it just that there are more cameras and that more people are coming forward in this CCTV age, or are the police just engaging in more unethical activity in the 21st Century. Far too many real reports of police brutality are being witnessed every day. Like Lord Randall of yore, " I am sick at the heart, and fain would lie down." To quote my favorite band, The Grateful Dead, in a song they write at Altamont, called ' New Speedway Boogie,' " One way or another, one way or another. One way or another, this darkness got to fail."

quicksand said...

The problem you raise has been with us since probably the birth of a police force. It tends to work somewhat the same way here as well. One guy gets it wrong and others back him up. The problem is when a society is filled with guns things can easily get out of hand. Police have a dangerous job and they are frequently subject to great stress. Their lives are not without drama. And we know a lot about the police from cop shows. There are always cop shows on TV and the number of films portraying police corruption is legion. Google the subject and you will find lists including the top ten and the top fifty.

Police corruption for the public may not be what the police themselves would call police corruption. I don't know. But like any other organization there are ambitious police who want promotion and the desire to succeed can often override the niceties of a rule book. Look at my arrest record (I'll help you with yours if you help me with mine)! Look at my conviction rate! Look at my profile report. I'm a team player and don't rock the boat.

And where do these police come from? I don't know the answer to this question either but I am under the impression that a number of them come from the Army and we know what they have been doing for the last ten 13 years or so. Of equal interest is starting salaries for the police. That is a hard number to find. It is easy to find the starting salaries of teachers by state but much less so (I have failed at my first two tries) to find a list of starting salaries for police by state. Also starting salaries are not very different for police and teachers.

Do the less academic become police? Is that how it shakes out? Are police those who enjoy an adrenalin rush? And yet it is the police who are supposedly the layer of protection between society and the really nasty and/or evil people who would do it or us harm.

The system seems in some ways inherently flawed. There may be a number of people being asked to do things for which they are not properly trained or capable.
From Ed in England

I knew a kid here, met him shortly after arrival. He was the son, Roger, of friends of V's parents and V spent time with the family and was close to Wendy, Roger's older sister. The parents lived about an hour away and Roger attended a private boarding school near here. His parents sent him to the school because it offered a decent education to those not particularly academic. Roger ended up in the Metropolitan Police Department (MET) working in London. We saw Wendy several years after Roger began work and asked after him. She was somewhat shocked that he had become a racist. He never used to be.

So an organization (like the police or a fraternity) can have an ethos that infects those joining it. In this age of easy money it is very difficult to maintain principles within an organization. And now that the police are under a lot of scrutiny almost everywhere, recruitment is becoming a problem.

I have no sympathy for any malpractice of those holding public trust. I am shocked not just by the number of deaths that occur while people are in police custody but by the fact that statistics for that are not clear and easy to find.

I think the deaths and the public reaction to them are symptomatic of flaws within the America policing community. I don't think the blue wall is about to come down. It is there for the protection of the organization as well as the members of the organization. I don't know how you change that but reform will need to come from the top and how likely is that? Look at the history of whistle blowing in America. In America we have a habit of shooting the messenger, so we can return to business as usual.

quicksand said...

The previous comment is from Ed who lives in England.