The Monster That is Now Called Law Enforcement

(noon. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

The Jacksonville, Florida, Sheriff’s Department is now having to answer why five officers fired 42 rounds into a vehicle that had been carjacked. In the car when police fired at it was a 2 year-old toddler, a 7 year-old, and their mother. The toddler was hit twice, once in the arm and once in the upper torso, and, remains in critical condition.

“We had a very volatile situation,” Sheriff John Rutherford told the Florida Times Union. “I just don’t want to try to speculate on why they felt the need to shoot at the suspect while he was in the vehicle.”

I wouldn’t want to try and speculate, either, since there was NO REASON that an officer would think to fire at a vehicle that still held three innocent people.

What isn’t speculation is that law enforcement officers have turned into monsters, and, that this is the result of too many officers committing too many offenses without punishment.

 

In 2005, Seattle police officers tasered a pregnant woman after she refused to sign a traffic ticket, and, was placed under arrest for doing so.

But King County sheriff’s Sgt. Donald Davis, who works on the county’s Taser policy, said the use of force is a balancing act for law enforcement.

“It just doesn’t look good to the public,” he said.

Brooks’ run-in with police Nov. 23 came six months before Seattle adopted a new policy on Taser use that guides officers on how to deal with pregnant women, the very young, the very old and the infirm. When used on such subjects, the policy states, “the need to stop the behavior should clearly justify the potential for additional risks.”

“Obviously, (law enforcement agencies) don’t want to use a Taser on young children, pregnant woman or elderly people,” Davis said. “But if in your policy you deliberately exclude a segment of the population, then you have potentially closed off a tool that could have ended a confrontation.”

Sgt. Davis is correct, you don’t want to use a taser on young children, the elderly, or a pregnant woman, not because it doesn’t “look good to the public”, but, because an officer has no need to resort to a taser with these people.

In 2010, the Federal Appeals Court ruled that the officers were justified in using the taser on the pregnant woman.

A panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 Friday that the officers were justified in using force because of the threat that Brooks could have picked up her car keys off the floor, started the car and driven away erratically.

Remember, this was over a TRAFFIC TICKET, a misdemeanor offense of speeding that in many locations doesn’t even warrant the level of arrest without extraordinary circumstances. In many locations, if a person refuses to sign the ticket, the officer simply writes “refused to sign” in the signature block, tosses the individual’s copy into the car, and goes about his/her business. But, the Federal Circuit Court took a brave stand, just like many other courts and judges, in shielding the officers from any accountability, any responsibility, for turning a simple situation into a court case.

During my six years in law enforcement, I regularly talked to officers that stated they continually had physical confrontations with subjects. When I was able to witness the officers dealing with a person, I saw why; it was their own actions and words towards the individual that escalated the situation into one that required physical confrontation.

Officers today are not taught how to deal with people. They are simply taught that if people do not comply you must then make them comply. That is the extent of the training. They are “the law” and anyone who dares challenge them need to be taught their place. That is their mentality. Judges, however, are loath to rule against law enforcement when cases go before a court, as you see above. This propensity of judges to rule with law enforcement over the individual has its limits.

I once was in court, my normal traffic ticket day, waiting for my cases to be heard before the court, when an officer was having a DUI case heard before the court. The individual had hired a lawyer to defend him in the case. The judge, upon hearing the case, actually stated that, and I quote, “it was punishment enough that the man had spent thousands of dollars on a lawyer to defend him”, so, he wasn’t going to impose any penalty at all. Needless to say, every jaw of every law enforcement officer in court dropped simultaneously. Because a man was rich enough to afford a lawyer, he simply didn’t deserve any more punishment? But, yes, we had heard correctly. DUI defense law can be complicated and unreasonable just like any legal area, and it can start being complicated if there are more than one DUI offence, a 2nd dui in illinois can be a worse penalty than a 1st DUI offence committed. This sounds reasonable that the more times you commit an offence, the worse it should be, however in practice, injustice can exist.

In my six years “on the road”, I only had one situation in which I got into physical altercation with an individual. It was early morning and I had decided to walk around my “beat”. I heard an argument off in a nearby parking lot and decided to investigate. As I walked into the parking lot, I saw it was an argument between a male and female; he wanted her to come up to his apartment and she wanted to go home. As I drew closer, she told him, “you better watch out, here comes the police.” To which he replied, “I don’t give a f*ck about the police!” As I drew close to the couple, he actually launched himself at me. I hit him one time, knocking him three feet backwards.

Did I taser him? No. Did I beat him? No.

I looked at him and said, “that was the worst mistake you ever made. Now, we can talk, or, I can put a handcuff on one of your wrists and drag your ass across this parking lot until you are black and blue. Your choice.” Suddenly, he wanted to talk. She went home. He went home. No arrest. No fuss. No muss.

It can be argued that because I am a veteran, that I was in Iraq in 1991, I simply didn’t feel threatened to the point most officers do when confronted. Or, maybe it was that I simply learned early in my law enforcement career that your mouth can get you into, or out of, trouble. But, officer’s today are trained that the taser is their only resort to non-compliance. And, it is getting worse.

As a former law enforcement officer in South Carolina, I know the laws of the state. I also know how they are abused. I’ve witnessed it, and, I’ve been on the receiving end of it. But, I know things that most people don’t; I know the laws.

When I got into an argument with the lady at the counter while trying to pay the taxes on my motorcycle, I had no idea that a deputy was being called to respond. So, imagine my surprise when a deputy arrived, and, the first words out of his mouth were, “we arrest people here for that.” I immediately knew what he was implying; disorderly conduct. It is the “go to” for officers when they have nothing else to charge. But, he was put back onto his heals when I looked at him and replied, “let me guess, disorderly conduct, loud and boisterous in a public place?” Then I took HIM outside and flat told him, if he thought he could push that charge in court, go ahead, but, having on argument on my taxes when the lady told me I owned a 2000 motorcycle when I have paperwork at my residence that shows it to be a 1999 motorcycle isn’t disorderly conduct. But, the bigger picture is that the deputies own initial words would have prompted any other person to confrontation, and, the deputy would then would have gone straight to a physical confrontation. By knowing the law, and the elements of the law, I totally disarmed the deputy who was waiting for the confrontation he didn’t get.

Law enforcement officers today are, simply, out of control. It is going to get worse, unfortunately, as every worse abuse is condoned by the courts.

15 comments

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  1. in Charleston, who I knew was a cop. And, some snotty little kid who didn’t know he was a cop, started on about how he was going to get his gun and shoot said cop.

    The big cop, upon hearing that,  just jumped in his car and left. Ending the confrontation-no muss no fuss. I thought it was pretty cool.

    That’s really rare.

    Most of the cops one meets, go into it for the chance to beat on someone, unfortunately.

     

    • banger on March 30, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    I saw a lot more “attitude” of this kind after 9/11. But even before then it was seething beneath the surface. It is not limited to cops. I remember working with a visiting Chinese scholar on a project who had been a victim of the Cultural Revolution in China. We were talking of various issues between China and the U.S. (pre-9/11) and I told him the Chinese should be very careful how far they go with the U.S. and he kind of scoffed at that. I told him that if there were to be any incident that could be interpreted as a direct action against U.S. interests the Chinese would reap the whirlwind.

    There was, then as there is now an underlying fury (seen in tea baggers, for example) that is highly violent. The reaction to 9/11 which expressed this tendency perfectly as those that were largely responsible for the act knew very well. The week or two after 9/11 showed the media and other officials giddy with joy over what happened. It was one of the most hideous things I have ever witnessed in my life. People, even one of my best friends (an urbane and gentle Harvard grad) was riding around with an American flag and supported “revenge.”

    The cops you are talking about are just expressing what everyone else feels. If you look at our cultural preferences and massive amounts of violent “entertainment” and crude and brutal language present everywhere you will see what I mean.  This stuff isn’t neutral or harmless like many people believe. It provides a mythical framework for youth to follow.

    We are witnessing the playing out of William Golding’s book The Lord of the Flies. Those who have the “right” to use violence will use it as they do in the brutal and horrible way Americans fight wars — destroy a village not to save it but to kill one suspect who may harbor some evil thoughts about the U.S. Wars and military occupations that have very little value in strategic terms, in my view, but exist and persist to maintain enough tension and violence to insure the need for a “strong” military in perpetuity. That is, in the immortal words of Lee Iaccoca, “job one.”

    Most people in this country are not violent, yet–but the attitudes and tendencies of the tea-party angry has yet to be played out fully.

  2. I have never been arrested but have had a few interesting interactions.

    Twenty-five years ago I was in Goleta, CA, was new to the area, looking for an address.

    I saw a Police car parked in a parking lot with a cop inside. I pulled into the lot, parked maybe forty-fifty  feet behind the Police car.

    I got out and walked briskly over the the driver’s window, to ask the Cop how to get to the address, he was eating a sandwich or something. He first noticed me when I was right next to his open window. His hand immediately went to his holster, as I had surprised him. After an uncomfortable few seconds he helped me with directions.

    I learned a few things in this  sequence: never walk up to a cop in his car without allowing him to see you coming.

    That cop, if in the one and ten-thousand chance had shot me he could have said I approached in a threatening manner etc. and he would have been exonerated.

  3. … the description of what happened.

    BUT THE BANKS MUST NOT BE ROBBED, only doing the robbing!

    http://jacksonville.com/news/m


    Cooper and the two children were in a car at the Wendy’s drive-through on Friday afternoon when the suspect, whose identity has not yet been released, ran from a bank he had just robbed and carjacked the car by pushing Joann Cooper into the passenger seat of the Nissan she was driving, police said. One officer shot at the suspect just before he got into the car.

    As the suspect drove onto Baymeadows Road, four more officers working in teams of two shot at him until the car came to rest in the middle of the road and the suspect was dead.

    The car was hit at least 15 times in the windshield, hood, and passenger and driver’s side windows.

    The gunman did not discharge his gun, a .357 revolver he was armed with when he entered the Wachovia bank about 3 p.m. and committed a takeover-style robbery, police said.

    They knew there was at least one more person in the car because the cops took the first shot as he was still outside the car in the fast food waiting line.  Yet they continued to shoot, indescriminately,  at a moving vehicle.  

    Wrong place wrong time, too bad.  Moms should take their kids to lunch at more upscale establishments.  

    • asqv on March 30, 2010 at 11:36 pm

    Just this past week I ran across this site and spent some time watching the various videos. I had been to the ACLU site looking for related material for a friend.

    I’d be interested to know what you think of the advice and methods used to protect the few civil rights we still have.

  4. New poster, but long time fan of yours.  

    It is worse in Miami, due to the “Baptista” Cubans making up the rules as they please.  Full Patriot Act powers given to local cops as a gift from Bush on 9/24/2008.   Elected judgeships cost about $25K with a “good” name, like Kennedy or Cohen or Mendez.  

    Do you see the blue wall shielding the police from accountibility now putting the justice system behind it too?  Are the courts interested in justice or just protecting the cops?

  5. I agree, law enforcement has been out of control for quite some time now. There are quite a few good eggs out there, but it seems like more and more disappointing and disgusting situations where the law enforcement officer went to far. I want to see a concerted effort on a national level to retrain officers, and impose harsher consequences for using inappropriate force. Someone has to keep the power hungry cops in check.

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