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To Protect And Serve
Author: BobR    Date: 2010-07-14 12:43:16

The "official" motto of the police is to "protect and serve". With rare exception, the overwhelming majority of police officers do just that. They take their duty to the public seriously, and put their lives on the line every day keeping us safe, often for lousy pay. There are those few, however, that become cops for the wrong reasons, or become so jaded and frustrated in their jobs that they user their power, skills, and tools for harm instead of good. When that happens, it's a shocking betrayal of the public trust, and we the public rightfully demand that they be held accountable.

Lately, it seems that bad police behavior tends to involve tasers. Tasers were developed to assist police when a suspect was too strong and unruly to be safely subdued using traditional methods. However, it seems that in a lot of cases, the police are using them because they're lazy or sadistic. We have a thread of tazer-related stories over on the forum (unavailable at the moment); here's yet another story:
One officer was fired and another quit after a rural Georgia woman who called police to complain of a prowler was zapped repeatedly with a stun gun.

Ryan Smith of the Lumpkin Police Department has resigned and Tim Murphy, of Richland Police Department, was fired for using pepper spray on the woman, Janice Wells.

Wells, 57, says she feared a prowler was outside her Richland house. A minute-long dashboard video from Smith's patrol car shows the officer pulling up to assist another officer.
[...]
Authorities say the April 26 struggle began when Wells wouldn't tell police the name of an acquaintance who had been at her house. Lumpkin Police Chief Steven Ogle says the video is shocking.

Extraordinary circumstances will push people to do things they might not ordinarily do, whether it be good or bad. The flooding in NoLa after Katrina hit pushed some of the police over the edge. Six more officers were indicted for killing people on the bridge and trying to cover it up:
Four New Orleans police officers could face the death penalty after being accused of gunning down two unarmed people in the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in the latest twist for a corruption-plagued department that already faces several federal investigations.

The four officers were charged along with two others in a 27-count indictment unsealed Tuesday.
[...]
Five former New Orleans police officers already have pleaded guilty to helping cover up the shootings on the Danziger Bridge that left two men dead and four wounded just days after the August 2005 hurricane that devastated the city. In one instance, a mentally disabled man was allegedly shot in the back and stomped before he died.

Prosecutors say officers fabricated witness statements, falsified reports and planted a gun in an attempt to make it appear the shootings were justified. It was a shocking example of the violence and confusion that followed the deadly hurricane.

The case is one of several probes of alleged misconduct by New Orleans police officers that the Justice Department opened after the storm. Last month, five current or former officers were charged in the shooting death of 31-year-old Henry Glover, whose burned body turned up after Katrina.

Of course - the alternative to this is no police at all. Where would that leave us? We might find out in Oakland, CA. The Police Dept. there fired 80 officers and published a list of crimes it will no longer respond to:
The Oakland Police Department is feeling the burn of California's unending budget crisis, as 80 officers were laid off Tuesday night after negotiations between city and police union failed to reach an accord.

The department's chief had said in recent days that unless the city could meet the union's demands, officers would no longer respond in person to register sex offenders, or for reports of vehicle accidents, grand theft, identity theft, burglary, embezzlement, vandalism, stray animals and others.

Instead, victims in most non-emergency situations are being directed to file reports over the Internet. Police say the move will help them better focus on emergencies and violent crime.

So when your house gets broken into, and thousands of dollars of stuff gets stolen, just pull out your junior CSI kit and dust for fingerprints yourself.

On the other hand, a police officer in Australia apparently took the "to serve" part in the motto a little too literally, and was bumped from the force for opening bottles with an opener attached to his penis piercing:
He referred to it as his ''party trick'' - exposing his genital piercing, or opening a beer bottle with a bottle opener attached to it.

And police officer Sergeant Andrew Lawrance is certain no one was offended when he performed the trick to a small group of fellow officers and their wives at a Christmas party at Tommy's Chinese Restaurant in Yamba, egging him on.
[...]
One man, however, took offence: his ultimate boss, Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione, who wants Mr Lawrance gone from the force, saying he has lost confidence in him. He argued the offence was made worse by the fact that Mr Lawrance was one of the most senior officers at the party in December 2008.

Imagine having to explain THAT at your next job interview...

It's true these sensationalistic stories get all the press while the vast majority of police officers labor anonymously doing good things. I can say from personal experience that the DC Capitol police are top-notch and remain very restrained around all the protesting that goes on. They are friendly and helpful. Perhaps that's why these stories are so shocking - the contrast is that much more stark. Police officers often feel they need to protect that thin blue line when another officer does wrong, but they should also realize that bad behavior by a few taints them all. Protecting the few bad apples in their bushel does them no favors.

35 comments (Latest Comment: 07/15/2010 03:41:28 by BobR)
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