Well, At Least He’s Honest
(edited to add) Updates to this story linked at the end (/edited)
Sunil Dutta, a professor of homeland security at Colorado Tech University, an officer with the Los Angeles Police Department for 17 years, penned this piece.
Even though it might sound harsh and impolitic, here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you. Don’t argue with me, don’t call me names, don’t tell me that I can’t stop you, don’t say I’m a racist pig, don’t threaten that you’ll sue me and take away my badge. Don’t scream at me that you pay my salary, and don’t even think of aggressively walking towards me.
Which sort of directly contradicts what he says shortly thereafter:
And you don’t have to submit to an illegal stop or search. You can refuse consent to search your car or home if there’s no warrant (though a pat-down is still allowed if there is cause for suspicion). Always ask the officer whether you are under detention or are free to leave. Unless the officer has a legal basis to stop and search you, he or she must let you go. Finally, cops are legally prohibited from using excessive force: The moment a suspect submits and stops resisting, the officers must cease use of force.
So… do what the police officer tells you to do, unless the police officer is telling you to do something he doesn’t have a right to tell you to do. And then what do we do?
Do what the officer tells you to and it will end safely for both of you. We have a justice system in which you are presumed innocent; if a cop can do his or her job unmolested, that system can run its course. Later, you can ask for a supervisor, lodge a complaint or contact civil rights organizations if you believe your rights were violated. Feel free to sue the police! Just don’t challenge a cop during a stop.
Oh, do what the officer tells you to do anyway. The system will protect you. Lodge a complaint against the officer who you can identify readily, because of course they are wearing their badges so you can get their ID number. These police officers who arrested multiple members of the press, doused some of them with tear gas, and then corralled or scared the rest of them away from the story upon which they were attempting to report, removed civil rights observers… those guys, working for that system?
A system which now asking for the ability to turn off the Internet in multiple jurisdictions, making it even harder for the citizenry to know what’s actually going on without going through police channels, which report… hm, things that haven’t been verified or at the very least may be overstated a tad?
I think perhaps Officer Dutta might want to take off his badge, and his uniform, and go hang out in Ferguson for a while, just to see how long his faith in the system lasts when he’s not an agent of it any more. Or maybe grab a pot of coffee and watch this four hours of footage:
Real life is different. An average cop is always concerned with his or her safety and tries to control every encounter. That is how we are trained. While most citizens are courteous and law abiding, the subset of people we generally interact with everyday are not the genteel types. You don’t know what is in my mind when I stop you. Did I just get a radio call of a shooting moments ago? Am I looking for a murderer or an armed fugitive?
And the capstone sentence which points out the problem:
For you, this might be a “simple” traffic stop, for me each traffic stop is a potentially dangerous encounter.
And therein I think we have the reveal of the disconnect.
This police officer, armed with a gun, and a bulletproof vest, and an enormous amount of legal authority, and little practical oversight, regards every traffic stop as a potentially dangerous encounter.
Every traffic stop.
Perhaps we should start our retraining of the police with some lessons in Bayesian probability.
(edited to add) Commentor Dexter mentioned a video on Al Jazeera of a police officer threatening to physically assault a reporter and impound his video. That video:
Julian Sanchez adds some additional perspective… Isn’t “If you don’t want to get hurt, don’t challenge me” the “thug” attitude in a nutshell?.
That’s a video of a police officer armed with a rifle, pointing it at… well, just about everybody, saying, “I will fucking kill you”. The person recording the video then asks the officer for his name. “Go fuck yourself,” replies the officer.
Found via Deadspin.
The ACLU reports the officer shown in the Deadspin-linked video has been suspended.