Saturday, April 18, 2015

Sheepdogs and Wolves in Uniform, 2

Sexual misconduct is the second highest of all complaints nationwide against police officers, representing 9.3 percent in 2010, according to an unofficial study.

In 2010, 354 of the 618 complaints involved non consensual sexual acts, and over half of those involved were minors.

Earlier this month we reported on an officer in charge of a rape case who is accused of stalking and sexually harassing the victim.

Last month Oklahoma made headlines with three serial rapists in 3 weeks, all officers, as well as one police chief molesting children.

In July, a former New York Police Department officer convicted of planning to kidnap and rape women before killing and eating them was set to go free after a federal judge overturned his conviction.
(From article, "Former Cop Headed to Trial for Raping a Child While Other Officers Watched")

Continued from "Sheepdogs and Wolves in Uniform"

(Wikimedia Commons photo by Gunnar Ries)

Violent predators in uniform: we might call them wolves in sheepdogs' clothing. And deployment overseas gives them ample opportunity to act out their sickest fantasies while operating amid the chaos of war. 

The gun and the uniform provide the wolf with the power and the illusion of legitimacy he needs to get away with his crimes. Because of expediency or ignorance, his superiors may even find his service commendable.

When the wolf in uniform returns to civilian life, he has choices to make. If he continues his sociopathic behaviors as a civilian, he risks exposure, prison or even death. But one option remains open.

Most, if not all, police departments, give preference to hiring veterans. The violent, predatory vet thus has a better-than-average chance of gaining what he wants and needs most: power over the helpless wrapped in a blanket of legitimacy. In other words, society offers him a gun and a badge.

Col. Dave Grossman makes the point that sheepdogs gravitate toward careers in law enforcement. Sadly, it's only natural for wolves, as well.

Back in the 1970's, the movie Serpico highlighted the career of an honest cop who made his stand against corruption in the New York City Police Department. Nearly 80 now, Frank Serpico has written an article about the problem of criminal officers and the police culture that protects and nurtures them.

Serpico's article unfolds against the backdrop of the recent North Charleston, SC incident in which Officer Michael Slager shot Walter Scott eight times in the back, and then he dropped his Taser near the body to bolster his claim that Scott had wrested control of it from him.

The article makes some telling points:

If you think that what happened in North Charleston is a unique case, it is not. Only recently, in another case, a policewoman in Pennsylvania first Tasered a black man, then shot him twice in the back as he lay face down in the snow. She was chasing him for an expired parking sticker. There were five seconds between shots. She said she feared for her life. It was captured on her own Taser camera.

I’ve been saying this for a long time, ever since I spoke before the Knapp Commission investigating corruption in the NYPD more than 40 years ago: Unless we create an atmosphere where the crooked cop fears the honest cop, and not the other way around, the system will never change. Unless honesty is rewarded more often than corruption, the police will lose credibility altogether. I wrote a letter to President Bill Clinton in 1994 addressing this very issue, saying that honest cops have never been rewarded, and maybe there ought to be a medal for them. He wrote back, but nothing changed.

Now, in the era of citizen videotaping, police credibility is at stake as never before. If enough testi-lying is uncovered, then who is going to believe the police even when they are telling the truth? They will be seen as crying wolf.

Until now, the shoot-first-in-fear-of-my-life mantra has eliminated any cause for concern in the taking of life by police. When a civilian commits a crime, every nuance is looked at, the better to “throw the book at” the suspect. When cops err, it is the opposite reaction. Eyes are averted, aggravating circumstances are ignored. And now the public is learning about this every time a new videotape emerges that undermines the official police story.

There is only one solution: The good cops really have to step up, and the system needs to reward them, rather than punish them. (From article: "When Cops Cry Wolf", Politico Magazine)

Okay, what's the bottom line, here? I would like to see my fellow conservative Christians adopt the following principles and apply them in the way they react, think and speak about accusations of police violence.

1) Although not all police accused of brutality are guilty, neither are all innocent. Do not automatically take up a side when accusations surface.

2) We see enough corruption in the ranks of the police to know that they will lean much further toward justifying one of their own than bringing charges against him. Do not uncritically accept official statements that justify an officer's actions.

3) Recognize that, "With great power comes great responsibility." If anything, the powers granted to an officer should require higher standards of behavior than those imposed upon the average citizen (e.g.,  If a private citizen should burn for shooting a suspect in the back, the same should hold true for law enforcement -- perhaps more so.)

4) Commit yourself to the truth rather than opposition to the other end of the political spectrum. If the knee-jerk liberals automatically assume an officer's guilt, don't take the opposite position out of misplace loyalty to your party or your ideology. Don't fall into the trap of making each individual police act a political issue. It's an issue of truth and justice, not politics.

For further reading, I recommend Frank Serpico's article, "The Police are Still Out of Control".

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