When I Was Handcuffed, It Wasn’t A Racial Thing — It Was A Police Thing

“Whether you’re a pundit, a professor or the president, if you’re a black man you better know your place,” writes Keith Boykin in White Men Can’t Judge over at the Huffington Post, about the Henry Louis Gates arrest saga. I’d rephrase that to lose the words “black man” when dealing with the police. That’s because I’m a white guy who had that experience twice with our own local cops in Newport Beach. It wasn’t a racial thing that got me put in handcuffs; it was a “I’m a cop; you have no rights thing.”

I’ve read through the Gates stories, trying to get the facts straight before commenting. That’s hard to do so. All the facts aren’t out there. Gates sounds like he got pretty upset. I can sure understand that, given how the situation appears to have played out. His lawyer suggests that the police story isn’t what happened. I can sure understand that, as well. So for what it’s worth, how a white guy found himself in trouble for daring to question the police.

Let me say from the outset that I recognize police have a tough job. And I’m grateful for those who are out there putting themselves in harm’s way to protect people. But I also recognize we place limitations on the police for good reasons, because while we want our society to be policed, we don’t want it to be a police state. I’ll do some bigger conclusions at the end of this post, for those who don’t want to bother reading the nitty-gritty details about my two recent encounters.

From Traffic Ticket To Handcuffs

The first instance happened in May. I got stopped and cited, accused of going past a no entry sign. The police officer said little to me, simply did her walk around the car, then came back to say she was going to write me a ticket. I said I’d fight it. Didn’t scream that at her or anything like that. Next I know, after signing the ticket, she demanded my fingerprint.

What? I was perplexed. I’ve been licensed to drive in California for nearly 30 years. I’ve had maybe two tickets over that time, and in neither case was I required to give a fingerprint. I’d never heard of any of my friends remarking on this. But the officer decided that my signature did not match the “legal” signature on my license, so she needed my fingerprint. After all, I might try to go to court and say I wasn’t really in the case.

I hadn’t scrawled my signature. It was recognizable as virtually identical to that on my license. I was being hassled, as far as I was concerned. And I didn’t think the officer had a right to that fingerprint. I can get hardheaded about giving up rights.

She assured me that the state “owned” my fingerprint, she had every right to take it and would do so by force, if necessary. I responded, “I’d like to see you try.” Because I was honestly amazed and really was curious to see how the police were going to force me to give up a fingerprint that they seemed to have no right to take (and had cited no provision of the vehicle code).

The officer responded by calling for backup. I responded by sending my wife and two small children to get out of the car and walk the few remaining blocks home. This clearly wasn’t going to end quickly.

While we waited, I picked up my iPhone from the seat next to me, to take a picture. The officer told me I couldn’t make a phone call (clearly indicating she knew it was a phone, which is important later). I said I wasn’t going to make a call but that I was going to take a picture of the situation. At that point, she opened my car door and pulled me out. I didn’t resist this. She turned me around and placed handcuffs on me. I didn’t resist this. She sat me down on a curb, by which point I think a second officer had arrived.

Wow — from traffic ticket to handcuffed. From what I’ve read of the Gates situation, I was in the same frame of mind he was. What the hell was going on, and how did I wind up with a cop doing this to me? For failure to obey something that seemed both unreasonable and perhaps illegal.

And it got worse. The officer couldn’t get the print. That’s because, being a big baby at this point, I’d placed my thumb within my fist. She tried to free my left thumb apparently with her pen, judging by the pen-sized cuts she made to my hand. Then she gave up, and I knew the next step was probably going to be to take me to the police station under arrest. And rights or not, I’d had enough. I released my hand.

Well, annoying but done. She told me to lean against my car, in order to take my cuffs off. Why, I don’t know. I hadn’t threatened her physically. The sole resistance had been not to free my thumb, and rather than struggle further, I relented. I leaned against the car. This wasn’t good enough for her. So I stepped back and threw myself against the car, assuming she wasn’t going to be happy until I was flat out against it. She remarked, “I didn’t do that to you.” I replied, “I didn’t say you did.” I asked again for the cuffs to come off. She refused.

We then waited. She’d called a third officer. I asked why we were waiting. She responded, “I’ve forgotten how to use my key.” Shocked at such a response, I asked her, “Seriously, that’s your explanation, that’s what you’re to tell your sergeant?” She smirked, as said I could tell him what I wanted, if I thought he’d believe me.

I then shouted her explanation a couple of times and my disbelief over in, in hopes that someone other than the second officer would be a witness to it. I’d asked the second officer, by the way, what right she had to take my print. Without citing any law, he simply said she did, that there was a place on the back of the ticket for print.

Eventually, the sergeant came over. As with the second officer, no one first asked me about the situation. There was a long consultation with the officer who gave me the ticket. Then he came over to me. We had a civil discussion. I explained that I felt she had no right to take my print, nor did she have any reason to do so – that she simply wanted to, in my opinion, hassle me for suggesting I’d fight the ticket. I then left.

My neighbor, who arrived in the alley after I left, told me the sergeant then continued talking with her, apparently berating her for trying to take my print.

Later that evening, I went back to the police station. I wanted to know the exact law allowing for a thumbprint. I didn’t go to lodge a complaint. I never even mentioned the officer’s name. The sergeant who came out said that first he had to talk to the officer, which I found confusing. Either there’s a specific law that gives the right for a thumbprint during a traffic stop or there is not – and that’s what I asked about.

He returned after about 10 minutes. He told me that she felt she needed it now because I’d lost weight, so didn’t resemble my picture, and the mailing address on my license didn’t make the residence of my car, as well as her concern over the signature. She raised neither of these issues with me, at the time she tried to print me. He also said that she felt I was potentially hostile and so needed to be put in cuffs, as I had leant down to get something (my phone) under the seat. The implication is that the officer, who had stopped me with my wife and two children in the car – who watched me get my registration out of a center console that required me to actually put my hand out of view – who standing right at my window when I got my phone and told me not to make a call – now presumably thought I had a gun.

The sergeant also told me that she had the right to take a print, that technically a vehicle ticket is an arrest and release, and she can do this if she wanted.

Upon returning home, I found section 40500 of the California Vehicle Code:

Whenever a person is arrested for any violation of this code not declared to be a felony, or for a violation of an ordinance of a city or county relating to traffic offenses and he or she is not immediately taken before a magistrate, as provided in this chapter, the arresting officer shall prepare in triplicate a written notice to appear in court or before a person authorized to receive a deposit of bail, containing the name and address of the person, the license number of his or her vehicle, if any, the name and address, when available, of the registered owner or lessee of the vehicle, the offense charged and the time and place when and where he or she shall appear. If the arrestee does not have a driver’s license or other satisfactory evidence of identity in his or her possession, the officer may require the arrestee to place a right thumbprint, or a left thumbprint or fingerprint if the person has a missing or disfigured right thumb, on the notice to appear. Except for law enforcement purposes relating to the identity of the arrestee, no person or entity may sell, give away, allow the distribution of, include in a database, or create a database with, this print.

I complied exactly with the code. I did have a driver’s license in my possession. I presented it. She would have run a check and found it was valid. There was absolutely no reason, nor right as I see it in that vehicle code section, for her to demand the thumbprint.

Stops Signs Aren’t For Everyone

The second incident happened at the end of June. My wife and I were riding along the Balboa Boardwalk when we watched a police SUV just roll through the stop sign. No pause, nothing, just a cruise right through it.

I wasn’t happy. I’ve watched Newport Beach police act as if traffic control signs don’t apply to them on many occasions. They go through no entry signs. They don’t stop at the stop sign outside my house. They speed down our main boulevard. I’ve seriously considered making a YouTube video of NBPD traffic violation greatest hits. They do these things without sirens going and in situations that clearly do not seem to be emergencies.

It was also ironic. I’m on a city committee that looks at how to make the boardwalk safer. One of the major recommendations was better enforcement at the stop signs by the police. And here’s a police officer ignoring one.

I went after the officer. I rode my bike to his car and said he’d just gone through a stop sign. He seemed pretty taking aback. I think his words were something like “you’re kidding me, right.” I assume he couldn’t believe that anyone would question a police officer about their conduct. I asked who he was. He wouldn’t tell me. So I got off my bike, got out my phone and went to the back of the car to take a picture of the license. I then went back and am pretty sure I asked him again who he was. He refused, so I went to take a picture of him. At that point, he got out of the car, told me either I couldn’t take a picture or I’d better not take a picture. At this point, more people came around to witness what was going on. I think he said something else suggesting he was going to arrest me or something, though for what, I don’t know.

I decided to walk away. The plate was really enough to identify him (though keep in mind, the officer who wanted to fingerprint me eventually concocted all types of explanations about how devious people are with the police to assume other identities, so wanting the picture of the actual officer behind the wheel isn’t so crazy).

As I headed back home, he pulled back up to me. He then shouted out something to the effect of how about he gives me a ticket for running the stop sign. I was amazed. Seriously, he’s come back to hassle me? I also didn’t run the sign. If I had, there was a good chance he’d have hit me.

Getting home, I called the watch commander. She was very nice and very calm as watch commanders typically are (when I used to do the police beat for the LA Times, I talked to watch commanders all over Orange County all the time). She suggested that it was extraordinary for a police officer to be approached in the way I did. Asked if I sounded hostile (I said I’m sure I did; I was upset with him). Asked me to consider his frame of mind, that perhaps he was distracted by something on the radio or whatever when he went through the sign; then having me come up to him was so out of the ordinary that he probably was confused, threatened, rather than calming apologizing. And no, apparently when a police officer is asked to identify themselves, they don’t have to, it all depends on the situation. And yes, if they feel threatened, they should get out of their car and I guess get even more threatening.

That’s reasonable. I can totally accept it would have been far better for me to have quietly shot a picture of his plate, called him in and reported it and have been done with it. I can accept that perhaps he was taken aback to be confronted as he was.

But then again, no. His attitude was so similar to the confrontation I had with the previous officer to make me literally scared of the culture of the Newport Beach Police Department. The officer wasn’t scared or threatened. He was arrogant, as if he was amazed anyone would question anything he did.

We’re Not All The Enemy

My experiences have left me feeling like within my own city, the police view everyone as the enemy. That we’re all guilty until proven innocent.

I can understand how that attitude develops. Heck, from my criminal justice course in college, it’s apparently pretty common. Police, dealing all day with people who break laws, tend to develop attitudes that only other police can be trusted.

Here’s the thing. We’re not all lawbreakers, nor are the police perfect. We’ll stand behind our police for the hard job they do, but we also should demand that they admit when they’ve screwed up themselves rather than have a knee-jerk litany of excuses to defend themselves.


Comments

  1. says

    You should not go to the police dept to ask about the law. They enforce the law. They do what they’re told. They often don’t understand the basis for the enforcement guidelines. You can ask them about their enforcement regulations, but you should go to a lawyer to ask about the law, just as they do (the DA is a lawyer). That first cop citing you having changed your weight was a great clue — she apparently spent a lot of time preparing to defend herself in case there was trouble following your incident, and was probably coached on how to do that (by legal advisors you paid with your tax dollars).

    I feel for your first story. I would not have accepted it as you did, and I might have ended up beaten up. I’ve known cops socially and heard stories of cops driving “scumbags” to remote places and beating them, or even better, offering crime victims an opportunity to extract revenge on the “scumbag” while the cops provided security.

    I agree that I don’t see where race comes into this, but I do believe that if you scratch the surface of any of these issues you will uncover all sorts of racial energy on all sides, cops vs cops, citizens vs. cops, citizens vs. citizens, etc. Maybe that’s the only “news” worthy part, hence the focus?

    Name withheld to protect the innocent – LOL

  2. Name * says

    @”Name withheld to protect the innocent”

    Who from the government can we ask questions about laws without having to pay a lawyer?

  3. says

    I have no personal experience with the police in your city and country – but from what you write it doesn’t sound very different from what I’ve experienced with police in Denmark (where I was born and live) and that you can probably experience in civilized countries around the world. In short: Bad cops – or even entire bad departments.

    And you are also right that in many cases such bad cops harass people of any color or sex. I’ve had experiences similar to yours – and seen worse, too.

    But on top of this do also come a great deal of racist motivated bad behavior from some cops. In Denmark its not so much “black men” that are the target but more Muslims – especially Arabic Muslims.

    My point is that just because some bad cops harass all kinds of people do not justify or reduce the other problem with racist policemen. It comes on top of it.

    It’s bad and totally unacceptable to be harassed by policemen in any case – but I do think it’s even worse if you are singled out because of the color of your skin, sex or beliefs. We should off course fight both.

  4. Dan says

    Congratulations, Danny.

    No, make that, “Thank You, Danny.”

    If more Americans stood up for their rights, we would have a much better country. (And police officers ignoring traffic signs, without flashing their lights as a warning, is just dangerous to innocent drivers and pedestrians.)

    Sadly, we Americans have become sheep, keeping out heads down and just wanting to stay out of trouble. When the TSA confiscates our snow globes and x-rays our flip-flips, we just quietly shuffle along the line (even though we know that by treating security like a game they are endangering us all). And when phone companies turn over records to the government without a warrant, we say nothing and just continue to pay our monthly phone bills.

    The Americans of the Boston Tea Party generation stood up for what was right and built a great nation; the Americans of today meekly keep our heads down as that nation slips away.

    I am often as guilty of sheep-hood as anyone else (I take off my shoes at the airport like everyone else and just want to arrive at my destination without getting on any watch lists), so I have even more respect for people like Danny who still have the guts to act like Americans.

  5. John Doe says

    The Police deal with the lowest of the low. Thats the reason they give. They have to deal with everyone horribly, or they could be killed/shot/maimed. However, isn’t that a PART OF THE JOB? Isn’t that why they are paid? To risk their lives to keep the PUBLIC safe. There is no requirement to be part of the PUBLIC they are supposed to protect, even if you are the lowest criminal in the world. You are still the PUBLIC.
    However, the country has gone through an attack, and everyone now lives in fear of what MIGHT happen. Not what WILL happen, but MIGHT. So the cops have been given extraordinary powers these days, and are relishing in them. You are just lucky you weren’t tased. Or beaten to death. Or…..anything else.
    Simply because they can GET AWAY with it NOW.
    Because we gave up all our rights with the Signing of the Patriot Act, with the Illegal Activities of our Government, with the simple act of not having our representatives take the stand they were elected to take.
    Welcome to Amerika. First door on the left, one cross each.

  6. Name says

    7.030. Defendant’s Thumbprint
    a) The defendant’s thumbprint may be placed on the Notice to Appear in situations in which there is a question in the citing officer’s mind as to the true identity of the defendant. The court will then have the option of comparing thumbprints in those cases where the defendant alleges that another person has committed the cited offense.
    33
    Per Veh. Code, § 40500(a) and Pen. Code, § 853.6.

    Notice to Appear and Related Forms
    http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/forms/documents/trinst.pdf

  7. AJ says

    The police are the simply the largest gang that can operate in the open.

    Some of them are good and try to do a good job, the the bad ones more than make up for them. And I question how “good” a police officer is who doesn’t turn in the bad ones.

    We should pass a law that dashboard cams and personal recording equipment are standard for all police at all times, and that “losing” the cams or mic evidence is enough to cast severe doubt on the officer’s version of the arrest story. In many instances this would simply serve to reinforce the propriety of the arrest – actually helping the police.

  8. Anonymous says

    I’m the last person to agree with the rights that police officers “think” they have, but dude.. it sounds like your just taunting police officers

  9. Jacob says

    Maybe they took it too far, but, you’re not very smart for antagonizing them. They have a tough, sometimes dangerous job. You’re just one of those people looking for trouble so they have something to complain about.

  10. Michael Cook says

    People who become police officers generally do so because they want a level of respect they haven’t been able to get otherwise, I believe.

  11. says

    @name, the section you cite about requiring a thumbprint isn’t part of the vehicle code. It seems to be guidance about how ticket forms are designed and information that can be collected on them (for example, your social security number can’t be recorded). A thumbprint “may” be placed on the form, yes. That’s if a person’s identity is in question. Mine wasn’t. I’d provided a valid driver’s license exactly as required by the vehicle code, nor did the officer ever suggest that she doubted my identity in any way. She disputed that the signature matched (note the vehicle code doesn’t say that your “legal” signature has to match that on your license to the exact subjective demands of a police officer). She wanted a thumbprint originally because she decided I might try to say I didn’t actually sign the form. It was stupid. I was driving a car registered in my name — the signatures were virtually identical. No court was going to believe if I tried to say it wasn’t me behind the wheel. But that’s regardless — the vehicle code doesn’t say “& take a thumbprint if you think the scumbag driver will try to pretend they weren’t driving.” It says they can take one if someone doesn’t have a valid driver’s license.

    Let me also say that if the vehicle code required everyone to be fingerprinted as a matter of routine, as a backup proof of identity, I wouldn’t have an issue with that. But that’s not what’s currently required. Nor is fingerprinting commonly done. I have absolutely no doubt that it’s an extraordinary situation where someone is issued a ticket, presents a valid ID and then is also asked to provide a fingerprint. But it’s also hard to communicate the attitude of smugness the officer had when she demanded that. To me, it really was about trying to get a little extra niggle in.

  12. says

    @Anonymous and @Jacob, in the second case, agreed. I shouldn’t have approached the officer or directly accused him of running the stop sign. I should have just taken his license plate, called it in and left it at that. Nothing would have happened, of course — but still, it was clearly unwise to approach him regardless of whether it was legal, within my rights, etc.

    In the first case, no, I was not taunting the officer nor looking for something to complain about. I had better things to do. I got stopped and issued a ticket, which is not uncommon for drivers. I signed my ticket. I stated I’d fight it. Not rudely. Not in an in-your-face way. Just to put it out there that I didn’t think it would hold up, in hopes the officer might reconsider it before issuing it (which is also not uncommon). I signed my ticket in a straight-forward manner. I didn’t refused to sign, scrawl on the ticket, bunch it up and toss it on my seat or anything like that. I just wanted to get on my way.

    The fingerprint thing came out of the blue, and the officer made her tough job harder by going through that unnecessary step. She didn’t need it, probably didn’t have a right to it, but by demanding it, she wasted more of her time and the time of two other officers. I found the entire thing ridiculous — and when it was clear it would just further escalated, I gave up my print rather than stand on principle.

    What irritates me more than anything was the attitude both officers exhibited. “I forgot how to use my handcuff key” or “Are you kidding?” from the second officer about running the sign. In both cases, they exhibited an attitude of being above others, or that they could say or do anything they wanted.

    I live in a tourist city. We have lots of people who come in from out of town. Lots of encounters with those people. Officers interacting with them with that type of attitude, much less with citizens of the city, are lawsuits waiting to happen. And when those lawsuits happen, it’s me, as a taxpayer of my city, who is footing the bill.

  13. Dan says

    I wish I could say that my own tourist city (Atlanta) were any better, but sadly, we may be worse:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1539148/Historian-pinned-to-ground-by-US-police-and-beaten-for-jaywalking.html

    As an additional comment, during my time working in a District Attorney’s office in North Carolina, I worked with many police officers, and there were — by their own admission — two distinctly different types of cop in this respect: There were officers who cared more about controlling the situation, by avoiding anything which might provoke an unnecessary escalation of tension (even if it sometimes meant being polite to a possible criminal); and officers who cared more about not “losing face,” even if it sometimes provoked a hostile confrontation which might otherwise have been avoided. The first type of officer realized that if being polite to a suspect encouraged cooperation rather than resistance, he wasn’t really losing face after all; in fact, he was keeping control of the situation. (And as a side benefit, he often went home at the end of his shift without having been scratched, kicked, or spit on.) The second type of officer appeared to relish confrontations, almost for their own sake, and seemed to enjoy the bragging rights that came with being kicked, scratched, or spit on.

    Naturally, every police-civilian interaction is different, and there are definitely many times when a police officer DOES need to project power to remain safe and control the situation. But the good cops recognize that each situation is different, and adjust their approach to get the best result; the bad cops just like to act tough in all encounters, whatever the consequences may be.

    (And it seems like one of those tough guys is about to have a beer at the White House.)

  14. says

    I don’t agree with Jacob, Anonymous, or Steve, at all. If police officers can’t deal with more or less reasonable confrontation from law-abiding citizens, how will they ever handle confrontations with dangerous criminals? Police exist to serve and protect the public, not other police. For officers to harass and/or ignore the feedback of citizens–who are, essentially, their bosses–is unacceptable. Additionally, understanding the law seems like a clear prerequisite to enforcing it. Maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have officers go through a year or two of law school before donning a badge.

  15. says

    I also have witnessed police officers who lost their temper and roughed up people who challenged their authority. I saw a guy who was high on something start kicking a box across a street in New Haven when I was at Yale. A few styrofoam bits flew out of the box as the guy kicked the box across the street. A cop drives up jumps out and yells at him ” what do you think you are doing ? ” The guy is startled, confused, and does not respond. The officer then proceeds to throw him down on the street trys to handcuff him and then he starts to resist. The cop calls in some code for officer in distress and 5 more police cars appear even driving the wrong way on one way streets to appear at the scene in minutes. The officer starts uses his billy club and blood is flowing from the guy’s head. The other officers arrive see the guy limp under the cop and stand around watching as he drags him up and throws hi on the hood of a cruiser with blood dripping down the white hood of the car. I was shocked by the amount of force used on such a minor transgression. In my experience even with a large crowd of people witnessing an incident the police officers just threatened to arrest anyone who spoke out against what they were witnessing.The threat of arrest legitimate or not seemed to cause most witnesses to back off and cease yelling out ” police brutality ” etc. . I decide to back off and try file a report about police misconduct. The police switchboard directed me several times to a voicemail box that was full and would not accept recordings. They refused to share any information about the guy who apparently was arrested for assaulting a police officer and disorderly conduct. I was so upset I called the Master at Davenport at Yale to see if he could help me file some kind of report that might make a difference for the guys case. With some help I got a report filed with the New Haven PD and the guy case was dismissed but the officer received no official reprimand. I now believe that citizen journalism as you are sharing and more powerfully video on Youtube can make a difference in exposing out of control police behavior. Thanks for taking a stand and hope you or your wife can get some video with a Iphone 3gs or another device next time.

    PS
    Years ago I remember seeing NBPD officers with radar guns giving tickets to bikes and skaters on the boardwalk in Newport Beach for speeding and hearing them hassle people if they did not have a drivers license on them when they got their “speeding ticket”

  16. says

    I say good for you, it’s not easy to stand up for your rights in a situation like the traffic ticket. With the stop sign you’re right you could have approached it differently, but it’s hard to have that perspective in the heat of the moment. Of course that applies to the police too, but as civil servants they have an obligation to maintain certain standards of conduct.

  17. Anonymous says

    If you’ve read the Patriot Act we have no rights. I’ll share several recent stories to let you know how far down the road to Police State we already are:

    1) A friend was stopped, handcuffed and threatened with arrest for wearing a backpack while walking to the grocery store. He is a white, male, and very passive type of guy. He explained it was empty and he needed it to carry groceries home in. They finally let him go.

    2) A friend of mine who is a fireman and happens to be black was stopped while driving through a small town known to be a speed trap and asked for license, registration and proof of insurance. Even though he immediately produced them the Officer had already written no license and no insurance on the ticket and said it was too late to remove them. He cited my friend for following too close. There were no vehicles in front of him. He started to object and immediately realized that since he was a smart black man that would be unwise. When he checked into contesting the charges he found out he would have to put up $50 per charge – or pay a fine of about $100. Knowing he was unlikely to prevail in court he paid the fine. I lived there and know he was correct. Good decision.

    3) A friend was walking between a convenience store on a corner and the adjacent strip mall when stopped and told that walking was not allowed. When asked for a license she replied she wasn’t carrying one because she wasn’t driving. A second and then a third police car arrived. When they couldn’t immediately find a record of the name she gave they handcuffed her. Finally after they looked it up by the d/l number they let her go. It takes THREE police cars to detain a woman over 50, 5’2″, under 125 pounds carrying nothing in her hands? It is illegal to walk in a business area where there are stores?

    She asked around and found many people who had been stopped and threatened with either arrest or being detained for mental observation because they were walking. (If you have insurance and no means of paying for assistance you may be held until it runs out.)

    There are so many things the average person does not hear about that show the U.S. is no longer a free country. It never was really but it was a lot freer in days gone by and it is on the way to being a lot worse than it is now. We only have the illusion of freedom and a lot less than we realize.

  18. slappy scheckstein says

    lots of cops are sociopaths and bullies who go in to police work in order to wield power over people legally. sad but true

  19. Mark says

    Danny – I’m glad you are willing to take on the police. They can’t bust everybody for “disorderly conduct” and the more they do, the more the charges get dropped, the more heat they take, and the less they can trample our rights.

    I consider myself lucky that I haven’t had a negative encounter with a cop in almost 20 years. It sure helps to be a white homeowner…But any of us can be subject to arbitrary arrest at any time.

  20. mac says

    You sound like a spoiled all american brat and you need to get out in the world a little bit and find out what’s really going on…only in america would you not have suffered really serious consequences for your childish smart ass behavior.

  21. the Dude says

    The best explanation I’ve ever heard for the modern cop’s bad attitude is the use of the whole “war on” thing: it makes them think they’re soldiers in hostile territory and everyone is a potential enemy.

    I get that things are “dangerous” but cops make it worse for themselves with their behavior: living in LA I can tell you that everyone hates/fears/avoids cops and everyone seems to have a story of bad police behavior. I learned this lesson when I first moved to LA and saw them hassling some kids on the Sunset Strip: the cops were searching their bags on the back of the patrol car and when they were done the just knocked the back and its contents into the gutter and told the kids to clean it up before they cited them for littering. I was horrified but there were 3 of them and just me and 2 hassled teens.

  22. Dan says

    You sound like a spoiled all american brat and you need to get out in the world a little bit and find out what’s really going on…only in america would you not have suffered really serious consequences for your childish smart ass behavior.

    You’re right… we Americans are “spoiled brats”… spoiled in the sense that we believe human dignity to be a natural right.

    The fact that people around the world — tragically — have even less rights than Americans does not diminish the importance of standing up for our individual rights and dignity.

    You could just as easily have said that the Bostonians in the 1700′s who objected to oppressive British policies were “spoiled brats.” I can hear you now: “Just pay your darn Tea Tax and be glad they’re not burning you at the stake.” But America was built on people who believed in justice, fairness, and liberty. It is the strength of America. Or rather, it was.

    More Americans should stand up for the rights of the innocent, law-abiding citizen. If we did, maybe –just maybe — we could once again be an inspiration for those people around the world who have no rights at all. We have come a long a long way from that ideal… but it is still an ideal worth fighting for.

  23. says

    Mac, I lived in Britain for 13 years. Police there are much, much different. Suffice to say, I wouldn’t have suffered serious consequences if only for the reason being that the police are far less antagonistic to people. Perhaps because they’re not afraid of being shot.

  24. says

    Danny, it’s funny you mention the UK. I was just in York, and I watched the police arrest a middle-aged man for shoplifting. He was obviously a criminal, but just as obviously not a violent threat. They treated him with courtesy, even while putting him in the back of their police car. No handcuffs, no aggressive tactics. Their response was proportional and appropriate to the situation. Yes, they arrested him and took him away. But in America, this 55-year-old shoplifter would have been spread-eagled on the ground in restraints because the cops felt the need to “be tough.”

  25. cejaxon says

    One thing that seems to get left out in commentary about police behavior is that bullying isn’t good for the officers themselves. A cop’s life can depend on his/er ability to almost immediately & accurately determine who is a threat & who is not. Allowing themselves to resort to bullying tactics automatically is a kind of dangerous laziness or lack of self-discipline that can cause them harm (not to mention the rest of us). For their own sakes, they need to try to meet a higher standard.

  26. says

    Danny

    The thing I have been saying for 30 years is that the police define the world as “us” and “them”. My community of comfortable upper middle class white people go along with this because they think “us” means law abiding citizens and “them” means criminals, and under those circumstances are willing to excuse some cutting of corners. The problem is that for cops, “us” means cops and “them” means everybody else.

    It is sad but it seems to take a personal experience for most people to realize the truth. I have seen the light bulb go off for lawyers stopped without cause, engineers invasively strip searched on a fishing expedition, teenaged kids riding bicycles and getting harassed.

    @Dan
    You are right on point with this statement
    “and there were — by their own admission — two distinctly different types of cop in this respect: There were officers who cared more about controlling the situation, by avoiding anything which might provoke an unnecessary escalation of tension (even if it sometimes meant being polite to a possible criminal); and officers who cared more about not “losing face,” even if it sometimes provoked a hostile confrontation which might otherwise have been avoided.”
    Unfortunately I think there are more of the latter than the former. Most of it is attributable to the lure of the position that attracts bullies. Some is caused by the inevitable disillusionment from dealing with the dregs of society.

    The other shibboleth that everyone observes is the “it is such a dangerous job and they are so underpaid.” which are both typically untrue. Construction work, farming, logging, fire fighting are all much more dangerous and also typically pay less. Where I live cops typically make about $125K including “paid duty” which is another shameful story. Cops here take it easy on their shift so that they have the energy to work overtime after hours on mandated security duties.

    We (generally) pay cops well. We certainly give them power and respect. We have a right to expect a little good judgement.

    @ Anonymous and Jacob
    You are wrong. Thanks for encouraging chickenshit subservience to abuse of a position of authority granted by the people.

    @Steve
    Thanks for being part of the problem.

    @Kerry
    Thanks for being part of the solution.

    @slappy scheckstein
    Precisely. Weed them out. Understandable in towns like New Orleans where they don’t pay enough to attract and retain quality candidates. What is the excuse for the rest of the world?

  27. Hmmm says

    I lived in San Francisco for 7 years. I’m a caucasian, white-collar female who generally has no interactions with cops.

    While in SF, I was pulled over numerous times on what had to be “check out” stops (no reason for pulling me over, then the cop/s try to make flirty small talk as they check out your personal info, waste my time, etc).

    I had my apt burglarized and when the cops came, their treatment was unbelievably bad — turns out they found out right away the person who happened to have the master key to my apt that afternoon was a San Francisco COP – the son of my landlord – and the head of the cops’ baseball league (?!!). (NOT caucasian and not black, just for the record) Ever imagine trying to take them on? We gave up.

    When my car was keyed with a huge “MS-13″ (violent latino gang) on the hood (while parked at Staples) and I tried to file a police report, the cop at Richmond station blamed me, saying I “must have done something” to make the gang members mad, and he wouldn’t let me file a report. (?! I’m not aware I ever encountered a gang member, and had no altercation with anyone that day). He instead instructed me to go to some guy’s body shop and he’d “fix it” the next day (no doubt a buddy of his).

    I grew to hate the cops in San Francisco. I was harassed and not helped and accused of ridiculous things. And I’m not black. It doesn’t matter – it’s the cop culture. I don’t know how you end it — I choose to limit my interactions with police to zero.

  28. white prof says

    My one experience with the police was a nightmare. I was a white professor at the local college in a hick town at the time. I dropped the lease of one of my dogs, he walked about 5 yards and I picked it up again. No harm except the town dog catcher saw it. I had no ID on me at the time since I had walked to the park from my house. The dog catcher called a cop. He handcuffed me, had the dog catcher pick up my two dogs and took me to the police station where I was held for 2 1/2 hours. I was threatened with being booked and sent to jail for not having an ID and letting my dog run loose! The captain even took out a town code book and told me he was within his rights to do just about anything to me. I asked him about practicing law without a license. That got me another few minutes in handcuffs. After 2 1/2 hours, I was let go to walk the 3 miles back to my house along a highway. I was given a ticket for dog at large.

    When my case came up before the municipal judge, three cops were there to testify that I was the biggest criminal they had encountered for a long time. They lied repeatedly–on a dog lease case and under oath! (When I caught one of them in a lie, the judge’s response was: “Well, everybody lies.”) What are these people like in trials where real crimes have been committed? While waiting for my case to come up, the judge had let go a case where a pitbull dog chased a number of people in the park. She also sent a guy to jail for 10 days that spoke no English. She had her words interpreted by the interpreter, but his words were not. He was simply not allowed to defend himself (and he looked a little drunk). The real American legal system in action.

    My dogs had never chased or threatened anyone. I was fined $90 so the cop bullies could show they got something out of the deal. $90 for dropping a lease and having no ID.

    Most Americans have no idea how bad cops can be until it happens to them. Up until that point, most people simply assume the other guy is always wrong and the cops are always right. The police should not act like they are an occupying army of thugs. I grew up listening to first hand accounts of what happened to Jews in Nazi Germany. I was taught very early in life that a healthy dislike for thug tactics by the police is not a bad thing and is essential if liberties are prized. The problem in today is that liberties are not prized by enough of us. When that happens, thug cops will always be there to take advantage.

  29. William says

    Personally, I have a lot of respect for what cops do, and I don’t think I’ve ever been ill treated by one. But this notion, expressed by some of the commenters here, that “contempt of cop” is somehow a crime on its own is the purest bullshit.

    Thanks, Danny, both for standing up for the rights we all share, and for documenting your stories so clearly.

  30. rjp3 says

    Little Hitlers are EVERYWHERE and they are impotent and have no power – so they support police abuse as they feel they are part of the police state by supporting it.

    People are sick everywhere — and the Cambridge cop that arreseted Gates and lied on the police report to say he spoke to a witness (he didnt) that said she saw “two black men” (she didnt) will have support to the day he dies — Little Hitlers love a police state. Esp poor undereducated people and those who gather power by playing to them.

  31. Gus says

    No, race isn’t the only factor. The job attracts authoritarians who love to assert that authority aggressively. However, most cops are indeed more likely to act aggressively toward minorities. That’s pretty obvious if you’ve ever lived or worked in a largely minority community.

  32. karl says

    You’ve hit on a pet peeve of mine: “The sergeant also told me that she had the right to take a print.” Police (as representatives of the state) do not have “the right” to do anything in an official capacity — the have the legal power. States have powers, not rights; rights belong to the people.

    In our federal system there are no “states’ rights” issues, only disputes over jurisdiction — that is, over competing powers. The “states’ rights” frame helps promote an expansion of state power in the popular consciousness (after all, the term was most often used to justify the states’ right to oppress); if more people realized this, they might stop using the phrase.

  33. Mr. Wolfhelm says

    Like Danny, I have approached police officers who have flagrantly violated traffic laws to ask them if they were aware of it and what laws allowed them such freedom to ignore the laws that applied to all of us

    Let’s be honest. It’s an element of white privilege. I don’t know any black people — not friends, not colleagues, not students — who who would ever do such a thing. Of course, I don’t know many white people who would, either. But I certainly believe that a disproportionate fraction of those who would are white. I and certainly believe that all people should be equally free do so. Law enforcement officers should not be above the law, should not act like the are above the law, and should not believe they are above the law.

    We should honestly acknowledge the issues that permeate our police corps.

    For example, in routine matter like traffic court, officers regularly lie. Months after a traffic stop, though they have made scores of stops in that time, and likely at least a dozen on the day of the stop in question, they swear to details of the stop that were not in their written records or notes. Meanwhile, citizens for whom it was their only close interaction with a law enforcement officer in years, often give contradictory testimony. Yes, the accused testimony is going to be self-serving, but why should the officer’s testimony have any credibility whatsoever? And yet, the officers’ testimony are generally believed and the the system thereby encourages officers to lie about the memories and their certainty, even in matters with such small consequences. What does that presage about their behavior in more significant matters?

    Every profession has its ego, and its sources of pride and self-respect. For the police, a major element of this is the chance that they might be shot at, injured and/or killed while in the line of duty. While far from the most dangerous of jobs, theirs is one of few whose officials duties *can* put them in such harms’ way. It is rightly a source of pride that are willing engage in such work. However, the chance of this actually occurring is incredibly remote. How often have we heard from officers, “I’ve never had to draw my gun” or “I’ve never had to fire my weapon”? And so, the reality-based mythology of the job is a source of pride, but is so played up — out of proportion with reality — that they feel more in danger than they ought to. This only exacerbates their us vs. them view of their role in society — to everyone’s detriment. A view that leads them to escalate situations, to treat civilians as criminals and makes it all the more likely that they will be will offended by those who legally question their authority.

    The fact that they *could* be in such harm’s way and therefore need to immediate and unthinking support of their colleagues creates another problem. They cannot offend their colleagues or give them any cause to second guess or doubt whether they should support each other, even the most dangerous of situations. This means that they back each other up, especially in front of civilians. The sergeant might have berated the officer for demanding the fingerprint, but he did not do it where Danny could hear it. A peer would just about never take the civilian’s side in an argument with a officer, regardless of the situation. At best, they’ll stand silent, and at worst they’ll join in. Because when there is a confrontation multiple other officers are called to the scene, it only take a small minority of officers to be jerks (or worse) for the entire force to be put in a position where the public sees them backing up the abusive officers. If something goes to court, the need to back up their colleagues is all the greater for it publicness.

    I know of a recent situation where the the arresting officers wrote his report in a way that backed up his colleague, but it appears that in he did what he could with the ADA to minimize the charges actually filed, and then to get them dismissed later. That satisfied his need to made clear to his fellow officers that he would support them, while minimizing harm to the civilian. Seems like a good compromise, right? But what did it actually cost the civilian? A night in jail, an arrest on her record, the thousands of dollars for an attorney, and untold stress/emotional distress. All because his fellow officer lost his temper and unnecessarily laid his hands on a civilian.

    How should that civilian view the arresting officer? With gratitude? With contempt? With rage? How should that civilian view the entire police force and its culture?

    And how should the rest of us?

  34. Hmmm says

    Mr. Wolfhelm – I find your post shocking. “It’s an element of white privilege”?! Are you aware that cops from non-white backgrounds may act in such manners also? Are you aware that in some towns and cities, many of the cops are non-white? San Francisco PD has its own Asian-American little mafia-type thing going on.

    Please – you’re ascribing way too much to race.

    Police are given ultimate authority — they need it in many situations — but as with anyone given ultimate authority (from cops on up to dictators the world over), some abuse it.

    That’s all — tone down your racism, because at this point, what you’re spewing IS racism.

  35. Mr. Wolfhelm says

    Hmmm,

    You entirely misunderstand my point.

    That I feel that I can approach police officers to challenge them in such situations is an example of white privilege.

    The officers’ behavior is an example of police misconduct, not white privilege.

  36. Hmmm says

    I’m caucasian and it has never occurred to me to tell a cop he’s breaking a traffic law (and they do it often, I think that’s just cop privilege, really). I cannot imagine what would drive me to confront a cop and accuse him/her of breaking a traffic law — I can only imagine the reaction I might get, whether I’m white, black, purple or blue.
    Sorry – it really isn’t about white privilege, in my mind, and saying it is is only creating divisions where there are none to imply that white people feel comfortable calling cops out on their behavior but blacks don’t.

  37. says

    A large percentage of cops are thugs. Once a thug, always a thug.

    Every time a thug cop fucks over a citizen, that’s one more citizen that won’t lift a finger to help the police in any way; and won’t call them ever again.

    No wonder no one wants to “get involved” let alone testify against criminals!

  38. Becky in Indiana says

    Thank you for bringing to light that we are not always the enemy!

    Police need to pick and choose their battles just like the rest of us…

    Back in the day I was pulled over when I hit an ice patch while making a left turn so my turn signal switched off as I was turning. The officer held me over 30 minutes until I was out past curfew then he had the nerve to threaten to take me to juvenile hall for being out so late. This was after he called 3 back up squad cars to arrive before he even got out of his car and then searched the vehicle. I gently reminded him of what time it was when he pulled me over (which was also written on the ticket) and that I was 1 mile from home. In my case, I had Grateful Dead stickers on my car so I think there was some other profiling going on as well…

    I have some great cop friends that don’t do this but it only takes one bad apple…

  39. Anon E. Mouse says

    Although my comment is not directly related to the post or comments, I find it really funny that the Google ads at the bottom of this post are all for Police Degree, Police Academy and Police Job Training.

    Maybe it would be worthwhile to reach out to these advertisers so the next crop of cops do better… Just sayin’ :-)

  40. Mr. Wolfhelm says

    Hmmm,

    You seem to be trying really hard to deny that there is any racial component to the interactions between the police and civilian, so hard that you are skipping over what I actually wrote.

    I was quite clear when I wrote that while Danny and myself have approached police officers for violating the law, “I don’t know many white people who would.” The fact that you, “cannot imagine what would drive me to confront a cop and accuse him/her of breaking a traffic law” does not actually contradict or undermine my point, or even suggest that I need to change how I presented it. I understand that few people of any race/ethnicity/skin pigmentation would do such a thing, as I wrote.

    However, the only people I know who would consider doing such a thing are all white. Can you address that point? Can you actually address what I wrote?

    You see, I was trying to connect claim in the title, “it wasn’t a racial thing,” to an aspect of the issue that I do not think he is addressing. I do not question his allegations that the police treat everyone like that, and not just people with dark skin. However, I think that his own willingness to be so assertive with the police — entirely in accordance with his rights as a person and citizen — is reflective of his own raising and experiences. I think that had he been raised with darker skin that he would have been taught differently (both explicitly and implicitly) and been treated differently from time to time.

    Danny willingness — even desire — to confront police officers who violate the law in these casual ways is quite uncommon, no question. That you do not have the moral courage or the sheer stupidity (I’m not sure which one) to do such a thing does not mean that his and my willingness is unconnected from our status as white people.

  41. Hmmm says

    I think gross generalizations are not helpful, and likely not true.

    I have no idea if more white people would be willing to confront police than black, Asian, Latino, mixed-race, Native American, etc. people.

    No one can know. Not even you. It’s all contextual, and based on individual personalities.

    I’m not trying to avoid racial issues, but I think you’re trying to create them. Of course, peoples’ past treatment by police influence their future actions around them — but I know very few people, including caucasians, who would confront a cop and accuse him of violating a traffic law. And I know many people of every hue and color who are taught to treat police deferentially and do what they say – it’s just part of an upbringing in many areas.

    If you want to press your apparent point and talk about white privilege and how white people are more likely to confront police than people with darker skin, go ahead. It’s just too far out there to matter.

  42. Hmmm says

    Addendum to Mr. Wolfhelm — I think not confronting police when they commit a traffic violation isn’t a matter of sheer stupidity or moral courage — it just doesn’t matter in any case that I’ve witnessed. Does not matter.

    For the record, I’ve never seen anyone confront a cop for a traffic violation. Really. Don’t we all have better things to do?

    Just by your name calling, it’s clear you’re probably a pretty confrontational person.

    Maybe you just have an authority problem.

  43. says

    Mr Wolfhelm, perhaps you perceive it that a white person might not hesitate to challenge a police officer because they feel less worried race will be used against them. But maybe it’s really more the case that you wouldn’t hesitate to challenge a police officer simply because you’re not commonly hassled by them?

    If you’re a white person who’s routinely finding themselves being troubled by police, I think you’d avoid confronting them just as much as someone of any other race.

    When I look at the Gates case, fair to say, I don’t think he’s recently been hassled much by the police. I’m not saying he’s never been. Maybe he has. But I get the impression he was astounded to be questioned and no reason not to push back, since he might not have ever encountered how the police themselves might push back.

    Again, I could be completely off the mark here. But I can say, my own experiences have left me not wanting to get into a conflict. I certainly didn’t seek one out the first time. I simply questioned the legality of something I was asked to do after signing my ticket and found myself falling into a situation that amazed me.

    In the second case, if I had to do it again, I would have just called it in. It might have been ignored, but at least I’d have gotten it on the record and without the complication of the police falling back on the “oh, were you hostile etc.”

    Of course, my fear in all this is that if you don’t speak up, if others don’t speak up, then abuses don’t get curbed. Personally, I’ll hope that the ability to better record our daily lives will make stories from citizens about police abuses more believable. Consider the audio recording from this person stopped by the TSA:

    http://blog.aclu.org/2009/06/18/aclu-sues-tsa-for-unlawful-detention-of-ron-pauls-campaign-for-liberty-treasurer/

    I’d also like to say again that I’m not anti-police. I think most police are good people, doing a hard job and encountering hassles they’d rather avoid. I like the remark above about the good ones understanding how to avoid trouble and still do their jobs.

    But I am concerned that there might be a tendency among forces to always cover each other regardless — which is a short-sighted defensive move. They engender more trust and less hassle with citizens when we have faith that our police are acting properly.

  44. Mr. Wolfhelm says

    Danny,

    I agree with just about everything you just wrote. Most especially your concern about what happens when law abiding citizens do not speak up against police abuses.

    There are a few minor places in which we might differ, even if we do not strongly disagree. For example, I think that those of darker skin are more likely to be explicitly warned and to have seen ample evidence to support the warning that they should make especially sure to be deferential to the police in all interactions with them. I think that morally courageous /colossally foolish people like you and I are more likely to have had an emphasis on law and justice. I think that our perceptions of our responsibilities as citizen are — in part — shaped by our own upbringing and experiences.

  45. Mr. Wolfhelm says

    Hmmm,

    I am quite aware of the meaning of generalizations, the kind of statements one can make based upon limited anecdote, the kinds of statements that one can make based on well developed theory and and the kinds of statement one can make based upon empirical field research. I also know that sociological forces impact our personalities, our opinions and our proclivities. It is not a random function of personality, a fact that many fields –from advertising to more academic fields — have firmly established.

    I also understand that the fact that _I_ do not know something does not mean that others cannot know it. I am not so self-centered as to think that the limitations of my own education, my own experience and my own capabilities apply to everyone else.

    I suspect that you actually know many things that I do not, perhaps things I could never know. And the converse is no doubt true, as well.

    However, I do not understand why you would write that the reasons why some people might be willing to confront police abuse of power and others would not does not matter. It is one of the underlying implicit issues of Danny’s blog post to which these comments are attached. Danny and I both think that calling the police on their misconduct matters quite a bit, though it seems that we are both unsure of the best means to do so.

    As you accusation of name-calling, I am curious about the basis for this. I would admit that I have a problem with abuse of authority, especially by those entrusted by the public and the state to protect us and our rights.

  46. Dominic says

    Hey Danny,

    These are the sorts of cases where a FOIA request for the police dashboard camera should theoretically be successful. As long you have information specific enough to identify the right footage, I think that’s where a lot of the dash cam video we see comes from. It might be interesting to see what you can find.

  47. says

    I have a 13 year old little girl that I have known all of my life and have supported her financially, and am the only positive male role model in her life. The other day she was taken from a home in NH to a court hearing in a town 8 miles from the Canadian border, It was a 2 1/2 hour drive. She was transported by the NH sheriffs dept in CHAINS. He shackled her ankles, a chain around her waist and handcuffs and placed her in the cage, “the back seat of the car”. When I heard this I was furious. I called the Sheriffs Dept and was told it was S. O P. Disgusting an innocent 13 year old little girl !!!

  48. says

    I think ALL police officers should be made to live a month as a homeless person or a black man etc to experience FIRSTHAND how it feels to be robbed of your rights and dignity by jackasses with a badge because they are too immature to handle situations diplomatically

  49. Crash_Xprt says

    Danny, et al.,

    The situation is far worse than the post or these comments suggest. Police officers are trained to violate our rights by over-asserting their power. This is a fact that I can support with clear examples and evidence.

    Even when it comes to something that should be completely without prejudice – like education – they cannot resist the “us versus them” (i.e. cops versus regular people) mentality. You should know that my father was a sheriff’s deputy for a large California county for 33 years, and I have nothing but respect and pride for the way he conducted himself, as far as I am aware. I also know that he had a pretty healthy amount of distrust for other cops, especially when I, or my siblings, or even my mother had encounters with them.

    They are so arrogant that they will violate the law, even without any reason to do so, in order to assert their power. I have encountered that by having my 4th Amendment rights violated on at least two occasions. A common theme for traffic stops is, “your vehicle looked like one that was involved in an earlier incident, can we search you and your car?” The first time I complied and got a ticket for my trouble, the second time I refused and went to jail for being so difficult.

    I mention education because how many of us have had a glimpse inside of a police academy or been allowed to sit in during a classroom session? I am an expert in traffic accident analysis and have more experience in the field than even the most seasoned veterans of law enforcement. I have attended the exact same accident reconstruction classes that the cops attend, but I had to go out of state to to it because, in California, they do not allow “us” into “their” secret world. I won’t even get into the sort of prejudicial instruction that I was given in these classes (some educators were admittedly more objective than others), but just my experience attempting to take an advanced reconstruction course in California was an eye-opener to say the least.

    I was told that I would have to attend the full academy (dorm residency and 8 weeks or so of full-time on-campus attendance) in order to take a class that should not be related to law enforcement per se. It was supposed to be a forensic engineering course, according to the description in the community college catalog, but in practice, it was a law enforcement course and they refused to allow my challenge of their unrelated (and unnecessary) prerequisites. Not only did this piss me off because it totally violates the law (Title 5), but what was I going to do about it? They basically dared me to do something to make them follow the law. The community college president did not support me, and I dropped the issue before going to the board of directors. It was just easier to go ahead and go out of state to get the courses I wanted, although many many times more expensive for me.

    My point is that until the police in California and elsewhere allow regular citizens that are NOT enrolled in the academy to attend the classes that are funded by our tax dollars as part of the community college system, what do we expect? There is no citizen oversight on how these people are educated, and even the college president is afraid of his/her power. Further, the ridiculous restrictions on who is eligible to become a police officer in the first place fosters a community of holier-than-thou control freaks rather than a police force that is a reasonable representation of society at large.

    I’m not saying that criminals or felons should be allowed to be police officers, but why should a person be disqualified simply because they got busted smoking pot or vandalizing their high school when they were a stupid kid? Why should past financial trouble or some minor blemishes on a credit report cause a candidate to be rejected? THIS is what is preventing people from becoming police officers, not that it is a hard job – BECAUSE IT IS NOT A HARD JOB. Brain surgery is hard. Engineering is hard. High-rise welding is hard. Farming is hard. But being an average police officer is one of the easiest occupations I could imagine. Rare physical effort, and even rarer brain effort (unless you are one of the few that investigate homicides or something like that).

    If we had more people on the police that were a little more like us, and less like perfect sociopaths, they might be a little more understanding of what it is like to be a real person.

  50. edi says

    I have a story to tell,

    yesterday nite, I was helping my friend to delivery food to the customer… so i was driving to search for the customer apartment… this happen in down town chicago… when by sudden i was demand to stop my car and ask to park by a police officer on a bicycle… I didnt know which he mean by find a parking place or just stop my car… so he demand my driving license and ID… so i was panicing coz I was shock what i did wrong… the police officer mention that i cross through the red light but the weird part is!!! I didnt see any red light…. then I was searching for my internation driving license in my beg but my beg was in my car bonnet… so he said step out from the car and then he search me as if i was a criminal… wtf… then he place my hand with hand cuff wtf… and other 2 officer a male and female officer came… and questioning about some crap question like where u from, did you ever do crime and have u tattoo etc… so the white man office ask me are u hindu, i was like nooooo…. and he said to me why are u saying nooo like that… are the hindu below u he mention… i was like what… i said its just a slang… and he ask me alot of stupid question… then he write a ticket mentioning that I obstruct the road…. wait the minute a few min ago it was i cross the red light then become obstruct wtf is this…and plus they search my car like i had a gun or a boom… WTF… Chicago police WTF

  51. Eric says

    I love how nobody mentions the other side of this story. Where is the part about policemen taking down a rapist, or engaging in a shootout with a murderer. No, all you people care about is whether your “personal rights” are being trampled on. The police serve and protect, and just because one goes bad you want to force every one of them to add an extra layer of red tape and waste to the system. Let them do their jobs, or would you enjoy living the rest of your life without the boys in blue?

  52. says

    Eric, that was right up there at the top of the story:

    “Let me say from the outset that I recognize police have a tough job. And I’m grateful for those who are out there putting themselves in harm’s way to protect people.”

    I’m happy for them to do their jobs. I’m not happy for them to abuse their positions. Some do. Others cover for those that do. When they do that, cover for each other and don’t stamp out the abuses, they actually make their jobs harder. They don’t engender trust among those that they are supposed to police.

  53. wheelnut53 says

    I have never had a civil conversation with a cop . I was pulled over while riding a bike and I immediately went into the position hands on top of my head and legs spread The officer who happened to be black said damn man how many times have you been pulled over, I look at him over my shoulder and said this is the first time today.I was never told why I was detained.

  54. edi says

    see I know about they got tough jobs and etc what with the hang cuf and without a suitable reason… catching criminal is already their job but miss use of power sometime is fuck up too… im not saying to all the police but some…