Friday, October 07, 2005

Cops on bad behavior

This first-hand account of a person in a wheelchair (Preston Craig) being abused by cops (Atlanta PD) shows why some people don't like the police. He saw a police cruiser parked in a handicapped space and blocking the handicapped ramp for a coffee place, confronted the officer about it, and took photos with his camera phone. He ended up getting arrested, and the group of cops present agreed to lie about what happened (which included taking his cell phone and deleting the pictures).

The Tucson anarchist magazine The Match! has a regular feature each issue called "Who the Police Beat" that contains multiple stories that are at least as outrageous as this one. Although I'm sure the bad cops who engage in such behavior are a minority, it's a minority that is almost always allowed to get away with it. (Via Catallarchy.)


Einzige said...

I'm not so sure that "bad cops" are a minority, Jim.

During the several years that I practiced Jiu-Jitsu in Phoenix I trained with a kid who was going through the Phoenix Police Academy.

I like him on a personal level and he was a great training partner, but some of the stories he would relate--in the mundane way you'd talk about your own daily grind--about his typical day's work on the Pima Indian Reservation were downright disturbing.

The most memorable example: he was talking about how he saw a car that he liked by someone who fit the profile of drug dealer and he immediately started wondering how he might be able to get it for himself via civil forfeiture. He asked one of the instructors--a former cop--for advice in this regard. In any other context this would have been criminal conspiracy!

Of course this is simply anecdotal, but watching this guy's transformation from amiable kid, at 19, to common unreflective thug, at 24, gives me pause.

Does the system turn nice people into thugs, or is it only thugs who are attracted in the first place?

Jim Lippard said...

You do have a point. I was recently told a story by a former cop about how he knew a cop who had pulled somebody over on the basis of a bumper sticker he didn't like, and asked him for his registration. The cop took the registration, put it in his mouth, chewed it up and swallowed it. He then wrote the guy a ticket for not having a registration, saying that no judge would believe the truth of what had actually just happened, and he would deny it.

It's bad enough that it happened. It's worse that the guy bragged about it, and that it is repeated by other cops as an amusing anecdote.

I would guess that part of it is from exposure to extreme criminality, and seeing criminals get away with things--by comparison, such abuse of power probably comes to seem trivial to them.

Einzige said...

Your last point brings this to mind: Since they are constantly around criminals, might cops start seeing the world from the standpoint of "everyone is a potential perp who is probably guilty of something anyway--so what I'm doing is akin to justice"?

In my personal experience with the newbie cop above, that seems a likely frame of mind.

Jim Lippard said...

Latest bad behavior from New Orleans PD cops:

Jim Lippard said...

And here's another, about cops stealing Cadillacs from a dealership: