Friday, August 14, 2009

Police Brutality?

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I know you are probably aware of the stories of police brutality in the news lately.

Especially since a Cambridge police officer arrested a professor on the front steps of his own home, I have been mulling over the two sided coin of respect for authority and rights of citizens.

Two of my favorite bloggers took opposite positions on the issue.

See what Barbara at Mommy Life has to say.
See what Deputy Headmistress has to say.

I certainly don't want the police to come to my door and make demands that violate my rights. On the other hand, I realize that the police need to have the authority to make decisions on the spot.

So, today when I came across this video of a mother being tasered in front of her two children, I wondered to myself if she was being belligerent or accommodating. There is no audio on the video, so it's hard to tell. I DO think, for safety's sake and just because it is in my own best interest not to tick off someone with a stun gun, that when the police say, "Freeze with your hands up," I believe I would be freezing with my hands UP!

After that first video, I stumbled on this video of a 72 year old great grandmother being tasered during a traffic stop! I expected to watch it and feel sorry for the frail little thing, but I had quite the opposite reaction. She was being completely defiant and disrespectful and refused to do what the officer asked.

So he tasered her.

Now, I'm sure no harm would have come if the officer had let that lady get in her truck and drive away without the ticket, but how can the police maintain order if it is known that compliance is optional?

Watch the second video for yourself and tell me what you think. (Notice that the little old lady LIED through her teeth about how she handled the initial traffic stop.)

Do you think the police are justified in using force when their commands are being disregarded?


Anonymous said...

YES. Police must be justified in using force when their commands are disobeyed. Of course, that doesn't give them free license to bully. For every story in the news about ''bad'' officers doing something wrong, there are hundreds of stories of the good that police do that goes unnoticed. BOTH of my parents were police officers. My dad for 30 years, and my mom for 20. My dad was a patrol officer and he has some serious stories. My mom worked in the jail as a corrections officer, and she dealt with people who had done some really horrible things. So I guess I tend to lean towards the police's side for obvious reasons LOL.

Harmony said...

The police are justified in using force to uphold the law. Sometimes they go too far: they stretch the law or they use excessive force for the crime. But if they couldn't enforce the laws, our society would not be safe.

Lene said...

I watched that video of the "grandma" a few weeks ago after I heard someone talking about the poor elderly lady. I was shocked to see how rude and defiant she was...

Headmistress, zookeeper said...

Thansk for the link.=)

If the police stop me, I am as servile, docile, and compliant as all get out. I think this is the prudent and wise thing to do. This is what I advise my family members to do.

The police may be justified in using force to uphold the law- but what is the law?

I think it is dangerous to believe it is reasonable to be tasered because you didn't obey a police officer's order, without regard for whether or not the police officer's order is legal.

Police officers are enforcers of the law, NOT creators of it.

Just because a police officer speaks, that doesn't make the speech a legal order. They do not have the right to expect their commands to be obeyed unless their commands are legally, constitutionally, authorized.

I am really, really bothered by the use of tasers- not all of them, but I think there is something flawed in how we view the use of that force.

Take that cop with the grandma, for instance. So she was rude? Did that give him the right to strike her with his hand? Probably most of us would be appalled if the footage had shown him backhanding her. Yet the taser is far more force, and she would probably have found a backhand far less painful. Somehow, we think the taser is okay because.... well, why? It's neater and tidier than an old fashioned rubber truncheon. Because there's no actual physical contact between the police officer and the woman, the pain he inflicted to a rude old woman is less shocking to us. And I think that's a dangerous frame of mind for a society.

I think we who expect docility to all police officers, and obedience even when their 'commands' are merely matters of convenience to them (or, frankly, power in some cases), NOT law, are smoothing the way for a coming police state.


Headmistress, zookeeper said...

Incidentally, I think the video shows the officer was offended, not feeling threatened at all. The whole thing started because she wouldn't sign the ticket. As soon as he got her out of the car, she said she would sign the ticket.
She didn't say it nicely, but I don't think we should make manners part of the law. There is NO reason I can see other than his offended pride for him not have given her the ticket to sign at that point.

Neither did he need to shove her out of the way as he did, he could have gently taken her arm and walked her back, explaining they needed to get away from traffic.

A taser is supposed to be used to protect an officer- not to subdue rude grannies.

Yes, she was rude. I don't happen to believe that should be punished by a tasering from an officer who towers over her, outweighs her, and is about 1/3 of her age.

Adventures In Babywearing said...

All I know- it's scary. Just do what they say for the time being and fight it LATER in court!!!


April said...

I keep thinking of the stories I hear where police officers have approached situations that seemed harmless, or routine, and things went horribly wrong. I googled "police officers shot" to look for this story:

There were a lot of stories to go through to find that one.

In all the situations where I have dealt with police officers (I'm not a trouble maker, really) it's always "yes, sir/yes, ma'am" kind of stuff. Maybe it's because I'm in a fairly big city with higher crime rates, but their body language is very telling. They are on guard and I respect that and don't want to give them any reason to think I would harm them.

I have a lot of thoughts on this but I just keep coming back to the fact that you don't mess with the cops. Be compliant. If you haven't done anything wrong, what's the point of getting upset? Am I missing something?

*Mirage* said...

I aggree with "Headmistress, zookeeper." My husband's best friend (best man at our wedding) is a cop so I know a few cops. They are all power mad and think they are above the law. They bully people to make themselves feel big. I have met in my life only 2 cops that didn't fit this description and too many to count that did. Including hubby's BF unfortunately. :(
Police used to be there to serve the public, to keep people safe.
Now they are too busy bullying the public and keeping themselves safe.
They're not even supposed to stop to help stranded motorists anymore, they are just supposed to call it in. It's a sad day to live in where cops aren't supposed to directly help people anymore.

Smockity Frocks said...

I mostly agree with Headmistress, too. There is a danger in always being compliant, no matter the order, because that gives total power to a group of people with guns!

However, I can see why the police go into a situation on edge and feel like they need to be in a defensive mode. The simple fact that they have a weapon adds an added danger to every encounter. If they face someone who is agitated and defiant, who is to say that person won't try to reach for their weapon?

The best response, I think, is to duke it out in court. We all know how fair the courts are. Right?


*Mirage* said...

"We all know how fair the courts are. Right?"

I plead the 5th. ;)

Valerie said...

I know this is an older post but I must put in my 2 cents. My husband is a cop. Does that make me partial? No. Does it make me see all sides? Yes. I just can't let comments go by that say "ALL" cops this, "cops ALWAYS"...blah blah blah. Some cops are pride hungry jerks, some are selfless heroes. Some doctors are molesters and greedy, some are selfless heroes. Some pastors are wolfs in sheep's clothing, some are servants of the Most High. I never dare accuse large groups of people for the actions of some brothers best friends cousin. It is simple. Know your rights, and know the police officers rights. In the case of the elderly lady, he didn't tase her for being rude, nor did he write her a ticket for being rude, nor did he arrest her for being rude. There are laws against speeding, there are laws against resisting arrest, and then there is the police officers DUTY to uphold the law, AND to keep the woman safe, even if it be from her self. Did you happen to hear him warn her to get away from the traffic that was speeding by them at 70 miles per hour nearly less than a foot away from them. He had the right, right then, to arrest her. He warned, she disobeyed. Simple. If I were the officer, I would have tackled the lady to the ground and arrested her, which by the way, could cause far more harm than a taser. Good thing I a not a cop.

*Mirage* said...

I didn't say "all cops" meaning all ever. I said "...I know a few cops. They (they meaning the ones referenced in the previous sentence) are all power mad and think they are above the law..."
I know a 'few' cops who are egotistical bullies and should not be in a place of authority.

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