|Bad Cops, Good Cops, Silent Cops
12/17/2015 3:53:26 PM
By Barney Blakeney
Cops really are taking a beating right about now. As if the recently released video footage of the 2014 Chicago police shooting of Laquan McDonald didn’t give the perception of cops around the country a black eye, other video footage of the Las Angles County police shooting of Nicholas Robertson last week further discolored the reputation of the men in blue.
Both videos are horrific. One showing Chicago policeman Jason Van Dyke shooting McDonald 16 times in what appears a wanton act of murder. The video of Robertson’s shooting initially seemed no less damning as the wounded man crawled away from the two deputies shooting him. Footage released later appears to show Robertson still holding a gun as he crawled away, which the police say was the reason the officers continued to fire their weapons.
In recent months there have been several videos that seem to show police as the perpetrators of vicious acts of slaughter - Tamir Rice and Samuel DuBose in Ohio and closer to home the April shooting of Walter Scott by Michael Slager in North Charleston.
I found the Scott and McDonald shootings alarmingly similar in that both victims posed no apparent threat to anyone. I’ve learned that two people can see the same thing and come away with vastly different impressions. But in the cases of the Scott and McDonald shootings, I don’t see how any rational person can perceive anything other than wanton murder on the part of the officers doing the shooting.
That brings me to my point. I believe that most cops are just people trying to perform a demanding job. They’re men and women who have a sense of duty and willingness to do that job - which ain’t easy by any stretch of the imagination.
But as in any profession, there are those on the job who aren’t worthy of wearing the badge - like that fool in Oklahoma who just got life in prison for raping eight women. Like the videos of police shootings indicate, his crime isn’t all that uncommon.
I guess we all know people on our jobs who have no business in the positions they hold - inept people who are there for no good reason, but they’re tolerated for any variety of reasons. I was confronted recently with a situation involving a great lady who just no longer is able to do the do. She’s good people, but time and change have rendered her ineffective. We all tolerate her out of respect, but she’s got no business in the slot. The impact of that indulgence has been detrimental to us all.
When it comes to jobs like policemen such indulgences cost lives. I’m sure the cop who shot Bryant Heyward, the Hollywood man who called police after a home invasion last May is a good guy. But Heyward is paralyzed because that cop wasn’t on top of his game. That incident may have been unintentional. The shootings of Laquan McDonald and Walter Scott were not. I’ll bet my last dollar those were wanton murders perpetrated by officers who just decided to use deadly force in situations where it wasn’t required. They simply chose the easiest way to resolve the issue.
Compounding the problem so many people covered up for those criminals. Five officers filed reports in the McDonald shooting outright lying about the facts in the incident. And North Charleston authorities did the same darn thing. The video of Walter Scott’s murder came out too quickly for their lie to develop. When the video of the Walter Scott shooting surfaced three days later, North Charleston officials already had lined up to support Slager’s lie. Officials in Chicago took a year and $5 million to McDonald’s family to support the lie about his murder.
So what am I saying? There are bad apples in most baskets. They shouldn’t be allowed to spoil the whole bunch. In most cases, officers who ultimately commit these heinous crimes have had multiple complaints filed against them and the folks in authority turned a blind eye to their acts.
Say what you want about the late Charleston Police Chief Rueben Greenberg, but he vowed he wouldn’t tolerate unprofessional conduct among his officers. Whenever uprooted the perpetrator would be looking for another job, he said. Greenberg had one of the most professional departments in the country. Charleston police still have one of the best departments in the country.
I ran into CPD Chief Greg Mullen and Deputy Chief Jerome Taylor Friday. I think they’re maintaining Greenberg’s standard. I think Al Cannon at Charleston County Sheriff Department also runs a tight ship. And while Eddie Driggers and the boys in North Charleston took a black eye with Slager, I think they’re trying do a good job.
At the end of the day, it’s the officers in the field who know what they’re working with. They know their colleagues and their capabilities. They must take the oath to protect and serve seriously. Bad things happen when good people are silent and in the world of police work the cost of silence in the face of corruption is too high.