As we continue our voyage through the seasons, at the rate of a season a day, let’s continue with our discussion begun last week.
A recent article in the Boston Herald, , discussed the recent run of videos which reveal the underside of law enforcement officers which most people would rather ignore. Generally speaking, if anyone else acted in this way, the result would most likely be Assault charges.
We discussed one such case last week. There are many more. In fact, cellphone videos capturing intense interactions between law enforcement and residents have caused repeated headaches for the Boston Police Department in recent years.
The origin of some of the videos, however, might surprise you.
For example, back in June, A movie trailer-style video described a local cop and a “dog with a limp” as partners “in the fight between good and evil.” The video ends with text that reads: “This summer, black people have met their match.”
Apparently, this particular video was created by Police Officer Joseph DeAngelo, Jr. For his “art”, he was suspended for six months without pay, put on probation for another six months and was ordered to undergo “significant” unconscious bias retraining.
Of course, most of the mounting video evidence against officers is not created by law enforcement.
Take the plight of 64-year-old Milton Gurin for example. He had the misfortune of being a pedestrian when off-duty Officer Edward Barrett was driving downtown in May 2016.
Apparently, Mr. Gurin taped Officer Barrett’s rear window with an umbrella. Apparently, the resulting confrontation led to Mr. Gurin running from the officer, tripping and receiving an injury when he fell on the sidewalk.
The resulting video is said to show Officer Barrett holding the “threatening” Mr. Gurin down on the sidewalk with his knee, then leading him by the collar back to his car, where he called for backup. Bystanders, one who filmed the aftermath of the confrontation, asked the cop to identify himself and he refused.
There was an internal affairs investigation. Officer Barrett was cleared of excessive force by an internal affairs investigation, but was cited for his use of foul language and for not identifying himself by name. Other officers who responded to the scene were cited for not calling a sergeant to the scene.
Clearly, as far as law enforcement has been concerned, the problem in this equation has been the videos! So they have gone to court to try to make taking the videos illegal.
So far, however, they have been unsuccessful.
“So, what’s the point, Sam? The police are like rabid dogs when they interact with the general public?”
No, not usually. I would say that most police officers in my experience are cordial and polite…although a bit off-putting. However, to a certain extent, they have to be. It is critical that they not lose control of a situation and by communicating that they are in control and are not about to lose that control, they are keeping the situation safe.
I’m not writing about those interactions.
There are too many time, however, where the officers take the situation well beyond that. Remember, they are the experts in the situation. They have been trained for it. They carry guns as well as other weapons. The onus is on them to be more responsible and controlled than those they have approached.
Now, I don’t know what led up to the umbrella tap. Let’s assume it was totally uncalled for. Worth a chase and an injury and…”backup”?
“Well, the officer was probably angry!”
Clearly. But he is expected to contain that anger.
“Ok, so you are telling us that sometimes police officers over-react?”
Actually, that is not the point at all. The uncomfortable truth that I am trying to get to will all be tied together in the third installment of this mini-series.
I’ll give you a hint…I am about to move away from police officers.