Do you trust that the police serve to protect you?
It seems each new day brings a new story of police brutality and abuse of power. A video of a Seattle sheriff’s deputy kicking a 15 year old girl in police custody was recently released to the public. The same deputy shot and killed a mentally ill man in a confrontation on Interstate 5 in 2006 (the killing was deemed justified, natch).
In Galveston, Texas, a group of plain-clothes officers assaulted and beat a 12 year old black girl in her yard after jumping out of a van and accosting her during a raid in which they claim to have mistook her for a prostitute. The prostitutes they were looking for were white. The police then arrested Dymond Milburn at her school and charged her with assaulting the police officers who were wrongfully
kidnapping arresting her. Her father, who had tried to stop the officers from taking his daughter, has also been charged with assault. Ultimately, the case ended in a mistrial.
Earlier this year, an Oakland BART police officer exectuted 22 year old Oscar Grant, who was unarmed, as he lay face down on the train platform. The shooting was captured on a witness’ cell phone video. At least the officer is being held accountable: He’s been charged with murder.
The hits just keep on coming. Renee at Womanist Musings has a list of black women who’ve been beat, assaulted, and/or killed by police officers in recent years. Their stories rarely get widespread media attention.
Now, two New York City police officers stand accused of raping an intoxicated woman they escorted home. The incident occured in December. Video surveillance footage shows the two officers helping the woman into her building and returning twice more during the two hours that followed. The first time they returned they followed a resident inside; the second time they used a key. The next day, the woman reported having been raped by the police officers. Her friends later asked a nearby bar owner for the surveillance footage that documented the officers’ comings and goings.
One of the officers admitted to investigators that the other one had “had sex” with the woman. She was drunk enough to need assistance to walk less than two hours before the alleged rape. But of course the “sex” was consentual.
These are not isolated incidents. They are part and parcel of a culture wherein cops are above the law and they know it. There is a pattern of violence, corruption and abuse in law enforcement. We would all like to believe that there is a clear line between good guys and bad guys – your friendly police officers and your criminals. But plenty of violent criminals wear cop uniforms, which protect them from facing punishment for their thuggery.
There may very well be “good cops” on many forces, but until the so-called “good cops” stop covering up for the bad ones and making excuses, they are not “good.” At the same time, my understanding is that police officers are obligated to protect their own. Is law enforcement, by nature, bound to be corrupt?