Article / Concerns

June 8, 2015

Concerns                                                                                                                                                                        6/8/15

 

This is a full length article which was submitted to our areas state senator, two state representatives, the Governor and US Senators. This article has been condensed by half and submited to the local press as well.  Links to supporting articles & references can be found at the bottom of this page.

Updates will be posted if and when necessary, and July 10th.  Feel free to share with those you know.

Those with similar stories, please send a brief note to: snafu@roadrunner.com

Please consider reading “Us vs Them”  (Us vs Them )  as well.

 

Complete Article                                                                                                     May 2015

Sometimes things just need to be addressed out loud, based in principle and truth, to hopefully create a proactive dialogue on how to go about deescalating a growing problem.

Far too often we are hearing about questionable police actions. That one sentence no doubt has already created an emotional reaction. My only request would be to read this as rationally as possible, do research on your own, and discern for yourself what is right. It should also be made clear that all officers are not acting questionably.

I spent my school years in Mass, graduating in 1984. Back then the police vehicles were painted with “peace officers- to serve and protect.” The officers for the most part mingled within the town, and used common sense judgement in their daily lives. Yes, it was a different time, but not really.

Thirty years after moving to a small town in NH, I sit writing an article after reading about, dealing with, and witnessing questionable police / DMV policy and actions.

The deadliest riots in this county due to the abuse of authority occurred in New York in July of 1863, followed by the Los Angeles riots of 1992. (For those of you who don’t now, LA was ignited by the acquittal of four officers in a taped beating of Rodney King). Shortly after, came the North Hollywood shootout, where the police claimed to be “out gunned,” resulting in surplus Military weapons and other paraphernalia being sold cheaply or acquired through grants to any police department, basically militarizing small town USA. (Let’s look at this for a moment. During a high speed pursuit which may put the general public at risk, officers back off and radio ahead and create a grid. When a FDIC insured bank gets robbed and shots are fired, it became a ¾ hour, multi block shootout with @1750 rounds reported shot and a justification for militarizing the police forces around the country- why?)

Fast forward to July 2009 when Henry Gates was arrested in Cambridge Ma, he was allegedly breaking into a house. It was proven to be his house, yet due to the emotional responses of both involved; the officer chose to arrest him for disorderly conduct. This concluded with the charges being dropped and a beer at the white house.

Stories of police coercion, deception, outright lying, intimidation, harassment and overstepping their “authority” are becoming so commonplace that it can be described as cancer: “If you haven’t dealt with it yourself, you know someone who has.” It’s become a semi-silent epidemic. The Huffington Post reported on 3/16/15 that 176 civilians had been killed by police in just January and February of 2015.

Some claim cops are arrogant, racist, “trigger happy” or prone to bullying, others say society has gone nuts and a cop takes his life in his hands when he leaves for work each day. Bullying has been addressed in school systems, why not in general society?

Becoming a police officer is a choicc. Like teachers, most go into the field with good intentions (hopefully) yet soon find out that they are just order followers, and their particular principles are not relevant. They are there to follow orders, moral or immoral, just or unjust, logical or not, and soon become jaded. “I don’t make the laws, just enforce them” is a common response when a legitimate question is raised. There are several articles stating that police departments are rejecting candidates who have too high of an IQ. The fear being that those with a higher IQ will be less likely to conform. This is what “those that be” have determined is the right thing for society and one in which a court actually agreed. Another contributing factor is that numerous police forces prefer to hire those with a military background. This can have negative consequences. The military is trained; everything but their will to survive is removed and they are rebuilt to follow orders and REACT. If this isn’t done the lives of they and others will be at risk in a military situation. It is a necessary evil for the position. If they had any rank they are unaccustomed to someone questioning their “orders.” When discharged they are asked if they feel ok and given a number to call should they feel the need, very little attention is given to deprogramming, asking for help has been stigmatized and in contradiction to the training. Placing such an individual on a residential police force is asking a lot from this person. Should a high stress incident arise, they must override the military training just to ascertain the situation, add a weapon and the results could turn deadly. There are numerous reports every month, from all places on earth regarding situations regarding police vs citizens. These reports encompass the killing of a civilian to encroaching on freedom of speech. Guilty until proven innocent seems to be the new mantra. There are an extraordinary amount of cases in which people have had to pay thousands of dollars to prove their innocence. Now add in the ironic fact that it is we that pay their salaries. This is NOT RIGHT and breeds a distrustful relationship and an “us vs them” mentality.

The driving force behind finally writing this article is an ongoing situation regarding a 28 year old young man that I know well. In mid-April he was driving home on his motorcycle @ 9 PM and was pulled over. According to the young man, he was told that he was pulled over because the corporal couldn’t read his stock license plate from fifty feet away. The police report which was written twice and modified twice (first of the four editions dated two weeks after the stop) stated he was pulled over for not signaling while passing a van taking a right turn. The officer smelled alcohol and started the sequence of events for that. Both parties agree that the officer was informed that this person had sustained a head injury, has a weak right side, speech impediment etc. There is a discrepancy on who initiated the exchange of this info. The young man was asked to take a breath test, and after four separate times blowing into the machine, the highest was .045 which was the only one documented in the report. After being placed in cuffs and while inside the cruiser, the cop suggested taking a blood test. The young man stated that up to this point he had done everything that he was asked, taken the breath test 4 times, did it politely, and would prefer to get along with the night as opposed to driving 45 minutes to the hospital and back. Four hours later he was allowed to call for a family member to pick him up. The cop took his license and handed him a 30 day paper receipt. The following day he had to pay to retrieve his motorcycle which was impounded. During the following week he retained a lawyer. Shortly thereafter began receiving mail from DMV stating they received a sworn statement from a “law enforcement officer” and his driving “privileges” would be suspended, which they were.

Now as objectively as I can be, after the questionable stop, I can understand the officer’s initial suspicion after smelling alcohol. Once being advised of the head injury, weak right side, speech impediment, and the breath machine reading .045 after four attempts, I don’t see why he continued to push. More disturbing and discouraging is the prosecutor continuing on with it. Possibly it’s time for a display of integrity by the department by simply stating “a mistake was made and has gotten out of hand, please accept our reimbursement for your expenses and your license back”, seems like not only the right thing, but the mature way to handle a mistake of this magnitude. Some may claim driving is a privilege not a right. This is true as far as the state is concerned, but the theory is based on the elite being the only folks able to afford to drive over a hundred years ago. According to the definition of privilege, driving is not that either. Living in an area where one needs to pack a lunch to pick up a pizza, it’s a necessity. (It should also be mentioned that if one’s license is revoked for ninety days, in reality it generally takes at least 6-9 months due to the bureaucratic hoops & requirements to have it re-activated.)

Thus far this has affected immediate members of his family as well as friends, who now have to drive him around; his job is in jeopardy, he awakes each day wondering if he’ll still have it tomorrow. The financial expenses incurred to date are in the thousands. It has affected his personal relationship and also that with his young daughter. His liberty to get around doing everyday things has been taken, not to mention the psychological damage to one whom already suffers from brain trauma. This all occurred just for driving home at a decent hour, legally sober on a Friday night, through Ossipee, NH. People hearing of this are in disbelief, although many have a similar story to counter with. Many derogatory words have been used in description of the police in general, which to me is bothersome. My initial statement after hearing this story was “it’s a good thing he is good natured; imagine what could have happened if the cop pulled over someone who had just got in a fight with their wife.” Had that happened and an altercation resulted, would we have heard the true story? My guess is probably not, and not at all unless it happened between folks of different skin types, the cop lost, or a death.

Should you disagree or think “that would never happen here in NH”, a quick search of the names: Bruce Mckay, Jeremy Charron, Les Lord, and Scott Phillips may help you believe.

Another concern is how this cop is able to be cop, judge, jury and executioner; draining a person mentally, financially, revoking his license, thus removing his liberty to pursue an income and freedom to move about on a daily basis; based on suspicion. The claim will inevitably arise that he “was just doing his job & The DMV is responsible for taking the license” To both I respond untrue. When one sets motions into action, they are responsible. Knowing what the end result will be and hiding behind a badge, disgraceful. This young man will be without a license for at least 45 days before going in front of a judge. This “sentence” prior to seeing a court, was based on opinion and disregard of the only objective assessor, the breath machine; Guilty and sentenced until proven innocent, for real; it’s not right or moral, nor is it an isolated incident in the “live free or die” state. Add to this the volume of people who have a negative perception of police after hearing of this situation. Two friends tell two friends etc., and in today’s world of social media, it’s easily over a thousand people. I don’t see that as good public relations. Regardless of how this turns out, I’m sure it won’t end with beers at the white house.

With this system and mentality why do people ask why things are happening the way they are?   Thomas Paine wrote “A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right”

Until there is a change, incidents like Ferguson and Freddie Gray unfortunately will continue. I believe it is time to start treating all people as though they are people, with dignity, respect and a return to reciprocity and civility. The “us vs them” mentality is breeding discontent and distrust, making our society a sketchy place to be. ALL cops aren’t bad, nor are All people. The time has passed for ignoring this issue and accepting “that’s just the way it is”. It’s wrong, unjust and immoral.

 

Condensed Article provided to the media

Sometimes things just need to be addressed out loud, based in principle and truth, to hopefully create a proactive dialogue on how to go about deescalating a growing problem.

Far too often we are hearing about questionable police actions. That one sentence no doubt has already created an emotional reaction. My only request would be to read this as rationally as possible, do research on your own, and discern for yourself what is right. It should also be made clear that all officers are not acting questionably.

Stories of police coercion, deception, outright lying, intimidation, harassment and overstepping their “authority” are becoming so commonplace that it can be described as cancer: “If you haven’t dealt with it yourself, you know someone who has.” It’s become a silent epidemic.

Some claim cops are arrogant, racist, “trigger happy” or prone to bullying, others say society has gone nuts and a cop takes his life in his hands when he leaves for work each day.

Becoming a police officer is a choice. Like teachers, most go into the field with good intentions (hopefully) yet soon find out that they are just order followers, and their particular principles are not relevant. They are there to follow orders, moral or immoral, just or unjust, logical or not, and soon become jaded. “I don’t make the laws, just enforce them” is a common response when a legitimate question is raised.

The driving force behind finally writing this article is an ongoing situation regarding a 28 year old young man that I know well. In mid-April he was driving home on his motorcycle @ 9 PM and was pulled over. According to the young man, he was informed it was because the corporal couldn’t read his stock license plate from fifty feet away. The police report stated he was pulled over for not signaling while passing a van taking a right turn. The officer smelled alcohol and started the sequence of events for that. Both parties agree that the officer was informed that this person had sustained a head injury, has a weak right side, speech impediment etc. The young man was asked to take a breath test, after four separate times blowing into the machine, the highest was .045 which was the only one documented in the report. After being placed in cuffs and while inside the cruiser, the cop suggested taking a blood test. The young man stated that up to this point he had politely done everything that he was asked and would prefer to get along with the night. Four hours later he was allowed to call for a ride, thirty days later his license was suspended.

After the questionable stop, I can understand the officer’s initial suspicion after smelling alcohol. Once being advised of the limitations of a head injury and the breath machine reading .045 after four attempts, why continue? More disturbing is the prosecutor continuing on with it. Possibly it’s time for a display of integrity by the department by simply stating “a mistake was made and has gotten out of hand, please accept our reimbursement for your expenses and your license back”

This has affected members of his family, friends and his job is in jeopardy. The financial expenses incurred to date are in the thousands. It has impacted every area of his life. Liberty to get around doing everyday things has been taken, not to mention the psychological damage to one whom already suffers from brain trauma. This all occurred just for driving home at a decent hour, legally sober on a Friday night, through Ossipee, NH. People hearing of this are in disbelief, although many have a similar story to counter with. My initial statement after hearing this story was “it’s a good thing he is good natured; imagine what could have happened if the cop pulled over someone who had just got in a fight with their wife.” Had that happened and an altercation resulted, would we have heard the true story? My guess is probably not, and not at all unless it happened between folks of different skin types, the cop lost, or a death.

Should you disagree or think “that would never happen here in NH”, a quick search of the names: Bruce Mckay, Jeremy Charron, Les Lord, and Scott Phillips may help you believe.

The concern is how this cop is able to be cop, judge, jury and executioner; revoking a license based on suspicion. The claim will inevitably arise that he “was just doing his job & The DMV is responsible for taking the license” To both I respond untrue. When one sets motions into action, well aware of the results, that person is responsible. This young man will be without a license for 45 days before going in front of a judge. This “sentence” prior to entering a court, was based on opinion and disregard of the only objective assessor, the breath machine; Guilty and sentenced until proven innocent, for real; it’s not right or moral, nor is it an isolated incident occurring in the “live free or die” state.

With this system and mentality why do people ask why things are happening the way they are? Until there is a change, incidents like Ferguson and Freddie Gray unfortunately will continue. I believe it is time to start treating all people as though they are people, with dignity, respect and a return to reciprocity and civility. The “us vs them” mentality is breeding discontent and distrust, making our society a sketchy place to be. ALL cops aren’t bad, nor are all people. The time has passed for ignoring this issue and accepting “that’s just the way it is”. It’s wrong, unjust and immoral.

 

 

REFERENCES:

IQ standards:

Google search results: https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=police%20iq%20limit

Riots;

Deadliest:   http://communitytable.com/52789/erinhollaway/the-deadliest-riot-in-american-history/

Los Angeles: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1992_Los_Angeles_riots

North Hollywood shootout:     https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=north+hollywood+shootout

Henry Gates: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/30/AR2010063001356.html        https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=henry+gates+arrest

176 civilians killed:   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/blake-fleetwood/civilians-killed-by-police_b_6801510.html

Local Militarization: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/01/cops-speak-out-on-police-_n_3688999.html

PD’s prefer ex-military: Google Search- https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=ex+military+becoming+cops