In a hit piece, William Grigg trashes the entire police profession for the misdeeds of a few, concluding:
it’s difficult to see how things would be noticeably worse if we simply did away with it outright.
Let’s look at each incident he cites individually.
In the first case, the officer’s punch was arguably excessive, but…what he did was legal; what the girl did was not. She was interfering with a lawful (if stupid) arrest. Should he have handled it better? No question. But you can’t just shove a cop because you don’t like the fact that he’s enforcing a law you and your friend have just broken, no matter how silly you think the law (jaywalking in this case) may be. (What this officer really needs is a complete refresher in restraint techniques. If that girl had been more savvy she’d have taken him out. His performance was truly pitiful.) Both the officer and the girls acted stupidly.
In the second case, Wright should have pulled over immediately and explained the situation. It’s very likely Daves would have assisted by loading Wright’s wife into his squad car and getting her to the hospital even more quickly than Wright could. What Wright did was illegal and dangerous. He’s lucky Daves didn’t get more squad cars involved. A blockaded street or spike strips would have slowed him down a lot more—and critically endangered his wife—and would have been completely justified. Once at the hospital did Daves act stupidly? Yes. He obviously should have gotten the woman into the ER and sorted out the details later.
Third case…completely indefensible, really. The head EMT even asked the officer to escort them to the hospital first, then take whatever actions he thought necessary. What was he going to do? Evade a police cruiser in an ambulance? The officer shouldn’t just be canned but criminally prosecuted if at all possible. The only question I have is why the ambulance wasn’t running its lights and siren if it was a critical transport. It wouldn’t even have been an issue then.
In addition to a weak analysis of the incidents, Grigg’s article is, unfortunately, also sprinkled with outright fallacies. For example, the notion that police are no different than other citizens—they’re just paid to do what all good citizens should do—doesn’t hold up in any society on the planet. When I’m allowed to carry a handgun in courtrooms, federal buildings, public schools,…I’ll begin to buy that argument. And to quote a (19th century) Brit regarding police authority? Please. The recent shooting spree in the UK could have been stopped by no less than three police officers…if they had been armed. Instead, they were no better than eye witnesses, helpless to stop the killings. If you read the BBC web site, you’ll find examples of UK police futility and uselessness every week. The truth is that our police are, and must be, allowed to do things everyday civilians can’t because they are asked to do things we don’t.
It’s obvious Grigg isn’t a big fan of the police, but cherry-picking a few examples of “Cops Gone Wild” isn’t exactly fair. Even a hundred such examples would not be representative of the thousands of officers who do take their job—with the accompanying ethical and moral imperatives—very seriously. The unlawful or excessive use of force by police should not be tolerated at all, but smearing the entire profession with the abuses of a few, as his conclusion does, is patently dishonest.