By Wyatt Earp | June 18, 2009
And I hope to God I have a full roll around here.
On Tuesday, Ambulance Driver posted this story about an Oklahoma State Trooper who stopped and assaulted a paramedic as he was transporting a patient to the hospital. The story has been all over the news, and rightly so, because there is a pretty damning video of the incident.
I didn’t mention the story for a couple of reasons. First, it isn’t local. Regular readers know that if this were a Philly officer or an officer of a neighboring jurisdiction I would have said something about it. Second, I really do not like to second guess an officer’s actions – no matter how badly they seem – because I was not there. And finally, I didn’t mention it because when people see video like this, they tend to lump all police officers into one little group. A group of racist, ignorant, excessive force-loving Neanderthals. For example:
In AD’s comments section, one guy named “Dave” snarkily submitted this little nugget; a nugget that made my head explode:
Not to worry; IA will investigate thoroughly, and determine that the Gang in Blue has Done No Wrong, and that the medic is lucky to have gotten off as easily as he did.
I’ll put money on it. You name your price and I’ll name the odds.
Okay, deep breath. The rest is below the fold.
I have a few comments here, and you can take them any way you wish. First, I want to make it absolutely clear that I am not ripping AD. He’s a very good guy, a terrific blogger, and he is right to be super-pissed at the Trooper. I don’t blame him because one of his commenters said something ignorant. Lord knows I have commenters who give me brain aneurysms, too, and I never judge a blogger solely by his commenters and/or readers.
Second, the phrase “Gang in Blue” is pretty damned offensive, and worse, it’s pretty damned incorrect. This isn’t the 60’s, Dave, and with the exception of a few toads with badges, we don’t go around beating people’s asses for no reason. Hell, if we did, maybe the criminals would think twice before shooting innocent people!
Personally, I have been with this department for almost 15 years. In that time, I have had one complaint filed against me. One. And two of my three assignments were located in very busy divisions full of toads who made complaints on a daily basis. The complaint was fully investigated by IAD, and after a few tense weeks, the results came in: I was completely exonerated. In fact, during my pre-promotional interview, the Captain of Internal Affairs reviewed my file and said, “We should have never taken this complaint in the first place.” So, feel free to call me a member of the “Gang in Blue” folks. The facts just don’t support that nickname.
Finally, Dave’s comment really pissed me off. Yes, it is completely ignorant, but it is also a blanket statement. While it may be true for the Oklahoma State Police – and I doubt that it is – it certainly is not true for the Philadelphia Police Department. In the past year, Police Commissioner Ramsey has dismissed no fewer than five officers, without an investigation, a hearing, or a trial. He fired the officers based solely upon hearsay in one case and a suspicious (at best) video in the other.
Summarily dismissed. And we’re supposed to be the ones who swore an oath to uphold, protect, and defend the Constitution.
As far as Internal Affairs goes, I can only speak for Philadelphia, but if you think that they gloss over citizen complaints, you are dead wrong. It is department policy to fully investigate EVERY complaint against a police officer. The complaint can be anonymous, the complaint can be made by a drunk person, and the complaint can be written in crayon. Trust me, they will investigate it.
And if you think they usually determine that the “Gang in Blue has Done No Wrong,” Google “Philadelphia Police Officer fired” and see how many results you get. Ramsey, especially, fires officers at the drop of a hat, and while many of these dismissals are warranted, a lot of them are chock full of shenanigans. It’s part of the reason why so many great officers are not as aggressive as they once were. They think – and rightly so – that the commissioner will fire them for doing their job.
Look, I am all for firing bad cops. Anyone who reads this blog knows that. Not only do they make the rest of us look like idiots, but they make it really easy for knuckleheads like Dave to make ignorant blanket statements.