Reforming an out of control police department is really hard. No matter how many pious resolutions you pass, or replace a commander, it usually comes down to the line sergeants who are the backbone of resistance to change. Nothing short of demotions and dismissals will get their attention.
Plus, now we have a SWAT political lobby of hardline cops – the National Tactical Officers Assn – weighing in so they can keep busting down civilian doors to…deliver past-due tax bills.
Here’s the latest chutzpah from Cleveland, Ohio’s remarkable cops, the same force that killed 12-year old Tamir Rice and refused him medical attention. From the Plain Dealer and Beast:
In a scene out of “Bonnie & Clyde”, in 2012 Cleveland cops fired 137 shots at two unarmed black civilians in a high speed chase, killing both the man and woman. Melissa Williams had 24 gunshot wounds and Timothy Russell 23.
Now nine of the 13 Robocops are suing saying THEY are victims of racial discrimination. Eight of the shameless cops are white. The ninth is Hispanic. They charge that the city of Cleveland has “a history of treating non-African American officers involved in the shootings of African Americans substantially harsher than African-American officers.” Oh, my.
As often happens, the police chase was spurred on by apparently erroneous radio reports (same as with Tamir Rice; same as the cop killing of Kendrec McDade here in Pasadena) of the occupants firing and reloading a gun. It ended in a parking lot with the cops mistaking gunfire from other cops as coming from inside the suspect’s car. Repeat: Melissa and Timothy were unarmed.
Ohio atty gen DeWine concluded, “We are dealing with a systematic failure in the Cleveland Police Department. Command failed. Communications failed. The system failed.” And…? And?
Punishment? The cops were put on paid restrictive duty for 16 months. Still have their badges and guns.
Cops aren’t dumb. They get the message.
Obama’s refusal to pull back on gifting local cop shops with all this amazing surplus military hardware is the message. Put me in an armored anti-ambush mine-resistant personnel carrier, give me a scoped M16 with silencer and a bag full of grenades, and I’m not a police person any more but… A WARRIOR!
Clancy Sigal is a screenwriter and novelist. His latest book is Hemingway Lives.