Just days before Gates was arrested, Philadelphia newspapers reported on a local cop who was captured by a convenience store's security video brutally assaulting a woman who had been in a car accident with his son. He then arrested her and charged her with assaulting him. The officer then demanded the store clerk turn over surveillance video of his attack. The clerk says other officers made subsequent demands to turn over or destroy the video. To his credit, the clerk refused. The video vindicated the woman. The officer has since been suspended.Yes, many cops are selfless, noble, heroic, etc. But can anyone seriously deny that many are maladjusted bullies who signed up for the job because they get to carry a gun and boss people around? Balko neatly sums up the problem I have with many conservatives' attitudes about law enforcement:
After Oakland police officer Johannes Mehserle shot and killed subway passenger Oscar Grant at point blank range last New Year's Day, police attempted to confiscate cell phone photos and videos of the shooting. Fortunately, not everyone complied. Mehserle will now be tried for murder.
In the last few years we've seen numerous other incidents where cell phone videos and photographs, surveillance video, or handheld video cameras have both exposed police misconduct and shown officers to have falsified police reports. In most of these cases, the police at various points attempted to confiscate, alter, or destroy the photographic evidence.
Put a government worker behind a desk and give him the power to regulate, and conservatives will wax at length about public choice theory, bureaucratic pettiness, and the trappings of power. And rightly so. But put a government worker behind a badge, strap a gun to his waist, and give him the power to detain, use force, and kill, and those lessons somehow no longer apply.Again, read the whole thing.