Friday, March 22, 2013

This Needs to Be Examined

The term "excessive force" is used in the label for this video. I will wait on a conclusion until I learn all the facts, but what I see and hear looks terrible.

The takedown looks unnecessary and brutal. The storming of the house to get the second guy seems bizarre.

It sounds like a police officer is taunting the second guy taken into custody. Why did you hide behind your mom? Why are you calling me sir?

Hmm, maybe being pursued by a dozen police officers with weapons has that effect on someone.

I don't know the nature of the call. I don't what the citizens were saying or possibly threatening to do. I heard the second guy shouting "abuse" after the takedown with a bull(stuff) and an F-bomb mixed in, but otherwise I didn't hear profanity or threats. Did he threaten to get a weapon from the house?

I wish there had been a camera rolling when Officer Jason Pratt gave a suspect a chance to come out of hiding peacefully, and the suspect took advantage of the situation to shoot Officer Pratt and mortally wound him. I think the police would benefit from posting videos of all encounters so that the public would learn 1) the nature of the incidents police typically deal with, and 2) the truth that excessive force is the exception rather than the rule. At least that's my presumption until proven otherwise.

The problem with this incident is that, like the beating of the man at CUMC and the shooting of the dog, it feeds the argument that there is systematic thuggery practiced by police.

If there are in this case circumstances justifying the aggressive response, explain them to the public. If not, one incident doesn't define the OPD, but the bad actors need to be held accountable. If the problem is training, then that must be addressed, too.

Something I discovered while running for the city council in 2009 was that conservatives as well as liberals wanted the public safety auditor position funded and staffed. In most cases I would expect the work of the police to be confirmed as professional. But the exercise of force always should be subject to review by a party outside the police department.

I of course am worried about city finances, but this is another example of why the cost of police and fire contracts must be reduced right now, to make room in the budget for a small-budget but large-importance position such as public safety auditor.

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