The issue of public aversion to law enforcement officers doesn't really stem from corruption suits or singular incidents of scandal. Sure, it inflames a pre-existing attitude but the attitude was there in the first place because of the day-to-day activities of patrol officers. Not entirely due to the fault of the individual police officers, their interactions with the public have generally been more in the form of tickets, misdemeanor arrests, and what could otherwise be viewed as revenue collection. Beyond that, as stated in the article above, often what goes along with these already, by their very nature, negative intrusions is how there is often yelling involved when there needn't be. Couple with this the institutionalized inability of most uniformed officers to make a subjective judgement call on minor illegalities it all leads to a general "fear and loathing" of a robotic police force with little to no sympathy for Joe Schmo. Added to this rigorous follow-through on legal protocol is a lack of appreciation for what effect the legal system has on the life of the person going through it.
For example, in the Athens Banner Herald police blotter, there was a blurb about a man who was seen by police officers stumbling through a parking lot, dropping his keys and appearing to vomit. These officers observe the suspicious activity, wait for him to drive out of the lot and immediately pull him over. Sure, he shouldn't have been driving but maybe you could have gone over to him and suggested he get a cab before putting him through a miserable, expensive and exhausting legal process? That's another attached prejudice law enforcement officers obviously have to deal with is the judicial system to which they're associated. But that's a whole other diatribe.
Now this isn't to say there aren't exceptions or that a lot of this isn't a direct result of systematic issues such as a there-but-not-there quota system and a cycle of cash that flows through local and state government via speeding tickets, court fees and the like (it's an economy in and of itself, let's not kid ourselves) but it's not anything most officers are actively working against. It's as if they do the OBVIOUS right thing and take the abusive husband out of the house and expect that's all there is to being a moral civic servant. Maybe people shouldn't always be pulled over for busted tail lights and subsequently have that escalated to a two hour December 25 DUI check which comes out negative. Maybe sometimes people just need to go home instead of going to jail even though you could easily send them there. The community doesn't like cops because almost all their interactions with them are ones which mean they are emptying out the bank or filling a cell by simple virtue of being pulled over. Next time you see a guy going 15 over on the highway or rolling through a really long red light at 2AM you should let them pass go and not collect their $200. Or pull them over, tell them other officers might not be so nice and send them on their way. If you're doing that already then you're the man, now just try to get the rest of the force to follow along.
I would be interested in a direct link to an article concerning the "highly publicized" "isolated" incident Detective Allen is referring to. In some cursory research on the issue I have found incidents here:
Concerning use of clear identification, no knock warrants, unreasonable search and seizure, etc.
Concerning first amendment violations:
Concerning firing of 39 shots at an unarmed 92 year-old woman in a no knock warrant:
Now, I'm not positive that this article refers specifically to any of these issues as there are several to choose from and I've limited my search to the last decade. There is a systemic connection between the conduct of certain members of the APD and the organizations' lackluster steps taken in ameliorating the problems. After the Katherine Johnston shooting, for example, the improper use of no knock warrants continued, the fabled quota-system or "performance measures" were whispered of albeit disregarded by the chief of police, and the narcotics team was increased from 8 to 30 personnel... which seems more like a reward than a punishment when fewer, better trained officers are needed; not just swelled ranks. A widely-publicized shooting such as this should result in more administrative change than paid training, increased funding and a few bad apples thrown from a possibly spoiled bunch. Entire strategies for law enforcement need to be evolved.
Now I do not dispute the fact that there are many wonderful, well-meaning and responsible officers of the law. I do not believe the Atlanta Police Department has an interest in making things worse. But I do not feel any of these situations have been handled properly or to the level that one should expect from a group of government employees permitted to use lethal force.
Creative Loafing Atlanta
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