Friday, July 3, 2015

How can just this one cop be cop, judge, jury & executioner?

(This letter to the editor has been in all the local papers in case you missed it. It presents another point of view, albeit not exactly about the new hands free law, but expresses legitimate citizen concerns and as the writer states, will hopefully create a dialogue. It does exemplify though that being  a police officer carries a great deal of responsibility. Lastly, it is a dangerous world out there and I am thankful we have public safety employees and volunteers that do their utmost to keep us all safe and sound. )
Sometimes things just need to be addressed out loud, based in principle and truth, to hopefully create a proactive dialogue on how to go about de-escalating a growing problem. This is a condensed version of an article which was sent to elected state and federal officials prior to being sent to the press:
Far too often we are hearing about questionable police actions. That one sentence no doubt has already created an emotional reaction. My only request would be to read this as rationally as possible, do research on your own, and discern for yourself what is right. It should also be made clear that all officers are not acting questionably.
Stories of police coercion, deception, outright lying, intimidation, harassment and overstepping their "authority" are becoming so commonplace that it can be described as cancer: "If you haven't dealt with it yourself, you know someone who has." It's become a semi-silent epidemic.
Some claim cops are arrogant, racist, "trigger happy" or prone to bullying. Others say society has gone nuts and a cop takes his life in his hands when they depart for work each day.
Becoming a police officer is a choice. Like teachers, most go into the field with good intentions (hopefully) yet soon find out that they are just order followers, and their particular principles are not relevant. They are there to follow orders, moral or immoral, just or unjust, logical or not, and soon become jaded. "I don't make the laws, just enforce them" is a common response when a legitimate question is raised.
The driving force behind finally writing this article is an ongoing situation regarding a 28-year-old young man that I know well. In mid-April he was driving home on his motorcycle at 9 p.m. and was pulled over. According to the young man, he was informed it was because the corporal couldn't read his stock license plate from 50 feet away. The police report stated he was pulled over for not signaling while passing a van taking a right turn. The officer smelled alcohol and started the sequence of events for that.
Both parties agree that the officer was informed that this person had sustained a head injury, has a weak right side, speech impediment, etc. The young man was asked to take a breath test, after four separate times blowing into the machine, the highest result was 0.045 which was the only one documented in the report. After being placed in cuffs and while inside the cruiser, the cop suggested taking a blood test. The young man stated that up to this point he had politely done everything that he was asked and would prefer to get along with the night. Four hours later he was allowed to call for a ride. Thirty days later his license was suspended.
After the questionable stop, I can understand the officer's initial suspicion after smelling alcohol. Once being advised of the limitations of a head injury and the breath machine reading a high of 0.045 after four attempts, why continue? More disturbing is the prosecutor continuing on with it.
Possibly it's time for a display of integrity by the department by simply stating: "A mistake was made and has gotten out of hand, please accept our reimbursement for your expenses and your license back."
This has affected members of his family, friends and his job is in jeopardy. The financial expenses incurred to date are in the thousands. It has impacted every area of his life. Liberty to get around doing everyday things has been taken, not to mention the psychological damage to one whom already suffers from brain trauma. This all occurred just for driving home at a decent hour, legally sober on a Friday night through Ossipee.
People hearing of this are in disbelief, although many have a similar story to counter with. My initial statement after hearing this story was, "It's a good thing he is good-natured. Imagine what could have happened if the cop pulled over someone who had just got in a fight with their wife." Had that happened and an altercation resulted, would we have heard the true story? My guess is probably not, and not at all unless it happened between folks of different skin types, the cop lost, or a death.
Should you disagree or think "that would never happen here in New Hampshire", a quick search of the names: Bruce Mckay, Jeremy Charron, Les Lord, and Scott Phillips may help you believe.
The concern is how this cop is able to be cop, judge, jury and executioner; revoking a license based on suspicion. The claim will inevitably arise that he "was just doing his job and the DMV is responsible for taking the license." To both I respond untrue. When one sets motions into action, well aware of the results, that person is responsible. This young man will be without a license for 45 days (assuming the court date isn't postponed) before going in front of a judge. This "sentence" prior to entering a court, was based on opinion and disregard of the only objective assessor, the breath machine. Guilty and sentenced until proven innocent, for real. It's not right or moral, nor is it an isolated incident occurring in the "live free or die" state.
With this system and mentality why do people ask why things are happening the way they are? Until there is a change, incidents like Ferguson and Freddie Gray unfortunately will continue. I believe it is time to start treating all people as though they are people, with dignity, respect and a return to reciprocity and civility. The "us vs. them" mentality is breeding discontent and distrust, making our society a sketchy place to be. ALL officers aren't bad, nor are all people.
The time has passed for ignoring this issue and accepting "that's just the way it is." It's wrong, unjust and immoral.
The full article can be read at: www.inquiringone.com/article Those with similar stories, please send a brief note to: snafu@roadrunner.com
Dave Lutkus

Moultonborough

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think we are getting a little off track with some of these recent articles.....we do not need "filler". If there is nothing local, so be it. We need to stay focused on the town.......

Anonymous said...

Off what track? This effects all of us.

Mt. Rattler said...

The mantra of, " protect and serve" has become an out dated slogan for the occupation of Policing We have now taken our local Policing to a level where they are now looking at the Citizenry as subservient to the State and it's laws. They have become Militant in their approach,their look, and with the tools allotted to them. The post 9/11 world has turned the Citizen into a suspect. We are no longer the employer of these Officers. We are subjugated to their word over ours. I agree, there are good cops, and good Citizens, however the training put through by the Police Academy, influenced by homeland security protocol, and cheap military surplus has taken our local departments, our State police, and are making them accountable to Federal authority rather than the actual taxpayers that pay their wages. Within a short time, local departments will be accountable only to the State. We are seeing it first hand. Yes we should be concerned. It is a local issue. This is coming from someone who has been harassed because of his political stickers on his truck, and if I may quote the officer, " because of my unkept beard". Now tell me, whether it be sidewalks with Federal mandates , because we will probably except their money if we put them in, or Federal directives to our local Police departments to answer to Homeland Security, having a local Officer as a Homeland's liaison, are we ready to hand all local control to a higher "authority" for the benefit of the greater good? Do any of you realize that even Hitler had his homeland Security? How did that work out for the German Citizenry? We forget our History people, and if we are so blind to realize that America can fall prey to the same influences and circumstance, than we are not being the diligent Heirs that our Fore fathers had hoped would carry the light on the hill, that beacon of liberty, that Sovereign natural ability to be able to Govern ourselves from our backyards. Keep it local, keep your projects under local control. Keep your security local, and under our control. Do not succumb to the notion that giving power away will make you safer. On the contrary, it leaves your security, it leaves justice with her scales askew. Publius.



George Orwell said...

I'm old enough to remember a time when civil servants receiving tax-payer funds (policemen/women) were peace keepers who were tasked with the mission statement "Protect and serve". Times have changed.
I have had the displeasure of experiencing the wrath of law enforcement and the corrupt court system here in NH personally. My story is long and painful and I won't carry on about it here. I will share with the inexperienced reader that as a result of this behavior by modern tax collectors (policemen/women), it has changed the way that my family and I live our lives here in NH. We do not seek trouble, however at the first sign of it we are now better prepared to handle it by being informed. We know our rights and exercise them often. We help others with the same. Interacting with any member of law enforcement is extremely dangerous on all fronts of our existence. We do not speak to policemen-ever, nothing good comes of it. If they have probable cause to charge you with something they will. If they do not have probable cause they will coheres you into consenting to something in an effort to sell you the goods and services they offer. Stop being a customer. If you are a child of the state, then you surrender your rights to the "parental powers of the state". When you are a free and natural man/woman, things change and you are a whole lot less likely to be seen as a prospective customer.
Know this, 40% of people in prison today are there voluntarily as they did not know their rights and consented to a contract through coercion and intimidation. The most powerful word in the english language is "NO" and the most important action you can perform when interacting with "law-enforcement" is to keep your blessed mouth shut. There will plenty of time to talk after you have secured the services of competent council.


War is peace Freedom is slavery Ignorance is strength

INGSOC!

Anonymous said...

The officers must follow procedure, they do what they are directed to do by the command structure, which starts with the government, local, state and Federal. So, ultimately, we direct the police, give them the procedures. Is there leeway? Yes. Things could have gone better. I know this young man, I know him to be upstanding, cheerful, polite and good natured, a credit to his parents and the town.

All this said, there are some lessons to be learned. For motorcyclists, don't draw any more attention to yourselves than you have to. Don't have obvious code violations on your bikes. I've seen many cases of semi-obscured tags and turn signals, use effective mufflers, show some respect for your fellow citizens. The freedom to make noise also entails the responsibility to not disturb the peace of those who value peace and quiet.

I know we all wish a just outcome for this case, the young man needs our support, moral and financial.

Joe Cormier/jcormier2@myfairpoint.net said...

Human beings are the only common operatives that seem to be in play in this exercise.

Cops are human, and probably fit a certain profile to want to become a law enforcement officer. Ask a Navy SEAL, Green Beret, or Delta Force individual ... why the hell would you want to do, what you do, or what you've done?

Law enforcement v. legal interpretation are different and can be manipulated ... both. Maybe some judges should spend some time in the cross-bar motel.

Not being privy to all of the details of questionable behavior that some, may have experienced, here in town, but, keeping it local, as someone has posted: ... If you haven't complained to the Police Chief ... try it ... you'll like it.

State and Federal issues are hardly fixed at the MoBo level. How are 200-300 folks that show-up for an annual MoBo town meeting, going to do anything but follow the crowd. Then again, they can all get together before the meeting (where am I) and form a lynch mob. See if the cops show-up. Wouldn't that be fun.

After all, a lynch mob is an example of a democracy ... the majority voice prevails. After that, a republic, which we are for the rest of the time, is controlled by who we elect.

Maybe someone should call the cops on them!




Average Joe and Jane said...

With everything going on across this country we need to come back home right here in Moultonboro. Homogeneity may be the perception of this quaint little town.
It might be time for this town to propose a warrant article for a local citizen police commission.
We may need a citizen review as to what is going on at our local police department.
Example: Our police cars have always been painted white. Interpreted by some as a positive color. Now all of the sudden our police cars are painted black. Why? "To Protect and to Serve"??? Why painted black? Think about it. Why black?
This is just one example of why the town of Moultonboro should investigate the idea of a local citizens police commission.
Thank you.

Anonymous said...

To Average. Black and white is the traditional colors for police cars at least in this area. A former police chief liked white so the new cars came in white. He even had the existing cruisers repainted white. The statements of the time I remember from the switch back is people had trouble identifying the white as cruisers. Seems to be a bit of an oxymoron to me as they do everything possible (low profile light bars, non-existent light bars, etc.)to make them unidentifiable from a distance. Some shade of blue seems to be popular down south for the state police in those states.

Anonymous said...

I think Chief Weatherbee is doing a tremendous job and see no need for a civilian police commission. He has initiated passive speed enforcement through the use of the radar signs and actually cut an officer and the police dog. I am not sure if the town still participates in the regional tactical force (or whatever it is called) with the armored car ready to do battle with the invaders. We were probably paying more than our fair share if it was based on property values of the participating towns. The police dog was used by all of Carroll County with our town picking up the tab.

Dave said...

Chief Weatherbee may be a good decent person. For we civilians he seems to be hiding behind that thick blue wall.
Every time I go into police station with a question the lady behind the one foot thick glass has a less then positive demeanor. Maybe it's time for the entire staff to obtain training in public relations.
And I too, am for, a citizens review board of the police department.
Who are these guys and gals accountable to?

Mt. Rattler said...

They are accountable to Homeland security, these days. Let's find out who the liaison is to the HS department. They don't volunteer that information. We now have the county Sheriff, who was a director under them. Where do his loyalties lie? Just curious, these are questions people have put aside asking for a while now. Do we wait for them to set an alarm clock to wake us up, or do we take that initiative as citizens? Keeping the power locally is the only means of calling the shots around here. If we lose that, we will have more unelected, beaurocratic commissions dictating our every day activities. The alarm has been sounded, are we pushing the snooze button?

Anonymous said...

If you want to see how the law perverts everything just read this article from the Ny Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/05/us/teenagers-jailing-brings-a-call-to-fix-sex-offender-registries.html?emc=edit_th_20150705&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=5305792

It is about this:

Zachery Anderson was a typical 19-year-old in a small Midwestern city.

He studied computer science at the local community college. He lived with his parents and two younger brothers in a sun-filled home on the St. Joseph River, where framed family photos hang from the walls and a pontoon boat is docked outside.

And he dated in the way that so many American teenagers do today: digitally and semi-anonymously, through apps where prospects emerge with the swipe of a finger and meetings are arranged after the exchanges of photos and texts.

In December, Mr. Anderson met a girl through Hot or Not, a dating app, and after some online flirting, he drove to pick her up at her house in Michigan, just miles over the state line. They had sex in a playground in Niles City, the police report said.


That sexual encounter has landed Mr. Anderson in a Michigan jail, and he now faces a lifetime entanglement in the legal system. The girl, who by her own account told Mr. Anderson that she was 17 — a year over the age of consent in Michigan — was actually 14.

Joe Cormier/jcormier2@myfairpoint.net said...

Maybe MoBo needs an Eliot Ness for the MoBo mafia. You know ... those few who have a strangle hold on MoBo, and don't want the pastures to be disturbed. They should be put out to pasture.

The same folks that belly-ache if any change is proposed for MoBo that isn't from the stone age. I'm allowed, I've been paying taxes to MoBo since the early 70's and started "living" here in 96 ... 1996, not 1896 or 1796!

Complaints are made ... NOT AGAIN ... but haven't a clue about facts ... just rumors and innuendo ... you know the MoBo hotline.

It's tough knowing what you're talking about ... when your head is up your rectum!


http://revenue.nh.gov/mun-prop/municipal/documents/sb2-tech-assistance.pdf

https://www.nhmunicipal.org/Resources/ViewDocument/23



For the Police ... to watch you, not them!

cameras

http://www.vnews.com/home/15539613-95/editorial-nh-considers-cameras-on-cops


Concentrate on the Select Board. They are the governing body. If you vote, you can only vote for them and some zoning ordinances, right now, since you probably don't/can't be at the Annual Town meeting. You know ... that gathering of 200-300 partisans, of a town of about 4,000. Nice the meeting is in March, when the snowbirds are in elsewhere, and can't vote on the warrant articles.

Otherwise, you need to change how you can vote on most everything else.

That's tough as well, when rectum is in the way.


Anonymous said...

Saw a great tee shirt and bumper sticker that may be helpful to many blog readers: " Do you hear crazy voices? Turn off Fox News!"

Offensive said...

we could do without the crude anatomy references Joe. No need for that.

Moultonboro Blogger said...

From my personal point of view, our local MPD does a fine job in our town. Extrapolating national problems to the local level is not always applicable. The police do not make laws, they merely enforce them. Go to Concord or DC to complain about legislation.

Dave Lutkus said...

I would like to thank all of you that have commented on this post, as well as Paul for unexpectedly posting the article.
There have been several responses which I agree, others which have led to contemplation. This is a good thing; the idea was to create a discussion, which seems to be happening, & in my humble opinion is productive. Prior to our situation, during a discussion about such incidents happening around us, a comment was made that Moultonborough’s “new Chief” was interested in the dept. becoming a bit more social, and working toward a better image within the town. Some of these comments, and hearing from other sources, it sounds as if they are trying, and as with any team, it appears to be monitoring all players and providing constructive criticism to become better. Hopefully this becomes the model for surrounding towns and eventually the state. As has been mentioned it needs to begin at the local level. There has been a slow progression which has led to today’s issues, once they become “political” it appears a slim few decide what’s best for all, many times assuming what “all” will like, or corporations want and seldom repeal anything which “all” would prefer removed. That particular issue I’ve no idea how to address, but am also admittedly biased at this point 
Thanks again,
Dave Lutkus