“Respect mah authoritah” – or else!

A lot of old-school “peace officers” of my acquaintance are quietly (some not so quietly) vitriolic about modern “law enforcement officers” and their approach to their profession.  The former complain that the latter are all too often bureaucratic, hide-bound and rigidly by-the-book in the way they do their job, with little or no room for human considerations.  I tend to agree, based on my experience as a prison chaplain and my (frequent) contact with law enforcement in that capacity.  The human element appears to have become less and less important, and the autocratic, even arrogant approach appears to dominate.  (Not always, but a lot of the time.)

The animated TV series South Park satirized that attitude in a well-known meme:

That attitude is epitomized in this report.

The events began Jan. 25 when the 5-year-old girl was playing on one of the rope swings at Sky High trampoline park, according to the lawsuit. The girl slid down and was injured.

When she got home, she also told her parents, and they asked her if there was any more to it, such as had anyone touched her down there, according to the suit. The girl said no.

When the girl returned to school on Jan. 28, her teacher initiated a Child Protective Services investigation after she heard her say something about no longer bleeding and “Daddy touching her in her private parts,” according to attorney Powell, who represents the Lothers.

The three Mountain View police officers — Poirier, Motomura and Rogers — and social worker Phan showed up at the Lothers’ home that evening around 5. One of the officers pounded on the door instead of using the doorbell, which startled Danielle enough to think it was a “home invasion,” according to the suit.

The officers asked to speak with the girl, which Danielle allowed without knowing why they were there. The social worker was supposed to tell Danielle why they were there and about the allegations against her and her husband, yet refused to do so even after she asked numerous times, the family claims.

The girl was taken outside and questioned. The 5-year-old told the officers about the incident on the rope swing and that she was not hurting anymore.

When her father, Douglas, got home a few minutes after police arrived, Officer Motomura allegedly said they had received a call concerning the girl, but he did not explain the nature of the call.

The family, including the Lothers’ other daughter, were pulled outside one-by-one and questioned in front of their home, and each repeated the same story of the rope swing, according to the lawsuit.

Danielle offered to call the girl’s pediatrician, but Officer Poirier allegedly refused the offers.

A paramedic was called and asked to come to the home to examine the girl’s body, while Motomura allegedly told the parents that if they did not agree, she could be forcibly removed from their home and care.

The parents pleaded with the officers to not put their daughter through more trauma.

According to the lawsuit, Motomura “condescendingly” told Danielle at one point, “This shows how you’re not listening.”

This inflamed Danielle, who said, “I’m not listening? What are you talking about!?”

Motomura told her, “You’re doing it again. Are you willing to listen or not, because we are not leaving until this is resolved,” according to the lawsuit.

To which Douglas responded, “Well, it’s not going to happen, so where are you guys sleeping.”

Poirier said they needed to check to make sure the injury was healing properly. The parents said they would take her to the doctor the next day.

Motomura allegedly told them the investigation was going to happen whether the parents liked it or not and told Danielle she was being “disrespectful.”

There’s more at the link.

As a result of this arrogant, callous and unprofessional behavior on the part of the officers, a lawsuit by the parents is about to be settled for $600,000.  That money will largely come from the taxpayers of that district, who are being unfairly saddled with that burden, thanks to incompetent, full-of-themselves “law enforcement officers” who – judging by their demonstrated attitudes and disregard for standards and procedures – aren’t fit to polish the shoes of a real “peace officer”.

I’ve had to deal with incidents of child abuse.  I’ve trained as a counselor in how to deal with such tragedies.  I can tell you that the behavior of those cops traumatized that poor girl in precisely the same way as if she had been abused.  Those cops, and the medic who assisted them, were the abusers in this case – but are they being called to account for their behavior?  The report doesn’t say, but I’m willing to bet they aren’t.

The long-standing motto of many police forces is “To protect and serve”, or some variation on that theme.  These cops seem to have adopted the attitude that they’re going to protect the bejeesus out of the people in their district, whether the latter want it or not.  Indeed, the people apparently exist to serve them through unquestioning obedience.  “Respect mah authoritah!” rears its ugly head yet again.  That’s anything but how it’s supposed to be.

Personally, I think those cops should be fired and blacklisted from ever again serving in a law enforcement function;  but I doubt very much whether that will happen.  It’s like the tragedy of baby Bounkham Phonesavanh a few years ago.  Those responsible basically got away scot-free.  It wasn’t right or just back then, and it’s not right or just now.

Peter

11 comments

  1. We lived in a small town and my father loved to play cards. He was playing in a game that the police had wind of. When they raided the game dad went out the window and made his get away but he had been seen. The next day dad was on his way to work and Officer McKelvy spied him. He told dad that he was under arrest. Dad told him that he needed to go to work and that when he got back he would come down to the station to be arrested. Officer McKelvy said okay and dad went to work, came home and was arrested. I thought the story sounded fishy until I met retired Officer Mckelvy years later and he told me the same story. He added that while dad had some issues with gambling he knew dad was a man of his word. Days gone by.

  2. The entire concept of “child protective services” is flawed and unconstitutional.
    CPS’ own statistics clearly show that they cause far more harm than good. For every child saved, at least 10 are irreparably harmed. (It’s more like 20 in most places.) And of course the Dems use it as a weapon against their opponents. Be quiet and obey or we’ll take your children from you!

    CPS delenda est!

  3. One can hope that when – if – the Lothers receive the suit award they use it to stake their emigration to a free country.
    If they can find one.

  4. A free country, like UK, Australia, or Canada? You are dreaming. This USA is it–we preserve freedom here or it’s done.

  5. A Wyoming State Patrol officer stopped to check a stalled vehicle near Wheatland, WY. One of the occupants needed to get to a hospital in Denver for a critical procedure. The vehicle wasn’t going to make it. Off duty, the officer drove the people to Denver, in her own vehicle, at her expense and on her own time.

    Stories like this are not unusual. In my extended family are several officers, most now retired, who are Peace Officers. Are they becoming an endangered group?

  6. Used to be once a situation was deemed to not be ‘dangerous’ a policeman would drop the facade of the ‘enforcer’ and adopt a more human stance. Obviously this was with a bit of judgement thrown in because there are times when this is not possible.

    The creation of a ‘professional’ police force has resulted in the creation of urban soldiers who patrol the streets with department policy as the ‘rules of engagement’ and the only way to avoid professional criticism or discipline is to follow them to the letter. Thus we get the storm trooper policeman.

    This is definitely not the status quo as I know many law enforcement professionals who are better than this. Still, when we read of stories of abuse of power you can bet that the culture within the department accused is not unlike the ‘professional’ example I describe.

    The community policeman used to be our neighbor and friend. I grew up in a village where I knew the policemen in our community at a social level. They coached youth sports and were part of my church. I respected them and as long as you obeyed the law they did whatever they could do to help you. Even when violations were involved the human touch was still there. We all had to live together and that was the tempering factor.

    These days we see the police being accused of bias and discrimination with most all cases being unfounded. Still, this puts law enforcement in a bad light and puts all of the police on the defensive to start with which is adversarial and an impediment to good community relations. Just as we dislike being falsely accused imagine how it impacts a policeman to suffer the same. Distrust and a general disdain if not fear result.

    We live in a society that is full of well intentioned people who create laws and rules ‘to protect the innocent’ and then insist on these rules being followed even based on empty suspicions to the detriment of all who are subjected to enforcement. Sometimes a softer and kinder approach can do wonders as opposed to the draconian enforcement as illustrated in this article.

  7. I’m nearly 60. In my life I have had ONE negative interaction with a police officer, and he was considered a complete prick by his own department, which was going to be rid of him as fast as could be arranged (this was in NJ, so there were a lot of hoops to jump through before they could fire his ass).

    OTOH, the whole “Respect mah authoritah” thing reminds me strongly of the kind of jerk I’ve run into regularly in Rent-a-cop uniform. Not the moonlighting actual cops, the wannabes. And I say this as somebody who has been a ‘security officer’ at an outlet mall (hey, it was a bad fit, but I needed a job.)

    Maybe standards have dropped? Or maybe the Public Employee Unions have grown strong enough to prevent a winnowing out process that used to be automatic?

    Any LEO’s reading this that can speak to it?

  8. EVERYONE OUTSIDE THESE WALLS ARE SCUM!!! – Primary instructor, day one, Arizona Law Enforcement Academy in Tucson, Arizona.

  9. Lawsuits like this won’t work until they start coming out of the convicted officers’ and officials’ pockets. All such lawsuits should mandatorily revoke sovereign immunity from all officers and pubic employees convicted, by law upon a plea or conviction, and no more than 25% of such damages awarded against the departments involved.
    That is non-negotiable.

    Failing that, they’re only going to learn by shooting them in the face.

    I hope they get one or the other. They’ve got it coming.

  10. When I went thru the AL State Trooper Academy in 71-72, we were told we were Peach Officers, not Law Enforcement Officers. Solve the situation as necessary. Ticket, warning or jail as necessary. The “Warrior” mentality today is not the proper way to go.

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