20 August 2014

Sometimes the Police are the problem

     With all of the news regarding Ferguson Missouri right now, it seems like a good time to discuss the issue of police behavior. I myself have been abused verbally by a police officer. This is in no way as bad as what is happening in Ferguson, but it does make me think that the problem of bad police behavior  is much more widespread and we want to believe.
     To tell my story, it was in the evening when I was driving home with Hal after a nice dinner at a local restauraunt . I had toyed with the idea of having a beer or cocktail at dinner, but wisely I decided against it. The weather was overcast and slightly warm and muggy that night.
     Due to some widely-reported heavy traffic, I decided to take a different route home than usual.  I had come to an intersection and entered the left-turn lane to wait at the red light. Across from me another vehicle was doing one of those slow rolls up to the light with their headlights on BRIGHT. This was extremely distracting to me as I sat there because the oncoming car gave no solid indication if it was going to proceed through the intersection, or turn left opposite me. 
     As the light turned green the oncoming car just seemed to continue its slow roll through the intersection. This struck me as odd' but I was about to find out why that car didn't accelerate normally. When the car cleared the intersection I didn't realize how much the bright lights had affected my vision. I looked and then slowly proceeded to begin my left turn. It was as I started that I finally saw a Hispanic couple with a baby stroller in the crosswalk. They had the right of way and I came to a stop.
    At this point I discovered that the car which had been waiting in the left turn lane behind me was actually a cop! His lights came on, his siren blared, and he proceeded to scream over his loudspeaker "Pull over to the curb, Asshole!" I was feeling a mixture of emotions at that point. The panic at the realization I had come within a few feet of actually hitting a couple along with their child terrified me. The fact that a cop had seen this incident unnerved me, but I found myself really pissed off that this cop had acted in the way that he did with his verbal assault broadcast for the entire neighborhood to hear.
     I pulled over to the curb after carefully cleared the intersection and waited for the cop to approach my car. I stayed perfectly still and gave no indication of trouble whatsoever. After a minute or two running the obligatory license plate checks, the cop approached my car. The cop was an African-American and he proceeded to verbally harass me even more with several obscenities thrown in which apparently provided amusement to the crowd that gathered after hearing the siren and the uncalled-for insult broadcast over his car speaker.
     I was subjected to approximately 25 minutes of interrogation and repeated verbal abuse in addition to correctly performing what must have been every field sobriety test in the police handbook. A second officer arrived and was much more interested in finding out what had uld    happened. I had deliberately avoided saying anything to the abusive cop that was not a direct answer to a question from him. It honestly felt like this cop was trying to provoke me into some type of incident.
     I know that my story pales in comparison to what has happened in Ferguson. I can't begin to umderstand or pretend to know how someone who is African-American could possibly feel when a cop so acting as if they are above the law. I merely want to point out that when we allow the police to act above the Law, then we are all in danger from those cops. The ones who want to pick a fight with the people they are supposed to protect.