Sunday, March 27, 2011

When cops become criminals - prosecuting rogue police officers

This past week, a Chicago police officer was convicted of assault and battery and official misconduct nearly a year after he was videotaped by his own dash camera mercilessly beating an unarmed and defenseless motorist. The victim, 28 year old Ronald Bell, pulled into his own driveway after officer James Mandarino signaled that he should pull over. The video, which appears on the Huffington Post's website, shows Mandarino savagely beating Bell with his baton upwards of 15 times. Bell appears to be unarmed and completely nonthreatening.

As disturbing as this story is, it is far from the only instance of police cruelty. Since cops are given large amounts of both immunity from prosecution and discretion when it comes to dealing with suspects, they are very hard to prosecute - EVEN when they clearly violate established Constitutional principles and legislation regarding unnecessary use of force. More often, police officers are stripped of their street duty and kept at desk jobs instead.

Take, for instance, this videotaped confrontation between a police officer and a biker during NY's Critical Mass bike event in 2008. The cop appears to throw the rider off the bike with absolutely no provocation whatsoever. The police officer received no jail time, no probation, and issued no apology. Check out the cached New York Post report on the sentencing here.

So what are we, as a society, to do? Do we prosecute more police officers who have broken the law, thus discouraging them from their role as crime stoppers? Or do we continue to provide them with discretion in the hope that more often than not, their conduct is both legal and productive? Discuss!


Qasim said...

Great post. Thanks for sharing. Keep fighting the good fight.

suzmaq42 said...

I don't believe that prosecuting police officers who break the law would deter them from their role as crime stoppers. I believe it will sharpen a line that often becomes blurred and encourage "whistleblowing" which I am sure is hard to do within the force.