8:46 + 10 DAYS
George Floyd is dead, the protests have started but where are the reforms?
Talking to a friend who is a retired policeman and discussing George Floyd’s murder, I asked why did it take so long to arrest Derek Chauvin and his comrades?
“Policeman’s Bill of Rights,” he said.
The what? At first I thought he was kidding, but I looked it up.
The Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights (LEOBR) provides additional rights to law enforcement officers that other citizens don’t get. Radley Balko did a fine article on this in the Washington Post in 2015
Essentially it is a road map for the fox guarding the hen house. Some examples, along with what would happen to you or me if we were the accused.
- If a complaint is made against the officer, he and his union must be notified.
- The officer gets a “cooling off period” which Radley says could alternately be called the “get your stories straight period”. We don’t get any cooling off period, except behind some bars.
- The officer knows who his accuser is and what their testimony is before he is interrogated. Perhaps more time to get your story straight?
- It must be done at a reasonable hour, with breaks provided. How many times have you heard of civilians being interrogated in the wee hours of the morning?
- Only one person can interrogate the officer. So unlike you and me, there is no “good cop, bad cop” routine going on.
- The officer cannot be threatened with disciplinary action at any point; whatever is stated after that cannot be used against him. For us, “ You know, you are looking at 5–10. This could go better for you if you just told us the truth.”
- The officer cannot be interrogated by “non-government” agents aka Civilian Review Boards. Maybe this explains why so many go unpunished; a CRB would not put up with officers who have serious, or multiple, complaints.
- Not following the procedures laid out in the LEOBR can result in the officer getting out of jeopardy and the complaint dropped.
It sounds to me like the LEOBR was a dirty secret; I have never heard of it, have you? This type of law only serves to do one thing- protect bad behavior and give the guilty an easy way out. It’s a hall pass for perpetrators to go out and do it all over again. Putting it down to rest would be one reform that is a step in the right direction.
It’s been 8:46 + 10 days since George Floyd was killed. Protests are happening all over the country and the world. Meanwhile, no effective voice comes from our leaders in Washington or locally. Where are Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Mitch McConnell and Lindsay Graham?
Beyond their platitudes about the horror of it all, we need immediate action. You saw how quickly they passed legislation for the economic safety net from COVID, so you know they can work fast if they have to do so; if they want to do so.
Also, have you heard of any police commissioner saying that they are revising their policies to make sure this never happens again? I have heard words, but I haven’t heard of any definitive action being taken.
One common thread to many of these cases of African Americans being killed that I have observed- our police forces need training on how to deescalate a volatile situation. Invariably you see the officer feeding into the situation and the end result is an “I’ll show you who‘s boss here.” Violence seems to be the only action they know how to use in order to end a confrontation.
When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
That needs to stop. Interestingly, hostage negotiators don’t use those tactics, for obvious reasons. Could you imagine the results?
I am tired of hearing that “it’s only a handful of bad cops that make it worse for everyone else”. If you are a policeman you know “ the handful”- so get rid of them. I know- the unions make it difficult you say. So you shrug your shoulders and let it go on and have more people die for no reason? That’s your strategy? Lawyers make it difficult for you to convict criminals, but you keep at it, don’t you?
As I write this, 57 members of the Buffalo police resigned today in support of two of their colleagues that were suspended after they shoved an elderly man to the floor and walked by him with indifference as he lay bleeding from his head wound. The news outlets allege that the official report stated that he tripped on his own; the video shows he was clearly shoved backwards.
Fifty seven members of the Buffalo police think that shoving him to the ground was “OK”? He was over 70 years old for God’s sake. You felt threatened by him?
Fifty seven members of the Buffalo police think that lying on the report is OK?
Buffalo, no America, doesn’t need 57 policemen that think any of that was ok.
8:46+ 10 days. How much longer do we have to wait before definitive action takes place to make real and lasting change?
Until that happens, we all have a knee on our neck and none of us can breathe.
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views, opinions, or positions of , and should not be attributed to, his employer.