The Perils of Cop on Cop Law Enforcement
UPDATE: I highly recommend you take a look at the attitude of Florida cops with respect to this trooper and her enforcement of traffic laws on other LEO’s. This is an extremely instructive forum thread, and you should see it before they hide it from the public:
Trooper Watts HOW DARE YOU?????
Back on October 30th, a Florida State Trooper actually pulled over a Miami Police Department officer in a marked squad car for traveling in excess of 120 miles per hour on the freeway, weaving in and out of traffic, and doing so without lights and sirens, ultimately executing a felony stop, which includes a drawn weapon and loud voice commands requiring the driver to exit the vehicle to and submit to handcuffing at gunpoint. It turns out, the MPD officer was on his way not to an urgent call, but an off-duty event at a school, with some “very important people” present. He was cited for misdemeanor reckless driving, and released, after a lengthy bitching out by the FHP trooper. You can bet your ass that if an average citizen were going 120 on the freeway and weaving in and out of traffic and failing to stop for 7 solid minutes of hot pursuit, he’d get a lot worse than a stint in cuffs and a stern talking to. He’d have his head caved in while the Fox news chopper circled overhead.
It appears that this incident is the culmination of a long-standing situation wherein MPD officers drive at crazy speeds on highways patrolled by the FHP, expecting what is known as “professional courtesy” from the troopers, meaning essentially that speeding laws simply don’t apply to Miami police officers like they do the rest of us. Apparently, Miami PD have worn out their welcome on the freeways of southern Florida and exhausted any “professional courtesy” the FHP was willing to extend.
The fallout from the event has become an even more interesting story than the unusual traffic stop itself. Police officers across the country, and especially the Miami Police Union, have severely criticized the Florida Highway Patrol officer’s actions, but beyond their stern official press release, and internet comments filled with righteous indignation and liberally seasoned with misogyny, they have resorted to some very juvenile retaliation in an effort to express their disgust for this violation of the “code.” In one instance, a load of human feces was spread all over an FHP trooper’s patrol car, and in another, a Miami PD officer pulled over and harassed (but did not cite) an FHP trooper as he was driving in Miami, although, that didn’t work out too well, when it turned out the trooper’s brother is a detective in the Internal Affairs division of the Miami PD. The feud is getting out of hand, and as incidents like this escalate, accompanied by heated rhetoric all over the police-focused blogosphere and social media sites, the Chief of Miami’s PD, Manuel Orosa told reporters at a recent press conference, “whatever issues may be out there have to stop, and stop now,” according to the Miami Herald.
For readers of CopBlock.org, this kind of reaction shouldn’t be surprising. After all, we have whole categories full of stories for this kind of double-standard, where the cops assume they are above the law, and get royally pissed whenever they are held to any sort of account, much less the same standards of behavior and compliance with the law they enforce on the rest of us. But this story is unique in the near universal consensus on the part of police officers across the country that the Florida trooper was in the wrong. Sometimes, when the police have to enforce the law against one of their own, there is substantial division in the LEO community, or at least an acknowledgment that the arrestee did something wrong, whether or not they agree with the collar. There seems to be almost no willingness to admit that the Miami cop was endangering the lives of everyone on that road, just because he was late for an *OFF DUTY* event. I’ve been pulled over for speeding before when I was late for work. I got a ticket and no sympathy whatsoever from the cop, and I sure as hell wasn’t going 120 mph.
The brazenness with which the LEO’s on PoliceOne, YouTube, and Big City Cops, for instance, assert that they ought to be entirely immune from any kind of restraint on their driving, regardless of where they are going or why is almost shocking, until you remember, these are the police. They typically recognize no authority but their own. However, that attitude is particularly ironic in light of recent events in Tucson, Arizona. Just a couple of days ago, a suspect managed to steal a police car and lead the cops and sheriff’s deputies on an 80+ mile high speed chase, on the freeway, at speeds in excess of 120 mph. Hmm. And last year, I wrote about this guy, who stole a cop car and drove recklessly around the city until he crashed into a bus and died as a result. Since that Miami PD officer did not at any point communicate with the FHP trooper via radio, she really had no reason not to assume a crime was in progress (and she was right).
Ultimately, what galls me most is the sense of entitlement to this double standard that pervades the law enforcement community, and the culture of back-scratching, covering up and outright dishonesty that goes along with it. Police can literally get away with murder, and their coworkers are loathe to do anything about it. Honest cops who do stand up and enforce the law against misbehaving fellow officers have their careers destroyed, or at the very least can expect to get no assistance or back-up if their lives are ever actually in danger. They’ll make no bones about it either, they’re happy to declare, out in the open for all to see, that their “brotherhood,” and loyalty to each other is far more important than actually obeying the laws they themselves are charged with enforcing on the rest of us. It absolutely creates corruption, fosters abuse of authority, and guarantees that the worst of the worst ascend to ever-higher positions within the force, while the good guys get run out of their jobs altogether.
Just look at the fiasco in New York City, where several officers are up on charges of corruption, including rampant ticket fixing and even covering up an aggravated assault by an officer. Far from being embarrassed by these cops “tarnishing the badge,” their fellow officers have been out in large numbers at the courthouse nearly every day to support these accused criminals, intimidating the press, and the prosecutor, and telling anyone who will listen that what they supposedly did was “no big deal,” a “courtesy,” and bizarrely, employing the Nuremberg defense, saying they were “just following orders.” Under the circumstances, how can anyone have any respect for the badge, or the men and women who wear it? I know I don’t.