I recently blogged about Zach Wendorff, who was arrested while trying to record a University of California Santa Barbara Police Officer. That officer called backup and two Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s (SBCS) Deputies arrived on scene, one of those deputies was Wayne Johnson. While investigating Zach’s arrest I called the SBCS to see if I could get comment and was connected with Deputy Johnson.
During my first call to the department Johnson said, “He was not arrested for filming” before I had explained any important details of the case. This surprised me, so I asked if he was aware of the situation and Johnson said, “I know parts of it, but not the entire situation.” I passed that off as odd, but thought maybe word had spread through the department and other deputies were informed of the arrest. After reviewing my notes on the arrest I noticed, “Wayne, first name of officer also on scene.” Realizing that the man I had just talked to was named Wayne Johnson, I picked up my phone and hit redial.
It was less than five minutes before I had Johnson back on the phone. I immediately asked him if he was on the scene of Zach’s arrest and after a four second pause he says, “Actually I was at the scene.” Now, its no big surprise that cops lie, or anyone really, and I choose not to dwell on it and simply moved past it. I believe that Johnson wasn’t upfront with me because he wasn’t sure why I was calling and wanted to get a better feel for the purpose of my call before placing himself there. Since that was the case, the fact that he lied to me wasn’t interesting, just telling.
What was rather interesting is how the conversation concludes. I tried to end the conversation by stating that cops don’t always have to escalate a situation, even if a person with a camera does first. This lead Johnson and I down a path where we talked about filming public officials, victimless crimes, and cops enforcing bad laws. Watch the video.
The real humdinger is when Johnson says, “I don’t make the laws, I just enforce them.” This is something I’ve heard cops say a thousand times and cop apologists (or cop suckers, as I call them) say over 10,000 times – no joke. Just as I said in the video, it’s a piss poor excuse when it comes to justifying enforcing a law you believe is bad. Which really means you wouldn’t do it without a uniform and badge. Seriously, is Johnson the type of person you want in the role of protector of your community? Knowing he’s willing to blindly enforce any words on paper that are handed down to him?
In the video, I give the example that ketchup is illegal and asked Johnson, “are you going to start kicking down doors to grab ketchup?” Johnson’s responded by saying, “if it’s illegal I have to do my job.” When I pushed him by asking if he’d still use ketchup, even though it was illegal, he accused me of comparing apples to oranges, but he missed the point. I wasn’t comparing skateboarding to ketchup at all, I was clarifying that, no matter what the law was – pot, speeding, ketchup or skateboarding, enforcing it if you disagree with it is not only hypocritical, but stupid and dangerous.
With so many laws on the books there isn’t one person, let alone a single cop, who would say all laws are just and mean it. Therefore, at this time, every single officer out there, including Johnson – at one time or another – is enforcing a law they DO NOT AGREE WITH. The face of that is simple stupidity and the unseen is extremely dangerous. There’s a famous quote from an English author called E.M. Forster, and he said, “if I were called upon to betray my country or my friend, I hope I would have the courage to betray my country.” As I hope Johnson does when the ketchup act of 2020 passes into law.
What are your thoughts about the conversation between Johnson and I? Do you think police officers will enforce ANY law? How about the LEO’s out there, where is your line in the sand? What law would the government ‘leaders’ have to pass for you to throw down your badge?