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Bad cop! No Donut!

OK, so a hopelessly irreverent title for a fairly serious subject. Over the past weekend, a NH cop and a kid were both killed. Apparently there was a long history between the cop and the kid, and the cop was known to be fairly heavy handed with kids in general. Drawing from a number of sources, here’s my understanding of what happened:

the cop pulls the kid over for some sort of traffic offense (so far, no one seems to know what the actual traffic offense *was*).

The kid, having had a number of problems with the cop in the past, asked the cop to get another cop to the scene. Considering the history, this should have been a reasonable request. Even if it wasn’t a professional cop would have done so simply to ensure that there *were* no problems. (Apparently the cop broke the kids jaw when the cop was breaking up a party. Somehow it was the kid  – not the cop – that got busted for assault – cops word against the kid. Seems the cops couldn’t find any witnesses to the event, even though it happened while they were breaking up a party. Anyway, long history of problems, many complaints to the cops about them, couple of attempts at legal action, and nothing ever done to pull the cop back into line)

When the cop refused to call for another cop, the kid indicated the he was going to drive to another police station, and began to very slowly drive away. Slowly enough that the cop managed to go back to his cruiser, get in, pass the kid, pull over and had to BACK UP in order to drive the kid off the road. I don’t know about you, but if I was a cop making a traffic stop that was going like this, I’d sure as hell make sure I had some assistance before doing anything else. Apparently, this cop didn’t feel the same way. From here, things get a bit murky. About all we do know is that the kid shot the cop 4 times, then drove over the body. A passerby then shot and killed the kid.

The real tragedy here is that two people ended up dead. People who, by all accounts were both overall decent people. I gotta admit in a case like this, the problem I see is one that is endemic in New England – cops are just not held accountable for their actions. I know that the stereotype is that southern cops are the hicks and “bad cops” and that the crooked cops are all to be found in big cities taking bribes from drug dealers. In my experience, the worst cops are the small town NORTHERN cops. Maybe it’s because the cops down south are trying to change the stereotype of southern cops. Maybe southern cops are just more polite in general. Who knows? I sure don’t. BUT, I can say that it is a fairly common practice for the cops up here to pull over a line of traffic, then write speeding tickets for all of the out of state drivers. I’ve sat in traffic court and watched a judge throw out a whole days worth of a cops traffic tickets because they were all identical – apparently the cop was simply filling out a ticket, pulling the next car over, and writing another ticket – completely ignoring how fast the people were actually going (Whats really scary is that the cop actually thought he could get away with this stunt, and that he was never disciplined or held accountable for his illegal actions). I’ve dealt with traffic cops in the northeast that acted more like mafia thugs than cops. Hardly a month goes by without some news story about a new York or Chicago cop (or group of cops) that have killed anunarmed innocent for some reason. A cop in a local small town shot and killed an unarmed kid (in the back no less) for no particular reason other than he didn’t like him. It turns out that the cop and the kid had a long history, and the cop knew that state law guarantees that a cop can shoot a convicted felon if he feels it is necessary (the kid had been busted on a minor possession charge, and was therefor a felon). The cop walked, without even a slap on the wrist. (the state law has since been changed.)

So, we have a typical northen small time cop who has been getting his kicks beating up the local kids, and getting away with it for years. Finaly, some kid snaps, and wastes the cop. Good? No. Unexpected? It shouldn’t be. If the cops are allowed to act like street toughs and thugs, then the civilians have no choice – they can either accept that the cops are beyond the law, or they can fight back. Unfortunately, the press and the court systems don’t tend to look very well on anyone that kills a cop, no matter what the situation. A lrage part of the impetus to write this rant was hearing the news reports that told a small portion of the story, and spun it in such a way that the cop was a hero, and that the kid and his family were hopeless losers who really deserved to be constantly harassed by this cop

Who’s the victim? the cop? maybe, but maybe he’s just getting what he really deserves. The kid? Certainly he’s been a victim of a failed police and court system. The bystander that shot the kid? He made a choice. Maybe there is no real victim. There is definitely food for thought. When does a cop stop being a cop and start being just another thug? Is it possible for there to be a good cop in a system that ensures that a cop is above the law? Maybe this tragedy will start people (like you) thinking about how our cops are regulated. What type of oversight is there in *your* police force? If you live in a big city, there is probably some sort of organization that is responsible for overseeing the police actions, but is that organization part of the police force? Is it a “civilian” group stocked with retired cops, their wives and kids? If you live in a small New England town, there probably isn’t any oversight – unless you can actually afford to sue the local cops if one of them abuses you. Of course, if you do, you’ll be facing all of the resources of thelocal police union, so you’d better have really deep pockets, and a slew of witnesses ready to testify against the local police force – and face the consequences as well. Sounds a lot like the mob doesn’t it.

So. Who *is* watching the watchmen?

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