search
top

“Back The Blue?” Not So Fast.

As the disgusting and unproductive rioting goes on across America, people are rightfully saying that we should support protests, but condemn the violence.

It is hard for people to hold a “conversation” that is wanted and or needed when their business is burned to the ground, damaged or looted.

The flip side of this is the “Back the Blue” “movement” that is out there in social media.

While we agree we should support and back law enforcement, the “Back the Blue” supporters fail to make the critical distinction of backing good cops, and not backing or supporting bad cops.

A few examples to illustrate the point:

1)

Cheryl Weimar’s name is known in prison circles as an example of the few rights and little dignity inmates have in the Florida prison system. Weimar, 51, was brutally attacked by guards at Lowell Correctional Institution and paralyzed as a result.

For the past year, Weimar has remained in prison, bound to a special hospital bed and dependent on catheters, mechanical breathing assistance, a tracheostomy and feeding tubes. Meanwhile, her attorneys were building a federal civil rights lawsuit on her behalf.

On Tuesday, Weimar’s case was ordered closed. According to a settlement agreement provided to the Miami Herald by the Department of Financial Services, she will be paid $4.65 million, possibly the largest such settlement from the state of Florida. The family of Darren Rainey, the 50-year-old inmate with schizophrenia whose death in a rigged shower at Dade Correctional Institution led to sweeping reform, settled for $4.5 million.

A U.S. district judge signed an order Tuesday asking the clerk to close Weimar’s case. The settlement agreement was signed by both parties on Aug. 6. Weimar was scheduled to be released in October, but that release has been expedited.

Weimar’s neck and spinal cord were broken in the August 2019 attack, which happened while she was on prison work duty at Lowell Correctional Institution. Officers ordered her to get on her knees and scrub a toilet, but Weimar, who had a hip condition, complained that she was in pain and said she was unable to do the task.

[….]

The officers allegedly slammed Weimar to the ground and beat her, breaking her neck, the lawsuit says. They dragged her “like a rag doll” across the prison as her head bounced on the hard ground. They continued to beat her in an area outside the view of surveillance cameras, the suit says. She was handcuffed throughout the attack, the suit says.

That $4.5 million dollars being paid to Weimar is coming out of the pockets of taxpayers. (settlement can be found here.)

What should not happen is that these officers be “backed” for their actions.

Just two of the involved officers were named in the pleadings: Keith Turner and Ryan Dionne. Turner was arrested in November on charges of sexual battery and child molestation unrelated to Weimar’s case. Over the years he was promoted from officer to sergeant to lieutenant despite a slew of accusations of harassing, kissing and groping inmates and dousing them with chemicals, the Miami Herald reported.

Dionne has an arrest record describing an incident of domestic violence while off duty. He claimed self-defense, but was determined to be the aggressor and arrested. The case was dropped. Turner was dismissed from the department in November. Dionne remains employed by the department.

2)

FREEHOLD – An Asbury Park police officer and a former city Special Law Enforcement Officer, Class 2 (SLEO-2) entered guilty pleas today admitting they vandalized vehicles belonging to a citizen who filed an internal affairs complaint against them, announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

Asbury Park Police Officer Stephen Martinsen, 31, and former SLEO-2 Thomas Dowling, 27, both of Asbury Park entered guilty pleas virtually today to fourth-degree Criminal Mischief before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Vincent N. Falcetano, Jr., in connection to the vandalism of two vehicles, one in Ocean Grove and one in Asbury Park, between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. on September 3, 2019. Dowling and Martinsen admitted during their pleas that they slashed the tires of the vehicles and smashed a window of one of the vehicles, causing over $500 in total damage. They further admitted that they vandalized the vehicles after the victim filed a complaint against them with the Asbury Park Police Department.

As part of the plea agreements, the defendants permanently forfeited any future public employment in the State of New Jersey. Additionally, the State agreed to recommend a probationary sentence conditioned upon restitution being made to the victim for damage to the motor vehicles. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 16, 2020.

“Spiteful retaliation from law enforcement officers towards a citizen for any reason is an unacceptable option. This is in no way condoned at any level, for any reason. All members of the law enforcement community must maintain the public’s trust by conducting themselves at the highest level of integrity and decency,” Gramiccioni said.

No one should be “backing” those officers.

Furthermore, in a case out of the same area, a cop was fired after doing some things that were illegal:

Cory R. Cole, 49, of Brielle, is charged with second degree Theft by Deception, third degree Theft by Failure to Make Required Disposition of Property Received, two counts of fourth degree Forgery, and two counts of fourth degree Uttering a Forged Document.

No one should be including him in any “back the blue” statement.

In Baltimore, the City has paid out millions in judgements and settlements since 2014 over police officer conduct:

We found the City spent $6.2 million since November 2014 – and that’s not counting the $6.4 million the City of Baltimore paid the family of Freddie Gray.

That adds up to $12.8 million spent to keep victims quiet and provide cover to poor policing.

We would argue that the officers involved in misconduct should not be “backed” either.

In another incident in Baltimore, an officer is facing jail time for lying to Federal Investigators:

BALTIMORE (WBFF) – A City police officer, who retired from the Baltimore Police Department earlier this year is now a convicted criminal.

Victor Rivera entered into a plea agreement after he was accused of providing a false statement to federal agents.

Rivera was questioned last year about three kilos of cocaine he and other officers found in the back of a police surveillance van back in 2009.

Instead of turning the drugs in as evidence, Rivera and other officers kept the cocaine and sold it.

Rivera resigned from the police department and was allowed to keep his pension. In the meantime, he and his cohorts in Task Force kept the money they got from selling seized cocaine. In addition, the Federal investigation, which is still ongoing, shows the officers in the task force planted illicit drugs on people in order to arrest them.

This case is particularly troubling because when the task force was formed and announced, the members were declared to be the “best of the Police Department.”

Riveria and his partners in crime should not be backed.

We like the police and want to support them just as much as we like and support the idea of equality of opportunity and justice for all.

What we are seeing is more and more of a “tribe mentality” where if you don’t support one group – including all of the people in the group that don’t deserve support – you are somehow hateful and a horrible person.

It is the type of attitude that divides more than heals and mends.

We can support the idea of racial equality, justice and the right to protest without supporting looting and destruction.

We can do that just as we can support the police and not support criminals and bad actors within police departments themselves.

In order to get anywhere, we have to stop painting people and groups in broad strokes with whatever paint brush either makes a group look wonderful or makes a group look like Satan’s minions.



3 Responses to ““Back The Blue?” Not So Fast.”

  1. Carla says:

    Hear, hear!

  2. ruralcounsel says:

    Didn’t read everything, but at item #1, just thought I’d point out that prison guards are not police, not law enforcement.

    Seriously, if you knew how to identify which cops are good and which are bad, your point would make sense.The trouble, of course, is that it isn’t that easy. Anecdotal evidence of bad cops is everywhere, but it often is inaccurate, propagated by people holding grudges. It would be more productive to suggest what metrics you would use to make the distinction.

    • AAfterwit says:

      ruralcounsel,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Didn’t read everything, but at item #1, just thought I’d point out that prison guards are not police, not law enforcement.

      While it may depend on the state, we have not found a state where corrections officers are not considered the same as law enforcement. For example, here in Florida, corrections officers are under the supervision of the local Sheriff.

      Anecdotal evidence of bad cops is everywhere, but it often is inaccurate, propagated by people holding grudges.

      Seriously, if you had read the article, you would have seen that we did not give “anecdotal evidence,” but cited actual cases where convictions and judgements were levied.

      If you think that all cops are good and somehow have a certain DNA trait that puts them above every other profession with good and bad people, there is little that we can say that will change your mind.

      Thanks again.

      A. Afterwit.

top