By ARNOLD A. AUGUSTE, Publisher/Senior Editor
On his show on HBO two Fridays ago, one of Bill Maher’s guests, rapper Killer Mike, raised a question about good cops that is worth repeating.
We all believe – and say it frequently – that most cops are good people who just want to do their job and get home to their families at the end of the shift.
Killer Mike’s question was, though, if most of the cops are good cops, how come they don’t rat out the bad ones?
It is a good question. If the majority of the cops are good and, as we often say, there are only a few bad apples in the barrel, how come the cops who cross the line, some of them multiple times, are allowed to get away with what they do?
Well, the short answer to Killer Mike’s question is that cops don’t rat out each other. But doesn’t that remind us of the old saying, the upholder is worse than the thief? Or at least just as bad?
Which means that there are either fewer good cops than we thought, or that those who would normally line up on the side of the good guys are afraid of the consequences if they speak up.
And that is a real concern.
I heard a story of a cop who was mouthing off about Black people, and especially Black cops who he felt shouldn’t be on the force. And this was in the presence of a busload of other cops.
Two White officers finally couldn’t take it anymore and confronted this guy about his racist comments and urged him to shut it down. Good guys, right?
Back at the station house they were ostracized to the point where, I understand, they had to be transferred. The racist cop? He got promoted and is still on the force working in homicide.
By the way, isn’t that where our new chief was the boss for a while? Maybe that was this guy’s punishment – to work for a Black boss.
I believe these two officers complained to their superiors about the incident but their complaints were ignored.
And that is another problem.
When a judge criticized a police officer recently for conducting an illegal search – which produced an illegal handgun – and threw out the case against the suspect, then police chief Bill Blair publicly praised the officer for doing a great job. Interestingly, it was police association boss, Mike McCormack, whose comment was the more cautious. While he also praised the officer’s good police instinct, he was quoted as saying that the law must be respected.
That is what the chief should have done. But it just showed that the reflex action on the part of the leadership of this force was to ignore the lawlessness of the action on the part of the police officer and to praise her for getting a gun off the streets.
She did do good by getting an illegal handgun off the streets. But, according to the judge, she crossed the line to do this and she shouldn’t have, which caused him to toss the case and let the guy go.
It’s a tough one but McCormack showed himself the better leader than the police chief, Blair, in this instance by actually agreeing that cops must follow the law.
Blair’s comments, on the other hand, could help explain why cops feel they could do whatever they want and get away with it.
A recent case when a police officer said she wasn’t looking when her partner punched a man twice in his face is another curious one.
There was no evidence that she participated in hurting this man but could she really have been at the scene in which her partner was having a go at this individual and not look at least to see that her partner was O.K.? Doesn’t make sense, does it?
Obviously she didn’t want to get involved in what she must have thought was unnecessary brutality but also couldn’t bring herself to rat him out so she ended up sounding foolish.
There are enough criminals, enough bad people doing bad things out there in our city that the cops don’t have to make things up; that they don’t have to go out of their way to create unnecessary hardships for people just trying to live their lives in peace.
When the cops go out into the community and card an individual for no other reason than they just have a hunch, like this one cop said, or they don’t like the way he is walking or the colour of his skin, we have a huge problem.
Mayor John Tory didn’t get it. He never will. Bill Blair didn’t get it either. But he didn’t care. That is because their kids will never be carded and have to suffer the indignity that comes with this unconstitutional and unethical practice. However, our new chief has sons. He needs to care.
When we hear the stories about how Black cops – even senior ones – have been treated by White cops in this service, it is not too hard to understand how vulnerable the average citizen without the protections of being a police officer could be.
It is time to clean things up and I believe our new chief, with the support of the head of the police association, could begin the process to do just that.
And the first item on their agenda must be carding.