First, it wasn't his first lapse in judgement and it most certainly wouldn't have been his last. Second, we aren't talking about the guy who screws up your order at McDonald's. We aren't talking about someone giving you a hard time because your credit card payment was processed on Monday instead of Friday. We are talking about someone turning of the power to a hospital because those damn doctor's need to be taught a lesson about following the rules. We are talking about the actions of a peace officer.
Cops are held to a higher standard precisely because we give them authority over just about everyone and under just about every situation imaginable. They carry a deadly weapon strapped to their side. They have the authority to shoot to kill. They can run down a citizen, throw them to the ground, handcuff them and lock them away. Not only that, but we demand that every citizen must submit to this else risk prosecution. That is an extraordinary amount of power and as Spidey-Man says, "with great power comes great responsibility."
You don't give a citizen a gun, a badge, and power like that and set them out on the street unless you know damn well they have the intelligence, training, common sense, and experience to do the job and do it well. It is too much power to risk otherwise. We need to have absolute confidence in the people we put in such positions. We also need to have absolute confidence that the weaknesses, biases, opinions, personality, and attitudes of the people in these positions will not interfere with their execution of the job. Unfortunately, we all know that there are people who thrive on power and authority and are attracted to such jobs, not because they desire to serve the public, but rather because they desire to serve their own egos. Not all police officers are like this, but that a stereotype has emerged indicates that they are out there in great enough numbers to become a parody. Only problem is, this isn't a joke.
Do I hold police officers in high esteem? Absolutely. Do I hold them equally to high standards of conduct? You bet your ass. This guy Powell did not make the cut. I'm glad he resigned. I'm glad he did so under investigation and I'm glad that it will prevent him from returning to the force. He was not up to performing the job to the standards the community demands.
Beyond getting rid of one bad cop is another issue--and that is the discretionary power we grant to the police.
According to Judge C. Victor Lander, the city of Dallas' chief municipal judge, under Texas law a person can be arrested for any Class C misdemeanor citation except speeding and having an open container.
When an officer does decide to make an arrest for a minor traffic offense, it's usually because of how the person behaved during the traffic stop, Lander said."The defense bar refers to it as contempt of cop," Lander said. "If the officer was offended by something the person said or did, they may arrest them."
WTF? In the land of personal liberties, I take offense to the idea that my attitude should matter as to whether or not I am arrested, harassed, lectured, or detained on a minor traffic offense. Anyone who takes someone to jail for a freakin' U-turn needs to seriously review the behavior they find objectionable. (Powell did this, too, and to the wife of another football player. Maybe it isn't minorities he has a problem with. Maybe it's the football team.) Anyway, I don't really give a shit about whether officers are personally offended by the behavior of the people they encounter on the job. I'm personally offended by the behavior of my fellow grad students half the time, but I keep my freakin' mouth shut and realize that it doesn't reflect on me. But saying that it is okay for a cop to detain someone for five hours because they didn't show sufficient deference, respect for authority, or whatever else sort of unspoken offense-o-meter crap they are walking around with is insane. If this is how these cops operate, I think it is time to review whether or not they deserve the power we've granted them. I don't believe anyone ever asked me whether it was ok for an officer to apply a different set of rules to some citizens than others because he's got a bug up his ass one day about something. Or because I've got a bug up my ass one day about something and act a little grumpy about getting pulled over by the po-po.
In any event, I find the party line towed by the justice system to be equally disturbing.
Assistant Chief Floyd Simpson, who oversees the department’s seven patrol divisions, added:
“It’s a judgment thing on the cops at that moment,” Simpson said. “The core of what we do is just discretion, and it needs to be that way.”Yes it is Assistant Chief Simpson. Yes it is. You need to do some serious soul-searching and a more thorough house cleaning.