For nearly every good story of Law Enforcement Officers, some idiot comes out and creates a bad story of a Law Enforcement Officer. I swear, this is almost a one for one ratio these days. So this week, a friend of mine forwarded a story to me about an Austin PD officer that actually shut down (safely!) traffic on Northbound HWY 360 during rush hour to save a little chihuahua pup that had somehow gotten loose and was freaking out on the freeway. Apparently this big ol’ APD motorcycle cop turned all huggy-bear with the scared little poochie as he calmed him with one hand while he drove him with the other to the Animal Shelter. And this news came out the day of the funeral of Dallas PD Officer Rogelio Santander, EOW 4/25/2018, who was murdered at the hands of a shoplifting suspect at a Home Depot.
And as I was getting my mind ready for the Texas Peace Officer Memorial Ride, a bike run from Ft. Worth to Austin this weekend, out comes word—with graphic video—of Miami/Dade County Officer Mario Figueroa comes running onto the scene of a cuffed, non-struggling, face-down black suspect and clearly and intentionally kicks the suspect in the head as he runs by. Kicks his head HARD. As if his head were a soccer ball and “Officer” Figueroa was trying to make a final goal in a FIFA championship game. Here’s the CNN report:
AAAARGH. It’s incidents like this that make it extremely hard to convincingly make the argument that the Men and Women in Blue have the best of intentions and are not demons targeting people of color. And in this instance, the Miami/Dade officer should be instantly charged with a whole host of abuse offenses. But why does stuff like this keep happening?
Going out on a limb here, in my never-to-be-humble opinion, the fault doesn’t lie exclusively with the offending officers. The fault lies higher upstream in their agencies. Look, I don’t think anyone can argue against the fact that the job of being a Police Officer is a highly-charged, physically demanding, emotionally exhausting job. But if the hiring boards don’t judiciously screen out the assholes and the crazies, and if the duty Supervisors aren’t watching behaviors and carefully listening to reports of poor or deteriorating behavior by officers on duty—and then taking appropriate action before something like the jackass Figueroa’s FIFA-ball goal head-kick happens—then YOU, ladies and gentlemen, are as much a part of the problem as the offending officers are.
PD Leaders—you have to help your supporters here. We’ll gladly support you when you’re wrongly accused. We will go to battle with you when your officers make a wrong call in a split-second while their lives are in jeopardy. But it’s hard, harder than hell, to support you when you have a just, flat, bad seed that pulls a stunt like this. Do your jobs. Don’t hire the bad seeds, look for ones that are “souring” and get them OFF the streets, so that your GOOD officers can do THEIR jobs, better.