Police Decertification: Who gets to decide who is a “bad cop?”
By Steve Pomper
These days it’s crucial to define terms before engaging in any serious debate about an issue. And with the political left’s Orwellian redefining of terms to fit their ideology and control the narrative, it’s become even more essential.
Take decertifying bad cops. Six states reportedly have no mechanism for decertifying “bad” police officers: Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, California, and Hawaii. California is now on the cusp of passing such a law.
On its face, everyone would agree bad cops who are fired should not be able to work as cops for other agencies. But the issue isn’t only should bad cops be decertified (truly bad cops, yes) but also what is a “bad” cop? Who gets to define “bad cop?” The cop-haters?
Remember, there are mayors, DAs, and city councils who believe a cop who enforces misdemeanor crimes against minorities or the “homeless” is a “bad” cop. Some also believe officers who make more traffic stops on minority drivers, even though their beat is in a majority minority area, are “bad” cops. There’s no longer a line the officer must cross to be considered a “bad cop.” Today, quite often, the “bad cop” line crosses the unsuspecting officer.
We might agree, at least, bad cops are officers who commit crimes. That would seem the most obvious case. But we’re seeing DAs charge, indict, prosecute, and convict officers for doing their jobs correctly. In Boston, non-prosecuting, anti-cop DA Racheal Rollins has even created a list of “bad” cops, with “tainted credibility,” whom she will no longer subpoena for court. Who does she consider a “bad” cop?
Recently, the NPA spent nearly two years covering the case of John Mitchell, an Oklahoma police lieutenant who had murder and finally manslaughter charges dropped after shooting and killing an active shooter. That prosecutor, and a lot of others anti-cop folks, considered this hero cop a bad cop.
Ask Antifa or BLM to define “bad” cops, and they’ll spray paint “ACAB” on your forehead. All Cops Are Bad (or Bastards, or whatever). So, in their opinion, states should decertify all current law enforcement officers, right? They’re just left-wing radicals, but, today, many “mainstream” politicians agree with them about the police.
A former cop I know, after a years’ long court battle, was fired, and essentially decertified for being a “bad” cop. She’d confronted a man (who happened to be black) who’d been waving a golf club overhead and hitting street signs. Doing her job, she detained the man to investigate why he was swinging the club, creating a disturbance, and possibly committing property damage.
During their encounter, on dash cam video, the officer asked the man to put the golf club down, saying, “please,” at least 19 times. She said nothing disparaging and she used no force. However, the video hadn’t captured the inciting incident, the man was black, the cop was white (which apparently overruled her being female and lesbian), and she worked in Seattle. So, she was deemed a “bad” cop who will never work in law enforcement again.
Again, what is a “bad” cop? It’s not an objective standard. In fact, it’s quite subjective—even ideological and political. Some decertifying measures include triggers regarding officers who receive a certain number of complaints? While truly bad cops also get complaints, often, the officers getting the most complaints are those doing the most work. If bad guys are complaining about you, it’s likely because you’re busy stopping them from committing crimes. That’s is a good thing.
Are those officers who aggressively patrol their beats, write “too many” tickets, and make “too many” arrests “bad” cops? Are “bad” cops those who cite you, but the “good” cops cite other people. I’ll never forget dealing with left-leaning residents, whose yards were littered with liberal signs like Obama, Hillary, and Co-Exist.
They’d call in a complaint about people “selling drugs in the park across the street.” They’d tell us to “make them leave.” We’d look over and see a couple of guys standing in the park talking. Um, maybe they had been selling drugs, probably were, but they’re not doing anything illegal now. But the complainant would persist. Essentially wanting me to violate their civil rights—then I’d be a bad cop. If I told the neighbor I’d look into trimming a little fat off the Constitution, so we could kick them out of the park, would that make me a bad cop?
But just watch what happens if those same complainants get even a whiff of their rights being violated, and the “bad cop” complaint against you will arrive at the precinct before you get back in your patrol car.
This is also where we run into one of the worst results of the radical left’s assault on traditional America. The dilution of what is truly bad. Where leftist radicals can commit violence, destruction, and theft with impunity. But where cops are persecuted if they’re forced to shoot, maybe kill, a criminal trying to kill them. If every white person is racist, then no white person is racist. If every black person is a victim, then no black person is a victim. If every cop is bad, then no cop is bad.
A “bad” cop in Seattle might be considered a “good” cop in Texas? A “good” cop in Texas, might be considered a “bad” cop in Seattle? And does it matter what cops believe are “bad” cops? Cops know the kind of cops they don’t want to work with.
This was not an exercise in defining or determining what comprises a bad cop. This was an exercise in understanding that we cannot arrive at reasonable conclusions (or legislation) without accurate definitions. Today, we have legislators who hate cops who are writing legislation that will affect cops’ lives and livelihoods. The left is always talking about equity. Well, does that sound equitable to anyone?