Stories like this one are the reason why I immediately questioned the police report in the Skip Gates arrest controversy. Not because this happens every time, but because it happens enough to make me think it's common.
The police chief of Hollywood is speaking out for the first time since a video surfaced showing some of his officers trying to frame a DUI suspect for a February traffic accident.It's hard not to be suspicious of police officers in general when you read stories like this one--I know, not all of them would pull a stunt like this, but how is a citizen supposed to know who is who?
But here's the thing that really confuses me. The video that exposed all this wasn't taken by a passerby with a cameraphone--it came from a police cruiser's dashboard camera. Did they forget that their cars have cameras on them? Or did they figure no one would look at the tapes and that they'd be able to cover it all up?
Another thing: this was no small thing they were going to hang this driver with. DUI carries some hefty penalties and getting your license back is expensive and time-consuming. But these police officers were willing to hammer someone in order to cover up a mistake by one of their own. I don't know how much trouble a police officer can get into for causing a car accident, but I'd bet money that it's not as much as a citizen can get into for a DUI, whether there's an accident or not.
Here's the deal we make as a society when it comes to police. In order to insure public stability and safety, we give some of our fellow citizens weapons and the power to detain people and in exceptional circumstances, even use deadly force in order to protect the public at large. What we demand in return is that the police not abuse that power. If any police officer isn't willing to keep up that end of the bargain, then he or she needs to find another line of work.