Friday, April 17, 2009
Welcome to Thunderdome
A story broke a couple days ago on the local news scene, where-by an off duty City of Erie police officer was filmed (with a cellphone camera) in a local bar laughing and joking about, among other things, the scene of a recent homicide outside of a bar not far from where I live.
"His fuckin' leg was twitching like this...like a fuckin' chicken," he says, referring to 31 year old murder victim Rondale Jennings as he lay dying on the sidewalk. A chorus of laughter accompanies his Rush Limbaugh-esque impression of the final spasms of a brain deprived of oxygen. Here's the link;
the part I'm referring to is right at the beginning, but feel free to watch the entire thing. He goes on to recount the hilarity that ensued when Jennings' mother arrived on the scene to ID her son's body after the coroner pronounced him dead:
"We lift the bag off his head, and she's like 'OH MY GOOODDDD!!!!!!!', and I was like 'Holy shit, that's your kid. What's up? " (3:15)
Deservedly, the cop is seriously in deep shit-he's been suspended with pay until Internal Affairs can decide if his conduct violated any rules (enough to get him fired) or he is just a bag of shit (which, unfortunately, does not warrant dismissal). Several groups around the city have demanded that he be fired, if for no other reason then he is a disgrace to the Erie Police Department, if not all police officers in general. There's alot more to the story that I won't get into, but here's the rundown:
-The chief of police tracked down the brother of the man who posted the video and threatened him and his brother with federal wiretapping charges (despite the EPD not being the FBI)
-The District Attorney saying the same thing-the FBI is not even involved, but even if they were it is not wiretapping since it was filmed in a public place-and telling the chief of police to suck a dick (yea Brad Foulk).
and it goes on....
A friend of the officer (Cousins is his name btw) who appears in the foreground of the video had this to say in his buddy's defense:
"He was hanging out and blowing off steam...It was just a night out with friends that someone blew out of context causing a lot of trouble for someone who puts their lives [sic] on the line for us every day."
And this, believe it or not, is probably the place where I take the most personal offense. All of the things contained in the video are pretty bad, but honestly, who expects any more from 90% of cops. I personally know a few, both current and former officers, and they all talk like this (albeit not nearly so insensitively). It's a coping mechanism for people who see some pretty awful shit from day to day. People sometimes forget that cops are constantly lied to, threatened, placed in harms way, pushed on by political figures, and subject to all types of blood, death, misery, suffering, greed, hate... And yet they still wonder why they're condescending, mistrustful balls of nervous energy. I get it, and I sympathize. It's an extraordinarily difficult job, and the burnout rate is high. The difference is that it is SUCH A GOOD JOB. Pay is good (Cousins pay, as a matter of public record is $53,256), benefits are good, pensions are great (and possibly the last surviving actual pensions left in the world), and alot of people truely respect you. Shouldn't that all be enough? And if not, if you truely have that dark of a world view, then get the fuck out. Step aside and let somebody else take over for a while. People are losing jobs and homes at the highest rate since the great depression, and we not only have to listen to your awful interpretations of tragic events, but then have to be subject to the tired, "I'm a hero because I put my life on the line" speech ad nausium. Not good enough.
And even if Cousins does manage to keep his job, he'll be a target for the rest of his tenure as a police officer. I don't wish harm upon him at all, and certainly don't condone violence against police, but...sorry Tex - you lose. "Anything you say can be used against you" isn't just something you mouth as you toss people headfirst into the back of a car before going of to get shitfaced with your cackling friends. It means something in this increasingly technological society, and as a 40 year old officer of the law he should be smart enough to know that.