We’ve all seen the various internet videos of police involved in physical altercations. Sometimes they’re clear cut, the officer involved is doing the right/wrong thing and there isn’t a lot of question. Most times though you only get a piece of the story and determining who did what, when, and how it applies to rights, policies, laws, et al is unclear.
Often, and understandably, the public has a visceral reaction to the violence they see without context. Most of us, no matter who we are or what we do, wince at the sight of what can appear to be brutal beatings.
But at some point reason must take over. To often law enforcement altercations involve life or death situations. It should not be unbelievable to us that there are bad guys out there who have harmed people, who don’t want to go to jail, and will do anything to avoid being caught by law enforcement.
This by no means says that we shouldn’t look at, investigate, and learn from every altercation possible — but the assumptions should be based on logic, not visceral emotion when we first see these incidents.
We currently have one of our own under fire for one of these types of videos. The sad and unfortunate thing is the visceral reaction doesn’t appear to be the media’s, nor the public’s, but the sheriff’s. The person who is allegedly most knowledgeable about law enforcement and how it can sometimes look has made exactly this visceral reaction. While I can only speculate as to why, I have to assume it’s for reasons that she’s made so many other bad decisions, Purely Political Public Relations Actions To Cover Her Ass.
It’s been a little more difficult to get this information than usual because I’ve clearly been out of the game for a bit and my relationship with sources are a little rusty. But here is how it goes as I have been able to uncover to date.
A deputy stopped and individual for jaywalking or some other similar incident. At some point the deputy, diligently doing his job as he should, discovered the individual had A) lied about his identity and B) had felony warrants. As the deputy approached the individual to arrest him, the individual noted the change in the deputy’s demeanor and bolted. The deputy caught up with the individual and an altercation ensued.
This is where the camera footage picks up. An individual has a video camera and is poking around an abandoned local property and hears yelling. He runs down the road and finds a deputy, on top of the individual in question, yelling, “Give me your hands” and interjecting with punches to the individual.
What is clear is the suspect is on the ground and refusing to comply and show his hands. What is clear is the deputy is giving clear instruction. We can not determine if the deputy is using unnecessary force or what the threat may or may not be to him, as we viewing the video have no idea what has ensued up to this point.
We see two more deputies arrived, join the fracas, and the first deputy steps back. There is no parting punch or kick, just removing himself from the situation as the two arriving deputies manage to finish overcoming the suspect and get him in cuffs. The first deputy can be heard asking the suspect if he needs medical attention, maintaining his professionalism, not showing any anger or further aggression after the point he removes himself from the altercation.
The sheriff, I can only imagine fearing public backlash from this YouTube video, relieves the deputy from duty, and I’m told, informs the deputy she is filing charges with the prosecutor for his assault on a citizen.
All the information I can find on this situation says the deputy who has been relieved did his job, did it professionally, and within what would be considered reasonable policy (I haven’t been able to confirm what actual office policy is on this type of incident. Is anyone surprised by that?)
The part that shows the sheriff knows what the deputy did was legal is the fact that she hasn’t gone on a media tour. Maybe she’ll read this and give the deputy his job back as she should. Or maybe she’ll hold him hostage for a year in case she needs something to throw at the media and the public to show how much she “cares” about making sure the job is done right. As long as she hasn’t gone to the media, she can hold this deputy in limbo for no reason other than her political need might demand his public demise. It isn’t the first time she’s done this to a deputy.
The sheriff appears to have no intention to defend her deputy if the public decides to express outrage over this situation. She is fully prepared to throw this deputy under the bus for political expediency and points (the election is coming, folks) at the first peep. If she ultimately decides to let this deputy back to work because the expiration date on the situations usefulness comes up, she has caused this deputy and his family inexcusable stress and no matter the outcome, or even when at this point, she has sent a message to every deputy in her department.
What do you think that tells every deputy that works for Laurie Smith the next time they’re faced with chasing down a suspect with multiple felony warrants in a public venue where they may be filmed during an altercation?
Here’s exactly what it tells them – if the sheriff needs something to leverage political sympathy from the public, they will become the victim of the sheriff’s “accountability”; It creates the basis for Laurie Smith’s very own “Ferguson Effect” taking hold. Her means of punishing individuals only when it provides political benefit to the sheriff risks the public further beyond her already risky practices of lack of policy, poor training, understaffing, low moral, and the other parts of her “accountability” program that rewards bad people for doing her bidding.
Laurie Smith continues to destroy the Santa Clara sheriff’s office with poor decisions with great political impact. Something the Mercury News has praised her for and said was an important part of being sheriff during the last election.
Frankly I remain with my stance. Jensen was not a political animal, a neophyte at best, naively trusting of the selfish, ineffective, but highly skilled manipulators we call politicians in this county. Literally his worst crime here was being to nice, but still holding the respect and trust of a vast number of both corrections and enforcement to do the job to the best of his ability rather than to serve his best and personal interests. I would rather have an honest person who can willingly run the gauntlet with integrity than one that will lie, cheat and steal while giving me a saccharine smile as a “great” politician repeating over and over how she’ll going to keep my kids off drugs despite not having cut every single program that might have such an impact. Honest and integrity matter, especially when it comes to truth, justice, and the law.
Stay tuned, tomorrow there will be a guest blog and within the next few days there are two blogs I’m working on that will be posted – a piece revisiting the Blue Ribbon Commission and the recent attempted takeover in the jails the media has failed to report on. The election is coming, I am willing to commit to giving it a try to keep up, but I can’t do it alone. Time for us to step back up to the plate and make sure the public understands, nothing from the last election has changed for the better; some of it has changed for the worse and rewarding Laurie Smith with another term is ignoring that she chose to glibly ignored the circumstances we pointed out during the last election, ultimately resulting in the deaths of people who rely on safe and well run law enforcement agencies.