Every police agency throughout the United States has its own patrol division. The patrol division is often over looked and underrated. In almost every agency, this division is the face of the Police Department. Despite the important role that patrol officer’s play, the role often may be viewed as a low-status area of policing. It is usually the largest section of an agency; however, it receives the most agency funds. The patrol division responds to calls, provides services to the community, and helps to prevent crime. It is a physically and mentally demanding job, in which involves all facets of the policing role (Grant and Terry, 2011).
Due to its demanding attention, Patrol Officers respond to a numerous of variety calls. These calls include homicides, rapes, and domestic disputes. An officer may at times be plagued with quick judgment calls, which may affect him in the long run. Community patrolling addresses the community concerns at the grassroots patrol level. As departments grow, they set realistic goals and continue to develop community partnerships. Unfortunately, one will often see patrol officers make bad judgment calls, in which can lead to misconduct issues.
Criminal acts under color of law include acts within the bounds or limits of lawful authority. This includes acts beyond the bounds of lawful authority. There has been an increase in police corruption issues, misconduct, and brutality incidents within the last year. Everything from the range of using technology for bad selection in newly hired officers has led to this problem. Off-duty conduct may also be covered under color of law only if the perpetrator asserted official status in some manner. Due to these types of issues, one will sometimes hear the Police Department needs to be policed.
A number of researchers have examined the use of force. For example, there are debates for the usefulness of force continuums among law enforcement agencies. As a police officer, I have encountered calls, in which witnesses have question my actions and even accused me of police brutality. I once responded to a call of a possible burglary in progress. Upon my arrival, I located a Hispanic male, in his late twenties, attempting to remove a window screen. When he observed my uniform and noticed who I was, he ran away from me while holding a sharp flat headed screw driver in his right hand.
As he climbed over a brick wall, separating the building, I observed he tossed the screw driver and he appeared to reach for a second unknown object. As I climbed over the wall myself, I reached for my taser gun and deployed it. I struck him along the side of his torso and he went down like rain drops on cement. As I subdued him and placed handcuffs on him, I could hear people gathering around saying, “that Officer did not need to taser him, and this is police brutality. ” I knew that because of the wall blocking the civilians view, most of the witnesses had not seen what had occurred on the other side of the wall.
Using quick judgment and proper use of force will always be questioned by the community. Unfortunately, not all patrol officers practice good judgment as you may have heard about the Fullerton Police Department relating to the incident with Kelly Thomas. Kelly Thomas, born on April 5, 1974 and died on July 10, 2011, was a homeless man diagnosed with schizophrenia. He lived on the streets of Fullerton, California where Thomas died five days after an altercation with members of the Fullerton Police Department on July 5, 2011.
After paramedics treated the officers first for their minor injuries, Thomas was taken to St. Jude Medical Center before being transferred to the UC Irvine Medical Center, where he was comatose on arrival and not expected to recover. Medical records show that bones in his face were broken and he had choked on his own blood (Sewell and Winton, 2011). A judge declined to dismiss the charges against the officers in January 2013, finding that “a reasonable person could infer that the use of force was excessive and unreasonable. An appeals court judge also denied a request to overturn the lower court’s decision. Manuel Ramos, one of the Fullerton Police Officers, was charged with one count of second-degree murder and one count of involuntary manslaughter. Corporal Jay Cicinelli and Officer Joseph Wolfe were also each charged with one count of felony involuntary manslaughter and one count of excessive force. I was not at the incident; therefore, I cannot judge my colleagues in the actions that were taken on their behalf.
However, it is difficult for me to think that any human being deserved this type of force used against him. When dealing with a combative subject I use the only the amount of force needed to make the subject comply. I do not feel that when dealing with a mentally ill transient, the use of strikes to the head and face are needed. As much as I hate to see my colleagues in this position, I feel that this is the closest we will get to justice. Thomas will not return from the dead and someone needs to be punished for the mistakes made that day.
Another case I would like to discuss is the Huntington Beach Police Detective, who was accused of corruption. A veteran Huntington Beach police officer was once assigned to a federal anti-drug task force. He was arrested on charges that he conspired with others to distribute large quantities of cocaine and marijuana. Sergeant Alvaro Murillo, who was also known as “The Godfather” by his cohorts, was accused of using his job as a police officer to recruit informants in the drug world. After this, he would then use them to help him steal narcotics from dealers (Glover, 2008).
Unfortunately, we are going to have officers who abuse their authority. It kind of makes me embarrassed to be associated with this type of behavior. As a rookie officer, I was employed by the City of Huntington Beach. I patrolled the streets of Huntington Beach with my Field Training Officer (FTO) where I remembered one incident when he drove me to a house, which had been raided on a drug related warrant search. I observed evidence, which included United States currency, guns, cocaine, crystal methamphetamine, and other drug relating to paraphernalia lying on the living room floor.
It is disgusting to see a man fall to temptation, even worse, to see a fellow officer taint our profession by performing such a disgusting act. However, this profession, just like all other professions, is conducted by human beings and human beings make mistakes. A key factor in being a good police officer is using good discretion and having integrity. Sergeant Murillo was sentenced to prison to do time for his action. I agree with this punishment, no matter how bad temptation is. As Police Officers, we are held to a higher expectation.
If one is tempted by the minor temptations in life and needs to corrupt one’s police department to reach financial gain, then the individual has no business in this profession. As a rookie officer, I remember an old Sergeant briefing the patrol division at 0500 hours. The last words of his briefing were, “be safe and do the lords work. ” By being associated with police corruption, misconduct, and excessive force, one is working with the evil forces of nature in which where one swore to protect against the negative influences. By staying away from those immature acts, it has made me a better officer and an overall better human being.