Earlier this week it was announced that an officer who was fired for getting drunk and beating his K-9 partner was given his job back. In other words, the officer, Brett Arthur Berry, was given an unpaid vacation instead of the standard paid vacation. But some people are probably willing to give his some leeway because he beat a dog, not a person. Here in Minnesota beating a person also results in nothing more than an unpaid vacation:
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — WCCO has obtained video that led, in part, to a police officer’s firing. That officer now has his job back, as an arbitrator ruled he should be reinstated last week. Minneapolis police officer Blayne Lehner is currently on paid administrative leave.
The video shows Lehner pushing a woman. Seconds later he swatted a cellphone out of her hand and pushed her to the ground after she tried to grab him.
Instead of receiving an unpaid vacation he is now receiving a paid vacation. Some might wonder, especially after watching the video of him attacking the woman, what justification allowed him to return to the force. Not surprisingly, the justification was “officer safety”:
“She’s talking on the phone right now and he wants her attention. When he knocks it out of her hand, her left hand is coming up towards him. He’s looking at that as a possible threat,” Dutton said.
See? She threatened him! When he initiated force by knocking her cell phone out of her hand she moved her left hand! His only option to avoid possibly being slapped was to throw her to the ground! She’s lucky he didn’t shoot her because his life was totally on the line and therefore deadly force was obviously justified!
When apologists talk about the supposedly brave men and women in blue I can’t help but scoff. It seems like police officers see a threat hiding in every shadow, lurking under every bed, and hiding in every closet. Does a person walking down the street in the dead of winter have their hands in their pockets? Threat! Is a kenneled dog barking at the officers who just kicked down the door in the middle of the night? Threat! Did a woman move her hand after an officer initiated aggression? Threat!
Law enforcement has become a self-feeding delusion. New officers are taught that they have signed up for an extremely dangerous job where everybody is trying to kill them. This deludes them into seeing every single encounter with a member of the public is potentially life threatening. Their delusion is held up whenever one of their encounters doesn’t involve a completely submissive citizen. When they tell their fellows about their encounter their delusion is further affirmed by being reminded about how dangerous the job is. Then they move on to teach other new officers about how dangerous being a cop is.
But reality is far different. Law enforcement isn’t that dangerous of a profession, at least not for the law enforcers. Law enforcement has become a dangerous profession for the people. Because of the self-feeding delusion law enforcers have they respond far more aggressively than they ought to. This is why a seemingly routine traffic stop can into a motorist being murdered by a police officer. The fact that few officers are punished for using excessive force just further feeds the cycle by teaching officers that their misdeeds will be forgiven in almost any case.