Just a Few More Bad Apples

It’s a day ending in “y” so it should come as no surprise that another story of law enforcer corruption has come to light:

Detective David March and officers Joseph Walsh and Thomas Gaffney face charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and official misconduct.

Laquan McDonald was shot 16 times by a white officer in 2014, sparking widespread protests across the city.
Prosecutors accuse the three men of lying in the shooting’s aftermath.

“The indictment makes clear that these defendants did more than merely obey an unofficial ‘code of silence,’ rather it alleges that they lied about what occurred to prevent independent criminal investigators from learning the truth,” Special Prosecutor Patricia Brown said in a statement on Tuesday.

Officer Jason Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder in 2015 after dashcam footage appeared to show him fatally shooting Mr McDonald as he moved away from officers, contradicting police accounts. He has pleaded not guilty.

According to the indictment, the three officers allegedly falsified reports and tried to conceal the events surrounding Mr McDonald’s death “to shield their fellow officer from criminal investigation”.

This illustrates the problem with the few bad apples theory that the law and order crowd constantly parrot. If there were only a few bad apples in law enforcement then the majority of good apples would be holding them accountable. But that’s not what happens. Instead the supposedly good apples remain silent or conspire to cover up the misdeeds of the bad apples, which makes them bad apples themselves.

Law enforcement’s issues are more than a handful of bad officers. Sure, maybe a handful of bad officers are the ones committing the most heinous crimes. But the law enforcement culture has the concept of the thin blue line. If you’re on the law enforcement side of that line then your brothers and sisters in law enforcement will stand besides you through almost anything. If you’re on the other side of that line you’re life is judged as being less valuable. So long as this culture remains the entire bushel of apples will remain rotten.

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