Although we live in a lawsuit-happy society, there has to be some recourse when police accused of abusing their power keep being cleared in "internal investigations" done by other police officers.
The time has come for local police review boards made up not of police, but of civilians. Members would come from applicants within the community to investigate allegations of brutality and unnecessary force.
It's not a new quandary: "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" asked the first century Roman satirist Juvenal. "Who shall guard the guards?"
A Hammond officer fired for pulling a gun on a fellow officer was hired by East Chicago, and is now a defendant in a civil suit claiming he and other cops beat a diabetic man to death after mistaking him for a rowdy drunk.
A Hobart officer is under investigation after being caught on video cold-cocking an unarmed woman after the woman's husband called police to complain about neighborhood speeders.
Calumet City is facing a federal lawsuit which alleges offices kicked and punched a Chicago man for giving food to a man being held for questioning.
Gary's police chief has resigned and two top aides were reassigned after allegations they beat four people they suspected of having burglarized the chief's home.
I could go on, but you have the idea.
Do all these cases have merit? Maybe not. But put yourself in the shoes of someone who has been maltreated by police and had it winked at before you judge motives. A court will decide whether the case is justified.
The population is becoming cynical about "internal investigations" done by police officers. After all, there but for the grace of God...
We can no longer afford the cost in strained relations between our "finest" and our citizens, and we can no longer tolerate the cost in dollars.
Take the case of Larry Mayes, sent to prison in 1982 for a rape he did not commit, a rape police "proved" after using bogus tools like hypnotism that were not disclosed to defense counsel at the original trial.
He sued Hammond and won $11 million, and on Monday, Mayes and the city came together and settled for $4.5 million, a sum that could have funded the city health department for almost eight years.
Maybe if we'd had a civilian panel then, we would not be shelling out millions now, and people might have faith in justice restored and feel they'd been given a fair shake.
Rather than thinking our guards are guarding their friends' backsides.
http://www.thetimesonline.com/articles/ ... 0398f0.txt