You’ve heard the latest, haven’t you? There have been so many videos showing up on YouTube and other Internet sites showing police officers getting a little, shall we say, rough with the citizenry. It seems cops don’t like this. They’re arresting people who take videos of the police in action.
I’ve lived in Atlanta for more than 40 years. Obviously during that time you’re going to meet and get to know a lot of cops. I won’t take a back seat to anyone in my admiration for the job that they do. I know that the police officer writing me a speeding ticket on Ga. 400 one minute (i.e., being a tax collector) would put himself between me and some thug with a gun minutes later if need be.
But I’ve seen the bad side as well. Around March 25 I drove to Lenox Square to buy something I didn’t need. Upon entering the parking garage I got caught behind a driver-without-a-clue blocking the entrance. I beeped. Not a good idea. You see, there was a car between me and the frozen-in-place driver. That car happened to be an unmarked police car occupied by two muscle-bound cops.
These hulks turned on their blue lights, jumped out of their car and positioned themselves on both sides of my little Chevy. I was then subjected to about six or seven minutes of what can only be described as intimidation by one of the cops.
“What were you beeping at me for?”
“I wasn’t beeping at you. I was beeping at the car in front of you.”
“No, I think you were beeping at me.”
“Sorry, you’re wrong. The car in front of you wasn’t moving.”
“Don’t you know it’s illegal to beep your horn except in an emergency?”
“Don’t you know it’s illegal to sound your siren on the way to the Krispy Kreme?”
(OK, I didn’t really say that, but I sure wanted to. I’m a wuss, you know.)
This cop, suffering from a clear case of blue-uniformitis, started strutting and huffing and puffing, telling me all the things he could do to completely ruin my evening for the hideous crime of beeping my horn. He was clearly enjoying himself.
“Hey, officer. Did it occur to your highly trained law-enforcement mind that some poor elderly woman could be chasing a purse-snatcher on the second level of this garage while you’re sitting here trying to get me to say something that could give you an excuse to yank me out of this car and give me a taser-colonoscopy?”
(No, I didn’t really say that. I’m not an idiot, you know.)
Finally, the dynamic duo got back in their car and continued with their mission to use their super-sharp aural abilities to make Lenox Square safe from horny drivers. They never asked me for any identification. My confrontation was less than minor, but it might have gotten much worse if I had told the cop I wasn’t impressed with his little game of intimidation.
Then I might have wished for someone with a video camera.
A video led to the firing of an Atlanta police officer who body-slammed a woman outside Hartsfield-Jackson baggage claim. Another video led to the conviction of a New York officer who slammed a bicyclist whom he claimed had assaulted him. An officer in Ohio was convicted for shooting a motorcyclist in the back after a traffic stop. There was video there, too. It seems that citizens with cellphones that can take videos are turning out to be pretty good watchdogs against police abuse.
At least three states have now responded to police concerns by making it illegal to record an on-duty police officer.
Atlanta is looking for a new top cop. Maybe one of the questions that should be asked is whether he is going to work to make the taking of such videos illegal in our city.
If so, pass him by and keep looking.
Listen to Neal Boortz live from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on AM750 WSB Radio. His column appears every Saturday.
For more Boortz, go to boortz.com
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