Abuse of authority destroys our faith in the system


EL PASO, Texas — It has become apparent upon turning on the television and watching the local news of the Sun City and surrounding areas, that many individuals in positions of power are being accused of and in some cases, found to be abusing the authority that they obtain.

These days when I find myself to be in too good of a mood, I simply grab my television’s remote control around six or ten in the evening. If I’m not running late, I’ll turn the tube on just in time to hear a story about a former judge convicted of exchanging money and sex for lesser, more lenient rulings, or a police officer moonlighting as security for a wedding, who is accused of stealing money and gift cards from the newlywed’s reception. If I am blessed with a little time to kill somewhere between sleeping and studying, I might surf the local media’s on-line news sources, only to come across more stories of police officers and even teachers, accused of having inappropriate relations with underage children, or council members from the surrounding areas being indicted on alleged fraud charges, while others are getting caught up on the wrong side of a drug bust.

The fact that these types of things are happening does not surprise me in the least. What does surprise me, is the reactions of people I hear talking about these stories in our present day sewing circles known as coffee shops and burger joints. The dialogue seems to suggest that the amount in which a person can be trusted, should depend greatly on the position he or she holds in society. Our children are being taught by us to trust blindly and I doubt I am the only one that finds this to be problematic.

In our schools, we have police officers who give presentations on the best coarse of action for a child, should they find themselves in the middle of a dangerous situation. I personally have heard children told to run and tell a police officer, or a teacher. I once heard a child being told to run into a church if they felt someone was trying to harm them. On the surface, much of this advice may seem reasonable to the average person, until they begin to think a bit deeper about the message they are sending.

(© iStockphoto/Sswartz)

(© iStockphoto/Sswartz)

This past St. Patrick’s Day I watched in disbelief as two young men were within inches of being hit by an El Paso Police Department squad car, when the officer in the car initiated an illegal u-turn in the middle of Stanton Street. Both of the men crossing the street were using the cross walk and the officer had neither his lights or siren on, that would indicate to those around that this particular action was about to take place. One of the men threw his arms in the air after jumping out of the squad car’s path, narrowly avoiding being run over. He was obviously angered by what had just transpired, as I would imagine the majority of people faced with a similar situation would be.

I feel the situation could have been handled in a variety of different ways. The first would have been for the officer to have already had the lights or siren of his squad car on before turning illegally. The officer could have waved out the window and shouted out an apology for his actions that could have landed two men in the hospital, before speeding off to take care of whatever was more important than the lives of two citizens that were placed in harm’s way by an individual who swore to protect and serve. I am taking into consideration that officers of the law are allowed to break the law if they are conducting “official police business”. With that being said, this police officer must have had an excellent reason for doing what he did. There was possibly an accident he needed to rush over to, or a robbery call in the area, or worse yet a murder. There had to be something so important that would justify this officer’s actions, right?

Apparently, in the eyes of this officer, it was most important for him to complete his illegal u-turn, then pull over and motion to the man that threw his arms in the air to walk over to the back end of the squad car. Once there, the man was frisked, hand cuffed, and was made to sit in the back seat of the squad car. The man was kept cuffed in the car for an excess of fifteen minutes, where I can only assume he was being lectured on the dangers of calling out an officer of the law, whether in the right, or in the wrong. The man was eventually released from the cuffs and back seat. If this entire situation was not a complete abuse of this officer’s authority, then I must say I am confused as to what types of actions would be.

My point is this, generally speaking, people are either good or bad. Some people who are thought to be good, have been caught doing bad things. Most can recall the problem with priests being shuffled around from one church to another in hopes of covering up, or at least quieting allegations of child molestation. A person being good or bad has nothing to do with the positions they hold in our society. I would advise against teaching your child that any one group of people are all good, just as I would advise against teaching them that any one group of people are all bad. A badge and gun, a teaching certificate, law degree, or a white collar is not enough to make me believe that every one of them can be trusted. Trust needs to be earned. One of the best ways for people in positions of power to earn that trust is to not abuse the authority they are given.

One thought on “Abuse of authority destroys our faith in the system

  1. As long as we as a society tolerate corruption we will be at the mercy of government agencies like the FBI to run our lives and impose the law. Prima facie evidence that we are not capable of self-government.

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