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Warring Cops: Making Our Mission Even Tougher

Warring Cops: Making Our Mission Even Tougher

Video Screenshot

I’m sure many of my fellow law enforcement professionals watched the video carried on Fox News Channel, myfoxphilly.com and other outlets that showed neighboring Pennsylvania law enforcers at war with each other. I think all would be as embarrassed for our profession as I was.

A far cry from good community relations, the viral video makes these officers from Darby and Colwyn boroughs look like the proverbial keystone cops, and worse.

According to Fox, the incident caught on video all started when a Colwyn officer crossed the street into Darby to nab a man that had just punched a woman in the face. The officer had apparently been flagged down by the woman.

The problem (at least in the eyes of the Darby Police chief) was that it was in the neighboring Delaware County borough of Darby. While I understand the jurisdictional legal concerns that may be present, I would argue that the officer couldn’t just continue driving and ignore the woman. So he stopped to render aid and control the situation.

As the report details, the Darby Police chief came soon thereafter to the scene yelling at the Colwyn officer to get out of Darby. Incredibly, officers had to use their skills – you know, the ones they use on emotional members of the public at calls for police service – to de-escalate the police chief, but it was to no avail. Officers then had to physically intervene to stop the fight from escalating to a physical level. All of this played out in public view involving the very type of behavior that we are called to control. Incredible.

Now, I know it’s best not to believe all that is put out by the media. And I also know that sometimes events happen before the video is rolling that help to put what is seen in context. That said, the video speaks volumes of the situation. I am hard pressed to find any justification for what I saw on the tape.

The damage to officers everywhere, including those on scene, is immeasurable. This impacts all of us in a number of ways.

1) We’re in an era where budget cutters do not see police officers and firefighters as the untouchable sacred cow immune to layoffs. Witness what happened in Camden, NJ not too far from the Philadelphia area. Officers were pushed off the public payroll. The same thing happened in Newark, NJ. Incidents like this do not help bolster the fiscal health of law enforcement agencies or their employees.

2) Many people who viewed this disgraceful video have used it as fodder for their call for regionalization of law enforcement services. While the concept itself is worthy of debate, it should not be on the coattails of clearly avoidable schoolyard kid style conduct.

3) That particular area of Delaware County, Pennsylvania, is apparently rife with crime and drugs. Such displays do little to convince the beleaguered community that their police are up to the task.

4) Leadership emanates from the top. If this is the hot-tempered publicly displayed behavior of the police chief, who should be the most seasoned, rationale, and calm person on the municipal police agency, I shudder to think what some of his subordinates may have done.

5) As a defensive tactics instructor who has handled volatile calls in uniform where emotions are high, I know it is a basic tenet that you must have control of yourself before you can expect to have control of the scene. With a man in custody and a woman being treated by medics on the street, no ongoing scene safety or investigation has control or integrity while the law enforcers themselves are arguing emotionally and publicly on the scene.

6) From a national perspective, long-standing critics of the police are already pointing to this video to bolster their anti-police argument. Their contention has long been that crime fighters are just street fighters with badges. They want people to believe their skewed view of law enforcers. This video does nothing to refute their argument and does everything to bolster it. They are able to apply a broad paintbrush to the 700,000 ethical and hardworking police officers, deputy sheriffs, and state troopers in the United States based on the actions of a few.

Specifically in regard to this incident, while we can blame the video and the news media for disseminating it, the reality is that if the officers, starting with the Darby police chief, had not acted in such a manner, there would be nothing news worthy to display. The Colwyn officer should have walked away from the chief and not been baited into a confrontation.

As professionals, we need to address this conduct and identify it as not worthy of our position of trust in the community. The days of circling the wagons or sticking our head in the sand are long gone in policing. Our credibility is at stake and we need to distance ourselves from such conduct and repudiate it.

The intensely bright spotlight on isolated viral episodes, such as what transpired in Darby, are diminished if we acknowledge them as being outside the standard of professional conduct we as professionals hold ourselves to. We need to highlight the good work done by 700,000 law enforcers in the United States, and many more internationally, that gets overshadowed by the tarnished badge behavior of a few. It’s hard to get the mission done that with emotionally charged, warring police chiefs and officers out there fighting.

As I’ve told basic law enforcement academy students for a number of years, we live in an era of video technology. You should always assume that you are on camera and should act in a professional manner worthy of the oath we took and the badge we wear. In short, the conduct should be such that it that would make your mother proud. I doubt the Darby police chief’s mother would be proud of her son today.

Dr. Richard Weinblatt, “The Cop Doc,” is a former police chief, ex busy jurisdiction patrol deputy sheriff, and criminal justice educator who has written articles and provided media commentary since 1989. He can be reached via www.TheCopDoc.com.

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  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Asmarak

    over 3 years ago

    12 Comments

    Completely embarrassing.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    OlympicJoy

    over 3 years ago

    374 Comments

    Ditto Feez.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    jpdsgtusmc

    over 3 years ago

    126 Comments

    This situation represents a high degree of un-professional conduct. To think that a Chief is involved and made such comments to another officer is worse. I always tried to treat all other officers with respect as I may need their help one day and vice versa. I hope the Town Managers force these Chiefs and departments
    to amend their behavior and conduct. It's bad enough we have to deal with the "kids" in the" sandbox" when we go to work, but I'd hate to think I have to fear a fellow officer! The only time I have a problem with a fellow officer is if I learn they didn't back me up in a bad situation or, if they were involved in something illegal. In most cases the Department would handle it. The behavior of thse involved above was a disgrace to the badge.

  • 20140214_120713-1_max50

    PRO1000

    over 3 years ago

    958 Comments

    Feez:If an officer from a neighboring jurisdiction wants to detain a suspect prior to my arrival, I say go ahead. If that officer wants to make the arrest and take care of the paperwork, I say God Bless Him and I am on to the next call

    Ummm are you sure we didnt come out the same wound. Cause we sure think like twins here. Thats the way it should be done. Im not saying I dont want to do my job. But lets work together here Geez.

  • Bearcat_2_max600_max50

    shield20

    over 3 years ago

    82 Comments

    Unprofessional, disgusting display. I understand wanting to Police your own backyard, but we are all brothers/sisters working towards the same goal. Definitely a not good press for us.

  • Me2_max50

    bstites

    over 3 years ago

    1028 Comments

    Okay, in this type of situation. This is me, I would help the female and prolly detain the dirtbag. For the jurisdictional issue, like what we do at my department, will hop on the radio, assuming you have dispatched yourself already, and say somethin like "Can you advise so and so, this is going to be in their area." SIMPLE! Then you hand off the investigation to them! Or, if they weren't as, excuse my language, pissy about 1 call, just let these guys handle the call and continue with your work. More time on the road and less time with stupid calls.

    Thats just me though.

  • Vivian_alone_max50

    fultonfinest1220

    over 3 years ago

    288 Comments

    As I watched the video I could only shake my head in discuss. But what I have learned been a 22 years veteran officer these things happens when we allow our focus of what the true mission is all about. It is time for us all as Law Enforcement Officers who represent the "Thin Blue Line" to stop and think about what our mission is. the mission is to "Protect and Serve". We have a duty to act and respond to the public and when we fail to carry out that then we have failed the public that we serves. What is really going on with our law enforcement? that's the question the public is probably asking. Have we been trained better than that? Then to see a high ranking officer lose his cool over what would I say as nothing. The officer did what he were suppose to have done (and that is rendered aid) until the jurisdiction agency could get there. There isa class they both can take it's called "Verbal Judo" great class. You learn to ignore high tempered individuals such as that Chief.

  • Icon_max50

    greenfish

    over 3 years ago

    1484 Comments

    The media wastes no time in showing the police acting badly. It is a shame that there is not fair and balanced coverage of the good works done every day by this nations law enforcement. Fox news especialy is hippocritical as they flash the fair & balanced slogan. MSNBC, CNN, NBC typically are first to display the hiccups of police. I have not seen any coverage on the spike in LEO deaths, specificaly murder of police by any national news outlet. Shameful!

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Feez

    over 3 years ago

    48 Comments

    If an officer from a neighboring jurisdiction wants to detain a suspect prior to my arrival, I say go ahead. If that officer wants to make the arrest and take care of the paperwork, I say God Bless Him and I am on to the next call.

  • My_kids_027_max50

    grant319

    over 3 years ago

    1208 Comments

    This was completely childish. If the officers would have just communicated with each other and explained the situation it seems to me it could have been avoided. Like the article said this is hurting all of us in one way or another. I see similar situations all too often and it is ridiculous, we are all in this together no matter what jurisdiction we work for.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    beeguy

    over 3 years ago

    468 Comments

    When feuds take place between departments are we any better than the gangs who fight over their turf. In our town, we, the police department, don't have a problem with an out of state officer stepping up to detain a man that he sees punch a woman in the face. Heck, we will buy him supper. We need to realize that we are all in the same "gang" if that is what it is and we are outnumbered by the bad guys. If some POS is shooting at me and a cop from 6 states away is driving by and blast the a$$ hole, I'm in his debt. I would do the same for him or any other LEO anywhere. C'mon guys, we are in this together to protect the public. It's what we do. I also agree with Fed Security, it starts at the top. Maybe the mayor needs to look at who is running the department and make some changes to eliminate the feud.

  • Badge__pistol__and_knife_max50

    FederalSecurity

    over 3 years ago

    2 Comments

    Unfortunately, I've seen feuds similar to this happen a few times in the past. In my opinion, the chiefs and supervisors are at fault because they either fail to stop their officers from feuding, or they themselves perpetuate the feuds. My first department was feuding with the neighboring city department, didn't like working with the nearby tribal department, didn't think much of the state and federal law enforcement rangers, and hated the nearby federal security force. The infighting within the department got to the point where half of the officers left for other jobs in a very short period of time. Two of us left for other police departments. Another officer who had been in the department for over ten years left to go work at a tire shop.

  • Mike11_max50

    mlmarino

    over 3 years ago

    48 Comments

    Good article Doc. The video left me and most people I know that watched it, angry. It stains us all in the profession, and gives anti-law enforcement individuals and politicians ammunition to feed their personal agendas. This type of conduct causes the "Thin Blue Line" to become thinner. I hope that an "Active Shooter" incident, requiring multiple agency response, never occurs anywhere near this "Turf Line". That would be a nightmare. Territorial fueds and violence occurs with "Outlaw Gangs" not Law Enforcement Professionals. The Chief's deserved fate should be a no-brainer..........

  • 309

    Hbryant188

    over 3 years ago

    594 Comments

    I don't know about anyone else, but If I were an officer in Darby or Cowyln I'd be looking for work with a different agency after this crap happened.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    SHARRI8

    over 3 years ago

    106 Comments

    I GET THE FEELING THATS WHAT IS HAPPENING RIGHT HERE ON HOME BASE.........ITS PREETY NOTICABLE.........WHO BRINGS THESE WARRING COPS BACK TO REALITY???????

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