Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Editorial: No winners in Cuba Police incident

Police officers need to understand that every encounter they have with the public is likely being recorded, by somebody, somewhere. So was the case in Cuba several weeks ago. (The original post is HERE.) On Monday, Cuba Police Chief Dustin Burch posted on the Department's Facebook page that the action of an officer was deemed "unprofessional." Internal action was taken. I'll admit, it's the first time in 36 years that I've seen a local police administrator publicly say an officer acted in an unprofessional manner. Here's the rub...after watching the video 23 times...I think the youth also could have handled the situation better. Total blame doesn't rest with the cop. Yep, he said something he likely regretted...but the youths aren't blameless. One of the almost-adults said "I know the law...I don't have to identify myself," or words to that effect. In 36 years, I've watched loads of people who "knew the law" get convicted only to find out after lawyers and a judge got involved that...'they didn't know the law.'
The youth(s) claimed they couldn't be told to leave a public park. Sorry, Charlie...yes you can. Allegany County District Attorney Keith Slep this afternoon confirmed (what most of us know), that police can indeed ask you to leave a public place.
The youths were accused of using foul language in the public park - a claim they strongly denied. But they had no problem using the "F" word on video in the park, after police left, which was posted online. Funny, video posts work both ways!
Sadly, comments on YouTube and social media have been generally anti-police.
I don't personally know the officer involved, although his name has been plastered on the web. However, I do know that the Cuba Police Department is one of the most progressive law enforcement agencies in Allegany County. Their community outreach is second to none. The officer involved has spent countless hours working with children and the community. Maybe he had a bad day. Likely he shouldn't have said he was gonna "kick their ass." Most of us have responsible jobs. Seriously, no one has ever said something they wish they could 'pull back in?' One blemish doesn't erase decades of stellar work.
Some day in the future, one of these nearly-adults may find themselves in a spot where they need the police...whether it's Cuba or somewhere else (after all, the one boy/man said he hated Cuba). The police will rush to help, likely with never a thank you.
Yes, there are bad cops...and there are bad plumbers and doctors and mechanics and...But the vast majority of law enforcement isn't bad.
This cop stumbled, but so did tomorrow's future adults. The youth likely thought it was so funny to post the video. I'm not sure your future employers will find the humor. The are no winners here.