With Great Power

policeBy Lee Cabacungun

A great man once said, “With great power, there must also come great responsibility.”  These would later be the words that would spur on the fictional character of Peter Parker to become Spider-man.  These words, as well as the notion behind those words, have begun to fall on deaf ears to those who wield great power, specifically, those in the law enforcement profession.  Not limited to police officers, but many officers in similar fields have been somewhat lacking when it comes to their responsibilities to the community that they serve.  Over the past month, there have been several instances where through neglect or abuse of power, they allow the community’s opinion of law enforcement to falter.  While not representative of the entire law enforcement community, these few officers that do not live up to the responsibility of their power, ruining the name of law enforcement for the rest of their colleagues across the nation.

In an article written by Simon McCormack for the Huffington Post, he describes how a fifty one year old man was arrested and held in jail, all while suffering from the effects of a stroke.  The article tells of how he was booked without a medical screening and was kept in his cell for a full day until he was taken to the hospital.  A stroke is a very serious medical condition, with time being an important factor in treatment.  Due to the length of time before treatment was administered, the man fell into a coma and died a few months later.  The jail was run by a privately owned company.  Had the officers in charge of the man been more aware of his status, he would have had more of a chance at survival, but due to their negligence he died, and law enforcement officials everywhere will feel the weight of this inaction.

While the above story shows how negligence on the part of law enforcement can be harming, on July 31 the New York Daily News published a story written by Rocco Parascandola and Bill Hutchinson telling of how one woman is fighting back against having photos of a sexual nature stolen from her iphone by an officer when she was pulled over.  After giving her phone to the officer in question, when her phone was returned, she noticed that there were sever explicit photos sent to a number she did not recognize.  It was later found out that the phone did indeed belong to the officer.  While this story already displays an abuse of power on the part of the officer, his reaction to the allegations are much more shocking, in that he outright lies and states he never worked for his precinct.  This has been proven to be false.  He has also denied ever meeting the woman, despite appearing familiar with her when talking to her on the phone.  This kind of behavior, regardless of civilian or officer standing, is disgusting, but the fact that it was an officer and that he used his position in a way that is demeaning to himself and the victim.  In addition, he lied about the circumstance, as well as his employment.  This kind of behavior is not acceptable on the part of the officer and shows how people with power can use that power in irresponsible and dangerous ways.

In an article for the Herald Tribune on July 18  writer Tom Lyons describes how police raided a couple’s apartment as if they were hardened criminals.  According to the article, the officers in question started the raid by having one officer pointing their weapon through the kitchen window at the apartment’s owner.  There was nothing that would have identified the person as an officer.  When the other officers came through the front door, they apparently did so again without identifying themselves as police.  As the officer in question states, “We were clearly the police.”  Which is what the woman in question does state when she says, “I couldn’t see them.  They had a big light in my eyes.”  This whole incident could have been avoided if the officers had identified themselves verbally when they arrived.  They were apparently looking for a suspect in a case and had received a tip that the suspect was in the apartment complex.  The suspect was found later in another part of the county.  While this article shows how police force, without the responsibility that should come with it, can lead to highly dangerous situations, the final words in the article are most chilling.  The article states, “Goldsberry wasn’t arrested or shot despite pointing a gun at a cop, so Wiggins said, ‘She sure shouldn’t be going to the press.'”  this is exactly what she should be doing.  Word needs to get out that, while the police may be doing their jobs, some lack the responsibility to adhere to the high standards that many in the community hold law enforcement officers to.

“With great power, there must also come great responsibility.”  What these articles show, however, is the lack of responsibility on the part of those who are expected to keep the community safe.  While representing a small fraction of law enforcement officials, the actions these officers take, and the lack of responsibility on their part shows the community that while law enforcement may protect them from criminals, the community needs to protect itself from the police.  Law enforcement, has a duty to uphold the law, and  through negligence or intent, they are undoing much of the work that their colleagues are putting forth in order to protect the peace.  Law enforcement is just that, law enforcement.  These officers should be enforcing the law not breaking it.

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2 Comments to “With Great Power”

  1. I really like the subject you chose to write about. There are too many stories in the news involving either police officers or security officers who are abusing their power and then getting away with it! I recently read a story about a cop that tasered and killed an 18 year old who was vandalizing property with graffiti. While he was committing an illegal act and ran away from the police after being told to stop, I don’t think that that he posed enough of a threat (or any) to have to use a weapon like a taser on him. I just hope that justice is served and the cop who killed him will pay for what he has done.

  2. Law enforcement officers should be held to the highest standards. I completely agree with your quote that with great power comes great responsibility. There should be no excuses that are acceptable. If an officer behaved in an inappropriate manner, he should be held responsible. We always hear stories of officers who beat people of a certain racial or economic background, and yet, we never hear of them being taken out of service for this misconduct. They are supposed to be protecting us, not hurting us.

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