Sometimes being police chief isn’t all it’s cracked-up to be. Oh sure, there’s political pressure, vicarious liability, lots of opportunities for public scrutiny, but there’s a downside too.
Our employees, both police officers and support personnel are imperfect human beings, just like you. Sometimes we make mistakes and have to own up to them. Sometimes though, in fact many times, our employees receive complaints about them that are untrue or greatly exaggerated. My position, generally, is to process the complaint, and reply to the complaining party with the outcome in a professional manner. That’s a good idea because it helps ensure a friendly complaint registering system.
A couple of days ago, (June 12th), we received a complaint from a woman who I won’t name, via her Facebook page. She also sent a message to our RCPD Facebook page. She writes:
“I think that the RCPD needs to address this situation soon. Its a great cause for concern. I am also going to send this to Chief Allender.
[name withheld but it's her boyfriend] was wandering around drunk on 6/11/12 at approximately 12:30pm, not in any altercation with anyone else, didn’t have any weapons, not yelling around, not even around any other people, just walking in a public right of way. Someone called to report him being drunk, apparently, and so when the cops responded the female officer jumped out of the cruiser, pulled her weapon and ordered him to “get down” (This was all witnessed by myself and another person). Three other cruisers pulled up, and as he sat on the curb, cuffed, he apparently had a laceration on his head and arms, so an ambulance came and checked him out. He was then taken into police custody.
I learned from someone who knows this guy, who attended his arraignment this morning, that he was told that he was in violation of 24.7, which is appropriate cause he was drunk, but that he would not be reinstated to the program because he had been arrested AT the 24/7 Program after an altercation that happened while he was there.
How can they say that, when he was clearly arrested at a totally different location, in a whole different part of town from the 24/7 program, and there was no altercation that happened. I think I need to get on this, because it has me wondering how many other times this type of “oops” has happened.”
Her Facebook page post looks like this:
Notice the intro “ANOTHER case where the RCPD overreacted” Quite inflammatory and a very bold statement given the fact she was quite happy to have us arrive on scene to assist her. The related comments from her friends take it even further:
So, we did as she asked. We looked into it.
I probably shouldn’t do this and I probably won’t do it in the future, but I am going to answer this complaint in the same public venue it was received: social media.
Here are the facts: Someone called the 911 Center to report this incident and ask for our help. That caller was … (drum roll) the same person who made the complaint about our response. During this call, she stated these, among other things:
“I need some help getting someone out of my house” and went on to describe how her boyfriend was chasing her. She yelled “get away from me!” three times during this call. She told the dispatcher “he’s a violent person.” She was obviously in distress – I listened to the 911 call myself.
An additional important fact is that our officer pointed her Taser, not her pistol, at the man. Another thing you need to know is that the “24/7” program is used as a condition of pre-trial release from custody and requires the program participant (in this case the boyfriend) to submit to a breath test once or twice per day to insure they aren’t drinking. This man took the breath test at 7:42 am that day, five hours prior to the disturbance and he was sober. At the time of his arrest, somewhere around 12:30 pm, his blood alcohol was .22 (nearly three times the legal limit for driving drunk). He deserved to be arrested and whether someone in court said he was arrested “at 24/7” or at her house is immaterial. The facts and charge are solid. One final factoid – the ambulance was called because he stumbled into a cactus and had quills stuck in him.
We conduct routine reviews of uses of force by police officers, and this one is by the book.
The complaining party lied on social media and to us, gained support for her lie, rallied some friends against us and unnecessarily caused an expense on the tax payers by asking us to review the incident. How embarrassing for her. In addition she is employed as a news reporter for a Native American newspaper. What should her readers believe?
Race relations are complicated enough without willful lies and underhanded tactics like this. I am glad we had the resources to help this woman – that’s our job and we are proud to do it. But in this case I believe a written apology is due the employees of our Department.
Finally, please do not comment on this post with hateful or racially inflammatory statements. I will not “approve” them and they will not help the situation.