“I was horrified. I’m frightened for my cops,” Chief Thomas Nestel said reacts to surveillance video.
As well Chief Nestel should be, given what was reported by MyFoxPhilly. A SEPTA Transit cop tried to stop a fare-beater, who didn’t go quietly.
Police said the suspect, Ernest Hays, was avoiding arrest and threw SEPTA police officer Samuel Washington on the ground and then pinned him under a bench.
No, it wasn’t that Hays fought Washington that horrified Nestel, but what happened next. Or, to be more precise, what didn’t happen next.
Officials said he was wanted in connection with a SEPTA ticket scam when Officer Washington stopped him. The chief said not a single SEPTA passenger called for help but this lady did take out her phone to record the fight.
This generated a slew of commentary about the police, the public and why no one jumped in to help Officer Washington.
“To go out every day they work really hard and try to make it easy for people and make people feel safe but they rely on people to help It’s starting to take its toll and it’s really concerning me,” Chief Nestle said.
At PINAC, Carlos Miller offers his takeaway from the incident:
It’s impossible to tell without interviewing the actual witnesses but it’s a little surprising to hear the outraged response from the police chief when cops in this country have done nothing but create an us vs them mentality between cops and citizens.
This is evident by reading many of the comments in The Blaze’s article:
Figure it out cops, this is the future that I have been waiting for. You have intimidated and harrassed us long enough, NO ONE cares if you get the crap beat out of you
The comments go on and on and reveal a serious distrust and disregard for police officers in general, mainly because of personal experiences or videos they have seen.
Carlos offers numerous comments in the same vein, many of which speak to being raised to trust and respect the police, but having that respect shaken to the point where they will no longer put themselves at risk to help a cop, largely out of the belief that a cop wouldn’t do so for them. The overarching theme is As you sow, so shall you reap. To the public, police have become the not too grim reapers.
He sums it up well:
And it’s unfortunate we feel this way because most of us are law-abiding citizens who would not physically fight a police officer.
We just no longer assume they are the good guys when we see them physically fighting a citizen.
The point of Carlos’ post and the many comments explaining why people think the police no longer deserve the public’s trust and respect, not to mention help, is to tell the cops that the path they are following has taken them to a place where they are viewed as the enemy, just as police in riot gear with heavy weapons see the public as the enemy in their war on anyone who isn’t a cop. This could be a wake-up call for the police. Do they not see that they have lost the hearts and minds of the public through their abusive and violent conduct?
But go back to Chief Nestel’s reaction, that he’s horrified. He’s not horrified that this rift has developed between his officers and the public, to the point that the public will watch this officer beaten without moving a muscle to help. He’s not horrified that the heavy hand of the cops, especially Philly cops who have a long and honored tradition of horrifically violent behavior toward the public, especially minorities, is viewed as the public enemy. No.
“I’m frightened for my cops.”
On its surface, this incident violates the First Rule of Policing, that a cop was harmed. More than anything else, the institution of law enforcement cannot tolerate a police officer suffering harm. And when harm occurs, the lesson is that the First Rule of Policing comes first.
There are two paths the police can take in reaction to this incident. The first, to recognize that the public’s failure to come to the officer’s aid is the product of a generation seeing incident after incident of police beating, abusing, lying, and violating people’s rights. They are the police, but they are not necessarily the good guys.
They see the same videos we see, but the videos look very different through their eyes. They see police doing what they “have to do,” dealing with the enemy surrounding them as they go out every day and risk their lives to “protect” some amorphous public, the very same people they are beating to do so. They see no wrong, and believe we, the public, just don’t get it. No one but a cop understands how hard their job is.
The other path is to rely on Mr. Glock and Mr. Taser, whose assistance is always there for them, since they can’t rely on the public. The rift of “us against them” is exacerbated by what happened here, and their disdain, if not hatred, of the public is reinforced by the fact that not one person came forward to defend the cop.
And the next time, when force is used immediately and a person is hurt or killed so the officer isn’t, they will believe it completely justified because they have no expectation that the public, their enemy, will lift a finger to help.
Yet, had someone come forward to aid Officer Washington who was getting his butt kicked by Hays, it would not have made the police feel more kindly toward the public and less inclined to beat someone when the next opportunity presented itself. After all, they deserve the public’s respect and admiration because they are the police, they are here to protect and serve, and we owe them our deepest appreciation, to the point of risking our own lives even though they won’t risk theirs for us.