It’s Not Courtesy If He Kills You

It may sound crazy today, but there was once a time when Sheriff Andy would put Otis, the town drunk, into a cell to sleep it off. Then send him on his way. Drinking alcohol may not have been a source of great pride, but it was something regular folks did. And sometimes, they drove after a few beers.  And sometimes, they were stopped by a cop.

It was hardly unusual, back then, when a drunk driver was stopped that a police officer would take the driver home to sleep it off. That was before MADD and SADD made drunk driving so BADD that it was tantamount to murder. This isn’t to suggest that drunk driving is no big deal, or should have been treated so lightly, but that it didn’t carry the stigma of venality that it does today.

These were otherwise ordinary people who just had one (or ten) too many. Sober, they were law abiding, productive members of society, with families and mortgages, jobs and lawns to mow. They were us. Just too drunk to drive.

Those days are long gone, and perhaps rightly so, although the vilification of drunk drivers emphasizes only the harm they could potentially cause, while ignoring the fact that pretty much anybody could turn from good neighbor to public enemy in an evening without any intention of harming anyone.

And when we say anybody, that includes a guy like 28-year-old William Monberg.

It would have been a fairly routine DUI bust, with the exception of his penis stick protruding from his pants, never a pleasant sight.  He was asleep at the wheel, which can happen when you’re totally shitfaced.  And to their credit, the Blaine police officers who responded to the call handled it appropriately. That is, until they checked the drunk’s wallet.

“Oh crap!” one of them exclaims.

Then, without saying a word, both pull out and turn off their body microphones and step out of view of the patrol car cameras.

In the back seat of the squad car, though, another police camera is still recording video and audio of what happened next.

The video shows William Monberg, already handcuffed and under arrest, being let out of the car.  Moments later he climbs back in.  The handcuffs have been removed.  And, instead of taking him to jail, the Blaine police officers can be heard trying to arrange a ride home for him.

Turns out, the man they originally arrested is not an ordinary citizen.  He, too, wears a badge.

You? Busted. Them? Professional courtesy.  Or as any honest police officer will admit, cops don’t write cops.  At the upper echelon of police administration, the reality of professional courtesy is frowned upon.

William Monberg is an investigator for the Columbia Heights Police Department. “I don’t condone their behavior,” said Duane Wolfe. “I wish they’d made a different decision, but cops are human.”

In police circles, Wolfe says the notion that cops shouldn’t ticket other cops is contentious and fiercely debated.  “A lot of police officers feel that pressure to take care of their brethren,” he said.

And what do cops think about it?

He also writes for PoliceOne.com, a popular police blog.  In 2009, he wrote an article about so-called “Professional Courtesy,” arguing that the badge shouldn’t be a “get out of jail free card.”

Wolfe says that article sparked more comments than any other he has even written, many of them critical.

But Wolfe argues that officers giving other officers special treatment “doesn’t serve the profession, doesn’t serve the department and quite honestly it doesn’t serve the officer.”  He adds, “They just get the attitude that there are no consequences for my actions.”

And indeed, there is no shortage of examples of police officers engaged in the same conduct for which they would self-righteously explain that you deserve arrest, while they, their brothers in blue, deserve a little courtesy.

In this instance, Monberg offered what appears to be a sincere apology for his conduct:

I am profoundly ashamed, embarrassed, and disappointed in myself for the incident that occurred on November 7, 2015. I extend my most genuine apologies to my agency and community, the Blaine Police Department, and the officers who were placed in an incredibly difficult position because of my actions. I accept full responsibility for those actions but insist they do not represent an accurate reflection of my personal or professional character. I have been working diligently over the past four months to ensure that a similar situation will not occur again.

And the chief of the Blaine Police Department refused to let this slide, after the video went public.

The cover-up of the incident almost worked.

However a month later, Blaine Police Chief Chris Olson assigned an investigator to look into what happened that night.  As a result, Officer Monberg was officially charged with DWI in December.

Chief Olson would not do an on-camera interview, citing the pending DWI case.  But he told KARE 11, “In this case inexperienced officers made a mistake. It’s not acceptable.”

“My expectation is fair and impartial policing and that didn’t happen,” he continued. “We need to treat people fairly and it shouldn’t matter what they do for a living.”

What will become of Monberg, and the officers who cut him a break? The system will do what it does.  That Monberg wasn’t entitled to special treatment because he was a fellow cop is obvious; that no one would have known but for the errant mistake of leaving the camera and microphone on inside the cruiser shows the value of video. That reporters found it, and recognized that they stumbled on a serious concern, is fortunate.

But should Monberg’s drunken escapade be the end of his cop career?  Given how society has been taught to hate drunk driving and their friends and neighbors who get pinched for it, it would be wrong to put a potential murderer back on the street with a gun and shield.  While we can find grave fault in giving a brother cop a free pass, was the underlying offense any different than Mayberry’s poor Otis? Then again, Otis was never behind the wheel.

18 comments on “It’s Not Courtesy If He Kills You

  1. John Neff

    I have noticed that they bring in an officer from another department to arrest a police officer and I believe that when they arrested a county judge they brought in an officer from another judicial district.
    They don’t arrest elected officials very often so I don’t know if they have a special procedure for that.
    Some elected officials do think they have immunity.

    1. SHG Post author

      Going outside the department makes it easier to get along in the locker room and not fear a Serpico. It shouldn’t be necessary, but it’ understandable. As for elected officials, the more you know them, the more you wonder how we survive at all.

  2. Marc R

    Of course he scheduled a meeting to turn himself in for the dwi…any repercussions for hiding the crime like obstruction of justice, official misconduct, filing a false incident report? And with no breathalyzer or roadside tests performed, that dwi won’t stand. The real test, not that anyone’s holding their breath, is whether anyone who turned off the av equipment or uncuffed the investigator will wear double locked, dully checked, bracelets.

  3. losingtrader

    I am profoundly ashamed, embarrassed, and disappointed in myself for the incident that occurred on November 7, 2015
    I didn’t watch the video because I didn’t want to hear/see anything about his penis being pulled out( I get too excited over those things already) but I was thinking maybe his apology wasn’t for being drunk.

    What percentage of male DWI defendants have their penis sticking out? I guess we need a new 4 letter organization.

            1. Patrick Maupin

              I’ve been resisting one more comment all day long, but, His Noodly Appendage help me, emboldened by faint praise, I cannot resist any more — more snark coming soon…

    1. marc r

      34% of male DWI defendants; but the number is 3 points higher for female DWI defendants.

      1. losingtrader

        I think you are confusing that with meth stats. I determined this after reading the story of the attractive young woman continuing to have sex with a bulldog as the police approached to arrest her.
        Don’t worry though, it’s Vegas and she got off twice. (I’m pretty sure on the latter “getting off” as the prosecutor was the same horrible one who tried a case I, er, sat on)

  4. John Barleycorn

    Well, it’s not like he had an outstanding warrant for a parking ticket or anything.

    P.S. The cheap seats need some law-splaing advice about the revving of one’s engine, which is more common than one may think, especially when one is rudely being taken from dream state by the guardians of safe dreams while napping along the roadside with the aide of spirts.

    Where I come from the revving of one’s engine while the guardians of safe dreams are enquiring about your nap, after rudely awakening you, as often as not can lead to the roadside death penalty. Especially if you have cool rims on your mobile crib.

    Napping with your genitals exposed, at least in this instance, seems to have kept the guardians of safe dreams in a state of assrerive tranquility as opposed to a state of assertive fear.

    Is the risk of an indecent exposure ticket in addition to the roadside naping with the add of spirts tickets worth it, or would you advise just giving up the cool rims to lessen the chances of the roadside death sentence as the indecent exposure ticket could seriously effect future employment opportunities?

    I know a guy that is thinking about installing a no-rev until fully conscious limiter cut out switch on his rolling crib but they cost like $1500 bucks…

    I know one should probably just give up road side napping with the aide of spirts but these are dangerous times we live in and without rooadside spirit nappers who is gonna give the kids in county lock-up the visions, from the other side, they will need to carry on as productive members of society in these dangerous times we live in?

    I know it “depends” but still…some free advice here would go a long ways to slowing down the Feds march to mandate no-rev until fully conscious limiter cut out switches in all new vehicles.

    1. SHG Post author

      I was frankly shocked they didn’t respond more forcefully when the “drunk” revved his engine, as that could cause some serious potential damage. But they didn’t know he was a cop yet, and kept their cool. Very impressive, really.

      1. John Barleycorn

        They might not have known for sure he was a cop but I bet they had heightened awareness after seeing his cock and even if they didn’t get a good look they made sure to check out his wingspan before they let him take a pass on walking the line.

        Without proper training the “oh shit” after confirming he was a cop, would have been “Oh shit! I knew he was one of us”.

        But this is besides the point.

        Genitals exposed or not when roadside napping with the aide of spirts?

  5. John Barleycorn

    I am a bit disapointed the level of sophisticated and depraved adolescent humor in the comments to this post of yours, highlighting the exceptionally rare use of professional courtesy by the police these days, hasn’t brought out a retort from Greg and Richard yet? Please tell me they haven’t taken up going to after church luncheons with Chamber of Commerce types on Sundays now that they are writing for that uptown inclusitivity site?

    No way, even if that were true I wouldn’t believe it.

    Greg is probably writing a post as we speak about how rare this sort of behavior is, so rare in fact that he was never witness to such events in a twenty year career and the troubling setback this, soon to be viral video, will have on the efforts underway to reassure the public more funding for police training along with some management style changes will turn the tide.

    And I suspose Richard is pening the definitive post that will prove, once and for all, that although the police may, from time to time, skirt the boundaries of ethical behavior when their paints are down, they can never tell a lie and will always sincerely apologize and tell the whole truth and nothing but after they have had time to reflect upon their actions. Actions, that force them to make split second, life and death, decisions in the field everyday. And something or another about how polite they are.

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