Bad Cops And Vagabonds

He was swiftly fired after the video of his running down Timmy Patmon went viral. Don’t cry for Taylor Saulters. He was a probie and could be fired at will.

A rookie police officer in Georgia was swiftly fired over the weekend after body camera video showed him striking a man with his patrol car during a pursuit.

An internal investigation by the Athens-Clarke County Police Department determined that the officer, Taylor Saulters, used excessive force when he struck the man, Timmy Patmon, with his vehicle on Friday. Chief Scott Freeman fired Officer Saulters on Saturday after initially placing him on administrative leave, said Eppi Rodriguez, a police spokesman.

If all this seemed to happen at extraordinary speed, it’s just because such decisions are usually made extraordinarily slowly. When there’s a video of a cop doing something incredibly wrong, like shooting a guy in the back after a traffic stop, it’s not because it actually requires weeks or months of “investigation.” They know, just like anyone else, whether it was right or wrong in ten minutes. The rest of the time is spent dealing with the ancillary questions, from what to do about the union to how to sell to the media that this wasn’t just some vicious killer in blue harbored by your brave little police department.

What Saulters did was unjustifiable and inexcusable, and he was a rookie. The Athens-Clarke County Police Department didn’t need the problem and didn’t need this cop. So he became someone else’s problem.

The Hill reports that Saulters was hired Monday by the neighboring Oglethorpe County Sheriff’s Office, whose sheriff defended his decision in the hire.

“I have known him since he was a baby and I know he will be a great asset to our county,” Sheriff David Gabriel said in a Facebook post announcing the news (sounds like Daddy got someone a job).

This emits the unpleasant smell of the good old boy system, where his release from one department miraculously coordinated with his hiring from another. Ironically, Sheriff Gabriel thought it a positive that he knew him since he was a baby, tone deaf to the subtext.

Well, well, well. White privilege is a hell of a drug. Imagine being fired from your job one day for running over a fleeing civilian, and getting another job, in the same field, in a matter of days.

I need those kinds of odds in my life. And that’s the kind of life Taylor Saulters, a former officer with the Athens-Clarke, Ga., County Police Department, is leading.

There is a very real problem with Sheriff Gabriel’s hiring of this rookie he knew since he was a baby who was just fired for running a guy down. And there is another very real problem with turning the first into a demonstration of “white privilege.” The third problem is the two cancel each other out.

Sheriff Gabriel: In talking to Saulters the first question he asked was if our citizens supported law enforcement. Without hesitation I assured him they did and that we have excellent people that live in our county. I have no reservations about Dep. Saulters serving this community. As a citizen of Oglethorpe County you will find the wisdom of this decision in getting a deputy of this caliber.

The “itinerant cop” problem has long been known, where a cop is fired from one department for impropriety or abuse, then appears in uniform in some other department, gun in hand and ready to bang some heads. There is no bad cop registry that gets checked before a new hire. Sometimes, cops lose their ticket and are removed as sworn officers. Sometimes, they show up in another state and get a new ticket as if the last killing never happened.

Many people don’t realize that the cops who did the dirty that hit Youtube and caused an outrage don’t disappear into the backroom of their doublewide, never to be seen again. Even if they get fired, and of course not prosecuted, they just move on to another police department where their pensions vest and their history is cleansed in the blue echo chamber of support.

The problem isn’t Saulters. The problem isn’t one cop, although this one stands out because of the extraordinary speed with which he got fired and rehired in the next county over. And the problem has nothing to do with white privilege. It’s not white. It’s blue.

By trying to make this into another example of toxic whiteness, two things arise in the minds of the unduly passionate activists and reformers who might otherwise use their efforts to fix a problem rather than conflate it. First, they focus on the wrong issue. You can’t solve real problems by viewing it through a fantasy lens. The problem isn’t that white guys take care of other white guys whom they knew since they were a baby. The problem is cops roaming from job to job after being fired for misconduct.

The second problem is the perpetual one that has killed serious efforts at reform over and over, and one that’s denied with vehemence and so viciously attacked that those who seek serious reform are often driven away. The breadth of people who would go to the mats to fight to end the itinerant cops problem because of the manifest impropriety of sanitizing one department’s dirty, and then fired, cop in the bowels of another department, undermines the integrity of the system. If a cop is bad, dirty, then he should find a job putting sprinkles on cones at Dairy Queen, but he should never again be allowed to carry a gun and shield.

To say this, however, when the complaint isn’t about the cop being bad, being dirty, but the cop being white, evokes the shrieks of racism. Not just about the cop, but about anyone who refuses to see the problem as racial rather than cops. Cops aren’t black and white, but blue.

But cops are racist, you calmly explain. They disproportionately arrest, beat and abuse black males. Indeed, they do, but not because they are white. Black cops, female cops, all cops do this. And when they’re caught doing this and get fired, they move to another department to do it all over again. Would you rather end this travesty or vent your obsession?

12 thoughts on “Bad Cops And Vagabonds

  1. PseudonymousKid

    Dear Papa,

    Ice cream is delicious, and someone needs to put the sprinkles on at least until the robots take that from hard working American ice cream cone sprinklers too. Then you’ll have to find a new gulag for the undeserving.

    From the stupid cop’s perspective Patmon ran into the cruiser and not the other way around. See, you need to be a cop to appreciate the nuance of a situation. You also need to be a cop to empathize with a former officer who acted like an idiot. We just can’t understand. People everywhere are running into moving vehicles. It’s an epidemic.


      1. B. McLeod

        If you can dodge traffic, you can dodge a ball. If you can’t, best to stay out of the street.

  2. JAV

    My thoughts on requiring liability insurance for LEOs changes almost monthly, but the itinerant cop problem is one issue I think insurance could fix. If we can’t trust local LEOs to not hire bad cops, maybe a parallel market system that makes bad cops too expensive to hire might work.

  3. Pedantic Grammar Police

    “Would you rather end this travesty or vent your obsession?”

    Obviously a rhetorical question.

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