Tuesday Talk*: Family Circus

The news was all about a Rochester police officer pepper spraying a 9-year-old for refusing to get into the RMP, which is entirely understandable given the climate and that news focuses on that which distinguishes an otherwise commonplace police interaction.

During the incident, which occurred Friday afternoon, officers restrained the girl, pushing her into the snow in order to handcuff her, while she screamed repeatedly for her father, the footage showed.

At one point, an officer said, “You’re acting like a child.” She responded, “I am a child.”

When she refused to sit inside a police car, an officer pepper-sprayed her.

While the use of OC to subdue a child, and “I am a child” might be one of the best and most important replies ever, by a female officer (another data point against the simplistic notion that more diversity on the force will produce less use of force) was wholly unjustified,

On Friday afternoon, officers received a 911 call reporting “family trouble,” and arrived to find the 9-year-old girl dressed in a black hoodie and colorful leggings. She “indicated that she wanted to kill herself, and she wanted to kill her mom,” Deputy Police Chief Andre Anderson said on Sunday.

On the surface, this would appear to be a situation far better suited for mental health intervention than police. After all, this was a child, a 9-year-old, and one would, in a better world, expect that she would be adequately, if not better, helped by patience, de-escalation and understanding. Or as Gayle King opined on the morning news with her usual incisiveness, she couldn’t believe that a “grown-ass man” couldn’t handle a 9-year-old without pepper spraying her.

But would things have turned out better with a social worker instead of a police officer? There was a family dynamic at work here that isn’t entirely reflected in the part of the story at the end, the pepper spraying part that most of us agree was outrageous when employed against a child.

There will be outrage. There will be protests. There will be suspensions and recriminations. But as the video reveals, there was more involved than just the improper use of force against a child. And she was a child.

*Tuesday Talk rules apply.

15 thoughts on “Tuesday Talk*: Family Circus

  1. B. McLeod

    Eventually, officers will stop responding to the calls and let the chips fall where they may. Maybe Gayle King will step in and fix things.

    1. SHG Post author

      Long before that happens, someone beloved will be the victim of a crime, and the same people will scream “where are the cops, why aren’t they preventing this,” and the pendulum will swing back because ideology may change but people will still be people.

  2. Onlymom

    Lord help us all. From what i saw in the news there was 9 of them either helping or supervising. If they can’t handle her at 9 god help them if run into a 14 year old. He would have ended up with the mace and their guns.

    Better move would have been to apply correction to that hinnie while waiting for white coat crew.

    1. SHG Post author

      When a call goes out over the radio, other cops in the vicinity show up, both because they have nothing better to do and because they are trained to provide backup. That there are a bunch of cops there tends to be seized upon by the clueless as if they’re all somehow involved. They’re just there, doing nothing much, because they have to be somewhere. It means nothing.

      More importantly, do you hang out with her mom and trade child-rearing secrets at the mom club?

          1. Elpey P.

            They added slogans to tout their diversity
            Monitor by machine and new technology
            And now they’ve fixed all of the problems you can see

            Oh, uh oh
            They came for children
            Oh, uh oh
            Why did they spray them?

  3. Shadow of a Doubt

    There are a whole lot of complicated events that led up to this situation, there were obviously months or years of complicated situations that likely lead up to that point. I don’t think it unreasonable that the police were involved or even that they cuffed the kid and put her in the car.

    But in what fragging world is it acceptable to pepper spray anyone who’s already in cuffs and in the car? 9 year old or not, pepper spray is not a punishment. I can’t even fathom what would go through a cops head to lead to the decision that the best way to get an already in custody child to behave is some mace to the face. What the absolute hell is wrong with these people?

    1. miketrials

      It’s learned competence. Cops misbehave, nothing happens, they misbehave more. Criminal defendants do the same. Big corporations, too. Still no fear of consequences for a shoot which is righteous all the way until the video is released. Compared to 16 shots, what’s a little pepper spray? Pantaleo, Van Dyke, Chauvin, all had history, all lied about the events as did their running mates. I believe the correct word is endemic.
      And while the solution is above my pay grade, and maybe Scott’s too, it sure ain’t even remotely like what we’re doing now.

      1. SHG Post author

        If you’ve never done this, sit down with cops and talk. Do it some more. Have a few beers, maybe a burger. Get to understand their perspective. I’ve done this. They believe that they are doing what they have to do, god’s work, for the good of society and the screechers just don’t get it and never will because they don’t see the world through a cop’s eyes. That was one of the reasons I posted the video here, as it showed far more than what the headlines were saying.

        I am not saying the cops are right about their perspective at all, and they are not. I am saying it’s not nearly as simple to deal with the morass of humanity as the unduly passionate want to pretend it is.

        1. miketrials

          Maybe I lack your empathy on this count, but I know cops and former cops, and have done some of the beer/burger thing. I realize it’s not simple, and am heartened by the fact that we appear to agree — how we now are addressing the problem isn’t a solution, perhaps it’s a problem in and of itself. I’ll go with the Ohio AG yesterday about Ofr. Coy — same rules for everyone. But the cops have to buy into that, too. Until then, the misconduct will not abate.

          Watching the video my heart went out to the cop — that’s no enviable gig, even absent the snow. But she was a child, and one must ask does the cop (dare) do this to a white 9-year in Irondequoit or Greece, neighborhoods more upscale and considerably paler. Sadly a legitimate question.

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