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Oct 27 2011

Threatened UMass Student Quite Magnanimous

A reader sends a follow up on the story about the UMass student who was threatened by an officer for videotaping the police breaking up a fight. The police department is investigating the incident and the student, Brendan Brown, is being very cool about it.

Officials at UMass Lowell quickly arranged a meeting between Brown and Deputy Police Chief Ronald Dickerson.

“He was very nice and he was doing a full investigation,” Brown said.

The officer who threatened Brown came forward, voluntarily, according to both Brown and Chief Brashears.

Brown said he doesn’t have any specific hopes on how the officer is disciplined.

“I want whatever their procedure is for this type of behavior,” Brown said. “I don’t want him to lose his job or anything.”

Brashears did not identify the officer or say what, if any, discipline he will face.

“We will use this opportunity to not only retrain the officer, but the entire department concerning the law over taping police in public,” Brashears wrote in an email.

For Brown, that’s good enough. He’s already back to studying.

“I’m not pursuing it any further than I have,” he said.

Frankly, I don’t think that goes quite far enough. I’m glad the department is going to train this officer and the others in the department on what the law says. Given how many similar incidents we’ve had, this should be mandatory nationwide. But I also think the officer should be disciplined — not fired, but there should be consequences for threatening someone with violence who hasn’t done anything wrong. Suspend him without pay for a week or two.

We are forever being told by the law-and-order types that punishment is the key to deterrence; that should apply to police officers as well. It should apply double to them because they are the ones to whom we give the exclusive authority to commit violence and to enforce the laws. When they violate those laws, they should be the first ones to test their theories about deterrence.

5 comments

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  1. 1
    Who Knows?

    but there should be consequences for threatening someone with violence.

    You could have closed that sentence right there.

  2. 2
    joeina2

    @Who Knows,

    I beg to differ – we threaten violence all the time to people. Not counting the death penalty – the violent nature of prison (or in fact, locking a person away for 20 years) is touted as the main reason you want to avoid it, (preferably by not committing crime). The fact is, some people do not want to live within a rational, mutually respective-of-other’s-rights society. They want to take and do what they want, and those of us who do wish to live in such a society have to threaten and demonstrate that where we cannot use reason, we will use violence to enforce these rights. I recognize its a tenuous balance – any violence that is allowed can and will be used against the innocent. Which is why i’m glad to have people like Ed on the watch.

    Let me put it another way – we need to engage in and encourage discussion on rape culture in our society, and promote a society where rape and sexualized violence are not tolerated anywhere, even in humor. But if I witness a someone committing sexualized violence against another person, i’m not engaging them in a debate, i’m going to get in a fight.

  3. 3
    Who Knows?

    I beg to differ – we threaten violence all the time to people.

    Well, there’s the problem. Threats of violence are all too common in all aspects of our society. It is likely what has made solving problems with violence ok and why we are such a violent society.

    The police have the power to use appropriate force to gain control of a situation in order to protect lives and property. That’s not a problem. Just as preventing or stopping someone from committing an assualt.

    The police, especially the police, do not have any business threatening anyone with violence. That’s what leads to 80 year old grandmothers being tazed.

  4. 4
    uzza

    We are forever being told by the law-and-order types that punishment is the key to deterrence

    Also that The War On Terror is keeping us safe, that pot is destroying society, etc etc.
    So what?

  5. 5
    Worldtraveller

    We’re also regularly told, by the police, that ignorance of the law is no excuse. So in addition to the training, the officer should, indeed, also be punished.

    Sauce for the gander, and all that.

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