We keep hearing that most cops are good, and that there are just a few bad apples, but if that’s the case, why is it so hard to extricate the bad cops from the job?
Columbus Police officer Randy Mayhew was violating the public trust at least since 2015, when the first recorded complaint of his conduct was reported. He was found guilty of three counts of prostitution, three counts of solicitation and one count of dereliction of duty but despite all that, avoided jail time. Instead, Mayhew was handed 30 hours of community service and a paltry $150 fine. This follows the laughable one day suspension the CPD chief suggested for Officer Zach Rosen for making the heroic decision to stomp on a detained suspect’s face, and Officer Joseph Bogard’s reprehensible remarks made during an arrest a few months ago.
This isn’t an indictment of all police officers, but skeptics in the general public might be more inclined to believe that these instances are anomalies if other cops would speak out against abuses, and judges would throw the proverbial book at cops who break the law in hopes of reminding all police officers that violating the public trust comes with dire consequences.
Police officers don’t have it easy, but people know that before they voluntarily sign up for the job. When you put on that uniform, along with the badge and gun that go with it, you are accepting a grave responsibility to protect and serve the public. In order to perform their duties effectively, police officers have the discretion to suspend, albeit temporarily, our constitutional rights. Literally speaking, a police officer has a license to kill, and the means to do so are holstered at their side.
Since 9-11, we’ve allowed the script to be flipped. In addition to a militarization of our police force, there’s a culture of hero worship surrounding law enforcement that seems to foster a sense of entitlement in today’s cops. Too often courtesy and respect are traded for robotic hostility, and a presumption of guilt, This leads to tense interactions, that sometimes have lethal consequences. Rather than expecting people to show them respect, police should feel an obligation to prove themselves worthy of the honor that comes with being trusted with our lives.