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22 June 2010

The $20,000 Question: Why?

via Simple Justice by SHG on 6/22/10

It's one thing for a cop to tell a bunch of kids, young toughs they used to be called, to move along.  After all, they're just kids.  It's not like they have the right to be there, or the smarts to question the cop's right to command.  But don't try that with a 62 year old women.  She's heard enough commands in her life. 

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, via Balko, the Atlanta City Council was scheduled to approve a $20 thousand settlement to Minnie Carey for the 10 hours she spent in jail on disorderly conduct charges.  The 62 year old Minnie Carey was standing on the street discussing funeral arrangements for her sister with some friends, when officer Brandy Dolson gave the ubiquitous command to all people standing on the street with black skin: Move along.  It's not because Dolson did anything wrong.

APD was named in the suit, and a spokesman for the department said Friday that an internal investigation found officer Brandy Dolson "acted within the parameters of department policies and procedures," which complied with national standards. "Those [national] guidelines are based on a set of proven standards that take into account the difficult situations police officers face every day, and the split-second decisions they must make to protect citizens and reduce their own personal risk,” APD public affairs director Carlos Campos said in an e-mail.

Sounds as if Dolson's actions must have addressed a pretty serious situation, since there are national guidelines based on proven standards taking into account the difficult situations police officers face.  So what was the "split-second decision" Dolson had to make?

Around 4 p.m. on March 26, 2009, Carey and her friends were on the sidewalk in front of the Boulevard Lotto convenience store, just a few blocks from downtown Atlanta. They had been talking a few minutes about funeral plans for a woman they all knew when Dolson and his partner pulled up. Dolson told the women to “move it.”

Three women started walking away but Carey didn’t, asking “why” instead.

Dolson’s answer to Carey was “because I said so,” according to records.

“I’m a citizen and I’m a taxpayer and I have a right to be here. I’m merely trying to find out about a sister’s funeral,” Carey responded.

Busted.  Apparently, Officer Dolson wasn't aware of the correct response to the question "why?"  It could have been so simple had he taken the philosophy elective at the Police Academy.  Instead, he took the class that taught him to say "because I said so."  A lot of cops opt for that class.  It's got the easier test.

The reaction to incidents such as this from the great blue circle is that outsiders, meaning anyone not an LEO, don't understand the pressures of being a police officer.  A wag might respond that police officers don't  understand the pressure of being a citizen confronted by a police officer.  On the high end, it's the absence of dignity, being treated like a human being rather than cattle.  On the low end, it's the fear of crossing the shield, turning "citizen and taxpayer" into submissive sheep complying with every utterance just to avoid the consequences.

Of the four women standing on the sidewalk in front of Boulevard Lotto, three chose to walk away rather than ask the question.  Only Minnie Carey stood her ground.  It got her 10 hours in lockup.  Her charges weren't dismissed until the third court appearance, when Dolson failed to appear.  It got her $20,000 (less attorneys fees and expenses, no doubt).  Was it worth it?

On the flip side, Police Officer Brandy Dolson won't be paying Ms. Carey a dime.  And why should he?  After all, he was just complying with those national standards developed to deal with critical split-second police decision-making when he told Minnie Carey, "because I said so."

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Posted via email from the Un-Official Southwestern PA Re-Entry Coalition Blog

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